Check all your boxes with this speaking, reading and writing 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


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