Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Ser Verb Rap

So I love MUSIC! I love TEACHING with MUSIC even more. In my 8 years of teaching Spanish, I have created a TON of songs that help kiddos remember their Spanish. I hate to admit it: they forget the grammar, they forget the vocab, but they don't forget the songs. 

Recently I just had a girl visit from college, she's a sophomore now, and she busted into my classroom singing "Yo Soy...I am, Tu eres...You are" I saw her, screamed from excitement, and hugged her. 

She told me that she was minoring in Spanish and thanks to Mrs. B's crazy songs...she definitely felt a lot of it STUCK. 

It was "music" to my ears!! 

So since this song is SUCH a hit...I thought I would share a little video of one of my former classes singing the lovely Ser Song! They are adorable by the way! 

I also like to include a little fill in the blank after we sing it to see just how FAST they can remember it! The kids will get so proud when they flip the paper over and fill in every blank their first time with no peeking. Heck, it's a proud moment! 

So here it is....the famous & simple Ser Song:

I have included a link below if you would like to purchase the Ser lyrics with the actions & fill in the blank. If not, feel free to just copy the words! 

Ser Ver Rap with Fill in the Blanks

God Bless! 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Can I look at your grade book?!?

OK, so let's talk about an issue that can actually be really sensitive to each teacher. 

Meaning IF someone were to tell you to do this a certain way...the issue could be quite sensitive! 

That issue to set up your grade book. 

So I have been asked by several readers what does my gradebook look like. Along with the requests, I have also been given the opportunity this year to work with some of our new teachers and help them in deciding how to set up their grade book. 

Before I share what my personal gradebook looks like...I would like to share some rules. 

Woah, rules for a grade book? 

Let's just say I had to learn the hard way 8 years ago when it comes to grade books. 

Rule # 1: It must be personal. 

Okay, you're probably thinking whattttt??? 

So I can't tell you how many teacher friends have shared their "grade book preferences" and I have absolutely adored what they are doing in their classroom with their grades. 

They make it sound so easy and so awesome that I literally wanted to run back to my classroom and change everything I was doing. Here's the problem may not work for YOU! It has to be personal! 

What they are doing in their classrooms every single day may not translate to what you are doing every single day therefore it does not translate in the grade book. 

So before setting up your gradebook (or giving your gradebook and makeover) you have to ask yourself some pretty hard-core questions, and this means knowing what your class looks like from day to day...

#1: what do I want my students to do everyday? 

#2 What will be our routine? 

#3 How much grading can I do without killing myself?

(There are plenty of ways to grade WITHOUT checking every answer) 

#4 How much do I want my students to do to acquire a grade?

#5 How will the grades help my students to learn more?

#6 How will I assess my students?

#7 Have much emphasis am I putting on participation? Is my classroom even NEED a participation grade? 

#8 Off the top of my head, name some assignments that will be graded? Are the assignments worthy of different categories? 

So after you have answered these questions, this will really give you a clear picture of how your grade book should look like.

The second rule I want to share is something that I had to learn along the way. 

Believe it or not, I was one of those people that wanted to over complicate the system way too much so my second rule is simply DON'T over complicate things.

Thank God to my KTIP teacher who corrected me in this manner! Shout out to Ms. Laura Prather from Scott Co. HS! You were a blessing! 

I have seen some grade books where they literally have up to 10 categories. 

I don't understand how the teacher can manage the gradebook nor can the student interpret their grades. 

Think of what you want your kids to do and what those categories are called and stick with the basics. 

So now that I have shared the 2 very important rules that I think are super vital to grade book success, here is  my own grade book set up: 

-Whole classroom activities 
-Test and quizzes 
-Final Exam (includes only 1 grade) 

Side Note: it's our district policy that every class much give a final exam and it's 20% of the students final class grade. So therefore, we have to create a separate category for it. 

Now, let me give you a little sneak peek into my classroom of WHY I have my gradebook set up this way. 

First things first: I do not weight my grades. I used to but I decided that I wanted to even out the playing field for all students so this would mean letting everything count by a point system and not a weight system. 

I was done with making ONE category mean more than another. 

For instance, I had some kids that would absolutely never do their work but yet they would always do really well on the test and exams. This would do enough to get them a B in the class and they were satisfied with this...but I was not. 

Or I have the opposite where kids would do really well at turning in all their work, and work really hard but yet they would bomb the tests and quizzes. 

I just didn't feel like this was fair. 

The ONLY reason I even separate the categories (or have categories) is so when my students are reading their gradebook it breaks down a percentage of each area. 

This way I can help the student see what is their weak area and what is their strong area.

I can also specify direct problems in the class such as participation or not wanting to be involved in whole class activities or never turning in classwork. They know where to improve exactly. 

It's also nice and organized! :) 

So let's get to details: 

Class work and homework are bunched together. Class work and homework include everything that the students are having to do independently and a lot of this does include writing and reading activities. I don't give a ton of worksheets but this is where they would go. This is also mini projects, simple writings, and any quad d Products. 

The whole goal of my class work  category is that students are constantly practicing the language so that they can get better at the topics. They are solely accountable for their classwork. It's the same equivalent to practicing a sport every day. 

I want the concepts to become easier where my students are pros! When asking someone what activities they do, they don't have to think about their conjugation, they just spit it off. This is the point of my classwork grade: independent practice. 

Side Note: I do not give homework. Check out this link to hear the only homework I give: 

The next category I have is whole class activities.

 In my class we are always working and interacting together to get better at the language. I think it's important that when learning a language students have plenty opportunities to do communicative activities daily.  

What better way than to use your peers in the class in a real life  setting? 

Almost every single day we have a whole class activity where the students are accountable to each other to learn the language and to get better. 

Not only do I think that this is important to the kids in high school, but I strongly believe that this will help them in life and it will help them to be more of a sociable person who can interact with others. 

So how do I grade this whole class activities? 

I am always the facilitator of these whole class activities plus I am always monitoring even when I am playing with the kids. Yes, I play too! 

If I feel like a student has not given their full effort, if they have not done the prep work for the activity, or they are goofing off and really don't even care then by golly I am going to lower their whole-class activity grade. 

(I will show you how I grade this in live action when we return to school). 

Also, in many of these whole class activities the result is an end-product: Skits, art work, conversations, ending of a game where we have winners, or getting the answer to a mystery question.  

So if an end-product is missing from a student, I know they didn't do their work. 

The next category I have is super important to me. I have been doing this for eight years and don't plan to stop any time soon! 

This is the participation grade and I honestly believe it is a huge part of my classroom management style. 

In learning a language you must participate in order to learn the language and practice. 

If the students do not do this, this is where they are going to see it affect their grade. 

If the students are on their phone, goofing off, not trying, talking when they're not supposed to, or just blatantly not doing what they should be doing...this is where they will lose participation. Because face it: they're NOT participating! 

I give this grade daily. 95% of my students do great with this grade. 

The next category is quizzes and tests. Unlike the classwork grade where they don't have to have every answer correct, this is where I'm checking for the "right" answers. It holds them accountable to listen, get the notes, and STUDY (which I believe high schoolers struggle with) but yes, this is important to the students and myself. 

It's a way to look at my teaching and to see if I'm doing everything I should be. 

The last category is Final Exam. As I said, this is mandatory for every teacher, and it's worth 20%. 

I am totally indifferent about this category to be honest. 

Alright guys, there it is! 

If you would like me to include anymore details or go into depth on anything, give me a shout on here in the comments or message me on my Facebook Page
"Señora BB Spanish" 

God Bless!
Brittany B!

Note: pics to come later! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Crazy Spoons Game

So guys...if you have followed me for any amount of time on my blog or on my facebook can probably tell...I love me some GAMES!!!!!

I am all about high engagement and students learning Spanish without "realizing" they are learning Spanish. 

I am not going to kiddos love my class. They talk about how it goes fast, they feel confident in what they learn, and its the "least" dreadful of school. As much as I wish I could say it's just me as a teacher (shoulder dusting at the moment)...I don't this it is. It's because my kids have a ball in here. I am ALL about games & competing BUT learning Spanish at the same time! 

My units are chunked full of games and they aren't just your good ol' educational game but actual game the kids play in real life but just modified with Spanish. 

So, has anyone heard of the Spoons Game? Whew! It's a fun one...highly energetic, active, and super competitive. 

Here is a little clip of the ACTUAL spoons game being played (not the Spanish class kind): 

Well, I brought the Spoons game into Spanish class and it was SOOOOO easy! 

So let's review the Spoons Game Basics: 

1. You need at least 4 to 6 people to play to make it fun. 
2. The whole goal is that you're going after a spoon & there will ALWAYS be one less spoon than people sitting at the table. Womp Womp...someone ain't getting a spoon! 
3. You are trying to get a matching set of cards that allows you to be the first to grab the spoon. 

Now in regular playing cards, you're going after 4 of a kind (3 of hearts or Ace of Spades, whatever) BUT in're going after 5 of a whole conjugation of a verb. 

So if you want to be the first to grab a spoon, you're deck must look like this: 

Notice the kid above is holding "Escribo, Escribes, Escribe, Escribimos, and Escriben" 

(He didnt' have them "in order" but who cares...) 

This is the precious match that allows you to grab that first spoon which spins everyone else in a whirlwind grabbing a spoon. 

It's not over though: 

The kid that was the first to grab the spoon MUST lay down his cards and show his conjugations AND (here is where it gets interesting)...he must tell the English of EVERY card....yep, that's right. 

If he/she can't, they have to take their precious spoon and hand it over to the person who DIDN'T get a spoon!

Know those verb conjugations kiddos! 

So how do I play this in my class. Well, lots of ways. 

If I see a whole table is finished and we have 10 minutes left. I'll say "Go grab a spoons baggie" 

Or...some days (such as a Friday after a quiz) we'll dedicate the rest of class to Spoons Game Class Wide. 

I have 4 different games: Present Tense Regular, Present Tense Irregulars, Preterite Tense, and Preterite Tense Irregulars. 

If I am dedicating the whole rest of the class, I will divide the class into stations: Present over here, Present Irregulars over here, etc. 

They'll play for about 10 minutes and then switch to a new deck allowing them to focus on a TON of conjugations. 

What if I want to assess my kids after we play to make sure they know it?

Great question! 

With every game I have produced, I have created a written translation practice. See below for a little peek: 

My kiddos always complete this after playing their game. If we are in stations, they will complete before moving on. I have also given them these written translations the following day as well for a bell ringer or exit slip. 

No matter how you plan the Spoons Game in your lesson, it will always be highly effective and yes, they will KEEP asking to play! 

Let me know if you have any questions & God Bless, 

Brittany B. 

See below for my products of the Spoons Game if interested. Every game comes with directions, playing cards, verbs list, and post-written activities of verbs used in game. 

Thanks again & God Bless!!! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Social Media Accounts

Hey guys!

I have been using my social media accounts a ton here lately posting little teaching tid-bits and an idea here and there.

Make sure to not miss anything :)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ditch the Boring First Day...Shake It Up a Bit!

 So, I’ll just be honest…as a student, I hated the first day of school. Especially in high school. I could predict what the day would be like, and I honestly dreaded it to no end. Visit every class, barely meet your new teacher, and then get a syllabus to go over. Same.thing.every.year. It was in my mind…pointless. I thought to myself, “Tell me your name, give me the syllabus, don’t insult my intelligence by reading it to me, and let’s move on.”

I understand that you want to “set these standards” but is there any other way we can do it?

I vowed to myself that when I became a teacher that my first day for my students would rock. I wanted my class to be their favorite (or at leas their least dreaded). I wanted that when students went home & told about their day…that maybe, just maybe, there was a little excitement for the next day in Spanish class. I knew that by "liking the class, the language had a chance" 

So today I want to share some secrets that set my class apart from other typical classes on the FIRST DAY! 

SIDE NOTE: Many of these activities CAN BE adjusted FOR ANY subject & any level. You just have to customize the task to your own subject & teaching! 

1.      1. Music…when they walk in, they might just walk in moving their hips.
For some classes, I will show a music video that compliments a Spanish song and displays culture. The kids can tell from the music and video that the energy will be high, and the class is going to be very different. 

2. Make them an honorary Latino for the rest of the year. I don't put my kids in alphabetical seating and I don't do rows. Instead, they are placed in a Spanish speaking country group where they will be competing against OTHER countries. They win prizes, homework exemptions, and even food. I love hearing the kids say on the first day, "What are you? What country are you in?" Plus, if they didn't know any countries that spoke Spanish, they learned six on the first day. 

Note: what's even awesome is when OTHER teachers ask you about this "country thing" because they overhear kids in their classes ask what country other students are in. 

I use little seat flag tags on the desk that group the countries together. The kids on the first day get exposure to the flag, the country name, the word "soy", and the nationalities all IN SPANISH. 

Little tip: I stand at my classroom door and tell every student that enters which country they are in. I have always done this idea because it allows me to talk to every individual student on the first day. I can smile and introduce myself. Plus, making that first impression has always played in my favor. 

3. Close the door & give a quick intro. This is one of my favorite parts because this will be the FIRST time ever they get full exposure to the Spanish language. Before I even do attendance, I give a quick little three minute intro of my class (and myself), but I use half Spanish and half English. I only speak Spanish that is complete cognates and I speak very clearly & slow. I love it because the kids will respond "I think I totally understood what you said" or "I followed you the whole time." I try to be very warm and embracing during this little intro. I am amazed at what personalities I will see come out within the first five minutes of the class. 

4. Spanish word attendance. This activity is soooo much fun & can be played anytime, but you AND YOUR STUDENTS will love it on the first day. Basically, you're going to call out your students names for attendance. You'll teach them to say "hi, here" (In Spanish: hola, aquí) but then they must say ONE Spanish Word that they know (or whatever language you teach). It can be a food, animal, country, etc. It's so much fun to hear the kids spill out a Mexican restaurant menu. I promise there will be laughs by the end of attendance, and look at how much Spanish you're already exposing to the kids. 

5. Time to show the "About the Class & About the Teacher PPT" This is where you'll settle some Spanish nerves and give a great snapshot of your class. This PPT answers any dire questions, but more than anything: it shows the kids WHY, JUST WHY learning a language is so important. I even make a slide of jobs they can obtain with being bilingual. Hey, money talks! 

The 2nd half of the PPT is an About Me section. This is where I am going to be vulnerable and connect with my kids. I am going to tell them about my childhood, where I went to school, why I became a teacher, etc. This is where the students will connect. This is where they will understand why you are doing what you're doing. 

6. After the PPT, time to go over the Syllabus....but...

with memes! That's right. It's time to explain the expectations of your class but for each section, the students will see funny memes. This makes the most boring part of the class a little less painless, and who doesn't love a good Will Farrell meme. 

7. One more PPT (and it's a biggie)...Class Procedures. Okay, I'm going to vent/nag/whatever...I hear and talk to so many teachers who complain a few weeks into school about how their classes have gotten chaotic & they have lost control. My first question: did you teach class procedures? They'll often say, "Yeah, we went over the rules." Noooo...did you go over class PROCEDURES? There is a huge difference. No cursing in class is a rule. Telling the kids how you want them to turn in their HW, what to do after completing class work, and what to do the last 5 minutes of class...are Procedures. You MUST teach them if you want structure. I always show this PPT! I will tell the kids I love to have a good time (if we're learning) BUT if I think we're sacrificing learning FOR a good time, you will see a different person. 

Side note: Teaching the Procedures is important, but following through is probably even more important. Basically: Don't get soft. Stick to your procedure game plan. 

If time: Group Introduction...I will teach the kids how to say "My name is...I am from...I like..." and have them share with their group. We often don't get to this, but I always keep it in my back-pocket. 

That's it, folks. That is my first day. It looks a little different from the traditional first day but honestly, it excites me as a teacher so I know it must be exciting to be setting in a student desk! 

If you would like to purchase of any of the products I use on the first day, see below. All products are editable and can be customized for your own class: 

 Seat Flag Tags for Country Groups:

All About the Class & Teacher PPT:

Syllabus & Class Behavior Contract:

Syllabus Memes PPT:

Class Procedures PPT:

Thanks, God Bless, and Happy Teaching! 
Brittany B. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Brain 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 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" 


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! 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 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" 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: 

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. 

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:

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

Hasta luego mis amigos! 

Brittany B.