Monday, November 6, 2017

Cultural Connections: Comparing Turkeys in México & US as part of a Thanksgiving Theme in Spanish Class

WANT TO BRING CULTURE TO YOUR SPANISH CLASS AROUND THANKSGIVING? Here's a simple activity that is perfect for all ages- comparing TURKEYS! Those of us who live in the US are very familiar with the wild turkey of our woods and fields, relatively drab brown and once a contender as the national bird, but have you ever seen photos of the Ocellated Turkey of México? It's feathers are reminiscent of a peacock, with blues, purples, mauves, and more, making him quite a looker! This fancy turkey is a great way to infuse some culture into an otherwise very American holiday celebration, and little kiddos LOVE to talk about animals so you can be sure your students will be interested! (I have a picture of this turkey outside my classroom all year round, and my students regularly comment on it!).

Thanksgiving Turkey Comparison Activity for Spanish Class


*START BY SHOWING A PHOTO OF THE US WILD TURKEY; your kiddos will most likely be familiar with it! Ask some simple yes/no questions about him such as 'Is this turkey from _____ (insert your state name)? Do you like to eat turkey? Do you have turkeys at your house? (If you live in a rural location this is probably going to resonate with your students! We have them in backyards all over the place here in Maine ) Then, place him on a large map using a smaller picture (you might want to have several since there is wide distribution across the states)

*NEXT SHOW A PICTURE OF THE OCELLATED TURKEY- can you believe this is a turkey, too? Indicate where this turkey lives (NOTE: Ocellated Turkeys also live in Guatemala!) and place a small picture on the map in México/ Guatemala. You can find pictures of both turkeys on line; I have a few of the Ocellated Turkey (el pavo ocelado) saved on my Pinterest board here.

Thanksgiving Turkey Coloring Page Cultural Comparison for Spanish Class

*REVIEW COLORS BY IDENTIFYING THOSE OF EACH TURKEY (US & México)- project pictures of each turkey on a smartboard or have them printed out and ask kiddos to name the colors of each turkey. You can list the colors named underneath each turkey, and/or put them on sentence strips.

*LASTLY, KIDS CAN COLOR THE ACTIVITY PAGE, coloring each turkey appropriately. This is a great way to bring the learning together. You can download this activity page for FREE here.

*AS A FOLLOWUP ACTIVITY you can create a writing center activity with the photos and have the kids label the colors on each turkey.


Thanksgiving Turkey Activity Pages for Spanish Class


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Mystery Pictures Listening Comprehension Activity

I'M A HUGE FAN OF LISTENING COMPREHENSION ACTIVITIES, I will admit! Yes, I want my kiddos to speak, and I think as teachers sometimes we are so eager to get our students talking that we scrimp on the listening practice, but the two really go hand in hand and giving our students plenty of listening comprehension activities is key to good foreign language teaching at any level. Here is a simple game you can adapt to any age or proficiency level by simply changing up the descriptions to suit your class.

Listening Comprehension Activity for Foreign Language Class

SELECT A SET OF IMAGES THAT COINCIDE WITH YOUR THEME and/or vocabulary you would like your students to practice. Write up a simple (or more complex) description of each picture, using target vocabulary. I like to choose some pictures which are similar to each other so that students really have to consider the entire description and the answer isn't always readily apparent. Arrange the pictures on a large piece of paper (or as a slide on Google Drive to be projected) and number each one.

Listening comprehension Activity for Foreign Language Class

YOU'RE NOW READY FOR CLASS! Read a description out loud and instruct students to write down the number corresponding to the picture they think you are describing. I have mini white boards which I love to use for this activity. Once everyone has written their answer, I go around the circle quickly and ask each kid to say out loud the number they have chosen-a great way to incorporate numbers!

Listening Comprehension Activity for Foreign Language Class

I THEN DISCLOSE THE CORRECT PICTURE, and we start again! Once students have gotten the hang of how to play, you can call up kiddos to choose a mystery picture and describe it to the class. You can play along for more fun-it's always hilarious when I am wrong!

LOOKING FOR ANOTHER FUN LISTENING COMPREHENSION GAME? Check out how to play Gato (Tic Tac Toe) with your whole class here!

Have fun!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Tips for Assessment in Elementary Foreign Language Classes PART 1

I RECEIVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW I DO ASSESSMENT IN MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES, and I see it mentioned regularly in professional forums online. With the sheer number of students most of us carry, and the limited time we have with them, assessment becomes a significant challenge, especially if we want it to be valid and reliable. On top of that, we want it to be MANAGEABLE! To that end, I thought it might be helpful to gather together some tips and resources that I have found helpful; because it is such a big topic, I decided to break this into three posts-in this post I focus on TYPES OF ASSESSMENTS that I have found effective and accessible. Part 2 will focus on ways to TRACK DATA on large numbers of students, and Part 3 will tackle WRITING RUBRICS and DETERMINING GRADES. (Posts 2 & 3 coming soon!)

Tips for Assessment in Elementary Foreign Language Classes

BEFORE WE MAKE A FORAY INTO TYPES OF ASSESSMENTS, let's be sure we have done our backward planning. Before you start a theme/unit, identify key vocabulary and skills that you want your students to acquire by the end of the timeframe. This step is crucial; if you don't know what your expectations are, how will you know if your students have met them? And, how will you even know what to teach? Eeekkk! Whether it be students demonstrating comprehension of a key set of vocabulary (listening comp), or being able to answer a set of questions on a familiar topic, or writing a short description of their pet using adjectives and full sentences, be sure you have this laid out ahead of time. This will then help you determine what TYPES OF ASSESSMENTS will work best to glean the data you need.

OK, SO TYPES OF ASSESSMENTS...what kinds work well for elementary level? Here's a bulleted list of ones that I have found effective (and are generally those that are used at many levels! :) ).. I also think they highlight the WHAT I ASSESS also:

*EXIT/ENTRANCE SLIPS: I like these for quick formative assessments- they serve to practice reading comprehension of simple questions that recycle old vocabulary. I use these mostly for my 4th grade classes, with questions such as '¿Cómo estás? (How are you?), ¿Te gusta el guacamole? (Do you like guacamole?), ¿Cuál es tu color favorito? (What's your favorite color?) and so on. Sometimes the questions are directly related to the theme we are in, such as ¿Cómo eres tú? (What are you like?) when we are learning 'I am ___' phrases or ¿Qué escribe Arturo con el lápiz mágico? (What does Arturo write with the magic pencil?).

*LISTENING COMPREHENSION TASKS: At the elementary level, these typically run the gamut of very simple instructions to hone in on a key vocabulary set (Point to the ___, put the dinosaur on the ____,  etc), or 'Draw your favorite food and label it', etc. This also includes asking questions orally and having students answer verbally or in writing (A TIP with oral questioning- you can do this two ways- a) an open ended question that has many answers to it or b) questions which have a predetermined answer such as those tied to a story you are reading or are fact based such as 'What color is an elephant?' In the second scenario, you can develop a set of questions that all assess the same skill of comprehending a question based on a familiar topic, and rotate the questions so you don't have students just copying what the last person said. You can also rotate the questions over the course of a few classes so students end up answering multiple questions.)

Tips for Assessment in Elementary Foreign Language Classes

*SPEAKING SKILLS- I find these the most challenging to assess individually due to time constraints, so I try to get as much bang for my buck when doing them. For example, with my 1st & 2nd graders, I will frequently do polls, tables, and graphs which elicit personal information from my students such as 'What's your favorite color?', Which fruit(s) do you like?,  Do you like strawberry ice cream? Which flavor ice cream do you like the most?, How many brothers/sisters/cats/dogs do you have? etc. I keep charts (see my post on tracking data) over a certain number of classes so I can tell whether they are able to answer a series of questions. With the ice cream questions, for example, I might ask that question (changing the flavor) three, four, or five times (with the answer choices being: yes, I like it; yes, I like it alot; no, no I don't like it, etc). By the fifth time, I have a good sense of whether each kiddo can answer the question appropriately or whether they still a prompt.

Another speaking assessment I do is to track the answers kiddos give during our greeting activities. Since we do a greeting every day, I can get a fair amount of data over time to be able to gauge whether they can answer the question 'How are you?', and for my older kiddos, if they can engage in a mini conversation with someone else. If you would like to see/use my tracking data sheet for Spanish class, you can download it free here.

*WRITING- Yes, writing! I am firm believer in giving students opportunities to write in the target language, even if it is as simple as labeling a picture by using a word bank. Writing is another mode of practice, and I see my students building on spelling and reading skills by doing writing activities. I do not expect my students to have perfect spelling (or even be able to spell out words, I just don't have the dedicated time to get to that point- two 30 minute classes a week), but I do expect them to use our resources to copy words, and piece together sentences based on word banks.  At the end of some themes, I have students bring together what they have learned in a writing/ sharing 'mini project'. For example, at the end of our Pet Theme in 3rd grade, students write a simple description of their pet using full sentences. As they write, I circulate around the room, monitoring their progress and giving prompts as necessary. I can easily grade kids since I am amongst them, paying attention to who needs help and who doesn't.

*CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE- I also assess cultural knowledge at different points throughout my grade levels, most specifically facts about countries, people, and/or celebrations. For example, in 2nd grade my kiddos learn about Days of the Dead, and then illustrate/label 4 Datos sobre el Día de los Muertos (4 Facts/Aspects). If they can identify FOUR aspects of the holiday (such as marigolds, sugar skulls, candles, monarch butterflies, etc) they meet the expectation. Simple but effective :) Another simple assessment I do is for my 4th graders, at the end of our salsa theme, to illustrate the ingredients and label them. In First Grade my students identify 4 Datos Sobre Venezuela (Four Facts about Venezuela), again illustrating and labeling things they have learned. Another great way to assess at this age level is to do a Venn Diagram, such as the one my First Graders do comparing Mexican hot chocolate and hot chocolate in the US. All of these are culminating activities that we do in the course of the theme, rather than as separate stand alone assessments, which is to say, they are activities to do in and of themselves, I just happen to assess them, also :)

Assessing Culture in Elementary Foreign Language Classes

THIS IS BY NO MEANS AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST, but I hope it has sparked some ideas for your classroom! Be on the lookout for my next posts coming soon-follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you hear about them first!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Las Guaguas de Ecuador- A Days of the Dead Tradition

DAYS OF THE DEAD IS A WONDERFUL CULTURAL THEME FOR THE ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASS, especially if we keep the information concrete, clear, and comprehensible for little kids. We often focus on México's traditions for this holiday, but it is celebrated in many countries, including Ecuador. Marked by a sweet bread called LAS GUAGUAS (meaning 'niños' in Quechua) and often served with colada morada, a spiced berry drink, the celebrations focus on el 2 de noviembre, el Día de los Difuntos.

Las guaguas de Ecuador, a Days of the Dead Tradition

LAS GUAGUAS typically are in the shape of babies and animals, and have frosting and other decorations making them look very festive. I've pinned several photos of them and colada morada to my Pinterest board El Día de los Muertos, which you can check out here!

WANT TO SHARE SOME SIMPLE FACTS ABOUT LAS GUAGUAS in Spanish class? I've created an infographic poster with a few facts in Spanish; you can download it for FREE and print it out! NOTE: It is an 11 x 17 file so be sure the right size paper is in the printer before printing! Click here to download.

Las guaguas de Ecuador A Simple Infographic in Spanish

*Los Barriletes de Guatemala from Fun for Spanish Teachers

*Days of the Dead Songs to Share in Class from Fun for Spanish Teachers

*Making Paper Marigolds in Spanish Class

*Reasons for Teaching Days of the Dead in Spanish Class from Fun for Spanish Teachers

*Creating a Family Altar by Mamá Tortuga

*Las celebraciones en Bolivia From Fun for Spanish Teachers

Friday, September 22, 2017

Foster Output in the Target Language by Holding Students Accountable

HOW DO WE GET OUR STUDENTS TO SPEAK IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE in a 90% classroom rather than in English? I am asked this question frequently, and see it posted regularly and there are a lot of answers to that one! Here is one tip that seems obvious on the face of it, but requires the teacher to consistently hold the line when students try to slip into English rather than use the TL. (sometimes harder to do than you think!)

Foster Output in the Target Language with this Tip

EVER NOTICE THAT EVEN MANY OF THOSE PHRASES, WORDS, ETC that you have taught, reinforced, practiced umpteen times still get the English treatment? If you really want your students to use the language they are learning, you ultimately have to establish the expectation that THEY WILL USE THE TARGET other words, when a student says to you "Can I get a drink of water?" and this phrase has been practiced frequently, your response is not 'Yes', 'Si', 'Да' (you get the picture), it is 'En Español por favor' or ¿Cómo? ...and when they repeat the English again, you respond (again) 'En Español por favor'... and you keep doing that until the student restates in the target language. By doing this, you are holding your students accountable for what is being learned rather than sending an unintentional message that even though you are teaching content, it doesn't really have to be remembered.

THIS APPLIES TO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING YOU ARE DOING IN CLASS, whether it be a single word, a phrase, a request, you name it. If it's something they have worked on, hold them accountable. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU DO NOT HELP THEM! If a student needs help to get the phrase (word, etc) out, OF COURSE you prompt them, guide them, encourage them. The key is that, even with the prompts and help, the utterance is still in the target language and there is a lot of power in this moment for the student. And the more you help them through saying what they want to say in the TL, the more confident they will become as they realize just how much they really know, and the more they will try to express themselves in the target language. It's a beautiful thing!

GIVE IT TRY NEXT CLASS AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES! And for another tip on encouraging output with students, check out this post! :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How to Talk Like a Pirate in Spanish- Fun Vocabulary for Class

SEPTEMBER 19TH IS INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY, and, knowing the popularity of pirates amongst kiddos, why not incorporate some authentic pirate speak into your Spanish classes? Here's a list of some common phrases you can use in class- have fun!

Phrases to Talk like a Pirate in Spanish Class

*ARRRRRR (it's a classic lol)
*¡Yo-ho-ho! (yo-ho-ho)
*¡Al ataque! (Attack!)
*¡Barco a la vista! (Ship ahoy!)
*¡Tierra a la vista! (Land ho!)
*¡Camina la plancha! (Walk the plank!)
*¡Todos a sus puestos! (Everyone on deck!)
*¡A dormir con los tiburones! (You'll sleep with the fishes!)
*¡A toda vela! (Full speed ahead!)
*¡Rayos! (expression of surprise)


And don't miss our Activity Pack, 'Mateo y el mapa del tesoro', perfect for upper elementary and lower middle school! Grab it here!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Los símbolos patrios de cada país hispanohablante- National Symbols for Each Spanish speaking Country

UN ASPECTO CULTURAL MUY POTENTE PARA TRABAJAR EN LA CLASE DE ESPAÑOL son los símbolos patrios de cada país. Podrías enseñarlos durante el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, para celebrar unos días patrios, o como parte de un tema sobre un país específico. De todas maneras, los símbolos patrios son una gran parte del orgullo de cada país, y para los peques, especialmente, una cosa bien tangible para aprender. Aquí un listado de las flores, animales, y árboles nacionales:

Los símbolos patrios National Symbols for Spanish Speaking Countries

*la flor nacional: ceibo
*el ave nacional: el hornero común (Rufous hornero)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: ceibo
*la flor nacional: la orquídea negra
*el ave nacional: el  Tucán de Quilla o Picoiris (Keel billed toucan)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la caoba
*la flor nacional: cantuta y patajú
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean Condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: palma
*la flor nacional: copihue
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean Condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: araucaria
*la flor nacional: orquídea colombiana
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean Condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: palma de cera
*la flor nacional: guaria morada (orquídea)
*el ave nacional: el Yigüirro (Clay colored thrush)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: El árbol de Guanacaste
*la flor nacional: mariposa
*el ave nacional: el tocororo, el trogon cubano (Cuban trogon)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la palma real
*la flor nacional: chuquiragua (no oficial)
*el ave nacional: el condór andino (Andean condor)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: cascarilla
*la flor nacional: flor de izote
*el ave nacional: el Torogoz, Momoto ceja turquesa
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: El Maquilishuat
*la flor nacional: clavel
*el ave nacional: no hay
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la encina (carrasca, chaparra/chaparro)
*la flor nacional: monja blanca (orquídea)
*el ave nacional: el quetzal
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la ceiba
*la flor nacional: orquídea de la Virgen
*el ave nacional: la Lapa Roja (la guacamaya) Scarlet Macaw
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: el pino
*la flor nacional: dalia
*el ave nacional: el águila real (Golden Eagle)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: Ahuehuete o El Árbol del Tule
*la flor nacional: sacuanjoche (plumeria)
*el ave nacional: el Guardabarranco (Turquoise browed Motmot)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: madroño
*la flor nacional: flor del Espíritu Santo
*el ave nacional: El Águila Arpía (Harpy Eagle)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: camoruco (el árbol panamá)
*la flor nacional: mburucuyá
*el ave nacional: el pájaro campana
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: tajy
*la flor nacional: cantuta
*el ave nacional: el tunqui (el gallito de las rocas) (Cock of the Rock)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: quina
*la flor nacional: flor de maga
*el ave nacional: el carpintero puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Woodpecker)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional:
*la flor nacional: Rosa de Bayahíbe
*el ave nacional: la cigua palmera (Palmchat)
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: la caoba
*la flor nacional: ceibo
*el ave nacional: el tero
*el árbol/ arbusto nacional: ciebo
*la flor nacional: flor de mayo
*el ave nacional: el turpial venezolano
*árbol nacional: araguanay


PD: Esta es la primera vez que estoy escribiendo un blogpost en español; hay errores? déjame saber!