Comprehensible Input, Spanish CI Readers

Flipping The Script: CI Novels in French and Spanish by Author Terri Marrama

I had the privilege of speaking to yet another CI author, who is flipping the script in Spanish and in French! Theresa Marrama is a French CI teacher, who has been working with authors such as Jennifer Degenhardt and A.C. Quintero on adapting their books from Spanish to French. What I did not know, is that Terri had some compelling stories herself! She debuted her first novel last year, Une obsession dangereuse, available at fluencymatters.com. Her debut novel was the first, but not the last we’ve heard from her. Her quill has not gone dry; this year has seen a record number of books from Terri in both Spanish, and French. And, watch out German teachers, she is also coming for your classroom library as well! Check out her author’s page here, to see for yourself.

Who is Theresa Marrama?

Theresa Marrama is a dynamic French teacher who has been in the trenches for more than 11 years. She has been holding down the fort, teaching French in Northern New York. Her students span from levels 1 to 4, from grades 7 to 11. Three years ago, Terri took another bold step in her teaching career (teaching is the first!), she joined the Comprehensible Input (CI) corps of teachers; she’s a been a fierce advocate of the approach. This year, she went from practitioner to literary contributor, as you will see as your read on!

Reading As The Cornerstone

Like most CI teachers, her favorite teacher-input activities are movie talk and picture talk, however, the cornerstone of her curriculum is reading. She places great emphasis on reading with her classes and allowing time for students to soak up this practice and regularly explore her Free Voluntary Reading Library (FVR). Well, now we have the opportunity to have her books in our library as well!

What Is FVR?

Note: FVR , for those of your hearing this term for the first time, a classroom library comprised of chapters books that are written at the students’ level. These book present a host of topics, and storylines yet told with very limited unique vocabulary that allows for reading comprehension, a low cognitive load, and can greatly facilitate language acquisition. You can visit Mike Peto’s blogs for more information FVR. He also wrote a book on Pleasure Reading! You can see a picture of my FVR library below if you are unfamiliar with this concept. Also, check out the twitter accounts of teachers such as @lovemysummers, @karajacobs, @janina_hanson to see how they structure their classroom libraries.

Teacher-Author

Theresa started writing CI novels about three years ago. She had begun to use more comprehension- based readers in her classes, and immediately witnessed the impact they had on her students’ language acquisition. She wanted to contribute more readers to her own classroom library, as there were not as many readers in French. So, she picked up a pen. Theresa confessed that she loves writing about mysteries, culture, and heartfelt stories that everyone can relate to ( we definitely have that in common! I am a mystery girl myself)! Because of Theresa’s penchant to flip the script and contribute to the growing body of comprehensible literature, we can now line our libraries with new, compelling mysteries, in French, Spanish, and German. Let’s take a look at what Theresa has to offer, and why YOU DON’T WANT YOUR KIDS TO MISS OUT!

Theresa has authored the following books:
Une obsession dangereuse – Françoise’s obsession with alligators is a bit concerning, but when she plans a face-to-face encounter, it becomes downright dangerous. As she and her friend Monique secretly venture out into the bayou for an alligator encounter, they discover that both alligators and the bayou are much safer when viewed on TV ! Françoise finds herself in a life-or-death situation, and her only hope for survival rests on the wits of a 13- year-old girl.  

Une obsession dangereuse is available on Fluency Matters website. www.fluencymatters.com

Une disparition mystèrieuse – It has been a week since Alice’s best friend Dominique disappeared. Since that day, Alice’s world has turned upside down, and her life has begun to spiral out of control. Will Alice see her best friend again? Did Alice pay enough attention to the details leading up to her friend’s disappearance? Will an old Louisiana legend come to life? Will she discover a far greater mystery that has haunted the marshes of Louisiana for years?  
REVIEW OF BOOK : 

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***Also available in Spanish*** 
Una desaparición misteriosa-It has been a week since Ana’s best friend Daniela disappeared. Since that day, Ana’s world has turned upside down, and her life has begun to spiral out of control. Will Ana see her best friend again? Did Ana pay enough attention to the details leading up to her friend’s disappearance? Will an old Peruvian legend come to life? Will she discover a far greater mystery that has haunted the children of Peru for years?  

Review of the book:

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L’île au trésor: Première partie: La malédiction de l’île Oak –

Daniel is a typical teenager who just wants to spend his summer vacation with his friends. Unfortunately, he must spend another summer in Canada, where his father works. Will his summer be as boring as the last, or will he manage to make the most of it in the absence of his friends? Will he find adventure and excitement in the long days ahead?  

Review of Book :

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La ofrenda de Sofía-It has been nearly a year since her grandfather has passed away. Sofía is not coping very well with his death or her recent move to Mexico. The Day of the Dead celebration is approaching and Sofía’s mom is persistent in her efforts to get her to participate. Will Sofía learn things about her grandfather that she didn’t know? Will she learn the true meaning of the Day of the Dead celebration?  

Review of book:It’s full of suspense and heart.
Ooooh!  It’s a page turner!!  Pick it up for your classroom libraries!!

Léo et Anton –  

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Anton is different – a mouse that isn’t afraid of cats who lives in the Parc du Bois-Beckett forest in Quebec, Canada with his mom and dad. But, Anton is not happy. He doesn’t have any friends, and he is not allowed to explore the forest alone as his father fears he will get attacked by a cat.  Will Anton venture alone into the forest against his father’s will?  Will Anton ever be able to make any friends? Will Anton’s courage get him into trouble? Sometimes it is our differences that not only set us apart from others but make us exactly the same.

Luis y Antonio –  

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Antonio is different – a mouse that isn’t afraid of cats who lives in the Arrayes forest in Argentina with his mom and dad. But, Antonio is not happy. He doesn’t have any friends, and he is not allowed to explore the forest alone as his father fears he will get attacked by a cat.  Will Antonio venture alone into the forest against his father’s will?  Will Antonio ever be able to make any friends? Will Antonio’s courage get him into trouble? Sometimes it is our differences that not only set us apart from others but make us exactly the same.  

Review of the book:

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This story (Léo et Anton) will soon be available in German as well. 
Theresa has 2 more stories in the works! Please stay tuned 🙂 
You can find all of her books and audio book CD’s for her books at her website : www.compellinglanguagecorner.com

Theresa Marrama’s book are becoming a staple for teachers looking for compelling comprehensible literature. I have several of her books, and will be adding more to my classroom library. If you want to find out more about Theresa, check out her website and her Amazon’s author’s page.

The Compelling Language Corner

Theresa Marrama Author’s Page

Comprehensible Input, Identity,, Thematic Units

The Formation and Politics of Identity: Spanish Level 4 Unit by A.C. Quintero

Picture by E. Gómez, Barcelona

In an effort to give teachers a peek inside my classroom, I will be using this space to share resources, ideas, and lessons that have shaped by Identity unit for my level 4 classroom. This unit consists of a plethora of resources, both paid and free. Some of the resources were authored by me, while others are contributions other teacher authors. I am listing as I go, with the goal of distilling everything into implementable lesson plans (long-term goal). If you have tips in terms of organization, please email me, and I will try my best to organize the information so that it is accessible and useful to teachers. My units are broken down into phases. Each phase culminates with either a formative assessment or a summative one.

Phase 1: Let’s Get To Know Each Other

Task 1: Special Person Interviews 

I implement this unit the first week back to school. After doing “La máquina de tiempo” and Allison Wienhold’s Find someone who activity, we delve right into Special Person, or “La persona especial. 

This activity was developed by Bryce Hedstrom, and has been used by countless of world language teachers. In an identity unit at the beginning of the year, it is the perfect task to get students to find out about their classmates. The Special Person’s activity is guided by this free resource: Todo sobre mí.

How Do We Get From “Todo Sobre Mí” To Special Persons Interviews

#1 Model the type of response you want

I invite students to interview me, asking me those same questions as those listed on the activity Todo sobre mí. This will give students an opportunity to listen to my responses to the questions, vet the activity, and hopefully, determine that it is a safe and fun activity for them. Sharing things about themselves during the first week could be very daunting, but these questions are perfect for upper-level (they represent a mix, in my opinion) high schoolers.

1.  Students complete the Todo sobre mí activity 

2.  I review questions that’ll prompt the answers to the questions on the board. For example, students have to provide information on their favorite application. I’d ask students to write the question that would solicit that particular response.

3. Students then move into groups to converse about their preferences as detailed on the Todo sobre mí activity. This becomes the basis of our Persona especial

Where is the input? 

Since we watch El Internado, students would read about these famous actors from Spain. I got this resource from Martina. You can click on it here to be directed to her TPT store. It was a great way to discuss other people in the target language. I also created an additional one to add some diversity, and she is one of my favorite actresses on Spanish television.  You can click on that resource here!

Task 2: Interviewing students 

A la Bryce, 10 students are interviewed everyday until we are done interviewing. I only require students to take notes on 4 students a day. Click here for the organizing document.

Task 3: Assessing the students

Phase 2: What Is Identity?

The next phase of our unit, we start to explore identity. The core of this unit, is comprised of my identity resource packet. You can click here for details. This resource packet consists of 25 activities, including readings on the construction of identity. It includes reading comprehension questions, debates, and writing prompts. There are more abridged versions of this resource on TPT.

Task 1: ¡Soy yo!

Who doesn’t love this anthem about identity? I know that there are many great resources regarding how to Movie talk or Picture talk this song. This is the one that I use, and I very much enjoy it. Click here for the resource!

Since the band is from Bogotá, I play this video to give students a taste of what the city is like. You may find other helpful videos, to introduce student to Colombia!

1. Listen to the song, just to absorb the beat (see TPT packet for video on Youtube). 
.4. Go on to Quizlet and review the flashcards (10 minutes). Have them make observations of the tense (past tense). 
4. Reflection: Describe a time when you… Me caí, fracasé, me paré, te criticaron/ share out. 
5. Sing the song with your class!! We always try to conquer the fast melody, but fail every time. It creates laughter and community.

Task 2: Taking A Deeper Dive

We view this video that is inextricably related to adolescents and identity. The video can be accessed on Youtube.com by clicking the link here. The materials that I have created for the video are free on TPT. Click on this link to see how I introduce the theme.

What does teaching this video look like in my class?

1. Students complete the preliminary questions prior to watching the video. These questions are on identity. For example, students are asked to offer a definition of what is identity, and then, who determines your identity.

2. As students share out, I draw an identity concept map on the board. We list out elements such as culture, traditions, music, language, etc. I ask them to provide examples, to get the conversation going.

3. We watch the video on Identity, which is in English, but has very few words offered by the protagonist. She walks around the school with a mask and is pretty mum the whole time.

4. After the video, I have them write down their reactions immediately. I have them share whatever they can about the video. I do this as a confidence builder. Then, I ask them questions about the video with language and vocabulary tied to certain parts. For instance, I asked why they thought the girl had on a mask, why was unique about her mask, who else was wearing a mask.

Side note: One student said he noticed that the teachers did not have masks on, and that he thought they should also wear them!


Frida Painting and Poem Comparison

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this poem, “La mujer del otro lado” by Sylvia Mejía. It is the perfect addition to an identity unit because it oozes with declarations and dichotomies about the nuances of identity.

We did this poem on the heels of our “Soy yo” song, so it was the perfect segue to exploring the theme even more. Here was the game plan:

  • We had students examine the Frida painting ” The Border”. I thought many of what was referenced in the poem about identity could be visually illustrated with this painting. It also reacquainted them with Frida as an artist, consummate example of strong identity (Our Frida unit with Kristy Plácido’s book is set for February). Students described all the elements in the pictures and discussed some of the elements related to identity as well.
  • They read the poem with this poem guide. Later, we compared and contrasted with the poem
  • After reading and discussing the painting and poem, we administered this formative assessment.

Yalitza

The rise of Yalitza from the cultural rich pueblo of Oaxaca, also piqued my interest this year. Since her debut in Roma, and EL Sol article last year published about her, I wanted to find a way to sneak her into the already jammed-packed curriculum; and I did! Below are a few activities, references to resources that made this mini-unit possible. Here was the game plan:

  • First, I wanted to make sure students had a change to become familiar with Oaxaca and all the rich things he had to offer. So we did this scavenger hunt. I supplied students with websites where they could access the information in Spanish. You can click here for this activity.
  • Internet Scavenger Hunt Activity
  • They also had this Quizlet set of vocabulary words. These words were extrapolated from the upcoming readings, and subsequent listening activities. Due to copyright, I cannot share the article from El Sol, but I encourage you to visit their website to see all the great offering they have for the CI classroom!
  • Following Quizlet, students worked on these contextualized sentences with the vocabulary. This particular activity gave them an opportunity to get a brief preview of these words in context. It also made their Quizlet work a bit more challenging.
  • Following the scavenger hunt, students had an opportunity to talk about what they researched. If we are following the input/output paradigm. They received their input from reading about landmarks, food, etc. The output was an outgrowth of that.
  • Listening: Students listened to this video. Instead of providing specific questions, I wanted to see what they had actually understood. They listened to the video and then responded to these questions. I was pleasantly surprised that most of them performed extremely well on this activity.
  • Students had this article to read. I had them only read the first two pages. We stopped where it said “Grabación de Roma.” The goal was to get them more acquainted with her life. Prior to reading we did this pre-vocabulary activity as well.

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, Changing Seats, Comprehensible Input, Movie talks

5 Ways to Use Authentic Realia in the World Language Classroom; You’ll Be Surprised by How Simple This Is!


Teachers have a very special skill set when it comes to up-cycling. Where our non-teaching buddies see an old shoe box, we see a diamond in the rough: that shoe box could be used to create a dynamic diorama! 


And up-cycling has it “upsides”. We contribute to the environment why providing a new use of for an old product. That is divergent thinking (we’re all going to be CEOs one day)! This post is just about that: making use of items we’ve may have garnered during our summer vacations.

I usually curate a TON of postcards (as well as museums programs) when I am abroad. On my last trips to Spain and Mexico, I have a lot of postcards that feature breathtaking views, and can also give students algo de qué hablar. I realize that these trinkets could could give me a lot of mileage out of everyday classroom functions. Let’s take a look at how we could use these items to make interesting any classroom activity.

Using Postcards (or other authentic realia) for Changing Seats & Speaking Activities

I get a lot of mileage out of these postcards. Last year, I decided to laminate them to childproof them. I had bought a laminator on Amazon for $24.99 and the thermal sheets were 100 for $10. Although we have a laminator at school, I bought my own, por si acaso…


I used these postcards for two main activities:

  • speaking activities.
  • changing seats: I never have a method for changing seats, so this -postcard activity helped a lot because students love receiving things. They are curious and visual.

I usually get 4-5 copies of the same postcards, dole them out to students and they sit next to someone with the same postcard. You can always limit your variety as well. If you haven’t traveled abroad, you can get postcards from your town, or printout places, and or landmarks from the target culture. 

Using Postcards To Engender Diversity and Balance In Class

In the classroom, we want to provide meaningful input, but we also want to students be able to use the language they are acquiring. Postcards (or something similar) provide a great way of getting students into groups and making sure those groups are as diverse as possible.  

I learned something very valuable about my students a few years back. While discussing the role of appearances in choosing a friend (part of our Identity Unit), some students were disgusted by the article’s suggestion that “they choose friends based on appearances.” I said, “well, let’s get into groups to discuss.” They all got into groups. Before they could discuss the article, I had them pause and look around. I asked them “how many of your group members look like you?” They were floored! Point taken, and they disbanded and found people who were different from them. Remember, different can be race, personality, etc. 

To avoid this scenario, I pass out the cards and have them get into the group. This helps a great deal because: 

  • I don’t have to announce “Find someone different” this would make the poor kid whose different feel a little awkward 
  • The pressure is off the teacher
  • Students will have an opportunity to meet other and build relationships with other students (takes the onus off of them as well!). 

 First-week activities for intermediate students:  Introduce yourself to someone with the same card! 

No one wants to go up to a stranger and introduce themselves! We all need excuses to do the things we want to do. Isn’t that the reason behind speed-dating? Well, you can accomplish the same thing with help from an item such as postcards. 

When I didn’t know any better (three years ago), I’d project a prompt and tell students “Go meet someone around the class!” I really thought, “Wow, this is great!” Meanwhile, the students were terrified. Now, when we do introductions (I feel like I am selling some kind of infomercial at 2 in the morning here, this little activity really helped to strengthen my routines), they get a card and they are working their way around the class, collecting information and getting to know their classmates, all the while seeing some interesting sites!\

Mix it Up!

  • For lower-level classes use postcards (or similar activity) to talk about colors. 
  • Students can also talk about the postcard, especially if there are interesting pictures! 
  • For upper-level classes, students can say they’d like to go, and why. They can also say they had visited and the things that they saw. 
  • Postcards make very good Picture Talks in any travel unit. 

Use as a circumlocution challenge! 

One word that my students know more than any other words is “circumlocution.” They know that when they don’t know a word or have forgotten it, they navigate the known words in their vocabulary and they “make it work.” I have heard some create a combination with circumlocutory attempts. Culture realia and be used as a fun challenge to win extra points or however you want to structure it. 

  • Give a student one of the postcards or picture 
  • They have 30 seconds to describe it to class
  • Group student according to different cards and have each one talk about their card in their group. 
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

https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/the-mood-meter-a-tool-for-developing-greater-self-awareness-and-awareness-of-others
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!

Comprehensible Input, Spanish CI Readers

El mensaje: New Reader for Level 2 Spanish Class

I am happy to announce the newest addition to the A.C. Quintero collection of novels: El mensaje. The novel delves into issues related to teen life, especially their obsession with their phones, and penchant to believe everything they see. This novel is perfect for FVR or a thematic unit with a relationship/technology focus. In addition to an engaging storyline, students can look forward to the following:

-Present tense with a spattering of past tense phrases (Novice High/Low Intermediate range)

-Spanish-speaking countries and capitals (relevant to the storyline)

– Vocabulary related to geography, technology, relationships & family

-A little bit of poetry from our overly dramatic protagonist

Synopsis (see preview below)

Adán’s life is turned upside down when he gets an unexpected and  heart-wrenching text message from a friend. It is a text about his beloved girlfriend, and it’s not pretty. At first, Adán does not think much of the text, as he knows students love to spread rumors and gossip. He would rather focus on his upcoming test on the capitals of Spanish-speaking countries than indulge in petty high school drama. But  as he considers the last few days talking to Fiona, a startling picture starts to emerge. Why has she been incredibly secretive and avoiding him like the plague? Adán tries to keep his cool. So, instead of going into full panic mode, he hatches a plan. He may be risking everything to uncover the truth, but he knows that the truth will set him free. Will it be worth it? 

Synopsis in Spanish!

Teaching Materials will be available late August. 

This book is available on:  

Click here to go to Amazon:

Click here for preview

Click here for preview

Novels and Resources by A.C. Quintero 


Brycehedstrom.com 

Comprehensible Input, Movie talks

¿Eres tú? A detective series for Spanish I: Free Resource Included!

 I am always looking for ways to inject more readings and structured conversation into my curriculum. My level 1 students need it!  With Novice- low students being fairly new to the language, this can be problematic. However, I am learning that with a little dose of creativity, peppered by resourcefulness, I can make my class a language laboratory! And I may have found my niche with this older series from Realidades: Eres TÚ María.  I have never used the textbook from which the series hail, but the first 10 videos are on Youtube and/or Vimeo. Each year, we see about 5-7 episodes, and they are well worth it because: 

  • The language goes from simple to complex 
  • In terms of content, it is very safe (you don’t have to preview it)
  • It is fairly interesting, last year we talked about the sexism that the main character experienced as a female detective among her male counterparts 
  • You can provide ample input, and get ample output as well. 

With the accompanying text that I created, you can get even more input!

Download Reading Here 

What is the series about? 

Eres Tú María is a detective series created by Realidades (by Prentice Hall). The main character is Lola, who is a detective, and a darn good one at that! The series kicks off when Lola observes some suspicious activity in her neighborhood. Her investigative senses kick in immediately and the plot begins to unfold. 

I have found this to be a great way to include Movie Talk activities (click here for more information on Movie talks) as you can circle and ask tons of questions about the character. For example, you could ask questions about: 

  • The main character’s clothing
  • The city where she lives 
  • Her personality traits 
  • Her physical traits 


It is quite interesting, and my students are usually engaged as it is the only series they will see in the first couple months of school. 


This past week we just watched our first episode, and it went really well. Prior to the episode, they had just finished up talking about our the things we like with this activity here: Las cosas que me gustan. That is why you will see references to Netflix and Snapchat in the article below for Eres Tú María


Last year, when I included this episode, I had students focused on writing the date and describing the character (boring!)- lots of output-oriented activities. This year, we read, I circled a bit, I asked them questions and it was more suitable for their level. It was also enjoyable. Many students actually wanted to talk (which was not required), and they did and felt successful.  Check out the activity below!


Free Reading Download 

¿Eres Tú María?


Extra Series 

Christy Lade, an amazing CI Teacher created some amazing resources for Extra, another short video series in Spanish. Click here for the first episode. Click here for her resources. We used the first episode resources and it was very complete. Students had a chance to read through and get acquainted with the vocabulary and themes before diving in. I highly recommend it!

What a “novel” idea! Check out the new novels for Spanish class!

Click here: https://goo.gl/JsKwM7

TPT Store!

Click here: http://bit.ly/2pAnP33