October 2014 - Island Teacher

El Día de los Muertos Weekend Sale!

I've had a super, relaxing week on fall break this week from school. What better way to end a great week than with a SALE in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store? I'm teaming up with my amiga, La Profe Plotts for a Día de los Muertos weekend sale! We are both offering 20% products in our TpT stores this Saturday and Sunday, November 1-2. 

Check out some of La Profe Plotts' Pesca Games. She has them in a variety of topics for both vocabulary and grammar.

I've recently added some Character Cards to my store which come with many ideas and resources for activities and games. These cards give basic information about 32 different imaginary characters and are great for practicing a variety of language skills.

The Día de los Muertos clip art can be found at PoppyDreamz Digital Art.

Create an Adjective Person!

This past week we wrapped up a unit on los adjetivos descriptivos. One of the activities that my students enjoyed was creating "Cómo soy yo?" people. I had gotten an idea from Pinterest and then set out to make some templates and adapt it to Spanish. Students had to choose Spanish adjectives which they felt best described them, add them to the body of a "person" and then attach the body parts. Even though we haven't done body parts vocabulary yet, they were then pre-exposed to words like "la cabeza", "los brazos", etc., so this served a dual purpose. They then added color to their people and they are now added to a classroom bulletin board. These also will also fold up well, so we saved a page in our interactive notebooks for them to be added after they are on the bulletin board for awhile. Here are some pictures of this quick mini-project!

The templates for this activity are available in my TpT store Here!

Save some sanity part 2....Organize your week!

In part 2 of Save some sanity...otherwise known as "why did it take me so many years to figure this out?", I want to share my favorite tip for keeping your week organized. This became a necessity for me when I started teaching at my current school because I teach different grades and classes on different days and had to constantly refer to my schedule to see what was happening next. Then my plastic drawers came into the picture! I'm sure you've seen this idea floating around, but it is truly fabulous! 

I found these cute labels on TpT back before I knew how to make my own stuff like that (I should totally remake them in Spanish!) and added them to the front of the drawers. I've seen many pictures where people have the last drawer labeled "next week", which works great too, but then my next week would be all jumbled up. I use the last drawer to hold my interactive notebooking supplies. Since I have small classes, my glue sticks and scissors fit nicely there. After a day of the week passes, I'll begin adding to the drawer for the next week as I plan and gather materials.  Anything needed for that particular day goes into the drawer. This could be handouts, task cards, other games, graded papers to return, etc. Then, when a class comes in, I just access the drawer and all is well! Some sanity has been saved! Happy Saturday!

Save some sanity...Organize your resources!

I thrive on organization (or at least attempting organization). I am a list maker. Post-it notes with endless lists that I can check-off are my friends. I like to have a plan for everything! So why did it take me 11 years to figure out a better system to organize my files?? Your guess is as good as mine. Previously, I had labeled paper file folders and shoved them into filing cabinets. Disclaimer: This post is in no way knocking paper files folders and filing cabinets...mine were just so unorganized. ;) Sometimes I would end up with 3-4 folders all stating something like "-AR verbs present". Before we moved to Grand Cayman, I had taught at different schools in Georgia and Florida, so I had units corresponding with various textbooks as well. It was a mess. I'm not sure how I managed finding anything...ever. I think because resources were tucked into a file cabinet that I could easily close that I didn't think about it as much. As teachers, we know time is lacking, so file organization just wasn't a priority. When we moved, I packed up those SAME paper files into plastic bins and they came flying across the Caribbean with me where I put them into the SAME metal filing cabinets here.  Ok, now I'll be really honest and show you a sample of what this all looked like before so that you can visualize the madness...

In order to get this under control, the first thing I did was begin to purge files. I mean, let's be honest. If I hadn't used a resource since 2004, chances are I'm not going to miss it if I just chunk it. So I threw away a LOT of stuff. I find myself constantly looking online or making my own resources (especially since I'm taking an interactive notebook approach this year), so for me, there's no need to save everything I've ever thought about using. I was a bit of hoarder and why I allowed everything to come with me on a move to another country is beyond me. I began the process last school year of moving everything to 3-ring binders. Each binder has a broad category on the outside and tabs on the inside to separate categories. It's a work in progress and I work on it as I have time by pulling a paper file out of the file cabinet, throwing away what I no longer use/need and adding the papers to the correct category or creating a new category. 

 I have found that I am now more easily able to find a resource by pulling the correct binder and looking at the tabs. One check off my post-it note list in my quest for more organization. ;) What about you...how do you organize your files?


Celebrating el Día de los Muertos

It's coming soon! One holiday that I look forward to teaching about every year is Día de los Muertos. I like helping my students knock out the stereotype that it's just another version of Halloween. Today I was happy to have to opportunity to jump over and guest blog at Language Teachers' Cafe. Here I share some ideas that I've come across online for incorporating Day of the Dead into your lessons at the end of the month. 

I was thinking ahead about the holiday this year and wanted to make some new resources of my own for students to include in their interactive notebooks. While I was busy creating back in July, my 6 year old wanted in on the action too! What was the result? I now have Día de los Muertos Christmas ornaments that I can proudly display in a couple of months...thanks AG! ;)
Head over to Language Teachers' Cafe to see my 5 ways to Celebrate el Día de los Muertos in your classroom.

The Día de los Muertos clip art can be found at PoppyDreamz Digital Art.

Creatively Teaching Spanish Speaking Countries and Capitals

I often find that for whatever reason I tend to breeze through the topic of Spanish speaking countries and capitals. This year I pre-tested student knowledge of the topic by giving them a blank map and asking them to write in as many Spanish speaking countries, along with the capital, in the correct location on the map. Let's just say that the results were LESS. THAN. STELLAR. I find that when students are asked where in the world Spanish is spoken I get the standard responses of "Spain!" or "Mexico!" and, because I'm now in the Cayman Islands, "Honduras!" and "Cuba!" are popular choices as well. While they may be able to spout off a few countries that speak Spanish, can they locate them on a map? Can they tell the capital city? If your students are like mine...probably not. Because of this, I was determined to dedicate a bit more time to this topic this year in order to really help my students get a better grasp of geography before we dive in to studying individual countries and culture. 

Here are some of things we are doing for this unit of study:

1. Map Labeling- I always start with showing a PowerPoint which highlights each country on a map. As each county is highlighted, I have students fill in their maps with the country name and capital. This year, since we are using interactive notebooks, they have a page in their notebooks dedicated to this map. 

2. Creating acronyms- After we label maps, we come up with acronyms to remember the order of the countries on the map. This year our acronym for remembering Mexico and Central America is:

For South America, we are using:

We couldn't leave out the other countries, even though this doesn't help with the map labeling:

You can check out these posters HERE!

3. Next, we add foldables to our interactive notebooks. I created a set of interactive notebook activities to help students categorize the geographic regions of the countries and to learn capitals. You can check those out HERE if you'd like. 

4. Students use their interactive notebook foldables to quiz themselves and each other. We also practice with a whole class game like "Yo Tengo...¿Quién tiene?" Countries and Capitals.  

5. I show the countries and capital rap. It drives students crazy, but I think they secretly love it! ;) It's all over YouTube, here is one link.

6. To assess this unit, I re-test students using a blank map and they are able to see that their knowledge has (hopefully!) greatly improved!

How to you teach countries and capitals?


A Weekend of Awesome Part 2...GIVEAWAY!!

Another part of my of Weekend of Awesome was finding out that I was going to have a download of one of my free resources featured in the weekly Teachers Pay Teachers newsletter. Now this may not seem like anything that awesome, but amigos, this was a BIG deal for me! I had been submitting a product every week that I remembered for about 5 months or so. Each week the TpT staff chooses 10 freebies to go into the weekly newsletter which goes out on Sunday. I, honestly, have no idea how many submissions they receive each week, but I was super honored to be chosen. I'm also very thankful that my amiga, La Profe Plotts, gave me the heads up that I was going to have a featured product. This allowed me to spend most of Saturday working on sprucing up my store for the day. Here's the shot I had to take when the newsletter email rolled into my phone inbox!

If you want to pick up my free La Familia Questions worksheet, you can find it in my store, HERE. Now, because of my super, awesome, fabulous weekend, I have decided to host my first giveaway!

The winner will win both a $10 TpT gift certificate AND $10 worth of their choice of products from my store. :) The giveaway will run until October 9th. Enter below for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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