August 2015 - Mis Clases Locas

Box 1

Box 1
Teaching with Novels

Box 2

Box 2

Box 3

Box 3
Meet Sra. Wienhold

Baile viernes - middle school

I am pumped for the first week of school, how about you? One of the things that I am most excited/nervous about is my first week of baile viernes with a new school. I just hope they embrace it as much as my old students did. I LOVED seeing other teachers tweet and post about their #baileviernes, so please keep it up and share what video you are using so I can add it to the playlist. Here is Miss Bolter's 7th grade class doing baile viernes at warp speed!

After posting Música miércoles for middle school, I had some requests for baile viernes specifically for middle school age students. Well ask and you shall receive, here is Baile viernes for middle schoolThis product has 15 songs in Spanish geared toward middle school, but will work with any age. Many are Just Dance videos, which I have found provide less distractions for the younger kids. 

Enjoy #baileviernes!

Classroom Tour 15

Besides my Spanish Classroom Library Tour this year, the only other time I did a classroom tour was my 2nd year teaching here. Here is a little update on my classroom at my new school. As you can see, when I first visited the room was jam packed with large desks, 4 filing cabinets, 4 closets, a TV, overhead cart and lots more. 
the classroom when I visited last spring 

I asked for tables with chairs instead, and now have some heavy duty old science tables. Eventually I would like to try deskless, so getting chairs is my baby steps in the right direction. As a new teacher at the school I do not want to freak everyone out right away. 

Here are a few pictures of my classroom so far. 

The Back Wall

The whole back wall, including the proficiency rubric from the Creative Language Class & Instagram Photo Booth. Close us of the split bulletin boards are below. 

Rejoinder Word Ladders from Amy Lenord

A Spain bulletin board that just came together from all things I have collected from my semester and summer living in Spain, as well as pictures from travel magazines. The only cost was the fabric background. I hot glued(which I use for everything) yarn to each city & made descriptions for cities with my classroom library template. The map itself was a free National Geographic map from a school library, that I just laminated. The España photo collage is something I made a few years ago for my class on Shutterfly with a coupon and has all my personal pictures from all over the country. 

The Side Wall

Class work and reminder board using electrical tape. In the left is my absent student folder made with file folders. 

High Frequency Verb Wall adapted from Mike Peto's sweet 16. I used my laminator & hot glue to make it last. I plan  to take the English words off once students are comfortable with them. 

The Far Back Corner - Classroom Library

See the full Classroom Library tour. Since then, I have added throw pillows, 33 Razones Para Leer, which I printed in color and had laminated, and more free National Geographic maps. (Mexico since Spanish 2 will start reading Tumba and Central America since Spanish 3 will start reading Robo en la Noche set in Costa Rica). 

The Entrance

There is an information area for school related things like lunch menu, emergencies, news, NHS, etc. There are 3 hall passes with magnets by the door with instructions. The flip open/closed sign is a school wide procedure for academic zone. 

The Front of the Room

The front board, which I purposely tried to keep clean and not too busy. There are just Question word posters from the Creative Language Class, a Día de Los Muertos calendar that was a gift from students and a banner I made my 1st year teacher, that I can not find he template fit anymore! The left board will be used for the projector and the right for teaching. 

The View from my Desk

The tables are ready for the 1st day with Martina's seating cards set out & markers to make 1st day name cards.

You will notice I do not have a picture of my desk yet, probably because that is the area that was last priority and still needs work. :)

Now I want to see your room!

Wonderful Resources
Question word posters from the Creative Language Class
Proficiency Wall Rubric from the Creative Language Class
Rejoinder Word Ladders from Amy Lenord
High Frequency Verb Wall adapted from Mike Peto's sweet 16.

A Case for Binders

a portion of my own binder collection
This year I have seen many people hopping in the interactive notebook train. While my crafty heart thinks they look like a lot of fun, I have decided to stay firmly in binderland. For those of you who have read for a while, you know I have a slight binder obsession. This is how I personally stay organized with lesson materials, sub plans, and everything else. It is also the method that I have used the three years to try and help students stay (or learn to be) organized. For those of you who are 100% paperless, cheers to you, but I am not there yet.  I actually though of abandoning it all together with 1:1 and not giving a lot of paper materials, but posts like the one below from a former student remind me why we keep on bindering. 

a former student made my day telling me how I taught her to use binders
(notice she is taking Spanish in college:)

Why I use binders:
  • It gives freshman a tool to be successful - My 8th grade Spanish I teacher required a very specific binder that she collected frequently looking for exact notes. While I am not this extreme with my own students, she taught me how to label and sort everything from her class in a manner that made sense. She taught us how to use this organized tool to keep our lives together so we would have everything together to be able to study for cumulative exams. From then on I had a separate organized binder for every high school and college course. A lot of people just expect freshman to have it together and not loose things, but not many actually give them TOOLs to be successful. This is just one option that they can possibly continue with in the future. 
  • It is a life-long organizational skill - Post high school I do not think your office boss or university professor will be too impressed with you cutting out the meeting agenda and gluing in a decorated office composition book. Making a shiny binder with printed dividers on the other hand looks a tad more acceptable in the real world. (Yes, I know that many people have have great results with interactive notebooks, but this is not a skill that I see transfering as well outside of a language class). 

Binder Organization
  • In my syllabus I request the following from each student (and also tell them if they can not get it I have extras).
    • 1in. basic 3 ring binder
    • 8 tab dividers
    • loose paper
  • If you expect students to put items in a 3 ring binder, you should hole punch everything you give them (setting on the copy machine) & also have a 3 hole punch available for students. I have a tray of loose paper as well, so if a student is out, they can just get more without disrupting anything. 
  • Every year I have changed what the labeled binder tabs are. I just know I usually have more than five, so I learned to request the packs with 8 tabs. This year I am planning on having the following (they will be in Spanish):
    • Para Empezar (bell ringers),
    • Handouts (helpful resources such as unit plans, syllabus, useful expressions)
    • Vocab (where they write down target story structures, new words to them or words they are interested in - not given any lists),
    • Notes (for the occasional "write this down" moments, NOT extensive grammar notes)
    • Reading (for choice reading log & activities concerning novels)
    • Listening (materials for movies and El Internado)
    • Writing (to keep free writes to see how they have grown)
    • Paper (extra loose leaf paper)
  • I hand out this mini supply list day 1. 
  • Week 2 we have a set binder day where I show students how to set up a binder including labeling tabs and showing them how items go Behind the tab. At first students will constantly ask which section items go in, but they will get the hang of it. 
  • I also plan on teaching digital organization with Google Drive's folders. 
Some students really embrace having a way to keep everything together since we do not use a textbook. Other will just shove everything in the front folder by the end of the year, but at least they have everything together!

Thank you to @MmeFarab for the request for this post. Is there something you would like me to write about? Please let me know!

How do your students stay organized?

Música miércoles for middle school

Thanks to a question from a reader I have a new younger sister to add to the Música miércoles family Música miércoles for middle school. Have you been interested in trying  Música miércoles, but worried that many Latin pop videos are not appropriate enough for your school or age group? Then this is for you! Here are 25 songs that I think would be great for any age group.There are 25 music bell ringers for Spanish class, with a younger audience in mind. These songs have been picked with videos that should be pretty clean. Many of these songs are taken from other Para Empezar products, so if you have them all, you will see a lot of overlap with this one. 

As a side note, if you ever see an error in something that I have posted, or find a dead link, PLEASE email me to fix it. I am more that happy to do so, but as you know videos and links change daily. I am very appreciative of those that have helped me keep items as up to date as possible!

Also, to celebrate back to school for many this week the
Back to School: 1st Week Bundle is 20% off today and tomorrow. Get everything you need for back to school in one download.
Back to planning! 

Cultural Reading Activity - Mexico

As I prepare for the school year after Unit 1, Spanish 2 is going to start the year reading the novel Tumba by Mira Canion. Last year I blogged a lot about teaching the novel for the first time and those posts can be found here. I am starting at a school who has not read any novels, so I figured Tumba would be a perfect choice to boost their confidence in reading a whole book. It is also the right season since it takes place during the Day of the Dead

I love prepping students for a novel with cultural readings about the location it takes place. Martina Bex has some awesome reading activities focusing on locations of novels. They teach about culture and geography, while never leaving the target language because they are at the students' level. I decided to make such a reading about Mexico to prepare for Tumba. 

I made this cultural reading activity for novice Spanish speakers to give them a basic overview about Mexico, while staying in Spanish. It includes sections on geography, culture & Day of the Dead. I chose these cultural aspects in particular to prepare specifically for Tumba, but it could be used by any novice class. It includes novice level readings, comprehension activities and writing expansion possibilities in Spanish. It would also work well as a sub plan or to introduce the Day of the Dead. I am excited to have the students try it out soon! 

Spanish Classroom Library Tour

Well there is now one part of my classroom that is (mostly) ready. My favorite part this year is my Spanish classroom library reading corner. I am going to add pillows on the chairs, and hopefully a lamp or plant in the corner. 
**Update to see my finished classroom click here**

To see many of my classroom library recommendations all in one place, you can visit My Amazon Store book list!

Last year my books were just lined up on a shelf. So the part that took the most time was by far was sorting my books mixed with the existing books that were left in my new school (which is an awesome problem to have). As you can see below it got much worse before it got better. 

sorting my classroom library

As you can see in this post I made book box labels, and then re did them after sorting. I still have one more box that I added at the end that needs a label, plus the stack that has yet to find a category and for now just chills with the other picture books on shelf one below. I got the little display that I plan on rotating with seasonal or teacher picks books. 

The shelf of pictures books
 I was very lucky to get this extra tall shelf from a generous co-worker. I traded her a podium that I won't use :) It hold non-fiction books, magazines, and my out of control art supply collection (I already had the full tubs on the left, plus the full tubs on the right were left, perk of coming in after a retiring teacher). Now every table can have their own box of coloring tools for making storyboards and such. 
The shelf of nonfiction, magazines & art supplies

The third shelf below has readers and more advanced books, plus the giant bin on fairytales on top. 

leveled readers and more advanced books

As I have mentioned before I plan on using this library for free choice reading at the beginning of class on Tuesdays & Thursdays for 5-15 minutes depending on the class level. I plan to start free reading 2nd trimester of Spanish 1 for 5 minutes and build in length as the levels progress. There is little accountability since the point is for students to do extensive reading on their own. I only have them fill out this form for their own records so they remember what page they are on and if they have read a book yet already or not. 

As for implementation, I will try and guide students to books in which they will feel successful. I tell students they can sit anywhere in the room that they are able to focus (hence the comfy reading area for encouragement). I just ask that their eyes stay on the page, and they they do not just flip through. For some classes who are highly distracted, I really encourage them to follow along with their finger. From reading around the web, I personally need to do a better job this year of actually reading myself during this time, so the students see value, and not trying to get something done. 

Do you have a classroom library? Here are some more resources to help you out. 

all posts labeled classroom library
all posts labeled reading

Tomorrow new (to the district) inservice officially starts, meaning today is my last day of summer. I hope you all have a great back to school!

Classroom Library Organization - Labels

I have known for a while that this year I wanted to organize my classroom library. You can see all posts about my classroom library, how I have acquired books for it, and how I use it in all posts labeled classroom library here. Mostly I use it for free reading at the beginning of class on Tuesdays & Thursdays for 5-15 minutes depending on the class level. I plan to start free reading 2nd trimester of Spanish 1 for 5 minutes and it builds in length as the levels progress. The only accountability is students recording what they read for their own use on this basic form. If you have been considering starting an extensive reading program watch this episode of the Black Box Podcast to solidify the NEED for free reading in a language class. I also used my classroom library for individual novel study in Spanish IV. 

To organize my library I started by downloading these labels from Brianna Dill in English. I updated them to Spanish and to fit the specific series of books that have in my classroom library, and re sized them to 3x5 to fit the containers I was planing on using. You can download the editable version here. It is a mix of series labels, genres, and other categories specific to what I happen to have. You can either print the black and white labels on colored card stock to fit your classroom decor. I also personally like to laminate everything so it lasts and looks nice. 

some of the book labels download here

For the book containers I have been looking around for a while, but most things I liked were so darn expensive. I ended up buying a bunch of these plastic containers for books that retail for about $1 at dollar stores and big box stores, that I will use without the lid. I also already had these magazine holders from Ikea that are only $1.99 for 5. The magazine labels below will go sideways on the front the the boxes. 

Now comes the hard part, actually organizing the books! I went through them to get an idea of what labels to make but once I start sorting them in boxes, I know I will find out that some are not needed and others that I will need to add, or get a larger container for. I also wish that I had a tall bookshelf like in my last classroom, but my two short ones will have to do for now. I would love to have a couch, but settled for buying two small saucer chairs and bringing a rug I had at home for the reading area. I will post pictures once it is finished, since right now it is just a vision in my head. It is time to get to work!

Update: Once I started organizing, I realized there were many labels I could combine or that I needed. Here is the final version I ended up printing. I organized it by non-fiction, magazines, picture books and chapter books, so I could print them on separate colors of paper. 

**Just so you know, everything in my Teachers Pay Teachers store will be 20% off on Wednesday, August 19 for a flash sale!**

Libro lunes: Spanish Reader - Peter va a Colombia

If you are looking for another reader to add to your Spanish classroom library, you should check out Peter va a Colombia by @ProfeKlein at Craig Klein is a native Spanish speaker from Colombia, who now lives in Iowa and teaches elementary Spanish. I was fortunate enough to see his presentation on comprehensible input at #CSCTFL15 with extraordinary student examples in Spanish. 

It was at Craig's presentation that I first heard about the Spanish reader he wrote, Peter va a Colombia. I had been meaning to purchase it since then and finally read it on a plane last week. It is a cute reader for novice Spanish learners that tells the stories of a boy from Iowa who travels to Colombia and all of the adventures he has along the way. The book is chock full of wonderful culture and each chapter introduces the reader to a new positive aspect of Colombia. I would love to purchase a class set and make it a part of my Spanish 1 curriculum. It would be the basis of a cultural unit on Colombia. I personally learned a lot of new cultural aspects about the country and students would as well. Here are a couple really fun extensions for this reader. Craig also has activities that go with these ideas available for purchase on his site. Or you can buy the reader using Amazon Prime below. 


Did you know there is a man who has a mobile library on a Donkey in Colombia!?  There are more resources to teach about Biblioburro here

image source

Desfile del yipao

Also, the Desfile del yipao is an interesting festival in Colombia where trucks are loaded with extreme amounts of stuff! Both of these would be great cultural pieces to add to any Spanish class study of Colombia. 

What are some other readers for Spanish that I should add to my classroom library?


1st Week Logistics

Since my posts 1st Week of Spanish Class , Unit 1 & 1st Day of Spanish Class have been so popular recently I know that there are many of you out there like myself who obsess over the perfect 1st week plans. I decided to share with you a few more specific logistics that I have been getting ready to make that first week back as smooth as possible. 

1st Week Slideshow

I have mentioned before that I find it helpful to make a google slide presentation to help with the flow of my classes. I like to have instructions and plans listed in English, so students can see them, and I do not have to spend too much precious time out of the target language explaining activities. This way students can see the plan for the day, and I have reminders of what I was planning on accomplishing. 

I am so glad that Sra. Dentlinger mentioned a great new to me site, Slides Carnival. It is full of adorable Google Slides templates that are free to use. Below you can see a few samples of my first week slides. You can download the complete slideshow here.

If you would like to download the Proficiency Puzzle mentioned, you can find it here
All posts for #back2school can here found here
Update: If you would like to download all of my back to school products together, you can find them here.

Happy Planning! I will be taking a break since I am off on the last trip of the summer to NYC with my my high school girls. 

Proficiency Puzzle

Proficiency Puzzle - for language class - Mis Clases Locas
In my 1st week of Spanish class plans I mentioned that I wanted to do a station involving students beginning to distinguish between proficiency levels. Since I am starting a new school I do not know my students knowledge of the different levels of proficiency. A way I came up with to introduce the idea to Spanish 1, as well as check for understanding from the upper levels is an activity I am going to call Proficiency Puzzle. 

The goal of this activity is for students to gain an awareness and begin to distinguish the various world language proficiency levels. 

To prep
  • Download the Proficiency Puzzle here
  • Print the proficiency descriptions and cut the squares. If you are planning on using it for multiple classes, print on card stock and laminate for durability. Since I plan on using it at a station and not as a whole class activity, I only plan on prepping a few sets in different colors, so they will not get mixed and jumbled together. 
Proficiency Puzzle - for language class - Mis Clases Locas

  • Print the blank proficiency levels on card stock. Attach them to form one poster if you would like.  

Proficiency Puzzle - for language class - Mis Clases Locas

In pairs or groups have students work to match the proficiency description in the corresponding box. Provide guidance by walking around and assisting where needed. 

Once finished, project the answer keys to discuss the proficiency path and the expected proficiency at their particular level. 

How do you talk about proficiency in your class?

Update: If you would like to download all of my back to school products together, you can find them here.

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