Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Brain Breaks...in Spanish!

So I went to this conference a few years ago and was told that through-out the seminar/conference, we would be receiving ANOTHER seminar/lesson, but it was going to be delivered a bit different. I remember thinking What, Huh, Whatever...I paid my money. LOL 

So about a quarter of the way through the seminar when my butt kept going to sleep, my water was empty, and I noticed there was a change in the temperature of the room, I started to get, well...done. Yes, I was still interested in what he had to say, but I couldn't get my body comfortable...

Yes, oh yes, I felt like one of my students. I'm setting there switching from butt-cheek to butt-cheek trying to get comfortable, FORCING my mind to get tuned in and thinking how the heck do they (my students) do this ALL DAY LONG? 

You called it...I needed a brain break (or maybe a butt break)! About NO JOKE 5 minutes later...the dude just stops and says "You know what folks, I need a break." I was thinking so does my butt. 

He introduces this other "speaker" and I'm like "Hey, hey, hey I NEED A BREAK TOO!" (In my mind...I don't have the cajones to say that out loud!) 

So yeah, we're all polite and clap (and really thinking...OMG). Really I am thinking, "Go away. I need to stand, I need to re-adjust, I need to talk. I need to just...do something else." And...that is exactly what we did. 

He stands us up and makes us stretch and WHILE we're stretching HE TEACHES US...about what we are doing. He tells us that we could teach VOCABULARY everyday with brain breaks...we could teach tiny lessons...we could teach facts of life. Whatever our heart desires. and the state tests. Blah :/ 

I instantly thought of my reflexive unit where I teach the verbs: Wake up, Go to bed, Shower, Wash, Stretch, etc. This is brilliant. We could be pretending to do the action. 

He then tells us that he wants us to interact, but we MUST move from our space to the next ACTING like an animal. Oh my goodness! It was a blast! So...a genius idea came up to me...what if I had a little poster that had the names of popular Spanish animals and the kids could do this EXACT same thing...except yell out every animal sound with what they are doing. Example would be: Neigh....caballo....neigh....caballo....neigh OR mooo...vaca....mooo....vaca...I was loving it. 

We went to "visit" a new friend & he gave us a very strict talking assignment. Talk about how we liked the conference so far, and what needed improvement. I met a new friend named Wanda. She was so sweet. She game me a piece of candy from her purse. Reminded me of my nana a bit. But anyways, we talked about our experience at the conference. I didn't mention my butt but I did say I was getting a bit "tired" 

I noticed something while we were talking... There were little ladies & men walking around just wandering...Ah hah, they were from the conference. Cheaters. Trying to hear what we thought of the conference. Then it hit me...this could be ME. I could give the kids a SILLY and FUN talking assignment and do the same. This would be presented as a break but really it's continually giving formative assessment to my kids. And it doesn't have to be some serious assignment. It could be goofy: "Think of all the Spanish Item Vocabulary you know...what would you take on an island." Everything you name, you can take, if you can't think of it in Spanish, you can't take it" 

BRILLIANT! 

I ran back to my seat (as a chicken), got out my notebook, noticed my water glass had been refilled, wrote down my ideas real quick, and was re-inspired (and really freaking excited to take this back to my classroom)!  

Brain Breaks! 

So...here is a list of all Spanish Brain Breaks you can do in your classroom. 
Honestly, you could take a WHOLE Friday (maybe a day when there is a large field trip and attendance is low) and JUST DO BRAIN BREAKS! 

Okay, here's the list:

1. Dance to Commands. Play an instrumental song and make the kids dance to action commands. 

2. Dance to "Anywhere a Mouse Can Go". Once again, put on an instrumental song and have them do actions (dance moves) of the Spanish you are saying: Encima, al lado de, cerca, cerca, cerca, etc. 

3. Harry Potter Wand Command (Duck & Hide): This is a fun one I thought of & my kids LOVE IT! So the kids are all walking around (you must walk) and trying to HIDE from spells. So when I say "Vaya" if a kid can cast a command at another kid before he gets down behind a desk (or behind a cabinet), they must continually do that command for the remainder of the brain break. 
Come, Bebe, Habla, Grita, Escribe, Etc. 

4. Command Stretch. This is the example I gave up above about acting out the reflexive verb unit. 

5. Animal Sounds. This is the example I gave up above about acting like an animal. 

6. 4 seconds to answer & sit. So the students are all walking around. When I yell "Pregunta" (out of no where) the kids have to ask the person closest to them a question. If the one who didn't ask can't answer in 4 seconds, the "responder" has to sit. So basically, you want to always have a question ready. Oh, and I will tell the kids "Como te llamas" is OFF limits after the first couple rounds then De donde eres is off LIMITS, etc. If a partner asks a question off limits...they are out. It will come down to just a few standing. 

7. Complete the pattern. This is the same concept as above of just walking around but when I said "Continua" the kids will say a number pattern "veinte, veintidos, veinticuatro..." and then the other partner must complete. If they can't immediately, they are out. IF they can, they stay standing. 

8. How is the food. This goes along with our "estar" and descriptions of food. The kids walk around acting the way their food is. Example, if spicy...they may be waving their hands and have their tongue hanging out. When I say "estima" the kids have to guess how the food is "La hamburguesa esta picante" If they get it wrong, they have to sit. 

By the way: the games with elimination where the kids SIT when out, they became police. So if they see someone not doing something, or just trying to stay under the radar, they can police them, and have them sit! 

These are just a few we play. You can use these as actual class game OR you can use them as quick brain breaks. The possibilities are endless!!!


Hope you guys can get some great Brain Breaks (Butt Breaks) in this year!  

God Bless, 
Brittany B. 


Monday, June 12, 2017

Creating Culture...in a Seating Arrangement!

Let's all raise our hands if we have attempted 50 billion seating arrangements in our classroom? That's right...every hand should be up. I don't know about you all but for me, searching for the perfect seating arrangement is like searching for the secret formula for success in my classroom. Anybody else agree?! IF I just get them to sit like this, then this will be better, and that will improve, and this, and that. And...I'm tired. 

Sound familiar?

Anyways...I have been through the loop & back trying out different seating arrangements...I've done rows, I've done groups, I've done the horseshoe, I've done what's called the "butterfly"...you name it. 

But...there was ONE in particular that was definitely memorable and my favorite. That...was groups. Groups of 6. 

Now why did I change it if it was working? Well, at this time I had eliminated my desks and had little to no desks in the room. I decided to get rid of my 2nd hand furniture due to stuff breaking, fighting over the furniture, the littering in the couch seats, etc. I was done. BUT...I SHOULDN'T have been done with groups, COUNTRIES that is...they worked! 

So this year, I will be bringing back the countries, and I will be bringing back the groups. Honestly at 8 years of teaching Spanish...I am tired of being a walking dictionary. I feel like allowing the kids to be in groups makes me LESS of a walking dictionary. 

So I'm getting to the culture part...I promise...but before we do, let's take a look at the pros & cons of group seating: 

Pros: 
1. Teacher is LESS of a walking dictionary. "ASK YOUR GROUP" goes a long way. 
2. They get to teach each other. Isn't teaching something truly learning it the best? 
3. They are less likely to get bored. 
4. The desks are actually easier to maintain because they are all squished up against each other. 
5. Relationships are built and cliques are separated. 
6. They are more likely to TRULY speak Spanish & interact. 

Cons: 
1. Cheating, cheating, cheating. 
Solution: Folder tents during assessments. 

2. Maybe too much talking? 
Solution: Be strict when direct-teaching & monitor work progression while they are completing assignments. 

3. Drama? Well, mine are high schoolers and like adding weight around Christmas....IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN! LOL 


Once I added the pros & cons, I realized that groups will do me so much better. Sooo...I'm not just stopping at groups. I'm building on it. I'm making them be apart of COUNTRIES...SPANISH SPEAKING COUNTRIES. 

They will compete with one another, help each other, earn rewards, get to dress in their country colors on certain days, get to research places within their culture, and embrace their "country" 

So on the first day of school, they will see the image below on the projector & find their name: 



Every person will be apart of a country & will sit where their number is. 

This is what the tag looks like: 


With these little tags alone, they are learning the flag, country, nationality term, and "soy" (which we know they will ask the first day). 



I do plan on switching up countries 1/2 way through the trimester so they'll get to learn more about another Spanish speaking country, but I am so excited to re-introduce this. 



PLUS, when you play games...the kids are already in groups! We also did a thing were we would have "embassy" workers that were allowed to represent their countries while VISITING other countries. This is where the numbers come in on the desk tags. 



I will laminate the tags & keep two sets, just in case some little booger tries to steal the desk tag, I can easily replace it. 

Feel free to steal my idea. If you would like to purchase my desks tags, the product is below: 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spanish-Country-Desk-Flag-Tags-3187622

Feel free to create your own that represent your own favorite Spanish speaking countries. 

Hasta luego mis amigos! 

Brittany B. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

To Give AP Summer Homework or not...that is the question!

So I had the pleasure of attending AP training when I began teaching AP Spanish 6 years ago. I absolutely loved getting to talk to other language teachers, and see how they ran their classrooms.

One very common practice was...AP Summer Homework. I remember saying, "Wait...we need to give AP Summer Homework?" I remember every head turning to look at me in awe; as if...did this chick just say that?

One really sweet gentleman spoke up and said, "This test is incredibly hard. We need to make sure our students continue learning and don't lose any grammar, vocabulary, idiomatic phrases, and more. Summer homework really pushes the kids to keep going."

So...after the training I went home and started preparing my first AP summer homework packet..hmm...

Ok, honestly....the very first year that I prepared the AP summer homework packet, it was awful. Horrible. Pointless.

To be honest, I really didn't understand what the students should be doing in the summer. I didn't understand the three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational.

But...

Four years later, I finally figured out summer homework that actually increased my students ability to be conversational speakers and to grow their skills.

I learned how to give assignments that reflected listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

When I prepared this final homework bundle, I handed it out to my students and waited for their reaction. Believe it or not...I was shocked. They were actually kind of "excited" to start on the homework.

So this is my secret: if you want your students to be enthusiastic and open minded about summer homework, you must make all the tasks "doable"

There is a very fine line of being challenged and being overly challenge to where you feel defeated.

In the past, it took it too far. I was assigning actual AP work but yet my kids hadn't had a day of the AP Spanish class. They didn't know the trick, the patterns, or even a grasp on the various grammatical concepts.

I can finally say that I have summer homework that I am extremely proud of, and can see SUCCESS for the past couple years.

It took a lot of research and work to prepare, but I can tell when my students return their skills are still intact.

They still remember the conditional, future, present, etc. They still know the difference between imperfect & preterite. Their listening skills are strong, and basic conversation has not been lost.

So my final thoughts are... don't be scared to assign summer homework. Start small and build on a full bundle that you are proud of.

Think...will my assignments help my kids conquer AP or are the kids doing busy work? My first few years it was pure busy work, and on top of that, it was freaking hard busy work.

Here are some basic benefits of assigning summer homework:
1. Continuation of practicing skills
2. Sets the tone that the class is rigorous.
3. Can weed out kids that don't want to take it seriously.
4. Forces the kids to make Spanish apart of their life.
5. On the road to fluency.

I have included a link to my Summer Homework for AP Spanish below if you would like to just buy mine:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/AP-Spanish-Summer-Homework-3177110


Let me know if you all have any questions about summer homework. I'm glad to answer as well as engage in any conversation about AP Summer Homework.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ser Basket Game



Hey Guys, 

Check out my video below that describes a really fun way to practice verb conjugations! This is a student favorite & you'll hear why in the video. 

I use this game with all levels, and it can be used with ANY verb. It actually could be used with subject pronouns, and even question words.  I was actually observed (walk-through) while playing this game & my principal couldn't say enough awesome things about engagement, whole student-learning, accountability, & some other $10 words. He even brought it up at a staff meeting which made me turn lobster red (but it was all good). :) lol 

I am going to put the link down below of the game that you all can purchase if you would like to avoid the creation process. It comes with everything you need to know to play plus all the cards that can be edited for any & all verbs. 



You could create this game yourself using flash cards if you wanted. This document could also be used with other languages besides Spanish, possibility even other subjects. 




If you have any questions about the game, feel free to message me through "Senora BB Spanish" on Facebook, email me at brittanybaxter777@gmail.com, or leave a comment right here. 

God Bless to You Guys & Happy Teaching!

Britt B. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Guilty Confession as a Teacher

So while I have been home on maternity, I am not going to lie and say I haven't thought about my job. 

As a matter of fact, it's actually gave me some pretty good "Pinteresting Time" 

When you have a baby that's not content...unless  he is held, & your 3-year old wants to snuggle on you, let's just say...I've gotten some good "recliner cuddle time" & done a little pinteresting on my phone while they sleep & watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse all.day.long!!! 


Back to my confession...so I have ALWAYS been jealous of elementary teachers because of the "details"...Their fun activities, their AWESOME classrooms, their limited number of students, but the one thing I am jealous of is the "diversity" and "variety" in one school day! 

They have "around" 25 kiddos and with those kids...they do math, art, music, science, reading, etc. (sigh) 

I wish as a (high school) teacher sometimes I could "branch" out & yes, do some of the awesome activities that elementary kids get to do while relating to my own subject area. 

I was actually having this conversation with a friend/colleague. We discussed what would our kids do if we treated them like elementary kids with respect to the diversity & activities? 

We came to one conclusion...they would probably LOVE it! 

I don't get it...in elementary school...the engagement is high, it's hands on, it's so diversified! 

Then you get to high school and it is desks in rows, note-taking and tests. Where did the fun go? 
Where did the excitement for learning? Did anybody else LOVE elementary school? I know I did, and I rocked it! 

I was the best alphabet finger painter around! I know elementary education is WAY more than this, just a little fun pun :) 

But back to topic: so if you're reading this blog post...you are "probably" a world language teacher and if not, you're awesome for checking it out. (You're awesome no matter what you teach or don't teach, by the way)! 

Think about it...world language teachers, if we were to take our language content level into consideration...we are "kind of" teaching elementary school, right? So shouldn't we be able to do some of the awesome, diversified activities that elementary does? 

(Sigh again)...So here is my dream, you ready............... 

I wish that everyday when students entered my classroom, they had variety at their fingertips in 70 minutes. 

I want my classroom to represent "different" areas of learning: listening practice, speaking practice, culture, grammar & mechanics, writing fun, and reading experiences, etc. 

I want them to have a known routine so when they enter, they dive in quickly in 70 minutes. 

I want them to have every minute used for authentic & meaningful hands-on activities. 

I want to teach using props, using conversations, using each other! 

I want color, I want pictures, I want technology, I want resources! 

I want laughter, I want silliness, I want time to pass quickly, not because I'm bored or they are, but because we are involved, engaged, and having fun & lost track of time! 

Anybody else getting excited reading this?! No, just me?! LOL 

Anyways, why can't we make small changes to add this type of learning into our HIGH SCHOOL classes?! 

We can have this TOO! Is it harder for us? Ab-so-freaking-lutely! 

Does it involve switching up the whole "high-school traditional style learning"? Yep, and it's a step-by-step process. It can't be done in a day, week, or even a whole school-year. 

But we can make steps to bring back that engagement & that "love" of learning! 

One thing that gets me inspired is sometimes to "look" at elementary classroom pictures, their activities, and their schedule of how they do things! I instantly try to "convert" it into something that would work for my own classroom. 

Let me clarify one thing: I DO NOT want to be an elementary school teacher. I know it sounds like it...but no, I promise! I love my high-schoolers and my content! It's just...I want that "spirit"!!! 

Below you will find some of my inspiration & ideas. Check out pics of these lovely classrooms that "represent" diversified areas of learning & some activities that can be converted to high school. 


Task Drawers Using Hands-On Props

You could have directions/tasks in target language that challenges students to follow directions using the items?



Adjective Door 

This could be used to have all kinds of target language adjectives. Think of all the possibilities/tasks you could do with this door/area alone?!?! Also, the students could be the ones who make it...that is a great station activity! 


Brain Break Cards 
I can think of so many possibilities...Spanglish task cards, finish early tasks, whole class Spanish language brain breaks, vocabulary run-though brain breaks, ahhh, the possibilities are out there people!!! 



Today's Word or Phrase
Instead of today's "number"...it could be today's word or phrase. Use it with a friend, build a conversation, create a scene in writing or act out (and video record)...so many cool activities! This could be one of "many" variety options for a bell-ringers or station activities. 



Telling Time - Target Language Phrases

You could TOTALLY take this activity and just convert it to target language "Son las dos y veinte"(that means 2:20 in Spanish) & match with the egg-clock! Awesome hands-on activity! 



Writing Idea...

Think of all the "scenarios" you could do with writing practice. "Everyday I....(create sentences)"..."On the weekends I...(Create sentences), so many neat things to write about. 



Read & Sort
Read and sort...you could do the different tenses "Present, Past, Future, etc." or lower level ideas: Sports, Family Members, Verbs. The students could write the English & Spanish on a writing sheet & put into a sentence. 



Okay, now that you have seen some cool activities...check out these classrooms to die for:










Hope you all enjoyed today's "Guilty Confession" & maybe got the brain stirring a bit :) 

God Bless & I'll be back soon! 
Britt B. 








Sunday, January 22, 2017

Switching Up My Spanish 2 Review Packet

Hi guys! Long time, no talk! A lot has happened in the Baxter world over the past few months. Let's me show you through a little picture...



My precious Ben entered the world on December 8th and let's just say...my time has been limited. I love it when people say "You'll be home on maternity & babies just sleep, eat, & poop so therefore...you'll have lots of free time." NOT when you decide to keep your 3 year old home with you & the baby at the same time. AND when you have a baby that wants to be Held.All.The.Time! 

Anyways, back to what you're interested in...so I'll be going back to work here in a couple weeks & we'll start our last & final trimester! Wooh, summer is around the corner! I need this more than ever! 

Anyways, again, (shew, have you noticed I haven't had any ADULT talk in a while) Focus Brittany!!! With a new trimester is the usual review packet over the past Spanish class. I give a review packet for EVERY new Spanish class because we are on weird trimesters and our students may or may not get consecutive Spanish classes...meaning they may go 3 or more months without a Spanish class. They forget....everything! Unfortunately, we do have to spend a decent amount of time reviewing previous concepts because well, you can't teach stem changer conjugation if the students haven't mastered conjugated in general. 

So, I always give a review packet...and it's a hefty hefty one. When the students see if they go through mixed emotions. Excited they are reviewing & not jumping straight in, scared when they see how big it is, but relieved when I tell them they will receive a few days to go over it. 

This trimester instead of just handing out the packet & letting them work on it over the next few days...I am going to do something a bit different. Higher engagement, higher enthusiasm, and raising higher confidence levels in the language. 

Normally I would tell my kiddos when doing the packet if you don't know a section, just skip it, do what you know, and then we will go over the answers. Yeah, I had kids bringing me their packets saying "This is all I know." (and the two who sections they worked on). Yes, we all have those kiddos. 

Okay, so the new way: I love stations. Love, love love them! I actually have my room set up in 6 tables of 6 people. I don't always have 36 kids...usually around 28 but this works for me. So, my room is ready. Also, I think getting to get up & move around does wonders. 

So I decided to take this packet & divide it up into 6 sections but provide "Helpful Documents & Resources" that basically gives "hints" to helping figure out the content. Now, the kids won't be like "this is it" 

But, I don't just want to THROW the resources out on the table & say okay in 20 minutes we'll switch so here is my plan: 

1. You arrive at your station & you ONLY work on the sections assigned to the table. You will receive 10 to 15 minutes (can change once I see how they are doing) to figure out as much as you can. 
2. After this time period, you can grab the "Helping Resources" & add any missed information. You will receive an additional time limit to this activity. 
3. Then, if you haven't figured it out by then, you will take the highlighter & highlight the sections you don't know. 
4. Move onto the next station, do THOSE assigned sections & repeat. 
5. At the very end, I am going to provide a "Get What You Need" period. This is ONLY going to last 10 minutes because I don't want this to become social time. So it's highly monitored & time limited. 

Lastly, I will give a grade for completion of the packet. This whole station activity will last over the course of a few days. I don't expect to get this done in one class period. 

Here's why I wanted to add this activity: 
1. Higher accountability - no dilly dallying around 
2. Prevent Boredom - working on an 18 page packet will bring this on
3. Higher Engagement - the switching, working with resources, and group shakes it up 
4. Higher Levels of Confidence - if the students can just see a little hint, it may help them figure it out without leaving everything blank & not caring 
5. It's just more fun - for me...hopefully for them too :) 

So there you have it. My "New Way" of doing the Spanish 2 Packet. 

I want to clarify that I have TWO Spanish 2 review packets...one for coming INTO Spanish 2 & one for mid-year/2nd semester/after Christmas. This one I made the "Helper Resources" is for the mid-year/2nd semester/after Christmas. 

Overall, if you have a huge packet or large load of work, simply take a marker & try dividing it up. This is a great universal accommodation for all students. 

If you would like to purchase my Spanish 2 (2nd semester) Review Packet, here is the link below. It comes with the packet AND a ppt that has all the answers divided up in sections: 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/2nd-Semester-Spanish-2-Review-Packet-PPT-2970264

If you would like to purchase the "Helpful Resources" the link is below: 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Helpful-Student-Resources-for-End-of-Spanish-2-Review-Packet-2974686

If you are interested in the "Entering Spanish 2" review packet, here is the link below (it does not include the ppt within the product): 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Total-Review-for-Spanish-2-2024060

If you are interested in the "Entering Spanish 2 PPT" for the review packet, here is the link below: 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Total-Review-for-Spanish-2-PowerPoint-2024103


If you all have any questions about any of the products/documents, feel free to email me at brittanybaxter777@gmail.com 

Thanks & God Bless! 
Britt B. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

My New FAVORITE Game...Double Down Dice Game

Fellow Readers...I am LOVING this new game I created over the break! As you all know if you have been following me for a while, I am DEFINITELY not a worksheet teacher. Yuck! I love teaching OUTSIDE the box! :) I was browsing FaceBook and came across this "Oven Mitt Christmas Present Unwrap Game" Check out this fun (and hilarious) game on YouTube. We WILL be playing this at my family Christmas this year (the Oven Mitt one, not the foreign language one) haha! 




Anyways...back to how this game can benefit you guys...I saw this game & modified it for the classroom. I decided to call it the "Double Down Dice Game" because the game centers around "Rolling Doubles" (If you are running short on dice, you can tell them they have to roll a 6). 

It's so easy to get going because it literally only involves the game sheet (one per group), dice, and a pencil. After you play the game "ONCE" with your kiddos, they'll remember it forever...and want to play it all the time as well. :) Another wonderful thing I love is that you can easily monitor your kiddos and see who can do the task and who can't. No grading, no charting, no data (unless you want to maybe mark notes on your clipboard of who needs extra help or...) just watch them play the game! Also, nobody is "left out" everyone must play & participate! 

Side Note: If you have your kiddos already in groups, this would be a great "practice activity" after teaching a new verb, concept, vocabulary, etc. 







Also, this is the perfect activity if you have a sub or really want the classroom to be "Student-Led" that day! 

(Confession: I have been working on creating MORE student-led activities that I can facilitate but not have to run!) 

Anyways, this game can be played with any "listing concepts" For my Spanish class, we played this with creating conjugated verbs. We first practiced in the Present, and then moved to the Preterite. I plan on using this for practicing category vocabulary such as jobs, places, people, etc. 

I am definitely going to use this for my "Creating Questions" unit in Spanish 2A. 
video


To really push reflection & correction, after the kids played the game...I made them tell the ENGLISH of what they created but it had to be the other team's answers. It was kind of funny when they went back and saw some of the conjugations were totally off and one student randomly put "perro & libro" (yeah, that's NOT a verb)! 

So in all: Be ready for some loudness, intensity, but overall fun. Also, it makes the class pass by really quick...win! And to be honest...I kind of wanted to sit down & play with the kiddos myself :/ LOL 



video


If you would like to purchase my game sheet along with student-friendly instructions, see below: 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Double-Down-Dice-Game-Engaging-Competitive-Activity-for-Any-Subject-2899651