Robo en la Noche


Snow days, snow days….give me an opportunity to get caught up with lots of things.  Even provides enough time to attempt to write another blog post!

Teaching and planning Spanish III with a great colleague, Megan Matthews, the past few years, and we have really hit our stride. We are currently in Chapter 5 of Robo en la noche, (written by Kristy Placido) and I could not be more convinced that reading, comprehensible input and these TPRS novels are the way to really help our students acquire language easily AND TO RETAIN IT. It’s one thing to say that we are reading a novel in Spanish, but it is just so much more.  This is our second time with Robo; the first time we relied extensively on the wonderful resources of Cynthia Hitz, while creating some of our own. This time around, we have added extensively to our supplementary activities. We have incorporated music, history, geography, culture, manipulatives, listening, speaking….you name it.  This is my wikipage with all of the resources that we have developed. You can click on the menu bar for the chapters; the work is in descending order, meaning that the oldest is on the bottom of the page.

We began our study of Costa Rica with the students NOT knowing where the story would be located.  We used a Primer Dia Opening Activity, combined with a smartboard presentation that we created as well as part of this video (cut so that it didn’t show the words Costa Rica/Pura Vida) , to have students begin to make some guesses as to where we were going and what it might involve. After guessing, correctly, the students then worked with partners and laptops to develop a further base of knowledge with Primer Dia. We also spent time with the song Percance Pura Vida by Percance….a song that they LOVED singing, especially the chorus!

If you visit my wikispace you will have access to the smartboards and other papers developed for the book.  There are links to TOCA boards, Picture retells, Who Said What, Kahoot and vocabulary work. Additionally, I collect resources on my Pinterest board for Robo.  I am sending everything to Carol Gaab for formal approval (hopefully).

Hope this helps some of you who are working with this awesome book!

Beyond the basic clothing unit….with 3 CI stories

Spanish III this year has read Esperanza and studied Guatemala.  This was followed by an extensive food unit that I hope to blog about soon. According to the county curriculum, the food unit is followed by a clothing unit with a preterite/imperfect focus which has only been referred to as past tense….never separated.  There were three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks….perfect to do the clothing unit.  This is NOT the basic, introductory unit that most students are exposed to in Spanish I or II.  It is greatly expanded, and for the past several years, I have let the students dictate where the bulk of our vocabulary is going to come from, based on their interests and questions.  Additionally this year, I decided that I was going to continue with the comprehensible input stories, and so I had to create stories to go with the unit.  (I also did this for the extensive food unit).  The inspiration for the stories came from the current popularity of Selena Gomez and Enrique Iglesias, a song by Selena Gomez (The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants) that was covered by Kevin, Karla and the Band, and the natural affinity of teenagers for shopping (or not) and the “love interest of the week.” When I wrote the first two stories (for the first two weeks of the unit), it was my intention that the students were going to create the conclusion…but they practically begged me to finish the story (hence story number 3).


While I used many activities and creations from the past few years of this unit, such as the great song ¿Qué me pongo? by Mango Punch Qué me pongo Mango Punch 2014, a fun group creation activity with La Camisa Negra, lots of partner activities, etc. (as can been seen here), the primary focus was the stories, the repetitions, and a myriad of activities that went with the stories.

The story began: Había una chica que se llamaba Sofía. Sofía tenía 16 años y le gustaba ir de compras. Le gustaba ir de compras muchísimo!!! También había un chico, un chico de 16 años que se llamaba Enrique. A Enrique, no le importaba mucho la ropa….pero necesitaba la ropa confortable.   I introduced the story for the first week with this powerpoint version Ropa part 1 The student copy for the rest of the week is Ropa part 1 We read it multiple times, using various methods and ended the week with a “practice” free write that was completed with a partner then exchanged with another group who read it, underlined the words used and gave it a score. Practice Free Write

Week Two featured the second part of the story. Ropa part 2 and another version with many images replacing the vocabulary Ropa part 2 with multiple images.  We also used these story cards Sofia 2nd part story cards to retell the story (run off, cut and laminated) with a partner. The cards also lend themselves to a multitude of activities: vocabulary identification/description, sequencing, teacher read description with student “grabbing” of the correct card, etc. Part of the fun this week was the designing of the outfits that the students thought that Sofia and Enrique had worn to the dance.

Dibuja las prendas de ropa que llevaban Enrique y Sofía. Cada persona necesita tener 4 prendas de ropa y 2 accesorios. ¡Incluye los colores! ropa maleropa female

This was a multiple day activity…the creation of the outfits, the description of the outfits to a partner, and then an inner/outer circle activity where they received and exchanged and described multiple creations that were not theirs. There was also an assessed free write for this part of the story Sofia second part free write


Week Three brought the conclusion of the story. Ropa part 3, Sofía queria ir verb completion activity an acting competition, playing Kahoot with the story and also Triple Trouble Triple Trouble game.  Triple Trouble is played with groups of 2/3 students (each with their own color marker).  The teacher asks a question, and the first student has 10 seconds to tell/write the answer for his/her partner.  If correct, he/she colors in one circle, with the goal of getting three in a row as many times as possible.  Naturally, we also had to work with the song What A Heart Wants as covered by Kevin, Karla and the Band.

We ended the week with an Educreations project  Educreations 2014 for blog which really showed how much vocabulary they were using as well as a pretty natural use of the past tense.

Esperanza….the final assessment(s)

It has been a whirlwind of a fall!  It is difficult, on one hand, to believe that I have not been able to blog since August.  On the other hand, it seems like August was just last week!  I continue to teach Spanish III and IV this year, but, as always, changes abound.  Since I do not use a text book (and haven’t now for years), I find myself creating material each year to match my students, their interests, and also, to match where I am going professionally.  I can say one thing unequivocally…enhancing CI with novels written specifically for that purpose is probably the best thing that I have ever done in my teaching career (with the exception of leaving the textbook behind, and always incorporating music).

I began this school year using Esperanza by Carol Gaab with Spanish III, and La Llorona de Mazatlán  by Katie Baker with Spanish IV.  My intentions/goals for those two books were my last posts in August….prior to the beginning of school!! With this post, I am only going to address Esperanza.  Two important observations:  my students thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it took much longer to finish that I expected!  However, it took longer because they enjoyed it so much!! There was just so much to do with the story and all of the possibilities that emerged as we went along!  You can see my entire 7 weeks of lesson plans here. I owe so much to the phenomenal Martina Bex, as it was her lessons that initially guided my planning, and I continued to refer to her during the entire journey.

We concluded this opening unit of Spanish III with this PBT Esperanza:

PBT Esperanza
Choose one of the following options to complete as your formal assessment. Pay close attention to the description, many of them contain multiple parts.
• Work days are Wednesday and Thursday IN CLASS, that work is part of the grade.
• All PBT’s are due on Friday. (Work turned in late will be accepted, but for reduced credit).
• The PBT is worth 45 points.
1. Choose two characters from the book. With another person, role play a scene from the book featuring these two characters. You must create your own script. You cannot use the dialogue in the book. The script must contain at least 10 lines per character. The dialogue will be performed in class, and a copy of the script will be turned in. ***This is the only option with a partner. ***
2. Retell a part of the book from the point of view of Ricardito, Beto or Lucy. You must use at least 20 sentences.
3. Draw at least 3 full size comic strips that highlight three important events in the book. Make sure the dialogue is realistic for the characters and does NOT come from the book.
4. Create a graffiti drawing or mural about the book. The drawing should illustrate the MAIN events in the book. Graffiti/murals contain sentences and words, make sure you have at least 5 sentences in the picture.
5. Design a poster advertising the book, include at least 5 interesting details about the book that would make others want to read it.
6. Create song lyrics and music to tell the story of the book. Use the book title as the song title. Perform for the class, live, or record your song and bring it in. Alternately, you could adapt a song that already exists.
7. Draw relevant pictures for either Esperanza OR Alberto and write at least 10 facts that the reader learns about him or her.
8. Imagine that you are a character in the book and create a diary or a blog. Describe at least 5 events that happened in the story and YOUR reaction to them. Each entry must have at least 5 sentences.
9. Put together a collage for the book using at least 10 magazine pictures or color images from the computer. On a separate paper describe how at least 5 of the pictures relate to the story.
10. Make a timeline sequencing 10 important events that happened in the book. Each event must have a picture and a description.
11. Write a poem about one of the characters in the book. The poem should include at least 20 lines that illustrate the role of the character in the book.
12. Create the documents that Esperanza would have found to be the necessary evidence for political asylum. Include a letter stating why she qualifies for asylum. Include a newspaper clipping with picture that discusses violence in Guatemala.

Rubric checklist
_______ Meets the criteria of the description (5 points X 2)
_______ Demonstrates comprehension of the book (5 points X 3)
_______ Class Time used effectively and wisely (5 points X 2)
_______ Evidence of effort and creative work (5 points X 2)

I have 44 students in Spanish III this year, and every option available in the “lo tech” PBT was used by someone. The results were amazing as far as what the students took with them from the book and our activities.  Additionally, it should be readily apparent that there is a very wide span of proficiency with these assessments. NONE of these students came to be with a CI background, and 1/3 of them arrived in Spanish III from a miserable Spanish II experience with a person who is no longer in the profession. I will let the images below speak for themselves.  I can hardly wait to start our next book……here comes the end of January!!

photo 3 photo 9 photo 10 photo 11 photo 12 photo 13

photo 1photo 2 photo 4 photo 5 photo 6 photo 7

Beginning the school year…….

cover la llorona

I’m getting ready to teach La Llorona de Mazatlan by Katie Baker for the very first time, and I intend to begin working with material associated with it during the first days of school. While I will be using videos with the MovieTalk method to introduce MéxicoMazatlan, and  the legend of La Llorona, I also will need to assess and identify what these new students know or remember.   I don’t want to “review” in the traditional sense of review, but I know that I need to wake those summer brains so that they remember present tense and past tense.  AND, I need to make sure that those verbs that are so crucial for storytelling are cemented in with the new groups of students. I am only going to know about 20 of my 115 students this year, and they will be coming from many different Spanish instruction styles.  Looking at the Super Seven and Sweet 16 list that Mike Peto posted in this blog entry, I found a song that has many of them.  Additionally, the song will eventually fit in with one of the storylines in La Llorona, although in a slightly different way.

CD9 is a “boy band” from Mexico, very similar, in my opinion, to One Direction.  The five young men are all between the ages of 17 – 19, and should  therefore be quite interesting to many of my students.  I created a series of seven different activities to be used with their song “Me Equivoqué“.  I first heard the song when they released a really cute lyric video for it a little over a month ago, and knew that I was going to use it this year.  Today they released the official video for the song.  I will probably use the lyric video first, playing it as students enter the room.  I will spend several different days working through the activities for Me Equivoqué por CD9 de México.  Only after we have finished those activities will I use the official video.  It is significantly different in the arrangement or ordering of the song.  Below are the various activities that I will be using,

  • listening for verbs remembered; identifying past/present (without viewing the video)
  • cloze
  • reading comprehension/questions
  • paraphrasing
  • Arrange lyrics in order
  • Pair English/Spanish lyrics
  • Free Write   “Me Equivoqué……”

Me Equivoqué por CD9 de México
I. Escucha sin mirar el video (3 versos) y escribe 7 verbos

¿Presente o Pasado? Identifica tus verbos.
II. Completa
______________________________ otra vez, con la ausencia de tu voz
y ___________________________________, con mis manos tu silueta amor
Si te _______________________ no __________________________,
si te _________________ nunca ______________________________
Nena __________________me una oportunidad
Mis días se _____________________ noches, si no ______________________
Sin ti la vida, ya no __________________________ igual
Te ________________________________ en mis brazos, me ______________________ aceptarlo
Me ____________________________________ie ie ie eh
Mis manos ________________________________ tu calor
Quisiera que escucharas mi canción
Te __________________________________ en mis brazos, me _________________ aceptarlo
Me _____________________________ ie ie ie eh
Me _____________________________
Me _____________________________

CD9 es el grupo conformado por Jos, Alonso, Freddy, Alan y Bryan, amigos que unieron sus talentos para formar una gran propuesta musical. Mientras se encontraban desarrollando (developing) su proyecto, no querían que nadie se enterara (find out) de lo que estaban planeando, por lo que implementaron el Code 9, que es un código que se utilizaba entre los jóvenes en los chats, para advertir (warn) que había alguien cerca y que no podían hablar del tema; Code 9 es la manera moderna de decir: “hay pájaros en el alambre”. Así, cuando los chicos hablaban al teléfono o estaban enviándose mensajes o chateando, si alguien se acercaba decían o tecleaban CD9 (que es el acrónimo de Code 9) e inmediatamente dejaban (stopped) de hablar del tema.
Al final, cuando los chicos se encontraban buscando un nombre para el grupo, pensaron en una infinidad de posibilidades, sin darse cuenta (realizing) que el nombre
perfecto había estado allí todo el tiempo. “CD9 refleja lo que somos; cinco chavos que hemos guardado en secreto nuestra música, pero que ahora estamos listos para mostrársela al mundo”, comentan.     Fuente:
Contesta las preguntas en inglés.
1. ¿Quiénes son CD9? ______________________
2. ¿Qué es Code 9? ¿Por qué lo usaron? ________________
3. ¿Por qué es CD9 ideal para ellos? ___________________
4. What do you think “hay pájaros en el alambre” could possibly mean? _____
5. ¿Qué es el sinónimo para “chicos” que está en esta lectura? ______
IV. En tus palabras, qué significan (quiere decir) ……
A. Desperté, otra vez, con la ausencia de tu voz
y pinté, con mis manos tu silueta amor
B. Si te llamo no contestas, si te busco nunca estás
Nena dame una oportunidad
C. Mis días se hacen noches, si no estás
Sin ti la vida, ya no sabe igual
D. Te quiero en mis brazos,
me duele aceptarlo, Me equivoqué ie ie ie eh
V. Pon las letras en orden (1 – 8)
_______ pero llamo y no contestas, si te busco nunca estás
_______ ¿Te fallé? Y tal vez, no merezca tu perdón
_______ Me duele aceptarlo
_______ Mis días se hacen noches si no estás,
_______ Soñaré que has pensado en olvidar lo que pasó
_______ Nena escucha solo una vez más
_______ Te quiero en mis brazos,
_______ Sin ti la vida ya no sabe igual
VI. Empareja
A. Dejemos todo atrás, volvamos a empezar
B. No sabes cuánto me arrepiento
C. Sin ti no sale el sol, no late el corazón, no
D. La vida ya no tiene color
E. Mis días se hacen noches si no estás
F. Sin ti la vida, ya no sabe igual,
G. Te quiero en mis brazos,
H. Me duele aceptarlo
I. Me equivoqué ie ie ie eh
Me equivoqué Me equivoqué
J. ¿Te fallé?
K. Y tal vez, no merezca tu perdón

_____ 1. I made a mistake
_____ 2. Life is colorless
_____ 3. Without you, life isn’t the same
_____ 4. I made a mistake, I failed you
_____ 5. I want you in my arms
_____ 6. You don’t know how sorry I am
_____ 7. My days become nights without you
_____ 8. Maybe I don’t deserve your forgiveness
_____ 9. It hurts me to accept it
_____ 10. Let’s leave everything behind, let’s start again
_____ 11. Without you, the sun doesn’t rise, my heart doesn’t beat

VII. Me equivoque cuando…………………….. (Escribe un cuento de cinco oraciones)

Esperanza y Gaby Moreno

cover of bookSchool starts in just a few days.  For the first time, I’m going to be starting the school year with the novel Esperanza by Carol Gaab. There are some superb lesson plans and activities that have been developed by Martina Bex and Profe Hanson. I will be using a lot of their material, but I’m also going to be creating some of my own….particularly dealing with music, and for this book, music from Guatemala.

I absolutely love the voice and music of Gaby Moreno.  She has a beautiful song called Ave que emigra, that I believe will help me transition into the central issue of immigration, reasons and causes.

I have developed activities that are designed to be done over at least two days. Our work with the song will  begin with watching the first minute of it and identifying what is seen.  It will continue with some ordering of the first two verses, some comprehension questions for those verses, a short cloze activity, some discussion with a partner, a retell in your own words, some work with synonyms and antonyms, interpretation of the title of the song, a reflection of the significance of the title in English, and drawing of choice lyrics.  If you would like to see the document, here it is: Ave Que Emigra por Gaby Moreno.



Vazquez Sounds


One thing that has remained a constant in my 33 years of teaching is music, and the place that I feel that it holds in teaching a world language.  From the years of those old vinyl 45’s and 33’s  when I used to have to listen to a song a million times (slight exaggeration) to get all the lyrics, to 2014 when all the lyrics are right at our Google fingertips, I have consistently used music as a “hook” in my WL toolbox.  While styles, genres, and tastes in music have all evolved over the years, and are constantly in a state of flux, I can usually (but not always) identify an artist that will appeal to my students.  Not quite three years ago, I became acquainted with Vazquez Sounds, a trio of siblings from Mexicali, Mexico.  At the time, they were 9, 12 and 15 years of age, and they had done a cover of Rolling in the Deep that became a youtube hit, it now has over 135,000,000 hits!!  I played it for my students and they were fascinated.

I then had to find more information about them, and we explored what was available.  Periodically over the next year, I updated about them with my students, and then I forgot about them.

Well, they have exploded onto my radar again with new videos, including an original instead of just covers. Ángela is even the Spanish voiceover for Disney’s new Tinker Belle movie (El Secreto de las Hadas). In 2014, Abelardo is now 18, Gustavo is 15 and Angie is 12…..ages that will definitely appeal to a broad spectrum of our students, and their music/musicality is GOOD!!! I think that there are many activities, applicable to novice and intermediate levels of Spanish, that could be developed from studying them and their music.  Their official website could be explored by students; novice students might look just for cognates or words that they could pick out that are related to music. The information about the siblings could be used by intermediate students for reading comprehension and an assortment of activities related to that.  It is of high interest, and extremely “readable”.  All of the music that they have released over the past three years is on the site, too.  Intermediate students could listen to Angie in an interview on Primer Impacto; there is also a great video that is labeled as Biografia from which different activities could be developed.

Then there are the two new original videos released this year.  The first one is Te soñaré.  So much could be done with these videos for novice or intermediate: infinitives, past tense, high frequency vocabulary words…..

The one just released a few days ago is Me Voy, Me Voy

Without a doubt I will be developing activities to go with these videos.  I’d love to hear from you…what ideas and suggestions do you have?

Follow them on Twitter @ vazquezsounds


Back to school………again……

August 1.  It’s a date that weighs heavily on most teachers.  The start of a new school year is literally right around the corner.  For me, it is the start of either my 33rd, 34th or 35th year (depending on how you count, and what you do with maternity leave!!). I took a self imposed break from blogging this summer.  The last school year was a tough one and I needed to rejuvenate. I was not happy with how my Spanish III students progressed, in comparison to previous years.  Some of that may have been the student, some of that was definitely me (major events in my lifetime last year included 3 college graduations and my son’s wedding), and some of it was the last step in the transition from text to no text, and the complete acceptance and full implementation of Comprehensible Input (CI).

I have not used a textbook with students for at least the past seven years……..but I still have relied (less each year) on the county curriculum.  That meant that I was still tied to teaching certain “themes/sets” of vocabulary and definitely some conventional grammar mechanisms.  Last year was the “tip over” point.  For the first time, I had all three sections of Spanish IV and I did not have to maintain the curriculum with another teacher!  I did not lesson plan with someone else who may still be entrenched in the philosophy “Oh, this is the level that we teach if, then clauses, sequencing of tenses, por/para, etc.”.  I was free to follow my own and my students’ desires, timeline and interests. It was so liberating. My Spanish IV students, in my eyes, made huge leaps last year.  The transition had been taking place for years, but last year, it became complete.  That is NOT to say that everything was successful!!!  I made mistakes, I blundered, I took my students down paths that were unnecessary…..BUT, there also incredible rewards, big growth in their speaking and writing abilities (even after they groaned, “another free write?”).  Will I change things this year?  You bet!  But I have a very clear vision of what we will explore and do together.  It will be based on the evolution from the past few years, fine tuned from last year, and I’m sure there will be further adjustments this year.  But it is exciting. We will be reading at least two TPRS Publishing novels (@TPRS publishing ) this year:  beginning with La Llorona de Mazatlan the second day of school, and using Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatruche in the midst of the Narcoviolencia unit and the Immigration unit.  I am hoping to seek funds from the PTA to purchase a third, La Hija del Sastre, to use somewhere in conjunction with the Art unit (when we explore Picasso, Dali, Kahlo and Rivera). The units of Narcoviolencia, Immigration and Art were favorite units of the majority of last years 67 Spanish IV students (along with the Copa Mundial unit at the end of the year).  I know that I will continue with the Fluency 1 assignments that evolved from Sara-E.Cottrell @SECottrell and several other terrific Twitter colleagues.  I moved the Fluency depository to Edmodo last year, and it worked very well.  Oh, yes, I can hardly wait to get started!

Now, Spanish III, last year, that was another story!  But, I have hope!  This school year will begin with CI being used by both of us who teach the 5 sections of Spanish III.  We are both starting the year with a TPRS Publishing novel (Esperanza), and know that we will use Robo en la Noche again (we did last year, too, with incredible success).  We also will seek funding for a third, La Guerra Sucia. The framework for this coming year is located on my wikispace, El Mundo de Birch. The Essential Questions are already posted for Esperanza:

1. ¿Dónde está Guatemala? ¿Cómo es Guatemala?
2. ¿Qué pasó en Guatemala de 1970 hasta 1999? ¿Cómo respondió los EE. UU.?
3. ¿Cómo es la vida del inmigrante?
4. ¿Cómo representan las canciones la vida cotidiana de Guatemala y de los inmigrantes?
5. ¿Qué está pasando en Guatemala hoy día? ¿Cómo está respondiendo los EE.UU.?
6. ¿Por qué tiene el libro el título de “Esperanza”?
7. ¿Qué es el Immigrant Archive Project?

Focus countries and some general grammatical areas are also listed.  Yes, I am excited and hopeful for Spanish III this year.

I have not reached this point alone.  If you are not on Twitter, I would urge you, no….I would implore you……USE IT!!!  It is the best professional development around.  Through Twitter, you will be able to connect with such an assortment of teachers, with a collective wisdom that just astounds me.  Follow their blogs, follow their ideas, their successes and their failures.  The support is incredible.  That “fount of knowledge and inspiration” includes, but is certainly not limited to: