2014 - Island Teacher

5 Spanish Infographics for the holiday season!

I'm always on the lookout for cool infographics to share in my Spanish classes. Infographics are pretty much just like the name implies. They are visual representations of information about a particular topic. I generally find these on Pinterest. We are trying to push through these last 8 days of school before Christmas break and I plan to add in some of the infographics to infuse some target language reading. 


Vocabulary Pictures Activity Idea

While my amigos y familia in the US celebrated Thanksgiving this past week, I carried on with school as usual. It was a good week though! We've had cooler than usual weather...75 degrees, lol...for the past few days. My mom is visiting from Georgia, so while she's been lounging in tank tops and shorts, I've preferred jeans and cardigans. :)

This week in la clase de español, students used their current vocabulary list (-AR verbs), and created a picture or graphic. The only requirement was that they had to include all of their words somewhere within the picture. Here's one that really represents the island!


Teaching Tips for the Verb Gustar

Today I wanted to fill you in on how I teach the verb GUSTAR but, first, a real life message. ;) 
Teaching Tips for the Spanish Verb Gustar

I feel like I've reached THAT point. You know the point I'm talking about, right? The one where you're just trying to make it until the next break? For me that next break is Christmas (4 weeks and counting!). I'm sure I'm not alone in my feelings because it seems the same thoughts are shared often in the staff room at break and lunch each day. I think this is combined with the fact that this upcoming week is just a normal week. I'll go to work this Thursday (Thanksgiving) and teach on just like an average day. While it has gotten easier since this is our third Thanksgiving in Grand Cayman, it's still tough because, as an American, Thanksgiving is BIG. It's difficult not to be surrounded by lots of family on this day. We have amazing friends though and still put on a big get together with the traditional meal. This year, our friends that are hosting are even DVRing the Macy's parade, so we can all watch as we eat our Thanksgiving dinner after work on Thursday. :)


Engaging young language learners

As I've mentioned before, I'm currently teaching at a private school where I teach quite a wide range of classes including several elementary Spanish classes. Even though I did spend my first 2 years out of college teaching elementary school Spanish, I spent the next 7 years teaching high school Spanish. I definitely considered older students to be more in my "comfort" zone if that makes sense?? At my current school I do a bit of switching back and forth between grade levels and now that I am also mom to a 1st grader, I've really enjoyed getting to work with these younger language learners again. In my opinion, one of the cool things about teaching a second language is the ability to use similar ideas across grade levels especially in the beginning levels of language learning. Singing, movement, role playing, basic reading books in the target language, culture crafts, etc. could all fit with a 2nd grade class, as well as a 9th grade class!


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!

Teaching 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 do you teach countries and capitals?


Teaching Time with Spanish Interactive Notebooks

This past week we began studying time. We started out with a PowerPoint on time and students took notes in their interactive notebooks.

Then we got started on our time foldables for our interactive notebooks. It gets a bit messy, but they are pretty good about cleaning up without being reminded. I do desk checks before they can be dismissed because there are, of course, those students who just shove scraps of paper into their desks. :)

For this time unit, I created 2 different types of notebook foldables, a set for time vocabulary and then a set of flipable clocks where students drew on the hands and then added the times underneath. They can use all of these as study tools to prepare for the quiz.

 I was also super excited to use a new time task card set, but ran out of time, so that will wait for next week. Tonight though, as I was writing this blog post from my kitchen counter, I looked outside and saw a beautiful sunset...I just had to share! Happy Friday all! Enjoy the weekend! 


4 Ways to Use Memes in Spanish Class

Memes!!! Do you love them?? I can have a bit of a corny sense of humor, so these are right up my alley. I've been saving some that I have come across to this Pinterest board and I've started thinking of ways that I can incorporate them into my Spanish classes. I'm specifically choosing images that are clever yet simple enough for my beginning Spanish classes to actually "get".  As much as they may roll their eyes about some of these, deep down I know they love 'em. :)


Teaching Subject Pronouns and Ser with Interactive Notebooks

So this past week we dove more into our interactive notebooks by starting a review unit on Subject Pronouns and Ser. My 9th grade Spanish class has down some basics since they had Spanish once a week in Middle School, so they have a jump start on Spanish 1 already. I started the lesson with Sra Cruz's subject pronoun PowerPoint which I've used for years to introduce the topic. The students took notes on one page of their notebook as we went through the PowerPoint. You can see that they are already working on using color and highlighting in their notes in the photos below. 


2 Creative Activities for the First Days of Spanish Class

Whew...made it! Week one is over! As always, the first week of school is a bit hectic as the the year gets going. A positive (in most cases) aspect of teaching at a small school is that you pretty much know all of the students before they show up in your classroom. Many of these students are the same students I've had for the past 3 years, so we both know what to expect from each other. :) Here are 2 activities creative activities that we incorporated into our first week of Spanish class!
2 creative ideas to use the first few weeks of Spanish class

1. I was excited to have my students make ¿Quién soy yo? banners for the classroom. They enjoyed doing this and they added a nice touch to the bulletin board. Next time, I'll definitely have them write their answers to the prompts in a dark marker. This will definitely show up a lot better and make them easier to read from a distance.

You can grab this activity in my TpT store by clicking the photo below. :)

2. Next, I was really excited to have my students set up their "cuaderno interactivo". Ok, so this took a LONG time. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it did take awhile to explain the process and add the table of contents and grading rubric. We added the table of contents to the front cover and the grading rubric to the back cover. I plan to grade notebooks at the end of each quarter.

For their first notebook page, I had students brainstorm the topic "5 Reasons to Study Spanish". They then went home and created the page for their first homework assignment. I left the instructions open-ended and just told them to make a colorful graphic which included their 5 reasons. I was pretty pleased with what some of my interactive notebook newbie students came up with!

One student even listed her 5 reasons by drawing Grand Cayman and adding one reason to each of the 5 districts on the island. There's a little Cayman Islands geography lesson for your day. :)

Overall, a great first week!

How was your first week of school?


Preparing for Back to School in Spanish Class

The time has arrived! You know what I'm talking about! It's officially back to school time. This past week was spent organizing my classroom, attending all the fun meetings, and beginning to wrap my head around the school year. First on the check list was to un-hurricane proof my classroom. Yes, this is an island teacher problem. Every year when school ends in June everything must be wrapped or boxed and moved (as much a possible) towards interior walls. Luckily, we haven't had any first hand hurricane experience since living here, but we still prepare every year. 

Here's a before and after classroom collage!

The interesting thing about my school campus is that it was previously a small apartment complex. It has a pool, which is really cool, but it also has really small classrooms for some of the grades/subjects. I'm thinking my classroom was probably someone's living room at one time...lol! It is definitely small and can fit about 10 desks comfortably. Our maximum class size is 14! Yes, a shocker coming from the US for sure! For my classes that have more than 10 students, I just travel to their class to teach my Spanish lesson.


6 Ways to Use Task Cards in Spanish Class

Task cards?! Have you heard of them? Chances are, if you are a secondary teacher, you may not have (or maybe I was just living under a rock!). Task cards are just like the name suggests, a set of cards containing various questions or tasks for students to complete. They are extremely popular for elementary grade levels and seem to be increasing in popularity for secondary as well. 

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