Comprehensible Input, Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

Miguel tiene que estudiar: The Perfect Digital Resource For Spanish 1!

I discovered the story, “Miguel tiene que estudiar” (available on TPT) last year with my Spanish 1 students. They absolutely loved it. The raved about it for ever! As I read each slide to them, each fragment of the story was met with visceral reactions as this the main character prioritizes playing games over learning. Then, he disrespected his teacher, which garnered stares (some high-fives) because they know they could not talk like that to me! The story is cute, compelling and comprehensible, but most important it is relatable: a kid who does not like to study but rather play games. What a concept!

Click here for more resources by Spanish Plans!

For context, I have Spanish I class three classes a week for 48 minutes (Spanish IV on the other days).

This year, since we have been online, I decided to reinstitute the story. I worried about reading it online because with the mute function, I would hear the spectrum of their reaction. But as always, I had a plan for that too! I ended up making this story into the week’s lesson, here is how I used it and it went beautifully. This resource was easily adapted to the online platform. Here is what I approached it:

This was a fun activity! You can get this story on Teacherspayteachers.com. It is by Spanishplans.

Other stories on the topic of school

  1. Picture talk- this is a CI staple in the classroom and is just as versatile online.
    • For every mini-activity (such as picture talk), I assign questions. I normally single out 3-5 students (beforehand). I let them know that they are going to respond to the following questions about the picture projected on the screen:
    • ¿Cómo se llama el estudiante?
    • ¿Dónde está?
    • ¿Qué tiene que hacer el estudiante?
    • ¿Cuál es el conflicto?
    • ¿Qué juego le gusta jugar?
    • ¿Qué juego te gusta jugar?
    • ¿Lo juegas todos los días?
    • ¿Qué es más importante, jugar o estudiar?
    • ¿Cuántas horas al día se debe jugar los videojuegos?
  2. I read the first 4 slides of the story and asked students questions. They then had to read the rest of the story and respond to these comprehension questions first. The next day, we did the Conversation Circle. I wanted them to understand the story and feel confident in responding, which is why I gave them the comprehension questions first.
  3. The next class, we had conversation circle: I asked students these questions for the Conversation Circle. It went pretty smooth.
  4. Comparison: Miguel y yo (this activity was the last question on the comprehension questions). Students compared themselves with Miguel. No surprise here, they all prefer playing video games to studying!

I love using resources from Spanish Plans. You can check out their store of compelling imput here! Spanishplans.org or Spanish Plans Resources on TPT

Other short stories exploring school topics can found below:

Dreaming In Spanish Bundles

Mi colegio ideal

¿Quién es la chica nueva en la escuela (dialogue with pictures)?

En la papelería

Gracias

El bolígrafo

En la cafetería

La nueva estudiante

Identity,, Remote Learning World Language, Spanish class

Fridalicious: Spanish Mini-unit On The Art and Life of Frida Kahlo

(Jump to the bottom of the page to see the second installment)

I will use this space to share my approach to our Frida unit during remote learning. I will update this blog with activities every week until the unit has concluded. To get these updates, you can follow this blog, or follow me on social media!

Instagram: a.c.quintero

Twitter: Klasekastellano

Facebook: A.C. Quintero/ Teaching Spanish Made Easy

Since teaching remotely, I have had to really hone my creative skills much like the rest of you. Finding ways to engage students, making learning meaningful, not necessarily fun, but interesting has been my quest for these last few weeks; and I might have figured some valuable lessons with this unit. My colleagues and I pulled teamed up to make this unit happen, and it has been nothing short of amazing. We curated, created and collaborated fiercely in order to make learning about Frida fortuitous and enduring. I will be sharing some of the activities related to this project.

In terms of my colleagues work on this project, I will only share the public websites and domains used, not the actually activities that they have developed. However, I am free to share my contributions to the unit and my take on some of the work we mastered, so please enjoy!

¡Hola, Guapa!

One of my favorite activities to do is to prime students for new concepts. This involves accessing and collectively building prior and/or active knowledge together; this in turns eases the cognitive burden and frees up space to accommodate those new nuggets of knowledge. To prime students for our remote learning Frida unit, first, I gauged their opinions on the world of art. Students were tasked to think about the nature of art including but not excluding the following prompts: What is art? Can all forms of expression be categorized as art? Is graffiti art? You can download this free starter activity here.

Las citas fridianas

The second wave of engagement was actually reading quotes from Frida’s life (which is also included in this free resource). Included in the resource above are famous quotes spoken by Frida during her lifetime. We analyzed, discussed, and reflected about her about her philosophy of life. They also commented on which quote resonated with them. Extension activity?

Virtual Tour of La Casa Azul

My stellar colleague unearthed this free virtual tour of La Casa Azul. It was the perfect prelude to our unit. The 3D tour allows us to peer in every corner of the Frida museum. Now, students have an opportunity to see how this vivacious, colorful, and pioneering artist lived. We gave students 20 minutes to explore the house on their own and write & record their impressions in Spanish. Click here to for the tour!

El arte sin límites

Arte sin límites, is a short text that I wrote about Frida years ago, and never had the will to finish it. However, when we could not use the Frida books for remote learning, I quickly dug it up, added some research from from the plethora of my Frida collection, sent it my friend and collaborator in Spain, and viola! We used it in my classroom. The goal of this text is to give students a fuller view of Frida, her life and artwork. The text is about 4 pages, and highlights the basics of her life and artwork. This paid resource is the extension of the free resource above and includes with comprehension questions and an art analysis activity. I supplemented the reading with two clips of Frida’s life from Youtube. I wanted to give students an aerial view of her accident and how crippling it was to her person, but at the same time how this awful event transformed her into one of the most pioneering artists of her time incapable of being pigeon-hold and steadying blazing new trails paved with authenticity and cultural homage.


These resources, clips, and quotes prepared us for the next step in the journey, sponsored by Vogue, the Las apariencias engañan Exhibit. Another great find from my colleague! I will discuss how I used this in my class and a mini-project that I am conjuring up to rematarlo!

Las apariencias engañan: Los vestidos de Frida is our next stop on the Fridalicous tour.

This striking exhibit whose themes are Disability and ethnicity invites viewers into to contemplate the intricate wardrobe of Frida Kahlo. She was an artistic enigma in and of herself. Some of the enduring lessons for my students were the semiotic meanings imbued in their clothing and how her wardrobe was carefully suited to mask her disability.  Below the recap, you can find some of the activities that I did in class. 

Start Class With A Bang!

The Wounded Table

The week prior (see the information above this post), we started talking about Frida, using her quotes, reading about her life, and this week it was all about delving more deeply into her paintings, and using authentic resources, like the Las apariencias engañan Exhibit, to showcase her in her fullest glory. But, before we landed in the virtual wardrobe museum we did a little recon on our fav artist.

I used this painting of  “The Wounded Table”as a bell-ringer. I had students observe the painting and list all the elements they observed. I gave them a few minutes to think about it and maybe even look up word they had forgotten how to say.  Initiated this task with this question: ¿Cuáles son los elementos que te llaman la atención en esta pintura? Students used the starter phrase, “Yo veo” and continued to list off those bold features that stood out. Asking then them to only list what they observed, relieved the pressure of having to conjure up answers for this dynamic and multi-thematic piece. I gave them an access pass, invite them in, and to require little in the beginning and then build up.   Below is a compilation of some of the elements they noticed right away: 

  1. Frida está en el centro
  2. Hay niños
  3. Sus manos no son sus manos
  4. Hay un esqueleto
  5. Vemos que hay partes de la naturaleza
  6. La pintura está un poco oscura/ no brillante
  7. Hay sangre
  8. El telón corrido
  9. Hay un venado 

Naturally, since we read this article about Frida and previously analyzed her paintings, many students started to see a pattern emerge. I then asked then to make sense of those elements, what could they possible mean. I started first with Frida being in the middle and part of the artistic universe she so vividly paints. I told them that they could use what they knew about her to attempt to make connections. 

After hearing them, I asked them probing questions. For example, when on student said “hay niños” I asked, what could this mean? Another student chimed in saying that Frida couldn’t have niños, so maybe those are the kids she wanted to have. Another student also shared that she used to read to the kids in the neighborhood, so maybe it could be those kids. I then offered that the children could also be a dream that was never fulfilled as they are not central to the painting as other elements such as the skeleton. This gave them a boost, and they started feeling more comfortable (I took about 20 minutes before class to look at the painting myself and make notes).

Then,  I went through their responses one by one adding to the symbolic meaning they’d mention. We had a discussion in which they linked the previous events they had learned about with her life. The interpretation is below (excuse any errors as my Spanish is not perfect). 

  1. Frida está en el centro del cuadro. Ella es el enfoque central. Es un autoretrato con los elementos oníricos (they learned this word!) que siempre son presentes en su vida. Ella les da visibilidad.
  2. Los niños pueden significar la inocencia o falta de ella. También, por la mirada que tienen, pueden representar la curiosidad. Están al lado de la mesa, lo cual sugiere una distancia de Frida y lejos de las cosas que amenazan su vida.  De pronto, están a salvo de la muerte que la rodea. 
  3. El venado representa la vulnerabilidad. Ya hemos visto el venado como motivo en otra pintura.  
  4. El esqueleto representa la muerte y cómo siempre se le acecha. Ella vive con la muerte y no la teme. La acepta como parte de su mundo. Baila con ella. Partes de su cuerpo se funden con otras entidades. Esta parte se le atribuye a que su propio cuerpo tiene fusiones metales. 
  5. La naturaleza el verdor del campo, pero está consumido por el panorama gris. Prefiere las nubes y no hay sol. 
  6. La sangre representa la vida. 
  7. El telón corrido de modo que se puede ver todo, es sinónimo cómo nuestras vidas pueden ser producto del consumo público (on display). 

There are so many more rich elements that can be extrapolated, but this activity’s purpose was to empower students in thinking about how they could, based on their present knowledge, understand a little bit about Frida. 

Video of Frida 

This video served as a good introduction to the exhibit referred to at the bottom.  I had students watch and share one thing that they learned. They could share in Spanish or in English. 

https://www.vogue.mx/multimedia/video/moda/videos/documental-los-vestidos-de-frida-kahlo-el-inicio-de-la-leyenda/539

The exhibit, as one could imagine, is very extensive. We had students look at the first six pictures, read and then respond to questions. 

https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/las-apariencias-enga%C3%B1an/6gICPDLcNAzkJA?hl=es

We had students read about 5-6 of the slides from the exhibit and respond to the questions below.

  1. How did Frida’s choice of clothing suit her physical condition? 
  2. How did Frida use her clothing to make a statement? What was the declaration that those clothes articulated? 
  3. Discuss the diversity of her wardrobe.  
  4. How is her wardrobe different from yours? 

Extension activity

Have students take a picture of their wardrobe, or 3- 4 outfits and accessories and discuss their preferences, and why they choose to dress a certain way. 

Check out the website here!

Next week, I will share out Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe Comparison activity.

Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

FREE VOLUNTARY READING RELOADED: READING TO ACQUIRE

Over the past couple of years independent reading in the world language classroom, or Free Voluntary Reading (FVR), Free Choice Reading (FCR), Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), has become more prevalent as more teachers tap into the power of reading, and witness the fruitful results. Years ago, I learned the importance of Free Voluntary Reading from Mike Peto on his blog, My Generation of Polyglots. Mike made a compelling case for reading, in addition to providing teachers with tried-and-tested ideas and scaffolds. Likewise, Justin from Spanish plans is also a huge proponent of this acquisition-friendly practice. In addition to his stories that highlight targeted vocabulary, he has developed many strategies that keep his students focused. Justin has also influenced me a great deal in bringing FVR to my level 1 students in the first semester. I am so glad I followed his advice, and the fruits of his mentorship can be gleaned in this present post. You can listen to my interview about Free Voluntary Reading & Beyond on Inspired Proficiency Podcast by Ashley Uyaguari (Click here to listen to interview ).

Before we delve into Free Voluntary Reading activities that can GALVANIZE  your class, I’d like to share the incredibly valuable benefits that this practice has afforded by students:  

Differentiation & Personalized Learning

1. Free Voluntary Reading is both differentiated and personalized learning. Students get to choose books whose covers, topics, and/ or storylines interest them. They are also encouraged to choose books that are at their level, which is a segue to my next point: FVR is a confidence booster.

Confidence Booster

2. Reading time has been a huge confidence builder for my students. Most of my students who had been walking around with the “I am bad at Spanish” luggage, suddenly found a place in class. I saw their writing grow at the same rate as their confidence, and they really enjoyed the class.

Cultural Learning

3. Free Voluntary Reading also affords students to learn about different places, cultures, and the hardships of the people without direct instruction. My students learned about the effects of the hurricane María, from “La madre perfecta” by Rachel Emery. They learned about “La isla peligrosa” in Uruguay by John Sifert. They traveled to Argentina, and peered into the past with “Secretos” by Jennifer Degenhardt, while also learning about the plight of Transgender teens. They gained insights about aspects of Colombia culture & teen-friendly themes about relationships in “Papacito” by Craig Klein from Spanishcuentos.com and “Cómo salir de la zona de amigos” by A.C. Quintero.

Free Voluntary Reading Social: Making Reading Enjoyable  

This year when I introduced Free Voluntary Reading into my level 1 class, I was reluctant to do so for the following reasons:

  • Had we done enough reading for them to be able to handle a novel? We had not read our first novel, which is usually, La clase de confesiones that ties into our School & Relationships unit, then followed by Agentes secretos, a book about Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece: Guernica. I felt that students needed to read both novels as a class first prior to “reading on their own.” Justin from Spanishplans.org  was quick to point out my “logical fallacy.” He demanded I do it and do it fast. So I obliged.

How I Got Started

I ordered books from both established companies such as Fluency Matters, Teacher’s Discovery as well as really compelling reads by Indie Authors. Click here to see the list of compelling Indie books.

Once I got my library going for my level 1 students, we dove right into FVR! If you don’t have the budget to get novels, consider getting short stories from a variety of sources online. Many teachers have really affordable stories (self-included) in their TPT stores. I have included some of those links below:

ReadtospeakSpanish

Stories by A.C. Quintero

Señorita Ashley

First Time FVR-ing in level 1

Since my library is color-coded. I grabbed all the yellow-dotted books, that were conducive to level 1 in my class.  I allowed students to browse the collection. Afterward,  I did the following:  

Students browsing the books
  • Explained to them that we were going to be reading their chosen book during our “sesíon literaria.”
  • I read the first two pages to them and then proceeded to ask questions. Since I had a lot of copies of “Brandon Brown Quiere Un Perro” by Carol Gabb, to give them an instant confidence boost (they understood everything). See Video below:
  • I had them read in pairs; both students choose the same books and sat down to read.

How did they read in pairs?

I tried to give students space and different options. I also wanted to make sure that the reading was not stale, and that they had a chance to really talk about what they had read. We read for a total of 30 minutes (we have 90 block-periods, and I interspersed this time with activities).

Activities while reading:

1. Take turns reading aloud to your partner.  

2. The partner then summarizes in English what was read (thy implemented this comprehension-checking strategy one paragraph at a time). MY NEWEST STRATEGY IS HAVING THEM SHARE OUT IN CLASS. IT IS PRETTY SIMPLE. THEY READ FOR 6-8 MINUTES, THEN SHARE SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN THE STORY. MY RUBRIC IS A NO-BRAINER:

0- points for not sharing (students get multiple opportunities during class to share. They don’t have to share only during FVR)

1- point for sharing verbatim from the book

2- points for summarizing what you’ve read.

The sharing can be as simple as “Camden está en un avión y hay una explosión” – La isla más peligrosa by John Sifert.

4. Read for 10 additional minutes, and then tell the class about what you read (this was a whole class book talk).

During this time, I walked around the class and heard students making comments about the books:

“ I feel so smart, can’t believe I am reading in Spanish”

“I can literally understand everything”

“This book is crazy, they’re stuck on an island!”

After reading, we huddled up in a circle, and each person shared something from their book. I knew that the next time we did FVR, I wanted to ask students to share more, however, this first go was an exercise in getting their feet wet. When sharing as a class, I did notice that students were using new words they had just encountered in the book. One student talking about his book had told the class that “El padre muere.” I inquired further but did not think he was going to tell me the cause of death in Spanish, but he responded to my question saying, “El padre se muere de diabetes.” Another student commenting on a character in her book said: “Ella no tiene mucho dinero y no puede comer chocolate”, etc. I felt like my first FVR in level 1 was a resounding success!

Second Time Is A Charm!

The second time we did FVR, I taught them literary elements so they could talk about the characters, places, and general conflict/problem in the story. I have them do the same time as before:

  • They had 10 minutes to read, and then they did “read & discuss.”
  • The second 10 minutes they read and jotted down information to be shared in literature groups.

Literature Groups

Students could be in groups of no more than 4 people. Each person had to share about their book:

  • El personaje más importante es…
  • el problema es…)
  • El lugar de la acción
  • El personaje secundario


We had actually practiced with our class novel, “El Jersey.” Check out the demo above. In the second part of the video, you will see the students actually asking each other questions.

After literature circles, we reconvene as a group, and students share out as a class.

Assessment ideas

Discussing books read for FVR could totally be a valid speaking assessment! However, I would not assess students the first few times, as they are getting to know the characters, and getting comfortable with the books. Once students have finished their novels, the teacher may wish to do a Conversation Circle, similar to the one we did in Spanish IV below. Or, this could be a time to read and talk. You decide! Now, let’s take a look at how my FVR looked this year in my upper-level courses!

A Unit Around Reading


Last year, was my first time implementing FVR in my Spanish IV classrooms. Because the class was small and very close-knit, I knew that I had to add some social components to the reading (this is where I got the idea for level 1). So, I broke up the reading into 4 segments: 

  1. Choose a book- this was a very social time. They’d compare books and acted almost like an outlet for the more fidgety students.
  2. Sit in the hallway and read the book for 10 minutes- this was like going on a field trip. We have desks –parlimentary seating in our wing of the building so– so it was nice to change the scenery a bit.
  3. Talk to a partner about the book
  4. Read for 10-15 minutes/ share a passage from the book with another student.

I took a different path for my upper-level students with regards to FVR. Their language skills are more developed, they are more mature, and the discussion and writing are much deeper at the upper-level. I decided to make reading a book for FVR into a unit. In a nutshell, students chose a book, and they read it over 4-6 classes. I interspersed the readings with mini-discussions on the books (see packet questions), pop-up grammar lessons (imperfect subjunctive- connected to one of their questions). During each reading session, they respond to one of the questions.

My goals for implementing this unit were:

  • Introduce students to literature that was comprehensible and at their level
  • Develop a consistent habit of reading
  • Encourage students to use more complex structures of the target language
  • Be introduced to a variety of culture/teen perspectives
  • Discuss stories using proper literary elements

This unit would be a precursor to our next few units as they delve into our upcoming film unit.

Here is how I planned the unit:

  • I pre-determined the vocabulary words they’d need in order to discuss books/movies (plot, characters, twists, types of conflicts, etc).
  • These words were taught both explicitly & implicitly as most of them are cognates.
  • I provided them with a Quizlet list of the vocabulary words in Spanish and English. You can click on the list here: Quizlet vocabulary
  • I created this detailed reading log that was integrated into all further lessons. The reading log has six sections. Each section corresponded to an aspect of the book, each built on each other in terms of complexity. Click here for the Word Version
  • I choose an interesting book to read to the class to kick off our session, and then read that one chapter as the opening act. Last year it was, “Superburguesas” by Mike Peto, and they loved it. This year, I read “El armario” by A.C. Quintero, mainly because the sequel, “Las sombras,” was on the horizon and we’d go right into that! See sample schedule below: 

Day 1: Pick Out Your Book 

  • Read the chosen book to students. I have them listen and then summarize what they heard at the end with a partner. 
  • Allow time book browse. I placed books on my whiteboard ledge and new book rack. I gave them 10 minutes to look around, find a book, and then sit down with their packets. 
  • Write the title of the book and author. 
  • The first activity on the packet is to discuss the front cover of the book. The wrote why the choose the book, what caught their attention 
  • Optional: Students can share with others why they choose to book and make predictions
  • Read the first chapter of the book.

Day 2: Associating Literary Vocabulary 

  • Review Quizlet set for 15 minutes 
  • Mi Media Naranja Activity (doc will be linked). This is a vocabulary activity that I developed to help students think about the words, collaborate on co-constructing a definition, and matching words. 
  • Read for approximately 15-20 minutes 
  • Complete the first question on the reading log (Describe the first few scenes of the book/exposition)

Day 3: Read, Draw & Discuss 

  • Campanada: Choose one character from your book and discuss with a partner. 
  • Read for 15-20 minutes 
  • Draw what happens in the first few scenes of the book
  • Share in groups of 4 
  • Conversation Circle: Questions about setting & characters (emergent personality traits). 

Day 4: Reading & Chat Stations 

  • Station 1: Read through the uses of the past subjunctive (presentation online), and take notes. Complete “Subjunctive” activity sheet as for practice. Click here for the teacher’s author’s resources from TPT:
  • Station 2: Read selected novels for 10 minutes, responding to any pertinent questions
  • Stations 3: Work on “Imperfect Subjunctive Forms”: Click here for the Teacher author’s resource:
  • Station 4:  Unit vocabulary- a matching game
  • Station 5: Read book for 5 minutes, share for five minutes in a group
  • Station 6: Aunque Tu no Sepas

Day 5: Character Analysis 

  • Read for 20-25 minutes and write about the point of view, narrative style, main characters (dynamic/flat), and how they propel the narrative forward. 
  • Exit slip: Describe your character, and what hurdles they have to overcome. 
  • Internado 

Day 6: Developing A Creative Hook For Writing 

  • Read & finish the packet. Respond to questions about the conclusion and what you would have done if presented with the same situation as your characters. 
  • Class lesson: How to develop a creative hook. 
  • Write hooks, share with classmates. Think about: How can I make this more engaging? 
  • Mock conversation circle

Day 7: Book Report: I did not allow students to use notes.

Day 8: Conversation Circle (summative assessment)

  • Talk about your book

Day 9: Listening Audio (audio) & Listening activity 

 Check out the new novels for Spanish class!

Click here: https://goo.gl/JsKwM7

TPT Store!

Click here: http://bit.ly/2pAnP33

Comprehensible Input, Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

Caras Vemos, Corazones No Sabemos: A New and Compelling Novel From The Creative Mind of Theresa Jensen

The world of reading in the target language just got bigger, adding more intriguing layers with the new novel, Caras Vemos, from Theresa Jensen. Over the summer, we saw a record number of teachers, picking up the pen with the goal of enriching our literary experiences, and upping the acquisition factor. Some of the books featured this summer were La última prueba by Jennifer Degenhardt, La ofrenda de Sofía by Theresa Marrama, Alice, La liste by Cecile Laine, and El mensaje by A.C. Quintero. Jensen added to this working body of student-friendly literature with the highly anticipated, Caras vemos (corazones no sabemos). In this post, you will get to know Theresa, what compels her to write, and why you should get her new book! Best of all, she has just published a teacher’s manual, so if you are thinking about this book for a classroom novel, go for it! She’s got you covered!

This summer, I had the opportunity to speak withTheresa, and I learned that she is very letrada! She has been teaching for a total of 20 years! She currently teaches Spanish level 3. Her knowledge of curriculum spans the gamut, as she teaches in both the AP and IB programs. Adding to the mix of thematic and skill-based learning, she is celebrating her 10th year as a TPRS practitioner. The these experiences have enriched her grasp on language acquisition, and guided her on her first CI reader: Caras Vemos. See the transcript of our conversation below:

A.C: What is your favorite aspect of teaching with CI/TPRS? What changes have you seen when you started experimenting with this approach?

TJ: My relationship with my students is different than it ever has been, as the focus is on them. I feel like before I was more of a taskmaster, more focused on the curriculum. Now I am 100% about helping each individual student achieve his/her potential. I always wanted that, but the different methods brought about by CI-based instruction have helped me connect more with students and reach even my less invested students. My absolute favorite part about CI is the sheer JOY it brings to my classroom.

A.C: Do you have a favorite CI/TPRS resource?

TJ: Currently Señor Wooly is just about my favorite discovery.

A.C. Free Voluntary Reading has really taken off these last few years. I remember learning about it from Mike Peto, and although I was an author, at that point, I had only read some novels, both mine and others with my students and some short stories. I had not started with FVR reading. Once I did, I was amazed! What role has FVR reading have in your curriculum?

TJ: Last year I began a FVR program with my students. I was very concerned they would just pretend to read, but the research was so convincing, I had to try. I did everything I could to fund it. I wrote little books, printed free books online, and bought them with my own money. We did it once a week, and at first it was a little tough for some of my students. They had never read by themselves before. As the year went on, through observation and Google form surveys, I saw that their interest and confidence increased. They were so proud they were reading books all by themselves! They actually looked forward to reading! Then, I brought up the idea for Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, which I sponsor, to provide a mobile FVR library for our department (9 Spanish teachers). From the start, my colleagues began doing FVR with their classes for the first time, and their students loved it! The library is continually growing, and this year I have a mini library so we can do FVR more than once a week! It has been transformative!

A.C: That is so exciting!!!! Speaking of FVR, let’s talk about your new book, which I love by the way! I actually studied in Cuernavaca, and found the city and people to be very inviting. I love the compelling storyline, and the way the culture has been interwoven throughout the book. The artwork is so supportive of the story, which I love.

TJ: The title is “Caras vemos,” which is short for “Caras vemos, pero corazones no sabemos (or “faces we see, but hearts we don’t know)” explores the idea is that people are sometimes just not as they seem.

Synopsis: A girl wakes up in a park beaten and disoriented with no memory of who or where she is. Every face is unfamiliar, and all have a different story to tell. Who is the mysterious man? What happened to him? The more she learns, the less she knows what to believe or who to trust. The novel is set in beautiful Cuernavaca, known as the “city of eternal spring.” Cuernavaca is the capital of the state of Morelos, Mexico, just south of Mexico City. All of the places and businesses in this book are real. Experience everyday Mexican culture as the search for truth leads you around the city. Join her in a harrowing adventure to discover the secret of her past, and learn the meaning of “caras vemos, pero corazones no sabemos.” 

A.C: That is intense! Love it! For those teachers who will consider this amazing story as a class novel, what details could you give us to help them decide?

TJ:  This book is intended for novice high to Intermediate level Spanish students, so level 2-3. Word count is just under 8,000. There is a comprehensive glossary, as well as some small culture lessons, both integrated and in boxes on the side, throughout. Teachers can get the book in paperback on on kindle!

Get this amazing book on Amazon

Get the kindle version here

A.C: Why Cuernavaca?

TJ: I have a very strong connection with Cuernavaca, Mexico, the setting of the story. I have been to all the places in the story multiple times and am in love with the city. I have been happy, stressed, sad, annoyed, lost, scared, excited, enamored, in wonder, and I believe the characters experience all of these emotions too! 

A.C: I have to ask, what motivated you to start writing?

TJ: I’ve always written stories for my students, but never thought about publishing before. Inspiration just struck the end of June! A while back, I began learning Italian off and on just in free time, and after a year of reading when my students did FVR, I thought hmmmm I should practice what I preach! I then bought my first intermediate novel in Italian, “Il segretto di Julia.” I began reading and liked how mysterious it was. It was a first person perspective and only told you enough to intrigue you, but not enough to really know what was going on. I only read one chapter before I put it down to flesh out an idea I had for my own story. I later read the rest of it and I highly recommend it! My book is actually nothing like it, but it inspired a book I am very proud of! Two of my students contacted me about something else and I said hey, want to read a book I wrote? They did and loved it! my favorite message that one (Grant) sent was this:

Shook” lol! I love it! He also wrote the following:

A.C: I love to get messages like this! They really affirm what we’re doing as teachers and writers.

Teachers, thank your for checking out this post and reading about Caras vemos, the debut title from Theresa Jensen. Please check out this book, and don’t just take my word for it, look at the reviews! Also, Theresa’s daughter designed the cover and interior art. I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait for another book by Theresa.

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If you want to learn more about Free Voluntary Reading, check out these podcasts and websites below!

Stephen Krashen Free Voluntary Reading
Mike Peto My Generation of Polyglots

Pleasure Reading Ebook by Mike Peto

Señora B Free Voluntary Reading

Inspired Proficiency Podcast with A.C.Quintero

The Role of Reading in the World Language Classroom Podcast by Becky Morales

Back-to-school Language Activities, Comprehensible Input, Movie talks, Spanish CI Readers, Spanish class

Animated Book Trailer And Movie Talk For The Spanish Level 1 Novel: La clase de confesiones.

Confesionista: Anyone who uses the novels “La clase de confesiones” or “La bella mentira” in class!

Confesionistas, this animated book trailer/ Movie Talk has been in the works for a very long time, and I am so excited to be finally launching it! I actually started this project one year ago, and have been so busy with so many other worthy projects (such as publishing El mensaje, and working to teaching materials for Las apariencias engañan, El armario, Las sombras, etc), that I had to put this on the back burner! However, this summer, like many of you all, I was able to settle down, and bring this beautiful project to a close (well, open it for you!). This new resource can be used by ANYONE!. If you have been using La clase de confesiones series with your level 1 or two, this will be a perfect addition! If you are not familiar with the series, but are INTRIGADO BY the animated book trailer, you can use it as a Movie Talk as all the supporting materials are directly related to the video.

What is the animated book trailer about?

This animated book trailer is an introduction to the novel,”La clase de confesiones.” It sets up the major events, that are central to the storyline. For example, we see Carlos going to school, talking to señor Martín, not having his homework (too busying thinking about Jessica) and realizing that he is head over heels for Jessica (spoiler alert, if you haven’t read the book). The narration ( done by Diego Cuadro) is well-paced. Additionally, you gave access a plethora of activities to help bring this resource to life in your classroom. These resources will provide students ample practice with commonly used structures, school vocabulary, and clothing It is also wildly entertaining!.

OMG, I am starting La clase de confesiones tomorrow, how do I get this resource?

¡Tú tranquil@! There are two ways of accessing the video and all the accompanying materials.

1. If you have the teacher’s manual for “La clase de confesiones” you can just re-download (click here to access teaching material) the file from TPT or my website. The new materials have been added to that bundle.

2. If you don’t have the Teacher’s Manual, you can download the Bundle here.

3. The video is also free on Youtube!

How can this resource be used?

The animated book trailer/movie talk can be used as an introduction to the novel along with the following activities in the manual: Dos confesiones y una mentira, Confesiones. Teachers can use the new character descriptions activities post video as they will help to contextualize the characters a bit more. Or it can be used as a standalone activity. Let’s say that you haven’t even heard of this novel, but the video mola , well, you could simply use it in class as the materials are solely based on the video, and do not make a reference to the book. The 14 additional materials include another cute story about the main character.

Check it out!

Let’s Take A Look

There are 14 activities total. You can click here to read the list of descriptions and to download the preview for on TeachersPayTeachers. The activities range from circling questions, matching activities, pictures/descriptions activity and a new short story: La casa de confesiones. There is also an informational article about wearing uniformes in school in Latin America.

Are you new to the world of “Los confesionistas?” Check out the synopsis below!

Carlos hates Spanish class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays eyes on Jessica. She is the reason he “tolerates” his boring class. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up a bit” in class. A simple writing assignment turns out to be a lethal injection to his social life and by extension his chances with Jessica. First, his nosy teacher tries to “set him up with Jessica,” this plan immediately backfires. Then, the unthinkable happens and Carlos is stunned. This turns into one of the most embarrassing moments in his life. But all is not lost. If Carlos plays his cards right, he could have a winning hand. Carlos invites you to come along on this adventure into “La clase de confesiones” where…”todos tienen una confesión,” even the teacher!

La bella mentira (Yes, there is as sequel)

The second book in the series can be read as stand-alone…saving the best for last! Click here for preview.

Carlos is having a bad day, and it’s about to get worse. He leaves Spanish class utterly embarrassed.  He had no idea that the teacher was going to partner him up with Jessica, the girl he actually writes about in his class essay. Adding insult to injury, the teacher reads his essay in front of the class, even the mean-spirited things he wrote about his teacher. After running into a few more problems in math class, he is faced with the big showdown in the lunchroom. Now, Carlos is between *”la espada y la pared.” However, a short story in Spanish class may hold the key to all of his problems, and may ultimately lead to his biggest confession of all. Find out in part 2! 

Where can I get the book? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Novels and Resources by A.C. Quintero

Amazon

Fluencymatters.com

Brycehedstrom.com

Teachersdiscovery.com

Carlex

Updates With Other Books and New Resources!

Back-to-school Language Activities, Comprehensible Input, Spanish class

What’s Your Mood: Six Ways To Use the Mood Meter In WL Class To Facilitate Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition

The Mood Meter Activity is a Perfect Addition to Your Classroom Routine!

¿Cómo estás?

Really, how are you? Does your mood affect how willing you are to learn? Or to engage in a particular lesson? Do you think that acknowledging feelings can help you make a shift? These are the questions explored by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and their creation of the Mood Meter has provided students with specific vocabulary for identifying their emotions, and possibly, making a shift (from red/blue to yellow/green). We have been using the Mood Meter in our school for the past three years. It started with an initiative to inject more social emotional awareness into the ethos of the school, flowing through and connecting the veins of classroom practices. With this  systemwide shift to teach the whole child, the Mood Meter protocol became routinized in our school, and naturalized into our educational discourse.

Descriptive Language For Identifying Nuanced Emotions

As pictured above, the Mood Meter is a square divided into four quadrants — red, blue, green, and yellow — each representing a different set of feelings. Different feelings are grouped together on the Mood Meter based on their pleasantness and energy level. Classroom.couture, a Spanish Teacher and Fashion Guru on Instagram, has enabled us as language educators to access this matrix of emotions in Spanish class, while honing a very useful communicative tool (Check out her blog here, and discover productivity hacks, fashion advice, and how to stay healthy and vibrant). Find out how I use her adaptation of the Mood Meter in my classroom, and you’ll be in the MOOD to use it as well! Click here to link to the resource created by Classroom.couture.

This Is How We Roll

We start class everyday with the Mood Meter! I printed out the MM Dashboard, and laminated the cards to make them durable. After the first few introductory rounds, students grab a card as they file into the room, or I have a student distribute them (it depends on the class). After everyone is seated, check-in begins. Since we’ve been employing this practice daily Novice level 1, and it has proven to be one of the most effective, vocabulary- acquiring bellringers! IT SETS THE TONE FOR THE CLASS. Students look forward to the Mood Meter activity because they get to share how they’re feeling while expanding their vocabulary. How do I introduce to my class? Check out my introduction as well as my sustainability routines below!

Created by Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
Adapted to Spanish by @Classroom.couture

Check out my Youtube video here! I will be providing demonstrations through out the first couple of weeks as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9zTe6XvSNk

Starting From Scratch

Prior to the implementing the Mood Meter, on the first day of school, I’d have three emojis projected on the screen. Each one with an easily identificable expression. I would ask students how they were feeling, and they could point to the emoji, or try to say it. Now, with this new Mood Meter tool, I can take that a step further. The first thing I do is have students observed the quadrants of the MM. Then, I commence classroom discourse pointing out the specifics of the tool. I provide examples below:

Hay cuatro partes aquí, clase y hay cuatro colores. Aquí tenemos rojo, azul, amarillo y verde”. ¿Cuántos colores hay? ¿Hay dos colores (I do this holding up two fingers)? ¿Hay tres colores? ¿Hay cinco? ¿Hay diez?

I capitalize on this activity to integrate more input, and have them make associations, even on the first day! This can be taken a step further. To introduce them to colors, I repeat the four colors of the quadrants, and then asking them how to say them in English. You can easily use one of the two approaches below (or a novel one!).

  1. ¿ Cómo se dice “rojo” en inglés? ¿Cómo se dice “amarillo” en inglés, etc?
  2. ¿Cómo se dice “rojo” en inglés? Red or White?

This activity can be further comprehended by students if you write the colors on the board. or use a poster with where to you can point. You may not have to, but I also do this for my students who have processing issues, and may need struggle with auditory/visual learning in this sense.

Turn it into a lesson!

I proceed to go around class to see who has those colors on. I’ll point out that someone has amarillo, then rojo, etc. After doing that for a few minutes, I will model commands, and direct students to stand up when they hear the colors. See my examples below:

“Levántense [todos] los estudiantes con el color amarillo” (pointing to yellow)

“Levántense los estudiantes con el color azul”

“Levántense los estudiantes con el color rojo”

“Levántense los estudiantes con el color verde”

There will be students whose colors don’t match; which in the CI World equates to an opportunity to circle (ask questions) using those colors not representative in the Dashboard palette. At this juncture, I would model the other colors; “Tú no tienes el color rojo, tú no tienes el color amarillo, etc. Tienes el color blanco. Y tú, tú tienes el color morado.” You could use this activity for front-loading the other colors.

Turn It Up!

Okay, so if you’re really “feeling” this activity, you can do a Speed-dating activity whereby students write the names of their new classmates and check off the color they have one. Download the activity here, and use it in class!

Colors and Quadrants

The next step, which does not have to be used in the same day, is to assign emotions to the colors. You could model, “furioso” with the color red, or “relajado” with the color green. This lays the groundwork making the Mood Meter Medley! Next, we play a guessing game. Students love INQUIRY-BASED activities. They love guessing so I try not to rob them of this opportunity.

Make It a Fun Guessing Game!

Have a MM Dashboard in hand. This is the when you start looking at the vocabulary and making those “incidental” corrections. One of the things that my colleague Classroom.couture did in creating the Spanish version is to make sure most of the words were cognates. THIS IS SO HELPFUL! It is an INCIDENTAL VOCABULARY WHEN THROUGH AND THROUGH. How the paper in front of the class, and/or project it so you can now discuss the words (she also does a digital version with her students, so she can gauge how the class is doing).

Distribute mini whiteboards to the students (or they can use their notebooks) and have them guess the word as you model it.

––Point to the color, so that their eyes are not roaming around the board. They can zero-in on one quadrant of the board. This also lowers the affective filter.

––Proceed to say the word with the appropriate facial expression or gesture, and let them write down the guesses in English.

Other options: You can give then three options in English for every word. For example: The word “Enojado” could be paired with the appropriate facial expression, emoji, bitmoji and/or picture to provide a clear connection.

Word Up!

With level 1 Novice-mid 1 students, we focus only on the words first! After the variety of activities listed above, we can now start our check- in. At this point, we do one word check-ins, and I don’t usually instruct on gender-noun agreement during the first few weeks. I allow them to let the words soak-in, and then later, I give examples of gender nouns. This worked really well last year, in fact, mid year, they were correcting each other.

Here’s how this looks in my class:

  1. Students are seated with their Mood Meter in hand.
  2. Teacher asks: ¿Cómo estás? or ¿Cómo te sientes? I prefer the former because it’s less complicated.
  3. Each student who wants to share (I make it optional) share one word.

Speed Dating With Rejoinders

Once we are well on our way with using this feeling-processing tool, I’ll have students take on the role of asking each other how they are doing. Now, this is where it gets fun! Students will have three rejoinders on the board. They get the choose their own reaction to what was said. Check out the pictures below to get an idea!

This way, students learn how to be empathatic in the target language.

As students get comfortable with using the Mood Meter, it becomes second nature to them. As we processed through the year, the structures take on a more complex nature, and students are able to expand how they feel, and what they feel. The best part is that I don’t necessarily have to “teach” the vocabulary. I do provide them with a Quizlet list (why, not?) in case they’ll like to review, but we do this everyday in class, so expressing their feelings become more automatic and authentic. Are you in the MOOD for this activity? Download your activity today, and make sure you check back on @Classroom.couture Teacherspayteachers store, Instagram Linktree, and or Website for more extended use of the Mood Meter!

Additional Sources:

Mood Meter For Students

Back-to-school Language Activities, Comprehensible Input, Giveaways, Free books, Spanish class

Author Spotlight… and Giveaway!

Teacher and Author Jennifer Degenhardt is a household name in ever-expanding Comprehensible Input Author Community. Her novels feature compelling storylines “lined” with cultural elements that endear every character and make them relatable to our students. And I have a feeling she isn’t putting that pen down anytime soon! With yet another novel under her belt, “La última prueba” she has proved that she can tackle the social issues, just as well as the mythological ones (as so expertly done in her latest novel).

Taruka is the new girl at the high school in town. The story takes the reader through a year of high school that Taruka is not likely to forget. She makes friends and meets a boy, Cooper. Like Cooper and many of the students at the school Taruka is very involved in sports, so she gets along with her new classmates well. But issues arise with her newfound friendship with Cooper when their differences are highlighted by the adults in their lives. This book is intended as a reader for students learning Spanish. While the story has a plot similar to the classic story of Romeo and Juliet or Tony and Maria, the vocabulary and grammar are simple and comprehensible even for those just beginning with Spanish.

​Novels and Resources by A.C. Quintero and Puenteslanguage.com have teamed up to bring you giveaway! Check it out below, and make sure you participate to win!

Let the Games Begin!

Back-to-school Language Activities, Comprehensible Input, Spanish class

20+ Back-to-School Activities that World Language Teachers Love!

During our recent giveaway, we posed a question: What is your favorite back- to- school activity? And the responses were plenty! As someone who struggles with back-to-school activities, I was very appreciative of the ideas, suggestions, and routines shared, and I’d like to share them with you! Some teachers shared links to activities on Teacherspayteachers, so those links are provided as well!

School Tour CI Style!

One of the beginning of the year activities I did last year was a school orientation with my freshman students. I distributed the sheet below, and took them to places around the school, describing each on in the target language. Later, once we reconvened, students talked about what each place was. Most, if not all, of my students where very excited to have learned some new words and feel accomplished the very first day of school. If you have attended any of my workshops, you know this is my go-to activity! I made this based on the characteristics of my school, but you can do something similar with your school environment.

Click here for link (example): https://bit.ly/2LYwRWe

¡Qué interesante!

This is another favorite activity for level 1 students who have had not had experience with the language.

How does it work? I simply distribute some information about learning Spanish. If can be an article on Bilingualism, or countries where Spanish is spoken. Click here is an example of such an article. The article is in English. Students read and make a note of three facts that took them by surprise. They go around the class and using two structures only: Yo aprendí (I learned) and a rejoinder, they share out with the class. So, I usually have two- three rejoinders on the board that they can pull from:

Click here for a copy of the information sheet I use most years. I actually copied and pasted these from an infographic on Pinterest. It was just easier to share on Google classroom.

Many teachers shared how they loved doing Personal Interviews, this is one of my favorites as well. Click here for my resource on Personal Interviews, which is two personal interviews, listening activity, writing, reading & speaking.

Free download Back-to-school download for easing back into the year. Click here for resource. I have done these activities for the past years with my level 4 students, and they have been a hit. The first one is the “devuelve el tiempo” activity wherein students transport themselves back in time to their part day of the summer. They explain what they see, feel, hear, smell, etc (as if they are there in the moment). I do an example with a picture from my summer vacation and then we’re off! The second one is called; La farándula. Students share celebrity news/gossip, ets. This is normally where I find out about the newly minted summer celebrity relationship and messy break-ups. The only problem is that I can’t get them to stop talking! 

LAS COSAS QUE ME GUSTAN A Mí IS A SHORT AND ENGAGING COMIC based on the characters from Spanish CI Reader: La clase de confesiones. The two characters, Carlos and Sofía are friends and talk about their likes and interests. Although this activity features many cognates, students will be able to easily guess the meaning of non-cognates words by their context. The communicative nature of this task makes it a perfect complement to “SPECIAL PERSON INTERVIEW.” It includes a reading, speaking, writing, and listening activity.

See some of my other “Go-to” activities below!

What did teachers on Twitter choose as their most engaging BTS activity? See the list below!

Links to the activities mentioned: This Is Us activity mentioned by Tarafarah7 is listed below:

Click here for link!

Click here for link!

Comprendes Mendez Spanish Shop was mentioned, so I am included the activity below. She has a BTS Regreso a Clase Comerciales Bundle. Check it out here!

Teachers also mentioned Misclaseslocas.com activities. You can check out her shop here. Also, her famed, “Find someone who” activity can be accessed here: Find someone who…

Did you know that I write short stories as well? Check out my Dreaming In Spanish Story Bundle below!

Click here to preview the “Dreaming in Spanish Ebook Bundle”

Here are some of my other favorite activities to use in the class:

El profesor estudioso (free on TPT)

Click here for link!

“El profesor estudioso” is a short story for Spanish beginners. The story is told in the present tense, highlighting mostly -ar verbs in the first person. It is about a teacher, who is also a student. I used this short story with my Spanish 1 students who were learning verb conjugations. 

This resource comes with: 
1. Verb chart to practice writing first person of -ar verbs 
2. Short story that incorporates the verbs from the chart 
3. Comprehension questions 
4. Short sequencing activity.

All About Me Activities

Click here for link! This one will go well with those who like to do personal interviews. Students pick up a lot of vocabulary through the dialogue.

This All about me/Interview with Ainhoa activity blends together tons of relevant cognates (programa, persona famosa, celebridad, música, etc), common structures such as ser, gustar and basic verbs in Spanish, with cultural information (Spanish superstars, food, school) all in a short dynamic interview. 

Ainhoa, who is actually from Pamplona, talks about her favorite music, programs, classes, books, and hobbies. Students have several pre and post activities to engage them on different levels: 

1. Vocabulary list with most words from the interview 
2. Information gap activity: students plug in the words from the list 
3. Interview: students read silently first, and then read with a partner
4. Mini-lesson possessive adjectives as students respond to questions about Ainhoa (no more writing “tu película favorita” for a third party).
5. Comprehension questions 
6. Students use the structures and vocabulary then to discuss their interests
7. Interview a partner with the same activity 
8. Venn Diagram- compare and contrast with Ainhoa. 

Free ” Todo sobre mí” activity

Click here for freebie (level 2+)

What are your favorite back-to-school activities? Please send me the link if you have one or made one and I will include on this post!