December 2014 - Mis Clases Locas

Box 1

Box 1
Teaching with Novels

Box 2

Box 2
Resources

Box 3

Box 3
Meet Sra. Wienhold

Quick Tip: Flubaroo

An awesome colleague of mine showed me the great Google Sheets Add-On Flubaroo at the beginning of the year, but I finally just tried it out as a part of my semester finals. This year all classes had 3 components, presentational writing, interpersonal speaking, and interpretive reading/listening. I knew that the writing and speaking would take up a good chuck of time to grade, so I wanted to try out this slick was to easily grade assessments made in Google forms. 

Flubaroo is basically a FREE Add-On for Google sheets that with the click of a button your Google Form assessments are graded, with instant feedback for low scoring questions and question by question statistics like in Kahoot. If you have not used Google Forms you are missing out, since you can add pictures, video, and text for interpretive tasks. 


**Advice** Since what students enter in Flubaroo needs to be EXACT for it to not be counted wrong, you must stress to students not to use capital letters, to remember accents, etc. This means it works best for answers that do not require full sentences or have multiple interpretations. Or if you do include questions like this, you can choose to have Flubaroo not grade them. 

How do you get & use Flubaroo? Check out this great flubaroo user guide with step by step instructions with pictures. Basically, create a Google Form, submit an answer key of your form, Get Flubaroo Add-On by clicking the top bar in Google Sheets & then grade assignment. You can also email out grades to students, even including the answer key if you want them to have it. 

Idea: Students could create a quiz on Google Forms, send it to classmates, and then grade each other using Flubaroo. This way they could reflect on what questions were low scoring, and what the class still needs to work on. 

This is just another tech tool to add to your tool belt.
Have you used Flubaroo?
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Piñata Mini-Unit


The last two years we ended the school year in Spanish IV with a mini unit about piñatas. At our school the last couple of weeks are crazy with the seniors being pulled out for retreats, community service, graduation practice and more. I have found it is nice to end with a fun cultural unit that the students are very interested in, and works with the crazy schedules of students being in and out of school. Below are some resources and ideas that we have used, and others that I am considering implementing this year. 

Como hacer una piñata - Estrellas Navideñas - DIY Piñata

This great video gives step by step instructions in Spanish of how to make a piñata. It would be perfect to use to introduce the steps, as well as vocabulary used to create a piñata. I have used this video it in the past, pausing to explain in Spanish what is going on. 

Piñata Reading

This would be a great cultural reading to use in a piñata mini-unit. It would be a great resource to add more history and culture of Mexico to the unit. 

La piñata #infografia

This infograph would be another great authentic reading source. It could be used to introduce vocabulary as well as culture. It bring up the origin of the piñata from China, which could then be expanded into a web quest comparing and contrasting the two. This short animated video in Spanish shows how the piñata connects China and Mexico. 
UPDATE: Arianne shared this transcript of the video. 


After interpretive reading and listening of the resources above, it is time for the fun part, to make a piñata! Yes, I know that just doing a craft of making a piñata is not a communicative activity, but there are many ways it could become one. 

Interpersonal Ideas
  • Students must speak only in Spanish while working on their piñata.
  • Working in partners, students take turns giving the other directions in the form of commands. (This could have the added twist of blindfolding one during the messy paper mâché part :)
Presentational Ideas
  • Students give demonstration speeches on how to make different kids of piñatas. 
  • After researching some aspect of piñatas (the history, when they are used, different types, the significance, etc), students present the information either in written or spoken form. 

How to make a piñata

Supplies
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Balloons
  • White Glue
  • Colored Tissue Paper
Directions

Paper Mâché
  • Cover tables or desks with garbage bags or plastic table clothes. 
  • Rip newspapers into strips. (the torn edges work better than cutting)
  • Mix equal parts flour & water to make your paper mâché paste. 
  • Dip newspaper strips in paste, pulling off excess with two fingers, and then draping over balloon or piñata form. 
  • Repeat until whole balloon in covered in a thin layer and then repeat with layer two.
  • Let dry over night, flipping the balloon so all areas dry. 
Decorating
  • If using cones, roll newspaper, cover in tissue or decorative paper and tape to balloon.
  • Cut lots of squares of tissue paper, about 2x2 inches. 
  • Stick pencil if middle of tissue square, dip the end in white glue, and stick on balloon. Repeat 100+ times until entire surface is covered. 
Tips
  • Have students work in pairs, or this could take weeks for a single perfectionist student to finish. 
  • Rip newspaper strips in advance and have 1 dedicated paper mâché day. This way you can cover all surfaces and insist that students it completed that day. 
  • Save tissue paper from being thrown away at Christmas and birthdays and save to use for your piñatas. At family gatherings everyone just folds and saves the tissue for me now. 
  • Buy the white glue bottles at back to school sales so each pair can have their own bottle. 
  • If you work with middle school or want to make piñatas on a smaller scale, without the paper mâché, have them decorate two small paper plates, and staple them together. 
  • Once completed, hang the piñatas from your classroom ceiling for a festive decoration. 
I would love any feedback, ideas, or resources that you may have about piñatas!
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Novice Interpersonal Speaking Assessments

I love #langchat for so many reasons. It makes me think, challenges what I am currently doing in my classroom, and most of all gives me new ideas and inspiration. A couple of weeks ago the topic was about summative interpersonal assessments. Before #langchat I had made the plan that for each one of my Spanish I-IV classes their final would be composed of the following 3 categories:
  • Presentational Writing
  • Interpretive Reading/Listening 
  • Interpersonal Speaking - 1on1 with me - in pairs
Through the chat I was challenged with the notion that for it to truely be interpersonal, it needed to be them talking to each other, not to the teacher. I had already been planning that my large Spanish 3 class would be speaking in partners, but did not think that my novice Spanish 1 class could handle it and actually carry a conversation, but boy was I wrong. They blew me away! Most of all, having them in pairs shows me they can not just answer, but also ask questions. 

The week leading up to finals, we did some interpersonal activities to prepare the students, to try and ease their nerves. It made me realize that I need to be doing these things on a weekly basis.
  • Students worked in pair to ask and answer questions from my laminated strips in the can of questions. They wrote down questions they did not immediately know the answer to in order to study and practice. 
  • To practice actually creating the questions, we completed Amy Lenord's awesome Interpersonal Blitz. This really got students thinking outside the memorized questions, and creating their own original ideas. 
  • Finally, students practiced in pairs, first writing down their questions if needed, and then just coming up with some on their own.
The day of the assessment, you could just feel the nervous energy as they entered the room. I had them fill out their name and information on the rubric and then write C over Novice Low, B over Novice Mid and A over Novice High, while reminding them what they needed to do to archive these levels. When I reassured them that the lowest they could possibly get if they attempted it and spoke in Spanish was a C, there was a collective sigh of relief. Even though I stress it everyday, it is hard to get through to them that I just want them to SHOW what they KNOW.

For the interpersonal assessment, I called students up to my desk in random pairs, asked them to pretend that I was not there, and just told them to ask each other questions and chat as if they had just met. I had originally told them to try and ask at least five questions, but most pairs I had to stop because they just kept going! It was an amazing problem to have. Yes, most were novice, memorized questions like what is your name?, where are you from? or what do you like to do? But, others created their own, and some were asking questions about specific things that happened in Brandon Brown, even trying to trick each other with true or false statements. I left class feeling so proud of my freshman babies. 

I know everyone has been saying this lately, but assessments like this just show how much students gain in just one semester of a class based around comprehensible input. I have students who are HAVING CONVERSATIONS in level one. Two years ago, I was the teacher who gave the 100 question multiple choice final test that included asking for definitions on infinitives. I am SO GLAD that I have found the supportive online #langchat and blogger community who has shown me the way. I just feel bad for my now Spanish III, who started their first year with me in a textbook and grammar driven class, and did not have the opportunity for the foundation that my current level I has. All I can do is help them to keep learning and growing. 

I am excited to see how they do on their writing today...and to finally start my break on Christmas Eve :)
Merry Christmas! - Allison 
My Awesome Student Council on Tacky Sweater Day
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Quick Tip: Trivia Crack in Language Classes

The newest obsession of my high school students is a Facebook Game or App called Trivia Crack. It is basically Trivial Pursuit, but more in the style of "Words with Friends," where you virtually play your friends in trivia. Here is the official website with directions in the language of your choice.




You win "crowns" in each category for answering questions correct and once you miss a question, you have to wait for the other person to play their turn. There is a also a challenge option that my uber competitive classes love. 



So how does this game relate to language teaching? Well you can change the language of course! So far the language options are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian & Catalan. 

**Update 3.5.15 - To change the language of the questions, when you start a new game you will select the language of you choice (as seen in the photo below). As far as I know, once you have started a game in one language you may not change it mid game. To change the language of the instructions and background information, you must change the language of your Facebook. 


Each week my students complete 3 "points" worth of choice "Real World" homework. This week I had a couple students ask if they could use playing Trivia Crack in Spanish. Two students played each other for 30 minutes and submitted the screenshots below as a part of their weekly report for their 3 points. They had a ton of fun, learned a lot of new words, and now many more students are planning on using this option next week. 


What are ways you have found to incorporate students' current interests in class?
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Best of 2014: #1 Baile viernes

The most popular post this year was actually only my fourth blog post ever! Baile viernes was and still is one of the only things we do in class that I did not completely take from the idea of someone else. I presented on dancing in Spanish class at IWLA this year as well. Week after week I have students literally RUNNING to class on Fridays to dance. I love hearing "this is the best part of my week," and "I love Spanish class!" I recently had another teacher tell me that they wished they taught a "fun subject" like Spanish where we can dance and watch El Internado. What I told her was any subject can be a "fun subject" if you infuse your passions, interests, and find what engages the students. My Spanish class in high school was traditional textbook, workbook, grammer driven class and I could have just continued the cycle. Is baile viernes a communicate activity? No. But, if these 3 minutes a week are why a student takes Spanish class, then I think I have done my job. 

Best of 2014

#1 Baile Viernes


My new favorite class routine is baile viernes (dance Friday). Every day we start class with a Para Empezar bell ringer, which I glad I started at the beginning of my first year teaching. I create a powerpoint in advance with a task for students to complete including any of the following: reading and answering questions about a Spanish meme, video, teaser to new topic, or review from previous day's lesson. Slowly I started implementing a certain activity for each day's bell ringer. 


Last year my students' favorite day of the week became música miércoles (music Wednesday), where they would watch the video (or lyrics video for those with inappropriate videos) of a current or classic song in Spanish. I recently started a Youtube playlist to keep class favorites organized. Here is the powerpoint of Spanish bellringers if you are interested in implementing them.

I have a lot of very active classes who started wanting to dance to the songs, so I started playing videos with choreography such as the videos below. Once it became a weekly event know as baile viernes, it was the new favorite part of the week for many. We dance right at the start of class on Friday and do a mix of Zumba, Just Dance or other choreography videos we find on Youtube. (*Note I am not a certified Zumba instructor, but do enjoy taking classes and dancing in general). Here is my baile Youtube playlist or Baile viernes powerpoint if you are interested. 

How do you get high schoolers to dance in class you ask? First and foremost as the teacher I am the example and make a fool of myself learning the dances with them. Sometimes we try a song and part way through the students decide they are over it, usually because it is too hard, so we quickly revert to one of their standby favorites, which varies by class. I did have once class who was never as into dancing, but most classes come in excited and shouting baile viernes! I have found it is a great way to get those Friday wiggles out at the beginning of class, especially on game days and before long weekends like today. 
Try it out and let me know how it goes!
- Allison 


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Best of 2014: #2 Para Empezar

My second most popular post this year also comes from this summer. Apparently I need more time for blog reflection while taking long stroller walks on the bike trails during the school year. :) This year the way we have been starting class looks a lot like what you see below. Tuesdays & Thursdays we complete free reading, Wednesday is music and Friday we dance. I still need to find a "thing" for Monday, since without a specific task, and it being Monday I am often not prepared and we just go right into the days' lesson. I should really make a PowerPoint of backup Monday Para Empezar activities. If you have any great ideas, please let me know!

Best of 2014
One of the best forms of classroom management I have found, is having a bell ringer, or as we call it in my class Para Empezar, up and ready for the students to complete as they walk into the classroom. They know that as they walk in there is a task they should be completing, so it helps to get them to their seats and thinking about Spanish. At first I would write what each class should be doing on the white board, but this was both old school and took up a lot of time each morning. I then switched to a powerpoint which I know keep on my desktop and just add to throughout the year. This way I can also reuse things from class to class or year to year  including any of the following: reading and answering questions about a Spanish meme, video, teaser to new topic, or review from previous day's lesson. Slowly I started implementing a certain activity for each day's bell ringer. Now our week of Para Empezar looks something like this.


Loco lunes - This is usually a short video I found on Pinterest relating to their topic, holiday or a current event item of interest. It is a great way to grab their attention on a dreary Monday while sneaking in an entertaining cultural authentic listening source.



martes y jueves - leer - We start both Tuesday & Thursday by having about 5-10 minutes of free voluntary reading. See this post about how I started my own classroom library. Students know on these two days they go straight to the shelf and pick out something to read. 

Música miércoles - As students enter class on Wednesday a fun song in Spanish is playing (loud enough that even those in the hallway are interested in what kind of fun we are having in Spanish). Students watch the video and we then discuss or write about it. See this post for more detail about música miércoles or download a power point of them here.

Baile viernes - Friday has become many students favorite day of the week because they get to dance! They put their stuff down and stay standing since we dance right at the start of class to a Spanish song. Here is my post on baile viernes or Baile viernes powerpoint if you are interested. 

Even if you do not have a set routine of certain bellringers, having the students trained on completing a set task as they enter the room will free you up to greet students at the door (or scramble to get things set up for the next class, depending if it is that kind of day). These fun ways to start class get students excited to come to your room, and they may even learn something along the way. 

**Updated 11.314 - Here are all of my Para Empezar resources here:

How do you start your class?

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Best of 2014 - #3 1st Day of Spanish Class

My third most popular post this year was my original plan for the first day of school. You can see what actually happened in my reflection here. As with most best laid plans, there needs to be a back up, since we did not have our laptops day 1. Also, the stations take a couple days to complete. As for grading, I have to admit that I never actually went through to check that each student actually posted the Shelfies and songs. Instead, I have used their song suggestions throughout the year for Música miércoles , and they have had the opportunity to read their books of choice during free reading. I hope this can be of some use to those of you starting with new classes at semester!

Best of 2014#3 1st Day of Spanish Class

1st Day of Spanish Class - Mis Clases Locas
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Best of 2014: #4 Planning for Maternity Leave

The fourth most popular post this year is not specific to world language teaching, but instead about the dreaded task of planing for maternity leave. If other teachers had as much anxiety as I did about leaving, then I can understand why they want to read up on what other teachers have found successful. I know that I was very blessed with the substitute that I found, and that I was able to actually take a break. I can only hope I will be as lucky in the future!


As a teacher one of my first thoughts after finding out I was pregnant was, "what are my students going to do while I am gone!?!?" I knew that there was not a single sub in our tiny district that even spoke Spanish, so the odds were low that my students would be able to do a whole lot with the language while I was gone. I spent the summer after I found out fretting and thinking about what kinds of units students could do without someone who could speak Spanish teaching them: geography of the Spanish speaking world, movies, and research reports on famous Spanish speakers, traditions, dances, countries, etc. Luckily, I did not have to worry about using these ideas since I found a Spanish speaking, certified Spanish teacher as a substitute! This brings me to my advice when gone for an extended period of time:

1. FIND YOUR OWN SUBSTITUTE!
I have learned you will never know until you ask, so when I asked our principal if I could find my own maternity leave substitute, he was actually relieved to have it taken off his plate. I am lucky enough to live in a town with a university know for education, so my search was actually quite easy. I contacted former Spanish professors and asked if they knew anyone who was students teaching in the fall and would be free in the Spring (I was due in January), posted the opening on job boards, as well as posted it on the Iowa World Language Association Website. I was very fortunate to find a certified Spanish (& French!) teacher who finished his student teaching in December and needed something to do until he started his full time job in the fall, win, win all around!

2. Let go of the control
While at the IWLA conference in the fall I brought up maternity leave while sitting at lunch with a lovely group of ladies. They had a variety of experiences from planning every single day of their leave and grading while at home, to letting the sub do whatever they wanted. What I learned from them was I did NOT want to spend my precious (unpaid!) weeks at home planning and grading. Once I knew I had a capable sub, I made an outline of what the sub would ideally cover, plus a ton of extra ideas, mini units, and activities if needed. I then left all day to day planning and grading up to him. And you know what?!? I came back and the students had met my goal for them, they learned and used Spanish. 

3. Make a Substitute Binder
While in graduate school I substitute taught pretty much every subject and grade and you know what I took out of it? Have a detailed Substitute Binder and your sub will love you. This is something every teacher should have, whether you will be gone for an extended amount of time or not. There is nothing worse than being deathly ill, but having to stay up late typing up sub plan. Have a detailed Binder, with emergency plans and activities all ready to go on your shelf, that way all you have to do if you are sick (or go into labor early) is tell your principal where your sub binder and extra plans and materials are. 

4. Communicate with the substitute before you are gone
Once my substitute was lined up, I started flooding him with information. I set up a Google Drive folder sorted by level with all of the possible resources he could need or want for the unit they would cover. I also included TONS of extra activities, games and resources in a drive folder as well. I also created enough bell ringers for the time I was gone. You can download them here- EmpezarBy talking him through everything before I left, I was able to relax once he started knowing that he had everything he needed to be successful. 

It will be alright. As teachers we are used to planning every minute, but in order to actually enjoy the time you are away, you need to step back and know that someone else can take over while you are gone. No, it will not be exactly like when you are there, but if they are hearing and using Spanish, then you have done your job. 

How did you plan for maternity leave?
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Best of 2014: #5 - 10 Things I Learned my 1st Year 2 Years Teaching

In the spirit of reflection and my 6 month blogiversary, I am going to share my top 5 posts of 2014. I am so excited that someone is actually reading my reflections and ideas, and the idea that I might be helping someone out there as much as my online PLN has helped me. This post was from my first month blogging and was probably composed while going for a walk with a stroller on the bike paths. You can also see what I have learned since then using the #ReflectiveTeacher label


Best of 2014 - #5

10 Things I Learned My 1st 2 Years Teaching


  1. Listen to your students. If they tell you you are moving way too fast and they don't get it, ASK them specific questions and LISTEN to what they have to say. Have students complete friday feedback to give you valuable information on what is working in class, and what needs to change. Also, just being attentive to those around you and realizing when a breakup, major life event, or huge drama situation is going on, what is going on in your class has significantly less priority to them.  
  2. Be Flexible. As a type A planner, flexibility was something that I really had to work on. Be prepared that your class will be interrupted throughout the year with field trips, assemblies, retreats, blood drives, state athletic games, announcements, simulations, music contests and anything else you can imagine. Have a stash of alternate games and activities that students who are in class on days with no attendance can complete, without making the large number of missing students behind. Know that you may show up to school without any idea of the day's schedule due to special events, and try to smile when the students ask what classes they will have that day. 
  3. Network with other teachers around the world by joining a twitter chat, going to a conference, or connecting with bloggers. Also, don't forget to make friends with other teachers at work. There will be days when you need a face to face vent, cry, or talk, that only a teacher down the hall at your school will be able to fulfill
  4. Have Balance in your life. My first year teaching I thought it would be a great idea to plan a wedding, sponsor Spanish club, direct the school play and musical and be the lead staff development coordinator for Camp Adventure all while starting from scratch with my curriculum. Needless to say after a sleepless, stressful year one, something had to go. I let go of doing drama after year one, and it made a huge difference. I no longer was spending 7am-9pm at school multiple days a week with rehearsals. Having a work/life balance was especially important after baby boy was born this past January.  
  5. Fail. It's ok to have a lesson fail. A few highlights on my fail real include: not watching an entire (apparently inappropriate) music video before showing it to class, having a class market without working with the students on the phrases needed to complete it, and wasting my whole first year tied to textbook curriculum based on workbooks, textbook vocabulary and chapter tests, and CD listening activities.  I realized many of my failures came from not enough planning on my part, and this is where the learning and growing comes in. 
  6. Laugh at yourself and don't take yourself to seriously. Be goofy, show your personalty and implement baile viernes. Being comfortable around each other is how you will build a classroom climate where everyone can take risks and go out of their comfort zone by speaking another language in front of their peers. 
  7. Stay Calm. At first if a student caught an error of mine, (usually my spelling in English, a big insecurity of mine) I would get defensive, now I throw them a Smarties candy for catching my mistake. Once the students know how to push your buttons and get you worked up, they will do so every chance they get. A lot of my biggest challenges year one came from behavior management and students taking control of the class. Once I learned to step away, take a breath, and let it go when a student disrupts class, we could all continue our learning, and I could address the issue later in private without getting myself and the student worked up. 
  8. Baby Steps. Small, incremental, positive changes is how you can improve your class and curriculum. If you take on too much at first, it will be overwhelming and you will quit. I was suggested to take one level at a time and try to implement new things. If it goes well, then expand to the other levels. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a curriculum
  9. Ask for help when you need it. Make friends with the secretaries and janitors because they are your biggest resources at a school. The only dumb questions are the ones you never asked. Seek advice on difficult students from other teachers who have them. A school should be a community and you are not alone. 
  10. Have Fun! Take time everyday to actually enjoy what you are doing. Pick topics to cover with the students that you actually enjoy and have a passion for, otherwise what is the point of teaching?
What did you learn your first years teaching?

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Quick Tip: Easy Accents Google Add-On

HOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER 

Get "Easy Accents" Add-On for Google Docs

How to Easy Accents

Open New Document

Click "Add-Ons" > Get Add-Ons
Search "Easy Accents" - Click ADD


To Use 

Click "Add-Ons" > "Easy Accents" > Spanish

Now you can easily add accents & Spanish punctuation!





 What are some other Add-Ons you can not live without?
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Lista lunes 12.1.14 - Navidad, Reyes Magos y Año Nuevo

Lista lunes 12.1.14 - Navidad, Reyes Magos y Año Nuevo

Carta a Reyes Magos

This form letter would be perfect for a novice level class to use to write to the Reyes Magog, or 3 Kings. 

¿Tu eres de Papá Noel o de los Reyes Magos? infografia

This authentic infografia would be great to use to compare the traditions of Papa Noel & Los Reyes Magos. 


Veinte Mundos - Reyes Magos & Año Nuevo


Last year I used this article and questions the first day back from break to learn about Reyes Magos. This year I would like to use this article on New Year Celebrations

Video Playlist for Navidad


Here I put together a playlist of videos I have used and would like to use to talk about Christmas, 3 Kings Day, and more. It is a mix of comercials, music videos, and informational videos. 

Cultural Activities Tradiciones de la Navidad - by Martina Bex

I am planning on purchasing this unit on TPT by Martina Bex to use to teach about Christmas. This year I used her Day of the dead unit and as always it was awesome, filled with Ci and culture!

TPT SALE!! 

Don'f foget that my TPT store will be 28% off Monday & Tuesday using the code TPTCYBER to thank all of my readers & followers. 
Senora Wienhold - Mis Clases Locas
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