Saturday, March 17, 2018

Three Easter Themed Videos for Elementary Spanish Class Plus Tips to Use Them in Class

EASTER IS SUCH AN EXCITING TIME FOR LITTLE LEARNERS, as they look forward to Easter egg hunts and baskets full of chocolate. Here are three videos with an Easter theme you can use in class as a source of loads of question and answer directed activities, allowing for practice and reinforcement of previously learnt vocabulary, and an opportunity to add to their word banks, while at the same time keeping their attention span on language learning and practice, even during this exciting time of year:

PEPPA PIG IS, OF COURSE, a perennial favorite, as is Pocoyó. Both are cute, very illustrative in terms of action, and kids readily relate to the story.

ZOU IS AN ADORABLE ZEBRA, from Disney I believe. The videos are not quite as concrete as Peppa Pig and Pocoyó, with greater reliance on the spoken word to tell the story, which can be challenging for some kids. However, if you have a fair number of heritage speakers in your classroom, this is a great choice!

SINCE SOME OF THE SPANISH IS challenging for my students, especially my Kinders & 1sts, I do not have an expectation to watch these videos and have them understand everything. However, as I mentioned above, they are great to use as picture and prediction prompts in a Q & A format. I use a lot of YES/NO and EITHER/OR questions when incorporating videos, which serve as supports for my kiddos and allow us to stay in the target language. Other questions I use over and over again are ¿Cuántos? and ¿De qué color es ___?- these two alone are enormous workhorses! How many eggs are there? Now how many are there? and now? and now? What color is that egg? What color is that egg? And what color is that egg? What color egg does Pocoyó have? What color egg does Elly have?..... you get the drift! The repetition provides tons of practice, is very comprehensible, and also allows us to add in those "small but powerful" words like 'y', 'muy', 'un poquito', 'también', etc, that are learned better in context rather than in a directed lesson.

Three Easter Videos for Spanish Class Elementary Spanish for Kids

IN THE EPISODE WITH PEPPA PIG, for example, you can start with what color the house is. Is the house big or small? Is is sunny or rainy? How many friends are there? Is it Grandpa or Grandma? Are they looking for cheese or eggs? Are the plants little or big? What color are the plants? and so on. I usually stop a video every 10 seconds or so, depending on the action, to ask questions and elicit responses. In order to head off the 'don't stop the video' comments, I have established the routine that, time permitting, we will watch the video a second time without me stopping. I can certainly understand why they want to watch all the way through without pause, so I try to provide that-and since we have already been talking about the video the first time through, they frequently call out words and phrases in Spanish as we are watching it a second time!

WHAT VIDEOS DO YOU LOVE to use in class? Share in the comments! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Simple Tip for Explaining Traditional Foods in the Target Language (without translating!)

TRADITIONAL FOOD IS A GREAT WAY TO INCORPORATE CULTURE in our foreign language classrooms, but the more unfamiliar they are, the trickier they can be to explain without translating... well, actually not! Here's a SIMPLE TIP for explaining foods without resorting to using English in class (and therefore maintaining your 90% in the target language goal!):

How to Explain traditional foods in world language class without translating

*a photo(s) of the traditional food
*a map
*the main ingredients, either as photos or plastic food or a mix of both (or, the real ingredients!! even better!)

TO INTRODUCE THE FOOD, show a photo of the dish and name it. Then, point to your map to identify where it comes from (I love to have velcro on the back so we can stick pictures up on a large map!) and then show the main ingredients that make up the food. It's that SIMPLE!

A quick tip to talk about traditional foods in language class without translating

BY NAMING THE INGREDIENTS, you provide a mental impression of what the finished dish is comprised of, which, even for little kiddos, is usually enough for them to get the overall idea of the food without having to go into more detail. Remember, this tip is just for identifying a food! So, for example, if you are naming typical dishes of a variety of countries (or just talking about one country and identifying traditional dishes, this tip is perfect to allow you to stay in the target language :) )

FOR PHOTOS OF TRADITIONAL FOODS FROM SPANISH SPEAKING COUNTRIES, visit my Pinterest board 'Recetas del mundo hispanohablante' here!

I'd love to hear what foods/dishes you talk about in class-share in the comments below! :)

Friday, March 2, 2018

March Madness with a Twist-How I Made Brackets with Animals for my Elementary Spanish Classes

HELLO MARCH and HELLO MARCH MADNESS! It is exciting to see teachers engaging in music brackets in their foreign language classes and to hear how much kids are enjoying them! Last year I tried it out, with great music suggestions from a Twitter colleague, but I just couldn't manage it in my 30 minute classes-clearly operator error! As this March came ever closer, I wracked my brain to find a way to participate that I could pull off..... and then I came across this really cool project out of Arizona State University (March Mammal Madness) and realized THIS I could do-especially since my Third Graders had done research on endangered animals in South America in December, so this became the perfect followup.

March Madness Brackets with Animals for FLES Spanish and French

I SIMPLIFIED THE BRACKETS FOR MY CLASSES since we only meet twice a week and have other theme activities to do... I chose 8 animals from South America, including the ones we had focused on back in December, and created the bracket. Since I have 4 third grade classes, each class will vote on each part of the bracket before an animal is advanced-this was a challenge for me last year-keeping four sets of votes on music as we progressed. Again, operator error I am sure! I've used white poster board for the brackets this year and as we vote, I put tally marks right on the brackets (oh, a little math, too!!! sneaky!)...I copied smaller pictures of each animal to place along the bracket as the vote moves forward. (The animals on the board this year are: el lobo de crin (aguará guazú), el guanaco, el puma, la guacamaya roja, el zorro chilote, el oso andino, el pingüino de penacho, y el jaguar)

March Madness Animal Brackets for FLES Spanish and French

SINCE I KNOW MY STUDENTS will want to also make commentary about the animal they are voting on at any time, I also put up some phrases they can use in the course of the conversation, and as we really get into it I anticipate others will come up as well that I can add to the board. I am really excited, and so are my students- I will let you know how it goes...and which animal is the winner!

Here is a video of me introducing the activity and our first round of votes:

Interested in doing something similar? I have a bunch of animal photos saved on my Pinterest board here. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

3 Activities to do with Dr Seuss in FLES classes

I LOVE DR SEUSS BOOKS, as do our students, but I haven't always found the best way to incorporate his national birthday celebration (March 2) in my ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES, in part because many of the books contain language that can be challenging for them to understand, or at least some of my personal favorites anyway (The Lorax!!!). Well, thank goodness for Pinterest! While searching for ideas, I stumbled across a few activities in English that I knew I could modify and  be perfect for foreign language classes, especially at the younger levels! Here's how I adapted them for FLES:

Dr Seuss Activity for FLES Classes Spanish and French

1) WHICH DR SEUSS BOOK DO YOU LIKE MOST? Instead of reading the books in class, capitalize on them having been read in the gen ed classroom already (or at home) and use that prior experience to practice the phrase 'I like the most' (or any and all preferences phrases!).

HAVE A SELECTION OF DR SEUSS books / titles available to 'vote' on. If you don't have the physical books, just print off images of the covers using Google Images or other search engine. Put them in a pocket chart or on the board-students 'vote' by putting their name tag under their preferred title and saying the phrase in the target language. Even young students can participate because it isn't necessary to know how to say the title in the target language- this is a great way to stay 90% in the TL! Once everyone has placed their name tag, you can count up the names and discover which book is the most popular in that class. If your students have more language skills, they can express WHY they like a particular title over another!

Want some likes/dislikes cards already made up so you don't have to? Grab ours in our shop!

2) MAKE TRUFFULA TREES: Truffula trees from The Lorax can be made just like marigolds for Days of the Dead, and stuck into a cool straw for the tree trunk. I was lucky enough to find black and white striped straws at Walmart, but if you don't have them, any fancy straw will do. You can find the instructions for making these paper flowers in my blog post here. Just have a variety of colors of tissue paper on hand that kids can choose from- this is a great project to do all in the target language!

Make Truffula Trees for Dr Seuss Read Across America in FLES Spanish French

3) PLAY MEMORAMA! I love Memory, it has endless potential for vocabulary practice, kids are familiar with how to play, and can even play independently in small groups. You can make your own Memory cards to highlight key vocabulary from Dr Seuss books, or you can grab ours in Spanish here or French here.

Dr Seuss Inspired Memory Game in Spanish

Have fun!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

How to Make a Successful Centers Activity for FLES

CENTERS IN FLES CLASSES ARE GAINING IN POPULARITY-I have long hesitated to incorporate them in my own classes for many reasons, most particularly as I worried that they, like many projects and device based activities, don't match whole group instruction in terms of the amount of target language input and interaction. However, if I don't try something out, how do I know if it can be successful or not, right?! I decided to do a centers rotation with my First Graders who have been a bit squirrelly lately and seemed to need a different approach than the whole circle (honestly, part of my reasoning had to do with splitting up some little friends who were making whole group very challenging to teach!). Ever ambitious, I went with FIVE centers activities, which meant small groups of 3-4, serving to divide and conquer some behavior issues, as well as make each activity less "crowded". I learned a lot along the way, including what NOT to do-yes, there were some flops lol.... I'll get to those in a moment!

How to Make a Successful Centers Activity for FLES Elementary Foreign Language

I'VE SPLIT THE REST OF THE POST INTO FOUR PARTS (GOALS, ORGANIZATION, ACTIVITIES, FOLLOW UP), in an attempt to cover all the components I realized were vital to making centers a viable part of my classes. Please comment and let me know how you have done centers, what worked, what didn't, and what you would like to try...I am still learning loads and would love to hear from you!

*GOALS: No good activity starts without goals, a target you are shooting for. In my case, I had a couple for this particular set of activities: 1) Introduce aspects of South America via visuals and activities kids could relate to AND 2) Allow for practice of basic vocabulary we continue to revisit. And, as I said above, I also was looking for a different approach to class in order to head off some behavioral issues that were running rampant in circle.

*ORGANIZATION: Oh my! FLOPS galore in this area! Not having done centers before, it took me a few attempts to get things to run smoothly...and by a few attempts, I mean YIKES! Remember also that I teach my First Graders 100% in Spanish, no English whatsoever from me, which made framing the CONCEPT of centers challenging until I got the wording and accompanying visuals the way I wanted them. I had to figure out how to best convey the idea of rotating through activities over the course of 5 classes (one activity each class), and then keep track of the rotation itself so that I knew who had gone where. Here are some things I learned in this area that kept the TL flowing without using English (modify as appropriate!):

-Take a picture of each centers activity set up; name/label them, and create a poster or document in Google drive with the photos in order, along with arrows going from one to the next to indicate a rotation.

-Divide kids up into groups prior to starting (I like to be in control of this to maximize time and avoid arguments & hurt feelings between kids-you may want to have them select where they want to go for the first rotation, and then rotate from there). Put the list of names for each group on a sticky note and place each note under the photos on the rotation poster. This allows you to move them after each class  so you can keep track of where each group goes next-and helps you convey the idea that they will rotate through each activity eventually.

-I used the phrase 'actividades en grupos' (activities in groups) to identify what we were going to be doing. Before I do centers again (yes, I think I will!), I am going to head over to the gen ed classrooms and take some photos of kids in centers with their homeroom which I think will drive home the meaning without having to translate.

-Whether you are on a cart, or have a classroom, organizing each centers materials in large ziploc bags or bins/baskets makes for easy distribution and clean up. (I wish I had figured this out right from class #1, but alas, it took me a couple of classes to realize it would be more helpful rather than a pile of materials!)

-Have something for them to do if they finish early! It took me a couple of classes to gauge how long each centers activity would take. And, there are always those speed racers who are done in two seconds flat regardless of how many times you say 'geez, I think you might need to ____'. Having a follow up activity definitely helped! (I opened up a portion of my class library so kids could look at books related to South America, animals, and food, along with mini books they could read and color).

*THE ACTIVITIES: As I stated above in my goals, I wanted to present some aspects of South America relevant to the age level of my students. I also wanted activities that didn't allow a lot of down time that turned into chit chatting in English. This is an area where I know I can improve! Although my kiddos did a good job of using the target language to complete each activity, there was still some chatting at various points, though I have to say I frequently heard them using Spanish along with the English as they chatted! Another important consideration in choosing the activities was being sure they were all simple enough that I didn't have to give lots of instructions. One really successful thing I did in this regard was use my Illustrated Instruction Cards at each center as a visual guide. Here are the five I did:

Centers Ideas for FLES Spanish and French Elementary Classes for Kids

1) Toucan color by number: I introduced this by referencing toucans living in Colombia and Venezuela, pointing to our map which we had been working with all year- one thing I would add to this introduction would be to have small toucan icons I could place on the map as I introduced the activity to further reinforce the connection. Kids referenced our colors bulletin board when needed, which worked out really well & supported their emerging literacy skills.

2) Bolivian Stick Puppets: These were also introduced by referencing the map, as well as showing dolls and photos from a variety of sources from Bolivia so kids could see traditional clothing and colors. Again, I would definitely have icons to put up on the big class map.

3) Puzzles and Hidden Pictures: I put these activities together- three puzzles, including one of South America, and a print out from Usborne's '1001 Cosas Para Ver en la Granja', the rainforest page. My kiddos were really great about counting in Spanish as they looked for the hidden pictures, and had a really fun time with the puzzles. It was a little harder to connect this center to the overall theme; I have to re-think the make up before I use it again. See my post here on how to make puzzles yourself!

4) Word Search of Animals and Fruits of South America: I really like word searches as an opportunity for kids to read and interact with print in the target language. Each word was illustrated, and consisted of many cognates/words they already knew, which worked out well. I need to work on tying this center in better when I introduce it; again, icons on the map would definitely help!

5) Number Counting Cards: Seen in the top photo, I put out a set of number cards (with the number word on each) along with a set of items to count and place on each card. I had several different things to count (mini erasers from Target, tally mark mini cards, dice mini cards, dominos, and magnetic numbers) so that they practiced the numbers multiple times and weren't finished with the activity in a New York minute. I like that it also allowed them to practice content based skills (math) along with the language! One thing that really helped with this activity was to have a small photo at the center showing one number card complete, further reinforcing the idea that they needed to use all of the items on each card. Again, kids referencing our numbers bulletin board if they had trouble reading the word in Spanish. NOTE: cultural element for this one was the penguins on each card-connected to Chile and Argentina :) You can grab this centers activity in our shop here.

Simple Centers Ideas for FLES Spanish and French Elementary Classes

I SHOULD ALSO NOTE that I left approximately 15 minutes of each class (30 minute classes total) for the centers portion of the lesson. This allowed for our greeting activity and any tooth news/ birthdays to celebrate, reminding and reinforcing how each center connected to the theme, telling kids where they were going for the day, and clean up/ wrap up before they left. This was JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF TIME for my kids and the activities I had planned!

*FOLLOW UP: Once all groups had rotated through each center, it was time to bring it all back to the overall theme, South America. Here is where the icons could be useful again, calling up kiddos to place them on the class map in accordance with what we had talked about (instead I taped up the activities themselves-¡qué feo!).  Debriefing can be a little challenging with First Graders, especially all in the TL, so using the map as a "graphic organizer" of sorts really helped!

Please let me know what you think! Suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Take Action to Raise Awareness in Protection of the Spectacled Bear of South America

SPECTACLED BEARS ARE THE ONLY BEAR SPECIES IN SOUTH AMERICA and are endangered due to habitat encroachment. February 21st is Día Internacional de la Protección de los Osos, and part of this day to raise awareness is the campaign on social media #pontelosanteojosporlavida. Started by conservation organizations in Colombia, participants take a photo of themselves simulating wearing glasses, and posting it on social media with the aforementioned hashtag. Join the movement and help raise awareness for these wonderful bears! And for some additional fun, we've created free printable glasses with "fur" to simulate wearing spectacled bear glasses :) Find them here:

DON"T MISS THIS SONG 'El oso de anteojos' from Fun for Spanish Teachers- you can listen to it here on her blog, too! So cute!!!!

And for an adorable video about the campaign on Youtube:

Have fun and help save these beautiful bears!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How to Use a Picture Book in WL Class When the Text is Too Difficult for Your Students

PICTURE BOOKS ARE AN AMAZING WAY TO BRING LANGUAGE LEARNING AND LITERATURE together in class, but many contain text that is too challenging for the proficiency level our students are at. What happens when we find an absolutely BEAUTIFUL book, with tremendous illustrations, and even better, one that is authentic to the native culture....but the language is far too difficult? (Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for gorgeous illustrations! I collect picture books as much for the pictures as for the story-I bet a bunch of you do, too!). Below is one way to help you bridge the gap between an incomprehensible storyline and your classes:

How to Use a Picture Book in World Language Classes

DO A PICTURE WALK: this is one of my favorite ways to incorporate picture books without having to worry AT ALL about the text. In the gen ed classroom, doing a picture walk is common practice when introducing a picture book. The method entails "walking" through the book without reading it, merely looking at the pictures, making observations about what is transpiring, and in many cases, making predictions about what will happen next. Sometimes a teacher won't show the final page(s) in order to maintain a surprise ending. We can harness this idea with a little modification in the FOREIGN LANGUAGE classroom! Here's how:

*CHOOSE A PICTURE BOOK with a good set of illustrations that provide enough detail and interest for your students, and do a good job of "spelling out" the story without reading the text. The alternative could be to choose a book which has beautiful representations of the target culture, much like the one above, 'Sube y baja por los Andes' by Laurie Krebs from Barefoot Books. (Link here!).

*USING THE ILLUSTRATIONS MUCH LIKE A PICTURE PROMPT, only with far more visual input to work with!, share the first illustration and have your students provide vocabulary/sentences describing what they see. Ask them questions about what is in the picture to broaden and extend the conversation (this is a great way to SPIRAL old vocabulary back into the mix!). The simple version of this method is to just keep doing this throughout the book, generating more and more vocabulary and reaction from your students. Your novices can create word lists or answer yes/no, either/or questions about the pictures, and answer Do you like? type prompts.

How to Use A Picture Book in Foreign Language Classes

*USE CULTURAL ILLUSTRATIONS as prompts to compare and contrast life in the target culture and the one shared by your students. What is the same/different? Make a Venn Diagram or a T chart to record answers. For example, in the above picture, the boy is wearing traditional Peruvian clothing, including a poncho/ ruana, and un chullo. With little students, you could do an easy compare and contrast activity by sharing photos gleaned from the internet or your own experience of these articles of clothing and typical coats/ winter hats in the US.

*HAVE OLDER STUDENTS/ ONES WITH A HIGHER PROFICIENCY LEVEL? (yes, picture books are great with high school students, too!) Go beyond the description conversation to encourage your students to start "writing" the storyline themselves, either by sharing orally, or writing in a journal or on individual whiteboards. You can record their sentences in Google drive so they can be shared out, or so you can go back and use them in a variety of additional activities such as making sentence strips to cut up so partners can put them together and order them, make color copies of the pages and have kids match the sentence strips to the illustrations, or have them write an alternate ending.

*PREDICTING IS A GREAT WAY to incorporate the future tense- before turning the page, have students predict what will happen next. When you turn the page, see if their predictions were correct! How or how not? Then continue with the storyline, predicting once again before turning the next page.

*USE SOCIAL MEDIA SITES LIKE SNAPCHAT AND INSTAGRAM with your older students-have them take a photo of one page, upload it to Snapchat or Instagram and create a #booksnap (where they write a quick blurb or description of the picture) to share with the rest of the class-super fun!

HAVE A FAVORITE PICTURE BOOK you've been wanting to use in class? Let us know which it is in the comments!

Have fun!