Spice-it-up writing prompts for Spanish class!

R.I.P. Summer Vacation

Summer has finally come to an end. The agenda-less days of sun-bathing and endless Netflix binge-watching are now in the rearview mirror. We now look forward the long and winding road that leads us through the peaks and valleys of the new school year. What if we take a trip down memory lane? What if we could go back to the picture perfect day that might have defined our summer? That is exactly what this activity allows students to do. 

I planned this R.I.P. Summer activity for the first or second day of class (we start next week). To see other activities for the first couple of weeks of class, or just a few good “I want to know you activities” click here for Spanish levels 1and 2Click here if you want something more engaging for your upper level students.

La Maquina de Tiempo activity invites students to describe their picture perfect summer day. This activity is an alternative to “Write about what you did this summer” a writing prompt, I used every year to get to know my students.  My goal with this activity is for students to:

  • Write about a pleasant memory.
  • Write in the present tense to ease the affective filter in the first couple of days. 
  • Delve into creative writing (maybe stretch, but let’s see).

Instead of writing in the past tense, which many students my struggle with the first few days back in school, they travel back to their most perfect day of summer and write as if they were there. The prompt helps students structure the memory by asking them questions such as:

  • Qué día es
  • Con quién estás
  • Cómo es el clima o el tiempo
  • Qué llevas o qué tienes puestos
  • Dónde estás y qué haces
  • Qué hueles
  • Qué ves
  • Por qué es el día perfecto
 Role play idea: I was also thinking of having students present in pairs in front of the class and practice spontaneous speaking.  One student would act as the psychologist and  “hypnotize” the other.  While the other students is “under” he/she will take the patient on the journey to remember the perfect day. They would ask the questions in the prompt and/or more questions.  

La Farándula 

 I shared this activity on a previous post, but it comprises my collection of spice-it-up writing prompts. There was so much that happened over summer from celebrity break-ups, to Mega Stars passing away, I always like to give students chance to chime in on celebrity gossip. 

Click here for activity prompt.

My students loved this last year. It really set the class afire and they could not stop talking. This activity could be done as a writing activity or speaking. You could turn it into a mini reading activity by find some pieces of celebrity gossip such as this Hola site. 


Word Wall

See Elaineinthemiddleblog for original idea
Click here for video 

¿Cuál es tu palabra favorita del Español? 

This is one of my favorite videos. It unites many different Spanish speakers across the continents and professions. They share about their favorite word. I am going to have students share out their favorite word( they can think of it in English and translate it to Spanish).  I learn a lot about students from the words they choose. Then they will place their word on the word call in the class. Here is how I will engage them in the video:

Extension activity:

Spanish plans has this great Facebook Template for gathering information about people. Have students choose one of the speakers and:

  • Create a Facebook, Instragram or Tweets
  • Mini biography
  • Share out in groups of 4.
List of people in the video:

1. Boris Izaguirre

2. Alicia Alonso

3.Ángel Corella

4. Valentín Fuster

5.Antonio Skármeta

6. Mara Torres

7. Justo Bolekia

8. AnaMaría Matute

9. Raphael

10. Margarita Salas

11. Mario Vargas Llosa

12. Emilo Botín

13. Juame Plensa

14. Rosario Flores

15. Antonio Gamoneda

16. Julián López

17. Ricardo Darín

18. Elena Ochoa

19. Isidre Fainé

20. Diego Forlán

21. Gael Garcia Bernal

22. Chayanne

23. Eugenia Silva

24. Luis Rojas Marcos

25. Juan Luis Guerra

26. Pedro Piqueras

27. Isabel Allende

28. Antonio Banderas

29. María Dolores Pradera

30. Vicente Del Bosque

31. Shakira

32. Pau Gasol

Los temas importantes para los jóvenes

I stumbled upon this resource and it seems to be a perfect match for my first unit of the year.


5- “I want to know you” activities for Spanish Learners

Diverse Group of Teenagers - IsolatedGetting students on board from the very  first day

“I want to know you” activities

If you start your first class of the year with diving into the content and work; you’ll lose them on the first day. This was the first line of an article I read last year about engaging teens. It was my first full year teaching high school. Prior to that I was teaching at an International Baccalaureate school for 10 years. Most of the students and families there knew me so the first day was always pan comido.  

*See About Me activity for older students at the foot of the page.

When I was first hired, it was in the middle of the year. I did not know the students and it was an uphill battle that I begin to win towards the end of the school year. The students were great, I just did not know them. I decided to dedicate the whole first unit of this year to discussing and exploring their identity. My objectives for the unit at large are: 

  • For me to get to know my students 
  • For students to get to know each other (I teach across grade levels)
  • Capitalize up on a topic that has gotten tons of traction in the past few years: Identity 

 This unit starts with them, their identity and then slowly builds out on complex issues that surround the topic. You can peruse each sub section for ideas, resources and activities to get students talking, learning and using the language.  Here is my first day teaching Spanish 4 class (I started next week!).

Side note: We have 90 minute block periods. I usually do three activities a day. This is my new miminalist teacher challenge. But since it is the first day, I want to keep things moving and active so these five activities will inaugurate the school year. 

Botero MonalisaDía 1 ¡Hola- Bienvenidos!

Goal: I can say the names of my classmates and share information about myself. 

Setting a positive tone is one of the most important tasks of a teacher at the beginning of the year. I read a great article on Edutopia that gives some brass-tacks advice on being positive, mindset focus and digging into identity and purpose at the start of the school year. Click here for their article . This article dovetails perfectly with my
Quien Soy Yo Unit.

Activity 1: Bienvenidos

  • Welcome students as they come. 
  • Hand them one of these setting cards by Martinabex.

 Last year the students cracked up when I passed them out. I had plastered them with tape- little coutre, but this year I plan to laminate them and use them whenever they have “Nuevos Amigos” or have to change seats. I plan to kick off the presentations by sharing a little bit about myself such as: 

My favorite book: 

El intenso calor de la luna by Gioconda Belli-My favorite el-intenso-calor-de-la-lunabook

zoeMy cat – Zoe

Favorite pass times- reading and Telenovelas 

Velvet Atreseries


Activity 2: What’s special about your name?

Then, I turn it over to them. Students introduce themselves to the two people on either side of them. This is the first stage of the introductions!

Name tag

-Quiero que mi nombre se refiera a mí- Mark Haddon

I am fortunate to work in school with a very diverse student body. Names have always interested me. I found out that my mom had given me a  name and then my abuela changed it; I am curious about everyone else’s story.  After they have met other students, warmed up with the short communicative activity, we discuss names. I have found this as a great way to for me to get to know them as well. 

Activity spelled out (see sample above)

  • I give students a blank sheet of card stock paper for them to write their name. They fold the paper lengthwise and write their name on the front. 

-Students label their nameplates regarding the origin, meaning of their name, who named them and why their name is perfect for their personality. 

  • They share this information with other classmates and compare and contrast names, meanings or family origin, etc. 

This activity is great for building relationships! 

Confession boothConfesión

Although I have done this activity for two years, I also like the activity that Misclaseslocas mentioned in her first week of school. For this activity students pass around a ball and introduce themselves to another student. More information about the ball activity can be accessed here.  

Activity 3: ¿Quiénes son mis compañeros?Get to know your classmates- Spanish 4

Now that students have met their “immediate family members, they go around and meet other students.  I have multigrade students so not all of them are familiar with each other.

 Last year most students did not know each other. So this year I am making sure I include this vital component. 


-Circula por la clase 

-Conoce a dos colegas

-Preguntas de introducción 

¿Cómo te llamas?

¿En qué años estás (segundo, tercero o cuatro)

¿Cuáles son dos clases que tienes este año escolar?

Activity 4:  La Farándula Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.49.26 PM

There was so much that happened over summer from celebrity break-ups, to Mega Stars passing away, I always like to give students chance to chime in on celebrity gossip. My students loved this last year. It really set the class afire and they could not start talking.  Students share out. 

Quien soy yo- about me spanish 4Actividad 5:  Perfil de Estudiante 

I wanted to do an About Me activity that would also capture personal information that “humanize” my students. This activity invites students to: 

  • Describe their learning style 
  • Personality in three words
  • 3 Topics that they are passionate about
  • Their fears
  • What inspires them
  • What they hate 
  • Something they’d want me to know about them. 

quien soy yo _span4_2This last piece is important because in class you cannot get to know everything. about a student.  I learned that one of my students was a finalist for Fencing!  He had gone to Thailand to compete and came in second place. I would not have known this otherwise. We had great a great discussion. When it came time to watch El Internado, he was excited about the Fencing scene!

Get the activity here. 

¿Quién soy y que me gusta?


Exploring Identity with teens: relevant topics for your upper level Spanish class

Engage students in thinking and discussion on Identity in the 21st Century: Reading texts, activities and discussion prompts included!

Identidad de los Jóvenes 

In case you’ve missed it, my first post: Who are you?  highlights several introductory cognitive priming and preparation activities that engage students in and around the theme of Identity. This post highlights additional resources such as slightly modified authentic texts, books and films that I have used to assist students in making sense of the topic and engaging in a real way.

One of my chief issues has not been finding materials but finding appropriate and as Krashen pointed out comprehensible input  for my intermediate level students.   This has forced me to slightly modify some of the resources (when appropriate of course) in order to stave off frustration and immediately lower the affective filter.

After the introduction to the unit on Identity,  I start with this article I researched and complied:

  • Using information for Spanish National Geographic (article on the Teenage Brain eons ago) in addition to other websites that help inform me about the theme, I fashioned the article in the following resource Click here for sample.

Click here to view Identity Unit

The first article highlights the nature of Identity. It discusses:

  • Neurological changes 
  • Biological changes 
  • Psychological and Ideological changes 
  • The impact of technology on one’s identity 
  • The changing nature of identity itself

I am a science buff and this first article was so incredibly interesting to my students last year! I let them work on it in class, annotate and read in pairs to break it down. Also, during a class in pedagogy some years ago (we teachers are always in school), I learned about the concept of “shared background knowledge.”  This text, carefully researched, crafted and modified makes sure all students are on equal footing so to speak with regard to the content. For this article, the wording is mostly sophisticated cognates. With every other article, we circle back to reference this one. In essence, it’s like our “anchor” text. Students were able to transfer their ELA stills such as citing and referencing text to Spanish, a goal our department is earnestly pursuing.

One of the text included broached the Transgender debate in Argentina. This year, I am using the video resources below to support the written text and give students more interpretive input:

The questions can be accessed by clicking here. I have also added it to the Identity Unit for those who have it (it was updated August 23).

These videos that do a great job “enmarcando” the debate. I plan to show the La Ley de la Identity Collage video and have students:

  • Complete the pre-viewing activity with the terms and concepts/ in groups or speed dating style 
  • View the video once without notes. I like giving them time to take it all in. 
  • Discuss what they can for 30 seconds with an elbow partner. 
  • Read over questions
  • View the video once more
  • Respond to questions 
  • Engage students in discussion. Now that they would have read the short article on the Transgender kids in addition to viewing the collage view (short 2 minute testimonial/PSA), we will have a class discussions.

I plan to give them article on Indigenous Identity for homework. When I give a text for homework students:

  • Complete the pre-reading vocabulary during class 
  • Play a game of concentration with the vocabulary or another fun game!
  • Read and respond to questions for homework 
  • Take a homework quiz the next day. I usually cut the questions into strips so every student has one of the 4 higher level questions. I make sure the questions are balanced. They write a response in class and I grade afterwards. 
  • We have a short class discussion.  

Want more on the topic of Identity, check out the previous post below!Question: If you have used these resources, have they worked for you? What resources do you use to get to know students or discuss identity? 

Interpretive Mode Visual Literacy

This year I used a ton of Latin American short and long feature films associated with a particular theme. One of my favs is the short film “Eres” which, is aptly named because all the friends of the protagonist preface every interaction with  ” Eres.”  This is the second year I have used this film, available on here on Youtube.

The film is superior to touching on the Identity and even self-esteem. However, the dialogue can be difficult to understand when you add the speed of light pace of the conversations and other nuances.  To facilitate listening and to lower the filter,  I created several activities that engage:

  •  listening skills 
  •  viewing  skills 
  • reading activities to offset the language barrier. 

My students really loved the film because they really saw how other people (in)form our identity. Many students think they are “themselves” but this film points out our nature to conform as well as how to preserve our own identity- at least that was the lesson I got. Please enjoy and consider giving me a rating. If you have any questions, please send me an email at profesoraquintero@gmail.com

Click here for the free mini lesson on the Spanish Short Film Eres 

One more thing…

The film is more of an PG-13. It is about 10 minutes and my students have liked it for the past two years (or 1.5 years). There is no nudity although there is a 5 second showing of two of the characters kissing while falling onto the bed.

Other amazing resources

 I came across this treasure during the ACTFL conference. The first few pages of this book dovetails peerlessly with my unit on identity. There  is a really great and highly relevant article on adolescents and their issues. This is coupled a slew of activities that could be used for differentiation, stations, Chat Stations (which I love) and/or homework if you’re into that.


These are additional activities related to the book. They’re are tons and the book is available on Amazon. It’s about $2 more than what I paid, but I think it is definitely worth it!

I also bought this Spanish IB MYP book. It has many great articles and questions to spawn critical thinking and reflecting. This year I am using several little articles for students to read and present on.

Infuse problem-based thinking in your Spanish class with this project

pic of kid with technologyHow to infuse problem-based thinking into your world language classroom

A few year back when I was teaching in an International Baccalaureate middle school, I started the year dreamy-eyed with this cool social media project.  I could not wait to implement it.  Coming off a summer of PD around the Personal Project, a design cycle research project for students, I was sure this was going to be the year that we do big things and tackle relevant themes such:

  • How do we interact with social media? 
  • What digital footprints are we leaving on the world? 
  • How to use social media thoughtfully and responsibly?

I’d walk my students step by step in the target language. Then it happened. My hopes were dashed.  This critical and awe-inspiring week was met with three challenges:

  • We had no working technology in school
  • We had no access to computers 
  • We could not use the textbook 

This was not going to work because the whole  crux of my plan was to get them to design their own websites of something of import to them; then it hit me:

  • How am I teaching them problem-solving skills when I am vexed with a problem like this? 

Limited connectivity, no problem!

Stone-Age-Man So I had this paper website idea. The idea was for students to create a futuristic social media outlet dissimilar in style and purpose from the ones we have today. Essentially, they could not rebrand Facebook.  My 6th graders had to include the normal suite of buttons such as upload, download and the like (see activities below). They also had to think of a novel idea for the media outlet and a purpose it would serve- in basic Spanish. We charted our course with these essential questions:

If I could design a website in the future, what will it look like? 
How will it be useful? 
Who will be my targeted audience

For the final product (more to come on the brainstorming sessions and planning documents), they had to include the following on their paper website all in the target language:

  • Title (creative title in Spanish)
  • About me section (Descriptive adjectives, gustar, family)20131003
  • Tabs and links (vocabulary for technology use)
  • Picture or description of service
  • Testimony (very simple) (persuasive writing)
  • Email links
  • URL


The assessment for this activity as a presentation of their website to the class. I neglected to mention that students worked in pairs.

(I will be doing this again this year, so stay tuned for the final format)

How did we prepare? 

To prepare, we work with the vocabulary beforehand. Students used something similar to this Vocabulario para la tecnología sheet to familiarize themselves with the verbs. Students used activities such as   This activity helped students to:

  • Practice core verbs needed to discuss how they use technology 
  • Familiarize themselves with core vocabulary such as redes sociales, aplicación, etc. 
  • Engage in conversation about their social media usage. 
  • Share about their favorite sites and usage. 

An expansion of these activities in all including but not limited to reading texts, debates and student experiences with social media in the target language are included in my social media school unit.   I actually spread these throughout and because this was the middle school we used only use the reading and for the short debates the story Yo no puedo vivir sin mi celular. This text is about a boy who:

  • Talks about his phone 
  • His use of technology 
  • Why cellphones should be used in school  

The second story is  “El uso de celular destruyó mi vida is more for Spanish 2 (or the end of Spanish I as it has some preterit).  This story narrates the negative side of technology, cyber bullying, and students’ insensitive behavior.

If you are interested in combing your love for technology with a crime thriller, this short story may satisfy your fancy… oh, and did I mention the Teacher’s Manual was absolutely free? 

Click here for Freedom!

Click here to enter into a labyrinth of suspense 

Infographics on the use of technology

Eres adicto al celularEres adicto al celular

This was a tesoro that I found online and I am considering using this as an interpretive assessment.  Stay tuned for more activities!

How do you infuse technology into your class? 

Creative detective activity to practice dates, numbers, time and more!

Use this detective activity to practice dates, days of the week, numbers, time and more in Spanish 1

I  am always looking for creative ways to teach important vocabulary and grammatical points that form the ABC’s of learning Spanish.  I have become a detective in a way myself,  constantly looking for ways to spice up a lesson to deliver content that is original and fun for me as well.

I love role play, creating stories and dialogues that contextualize to such a way that students learn more than they bargain for incidentally. This method has earned many dividends over the span of my 11 year career.

This year, I have found a new twist to teaching the days of the week, dates and other ancillary but important building blocks to the language.

At my school, we do not use the Realidades series, but I happened to stumble upon the connected series Eres Tú María a few years ago; and I have shown it ever since. It can be found on Youtube and Vimeo. This series is wonderful in starting with basic Spanish and then getting more complex.

I usually show the first 10 episodes sprinkled throughout the school year as each one builds on the  other in terms of vocabulary, structures, themes and storyline. My students love when it is Maria time. At first, I was showing it as a treat more or less. After an arduous 90 minutes of class, this was a good brain break every couple of weeks. However, now that I have a better idea of how best to engage students in the first couple week of my Novice Level Spanish I class, I will use this resource to maximize and capitalize on input for listening and practicing:

  • Days of the week

  • Dates in Spanish
  • Highlighting countries
  • Greetings
  • Simple vocabulary words such as libro, periódico and some verbs to get them started.

Since Lola is a detective privada in the series, I created this investigative report/ detective activity in where students will:

  • View content with a specific purpose
  • Write for a specific purpose and have an audience in mind

In this role play activity, students are tasked with watching Lola (who is investigating a possible crime). As such the activity calls for them to:

  • Answer 7 basic questions related to the video. They actually get the information while watching the video the first or second time. The video is about 10 minutes.
  • Investigative cloze-text report template with word bank
  • Section to fill out their own information (includes writing out numbers and email)
  • Directions for filling out the report.

Redefine your first weeks of Spanish 1 with these input rich activities

Primer dia de clasesHow to use input-rich videos for structuring simple activities in Spanish class

This upcoming week marks my first week of classes and I am super excited and a little anxious. Although I have taught Spanish for 11 years and counting, I have always had Spanish 1B classes. This is the second year I will teach Spanish from scratch.

So, what are my goals for the beginning of the year? My main goal this year is for my students to:

  • be involved and immersed in the language and culture from day 1

This post will feature two activities that I have created around the use of basic level 1 Spanish. I struggled with teaching the first month of Spanish so I am really digging deep to make the experience as much as enjoyable as intellectually stimulating. The activities are designed to give students exposure to a wide range of simplified input that ties into the cultures of Latin America.

Los Saludos en Español

I found this really cute video about greetings and leave-takings in Spanish. In this video they interview a host of Spanish-speakers from different parts of Latin America. These people share what a typical greeting is like in their country. They are authentic, animated and of course natural in their sharing.

This video is very chévere because it:Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.47.46 AM

  • Features people from all over
  • Has a wide range of diversity and races from Latin America
  • Is dialectically rich.

*I learned some new one from La República Dominicana. ¿Qué es lo que?- qué tal- chévere ¿verdad?

How am I using this resource?

  • My students will watch the video once without notes (Give them a chance to take it all in)
  • Ask students what greetings did they hear, where were the people from (2 minutes)
  • Watch a second time this with this video activity.
  • Click on Video
  • Download activity here.

I went over this activity a few times as a student and I realized the first time that it would be hard pinpoint to greetings:

  • So I inserted the pictures of people next to their written text.
  • Not all the people in the video are captured because they are some repeats.
  • I also added a Banco de Palabras
  • Pero ¡Ojo! I still wanted to make it challenging so students will have to pay close attention to what the hear and see as there are palabras que sobran.

My journey this year to redefine the beginning of the year. If you have any suggestions or activity, please comment below and add your website.

Actividad# 2

¿Quién eres tú?

This year, I am bent on redefining how I teach the first few week. I was very inspired by Spanish Mama’s blog on her first two weeks of teaching Spanish. She mentioned how she was developing and formulated a new philosophy of teaching; something that I am journeying on as well.

I admit that I have not been as motivated in the past to teach the basic tenets of Spanish because I am super passionate about teaching my school unit, Agentes Secretos, my sports unit and my problem-based travel to Spain unit. But, I realize the importance of the first few weeks so this year I am committed to giving it some my best and just having fun. Here is one of the activities I created to practice the verb Ser.

This activity has four main objectives:

  • Practice the forms of the verb Ser
  • Familiarize students with Spanish speaking people (family of origin)
  • Role play
  • Identify Spanish speaking countries

Play by play

  •  There are four sets of cards each with 8 people
  • Each student receives a card with the name and picture of a Hispanic person. Since this is not my unit on professions, I limited it to a few professions. You will notice that some people were born in the U.S  but have family roots in Latin America.
  • Students will study their card for two minutes after which they will get up to introduce themselves as that person.
  • Introduce a friend from their country (using él/ell es/ somos de)

Prior learning 
I am planning on doing this activity the 4th day of class. Prior to this activity students have interacted with basic greetings and questions such as:

  • Cómo estás
  • De dónde eres tú
  • Cómo te llamas

The goal here is to practice saying where you are from. Since some countries repeat themselves, I have students from similar countries to group and introduce themselves as a group:

  • Nosotros somos de Panamá
  • De dónde son ustedes
  • De dónde son ellos

Download file here. If there is an issue with permission to this file, I will send you another link. The permissions issue seems to be corrected.

See other posts related to teaching ideas, activities and resources for teaching Spanish I

6 ways to priviledge input from the very first day

Project-based activity for Spanish I students 

Reading, writing, debating and speaking activity all in one
55 activities for teaching the school unit 

Creative Detective Activity to practice days of the week, numbers, basic verbs and more!

Turn your students into 007 agentes while reading Agentes Secretos by Mira Canion 

Check all your boxes with this speaking, reading and writing activity!

Click here for Free Activity 

Check all your boxes with this activity 

I have to say, teaching the school unit is one of my favorite units of all time. There is just so much meaty vocabulary, themes and lengthy conversations about, well… school.  Once I get through my “Getting to know you” introductory to Spanish activity and dabble into the countries with this Quién eres tú  activity, we explore the geography the countries with Señora Cruz’s country project, and then we are off to school.

This year, since I am so fixated on my school unit, I depended on my fellow teacher authors, bloggers and whoever else posts their units and sell their materials on TeachersPayTeachers, for inspiration. In order to have time to carefully craft my beloved school unit (rather than spending time developing materials around other themes), I am relying on the wisdom pulled from these three sources:

Once my students are pretty conversant, telling time, introducing themselves, I dive right into my obsession.  The school unit in general (not just my unit) has become a core sort of gateway for my students. These two activities I’d like to share help my students say that they can:

  • Identify important information in scheudule
  • Engage in a structured speaking task (differnet questions with answers for students to check and confirm)
  • Interpretive reading and choose vocabulary based on contextual/lexical features

I have been really trying to engage with more vocabulary in a semi-authentic context. This include natural conversational markers that native speakers use and idiomatic expressions. The featured dialogue mimics the  conversational banter between my sister-in-law and I when we go shopping.

I’ve realized that after they have discussed their classes, gossiped about their teachers, whined about their lunch period and the homework they have, they more equipped to handle the rigors of the Agentes Secretos Unit that we do in addition to Problem- Based Travel Project later in the year.

Featured Activity: School Unit Communication Activities 

Want to use this activity in your class? Click here and enjoy.  This unit is connected to a broader School and Global Issues Unit. For more information about that unit, you can peruse the information below.

School and Global Issues Unit 

The goal with comprehensible School Unit and Global issues activity book was to deliver complex concepts in a simplified from. The first couple years of teaching, I wanted to engage students hearts in  compelling topics that wrestled with or discussed in their English class. I hated that they felt that they had to “dumb” everything down when coming to Spanish class. In addition to the comprehensible input novels, we read, I also wanted to give them comprehensible input on live topics; hence the creation of this activity book.  The goal was to capture the students’ energy and:

  •  Introduce to them more complex topics on a smaller scale (Global Education Piece)   
  • Contextualize their experience, the vocabulary and bring everything full circle
  • Privilege conversation 
  • Facilitate reading 
  • Promote higher order thinking skills 
  • Engage students in relevant topics such as the use of social media and bullying, but at their level 
  • Present perspectives of schooling in other countries. 

 I realized long ago that I did not have to wait until students got to a certain level of language development to teach them certain concepts. The goal with comprehensible input is to provide it within the realm of their level. I figured, if can get them to interact with similar topics and concepts they’d be expose to in other class, but at their level, I may have something there! Digging deeper and being able to talk about real issues (and some fun things too) were my main goals.

7th Grade Student Samples 

For example, my 7th graders (they were oddly more advanced then my 8th graders that year), read about plight of women in obtaining and education in the mini unit Perspectives on Education around the world.

This activity is included in the book below as well (also sold separately on TPT).  After reading about Malala and a few other girls, all in the target language, they wrote a paper comparing the experiences. Their work is attached here.

The student whose work is in the upper left hand corner was a new student. She has come from Hawaii and had been in our school a little over a year. Although both  had some errors on their final drafts, they did a great job comparing the girl’s issues in the article

We also viewed a few videos on my old blog. If you read their work you will see that they talk about a girl name Neeraj. This was one of the girls featured in the this tab.  They might have rotated the videos, but it was eye-opening. This was one of the lessons observed by my former principal and she loved it.

Technology in School Activity 

Download Free Sample Here

In addition to dialogues, conversation stimulus questions,  readings about school and materials,  I created a mini unit on social media and school. You can download a free sample of one of the activities here. I started the social media unit in the beginning of the year. This particular time we had no technology in school (how ironic, I know). So I came up with this idea of them doing paper websites (the paper website will be my next blog post). The frontloading for the project was the hardest until I got organized with these activities included in the toolbox:

  • Inquiry-based vocabulary list with verbs and nouns related to social media – guess the words 
  • Contexualize content ( I love to write, I write stories for everything). Now with the context they had to determine the meaning 
  •  Interest Inventory about social media. Here I made sure to recycle the vocabulary so students would naturally incorporate it during the speaking activity. 

After the unit the students had beautiful social media platforms. They had to come up with a concept that was not already in use for a website or social media outlet in the future. The guiding questions were:

  • How will you contribute to society in the future? 
  • How will you innovate to make an impact?
  • How can we use technology to edify and make our world a better place?  

 It was very interesting. The most interesting thing is that they were able to use the vocabulary, structures to articulate their idea. The social media paper boards was a sixth grade project, but the vocabulary can be used with any level. It can be used as a core lesson or a getting to know you with more advanced students. This year, I am repeating this project with freshmen, so stay tuned!I


Fostering dialogues and conversation at the lower rungs of the WL continuum


Flipped reading

Fomentando diálogo en la clase de Español puede ser una tarea monumental especialmente en las clases inferiores como las del Español I y II. Algunos de los impedimentos son:

El limitado uso y conocimiento de los estudiantes

– El ” hay que enseñar” tantas cosas– El gasto físico y emocional de planear y estar en todas partes y todo momento. 

Después de una lección bomba, me di cuenta que una hora más tarde que los nenes ni siquiera habían utilizado el idioma.  Yo dije “borrón y cuenta nueva” con mi planificador de lecciones. Durante el verano tuvimos una valiosísima sesión con Bryce Hedstrom acerca de incorporar las entrevistas personales al curso. Empecé con eso, unos cinco estudiantes a la vez.

Me percaté de como esta metodología había cambiando el ritmo de la clase. Los estudiantes hablan, hablan y hablan. Pues, me fui muy avariciosa con la idea y quise más.  Por bueno que fuera, no me daba tiempo con todos los estudiantes (creo que él lo hace con todos, tiene un sistema súper).  Sé que por lo visto parece ser una meta inalcanzable, estratoférica pero dije “si hay cupo para cinco, lo hay para treinta.”  Con esta actitud me fui diseñando la clase alrededor de los objetivos de comunicación y cada actividad les brindaba a los estudiantes una oportunidad de hablar y para mi la misma para evaluar. Todavía estoy trabajando en eso pero doy un ejemplo de plan de clase y que tal me fue.

La lección- La clase/ La escuela (como la quiera llamar)

Nótese que con cada actividad estoy enfocando en un estudiante distinto. Si la actividad es por 5 minutos, alcanzo interactuar con uno o dos estudiantes.

Actividades comunicativas a continuación (una lección que hice el otro día practicando este modelo- 90 minutos de clase). 

1. El calentamiento (Bellringer)- esta parte de la lección es crucial. Yo siempre empiezo la clase con un estímulo de qué hablar ya que sea una foto o una pregunta. Durante este momento pesco 3 estudiantes. Les hago preguntas a veces básicas o espontáneas (de carácter básico o de desafío). Ya puedo tener un perfil de tres de mis estudiantes.

2. La preguntadera-La práctica de los verbos-Ar. Los estudiantes ya tenían conocimiento de las preguntas interrogativas.  Les mostré como construir las preguntas y empezamos a hablar. Les hice preguntas sencillas como – Tú bailas en la casa o en la escuela- siempre pidiéndoles más información Las pregunticas tonticas como éstas son muy divertidas y los estudiantes hablan, hablan y hablan. Cuando ya hayan cogido la  confianza, ellos empiezan a hacerse preguntas los unos a los otros (proporcionando una oportunidad más).  Por fin,  les pregunto en clase, generalmente hablo con cinco estudiantes. Cuando ya están en grupos hablo con 4-5 estudiantes.

3.  Silla caliente–  Ya que lo hemos practicado, les pido un tributo (para valerme de la terminología distópica) para la silla caliente. Aquí puedo evaluar tanto el estudiante que responde como sus interrogadores.

5. Actividad Audiovisual- Usé este video ” Turn it up– Los materiales escolares .  Aviso, la chica en este video tiene mucha energía y es muy caliente. Algunos de mis estudiantes varones ya han inscrito en su página. Les enseño el video dos veces y después hablan de él. Yo les hago preguntas como:

1. ¿Cuáles son los materiales escolares que ella tiene?

2. ¿Son diferentes o similares a los que tú tienes?

3.¿ Te gusta el video?

4. ¿Qué pasa en el video?- Aquí los estudiantes usan los verbos en tercera persona para describir lo que hace ella.

5. Describe a ella

6. Describe su personalidad

7. ¿Crees que ella puede tener muchos amigos aquí en …….?

Actividad de extension

Otra actividad que me encanta para practicar los materiales escolares es “Qué tienes y qué hace con ello?

La clase se divide en dos grupos. Un grupo saca todos sus materiales escolares inclusive el teléfono. Como si estuvieran en un mercado los estudiantes curiosean por los pupitres preguntándoles ‘

Qué es..

Qué hace con ….

Para qué clase necesita…

A qué es la clase…

Quién es el profe….

Puede ser un poco cursi al principio pero los chicos hablan y usan el español limitado que tienen.


Authentic Back to school Commercials and activities for Spanish class!


  Get students talking at every interval!

I love my Spanish class, but I have to admit, It would be difficult to get the conversation going without sounding contrived or sacrificing free form for a more formulaic model. Year after year I am always exploring ways to get the students talking. This year, I took a slightly different approach.  I decided to include more visual stimuli while expanding the opportunity for more  comprehensible input. If you do not know what comprehensible input is, please click on this link comprehensible input as it may explain why students have a difficult time grasping language- it did for me.  In a nutshell it is providing students with rich, varied and slightly challenging language input before they are expected to output. I was recently at the ACTFL conference and I heard one of the presenters give the analogy of a sponge (recycling from a teacher at her school). The sponge soaks up the water, and then when you wring it out, it produces!  

Now that we are in the school unit of our curriculum, I am have amassed a few resources that I use with students for them to practice their vocabulary and also structures in the interpersonal mode. Using these resources have transformed my lesson and I have to say, I am truly impressed with the results- videos coming soon!

Argentine School Supplies Video 

I found this really cool video on Pinterest. It is an Argentine commercial about school supplies. It is rebonito and the kids loved itArgentine School Supplies Video . Here is with my students: 

1. Watch the video through without taking notes. 

     First, I had students view the video without their notes- remember input is king here! This may be a no-brainer to most teachers but usually I have student take notes on everything!  This time I thought about how distracting taking notes could be and how much more they’d be able to withdraw from their “language ATM.  In addition, taking notes the first watch precludes students from watching the video as a whole, spikes up their affective filter and is overall not beneficial to the language learner.  

Post viewing student engagement activities 

After watching the view, they describe the characters and any words they might have heard. 

2. Watch the video for a second time and then use the note taking sheet. 

3. Students then draw from their notes and discuss the video.  

4. Class discussion- after students have written elements of the video they have seen.  We have a class discussion about the video. Since we learned interrogative words, they use those words to ask questions and follow up questions of other students. I ask them a ton of questions about the video in addition to allowing them to ask each other.  I sit back with my “ACTFL” modified class rubric and take notes on their language abilities. I am not grading them but collecting soft data. 

Notes: Students also were exposed to the verb gustar so they talked about the boy in the video liking the girl, the pen with the flower (we had just wrapped up our Day of the Dead Altars). 

How to extend this video activity?

This year, I will add the following activities to my lesson (this was done at the beginning of last year)  

– True and false  activity

-Match activity for the vocabulary 

-Have students create a mini/simple back story.

Viewing with a purpose- Detective work 

The second video I showed students was one I also found on Pinterest. It may be part of a text book program. Again, I followed the same protocol as above with one variation- the students had to watch the video a third time and take the role of a detective to report the students whereabouts. This activity was sooo fun!!!  

School in Spain Video- School in Spain

1. Watch the video through without taking notes. 

2. Watch the video for a second time and then respond to questions in groups. Click here for activity Video Worksheet- School in Spain.

3.  Discuss the video as a class with the worksheet. I usually give the Writing for a Purpose Activity as an exit slip. 

While students are talking in groups or individually, I usually circle around with my board to take notes on their communicative proficiency and competence.

Let me know how it goes!

5 Engaging activities to accompany reading in the TL: hitting all the targets.

With a little scaffolding, Spanish 1 intermediate learners are able to grasp big concepts in basic language.

This was the truth I discovered towards the end of the semester. I used this text La vida sana and its accompanying activities with my Spanish I students at the end of the year, this could also be used with Spanish 2 as well (I did this with my IB MYP 8th graders at my former school).  They thoroughly loved the challenged of being able to digest a text of this caliber in Spanish. Honestly, I purposely chock full the text with familiar cognates and structures with which we are used to in English such as “En este caso.”

We have block periods in my school so I did this over 1.5 blocks with adds up to 135 minutes.

Here is how it all went down!

Priming those brains

I did the pre-reading activities first, the vocabulary matching, looking up verbs and then using then in cloze-text sentences. This gave them confidence in approaching the text.

Group talk: Next students got into groups of 3 and responded to the task cards. Each student had to respond.

Partner up: They partnered up and read the text to each other and then took notes. This part was particularly interestingly because I heard some students arguing over what was an important notation versus what’s not. It was a very spirited discussion.

Spit it out: They then generated questions- this is also outlined below. You can also click  Amy Lenord’s Conversation Circle below for a more direct instructions on how to implement this in your class. As a language coach she has some very good rubrics and structures for keeping students in the target language. I highly recommend checking our her stuff.

Amy Lenord Conversation Circle 

I modified this slightly, at least from my understanding of how to use it.  I had students write down 3-4 people from the other side of the room or in the class to ask. This facilitated the conversation better and there was less drag and they seemed to be more into it. They do get excited so I have to develop some traffic control signals, but all in all it’s very fun.

Poker face: For homework they had to read and annotate the article again. I told them they were going to have a reading comprehension test and would not be able to use the notes- and I did it. Test with no notes. They did pretty well.

The very next class they completed the reading comprehension and then the writing task. I have a very simplified rubric for what I was looking for, it is also included in the 15-page  packet.

The suite includes: 

Click here to get the text with activities outline below: La vida sana 

1. La vida es Sana text- article about Teen sleeping habits affect them in a number of ways.

2. Pre-reading activities such as vocabulary matching, verb definition and cloze-text activity with the goal of making the text more approachable and comprehensible.

3. 8 Task cards regarding the habits of Teens (pre-reading).

4. Note-taking document- yes, my Spanish 1 students had to read and take notes just like they do in English class! I had them work together on this. It was really fun and they were proud of themselves at the end.

5. The notes include a space where they have to come up with basic, intermediate and advanced questions. We did this when I taught in an IB school and it works well especially in getting them to ask good questions. I had to do a mini lesson on the difference, but I included the question stem-types.

6. We use the questions for a whole class conversation or Amy’s conversation circle. They ask the questions and I sit back and grade. More information on Conversation Circle can be found on Pinterest.

7. Post comprehension questions (I usually give this as an assessment)

8. Writing prompt- Since this unit is done in conjugation with learning about reflexives, they complete a writing sample at the end.

I used this activity to assess the interpersonal mode (conversation circle) and the interpretive mode (reading and comprehension).

What resources do you recommend for discussing routines and healthy living?  I’d love to accompany this activity with an audiovisual task. If you have suggestions, yo soy toda oídos