Robo en la noche…..third time is a charm!

This is the third time that my fabulous colleague, Megan Matthews, and I are teaching Robo en la noche by Kristy Placido. The first time was two years ago and we rushed through it in the final weeks of school, relying heavily on the terrific resources from Cynthia Hitz.  The second time was last year and the rhythm of teaching was disrupted multiple times by many snow days and the intrusion of PARCC testing that disrupted our schedules for weeks. This year, the third time, we have only had two snow days, and the book is flowing very well. We have continued to add resources to the novel as we ourselves expand our knowledge of TPRS and CI techniques to complement some traditional methods.  Previously, I have blogged twice about Robo, see here and here. Since it is a snowy President’s Day here in Maryland (and I should be grading papers!), I decided to post some of these new resources that might be of interest to others who are using Robo en la noche, also. We are going to be starting chapter 9 this week.

Chapter 2: Chap 2 picture sort and group presentation With this activity, I gave every student a laminated card (took the luxury of printing them in color!), and they had to decide how to group themselves.  The tentative categories were Makenna, Margarita, Costa Rica, Cecilio, etc. My Spanish III classes have between 24 – 28 students, so I needed a lot of pictures! Once they decided their own groups, they worked together to create a presentation about their category.  I gave them about 4 minutes, and they shared it with the class, using their pictures to illustrate what they were saying.  I think that in the future I might follow that with having each group write an individual summary of their presentation.  Note: Some of the pictures could fit into more than one category, it was up to the student to decide where to go.  Prior to their group presentations, I had the class assess whether the pictures were in the correct grouping, and they were allowed to change, if necessary.

Chapter 3:  This year Megan and I are really focusing on verbs and target structures.  We spent a lot of time working on the various forms of casarse, embarazado, pensar, morir and sonreir. We had worked repeatedly with the various forms using a SMART presentation.  Here are some samples from that: 1 2 3












Our final repetition used this “Toca” board. ch 3 toca vocabulary  4 Working with a partner, students first identified the meaning of all of the structures.  Then, each working with a different colored dry erase marker (the boards were laminated), I said one of the structures in English.  The first to highlight the correct structure scored the point. We wiped the board clean and repeated this several times. By the time we actually read the chapter, all of these structures were easily understood by the students.  There was absolutely no stumbling!


Chapter 5: Review bird with all characters  5Working with a partner and different colored dry erase markers, students selected a character and said one sentence about that character, coloring through the character that they selected.  Since the characters are within the bird multiple times, they were able to say many facts about each character without repeating.  This activity lasted about 5 minutes; when they were done, they held up their birds (now colorfully illustrated), and, just for fun, we selected the “prettiest” bird.

Chapters 5-6 Chapters 5 – 6 pictures for oral assessment smaller version I tried some variations with these picture cards (to be printed in color and laminated). The pictures can just be shown to the class, with the entire class adding descriptions to each picture.  The pictures can be given one at a time to a group of 2 – 3 students, who describe the picture with as much detail as possible, and then pass the picture to another group.  Or, using an idea from Carrie Toth, called the yellow brick road, I took the students into the hallway, made a “pathway (yellow brick road)” with the pictures and they worked (in partners) their way through each picture.  I allowed about a minute with each picture before asking them to move one picture to their right/left.  It was relatively easy for me to circulate and listen to their conversations to give them an informal speaking assessment.

Chapter 7 Capítulo 7 Robo en la noche predict the chapter  6Prior to reading chapter 7 and working with a partner, students identified each picture and then selected which pictures they thought would represent what would happen in Chapter 7.  They put an X on the pictures that they thought would not represent action in the chapter.  After deciding, they turned the paper over and wrote 5 sentences about what they expected would happen in the chapter and then presented them to the class.  Their ideas were certainly interesting!! After reading the chapter, we checked the papers/predictions again.

Chapters 7/8:  Some game breaks

I hope that something in this post may be useful to someone else.  If you are using this book, I would love to hear some of your ideas.


The novel: Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha 13

Oh my!! Can I just say again how much I absolutely LOVE the novels from tprstorytelling? In Spanish IV, we are now finishing Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha.  . For additional resources, I have been using the teachers guide (great activities) and also the incredible Carrie Toth’s (@senoraCMT) blog, Somewhere to Share. This is my first time teaching this novel, and the conversations it has prompted in class have been beyond my expectations.  I’ve been using a variety of picture prompts to encourage individual response, partner responses, and small group responses.  Sometimes I have listened to each group, sometimes they have recorded their sessions, and sometimes we have talked as a class.  I’m posting 4 different examples here.

chapters 8 - 10 vocabulary Chapters 8 – 10 pictures and words   chapters 8 - 10These are pictures that I laminated, cut out and put in a baggie for each group.  The words were also laminated and cut out, but in a separate baggie. In groups of two, the students first looked at the pictures, identifying what the pictures represented for the chapters. Next they matched the words with the pictures (multiple correct ways to do it), and retold the story of those chapters. Then, they removed the words and placed the pictures in order, identifying why they were arranging them in the order they chose.

chap 11






chap 11 repaso fotos  This was done with a partner, retelling chapter 11 using only the pictures.


chapters 11 - 14Chap 11 – 14 in pictures  This they recorded with a partner on Google Voice as they talked about what each picture represented over the span of these three chapters.


end 1





end 2remordimiento y perdon This culminating activity will take place tomorrow after we read the final chapter.  I already know from previous discussions that there will be several students in each class who will not believe that the grandmother is able to forgive the narrator.  I hope that these pictures will guide our thinking and discussion.



And finally, Carrie Toth and Kara Jacobs (@karacjacobs) had already identified several songs to use with this unit about El Salvador/Voces Inocentes and the novel Vida y Muerte. I added one more to their list:  Así crecí by Farruko.  I had the students look at the Spanish lyrics first without using the video, (although they had heard the song playing in the background as they worked several times).  I put the Spanish lyrics on cardstock, and I made strips in English that they tried to match up with some of the Spanish lyrics.  I only selected lines that focused on things that we had discussed in the unit or vocabulary that we had targeted.  When they had finished matching, I had them read the English strips out loud.  That gave them a real sense of the meaning of the song, and was actually quite powerful.  Next, they listened to the song as they looked at their lyrics.  There also is cloze that I created but only had time to use with one class. I will apologize for errors in advance, the song is filled with slang and I did the best I could do at the time!!!    Asi creci Farruko cloze    Asi creci Farruko       asi creci sentence strips in english  Corrections and suggestions will be welcomed!!!

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.

Argentina! culture, geography, reading, speaking and listening!

My Spanish III students have been in the “travel” chapter. For the past 4 years, I’ve had my students “travel” to Argentina, and I have had them work quite a bit with maps and geography (two of the many links I use).  One of the activities that I do is to have them compare Buenos Aires and Washington, D.C.  Of course, initially, they don’t know what they are doing!

The first thing I do is divide them into groups (no more than 4 students per group) and give each group a packet of laminated, full color pictures (all pictures are located on the powerpoint below, just separated).  Those pictures include geographical markers, sports, food, government buildings, etc. I ask the students to categorize the pictures into no more than 6 groups, and to write the names of the categories they chose. Buenos Aires DC categorization student group sheet  The back of this paper will be used for the similarity/difference activity the next day.

I then asked them if they could guess the places/cities in the pictures.  Of course, they came up with D.C. immediately, and because we had begun our preliminary introduction (Qué sabes de opening activity 2014) to Argentina, they guessed Buenos Aires.  The next step was to divide the pictures into two groups: Buenos Aires/D.C.: quickly and easily done. We  used this powerpoint Buenos Aires Washington, D.C. 2014 revised and started to talk about the similarities and differences between the two places. We continued this work the next day, but did not finish the powerpoint.  Instead, I gave them the packet of pictures again and this time, also gave them captions Facts for Buenos Aires Washington D.C..  I asked them to match the captions with the pictures.  Two members of the group were responsible for D.C. and two were responsible for Buenos Aires.  They had to share information with each other when they finished, and I then also had them choose one picture/caption from D.C., and one from Buenos Aires that they were responsible for “teaching” to each other. They practiced reading captions to each other, choosing the appropriate pictures, etc. We then finished the powerpoint, and each group completed the paper Buenos Aires DC categorization student group sheet with their similarities/differences. It always amazes me how much the students DON’T know about their own capital!

The next day, in groups of two, I gave each student 9 words.  Their task was to describe the nine words to their partner, without using the actual word, so that their partner would say that word(s). Each one had nine different words. Argentina questions Since we had been doing some map work, and we had watched several short clips about Argentina, I had them work with that partner to color code this map. La Argentina primer trabajo del mapa  mapa

Borrowing an activity from one of my colleagues, I had my students work with another partner to complete a reading/listening and map activity. Each partner got a description of an imaginary trip that he/she had taken.  They read it silently, then they read it to their partner.  I had them read aloud several times, using various “voices”. The next day, they each got a map, and the partner read the description of his/her trip one more time to his/her partner.  This time, the partner was drawing everything that was said on the map.  Once they finished, they had to write 5 sentences, using ONLY the map that they had drawn on, to describe the trip of their partner.  While this activity was going on, I was conducting individual one minute speaking assessments with each student in the class. Partner description of trip to Argentina with drawing activity  5 sentence about partner’s trip

A final speaking/pronunciation assessment came from a Google Voice assignment that I gave them 2 nights to complete.  We practiced reading a paragraph about a trip to Argentina several times.  They all read, and I timed them.  Finally, they called my Google Voice number and recorded it.  Google voice paragraph read Hice un viaje a Buenos Aires

A final activity with maps that was 100% engaging (again borrowed from a colleague): I gave a group of two students a blank map of South America in a sheet protector; the map had NO political divisions.  Each student had a different colored dry erase marker and eraser.  Their task was to draw all 13 countries and capitals, the equator, the Andes mountains, and label the oceans.  I had to see approximately equal colors on their finished work to indicate that both partners had shared equally in the work.  I was amazed at how intently they worked on this activity!

New Unit: Immigration

Statue of LibertyThanks to the addition of another unexpected day at home (snow day #6), I’ve been able to devote quite a bit of time to the next unit that Spanish IV is going to explore:  Immigration in the United States.  Before I go any further, I must say that I am indebted to the great, original work of Kara Jacobs @(karacjacobs) and the additions of Pilar Munday (@mundaysa) and @cristinaZimmer4. Next, I would like to say that while this is a unit that I will be using with my Spanish IV students, I think that there is material here that can be used with all levels of proficiency, including novice.  I’ve created a database for 29 songs that deal with immigration17 videos that deal with immigration and 35 links on the web for authentic resources both in Spanish and in English.  This is my Pinterest board, where I have been collecting resources for the past several months. Here is the link to the daily lesson plans from my wikispace, El Mundo de Birch which are in development and will be added to on a daily basis for the next month that I am in this unit. As of this writing, there are three full days of lesson plans, with the outline for the next six days.


1     Define la diferencia entre “emgirar” y “inmigrar”. ¿Qué es el Sueño Americano? ¿Ha cambiado el Sueño Americano? Explica tu respuesta.

2     ¿Por qué emigran ilegalmente muchas personas a los Estados Unidos? ¿De dónde es la mayoría de los inmigrantes indocumentados? ¿Cómo llegan algunos? ¿Por qué vienen ilegalmente y no legalmente? ¿Cuál es el proceso de entrar legalmente en los EEUU?

3     ¿Qué pasa ahora con la reforma migratoria en los EEUU? ¿Qué es el DREAM Act?

4     ¿Quiénes son algunos cantantes que cantan sobre la inmigración? ¿Cuáles son sus perspectivas? ¿Cómo son diferentes y/o similares las canciones y los videos? ¿Qué opinas tú de las canciones?

5     En tu opinión, ¿hay una solución al problema? ¿En qué consiste?


  1. Evaluación Oral, basada en Pregunta Esencial #2 (el 17/18 marzo) 25 puntos
  2. Free Writes
    1.  Which Way Home (10/11 marzo) 20 puntos
    2. 30 Days Inmigración (13/14 marzo) 20 puntos
  3. Compara y contrasta dos o tres de las canciones en cuanto a sus perspectivas de la inmigración illegal. (I.C.E./Bandera/Pa’l Norte/Pobre Juan) En tu opinión, ¿qué es el mensaje de la canción ? ¿Estás de acuerdo con el mensaje? ¿Por qué sí o no? Apoya (support) tu respuesta conlíneas de la canción. (25 marzo) 30 puntos
  4. Evaluación Oral, basada en Pregunta Esencial #3 después de leer el artículo de CNN       Google Voice response (20 marzo) 20 puntos
  5. Interpretación dramática de una de las canciones ( I.C.E. por La Santa Cecilia, Bandera por Aterciopelados, Pobre Juan por Maná, Pa’l Norte por Calle 13)
  • a. grupos de 3-4 personas
  • b. escriben una “obra” (play) sobre la canción
  • c. presentan la “obra” en clase (sin apuntes)
  • d. 31 marzo, 1 abril,  guión (script) 20 puntos, presentación oral 25 puntos

The initial target vocabulary for this unit: (Quizlet)

  • 1. cárcel
  • 2. castigo
  • 3. ciudadanía
  • 4. ciudadano
  • 5. cruzar
  • 6. discriminar
  • 7. dispuesto a trabajar
  • 8. echar de menos
  • 9. el derecho
  • 10. en busca de
  • 11. extranjero
  • 12. frontera
  • 13. igualdad
  • 14. leyes
  • 15. mudarse
  • 16. país natal
  • 17. población
  • 18. preocuparse por
  • 19. prosperidad
  • 20. seguir las leyes
  • 21. ser testigo (de)
  • 22. tratar (de)

Las Metas y Los Sueños…..part 2

In the last post I included the activities for the first 4 days of the unit.  This post includes the plans for Days 5, 6 and 7 (my class periods are just 45 – 50 minutes long).

Day 5

Neil Jones has a great blog with wonderful resources and ideas for Spanish teachers.  In 2012 he posted an activity:  El sueño y el orgullo, that will fit nicely in this unit.  It has many of the vocabulary words that I am targeting, reflexive verbs and subjunctive.  It is a good cloze listening activity that I will expand into conversation and reading.

Day 6

I wish I remembered where I read the following idea, but I don’t…if you recognize the idea, please let me know and I will credit the source!  Five to seven students will volunteer (depending on class size, my largest has 26, the smallest 20) to stand in front of their peers.  I will give each of those students 2 pictures that the rest of the class will not see.  The class will receive a grid with potential jobs listed.  Their task is to ask questions to their classmates standing in front of them, trying to determine who has which job.  The students standing in front with the pictures may only answer yes/no.  Every student must ask a question, with the “winning student” being the first student to match his classmate with the job correctly. This may have to be adjusted!  Following this whole class speaking/listening activity, I will give a picture to each student in the class and have them respond to this prompt:

Eres la persona en la foto. ¿Cómo llegaste allí? ¿Cuáles eran tus sueños/metas? ¿Cuáles eran tus retos o desafíos? ¿Cómo lograste tus sueños? ¿Cómo conseguiste tus metas? ¿Siempre creías/pensabas que tenías éxito? ¿Tenías miedo o duda alguna vez? ¿Cómo puedes usar tu posición para el bueno, para cambiar algo en el mundo? ¿Cómo vas a alcanzar nuevas metas?

Here are the pictures and the student grid: Metas Tus Trabajos del Futuro

Day 7

The Axel song, Celebra tu vida, which has been playing several days as students enter the classroom, will be the focus of today.  Students will complete a cloze activity of the first part of the song, which we will then discuss (vocabulary) and will take a brief glance at the subjunctive being used.  I will then place the students in small groups, 3-4 students to a group, and I will assign each group one of the remaining verses.  Their task will be to illustrate their part of the song and share it with the class. Next, we will look at several tweets from Axel that use several of our targeted vocabulary words about goals, dreams, reaching the goal/dream, etc.  The last tweet that we will examine is about an unlikely duo that auditioned for the X-Factor in England, which will lead us to viewing that audition and responding, first with conversation and then in writing.  The resources for today are here: Metas Celebra tu vida Axel

Additional note:  I will be speaking individually with several students over the span of several days, working toward the first evaluation in which they are to describe their own dreams and goals to me.

Thoughts and comments, suggestions, etc. are always welcome!!!

Art in the Spanish Classroom, continued…….

The amazing journey continues!  After the preliminary introduction week (necessary vocabulary, what is art, etc.), a week with the art/music/history of El Dia de los Muertos, a week with Dali (see previous post), we moved into a week (+ a day) for Picasso.  We started with a SMARTboard that I made (on my wikispace) and continued with a ”  Picasso Lectura “  that I found here and used Picasso lectura mis reacciones for their reactions and incorporation of vocabulary. I also had them do some preliminary exploration of the Spanish Civil War, using La Guerra Civil de España and these websites: History Home, BBC Bitesize, and History Learning Site. Yes, all the sites are in English with the “discovery sheet” mostly in Spanish.  The point of this exploration was to gather information quickly, and personally, to be able to move into a study of Guernica.  I also found this great powerpoint:  La_Guerra_Civil_Española_Lesson_1 and used parts of it as a followup.

When studying Guernica, I used another SMARTboard presentation again, and resources about 10 symbols (a source that I can’t find anymore!) 10_SÍMBOLOS_en_El_Guernica-_juego_en_blanco-2 and 10_SÍMBOLOS_en_El_Guernica-_juego-1  Also, I used this great website for a puzzle that I copied and put on card stock . We watched several videos, but by far, this one is the favorite:

I’ve done 2 mini oral assessments with each student.  The first one allowed them to tell me anything about Picasso in one minute.  The next day I did another minute assessment in which they could tell me anything about  either Guernica or The Hallucinogenic Toreador. While I was doing these individual assessments, the students were working on their Picasso heads and their cartoon or super hero Cubist figures.  In the Dali week, they had created surrealistic pictures based on elephants.  The inspiration for that came from smART Class.

This short week (pre-Thanksgiving), we will complete a formal performance based assessment using iPads and the Educreations program.  Students will choose one Picasso, one Dali and one student created work to analyze.  PBT and the file for the artwork that I have printed in color and posted in the classroom is located on my wiki.

My students are “regular” students, meaning that a few of the are artistically gifted, but most of them are not…….Here is some of their original art work.