April 2016 - Mis Clases Locas

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Teaching with Novels

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Meet Sra. Wienhold

El Internado Final Exam - Season 1

Update: These resources are no longer available on TPT. Please email me if you would like more information or have questions. 

For those of you who were interested in an exam over El Internado season 1, here it is!
El Internado Final Exam - Season 1. Last week I shared a post on my final exam for seasons 1-2 & seasons 1-3. Once again I would have gladly shared it for everyone to use, but I did not want the answer keys out there for students to find. 

This exam was originally made in Google forms for flubaroo, so it includes more specific answers than most assessments I do. Give this exam if your students have watched season 1 (the first 6 episodes) of El Internado: Laguna Negra. This exam includes a mix of 45 multiple choice, true-false & fill in the blank questions over season 1. There are character identification, who said it, place identification with pictures, and major plot points included. There is also a writing prompt to be completed in Spanish. In addition I usually do an interpersonal assessment as well, where students must talk in pairs about both El Internado and the books we have read this year. 

See this blog page for all of my resources for teaching El Internado. El Internado Resources

TPT Update

Since I finally added a few things to Teachers Pay Teachers for the first time since SUMMER, I decided it was time for a little end of the year sale! This Tuesday & Wednesday (May 3 & 4) my entire TPT Store will be 20% off! Use the code CELEBRATE at checkout! This is your chance to get some end of the year activities to spice it up and finally grab some items that have been hanging out in your wish list. Remember, that if you review items you have purchased on TPT, you get points that can be spent like money. 20 points equals $1!

Here are my newest additions to check out. 
So, do not forget to go shopping this Tuesday & Wednesday (May 3&4)!

Teaching La Calaca Alegre - Chapters 6-10

To finish the year, Spanish 4 is reading the novel La Calaca Alegre by Carrie Toth. I already posted about teaching chapters 1-5 and here are all posts with the label La Calaca Alegre.

Chapter 6

  • We reviewed chapters 1-5 from the week before using the fun marker partner game from Cynthia Hitz. I read true/false statements from the first 5 chapters & students have goofy rules to show their comprehension. 
  • Students read chapter 6 and we discussed it as a class. 
  • We used the videos from the teacher's guide to do a video tour of the neighborhood of Pilsen in Chicago. 

Chapter 7

  • We used the phrase "meterse en líos" to talk about students past history of getting in trouble using an activity from the teacher's guide. 
  • We read and discussed the chapter. 
  • We reviewed the conditional tense and students did a guided writing on what their reaction to Carlos would be in they were his aunt and uncle. 

Chapter 8

  • Students shared their free writes from the day before with their tables, reviewing and discussing once again what they would have done it that situation.
  • Per the class request, i read the chapter to them, and we discussed as we went. 
  • Students then wrote and discussed their prediction of what would happen in the second half of the book. 

Chapter 9

  • We discussed predictions as a class and then read and discussed chapter 9. 
  • Students completed a web quest from the teacher's guide about Jeff Zimmerman murals. 
  • We went through the Murales de Pilsen slideshow from the teacher's guide. 

Chapter 10

  • We started this chapter after a long weekend, so I divided up the 9 chapters we had read so far. My nine students were each given a piece of computer paper and were responsible for drawing and writing what happened in their chapter. These were then posted around the room in a gallery walk style, so students could walk through what had happened so far. 
  • Before reading we discussed the phrase "meter la pata," using times we had put our foot in our mouth.We read and discussed the chapter. 
  • Students completed phrases from the starter "If I were Carlos," once again focusing on using the conditional. 
Hopefully by next week I will be able to post Teaching La Calaca Alegre - Chapters 11-15 once we finish the book!

El Internado - Final Exams

Update: These resources are no longer available on TPT. Please email me if you would like more information or have questions. 

This year my Spanish III & IV final exams will be heavily based on the TV show El Internado: Laguna Negra, which they have been watching all year on Fridays. You can find all of my El Internado resources hereDustin Williamson has some other great exams for the show that were very helpful when putting this together. 

By the end of the year Spanish IV should have finished season 3 (We are now farther than i have ever watched with students! last year we only made it to 3.3). Spanish III should finish season 2. We will be able to do this since we have 65 minute classes on Friday and after both classes finish their last books of the year they will get to do a week long El Internado unit. They have been asking to do an Internado unit all year, so this will be their reward for working so hard. (Isn't it awesome when their reward is more input in Spanish;)

I started with the same basic character descriptions and character matching for both exams, as well as who said it quotes. There is also a summary of each season, with key vocabulary words missing to fill in using word banks. There are a few pictures as well to describe where they take place, who is included, what is happening, and why this is important to the show. To finish there is a review essay where students give a summary of what happened, how they feel about, how they would change it, who they would recommend it for, and predictions. You can download both versions here. I would have shared it freely, but I did not want answer keys floating around the Internet. 

For the interpersonal part of their exam, they will discuss, compare and contrast El Internado with the other books they have read this year. 

NEW: I now also have a final for season 1! - El Internado Final Exam - Season 1

Teaching La Calaca Alegre - Chapters 1-5

To finish the year, Spanish 4 is reading the novel La Calaca Alegre by Carrie Toth. I have only taught the novel once before, with Spanish 4 last year. I have the wonderful teacher's guide and realized that the fist time through last year I must have just been flying by the seat of my pants, pulling questions day by day from the teacher's guide and projecting them. It was my first year with novels and was teaching them in four separate classes at once for the first time, just trying to survive. 

This year I spent some time putting together a big Google Slide show with chapter by chapter questions and activities. For each chapter I have pre reading, during reading, and post discussion questions included. We do not necessarily discuss every question, but I project them to spark discussion, and the whole slide show is posted on Schoology for absent students. This is especially nice during track season with students leaving early multiple times a week. Students know if they are gone, they should read the next chapter and complete the accompanying questions. This slide show is where I also put links to additional videos, resources, and activities that supplement what we are discussing. It helps to keep me focused and able to pull up the day's plans easily. I find it much easier to plan a whole unit at once, and it ultimately saves a lot of time.

image source

Introducing La Calaca Alegre
  • Just like last year we started with a discussion on Identity. As I discuss in this post, I used pictures of me in high school to talk about my high school identity, as well as pictures of me now to show how my idea of my identity has changed. 
  • Students created a single PicMonkey collage or Google slide using pictures that represent their identity. 
  • I projected these collages and each student talked for about a minute in Spanish about their identity through these pictures. 
Chapter 1
  • Now that students have done their Literature Circles, they are much more independent readers in Spanish. They read chapter 1 on their own, and then we discussed it as a class. 
  • As a review the next day, I projected the chapter 1 word cloud from the teachers guide. Students did a 5 minute free write retelling the first chapter using the world cloud. They shared these at their table and we discussed it as a class. 
Chapter 2
  • To introduce the vocab we tried out Quizlet Live for the first time with vocab from chapter 2. We used these terms from Darcy Pippens & Christine Clark. The students and I had both never tried it, but it was a great team building way to introduce or review vocab. 
  • I read the chapter to the class, discussing questions as we went. 
Chapter 3
  • Students read the chapter in groups and then we discussed it as a class. 
  • To review the next day, students put 10 events from the chapter in order using the manipulatives from the teacher's guide. 
  • We also did a reader's theater, acting out the restaurant and car scenes from the teacher's guide. Students love the chance to dig into the prop box. 
  • We used the food slide show to talk about Mexican food. 
Chapter 4
  • Students read the chapter alone and then we discussed it as a class. 
  • Individually, student retold the night Angelica disappeared, using the word cloud from the teacher's guide. 
  • Students completed a chapter quiz informally together to see their comprehension so far. 
Chapter 5
  • We read and discussed the chapter. Most of the small class decided to sit together and take turns reading out loud. A few others chose to read alone. 
  • The class got to chose either a chapter 5 quizlet or chapter 5 Kahoot to review.
  • We discussed the mural Gulliver by Hector Duarte. We watched the Duarte Interview, while students followed along with the transcript (all provided in the teacher's guide). They worked together to answer comprehension questions from the interview. 
  • Students also read through the murals of Pilsen slideshow. 
I plan to continue with this series as we read with posts on chapters 6-10 & 11-15. Here are all posts with the label La Calaca Alegre.

Teaching the novel Tumba

As a part of my Spanish 1 expansion Culture & Civilization class, we are reading Tumba by Mira Canion. It is now my third time teaching the novel, and it gets better each time. My first time with the book I posted each chapter with ideas. You can see them all with the label Tumba. I am including links to the original plans, along with what did this time. We have 60 minute classes and typically did 1 chapter with expansion activities per day. For more ideas, here are all posts with the label Day of the Dead.


Comprehensible Iowa

As you may have seen on social media, Iowa is officially going to have a conference this summer specifically geared for comprehensible input strategies. I am very excited for this opportunity to learn and grow so close to home. It will be on Saturday, June 18 in Nevada, Iowa. There will be tracks for beginner, experienced CI teachers, as well as edcamp style sessions. Check out the Comprehensible Iowa website for for information. 

CI: Comprehensible Iowa Conference - graphic by Elizabeth Dentlinger

I will be presenting a session on Teaching a Novel 101. I would love YOUR feedback of what you would want included in my session. Please comment with what you would want to be included in a session like this!

You should register here for this great one day event. There will be TWO keynote presentations: Carol Gaab (author & founder of TPRS Publishing) and Grant Boulanger (CSCTFL teacher of the year). If you are in the middle of the U.S., this is the event of the summer to be at. Get your PD requests in now & I hope to see you there!


Literature Circles in Spanish Class

In my post about my Curriculum Year 4, I mentioned a plan to have literature circles in both Spanish III and IV. I have always wanted to try out this English class technique, where multiple groups are reading and discussing different books all at once. Luckily, I am a part of the language PLC with the English teachers, which includes a young rock star English teacher who shared her wisdom and resources with me while I planned. I also checked out the following posts as well Kristy Placido - Círculos de la literatura & Martina Bex - literature circles. We just finished up literature circles in Spanish 4, and are starting in Spanish 3. 

**You can download the entire Literature Circle Unit here**

The first step was to purchase a variety of books in sets of 5. I chose the books below, all from TPRS Publishing. For Spanish 4, I picked all level 3 books, and for Spanish 3 a variety of levels that all use the past tense. I like that for individual reading, I like that these books all have a glossary that included every word and cognate.

Spanish 4 - Literature Circles with the following 3 books 
Spanish 3 - Literature Circles with the following 4 books in past tense 

For students to rank their choices, I made a power point for each class with a description of each book, including the country of setting and main cultural themes. This was shared in our shared Schoology folder and students filled out a form ranking their choices, and giving their reasoning as well. I went through their requests and tried to put students into groups of their 1st or 2nd choice, while making sure that each group would be a positive functioning unit. For the duration of this unit, groups sat together in table groupings. 

Once in their groups, they filled out calendars to keep everyone accountable for their plan. I I included an editable calendar in the unit package. 

This is the plan that was shared with students as the basis of our unit. It includes the following days as a part of our plan. 
  • Reading & Discussion - They have these general discussion questions, which help them when they get stuck. I move from group to group, helping where needed. I wanted to give them enough in class time to make sure everyone reads, and to provided support for those who like to read out loud with their group. For next year I am requesting the audio books for each group to have as an option as well. For my first time I did not have specific "roles" in each group, but this is something I think I may add with Spanish 3 especially. Spanish 4 had just gotten done doing lit circles in English class, so they had a better idea already of how to stay on track. 
  • Guided Interpersonal Speaking - Every few days we have a more structured interpersonal time which is required to be completely in Spanish. I give a topic (characters, setting, theme, plot, dram, critique etc), set a timer for 15 minutes, and then walk around informatively assessing. Here is my power point of topics & prompts. It is meant to be like a book club and students may use their books and notes.
  • Guided Writing - Right after speaking I set another 15 minute timer and students write about the topic they just discussed, also comparing it to other books and movies. I read these, give feedback and return them as formative practice. you can get all of the writing prompt forms in the unit plan.
  • Interpersonal Speaking Assessment - I will listen to each group separately as they discuss and critique their book. 
  • Presentational Writing Assessment - Students write an individual essay in class on paper about their book, using the literary elements discussed in class, as well as comparing it to other books and/or El Internado. It is included in the unit plan.
  • Project - Each group does a short presentation to teach the others about their book and the related culture. All others are encouraged to ask questions as well. 
**You can download the entire Literature Circle Unit here**

As always this is a work in progress and I would love any feedback that you have for me to make this better!

If you do not have multiple copies of each novel and would like to do something similar, check out my posts on how we did Individual Novel Study last year. Individual Novel Study Part 1 & part 2

Write a grant for your classroom

My first year teaching I went out of my comfort zone and applied for my first grant to start my classroom library. Like many of you I had $0/year budget and everything for my classroom was going to come out of my pocket unless I figured out some other kind of funding. My local education grant was approved and I received almost $1000 to start my Spanish classroom library. I was hooked and realized all I had to do was apply. 

I then applied for two more grants this education grant in my area & the IWLA grant for language teachers in Iowa. They were for building my Spanish classroom library, as well as purchasing class sets of novels with teachers guides. I received them both!

Now I am not an expert in grant writing, and even though I started out 3/3, my next one was rejected. I have had a few people ask for advice, so here are my tops tips for writing and receiving money to fund your classroom. 


  • I have figured out the secret is just to apply! I know one year the local education grant had only 48 applicants and ended up funding 36 projects worth a total of $30,000. For some grants the money goes unused because there are not enough worth applicants. So just like you tell your high school seniors with scholarships, the money is out there just waiting for you! To find grants to apply to, fire up your Google, talk to your administration, and look to professional and local education and language groups you belong to. Do you know of a grant? Please share the link in the comments!!

Follow Directions 

  • Just like we tell our students, make sure you carefully read the directions, use any given rubrics, proofread, and submit early. You do not want to be immediately discarded for unprofessional writing (never use contractions in professional writing!) dumb errors, or not following the directions. If you are given a rubric in advance, use that to your advantage to make sure that your project perfectly fits the given criteria. 

Do Your Research

  • Prepare some killer grants by selling yourself by aligning to your district's goals and using professional literature. My grants have always been literacy based, and every district has literacy goals that your reading project can hopefully help support. Also, use the professional literature for studies showing examples of the importance of second language acquisition. 
  • Here is my plug for our Iowa World Language Association grant. If you are a language teacher in Iowa you need to apply! There are up to two grants just for Iowa language teachers. The deadline for applications is April 30, so get it in soon. Forms, instructions, rubric, and submission details are all found here. There is also a separate grant for elementary language programs in Iowa as well with the same due date. 

Want more ideas? See all of my posts with the label grant

Another Alternative - Ask for donations

  • I have never personally tried this but I know of teachers with success in crowd sourcing sites such as www.gofundme.com & www.donorschoose.org. I am not a fan of fundraising myself, but many times celebrities and businesses go on these sites and mass fund for tax write offs. It never hurts to try!

Do you know of a grant that language teachers should know about? Please share the link in the comments!!

Why you should host a student teacher

This week I had the pleasure of having my first ever student teacher. It was for more of a "practicum" as some people call it or in our local university lingo "level 3," the last level before a full semester of student teaching. It. WAS. AWESOME.

I have been impatiently waiting for the opportunity to host a university student for the past years, as you can not have one until you have your standard Iowa teaching license. Except I used to think I wanted a student to be able to help me out. Boy was I missing the whole point. Having a university student in your classroom is not just so they can complete menial tasks for you, or teach so you do not have to. Having a university student is an opportunity to be a mentor, co-teacher, and coach. It is a chance to have a collaborative partner to share ideas and immediately reflect on both their teaching as well as your own. In a language class it gives you another speaker of the target language to model conversations, and personalized questioning and answering. It means as a team you can plan to go back and forth taking the lead, and being the assistant who circulates the room providing proximity and student assistance. 

As a teacher you get to TEACH an eager student (teacher) who really wants to learn how you do things in your classroom and best practices. I was able to spread my new found love for comprehensible input based teaching, and have a new believer who is so excited about using these techniques in her own future classroom. She said on multiple occasions how impressed she was with the students ability to understand what was being done in the target language in the classroom. As 4th week students of Spanish the rowdy 8th graders GET IT. She was able to see first hand story asking in action and the 8th graders loving every minute of a girl in their class seeing, meeting, and then rejecting Kanye, while running the other way. (Camina y Corre story by Martina Bex)

After just one week together she gave me the sweetest thank you card, which really reminded me what I do what I do. I TEACH. But, this week I got to teach more than just students, and it was more rewarding than I ever though possible. So, if you are ever asked about mentoring future teachers. DO IT. Will you actually have all of this extra time since they are doing everything for you? No, not if you are really focusing on coaching, reflecting, and working with your student teacher. Will it be worth it? YES. 
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