First this happened, and then this…


Classroom reality is that at least one student will be absent or in the office when I show a movie. The best way I’ve found to catch them up is this warm-up that I call “papelitos.”

I made a set of “cards” on Quizlet that had the major events that happened during the previous class. I also made a set of pictures to go with each event. I wrote them in the present tense for my level 1 students and in the past tense for my level 2. Then I mixed up the cards. This may sound silly, but just by adding a large colorful paper clip made them curious about the activity. I tried to mix up how I contained them each day (buckets, colorful baggies, chip clips, silly bands, etc.). Sometimes it’s the little details that matter.

They group up and put the cards in order based on what they watched the previous day. Absent students can still help with the language while learning what happened in the movie. I usually set a timer, and then show the answers (photos like this) on the board. It’s exciting to hear them figure out the new vocabulary. I repeat this activity each day after they watch a section of the movie. In the end, I mix them all up to “quiz” them about the plot of the movie. You can ask about the climax, the conflicts and resolution. Another ELA connection! (Opps! I misspelled Marcela’s name on the cards.)

20130417-151228.jpg Q&A with song lyrics
Recently I saw this blog post by Sharon Birch. She made it for song lyrics, but I think something similar can be done with a movie. Something new to try!

How can absent students catch up when they miss part of a movie?

Spring SHARE-a-thon #4


Recently I read my students’ end-of-course reflection papers about what they learned about the language and culture. This made me think a lot about the units that I am currently teaching to each level. I realized that they love the culture above everything else. I believe that connecting to their interests and curiosities is the número uno way to motivate students.

Many of us already have a treasure chest (aka file cabinet) full of engaging lessons and units. Have you ever found something (when finally sorting a stack of papers you threw in a drawer before parent conferences), and then thought that would have been a great topic to teach about?


Valentine’s Day, there’s a tab for that.

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Valentine’s Day is approaching soon! I’ve already started scouting for the Spanish conversation hearts in local stores.

Last year we posted several activities for this day if love. We will add to them, but I want you to know that there is a tab at the top of the page with links to all V-Day activities. We hope this will also help you to prepare ahead and share.

Kara and Megan

Great Minds Think Alike


During winter break, I played some games with my niece and nephew. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Cheese Touch Game” had several parts to it. Here is one set of the original cards:

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Here’s a game I’ve adapted for class and I call it “Great Minds (think alike)”. This practices the vocabulary in context and models questions. They loved it so much, they asked to make a set of their own cards for a Real World stamp. They do all the work?? Sure!

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Prep work:
*I made a Keynote that had a question and picture on each slide. I used opinion questions like “What is the best/worst/most fun/most boring/fastest/most expensive…?”
*I printed them as 6 slides on a page on card stock. Finally I cut them apart.

*I put the students in small groups. Each person has a dry erase board (or paper) to put their answers and keep track of their points.
*I gave them the cards. (For the first time, I only used the “what’s the best…” cards about places they hang out at. Next time I mixed in more.

*One person turns over a card and reads it to the group.
*He/she writes down his/her answer to the question.
*The other players try to guess what he/she wrote down and write that answer on their board. (This is why it’s called Great Minds Think Alike)
*Then everyone reveals their answers. Each person that matches their answer gets 1 point.
*Now the next person turns over a card, reads it and the game continues until you call time.

After playing, I gave them an exit slip. I asked how many places can you list in Spanish? This was the first day we started the unit. I was pleased that most of them learned 5 new places WITHOUT studying. All this learning and it was fun. Bonus!!

Any suggestions to make this game better?

Naughty or nice?

Yikes! I just caught myself being naughty! I almost asked them to produce the language before they had meaningful input.

The students want to make cards in Spanish, so I started writing some simple directions for them to follow. Then it hit me. Where’s the learning? How will they know the phrases they need?


I searched “tarjetas navidad” (Christmas cards) on Google images and copied some that used different phrases. First I will ask them to tell me whose Facebook page they would put the picture to see if they can get the overall meaning of the picture. Then I will ask them to translate as much as they can. Some students will probably look up new words, while others will be content writing some phrases they understand. (Do you have other ideas how they can demonstrate their learning?)

Now they can make the cards with the new phrases from the “reading”. Even better, give them a real reason to write in the target language, like making the cards for local refugee organizations or send them abroad.

Santa says:

Oh, check your “list” twice, make sure your not naughty, but nice!
So students don’t go kaput, give plenty of meaningful input. :)


I know more!



Here’s a fun review game that I got from Sheila Lee, Laurin Baker and Lori McCool’s session at ACTFL. I played it yesterday and the students had a blast! It is at a novice low level, but I like that they were playing with their vocabulary. It also takes very little prep work on my end. Nice!

1) Put students in small groups. I chose to put them in groups of three so they have more talking time.
2) Give them the game language. I showed them how to say “I know more. I know…” and “Do it!”
3) Give a category. I put them on a Keynote (PowerPoint) and printed them for the groups. Let’s use “colors” as an example.
4) The students will take turns “bidding” on how many words they can say that fit in the category. So the first student may say “I know 5.” The next student may say “I know more. I know 7.” The next student may not know more, so they will challenge the previous one (Do it!) to actually say 7 colors.
5) If the student can fulfill their bid (say 7 colors), then they will receive 7 points (one point per word). If they can’t, the other players get 7 points.
6) Then they go to the next category and repeat the bidding until someone is challenged again.
7) At the end, they add up their points for a total to determine the winner. I usually give a bonus homework stamp. I gave them a blank copy of the form below to track points.


What review games do you use?

Random Picture Stories


While helping an ESL student in class, I fell in love with this activity to encourage speaking in a creative and fun way.

1. Students are in small groups.
2. They have a bucket of some random pictures cut out from a magazine.
3. They create a short story using the pictures.
4. Each group shares their story with the class.

I noticed that when they did this, they had to use transition words to make the pictures work together. They also enjoyed listening to each others’ stories and showing the pictures.

Here’s the story this group made up:
“The girl with the yellow umbrella took a picture of the little boy at karate. He took his vitamins every day so he was strong enough to knock down his Lego tower. There was bacteria all over the Legos, so the three sisters cleaned them off with Clorox wipes.”

To adapt this, my students can use present tense and may not have as many details, unless they want to look it up. I will also encourage them to use their 100 word list (see post “Little Words make a Big Impact) while creating.

Pushing their proficiency level
New words
Group work
Talking and listening
Students laughing while learning!

Any other ideas to enhance this activity or adapt it?

Turkey Week!


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! Food, family, football, friends and leftovers. I have described my traditions in Spanish several times to new friends. Here’s a little about what I do in class.

I can talk about Thanksgiving.
This year I gave this goal sheet to my students. They are working on each of the goals at their own pace and putting evidence of their learning on their blogs. If you don’t have blogs, try Edmodo or another share site. We have done some of the activities together, like the Cena de Pavo song and talking about their favorite foods. On the last day before break, I’ll give a presentational writing or speaking assessment to see what they have learned.


I can sing “Cena de Pavo.”
Here’s the video of the “Cena de Pavo” song (lyrics by Megan). PLEASE don’t show this in your class! This video is for teachers only! Deal?? Afterwards, students add a second verse (with actions) and share with the class. Always a fun day!
Cena de pavo

I can say what I’m thankful for.
I’m going to do a day on “saying thanks” by first showing some “gracias por” images from Google. Next they will find their own and put on their blog. Finally they will write “Thank you” letters to someone ( or write it on a leaf for the “Arbol de gracias” (Thanks tree) bulletin board that one group of students made.

I can say what I love, like and hate to eat on Thanksgiving.
I found some infographics that show the vocabulary. I’ll never give a vocab list again now that I have these. I will do a “four corners” activity first. I will hang one sign in each corner of the room (“I love,” “I like,” “I hate” and “I don’t know”). I will show a picture and say it, and then they will go to the corner that represents their feelings. Once there, they will talk with their group to come up with reasons why and write it on the dry-erase board. Then I’ll say another word. Lastly they will “sort” the foods into the four categories in their notes.

I can talk about traditional activities.
I will show them some input using tweets about Thanksgiving. There are also some videos about cooking turkey in Spanish that I may play. Then they will find tweets, videos and/or infographics that represent what they do with their families and friends.

We have the Thanksgiving goal sheet in Spanish and French on Teacherspayteachers We had to use a PDF to maintain the formatting. We will work on finding a better way to share our documents so you can edit them. We know how important it is to add your own touch. You may be able to edit it by putting white text boxes over a screen-shot of it.

After the Thanksgiving break, we will post about some new ideas we got from the ACTFL conference. We hope you have a wonderful time with your family and friends! We are very THANKFUL for our awesome community here on CLC!


Reading made fun: Infographics

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Review time. Blah! I need to spice it up a little. They need to practice reading, but in a new way. I thought about the infographics that someone commented about on a past post and decided to give it a try with my level 2 class. Who was that by the way?? I couldn’t find the exact comment to give you credit.

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First I explained to them what an infographic is in Spanish with very simple sentences. I showed some examples as I described them. None of my students were familiar with them. Next, each student picked a topic or thing from my review list. Then I showed them these steps on the projector:

Go to

Click on “imagenes.”

Search “Infografia” + their topic in Spanish. So if they had fruits, they searched “infografia frutas.”

Their assignment was to find 2-3 infographics that they liked about their topic. Send an email to me that has the infographic and 3 questions in English about it. I was excited to watch how much they were LEARNING from this activity. The pictures and format helped them to make sense of what the were reading (comprehensible input and i+1). Some were funny, and some gave interesting facts. I think they were into it because they were looking for what interested them. Next class, I will send their infographics and questions in an email (or put on the class blog) for them to read what others found.

If you don’t have technology in the classroom, ask them to do this as homework or as a station. If they have a blog or Edmodo, they could post it there to share. I found that writing the questions forced them to read it more thoroughly. When we tried to print them, we had some issues with the text clarity. I will do this with my level one students next! Or maybe they can make their own infographic… (aka: input, then output)

Your thoughts??

Election Day


I love to make real life connections in class to broaden their understanding of their culture and others. America has many cultures that many of our students need to know more about.

You can also find videos of the candidates talking in Spanish.

This is from my Amiga Ivonne:
“I found PSAs in Spanish urging Hispanics to vote. They repeatedly ask, “¿Conmigo?” These are for Nevada: (aimed at Los Vegas) and (aimed at Reno). This is the one for Colorado:”


I also want to throw in a few examples of voting in other countries, like the finger-inking in Venezuela and the color-coded ballots for the illiterate in Uruguay. There are tons of tweets out there about voting in all languages!

What else could you talk about for Election Day?