Sunday, August 27, 2017

Easy Spanish Readers for SSR/ FVR

In my little classroom "library" I have:

TPRS readers (Agentes Secretos y el mural de Picasso, Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto, etc)
(chapter books; which automatically discourage lower leveled readers)

and children's books
(ummm these have words I haven't even learned in Spanish and the grammar is all over the place)

Cover of book
But what gets my students ready to have the confidence to read those books or what else can I offer to them during SSR and FVR that isn't just  a TPRS reader and has more pictures and might even have structures from those TPRS readers broken down but aren't just "there's a boy. He goes to....".  I want to play around with genre.

So I ordered some leveled readers from These were actually like the idea that I had and as I read them with my daughter, I realized that more of this type of book was what I was missing in my class!

And I wrote a book. The sample was well received by teachers.
And two particular teachers told me to sell it for other teachers to print.

The book focuses on "no hay"; "hay", and "al mono le gustan los plátanos" and numerous places.

While it is more simple than many Spanish teachers would ever think to give to a student, I want to make reading so easy that it can be enjoyable and relaxing. When a student finds success, they are more likely to read! And I think this can even be used in high school if students are given the choice to read it. Because many of my high school students are nostalgic for being young again and simpler times. I want my class to be as stress free as possible. So that means I should make sure I have book options that can be stress free for even the lowest reader.

Without further adieu, my first Easy Spanish Reader: Al mono le gustan los plátanos. I am finally selling something on Teachers Pay Teachers (don't judge me too hard!).

I hope you can find a use for it in your classes and I plan to write more as well.

Al mono le gustan los plátanos:

*Edit*  Here's my second super simple reader!

¿De qué color es el cerdo?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Evolution of my TPRS teaching: example Alma

Someone recently asked me about how I plan out for the years. I generally do the following:

My first year with a curriculum:

  • fly by the seat of my pants
  • take notes on what works/doesn't (mental or written/typed out)
  • survive
Subsequent years:
  • hone different areas (not all at once)
    • assessments
    • activities 
      • stories
      • movietalks
      • guided discussion prompts
      • extras
      • games
      • classroom management
      • usage of novels
      • usage of SSR / FVR
  • continue to gather more resources to throw in
  • adapt resources to level of students that year (readings)
  • have more fun because it's way less stressful

For example, you can tell my 2nd or 3rd year of using TPRS, I saw Cynthia Hitz had used something called a MovieTalk about Alma. I was relatively new at this. 

So my first year with Alma (maybe fall 2012), I did the following:
  • Spoken story
  • MovieTalk (talked to kids, paused movie at key points to build interest)
  • Simple version of a reading 
    • I lost this over the years

Then the next year at a new school (spring 2014), I thought it would be fun to make an Embedded Reading. So I was comfortable with the movie and added different versions.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

All my Spanish 2016-17 resources

Ok, so I like to be transparent with my teaching.

I am not perfect and don't claim to be. For me it's about the journey and wonder of learning the language in pieces with my students.

This year went well considering the following challenges:

  • Spanish 2 students were all over the place in ability when they got to my class
  • Spanish 1 students were those who
    • transferred into school system
    • didn't get good enough grades to take Spanish 1 in middle school
    • students who had previously failed Spanish 1
  • my going back to 50 minute periods after 3 years of 90 minute every other day block
  • being at a new school (zero street cred)
  • new district mandated curriculum ("cough textbook chapters cough")
Don't get me wrong, there were also SO many positives.
  • supportive school department (TPRS lovers)
  • lots of collaboration
  • administrative support and faith in my abilities
  • students slowly being won over
  • trying a lot of new things
  • not HAVING to teach curriculum based on a weekly map
    • teach towards final

Sufficed to say, I think I got my students to buy into the method and to learn about one another and Spanish at the same time. There were ups and downs (like every year). But in general I thought my students rose to the occasion and many of them couldn't believe how much they were speaking in Spanish by the end of the year in both levels! 

Feel free to look, copy things into your own google drive to use,  let me know if you have further questions. My finals were district mandated so I have not included those.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Story Script - finicky baby

This is a story after telling this Peanut Butter Lips Movietalk.

So I needed one more story to finish out the over-the-top food unit for Spanish 2 (*cough cough* ridiculous vocab list *cough* cough*) before finals.

story structures (past tense for oral storytelling)
And I have been working on a song in my head for about a year and a half for my Youtube Channel that requires me to do some animation and play piano. So as I work on those two things, it's on the back-burner. But the story is about a finicky piñata baby who is hungry and a duck keeps bringing him food.

It's pretty fun and I hope to share it soon.

The oral story structures were to work on some things that we hadn't done a lot intentionally. So I needed to hit "they" forms more in the past tense and to highlight it a little bit.

It was actually a fun story. And I know the difference between "brought "and "took" in Spanish, but sometimes you have to use the structures you have to use to get them in the kids' heads.

Here's the mini-unit if sorts. I don't have any assessments for it since the final is coming up. But I tend to do exit slip quizzes in Spanish over what we have talked about with questions of varying difficulty.

Change for next year:
Change "era demasiado"(it was too...) to "sabía demasiado" (It tasted too...)

Story + Movietalk + Song - "Soy yo" by Bomba Estéreo (Spanish 1)

Still from "Soy yo" (Bomba Estéreo)
After the fun with the previous mini-unit on el chico del apartamento 512, I thought this would be a logical progression and I've wanted to use this song all year ever since seeing that Kara Jacobs did something with it.

So Bomba Estéreo came out with this great song called "Soy yo" (I am me) that is a really positive song about just being yourself. While Kara used it in the beginning of the year for repetitions of "SOY", I preferred to use it later on when my kids would have more language and I could relate it to deeper discussion in class about being who you are.  I know my stuff doesn't hold a candle to hers, but I think my students enjoyed it for the most part, which was nice since it's the end of the year.

Still from "Soy yo" (Bomba Estéreo)
Before showing them the reading, I brought up the first one of the year and told them we could warm up real quick. They read it without any problems. One student said in English, "Wait, that was so easy!" And I responded to him, "It is now. But when we first went over it, it was a little bit hard for you!" I wanted them to realize HOW much they have been exposed to this year in the Target Language and how far they have come in one year.

I really wanted to review some of the physical descriptions vocab, family vocab, places vocab, activities vocab, etc. The thing I love about storytelling (TPRS) is that you can really revisit things all the time because they can come up naturally in stories unlike with a textbook.

My structures were:

  • viaja a - s/he travels to  (NEW)
  • se ríen de - they laugh at / make fun of (NEW)
  • sigue viajando - s/he keeps traveling (revisited)
  • se va - s/he leaves (revisited)
  • llegan a - they arrive at (revisited)

You might notice how I was reusing some phrases. But I made sure to use a different form of them in this story or added a different "ing" because just going over something once is NEVER enough for acquisition in my experience for lower levels. They need to constantly be exposed and re-exposed to vocabulary/structures throughout the year for long term retention.  The stuff they only hear once (for most kids) will most likely be forgotten to make space for more frequently used language.

Anyways,  here's the rough plan I used with links to the activities mentioned. It's bare bones, but hopefully it will inspire you!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Me cortaron me el pelo - Simple Story + authentic text (past + present)

Past tense for spoken class story.
I found this years ago and experimented with it my 3rd year of using TPRS. See how I used it back then.

This year for Spanish 1, I thought it would be a fun little story to experiment with to further reinforce "can" or "can't".  Some of my students still seemed to be having difficulty with those.

Now I am not saying these are the best structures in the world. Maybe my original ones were better. But I am always experimenting and pushing the language of my students each year to achieve greater acquisition (if that is possible).
still from music video (31 Minutos)

My first years I probably babied them way too much and now I want to see how far we can really get.

And there is this song I fell in love with years ago called: Me cortaron mal el pelo.  It's from a TV show in Chile called 31 Minutos.  And the song sort of has a Sponge-Bob musical quality to it.

The show is pretty crazy. Definitely not comprehensible for my Spanish 1 or 2 students most of the time. But every once in awhile, there is a gem I can use. This is one of those times. So I revised an old story I made years ago and tried it out with my Spanish 1 or 2 students.

So my structures were:

      • antes de ir a ___
        • before going to... (past)
      • debía ir a...
        • s/he should go to (past)
      • le cortó mal el pelo
        • s/he cut his hair badly (past)

And from there we listened to the song as a warm up each day.

And here's the plan if you wanted to see it!

Let me know if you end up using it in your classes and how it goes or what you would recommend!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Selena - el chico del apto 512 - revised

So this is a mini-unit I like to use each year in Spanish 1. I originally got it from Martina Bex years ago as I mention here (from 5 years ago!) and it has evolved over the years to use whatever words I have needed at the moment.

I love how I can incorporate music and also tell a story. This story by Martina actually has inspired me to use other songs to make into storylines. Of course one of my all time favorites each year in Spanish 1 is: Fanny Lu - Celos.  I've also done the same with Sr. Wooly's awesome song: Puedo ir al baño (this year's version).

See this year's activities here for Spanish 1 for "Celos".

So back to "el chico del apartamento 512". It's a song by Selena that has a cute little story about a girl who keeps having guys want to talk to her and she isn't interested. Finally she sees a guy come out of the elevator and he's the man of her dreams!

We listen to the song for a few days as a warm up with different activities to interact with the song in different ways, which preps them for the second week and the actual story that is adapted from the song, thanks to Martina.  I made a powerpoint of it and this year pushed way more language.

I made an embedded reading of about 3 versions or so. If you see phrases in there that aren't in my structures, it's because I had previously used those at some point and was recycling them back in to remind my students of them for additional help binding them to long-term memory.

Here's my basic plan that took about 2 weeks!  Of course remember I also a few other activities in class so we might do the TPR / storytelling part for 25-30 minutes a period. Best of luck if you use it!

It's usually a pretty big hit with my students since there is the music component as well as the compelling story of love and mystery. I am excited that this will build up nicely towards the last story of the year. I am going to adapt Kara Jacob's AWESOME song choice from first semester this year: "Soy Yo" by Bomba Estéreo.

And here's the Selena song if you've somehow never heard it!