2016 - Mis Clases Locas

Box 1

Box 1
Teaching with Novels

Box 2

Box 2

Box 3

Box 3
Meet Sra. Wienhold

Best of 2016: #1 How I Teach Spanish Without a Textbook - UPDATED Curriculum Year 5

How I Teach Spanish Without a Textbook UPDATED Curriculum Year 5#1 Post of 2016

So my most popular post of the year was my TENTATIVE year 5 curriculum. In all transparency, a lot has changed since that post was published in early August. This was my ideal plan, which included what I hoped my maternity sub would accomplish 1st quarter. Well she did her own thing, so many other things shifted based on that. 

Each level is composed of two semesters that are 18 weeks each, with about 50 minute classes. To see what I have done in past years see: Curriculum years 1-3 & Curriculum - year 4.

Best of 2016: #1 How I Teach Spanish Without a Textbook - UPDATED Curriculum Year 5

Best of 2016: #2 1st Week of Spanish Class Using CI

Best of 2016: #2 1st Week of Spanish Class Using CI

Some of my most popular posts of all time revolve around what to do during the first week of Spanish class (1st Week of Spanish Class - Daily PlansUnit 1 & 1st Day of Spanish Class). As you may know this year I will not actually be at school the first day, since it is my due date for baby boy #2! Since it is a topic that so many of you are interested in, I will share what I would be doing if I was there the first week this year, with more of a comprehensible input focus. 

If you are starting at a new school, or will have all students who are new to you, I would recommend following this week long Unit 1 that focuses on proficiency, procedures and positive people. One of the main activities is the Proficiency Puzzle, which helps students who are new to the concept of language proficiency learn to distinguish proficiency levels, and help to figure out what will be expected of them during the year (per your Syllabus)You can see my Daily Plans post for exactly what I did each day last year. You can download everything you need in this Back to School Bundle

Best of 2016: #2 1st Week of Spanish Class Using CI

1st Week of Spanish Class - This year
This year I am in the unique #deptof1 situation that I already know and have had every student, with the exception of anyone new to the district. I even already know Spanish 1, since I had every 7th and 8th grader last year in Exploratory Spanish. This means in Spanish 1 we can skip a lot of the typical first week introductions (like my introduction Prezi), and get right into the focus, the Super 7 verbs (from Terry Waltz - es, tiene, le gusta, hay, está, va, quiere). Below would be the tentative plan for Spanish 1. Hopefully I will share plans for upper levels in another post. 

**Update You can now download all of these plans as a high frequency verb unit. 

Day 1 - Spanish 1

BEFORE CLASS - A Spanish Pandora Station will be playing, all desks will have these seating cards & students can take pictures with the Instagram Photo Booth

GREET - Greet all students at the door in Spanish with a smile, handshake and a seating card. I will ask their name in Spanish, modeling "Me llamo Señora Wienhold" "¿Cómo te llamas?" 

INTRO MYSELF - Make sure that all students know who I am, flipping through a few pictures of my summer in a slideshow to talk about what I did prompting discussion. 

NAME GAME SPEEDBALL-  This is a fun way to review how to introduce yourself and essential to class bonding if there are any new students. 

PERSONA ESPECIAL - Normally them we would go into Ben Slavic's circling with balls using nameplates talking about everyone. Since I know everyone's names, we will not be making nameplates and instead will go right into special person interviews from Bryce Hedstrom. I will ask for a outgoing volunteer to sit on the special stool, and as a class we will ask them questions using this list. Depending on time, we may go through a couple people and then do a quick free write at the end to write down everything they remember about their classmates for future use. Each day of the week there will be one target structure of teh super 7 that will be introduced and focused on. 

Day 1 - Focus Word of Super 7 - es 

  • ¿De dónde eres? - Soy de… Es de…
  • ¿Eres (cognate adjectives - ex. atletico) - Soy… Es…

PASS OUT MINI SUPPLY LIST  - As students leave they will receive a mini supply list, so they know what to get for class. (Chromebook, Binder, loose leaf paper, 8 tab dividers & writing utensil)

Day 2

PERSONA ESPECIAL - We will go through a few more students to get to know our class and practice basic phrases. We will review the focus word from the previous day and add a new focus word. 

Day 2 - Focus Word of Super 7 - tiene 

  • ¿Cuántos años tienes? - Tengo ___ años. Tiene ___ años.
  • ¿Tienes hermanos/animales? - Tengo... Tiene 

NAME GAME SPEEDBALL-  as a brain break

START STATIONS - For all of those necessary first week logistics, I like to do quick stations that students move through at their own pace. These involve completing the following tasks:

  • Instagram Photo Booth - Take and post pictures in the using out class hashtag.
  • Parent Newsletter/video permission form - Students pick up & take home to get signed. 
  • Schoology - Students sign up using the class code.
  • Info Form - Once on Schoology, they fill out the posted Google Form that helps me get to know them, their interests, and their language abilities
  • Spanish Twitter - Students create Twitter account that will be used for class & follow our class account. 
  • Syllabus - Students look through the posted syllabus and post questions or comments on Schoology. 
  • Proficiency Puzzle - Students work with a partner to distinguish proficiency levels. We will discuss these later once everyone is done. 

Day 3

PERSONA ESPECIAL - We will go through a few more students to get to know our class and practice basic phrases. We will review focus words from previous days and add a new focus word. 

Day 3 - Focus Word of Super 7 - le gusta

  • ¿Qué te gusta hacer? - Me gusta ___. Le gusta___ 


Day 4

PERSONA ESPECIAL - We will go through a few more students to get to know our class better. We will review focus words from previous days and add a new focus word. Students will complete a free write on all those we have learned about so far. 

Day 4 - Focus Word of Super 7 - hay

  • ¿Cuántas personas hay en tu familia? - En mi familia hay ___personas. Hay ___ personas en la familia de ___. 
  • Syllabus - Discuss questions or clarifications.
  • Proficiency Puzzle - Go over proficiency levels, class expectations and have students make their own proficiency goal. Students write this goal down and share with the teacher. 

Day 5


PERSONA ESPECIAL - We will go through a few more students to get to know our class better. We will review focus words from previous days. Students will complete a free write on all those we have learned about so far. 

STORY - The class will create a story using the four target structures of the super 7 so far (es, tiene, le gusta, hay) and using two volunteer actors. The goal is our story will use some of the real information we learned about the class during the special person interviews. Below is just a basic example that uses the target structures. 

Story Script Idea (es, tiene, le gusta, hay)

Hay una muchacha. Sara es inteligente y atractiva. Sara tiene un canguro. El canguro es adorable. Sara le gusta el canguro.  

Hay un muchacho. Carlos no es inteligente y no es atractivo. Carlos tiene un rinoceronte. El rinoceronte es gigante. Carlos le gusta el rinoceronte.  

Carlos le gusta Sara, pero Sara no le gusta Carlos. El canguro de Sara ataca el rinoceronte de Carlos. Carlos no está contento.

STORY EXTENSION - Depending on how much time we have, we may do some type of story extension, while I type up the class story. This may be that students make a storyboard or mural to retell the story the next week. 

The next week would continue with adding in the rest of the super 7 - está, va, quiere.

What do your 1st week of school plans look like?

Resources & posts for back to school


Best of 2016: #3 Why I Don't Start School With a Review Unit

Best of 2016: #3 Why I Don't Start School With a Review Unit

Earlier this year I received a comment on my post about this year's curriculum and how I teach without a textbook from the awesome Amanda (@ADiazMora on Twitter) that really got me thinking. It was a simple and straightforward question: 
"How do you review with your 2's & 4's?" 
As I started thinking about how I would answer, I knew I needed more space, because the answer to how do I review is "I don't."

Best of 2016: #3 Why I Don't Start School With a Review Unit


Best of 2016: #4 How to NOT Take School Work Home as a Teacher

How to not take school work home - Best of 2016

The 4th most popular post of 2016 is all about time management and setting priorities. It is especially even more true now that I have both a toddler and infant at home. The biggest time saver for me is to use what other people have created. I have let go of my pride and I use what works. My challenge to you this winter break is to leave your school bag at school. Can you do it!?!

A reader recently requested a blog post on balancing life as a teacher/mom/blogger. Here are all posts with the label teaching mom, and I will be the first to tell you that it is a balancing act that always seems like it is really close to tipping over. Like everything on the internet, I am sure it seems I have things together much more than I actually do. For example, right when school got out I went weeks without a new blog post, because it was actually harder to find time to write when I was at home full time, due to operation potty training, than it was while teaching full time. Bless those of you who work from home with kids, because my before/after school and prep time is when I get SO much done, and this includes blogging. So, while I am not an expert by any means, here is my biggest tip for finding a teacher/mom balance - do not take school work home!

Best of 2016: #4 How to NOT Take School Work Home as a Teacher

Best of 2016: #5 Brain Breaks in Spanish Class

Best of 2016: #5 Brain Breaks in Spanish Class

I can not believe it is already time to wrap up the year! To keep with tradition, here was the 5th most popular post of 2016, Brain Breaks in Spanish Class. Looking at this again reminds me I need to do a better job of having brain breaks in the schedule and actually doing them!

I have been very intrigued lately with all of the teachers using the primacy/recency method of lesson planning. Basically it is a way to plan a lesson using research to get the most out of the prime student learning time. Sara-Elizabeth shared a lesson plan template last school year that she and Amy Lenord developed and Amy just shared her digital Google docs plan book using this method. Wendy just shared how this method has been working for her so far this school year. Here is how Wendy breaks down her class time using this lesson plan model:
input activity –> processing activity –> administrative activity (if needed) –> brain break –> input #2 –> interactive activity/formative PBA
Since I am currently not in the classroom on maternity leave, I can't just try this method out tomorrow like I would usually do once I get a new idea (perks of being a #deptof1). The biggest change that I need to wrap my head around is notice how class starts, input. It does not start with "para empezar" bell ringer. Some of my most popular posts ever revolve around para empezar, which as someone recently posted on Twitter, is more of a management tool than a student learning tool. Ouch. It may sting a little, but I completely agree. At the same time, as a new teacher it was the management tool that helped save my sanity teaching four separate preps. Am I saying that as a new teacher sometimes management has to come before optimal student learning? Yes. As a fresh teacher effective management leads to teacher sanity, which leads to the teacher returning the next day and year, which leads to the teacher finding better ways to provide optimal student learning. I guess that as a now fifth year teacher I am past the new teacher phase and have the management more under my belt (I like to call that student relationships), and can officially move into optimal environment for student learning. 

Best of 2016: #5 Brain Breaks in Spanish Class

15 Ways to Use Authentic Music in Spanish Class - SSS

15 Ways to Use Authentic Music in Spanish Class

As I recently mentioned, I have a new collaborative venture. I have teamed up with nine other Spanish teachers to bring you the Secondary Spanish SpaceWe are a group of Spanish teachers who have come together to share ideas and resources. Today I am sharing 15 ways I incorporate authentic music in my Spanish classes. My post is actually the first ever on the blog as it launches today, so give it some love. 

If you would like to follow along on social media, here are the links. 

I will still be blogging here as well, but as you may have noticed I am moving to just about one post per week as I try and figure out this whole balancing life / teaching / 2 kids 2 and under / nursing / blogging / NHS advisor / Camp Adventure / sleep. So, check out Secondary Spanish Space!

Lista lunes - Winter holidays in Spanish class

Lista lunes - Winter holidays in Spanish class

Infuse culture in the craziness

I usually try to share my holiday lista lunes towards the beginning of the month, but with all of the holiday craziness with an infant and toddler, now will have to do. If you are looking for some activities to infuse culture into your Spanish classes during that awkward time before or after break, here are some great ideas for you. As a language class, we can get away with teaching (and celebrating) holidays since it is directly related to our cultural content, that other classes might not be able to do. 

La Navidad & el Día de los Reyes Magos in a 90% TL Classroom

A great well laid out guide to introduce Christmas vs. Reyes Magos in all Spanish. Mundo de Pepita even includes a video & script! 

Tweets Navideños

Elizabeth Dentlinger shares some awesome ready to use activities for holiday tweets in Spanish. 

Carmina - La Lotería de España 2016

Kara Jacobs has a great unit using this year's Spanish Christmas ad, Carmina. I hope to use it with my upper levels once we get back from break. 

Cultural Reading: Los Reyes Magos

If you are like out school, you will go back after break to a partial week, right during Los Reyes Magos! Use this reading and questions as a one day introduction to the holiday. You could combine it with the ideas above from Mundo de Pepita to compare it to Christmas.

Plate Sketch Game

On Friday, I plan on bringing out the plate sketch game in all Spanish again. It is a fun way to use Christmas vocabulary, while being goofy and having a good time. 

Holiday baile viernes

I just shared a few videos that can be used as brain breaks, baile viernes, or just to get out some pre break wiggles. 

White Elephant/Yankee Swap

For the last day before break in Spanish 1, I plan to do a version of a gift exchange in all Spanish. I have wrapped a bunch of random and goofy little gifts, enough for each person. They will all draw a number, and that is the order they get to pick. After number one goes, each person after that gets to chose from the gift pile, or steal from someone else. I have the rile that after two steals an item is frozen, unless you are the last person, who can pick any gift. Before starting we will discuss the vocabulary needed (I want, give me the gift). When it is their turn, the student will need to say one of these phrases in Spanish. I will narrate what is happening in Spanish as we go. Hopefully, the students find it entertaining. I will share how it goes :)

Here are a couple other holiday posts with resources for you!

Lista lunes: Winter Holidays 2015

1st Week Back from Winter Break

For the rest of the month, I will be sharing a post with a new collaboration, as well as doing my annual "best of" posts from the year. Which post was the most viewed of 2016? Tune in to find out!

Why my Classroom Does Not have Desks

Why my Classroom Does Not have Desks #Deskless

Tuesday I had a ROUGH day with "that class." The class that gives me a run for my money every day. The class that requires that I have every minute planned out well, or everything becomes chaos. The class that makes me so thankful I have my prep right after to mentally recover. The class that pushes me out of my comfort zone management wise and ultimately will make me a better teacher. but Tuesday I was not all sunshine and rainbows. I blew up on "that class." They made me so frustrated with their disrespect, that I said things out of anger and used reading alone and answering the questions alone as punishment. (That was the worse thing I could have done to a group with a Wide variety of abilities and many special accommodations). 

So Tuesday night as I laid in bed still hot thinking about that class, it came to me after seeing a post on the TPRS - Deskless Classroom Facebook page. I should get rid of my tables. I have been meaning to go deskless for years. Ever since I saw the awesome Grant Bouglanger present at CSCTFL a couple years ago, I have wanted to try it. Last year, I ordered a class set of clipboards, with the intention of getting rid of my tables. But, I was too chicken to try and still the teacher in the school. I knew when I returned from maternity leave that it would be a big change for the students, so I did not want to freak them out right away. But now, it was time. I needed a management change. 

Wednesday morning the time got away from me, and the tables were still in their normal places. The class before "that class," I asked my students to help me move the tables around the perimeter of the room. I went deskless mid day and it was a great choice.


  • As students enter, they are asked to put everything on the back tables except their novel (or what they need to start class). 
  • I have a class set of clipboards on a basket that students may use if they would like.
  • Students are asked to sit up with eyes on who is is talking. 
  • Our chairs are currently in a semi circle, but I plan to start making other formations and marking on the floor with tape, so students know where they go. 
  • Most classes are reading novels right now, so for all class discussion and when I read to them students stay in this formation.  
  • When we have work time or group activities, they can pull chairs up to tables, sit on the floor or work in the class library. While working with manipulative sentence strips today I had students working in pairs on tables, under tables, and pretty much all over the room. 
  • Since we do not have textbooks, this is a much easier transition than if students needed a lot of "stuff." Students just have a small binder and their current small novel. 


In just one day here are the benefits I have seen from having students in just chairs. 
  • Great for class discussion in Spanish - It is so much easier to do PQA (personalized question and answer), special person interviews, and discuss projected questions from a novel where everyone is facing each other. 
  • Few distractions - When students enter, all bags and stuff goes on the back tables. This means that chromebooks, phones, hidden snacks, other homework, and everything else that keeps them from focusing on Spanish is out of site and out of mind. 
  • More engagement - Since students can't hide behind tables, everyone by default has been paying more attention and participating more. It is much easier for me to teach to their eyes, when everyone is closer together. 
  • More space - There is so much room for activities! My room seems bigger and we have space to dance and do other fun things. 

Questions you may be thinking

  • Do students think I am crazy? - Yes, but that is nothing new. 
  • Has there been any push back? - A few students seem less than pleased, but they are also the ones who hate any kind of change. The upperclassman were actually the ones that kept trying to put their backpack by them, but they are the worst multitask offenders. Without distractions, we had a great, genuine discussion today about our novel and the MS-13 gang. 
  • Where do they write? - They can pick up a clipboard, pull up to a table, or just write on their binder. 
  • What do other teachers think? - The science teacher across the hall mentioned that she was curious to see it in action, so I told her she was welcome anytime. She actually sat in part of a class today, and said she was very glad she did. 
  • Has it been perfect? - No, but I had my best day yet today with "that class." They were focused, having fun, and participating. 
  • Do I have it all figured out? - Heck no. I am still learning and growing every day. But, I do know that today was one of my best days teaching in a while. I am leaving feel energized with the deskless possibilities. 
please ignore that the Thankful Turkey is still up :)


Introducing the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha

Introducing the novel Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha

Voces Inocentes, El Salvador, Child Soldiers & MS-13

This summer I blogged about Resources for teaching Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha. Well now that I am back from maternity leave, I have actually been able to put these hypothetical plans to use for my Spanish IV. I knew I only had nine instructional days (plus the two Fridays of El Internado) before we would be on Thanksgiving break. Instead of splitting up the novel over break, we spent all nine of those days introducing the novel using the rich cultural context of the setting and themes. 

You may be thinking, how did you spend NINE days introducing a novel? Well, actually I could have used more. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when first teaching a novel is not spending enough time introducing it. By spending time in advance exposing students to the country of origin, historical context, and current content with novel specific vocabulary, actually teaching the novel will go much smoother. For example, while I was gone students read a novel, but the sub did not have them do the weeks of prep work that I usually do first, which includes watching two movies that set up the foundation for being able to analyze the novel. The students told me they did not understand the novel, and therefore that they did not like it. It makes me so sad that they missed the whole point of an awesome novel, because they were not given the foundation on which to properly "get it." I digress, but here is how I introduced the novel Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha from Fluency Matters. Make sure to get the NEW Teacher's Guide too. 

I used to have students watch movies at the end of a unit, but it is so much more powerful to watch one as cultural context before reading a book. Since the authentic movies I show are not the same as the books, it is not spoiling the book for students (unlike in English class, where watching the movie version will keep students from actually reading the book). We started by watching the movie Voces Inocentes using the awesome guide from Kristy Placido. It is rated R, but I have all students and parents sign a permission slip at the start of the year for both El Internado and movies. Honestly, besides violence there are just a few swear words. If you are going to teach this movie, make sure to buy the movie packet from Kristy. It is so much more than just a movie guide with all kinds of other resources as well, which you will see below in our plans. 

Song - Casas de cartón

  • We used the song activity from the movie packet to introduce the song that plays in important role in the movie, and the war in El Salvador. 

Watch Voces Inocentes 

  • We used the guide questions from the movie packet to help keep them focused, as well as to provide discussion in Spanish during and after the movie. 
  • After discussing the movie students worked together in groups to organize the cut up events of the movie (from the movie packet).
  • For an assessment, students took the included quiz over the movie. I usually just collect the movie questions, but since many just get those answers from friends, the assessment actually showed me who had been paying attention to the movie and in class, and not what their neighbor knew. 

Song - Niño Soldado

  • We used the song activity from the movie packet to introduce our discussion on child solders around the world. The students really liked hearing Ska music in Spanish, since some say "all music in Spanish sounds the same." The interesting thing is if you just listen to the song, you would think it is fun and positive, until you analyze the lyrics about child soldiers. 
  • We then used the reading and discussion questions (from you guessed it the movie packet) to talk about child solders around the world. 

El Salvador & Civil War

  • We used the great, comprehensible slide show about El Salvador and the Civil War by Kara Jacobs to continue our discussion, and put together everything we had done so far. 

MS-13 & El Salvador

  • I had been doing a lot of teacher centered comprehensible input, so both the students and I needed some time for independent guided inquiry. I knew the students still needed to have a base on the MS-13 gang before starting the novel, so I created these MS-13 cultural stations for them to complete. We are 1:1 with Chrome books, so they each completed their own Google document, which had links included for authentic resources of articles in both English and Spanish, videos, pictures, and an infographic. If we were not 1:1, I would have done them as old school stations, printing out materials, and having computers available to work together for videos. 

When we get back I plan on having a recruiting day where an administrator removes a student from class, like when students were taken during school at age 12 during the Civil War as child soldiers. I wish I would have done it earlier, but it will still be a good "hook" before we start the novel. We will also do some pre reading discussion, as found in the NEW Teacher's Guide. Hopefully, I will share some posts as we read as well. 

Have you taught this novel? How do you introduce Vida y Muerte?

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Persona Especial

Persona Especial 
Where students ARE the curriculum in language class

I have been hearing about special person interviews for a while now. The original idea came from Bryce Hedstrom and has been adopted by many people who use personalized comprehensible input in their classes. Last year I tested the waters and did them sporadically, mostly in Spanish 1 and Exploratory Spanish. The issue was I never made them a priority at the start of class. Students would ask is they could be the "persona especial" at the start of class, but I would often say "if we have time at the end of class." Did it usually end up happening? No. I usually forgot and got to wrapped up in whatever else we were doing to focus on the most important part of my class, the students. Also, I did not have a great plan. I would ask basic questions, but did not keep track of what I asked and never made it to anything deeper. 

At the amazing inaugural Comprehensible Iowa Conference this summer, I was reminded by the great keynote speaker Grant Boulanger that the best personalized curriculum for novice students is using YOUR STUDENTS. I made the decision that when I returned to school, I would make special person interviews a priority. 

Last week I returned from maternity leave. Considering that my substitute got the textbooks out of storage instead of using the CI plans and materials I left, I knew it would be like the first day of school all over again with the return of comprehensible input. We dove right in to "persona especial" interviews as our main curriculum for week one. This time I was focused and went through specific questions using Kara Jacobs idea of a slide show too. I think this really helps the visual learners as well, and allows me to be able to use the words to point, pause and circle. Each day we can flip through the slide show to review the previous day, and then start over with a new person. We have been building and adding a couple new questions every day. 

Our Persona Especial process
  • Students immediately ask as they enter class if they can be the special person. A rock, paper, scissor off may be necessary to come up with who gets to be interviewed first.
  • The special person gets to sit on the special stool up front.  
  • I ask the special person questions, and help them answer in the "I form." I then ask the class the answer and they respond in the "he/she form."
  • I circle this question to get as many repetitions in as possible. This includes yes/no questions, either or questions and interrogatives. To see more information check out How to Circle - by Martina Bex.
  • I move on to the next question when I see the class is ready. 
  • During all of these I am circulating in the room, using big gestures and getting in those active minutes on my fitbit :)
  • We repeat the process as long as high interest continues, flipping to a new slide with each new question. 
  • We do a quick review, covering all new information 
  • If high interest is still there we repeat the process with another student. If needed everyone gets up for a brain break first. 
At the end of the first week we did a very basic quiz over the special people. I did it as an open writing quiz, because I also wanted to see what the students learned while I was gone. This was the first time I saw their writing performance for the year. Here is the quiz I used for week 1. 

My Takeaways
Some students blew me away with what they could produce. They remembered little details from the interviews and did a great job parroting back what was said. Other students said it was way to hard and were mad at me for making them actually write. (They were used to just fill in the correct blank in the workbook). It made me realize that some were not ready for the output stage. For the next quiz I am going to give them more input to work with. I have a list of students from class, and a list of statements for them to match. This will allow them to show their comprehension, without requiring the output. here is the second quiz. My favorite feedback from the week is below. It says "I really liked learning more about my classmates! Since Abbi is still newer, I liked learning more about her!" 

Friday Feedback from a Freshman after week 1

I love that students are working on building our positive Spanish community. Not only are the students learning about each other, but I am learning about them, while all staying in Spanish. It is so fun to find out who has a hedgehog, listens to gospel music, works 30 hours per week, or hunts and skins deer on the weekend. I look forward to continuing to learn about all of my special people. 

Do you do something similar? How does it work in your class?
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