Quick & Easy Breakfast Ideas for Busy Teachers

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I never ever skip it. But I don't have time in the morning for a long or involved meal! If you also like to eat breakfast while simultaneously taking attendance, here are some quick and easy ideas to keep you going until lunch time!

1.  Overnight Oats
Confession: I love oatmeal. Love love love.

Overnight oats are insanely easy to make and they are my current #1 go-to breakfast item. All you have to do is mix everything together at night right before bed, and then take it out of the fridge in the morning and it's ready to go! And you can customize it, so you can make a million different flavors.

Prep Time:  5 minutes

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (I prefer low fat but any type will work)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • toppings:
    • chopped fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, kiwi, peaches, cherries)
    • granola (optional)

How to make it:
1.  Mix the oats, yogurt, milk, and chia seeds in a container. Drizzle the honey on top. Cover it and put it in the fridge for the night.
2.  In the morning, add the chopped fruit and granola. Mix and enjoy!

Pro tip: Buy all of the fruits you want to use (I usually get a container of strawberries, a container of blueberries, and a container of blackberries). Wash all the fruit and chop it all. Put a serving of fruit into sandwich bags and throw them all in the freezer. Pull out one baggie from the freezer each night and put it in the fridge so that the fruit is thawed in the morning for the overnight oats. And voila! Fresh fruit, ready to serve, that will last weeks without going bad.

2.  Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich

These are so easy to make and so super delicious.

Prep Time:  10 minutes
- 1 bagel (sliced sandwich bread, rolls, or English muffins will work just as great)
- 2 small slices of butter
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper
- 1 sausage link (I recommend turkey sausage, but any sausage you prefer will be fine)
- 1 slice of cheese

How to make it:
1.  Slice your bagel (or bread product of choice) and toast it. This isn't required, but you won't regret toasting your bread.
2.  Heat a pan on low heat and throw a slice of butter in there. Wait for it to melt and then fry your egg. Salt and pepper it lightly. I prefer to break the yolk and swirl it around so my fried egg is almost scrambled. Put your cheese slice on the egg in the last minute on the heat so it'll melt.
3.  Set your cheesy fried egg to the side. Toss another slice of butter in the pan. Peel the casing off the sausage link and shape it so it'll fit in your bread (think circular for a bagel, rectangular for sliced bread) while the butter melts. Fry up your sausage until it's cooked through.
4.  Make your sandwich! Enjoy!

3.  Quinoa & Chocolate Chip Muffins
I don't really like quinoa because it tastes like you're eating a field (ew), but it's healthy, so I find ways to mask the gross healthy taste. This recipe uses chocolate chips to mask the taste of quinoa. This recipe comes from Yummy Healthy Easy.

I like to take 2 muffins to work with me and eat them as a late breakfast snack, an early lunch snack, a late lunch snack, a mid-afternoon snack, or a late afternoon snack. Snacking keeps me alive. They're delicious and the quinoa makes them stick with you more than regular muffins.

This recipe makes 15 muffins.

Prep Time:  20 minutes
- 2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa (2/3 cup dry quinoa)
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat flour is fine also)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or plain Greek yogurt)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to make it:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or spray it with cooking spray.
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the cooled quinoa, both flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips.
3.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, buttermilk, egg, applesauce, and vanilla extract.
4.  Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Divide among muffin cups.
5.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Pro tip 1:  Buttermilk doesn't come in just 1/2 cup quantities. If you want to save the remainder, measure 1 tablespoon into each portion of an ice tray and freeze it. Once frozen, throw the buttermilk ice cubes into a freezer bag and pull them out 1 tablespoon at a time whenever you need buttermilk in a recipe again.

Pro tip 2:  Use an ice cream scoop to portion the batter into the muffin tins.  It keeps every muffin the same uniform size and shape.

4.  Fruit & Yogurt
I also really love yogurt. Sometimes I take a container of yogurt (okay, two) and I make them fancy for breakfast. The additional granola and fruit will stick with you longer than plain yogurt.

Prep Time:  5 minutes
- two 6-oz containers of yogurt in your favorite flavor (Greek or regular are fine, I highly recommend a fruit-on-the-bottom flavor like passion fruit or cherry)
- a sprinkling of fresh fruits (chopped strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, chopped peaches, chopped kiwi, chopped cherries, or any combo of fruit)
- a fistful of granola (optional)

How to make it:  
1.  Dump both yogurts into a larger container. Sprinkle chopped fruits of choice on top. Toss some granola in. Mix everything. Enjoy!

5.  Baked Oatmeal with Lemon & Berries

If you have never had baked oatmeal - I'M ABOUT TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Seriously. This is not your mother's instant oatmeal. That stuff is like flavored concrete.

I love this recipe because the yogurt makes it so creamy. It's a great intro to baked oatmeal. I edited this recipe from Budget Bytes.

This recipe makes 8 servings. Anything you don't eat can be cut and put into sandwich bags and thrown into the fridge or freezer.

Prep Time:  20 minutes + 30 minutes bake time + 5 minutes cooling time
- 1 lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1.5 cups milk
- 1.5 cups plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup sugar (I prefer brown sugar, but white is fine too)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1.5 cups raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries
- cooking spray

How to make it:
1.  Preheat the oven to 375.
2.  Clean the lemon and zest it. In a large bowl, mix the lemon zest, juice of the lemon, eggs, milk, yogurt, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk until smooth.
3.  Stir in the oats. Stir in the berries.
4.  Coat a 6x8 (or similarly sized) baking dish with cooking spray and pour in the oat mixture.
5.  Cook at 375 for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is no longer liquid.

What do you like to eat for breakfast? If you have any ideas that are quick and easy to make, please share them below!

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Google Tour-Builder: Virtual Field Trips Your Students Will Love

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 / 1 comment
I don't know about you, but there's not much opportunity for me to take my students on field trips even in our area, let alone internationally. I've always wanted to take my students to a Spanish-speaking country, but with lack of funding, safety concerns, and a bunch of other blockades standing in my way, it's just not possible right now. In the meantime, however, I stumbled upon a fantastic substitute that is free, easy, and, most importantly gets students exploring Spanish-speaking countries from the comfort of our classroom.

Google Tour Builder takes the simplicity of Google Maps and integrates a guided tour.  Basically, you can choose any location, select "stops" for your students to visit, and then supplement the experience they will have "walking" around in Google Streetview with photos, images, and videos that you select. It's simple, purposeful, and eye-opening.  Also, it's perfect for those school days where you need an activity to balance your lesson plans or before breaks when it's insane to try and actually "teach," but you still want your students to learn.  To get to Street View, you basically drag the little yellow man icon to the spot you want to visit. I'm a completely visual learning, so I made a quick tutorial video explaining how to use Street View withing Google Tour Builder:

All your students need is access to technology (tablets, computers, etc.) and a free Google account and they're on their way! You can easily create your own tour or you could try out the Google Tour Builder I created of the Zócalo area in Mexico City.  My 7th students happily "wandered" the streets of Mexico City for two days, visited the inside of Mexico City Cathedral, and shopped around the Ciudadela market. I provided students a guiding handout with questions about the videos I added to the tour and for them to record what they saw, but that's not at all necessary if you want to let your kids simply explore.  Tours you create can be as long you'd like or can short, one-day lessons. I found that my students' curiosity and desire to digitally explore usually means that Tour Builder activities take two days, but I think it's time very well-spent.

Here are 5 reasons I love Google Tour Builder:

1. Students see a world different than their own

I'm pretty sure that most language teachers can look back on their lives and agree that the experience that changed us the most was traveling the world and seeing other places and people. When students enter StreetView in Google Tour Builder, they will be able to walk the streets and see people and how they live. Experiencing cultural similarities and differences will drive students' learning.  My students had so much fun seeing how different the stores were in Mexico City, looking at architecture, seeing people sitting around in plazas, and just generally seeing how different life can be in other countries.

2. Teachers can customize the tour to their learning objectives

No matter what your students are learning, there's a tour for that.  If you are on a city or geographic unit, the applications are pretty obvious, but you could potentially gear your tour toward a variety of thematic topics.  Next month, I plan on having my students "visit" schools in a several different countries in Latin America so they can compare them to their own educational experiences. If you want your students to learn about food, have them check out street foods around different Spanish speaking countries. If you're on a unit about housing, check out different types of places people live.

3. Teachers can create a virtual scavenger hunt

Another really proficiency-based implementation I'm planning for unit I teach in the Spring is based around the new NCSSFL Intercultural Can Do Statements.  One of the statements is "I can identify specific locations to have a meal, purchase a ticket, or buy something that I need."  I plan on giving students a to-do shopping/eating list and then gearing a tour around having students use Google Tour Builder to locate places to complete the scavenger hunt. I know my students would love this of lesson and they'd be motivated to complete the scavenger hunt, plus I could totally trick them into learning.

4. Students can create their own tour

Go student-centered and let your students create a tour. You could have your students plan a vacation to a different Spanish-speaking country or create a day itinerary for a day in Sevilla including where to eat, what landmarks to visit, and where to stay.  Tons of museums allow you to "visit" and "wander" their galleries using Google Streetview. There's so many possibilities for this!  All of these ideas would perfect hit the new Interculturality Can Do Statements.

5. Students develop map skills

Let's be honest, kids today will have no idea how to navigate even their own cities without the use of a map app.  In an ideal world, we would be helping students to have a sense of direction and know the difference between north and south, but I would honestly just be happy to see kids know how the basics to use a digital map and have a concept of where a country is located.  Plus, we'd be helping out our social studies colleagues who have to teach map-reading skills as part of their curriculum.

Here's a tutorial that shows you how simple it is to create your own virtual field trip using Google Tour Builder.  If you create a tour, it would be amazing if you could comment below with the link so we could create our own gallery of world language lessons! Where do you plan to "take" your students using Tour Builder?

I recommend selecting a location that you either are working on as part of a unit or that goes with the vocabulary/concepts your students are learning.  From there, find the most interesting and/or relevant landmarks to see and add photos and videos that help your students best experience all of the sites and sounds of the place they're exploring.

I hope you're as excited about Tour Builder as I was when I found out about it!  You'll love it because it's cultural and educational (not to mention student-directed) and your students will love it because it is engaging and fun! Try creating your own or save yourself the man hours at this chaotic time of year and use the Mexico City one I created here.  Let me know if you have any questions!

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Fabulous Gifts for Fabulous Spanish Teachers

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 / Leave a Comment

Need gift ideas for an amazing Spanish teacher in your life? The Spanish teachers of Secondary Spanish Space are here to help! We have compiled a list of items we can't live without as teachers and must-have teaching resources every Spanish teacher needs! Show your favorite Spanish teacher some love with these teacher-tested and teacher-approved presents. Click the links for more information on each item and happy shopping!

1. MINI-CROCKPOT: Allison of Mis Clases Locas swears by her mini-Crockpot for teacher lunches! She plugs it in when she gets to school in the morning and has perfectly warm food by lunchtime! So smart! ($24.99)

2. MÚSICA MIÉRCOLES BUNDLE: Allison also recommends her Música Miércoles GROWING BUNDLE. "These music bell ringers for Spanish class will start your class with a bang! The culture-filled songs can be adapted for all levels including Middle School Exploratory Spanish, Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III, and Spanish IV as a classroom management routine. In my class Música miércoles is the students' favorite day of the week!" she says. ($18)

3. WATER BOTTLE: Jen of Spanish with Sra. Shaw loves her stainless water bottle that she picked up at Target! She says, "My school is ancient and the pipes are super old and I don't trust the water there. Also, it's important to stay hydrated so I don't get sick. I like to put a drop of essential oils in my water,".  It's 32 ounces and insulated so you know that water is going to stay cold! ($34.99)

4. VOCABULARY SUB PLAN: Jen recommends her versatile Spanish Vocabulary Activities SUB PLAN for every Spanish teacher because it works with any unit and is literally NO PREP! My two favorite words after Target and sale! Her vocabulary activities make the perfect emergency sub plan and we all know every teacher needs one of those on hand at all times for those unexpected days off! ($3.25)

5. ROSÉ: Shoutout to Jessica of Miss Señorita for recommending something for those days when a cup of chamomile tea isn't going to cut it. She says "Rosé! #roseallday It's a thing, really. I suggest the cheapest rose wine that the nearest liquor store has because why pay more than $7 for wine? Also, why use a corkscrew when you can twist off the cap?" ($7 or less)

6. BULLETIN BOARD SET: Every Spanish classroom should have Jessica's Spanish Date (La Fecha) Bulletin Board Set. "You can post it prominently so students always know what the date is in Spanish and it's easy to change each day," Jessica says. ($2.25)

7. CLICKABLE EXPO MARKERS: Never look for a lost pen cap again! I am obsessed with my clickable Expo dry erase markers and don't know how I survived without them before. They are a finer point than a normal Expo marker, but they are perfect for writing encouraging notes on students' desks, making verb charts, and for students to use with mini whiteboards. I love the vibrant colors, too! ($8.99)

8. TASK CARDS BUNDLE: Every Spanish teacher needs this Spanish Task Cards MEGA Bundle! Task cards are my absolute favorite teaching tool because they get students out of their seats, can be used about a dozen different ways, invite collaboration among students, are super LOW-PREP, and give students a well-rounded review. There are sets for SER vs. ESTAR, Preterite vs. Imperfect, the irregular verbs TENER, JUGAR, and IR, telling time in Spanish, reflexive verbs, body part vocabulary, and many, many more. Each set includes 48 cards, student response sheet, and an answer key. This is a growing bundle which means you get all future sets for free after you buy it! ($75.50)

9. MAGNETIC POETRY SET: Catharyn from Sol Azúcar by Catharyn Crane says "I bought this magnetic poetry set in Spanish for my classroom a few years back. I stuck the little magnets on my filing cabinet or magnetic whiteboard for a fun and functional decoration. Students were free to play around with the magnets before or after class. I loved seeing the "poetry" my students would put together." ($18.95)

10. ¡UN MINUTO LOCO! COLLECTION: Catharyn also says "A set of Minuto Loco conjugation races belongs in every secondary Spanish teacher's tool kit. Each student gets a race sheet, the teacher sets the timer, and students race to conjugate as many of the given verbs correctly in the time allotted. The game sheets are ready to print and play. Students love to track their own improvement over time with this challenging, but fun game. This set includes race sheets for every verb tense. Teachers can use them for all Spanish class levels." ($40)

11: FLAIR PENS: Elisabeth of Spanish Mama says, "no teacher can have too many flair pens! These would be a perfect stocking stuffer to make grading, planning, and notes to students extra fun." ($7.25)

12. LYRICS & ACTIVITIES FOR AUTHENTIC SONGS: Elisabeth recommends her Songs for Spanish 1 Growing Bundle. She says, "I love teaching with authentic music! These sheets anchor our discussions and activities when enjoying songs in class. This editable packet of 24 songs is a huge time-saver and fits into interactive notebooks. Everything for each song fits on just one sheet of paper, too!"  ($12) 

13. DARK CHOCOLATE: Sherry from World Language Cafe says "dark chocolate is always a hit with teachers!". You can't go wrong with any of the hand-crafted chocolates from Moonstruck Chocolate Co. in Portland, OR. The dark chocolate sea salt almond bar is out of this world. ($4 and up)

14. HISPANIC COUNTRIES VIDEO CLIPS: Sherry recommends every Spanish teacher have her Hispanic Countries Video Clips for Spanish Speaking Countries. "These video clips from all the Hispanic countries will add instant culture to your classroom and your students will love them! Each Friday, take a short virtual field trip to a Spanish speaking country.  Attend the Tomatina festival in Spain, immerse your students in a mariachi flash mob in Mexico, learn about saving baby monkeys in Costa Rica, visit the Panama Canal construction project, meet tortoises on the Galapagos Islands, learn the traditions of drinking mate, and so much more!"

Have another idea? Let us know in the comments below!

**Prices listed were the current price at the time of posting and are subject to change.**

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The Big List of Technology Resources for Spanish Class

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 / 4 comments
I've talked with Spanish teachers far and wide to compile this BIG list of technology resources for secondary Spanish class. I hope you enjoy taking a look at the list, and that you give some new tech resources a try this school year. If we missed something, please comment below and I'll update this post to include your resource and/or experience!

As you read through the list below, click on the orange link to access the technology resource referenced. I've categorized the list in a way that makes sense to me, but you'll surely note that many of the tech resources listed have multiple uses.

Tech for Authentic Spanish Resources & Comprehensible Input

Google Maps (website; free; any level Spanish): So many possibilities with Google Maps! I love Holly's discussion of her Virtual Walking Tours for Spanish Class with Google Maps, to give you one idea of how it can be used. For an added twist, check out Jen's ideas for how to use Google Tour Builder in Spanish class.

News ELA (website; free and paid versions; any level Spanish): This website gives you access to lots of VERY current news articles in simple Spanish. There is a paid version but also many articles are available for free. Get yourself a login for free and then click on the Spanish topic. Find an article of interest, and you can select the lexicon level to differentiate the reading difficulty. Yes, that means you can use the same article topic with a first year class and a third year class! Or group students within a class by ability level to read at their level, then come together as a class to engage with the article ideas. There is a large variety of articles to chose from, including topics relating to science, technology, politics, social issues, arts, and more.

News in Slow Spanish (website; free and paid versions; intermediate and advanced level Spanish): Check out their weekly news summaries. Students can listen to and follow along with the written transcript.

Radio Ambulante (podcast; free; intermediate and advanced level Spanish): Subscribe to this free NPR podcast for authentic narrative stories from Latin America. It is 100% in Spanish. This resource would be ideal for AP level courses and can prompt great discussions.

Rockalingua (website; paid, but 1 week free trial available; any level Spanish): This site includes music, videos, games, comics, and more for Spanish learners. While there is a paid subscription, they also offer many free resources that you might like. To get an idea, check out this free set of learning materials on ¿Qué hora es? The resources are all pretty engaging.

Sr. Wooly Pro (website; paid; beginning and intermediate level Spanish): If you still haven't seen the amazingness of Billy la Bufanda, you're seriously missing out. Sr. Wooly is a former Spanish teacher who creates super fun and comprehensible videos and graphic novel stories that are appropriate and engaging for secondary students. SSS's own Allison is one of his biggest fans and we can see why!

Univisión App (app; free; any level Spanish): This Spanish news app is an amazing authentic resource, with content that can engage all sorts of student interests (sports, entertainment, current events, etc.). See this post from Spanish Plans about how he uses the free app with his classes. 

Virtual Reality with Google Expeditions (app; free; any level Spanish): Download the app and get your class a few VR viewers (consider DodoCase viewers, which are compatible with any cell phone brand or size) and let your students explore the Spanish speaking world and people through Google Expeditions. This article about Erika Libel's experience using VR in her Idaho Spanish classroom helped me wrap my head around just how VR would work logistically in a secondary Spanish class. In the article, she explains, "As a Spanish educator, I use virtual reality and other tools and applications to provide second language learners with the opportunity to go beyond the classroom into a global setting to experience other cultures and ways of thinking" (Erika Liebel). For a few more concrete ideas, this article about 4 Ways to Use VR Apps in the Classroom is helpful. With Google's VR app, Google Expeditions, students can "visit" the Spanish speaking places you are studying in class, through virtual field trips. With the NYT VR app, students can "meet" Spanish speakers from around the world, listen to their stories, see their worlds, and understand other cultures and people in a more complex way.

YouTube (website and app; free; any level Spanish): YouTube is an amazing source of sooooooo many authentic videos and videos for comprehensible input. Show your students a music video, a TV commercial, a movie or TV show clip, a cartoon, a silly song. Lately we love Bomba Estereo's Soy Yo and Internacionales. The possibilities are endless with YouTube.

Tech for Supporting Students' Spanish Pronunciation

Forvo.com (website; free; any level Spanish): is a pronunciation dictionary. Students can type in a Spanish word and heard it pronounced by a real person from the Spanish speaking world.

Tech for Students' Collaborative Learning

Google Docs (website and app; free; any level Spanish): Google docs lets students collaborate on projects and writing together in one shared space. I especially love the "view version history" feature of Google Docs. It's located right under the "file" menu and is a great way to see which students have contributed what content to a Google doc over the course of a project. Students do need to sign up for a Google account in order to access Google docs.

Padlet (website and app; free; any level): Students can visually display their notes, ideas, or projects on the Padlet interface, sharing images, written content, video, audio, etc. Padlet makes it very easy to collaborate with a team on a project or for your whole class to share ideas together simultaneously in a very visual way.

Slack (website and app; free; any level): This is a workspace where student teams can converse and store their ideas. It could also be used as a whole class space to communicate. Some students are reluctant to raise their hands or speak aloud in class, but may prefer to submit written comments during a class discussion in Slack's workspace. Lots of possibilities here!

VoiceThread (website; free; any level): This site allows students to participate in a virtual discussion board via voice recording, video, or written response. Students share a post in the target language and can then respond to others posts via their medium of choice. I love that it gives students the option to chose the way in which they would like to respond. Virtual discussion boards like this are becoming more and more prevalent in university courses, so working with a platform like this at the secondary level is a great way to prepare students for what they'll see at university. Flipgrid is another option that offers similar features.

Tech for Assessments


There are a number of electronic quiz platforms out there. Here are a few that Spanish teachers tell me they are loving. See this discussion for a comparison of the pros and cons of some of them.

Quizlet and Quizlet Live (website, app, free, any level): Quizlet is a fast paced quiz game that students can play on their cell phones or other electronic devices. Sign up for a free trial. Most teachers I know seem happy with the free version, but if you want more capabilities, you can always upgrade to the paid version. 

See Jen's post on how she uses Quizlet Live with her middle schoolers.  Also, Mr. Peto has a discussion of how to use quizlet for reading activities, so it is more than just vocabulary testing. Other resources with similar applications include KahootQuizizzPlickers, and Socrative. Socrative is a little different than the others because of part it's data visualization, especially if you opt for the paid version.

Google voice (app, website, free, any level): Going beyond quiz softwares, let's think about other formative assessments. Exit slips are always a favorite, right? Well, you can make your exit slips paperless with Google voice, which allows students to text in answers as their exit slips, using their own cell phones or other devices. 


Seesaw (website, free, any level): Students create digital portfolios using this site. This is such an excellent resource as many of us are going more towards proficiency approaches in our teaching. Creating a portfolio can be a great way for students to showcase their language abilities in a holistic fashion, rather than on a one-shot test type assessment.

Recording Student's Voices

Audacity: This is a free digital audio editor and recorder. Provide students with a list of questions in the target language and have them record their responses then submit them as MP3 files via Dropbox. This makes grading speaking assessments so much quicker and easier. You could also use this software to have students record audio diaries or audio messages that they send to a classmate and then respond back and forth.

Vocaroo: Like Audacity, this is another free software to record and share audio recordings. 

Students' cell phones: Most cell phones have recording capabilities. This is option is perfect for BYOD environments and so easy.

Creative Expression

StoryBoardThat.com (website; free; any level): Students can use this fun website to create digital visualizations of a story. Have students design their own comics complete with speech bubbles for their characters. Or have students design a story without any text and then exchange with a classmate who then narrates their partner's story. A similar website is LittleBirdTales.com, where students can write and narrate stories.

Canva (website and app; free or paid; any level): Canva lets students digitally design posters or other social media images in a simple, intuitive way. There are tons of preset design templates and images that students can pick from. They then just add the words!

Poster My Wall: Like Canva, this is a website where students can design a very professional looking digital poster or infographic using present templates.

For even more, check out this very thorough List of Tech Creation Tools from Common Sense Education.

Tech for Student Practice

Conjuguemos.com (website; free): LOTS of different practice activities and games for a variety of verbs, vocabulary, etc. Listening and grammar activities and lessons are also included.

DuoLinguo (website and app; free): Many, many practice activities for students as they level up. Many teachers love to offer DuoLinguo as an activity for fast finishers or as an individualized homework assignment. The great part is that students work at their own pace, so learning is truly personalized.

Spanish Proficiency Exercises (website; free; all levels): Just like it sounds. This site offers a number of proficiency based practice exercises for Spanish learners. Our very own blogger, Jen, loves these as a simple easy way to practice with her middle schoolers.

Classzone.com (website; free; all levels):
If you use the Avancemos textbook (or even if you don't), this free website put out by the textbook includes many, many resources including vocabulary and grammar instructional cartoons and practice exercises, review games, listening exercises, and video stories. The activities are aligned to the textbook curriculum, but could work for general practice as well.

Tech for Teachers and General Use 

Google classroom (website and app; free; all levels): Many Spanish teachers are loving this learning management system for coordinating many aspects of their classrooms - submitting homework, providing learning content, grading, connecting teachers and students online, etc. This video is a little corny, but might give you a better idea of what it is all about if you haven't tried it yet.

Remind (website and app; free; all levels): This teacher tool allows you to send mass text messages to your students without doing so from your personal cell phone. I love this resource. I talk about how I've used it in my own classroom on my blog.

Teacher-Produced Video with PlayPost (formerly Educanon) or Edpuzzle (website; free and paid): These sites allow you the teacher to modify videos, posing comprehension questions mid-video to assess and engage your students. Spanish teachers who are using storytelling as a key part of their teaching are loving resources like this as a way to assess students' understanding. Look out for an upcoming post from Jen right here detailing her experience using Edpuzzle. Making the videos might take a little work on your end to set up, but once you have the videos made, they will surely work over several years and can be shared with other teachers. Video is so engaging for students. These resources allow you to add one more level of complexity to really hold your students' attention (and also to assess what they're getting from the video!).

What did I miss? Please comment below with other tech you're using in Spanish class or other ways that you're using the resources I list. I'll happily update this post.

You also might enjoy following my Pinterest Classroom Technology board, where I regularly pin tech related resources.

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5 Ways to Get Your Students Speaking in Spanish

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 / 3 comments

5 Guaranteed Ways to Get Your Students Speaking in Spanish

What is the single most important thing that you can do to help your students communicate more effectively in Spanish this year??  

Get them to speak more Spanish in class!  

Believe me, I know how hard this is!  If you're a language teacher, chances are, one of these situations has happened to you.

* Students start a partner activity and you're working with one pair, but hear the other pairs speaking mostly in English. 
* Students whisper to each other in English while you're teaching.
* As soon as your students finish a structured activity, they immediately revert back to English.

As language teachers, this is probably one of our biggest frustrations, right?  

Never fear, here are 5 tried and true strategies to help combat the English invasion in your classroom.

1.  The One Word Method
Write one word on the board in Spanish (try to make it a really long word to start).  Personally, I like to use the Spanish speaking countries and capitals, so I start with Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.  Each time a student speaks English in class, erase a letter.  If the class has any letters left at the end of the period, give them some small reward (an extra point on a quiz, a night without homework, etc.).

If they have lost all their letters, they don't get the reward.  As they get better, use shorter and shorter words and eventually, wean them off of the system all together.

Variation:  If you aren't speaking all in the target language, write the word for yourself on the board.  Each time you speak in English they get to remove a letter.  (Sometimes, we're part of the problem, too).

2.  The Class Competition Method
Tell students that you will be having a competition between all of your classes.  Each time someone speaks English, write a mark next to their class on the board.  The class that has the least checks at the end of the week (or end of the day), gets a small reward.

3.  Speaking Beans
Each student takes 3 dried beans when they enter class.  They keep the beans on their desks.  If you hear them speaking English, don't say anything, just take away a bean.  If they're doing a great job speaking Spanish and staying on task, add a bean to their pile.

At the end of class, all the students put their beans into a community glass jar.  The jar is labeled with certain rewards at certain levels.  Once their beans reach that level, the class gets that reward.  They like seeing how the other classes are doing and competing with them.

Variation:  Give 2 beans and students must earn 3 more beans before they leave class by participating 3 times.  If you notice that certain students don't have beans, ask them questions and do your best to get them to participate.
Tip:  You don't have to do this every day, but may wish to do it several times a week.

4.  The Name Card Method
I use this one with some of my most reluctant learners.  Cut out small squares of colored paper.  Use a different color paper for each different class for easier sorting.  Give each student 3 small squares.  They write their names on each of the squares.

Each time they answer a question or participate in class, they pass a square up to you or you walk by their desk and take it.  They have to hand in all 3 squares by the end of the day.  If they do, they get a plus next to their name on a chart in front of the class.  If they don't, they get a minus.  At any given point, they can make up for a minus by participating 3 extra times (more than their original 3 cards).  These pluses and minuses determine their participation grade for the quarter.

Tip:  After you've given students many chances to volunteer to participate, call on the kids who aren't raising their hands, too.  As long as they are making an attempt to answer the question, take one of their cards.
Tip:  Pick a student each week to sort the cards at the end of class (that way, you won't have to).  Ask for volunteers and tell them that sorting counts as 1 of their participation cards each day.

5.  The Clothespin Method
Students each get one clothespin to wear during class.  Whenever a classmate speaks English, and another student catches them, they take their clothespin.  Anyone who still has a clothespin at the end of class gets to enter his/her name in a raffle for a prize at the end of the week.

Variation:  Award a point on a weekly quiz to everyone who has a tally of at least 5 clothespins at the end of the week.  Keep a clipboard with student names.  Write down how many clothespins each student has as they leave (or have a student helper do this - a different person each day).  The person with the most clothespins gets an additional point or additional raffle entries.

Want more ideas like this?  

Check out this post with 20 tips for getting your students to speak Spanish in class.

Here are a few ideas for individual and class rewards:

Individual Reward Ideas:
* Extra Point on a Quiz
* Free Homework Pass
* Switch Seats with Anyone Coupon
* Late Assignment Pass (Only 1 Day)
* Ask the Teacher for an Answer on a Test

Class Reward Ideas:
* Choose Your Own Seats for the Week
* Free Homework Pass
* Night without Homework
* Listen to Music While We Work
* Class Walk (Go for a stroll outside on a nice day, but still speak in Spanish)

If you're looking for more prize ideas, check out:  

Hope you found this helpful.  
Would love to hear your ideas for getting students to speak in class! 
 Please share in the comments section.  

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