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.

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 / 2 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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Bellringers: Stress-Free Ideas for the World Language Classroom

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 / 1 comment

Bellringers. I think there are some magic teachers who've found a way to start class without them. If that's you, awesome!

For the rest of us, bellringers are a must while we manage attendance, tardies, and questions.

(Profe, I'll be gone next week-- can you give me all the work I'll miss? The end of the quarter is tomorrow, and I was wondering if I could do some extra credit. Profe, I did my homework, but I left it at home, but I've got a picture of it my mom just sent me...)  You know.

With a good morning routine, students know you are ready and expect them to get busy, right away. Today, I have some tips for streamlining the process and creating meaningful bellringers.

First off, I know I'm not interested another stack of papers to grade (who is??). So I've mainly gathered input-focused tasks. These bellringers focus on absorption of the language, with only a minimal response required. Student attention is high in those first 5-10 minutes: let's get compelling language going the minute they walk in the door.
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CONNECT FOUR: Integrating Technology and Best Practices in 4 Language Abilities in the Secondary Classroom

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 / 1 comment
Hi everyone! I'm pleased to introduce you to our guest bloggers this week, Granabana created by Sol y Mar. You're probably already aware of Granabana because these two women have been creating innovative resources to share with others for quite some time! Over the summer they presented a conference for World Language teachers and we're so glad to be able to share part of that conference with you here today! We hope you enjoy this fun idea!

CONNECT FOUR:  Integrating Technology and Best Practices in 4 Language Abilities in the Secondary Classroom.

We, as Sra.Sol y Mar, creators of Granabana, facilitated a workshop in August we called CONNECT FOUR:  Integrating Technology and Best Practices in 4 Language Abilities in the Secondary Classroom.  If you thought you had missed a Summer conference, think again! for we bring you a portion of it today courtesy of Secondary Spanish Space!


This activity is effective for incorporating interpersonal speaking skills and technology into your curriculum and can be modified across all subjects and levels.

CONNECT FOUR:  Integrating Technology and Best Practices in 4 Language Abilities in the Secondary Classroom.

How does it work?

1.  Create a set of powerpoint slides to facilitate conversation of an appropriate level and theme for your group.  Each slide should have an open-ended question on it.  Students are given 20 seconds to answer each question, so include enough questions to fill as much time as you would like.

2.  Arrange the students' desks into rows so everyone can see the slides, and can still move easily into another desk.  For higher level classes, you might decide to only let the student who is reading the questions see them, so that their partner is required to listen closely.

3.  Start the timer.  ALL students read the question chorally to ensure 100% active engagement.  Row B answers and elaborates to fill the 20 seconds which is the time allotted for the Simulated Conversation in the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam.  Encourage students to use transition words, idiomatic expressions and their best higher level vocabulary.

4.  After 2-3 questions, students rotate partners in the direction of the arrows.

Here’s a diagram of a possible seat arrangement:
CONNECT FOUR:  Integrating Technology and Best Practices in 4 Language Abilities in the Secondary Classroom.
Note that the blue arrows are rows for students to move to their next seat and next partner.

Some tips:

  • Allow students to feel comfortable by starting slowly, allowing previous practice in pairs and small groups. 
  • You can help students feel prepared by posing a question on the powerpoint slide, allowing for think time, then collaborating as an entire class to create an answer together on the board.  
  • Encourage elaboration by modeling. Should you observe a student needing help, share some of the questions ahead of time to further lower the filter.
  • Decide how many rows and how many desks in each row you will have depending on the number of students.  
  • Remind students to sit up, feet on the ground lean forward, and make eye contact.
  • You may have a student click on the slide and/or the timer and then incorporate into the game.
  • The facilitator calls the letter of the row who is asking/answering questions.

Here are example slides we used at the end of the year with a beginning level class learning the preterite tense and a slide we used last week in the beginning of the year with an AP class.  The 20 second timer is embedded in the slide.

CONNECT FOUR:  Integrating Technology and Best Practices in 4 Language Abilities in the Secondary Classroom.

We hope this first idea inspires you in your teaching this year! We look forward to sharing more fun and innovative ideas from our Professional Development presentation with you right here on Secondary Spanish Space!

CONNECT FOUR:  Integrating Technology and Best Practices in 4 Language Abilities in the Secondary Classroom.

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Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Each year the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage month from September 15 to October 15. As Spanish teachers this is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the varied cultures, histories, and contributions of Americans with Spanish speaking heritage. To be honest, in the past I have not done the best job making Hispanic Heritage month a priority. With the back to school hustle and trying to start the year off right, the month of September often flies by and suddenly it is October and time for Día de los Muertos. Here are many resources to put culture at the core of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class - Secondary Spanish Space

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Back to Spanish Class: Transition Tip for Any Secondary Classroom

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 / 2 comments

If you haven't figured out by now, I love using games, task cards, and hands-on activities in my secondary classroom. I like how they lend themselves to collaboration and community building, all while having fun and learning. Research shows a teenager's attention span is about 10 minutes so I move my students around a lot while we do these activities. Plus, have you yourself ever sat through a whole day of PD? I know my body aches by the end and I am usually one of those teachers standing in the back. Kids need to move!


Getting students out of their seats several times a class period requires a lot of transitions and that means the potential for many precious minutes to be wasted during those transitions. When students are in pairs or small groups, rather than say "Okay, someone needs to move," and spend the next three minutes listening to a classroom full of teenagers whine and argue over who has to move, I use statements to help determine who has to move. All can be quickly determined and make the decision for the students. 

An example of how it works: When it comes time for someone in the pair or group to move, I say "The person who was the last to eat pizza moves,". Students then figure who that person was and that person moves. This usually takes less than 5 seconds. If it is taking more than that, I make the kid who has been seated the longest move. 


Since I implemented this strategy, my transition time has decreased dramatically, we are getting more accomplished during the class period, and our relationships are stronger. I love learning little facts about my students and they love learning about each other, too. Bonus? Admins LOVE this strategy. That's always a good thing, too!

As with any new procedure, you will need to teach students your expectations for transitions. In this case, that the "mover" needs to be quickly determined (no long side conversations) and that they need to find their new seat hastily. What may take a minute at the beginning of the year shouldn't take more than 10-15 seconds max after a few weeks.

Here is a list of questions to get you started! 
The person...
1. ...with the next birthday moves.
2. ...with the last birthday moves.
3. ...who is oldest moves.
4. ...who is youngest moves.
5. ...who is tallest moves.
6. ...who is shortest moves.
7. ...with the longest hair moves.
8. ...with the shortest hair moves.
9. ...with the most siblings moves.
10. ...with the fewest siblings moves.
11. ...with the most pets moves.
12. ...with the fewest pets moves.
13. ...who got to school last today moves.
14. ...who got to school first today moves.
15. ...who has traveled the farthest moves.
16. ...with the most tattoos/piercings moves.
17. ...who plays the most sports for the school moves.
18. ...who woke up first today moves.
19. ...who woke up last today moves.
20. ...who lives the closest to the school moves.
21. ...who lives the farthest from the school moves.
22. ...who went to bed the latest last night moves.
23. ...who went to bed the earliest last night moves.
24. ...with the most jewelry on today moves.
25. ...with the least amount of jewelry on today moves.
26. ...with the most articles of clothing on moves.
27. ...who most recently finished a book (not for school!) moves.
28. ...who has eaten the weirdest thing moves.
29. ...who went to a concert last moves.
30. ...who played an instrument last moves.
31. ...who listened to music last moves.
32. ...who watched a movie at the theater last moves.
33. ...who watched the most TV yesterday moves.
34. ...who watched a movie last moves.
35. ...who traveled the farthest last Christmas moves.
36. ...who is wearing the darkest colored socks today moves.
37. ...who ate French fries last moves.
38. ...who drank water last moves.
39. ...who has moved the most amount of times moves.
40. ...who has moved the least amount of times moves.
41. ...who has traveled the farthest moves.
42. ...who went out to dinner at a restaurant last moves.
43. ...who trick-or-treated last moves.
44. ...who sent the last text message moves. 
45. ...who played a video game last moves.
46. ...who has the next math class moves.
47. ...who has the next science class moves.
48. ...who went to the last school dance moves.
49. ...who went to art class last moves.
50. ...who went to the last school sporting event moves.

In the rare event of a tie, I have students quickly do rock, paper, scissors.

I hope this helps you with your transitions! Do you have any fun questions to add to the list? Please leave them in the comments below! Have a great school year!

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Back to Spanish Class: 5 Back-to-School Purchases that I LOVE

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 / Leave a Comment
5 Back-to-School Purchases that I LOVE

Hi everyone!  I am so happy to introduce our guest blogger for this week!  Laura Lee from 
Señora Lee – for the LOVE of Spanish is a good friend and fellow Spanish teacher author She has taught Spanish at the elementary and middle school levels for over 18 years and is a wealth of information regarding fun and engaging resources for the classroom.   I know you are going to love her ideas!  Enjoy!

Back to Spanish Class: 5 Back-to-School Purchases that I LOVE

¡Hola! I am Laura and my favorite part of back-to-school is the shopping! I love receiving a big check from the school district to purchase the best resources for my classes. The resources I’m suggesting today have been favorites of my middle school / Spanish 1 classes.

 A Señor Wooly Subscription. This has been number one on my wish list for many years, and it is worth every penny and more!  $35 gives you access to all of Sr. Wooly’s hilarious and captivating videos. Students and teachers absolutely LOVE them.  My favorite video to begin the school year is “¿Puedo ir al baño?  I’m pretty sure my students know every single line.  After one showing, they want to watch it again…and again. Which is ok because I can never get enough! No one will ever ask, “Can I go to the bathroom?” in English again. 

Sr. Wooly has videos to go along with almost every unit. When teaching about descriptive adjectives and “ser,” sing along to “Guapo.” (It is hard not to sing along!) Watch “No Voy a Levantarme” when teaching the use of “ir + a + infinitive” and daily routines. You’ll love the surprise ending! Teach the structure “tener + que + infinitive” with “Los Quehaceres.” All videos use high frequency vocabulary and have a lot of repetition. They are easy to understand and come with the option of Spanish or English subtitles.

Sr. Wooly’s videos make students want to learn and practice Spanish inside and outside of class. I will never forget one Monday morning when three of my 8th grade Spanish 1 students excitedly came into class. They told me they had practiced a Sr. Wooly skit (“Es una Ganga”) all weekend long and wanted to perform it in front of the class. Wow! Imagine, students volunteering to do an unassigned presentation. If you want your students to be excited about learning and fully engaged, this is one of my favorite ways to MAKE LEARNING FUN. And your students will love you for it.  [If you are a 1:1 school you will want the Pro account for access to the entire curriculum. Read Allison’s post for more information! 

Quizlet – Teacher Account.  Another must-have resource that everyone loves is Quizlet. This fantastic app is free! And, in case you have not heard, Quizlet Live is about the best collaborative game ever! (For more on Quizlet Live, read Spanish with Sra. Shaw’s post.) 

If you are a 1:1 school, have more than 8 classes and love data, you will want the $35 upgrade! You can track student activity – exactly how and when students practice. You’ll find data to answer these important questions: Are students challenging themselves with more rigorous activities? How frequently do they review? Which terms are the biggest struggle for them?
I assign specific activities for students to complete each week. It is a great setup. Most students have the app downloaded to their phones and can practice any time. In class, students use Chromebooks. As a teacher, you can see exactly where students are struggling (for example, most commonly missed vocabulary words) and gauge student progress. You are also able to quickly see who has (or has not) studied.

As a teacher, you can see the high scores and use that data to bring out the competitive spirit in everyone. The high scores from previous years still remain, and current students continue to compete against past years’ top scores. Other perks include being able to upload your own images and record your voice to each flashcard. These features help you to create the very best sets full of engaging content - personalized with your own voice! I LOVE QUIZLET. [Compatible with Google Classroom!] 

Cultural Videos from Teacher’s Discovery by Moo!  Out of all the videos I have ever purchased, these are my favorites for integrating culture into the classroom. Students watch authentic footage filmed on location in Spanish-speaking countries that feature a dialog between a native speaker and an American student. They experience the rich traditions of Día de Los Muertos, Las Posadas and Cinco de Mayo through an engaging, thought-provoking video. Students think about the meaning behind their own holiday traditions, which sets the stage for a thoughtful discussion. Watching these videos is like taking a mini field trip. It really brings the culture to life to watch actual interactions with native speakers, learn about the customs, and get introduced to the food. The Day of the Dead video was filmed live in Oaxaca and is completely unrehearsed. The interactions are real. Students relate to it and are engaged the entire time. No wonder it received an Emmy Award! 

My favorite videos include the holiday videos listed above, The Culture of Mexican Food, Ordering Food and Weekend in Mexico. Each video is about 25 minutes long and packed with rich content. They vary in price between $27 & $33 each and are available for instant download. To read more about the Las Posadas video, read my blog post

Novels. I was very fortunate to have the district purchase a set of novels for our classroom. I chose Agentes Secretos y El Mural de Picasso  by Mira Canion. This is an excellent first novel for beginning Spanish. It is a mystery and is set in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The story is intriguing and the language is comprehensible. Students learn vocabulary naturally while they read, through the use of cognates and use of consistent language. 

I love that the novel incorporates art, history and culture into the storyline. Students are introduced to Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica and are naturally curious about its significance. My students develop confidence as they read aloud, are able to understand each chapter and are fully engaged. (Especially the boys!) This is a great reader to add to your collection.
To learn more about using novels in the classroom and how to get funding for a class set, read Allison’s post from Mis Clases Locas. 

Resources from Teachers Pay Teachers. Teachers Pay Teachers is the largest online marketplace for teachers. It has over 2.7 million resources created by teachers for teachers. Over 93,000 of those resources are for Spanish alone. And almost 10,000 of those are FREE!   I first discovered TpT in 2014. They had current and engaging resources that I could download in an instant at an affordable price. My students benefitted from the creativity and expertise of a variety of Spanish teachers with many years of experience. 

I found comprehensive resources that taught culture in the target language.  The site also had cooperative learning activities that built community in my classroom. The reading assignments were interesting and meaningful. The games brought excitement to my lessons. Teachers Pay Teachers is the only place where I buy resources now for my students. I wish I had found out about TpT ten years ago. It would have saved me so much planning time and would have really enriched the curriculum! Talk to your school administrators about the resources available on TpT.

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