50 Ways to Use Images in the World Language Classroom

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 / Leave a Comment

A picture is worth a thousand words is an English saying that is familiar to all of us.  Wikipedia describes this saying as referring “to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image or that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.”  Unfortunately, no one seems to know for sure where or when this phrase originated, but what is certain is that it undoubtedly rings true for all of us, especially in the world language classroom!  In fact, research now backs up what we have long suspected... that teaching with images is very effective! 

So, what can be done with a picture, you might ask?  Well, I’m here to tell you that a LOT can be done.  I recently stumbled onto an article published by a gentleman by the name of Harry Grover Tuttle in which he lists 50 ways to use images in the foreign language classroom.  I was blown away by how many uses he came up with, and I’m sure you will be too!  So sit back, grab a pencil and prepare to jot down a few ideas that you can easily incorporate into your class tomorrow!

        1) One student orally describes a picture for one minute to his partner.

2) One student describes a picture orally to a partner who then repeats the description, using the picture as an aid for recall.

3) One student orally describes the picture to another student who does not see it; the second student then repeats the description to the first student.

4) Two students look at a picture; then one student looks away while the other student asks him questions about it.

5) Two students look at the picture and compete to see who can make up more questions about it.

6) Two students make up questions about a picture; one student uses question words, the other does not use question words. A continuation of this exercise would be to have the students answer each other’s questions orally or in writing.

7) One student orally describes a picture to a second student who then draws a copy of it.

8) One student orally describes a picture to another student who then is given a choice of pictures and must choose the one described.

9) Two students tell a story using a picture. One student tells what happened before the scene in the picture and the other tells what will happen afterward.

10) While one student orally describes a picture, the other student changes descriptive statements to questions.

11) While one student orally describes what is happening in a picture, the other student says the same thing in a different tense or in the negative.

12) While one student orally describes a picture, the other paraphrases what the first student is saying.

13) While one student orally describes a picture, the other repeats the same thing but changes all subjects to the plural or singular and makes all other necessary grammatical changes.

14) Two students look at a picture and one acts the angel conscience and the other the devil conscience to debate what the person in the picture should do in a certain situation.

15) Two students look at the same picture and one tells what will happen in an optimistic point of view while the other relates the future in a pessimistic point of view.

16) Two students look at the same picture and one tells all the good points about things in the picture and the second tells all the bad points.

17) Two students look at the same picture and as one describes the picture the other says the exact opposite, i.e., “the chair is big” will be changed to “the chair is small.”

18) Two students look at the same picture and supply the dialogue for the people represented. (If there are more than two characters in the picture, group students accordingly.)

19) Two students look at the same picture and act out what is happening in the picture as they are describing it.

20) Two students look at the same picture and each pretends to be an object in the picture. The two objects then talk to each other.

21) One student selects an object in the picture and tries to sell it to the other student.

22) One student tells the other student all the colors in the picture and the second student tells what objects have those colors.

23) One student tells the other student what he would do in the shown situation. The other student then tells what he would do. At a more advanced level the second student might use a different verb construction such as “should have.”

24) After selecting a picture, a student chooses a letter of the alphabet and then names as many objects as possible in the picture that begin with that letter. The student who names the most in one minute wins.

25) Two students look at the same picture; the first student names an object and describes it. The second student compares it to some other object in the picture. They do this for as many objects in the picture as possible (at least 5). For example: first student, “The bush is large;” second student, “The tree is larger than the bush.”

26) Two students look at the same picture; the first student names everything made of wood and then the second student names everything made of metal or plastic. See who can name the most objects.

27) Two students look at the same picture; the first tells how he would add to the picture to make it more attractive and the second tells what he would do to the picture to improve its appearance.

28) Two students look at the same picture; the first names all the pretty things in the picture and the second student then names all the ugly things in the picture.

29) Two students look at the same picture; the first student tells what mood he feels is represented in the picture. The second student tells him whether he agrees with him and why.

30) Two students look at the same picture; the first student tells the other about a similar experience in his own life. The second student then tells in what way the first person’s experience is similar to the original picture.

31) One student is given two pictures by his partner. The first student describes all the similarities between the two pictures. The second student then describes all the differences between them. (He should not mention any that the first student mentioned.)

32) One student is given two pictures by his partner. The first student makes up a story about the two pictures. The second student uses the pictures in a different order to tell a different story.

33) One student is given two pictures by his partner. The first student chooses an object in one picture to put in the second picture and tells how the new object would change the picture. The second student does the same thing with a different object.

34) A student is given a picture by another student. The first student tells the physical location, the season of the year, the weather, the time of day, the health of the people involved, and their activities. The second student then tells all other information about the physical conditions and health of the people in the picture.

35) A student writes out a description of a picture and then omits at least one word per sentence which he puts at the bottom of the page. The other student then replaces the omitted words in the paragraph.

36) The first student describes the home and the family of the person in the picture. The second student tells how the described home and family is similar or different from his own.

37) A student selects a picture and tells what the person’s favorite sports or hobbies are, where he does them, and how he does them.

38) A student writes a letter of about ten sentences telling a friend about the picture, pretending it is a tourist site, a vacation trip, historical incident, or a news story.

39) The first student contrasts objects in the picture, i.e., “The chair is big but the book is small.” The second student compares the objects using equalities, i.e., “The chair is as heavy as the table.”

40) One student tells another student how he would make his picture into a TV program or movie. The second student tells what he thinks about this program.

41) One student makes up a mystery story about the picture. Another student tries to solve the mystery by creating a possible solution.

42) One student gives another student a picture and specifies a mood. The second student then writes at least five sentences about the picture reflecting that mood. The first student then makes as few changes as possible on the written description to change it to a different mood which the second student suggests.

43) One student looks at a picture and describes cultural differences between the country depicted in the picture and the United States. The second student describes cultural similarities depicted in the picture.

44) Each of the two students lists as many vocabulary words as possible from a given picture. The student who writes down the most words wins.

45) One student starts a story based on the picture. After three sentences, the second student continues the story for three more sentences. The first student then continues for an additional three sentences. The second student ends the story with three sentences.

46) Given a vowel or consonant sound, the students say all the words, objects, actions, etc., in the picture which contain that sound.

47) One student makes a statement about the picture. The second student repeats the statement and adds to it by using a conjunction such as but or since.

48) Two students see how many different ways they can rearrange three pictures to tell different stories.

49) One student looks at a picture and tells how it is similar to his house, community, etc. The second student tells how it differs.

50) In turn, each of the two students selects a picture and tells why the other should visit the place or do the activity illustrated in the picture. A third student will decide who wins and explain why.

Whew!  T-H-A-N-K  Y-O-U, Harry!  I’m sure there are a few ideas listed here that perhaps you hadn’t ever thought of… I know that was true for me!  And once you start using images, you might even think of a few more ideas not listed here!  There are endless ways that you can incorporate an image into your class!

But how do you get the images?  Well, the most obvious answer is to find them on the internet.  Do a search for a related topic that you are studying (house, family, etc.) and simply archive all of those wonderful pictures into a digital file for later.  But… have you ever considered having your students bring in pictures?  This is a wonderful way to bring even more meaning to the language because the language gets personal when personal images are used!  You could even have the students take pictures around campus with a digital camera and upload them to a class file to be used throughout the semester!  And then there’s the option of you… yes, you… bringing in personal pictures.  Students love to get sneak peeks into your private life (you and your dog at the park, your family at Disney World, etc.)  There are so many options!  *Of course, you should always use discretion when sharing personal images.

Now, what are you waiting for???  Grab an idea from the list above and an image from Google and get going!  Let me know in the comments below how your activity turned out or if you have another idea to add to the list!                               

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Spanish Teacher Must Do's During Summer Vacation

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 / 1 comment
While some of you may already be blissfully enjoying summer vacation, here teachers are plugging away for at least 2 more weeks! Regardless of when it begins, all teachers agree that it is much needed and well-deserved. This week I reached out to some other Spanish teachers to find out what they considered to be "must do's" for their summer vacation. Read on for some awesome suggestions. :) 

1. Reflect. Often, before I can mentally move on to summer, I have to take a bit of time to reflect on the year. This helps me to unwind and be prepared to move forward!

2. Create a summer bucket list. Katherine suggests making a list of all those things that may get pushed aside during the school year (spending extra time with friends and family, taking day trips, etc.) and making sure you work those into your summer plans.

3. Catch up your favorite TV series. Binge watching Netflix is definitely on my list. Here's a list specific to Spanish teachers you may want to check out. Jen plans on checking out Orange is the New Black, Elizabeth, and Man in the High Tower.

4. Take time for hobbies. For me, this includes more long walks. Sarah will be prioritizing more time for reading and painting.

5. Organize your Pinterest boards. If you're like me, you may have a gazillion ideas that may be slapped on random boards. Summer is a great to clean out pins and get those boards sorted, so that ideas for the new school year are easier to find.

6. Read ALL the books. Yep, this is probably the most common response for what Spanish teachers want to do this summer! This list includes a variety of suggestions for teachers from PD books to personal wellness and some lite beach reading. This list includes suggestions for Spanish summer reading.

7. Seek out new blogs to follow. Following up on the topic of reading, I love to scour the web for Spanish teacher blogs or posts that I may not have had time to read during the school year. Here's a Pinterest board of Spanish blog posts to help you get started.

8. Pamper yourself. I put off going to the salon as long as possible during the school year, often until my hair color starts looking rough and the greys are clearly shining through. ;) Summer is a great time to make that salon appointment and treat yourself to a mani/pedi, blow out, facial, massage (or whatever else works for you!).

9. Stock the freezer. Janice likes to take time for baking and cooking and also get a head start on stocking the freezer for the hectic back to school time.

10. Exercise. Summer is a great time to enjoy having longer time in the gym or enrolling in those Zumba classes. ;)

11. Catch up on household projects. Yep, we all have them! While I certainly don't enjoy the closet clean out and deep cleaning, it is something that I catch up on during the summer.

12. Wear yoga pants. ALL DAY! You're on summer break, why not?

13. Get more sleep. Enough said!

14. Attend professional development. NO, not the boring kind that you may have to attend during the school year that doesn't really apply to Spanish teachers, but something that you're actually interested in. If it's too late to plan for this summer, you can put it on your radar to investigate for next year. You may want to check out AATSP for their summer PD for Spanish teachers.

15. Travel/Getaway. If you can't travel far, make some day trip plans. Explore new places or check out a restaurant you've been wanting to try. You can always travel virtually as well. Instagram is a great social media platform to explore new places. This summer I'll be heading to Europe for the first time in 10 years! I'd love for you to virtually travel along with me this August on my IG account.

16. Browse and interact on social media OR turn it off altogether! Follow along and interact on our social media. You can find Secondary Spanish Space social media info under "follow" on the top right of this page and the individual accounts for the teacher of SSS on the "About Us" page. Maybe you need to take a break from social media over the summer and that's totally OK, too! The goal is for you to do what's best for you. :)

17. Drink coffee slowly. Yeah, we know you're either guzzling it too quickly or it's cold by the time you get to drink it during the school year, so take the time to enjoy!

I hope this gives you some things to think about and add to your list as you embark on the wonderful journey of summer vacation! I'd love to hear other suggestions you may have! ENJOY! 

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How to Ace Your Next Teaching Interview

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Whether you're a new Spanish teacher looking for your first teaching job, a mom returning to the classroom after staying home with your kids, or a veteran teacher looking for a new position, these tips and prep questions will help ace your next teaching interview.

What to Wear: 
Dressy teacher clothes that look neat and professional or a nice suit.  If it's cold, a dressy jacket on top.
What to Bring:
* Teaching portfolio
* Copy of your transcripts, resume, and cover letter
* Water for before and after in case your mouth gets dry
* Hairbrush and extra makeup
* Cell phone and number of the place where you'll be interviewing (in case you get lost)

When to Arrive:  
Plan to get there at least 15-30 minutes early for your interview.  That gives you extra time if you get lost, hit traffic, or have trouble parking or finding the right office.

                                                                             30 Practice Interview Questions:

But first, here are a few tips for answering:

* Keep in mind what your interviewers would most like to hear when you're answering.

* It's okay to pause for a second if they ask you a tricky question.  You can say, "Hmm . . . that's an interesting question", and think for a few seconds before answering.

* Be yourself.  Let your natural personality shine through, in a professional way, of course.

Be prepared to answer any of these in English or in the target language.  Once you feel you are prepared, have a friend ask you the interview prep questions so that you get practice saying them out loud.
Your Background:

1. Talk about a highlight from your resume.

2. What is your educational philosophy?

3. Why have you decided to come back to teaching after being out of the classroom for several years? 

4. What did you do while you weren't teaching to stay current with the language and new teaching methodology?

5. What are your strengths as a teacher?  

6. What are your weaknesses as a teacher and how do you compensate for them?  

Your Classroom:

1. Tell us what your classroom looks and feel like.

2. Describe a typical day in your class.

Key Language Skills (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking, Culture):

1. What percentage of the target language do you think should be spoken in class?  Explain your answer.

2. How do you show your students that you are passionate about teaching your language?

3. How important do you think it is to teach culture? How do you do this in your class?

4. How do you cover the key language learning components of reading, writing, listening, speaking, and culture in your classes?
Behavior Issues:

1. What would you do if a student is misbehaving in class and disrupting other students?

2. What would you do if you just did what you described in the previous question and the student continues to act out?

3. Tell us about a difficult behavioral situation in your class and how you dealt with it.

Professional Development:

1. Name a professional development book that you have read recently. What impact did it have on your teaching?

2. What professional development courses have you completed recently and what did you learn?

Ability to Reflect on Your Teaching:

1. Which person has had the greatest impact on your teaching and why?

2. Talk about one way that your teaching has changed.

3. If they asked you to teach a sample class . . . .  Reflect on the class you taught.  Did the students meet your learning standards and are there any adjustments you would have made?

Dealing with Parents:

1. How do you establish a strong rapport with parents?

2. Talk about a difficult situation with a parent and how you handled it.

Opinion Questions:

1. Tell us your opinion about this statement:  "It's important for teachers to collaborate with other teachers."  Explain your answer.

2. Explain your feelings regarding this statement:  I"n order for a student to learn, the student must like the teacher."

3. Are you familiar with the saying, "Failure is not an option"?  Discuss your interpretation of this quote.

1. Do you use social media in your classroom?  If so, how?

2. Describe how you use technology in your classroom?

Your Personality:
1. Describe your teaching style.

2. Talk about a time when you disregarded or disobeyed what a supervisor told you to do and why. (Be very careful how you answer this one.  If you do say that you disobeyed a supervisor, make sure it was for a very good reason.)

3. What would other teachers in your department say about you and your teaching style?

Concluding Questions:

1. Why are you the strongest candidate for this position?

2. Why do you want to teach at our school?  (Make sure that you've researched the school and its language program online and have something specific to say about their program).

3. Is there anything else we should know about you? (Think of another way that you are an amazing teacher and throw this into the interview - sell yourself!).

4. Do you have any questions for us?  (Always have a question - I like to ask some of the following: "What is your department's language philosophy?", "What is your department working on right now?", or "What do you feel are your departments' strengths?")

Phew!  I know, right?  That's a lot of questions and a lot to prepare, but trust me, it will be worth it when you get that sweet Spanish teaching job.

Follow this series on how to get an amazing teaching job with the next post, "How to Write an Amazing Thank You Note after an Interview" on my blog, worldlanguagecafe.com.  You might also like Catharyn Crane's previous post on "Resumé Do's and Don't's".

Have any tricky interview questions that you'd like to see added to this post?  Let me know in the comments below.

Best of luck with your future job interviews!

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Resume Do's and Don'ts for Spanish Teachers

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 / 1 comment
Are you looking for some tips to spruce up your resume? Or maybe you are starting a Spanish teaching resume from scratch? You've come to the right place. My own teaching resume is always a work in progress. This last semester I got to work on resume creation with a cohort of pre-service teachers at Arizona State University. By getting to see all their resumes and help them make revisions, I learned so much about what makes for a good resume, and am excited to share my do's and don'ts with you! 

This post is part of a series about landing a Spanish teaching job, so be sure to check out Sherry's post next week about How to Ace Your Next Teaching Interview.

#1: Don't Google "resume" and just copy the formatting

There are so many different resume examples floating out in the interwebs. Don't just Google one and copy it. Teaching Spanish requires specific certifications and skills, so highlight these in your resume. Put yourself in the shoes of the principal or department chair who will be reading your resume after a long day. What sections will (s)he care about? Summary, objective, highlights, work experience, volunteer experience, technical skills, hobbies and interests, awards, languages, contact, and professional references? Many of those are just not relevant.

Instead, you should...

Organize your resume with sections that are relevant to YOU as a Spanish teacher. Not all Spanish teachers will include the same sections. You want to highlight what makes you stand out! You might consider the following sections (I listed them in an order that is logical to me, but a different organization might make more sense for you):

  • Summary / Objective: Limit to 1 - 2 sentences. What's the take home message of who you are as a teacher? Assume the person doing the hiring is lazy and doesn't read your whole cover letter. What key things do you really want him/her to know off the bat?
  • Education: List all university degrees. Include your majors and minors for those degrees. GPA is not necessary. Dates of degrees are not necessary. High school is for sure not necessary.
  • Certifications: Provide information regarding your teaching certificate and fingerprint clearance (state, expiration date, etc.). If you're a new teacher and still working on certification, list it and note "anticipated August 2017" or something like that. Don't hold a teaching certificate? That must mean you're applying to a position that does not require one - so, leave this section out.
  • Teaching Experience: List K-12 classroom teaching positions held. If you're just starting out, list your student teaching and teaching intern experience in this section. Do not include non- K-12 teaching experience here!
  • Related Experience: Here's where you put teaching experience that is not formal K-12 classroom teaching. Include work as a teachers aid, university or preschool teaching experience, swim lesson instructor, nannying, tutoring, curriculum design, etc. You might include volunteer experience as well: Boys and Girls club volunteer or Special Olympics coach, etc. 
    • Coaching Experience: If you want to coach sports, sponsor a club, or take on a special extra curricular at your future school, highlight this in its own section. What experience do you have that would make you a great coach or sponsor? 
  • Honors and Awards: If you have a teaching specific award, include it here. If you won a bunch of scholarships, a bowling league championship, or were nominated "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school, leave these out.
  • Travel: This is great for us Spanish teachers to include. It can be a nice way for non-native speakers to showcase their connection to the culture and language of the Spanish-speaking world.

#2: Don't try to sound like a business person

The summary or objective for your teaching resume should NOT read like you are applying for a project manager position. Don't tell me that you are a, "Passionate self-starter with strong technology skills and analytical abilities." Maybe that is all true! But no principal or department head wants to read all that jargon. What does that statement really tell me about YOU as a Spanish teacher anyway? What does it tell me about why YOU are right for the job I'm offering?

Instead, you should...

First, take a serious look at the job description and if possible chat with the department chair or principal before even submitting your resume. What are they really looking for? Identify key words that they value in a future employee. Maybe they are looking for someone who will be able to teach all levels of Spanish with a specific textbook and get along with a diverse group of fellow Spanish teachers. Then you'll want to emphasize that you are flexible, a team player, and a collaborator, who is open to multiple teaching approaches. In this scenario, you might not want to sell yourself as an innovator or change maker, with a non-textbook approach to language learning. Or if that's you, maybe you don't want that job after all!

Second, think about how your students and teacher colleagues would describe you. Make a list of those descriptors and pick several you want to highlight. Are you particularly nurturing, creative, dependable, good with technology, into collaborative learning, big on 90% target language, CI, or TPRS, project / problem based learning, all about arts integration, or what? This is your "brand." Sell what is special about YOU and the way you teach.

#3: Don't use frilly fonts, images, flowers, and hearts

There are some really fun resume templates out there. BUT, I would be cautious of going too unconventional. Some of the fancy resume templates are hard to read (literally, the cursive and handwritten fonts are hard to read!) or hard to follow (they jump all over and you're not sure where your eye is meant to look next). Remember, the principals and department chairs who will look at this resume are over-worked, under-paid, and tired. They will probably not be impressed with a cutesy, frilly resume.

Instead, you should...

Use a simple, straight forward design. Use easy to read, clean fonts. You don't have to stick to boring Times New Roman, but use something professional - I like Trebuchet MS and Calibiri. Search Pinterest for teaching resumes to get some ideas of what other teachers are using. On my New Teachers Pinterest board, I regularly pin materials like this, so follow me if it's helpful.

But how do you stand out? Don't be afraid to add a pop of color to your resume (just a simple pop, like making your name a color that resonates with you). Another simple idea is sending your resume out in colored envelopes. I'm not talking about using neon rainbow colors, but a subtle colored envelope or even recycled material might make your resume stand out from all the mail an administrator gets in a day.

#4: Don't cram too much in one page, BUT don't be too long

Good news, the "one page resume rule" is no longer a rule! Feel free to go to two pages if needed. BUT remember that administrators will only want to spend a few minutes on your resume (let's be honest, they will spend less than a few minutes probably). So make it easy for them to learn what they want to learn with a quick scan.

Instead, you should...

How do you include all the important things without creating a lump of non-readable font size 8, single spaced mess?

Cut extraneous words when possible. Consider my own resume:
  • Original version read: "Master of Education in Secondary Education Curriculum and Instruction, May 2009, Arizona State University, GPA = 4.0"
  • I revised it to read: "M.Ed. Secondary Education, Arizona State University"

Link to your professional website or ePortfolio. Create a professional website to showcase a little more about you. Weebly is a free and easy web page creation site, or use Blogger (also free) through your Gmail account. Provide your web link at the top of your resume, just under your name. If they want to know more, they can visit your site. Oh, that reminds me, hiring committees will likely Google search you. Before you apply, do a Google search of your name and clean up your digital footprint!

Include a simple bullet point under each job experience line. This is another way to keep your resume concise, while still providing clear information about your experience. What did this job involve? In what ways did you stand out as a worker? How does this connect with your language teaching philosophy (e.g., CI, TPRS, PBL, etc.)?  Even if it seems obvious to you, be sure to clearly explain.

#5: Don't emphasize non-education related experience too much

No one cares about your high school job at Chick-Fil-A or your university research assistantship. Sure these are valuable work and life experiences, but they are often not relevant to your future job.

Instead, you should...

If you can make a rationale for why your non-education experience is relevant to your future teaching job, include away! Just be sure to list a bullet underneath the experience description clarifying why it matters. Often it doesn't, so just don't include it.

#6: Don't email your resume out as a Word.doc

That's right. No word documents please. And don't title your document "resume."

Instead, you should...

Be professional, save your material as a PDF. This will ensure that the formatting of your resume opens consistently across different computers. Don't title your file "resume". Instead, use a professional title that will be clear for the administrator who opens it. Something like "C. Crane Resume" is appropriate. Oh, and while you're at it, be sure you spell check your resume. I also recommend actually printing it out to do a visual check to ensure formatting looks just as you intended!

#7: Don't submit online and forget about it

So many application processes are online now, that it can be tempting to submit your materials and move on to more online applications. But just throwing your application online is not enough!

Instead, you should...

Make personal contact with the schools where you want to work. Submit your application online, but then actually go to the school. Dress nicely for this visit! Talk to the secretary and introduce yourself. Ask if by chance the principal is around so you could just shake his/her hand and personally deliver your resume to them. If you're lucky enough to catch them, don't take too much of their time. Literally this should be a one-minute visit. "Hi... my name is... I really want to work at your school because... Here's my resume... Nice to meet you!"

The department chair or other teachers who may be on the hiring committee might be harder to catch, since they're probably teaching. Shoot these people an email. Again, keep it short, attach your resume PDF, and then they at least have a connection to your name. The worst thing that can happen here is they delete your email. And you'll never even know if that happens!

What "Resume Do's and Don'ts" for Spanish Teachers have I missed?  What has worked for you?

We'd love to hear from you in the comments below, or on our Secondary Spanish Space Facebook community.


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End-of-Year Activities to Keep Everyone Sane

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 / 2 comments
It's May. Maybe the thermometer in in your classroom reads 90 degrees (unless you're more fortunate than I and have AC in your school). The end-of-year chaos is simmering just below the surface and the excitement is palpable. It probably a feeling you know well- when everything is threatening to come apart up the seams and you're trying desperately to keep everyone calm and engaged.  Be strong! We can do this, everyone! ¡Sí, se puede!

I don't know about you, but I'm about lose it at this point in the school year. After the students leave, I sit in the blissful silence of my 90 degree classroom and dream of getting home to air-conditioning, wine, and chocolate. Who is with me in the trenches? Hopefully, you've only got a week or two week left, right? Here in Michigan, I'll be rocking out until June 16. Yikes. However, I've devised a survival strategy that I'm excited to share with you.  

How will any of us make it until the last day? With carefully planned, fun, yet not-too-crazy activities, of course!  Check out this tried and tested list of activities that are low-prep and engaging enough to keep everyone-- students and teachers alike-- from losing it.

Quizlet Live

Ok, I know some of you are thinking, "Jen's already blogged about Quizlet Live; enough already!" It's just one of those things my students never tire of and it never seems to get old for me either.  Also, did you know that you can combine your Quizlet study sets to form a mega-set? Here are instructions how to combine sets. I have one combined set for my 7th graders that has over 200 terms. Talk about end-of-year review!

This would be great for the last week of school when you've already wrapped up assessments and are just trying to kill time to get through the week. (Wait, none of us are guilty of that in June, right? Guilty as charged.)

Movie Days

This goes without saying, right? Who doesn't love a good, quality movie the last week of school?  To keep the students focused, which means sanity for you, I always use some sort of movie sheet that requires kids to actually pay attention so they don't get that glazed-over expression when it's all in Spanish.  Sometimes it is specific to the movie, but other times, I use this FREE handy sheet that has my kids recognize words they know, cognates, and, if you so choose, words specific to a specific theme you've been working on.  For example, I show my 6th graders ¡Atlético San Pancho! and I have them look for hobby vocabulary because we always finish the pastime unit before watching.

Thankfully, Elisabeth's blog post from last week, "The Ultimate List of Movies to Show in Spanish Class," gives you a ton of great movies for every age level so you don't even have to do the research to figure out what you're going to show.  (P.S. I collect the handouts, but I almost never grade them this last week of school.  I've noticed kids are very motivated to turn them, but never seem to notice or care they don't go in the gradebook. Works for me!)



Yearbook Post-It Note Messages ¡En Español!

During the last couple of days of school, I always give my kiddos some time to sign one another's yearbooks.  Last year, however, I had post-its available and assigned each student 3 other students to write kind messages about using all of the Spanish they'd acquired throughout the year.  I might even have threatened to give them a presentational grade to encourage more quality messages.  Just so you know, I don't usually collect things and not grade them, but these post-it messages are just for fun and I really just want them to do it and try their best. Plus, it's a nice memory for a student whose yearbook they might not have otherwise signed. It's a win-win!


Last week, I tried Elisabeth's Categorías game from her blog post about "10 Interactive End-Of-The-Year Games" (see #8) with my 7th graders and we loved it! Print off these free sheets with different categories of vocabulary, give your students a few letters to use, and ask them to come up with vocabulary words that fit that category that start with the letters your provided. It's so simple, it's genius.

For warm-ups the last two days, I handed my 7th graders sheets with the categories la comida, la ropa, el cuerpo, la ciudad, y adjetivos and let them think of vocabulary words that started with C, P, and M.  I chose to make it a competition and that really motivated them.  It's a great way to kill 5-10 minutes (ahem, I mean activate prior knowledge) at the beginning or end of class and it's super low-prep. Honestly, you could have students do it on a scrap sheet of paper if you needed to.  Plus, this makes a great end-of-year review! Below is a sample of the categorías sheet my 7th graders did yesterday.


 I don't know why it took me so long to try dancing with my students! Maybe I was self-conscious of my embarrassing utter lack of rhythm or maybe it just seemed too out there, but my students love when I let them get up, move around, and dance. Our very own Allison (Mis Clases Locas) is well known for her successful ideas of Música Miércoles and Baila Viernes.  Like Allison, I love using Zumba and Just Dance videos as those seem to be the most motivating.  I was planning to put together a YouTube playlist of videos for you to use, but it seems Allison already beat me to it with this amazing 96-song playlist.  You might want to check out the bottom of the list first for the most recent hits like "Soy yo" and "Despacito"  Go for it! Bust a move!


Lyrics Training

My latest obsession is LyricsTraining.com and my students are really into too.  Essentially, you watch a music video, listen to the lyrics of the song carefully, and then type or select words you hear like a cloze activity. It's really effective at improving interpretive listening skills, increasing vocabulary knowledge, and raising cultural awareness.

I love LyricsTraining so much that I may or may not have recently spent at least five hours of my life making custom activities for my students and I'm excited to share all of them with you here.  The beauty of it though is that you don't even need to spend time making custom activities as there are plenty of them already on the site, but it's just so darn fun! Your kids will thank you for letting them chill and listen to music at the end of the school year and you'll be thrilled as they'll be learning a ton while they do it.

So, which of these lessons do you plan to use or seems the most engaging? I really hope these activity suggestions help you and your students to make it through and stay sane at this crazy time of year.  Remember, ¡Sí, se puede! 

Also, if you still need more ideas, Sherry, from World Language Cafe, has 16 more awesome activities here: http://theworldlanguagecafe.com/16-guaranteed-to-work-french-and-spanish-end-year-review-activities/


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The Ultimate List of Movies to Show in Spanish Class

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 / 21 comments
Sometimes movies are just what you need in class. Used appropriately, they can be a perfect way to spark interest when beginning a unit, for subs who don't speak Spanish, or that day when you're getting over the flu and *just can't*! 

Personally, I always use subtitles, whether or not the audio is in Spanish. Unless students are fairly advanced, a bunch of native speakers talking to each other sounds like noise. My students love watching familiar movies like Finding Nemo or The Incredibles in Spanish, but list is focused on movies originally written in Spanish, or movies that showcase Hispanic culture in some way. Let me know what I missed!

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Best Ways to Teacher Appreciate Yourself

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 / 4 comments
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

I hope you work in a school with an administration that put something together for all the teachers or gave you something nice!

In case you're feeling like it's Teacher Under-Appreciation Day, here are some ideas to teacher appreciate yourself!

1.  Drink wine.  

This one is obvious, right? Moscato is my favorite, but go with a large glass of whatever you most enjoy. And then sit back, relax, and enjoy your wine (at home - drinking during your planning period is generally frowned upon). Because it's Teacher Appreciation Day!

2.  Eat chocolate.

Another obvious choice. Teacher Appreciation Day is an excellent reason to eat six handfuls of Hershey kisses. Or, if you're feeling extra fancy, these chocolatiers deliver nationwide:
Jacque Torres Chocolate
La Maison du Chocolat
Li-Lac Chocolates
Vosges Chocolate

3.  Eat cookies or cupcakes from somewhere special. 

If you live in New York City, I've got at least a dozen ideas of where to get great cookies and cupcakes (and donuts and giant marshmallows and ice cream). If you live outside of NYC, there are several (amazing) bakeries that deliver nationwide:
Insomnia Cookies
Magnolia Bakery
Milk Bar
Milk & Cookies Bakery

I would like to state for the record that I have not been to all of the above-linked chocolate places and bakeries. Just most of them. For research purposes.

4.  Get a workout.

Go to the gym, go for a run, play a game of pick-up soccer... whatever gets your blood pumping. You'll need it after all those chocolates and cookies you ate. Maybe check out Groupon and see if you can get a good deal on something new in your area you've never tried before?! Pilates maybe, or kickboxing? Or pole dancing?

5.  Take a long bath.  

Eat chocolate and drink wine in the bath. Maybe stop by Lush beforehand and get a bath bomb or just some good old fashioned bubbles for your bath! Relax and remember that you're the best Spanish teacher your students have! And if you teach Spanish 1, then you're the best Spanish teacher they've EVER had!

6.  Leave work on time.  

Leave as soon as the kids leave. Those papers you "have to grade" will still be there tomorrow. Unless you "accidentally" throw them out. I can't be the only one that has ever "lost" students' papers, right?

7.  Plan something fun for summer vacation.

You should relax this summer and enjoy yourself! Do you have any travel plans? Or stay-cation plans?

Teacher Appreciation Day is aptly timed for the end of the year when teachers are the most drained. Think about those fun activities you have coming up in a few months and remember, summer is coming! You can do this!

8.  Make plans with friends.  

#TeacherLife can be so draining. Make plans with friends SOON. Like this weekend. Or after work next week. Because you need more wine + socialization soon.

9.  Binge a couple episodes of your favorite TV show.

You do have to go to work tomorrow, so maybe don't stay up until 3am watching Ingobernable, but who said you can't watch a couple episodes in a row? If you're looking for good Spanish shows, then check out Allison's post on binge-worthy Netflix shows for Spanish teachers!

10.  Shop!

You need those new shoes you've been eyeing. Definitely. Or that new purse. Or that sassy sign on Etsy that says "I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry". Okay, I know I need that sign - it will look fabulous in my kitchen. And you know what - it's Teacher Appreciation Day!  Teacher appreciate yourself and get that new (insert item here that is obviously missing from your life).

I hope these ideas have been fun and helpful in Teacher Appreciating yourself! If you're having trouble deciding which cookies to order, I must say that Schmackary's are my favorite, but you should just order some cookies from all of the places I suggested and report back your preferences to everyone - it's for research obviously. I look forward to all your feedback regarding cookies.

Feel free to share other fun ways you like to Teacher Appreciate yourself! Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

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