Saturday, October 31, 2015

Maestros de Español - Fall/Winter Blop Hop: November 1-4

Welcome to the Fall/Winter Blog Hop featuring your favorite maestros de español from Teachers Pay Teachers!

Below you will find various tips for teaching Spanish in the fall and winter months as well as links to four of my products that are exclusively on sale from November 1st until November 
4th. In addition to clicking the links below, these products can be found by searching for #fallwinterspanishsale on Teachers Pay Teachers.

In addition, be sure to visit the other maestros de español who are participating in this Fall/Winter Blog Hop! There are lots of us who are providing great resources and ideas for fellow Spanish teachers. Their links are found below.

Disfruten, and thanks for stopping by! Hopefully the long winter days seem a little shorter with these fun and interactive lessons :) 

I understand that students are antsy during the winter months. They have cabin fever, holiday fever, and more times than not, real fevers (staying locked indoors with all those germs is not good - ick!). Therefore, I try to spruce up my lesson plans to incorporate holiday themes and ideas. Of course it is pretty easy to talk about Spanish and Latino cultural traditions during these months. However, you can also tie in grammar points into simple lessons that have holiday themes.

Some teachers may feel that there is no time to do entire lessons on holidays. However, I often incorporate the current grammar points of the class into a lesson with holiday themes! For example, with my Spanish 3 students we often work with "por" versus "para" in December. To assess this grammar point, I have students write a prompt in the form of a letter to Santa (Papá Noel) where students ask for various personality traits. Students explain what purpose each personality trait will serve in the upcoming year. Each year I tear up while reading the letters because students write beautiful, reflective letters. They always seem to take this activity very seriously!

Also, my Spanish 3 students start to work with the present subjunctive mood right around the New Year. That allows me to create fun activities about New Years resolutions within the curriculum. "Yo espero que mis padres me den un perro" and other similar sentences practice the present subjunctive mood but also tie in current holidays.

Since my Spanish 1 students know a lot less vocabulary and complex grammar at this point of the year, I keep my holiday activities more basic for them. For Thanksgiving I have students interview classmates and ask about favorite Thanksgiving foods. This activity allows us to work with "Me/Te/Le gusta(n)..." as well as adjective agreement. We spend time adding descriptions to the Thanksgiving foods (e.g., El pavo es jugoso.)

For Christmas and New Years with my Spanish 1s, I incorporate ordinal numbers and the verb "tener" into an activity with the "12 Days of Christmas" and the simple future (ir + a + infinitive) to talk about plans in the New Year. 

Either way, tying current holidays into the Spanish classroom shouldn't be seen as an extra day to squeeze into the already packed curriculum - it can be easy to combine the current grammar points and holiday themes into a few lessons to keep students and teachers alike happy through the holiday months!

To get you started with some holiday activities, the following four products are on sale for 20% from November 1-4. Search #fallwinterspanishsale on TPT to see all of the Spanish items on sale during this event!
What do you want for Christmas? - "Querer" Interview Activity
The first is the one of my interactive Christmas activities for a Spanish 1 class. The activity focuses on the present tense forms of "Querer." Each student receives a unique card with an image of a gift on it. There are two sets of 32 cards - one set with just the image and the other with the image and the Spanish word for that image (e.g., coche). You can decide which set of cards is appropriate for your students. Students then travel around the room and ask each other, "¿Qué quieres para la Navidad?" Students record the information on a chart and then work with that information to make comparisons and talk about the gifts. This is a fun activity that gets students up and moving around the classroom and speaking Spanish! I always recommend practicing the pronunciation of the questions and vocabulary words used when completing an oral activity.
Wishes for the New Year - Present Subjunctive Mood
The next lesson is for a Spanish 3+ class when learning the present subjunctive mood. It's perfect for a quick assignment over winter break or when school is starting up again in the new year. With this product students choose various subjunctive indicator phrases (e.g., "Esperar que...") and create wishes for the New Year using the present subjunctive mood. For example, a student may say, "Yo espero que mis padres me den un perro."

The second part of the activity includes subjunctive mood and indicative mood indicator phrases and students need to decide which mood should be used. Students then write a sentence using that phrase. For example, an indicative phrase may be, "Es obvio que..."

Three Kings Day Webquest - English Version
This next is one of my best sellers. Students complete an extensive webquest on Three Kings Day. The English version of this webquest is on sale but a Spanish version is available separately for full price. Through this webquest students learn the meaning of Three Kings Day, who celebrates it, and what the traditions surrounding the holiday are. Students also compare and contrast traditions with Three Kings Day to those of Christmas. 

Two helpful websites are included at the top of the webquest and an answer key is included. Webquests are perfect for independent learning, days with a substitute teacher, early finisher work, and more! This is perfect for easing back into the New Year with students. 

Task Cards: Work Backwards with Double Object Pronouns
Finally, students in Spanish 2+ can practice working backward to identify the direct and indirect objects in a sentence. 36 unique task cards are included, and each contains a sentence that uses double object pronouns. For example, a card may read, "Te las dio." Students must create a sentence that clarifies who and what each of the pronouns are. A possible sentence could me "Su novio te dio las flores a ti." Students create 36 different sentences in this activity. The tenses used in the cards include present, preterite and imperfect. This is a great activity to review double object pronouns and really makes sure that students understand the pronouns. 

I hope you can use some of these tips and resources in your Spanish classroom this holiday season. Be sure to search #fallwinterspanishsale on TPT to see all of the other products on sale from November 1st until November 4th. 

Happy teaching!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Día de los Muertos

One of my favorite times of year has arrived - Day of the Dead, or Día de los muertos. Celebrated mainly in Mexico and various communities within the US, the Day of the Dead celebrates the idea that loved ones who have passed away return on November 1st and 2nd to visit their family members. 

Various traditions are carried out such as visiting the cemetery and graves of the departed, creating elaborate altars, and in general, celebrating the lives of those who have passed away. Despite being a holiday about death, Day of the Dead is actually a joyous event where people eat good food and drinks, listen to music, and have parties to commemorate loved ones. 

Below is a collection of fun and informative videos about Day of the Dead. I have some comprehension questions about the first three videos if you would like to use them in your classroom. The questions can be found for free on my TeachersPayTeachers website found here: Day of the Dead - FREE Video Activities

This first video (6:54) is a podcast that includes some basic information about what Day of the Dead is all about and various details of the unique traditions:

The next video (3:42) takes us through an art exhibit in Minneapolis where high school students created ofrendas for their loved ones. 

Finally, the last video (3:07) is a popular animated short film about a girl in Mexico who discovers the true meaning of Day of the Dead. 

Below are also two more short videos about Day of the Dead.

In the following video (1:47), two Mexican chefs from Los Angeles explain their experiences with Day of the Day traditions in their families as well as the important role that food plays on this holiday:

Finally, just for fun here's a tutorial on how to make the beautiful calavera makeup for Halloween costumes! (8:11)

Overall, Day of the Dead is an important holiday in Mexican tradition and helps students develop a new outlook on death. I recommend discussing the holiday in your classroom and having students complete the FREE comprehension questions that go along with the videos above!

Happy teaching!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dictations in the Spanish Classroom

I love doing dictations with my Spanish 1 students. Dictations:
1. teach my students the importance of spelling in Spanish (since it's a phonetic language!)
2. help my students recognize vowel and consonant sounds
3. strengthen my students' listening skills and focus on recognizing new vocabulary and sounds within teacher-spoken text.

I approach dictations in a very methodical way in my Spanish 1 classes. I complete four sets of dictations (three sentences each) throughout each chapter. The first dictation is an ungraded pre-test. Students then complete three different sets of graded dictations throughout the chapter. Finally, the chapter test has the same dictation as the pre-test. 

Choosing the dictations is a very important step. When writing the dictations, you need to make sure you choose vocabulary that has already been introduced to students. This is especially important if you're grading the dictations like I do.

The reason I grade the three dictations in the middle as a participation grade is important - I want to hold students accountable for learning the new vocabulary and learning the spelling and letter sounds. For example, right now my students are learning the most basic vocabulary like "el hombre" or "la mujer." When we introduce the new vocabulary, we spend time talking about the "silent h" at the start of "hombre" and reiterate that the "j" in "mujer" sounds like an "h" because that's how "j's" sound in Spanish. Therefore, since we discuss these tiny details, I expect my students to learn them and reproduce them during a dictation.

Depending on time, my students and I also practice a few of the dictations each chapter. This is the process of practicing the dictation:

1) I write the three dictation sentences on the board and students copy them down 
2) we talk about what each sentence means
3) we talk about what we THINK common errors were and why (for example: "How do you think people misspelled "hombre?" WHY do you think they forgot the "h"? [it's silent!])
4) we practice pronouncing the sentence or question together
5) students then pair up with a buddy and practice reading the dictations to each other and writing them down again on the opposite side of the paper
6) students compare the dictation with the one they copied from the board and self-correct
7) I then pass back the graded dictation from the previous day and students compare how they did on the practice dictation compared to the previous day's dictation

Many people ask why I practice the dictation AFTER I grade it. First of all, I grade the three dictations as a participation grade, so it's not weighted too heavily. I also grade them because I want the students to study the vocabulary and be responsible for recognizing and spelling it within a sentence. Finally, the process of practicing it AFTER grading it enables us to talk about common errors that were made and why they were made as well as further develop the skills for the final dictation that is on the chapter test. The chapter test dictation is weighted as a test grade which is of course more heavily weighted than a participation grade.

So, how do I grade dictations? I created a 12 point rubric that has been really great and easy to work with:

Needs support
Vowel sounds
Important sounds (ll, rr, h, j, qu vs cu, ch, etc.)
Vocabulary recognition (separation between words, letter choice, no blank spaces)
Sentence structure (periods, ?s, capitalization)

Total:            /12

As you can see, I grade my students on the following components: vowel sounds, important sounds, vocabulary recognition and sentence structure. After working with this rubric for over a year and adjusting it accordingly, I found the above rubric to be most effective at grading dictations at the Spanish 1 level. Some people may argue for a "0" column, but really a 4/12 means a student needs support no matter what - I personally don't feel a 0 column is necessary because it would pretty much tell me the same information.

I have found that students enjoy completing dictations throughout the year. It becomes a part of the classroom routine, and students really develop spelling, letter sounds, and vocabulary recognition throughout the course of the class. In addition, students learn the value of punctuation in Spanish like upside-down question marks, capitalization, accents, and more. I also find myself sprinkling in facts about letter sounds casually within everyday lessons - rarely do I spend an entire lesson solely focusing on dictations.

Hopefully with the above information you are ready to begin doing dictations in your Spanish classroom!

Happy teaching,