Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Notes Book & Chunk Teaching

So this year I am teaching a new way and I have to say, I LIKE IT SOOOO MUCH! The kids are learning faster, they are remembering past material taught, and they are so engaged! I call it "Chunk Teaching" 

So with a language we move from concept to concept...teaching brand new grammar, vocabulary, and conversation...hoping to God that little Johnny didn't forget the past concept I taught him. :/ You know it's true?! I'll be honest I always feel like I'm a good judge of character for my students because I get bored easy just like a bunch of viewpoint is "If I'm bored teaching it...they HAVE to be bored learning it." Sooooo, I switched things up a bit this year. 

First thing you'll need to do is tell every student that they need to construct a little book from blank sheets of paper...I told my kids take 6 sheets of paper, make a booklet, decorate the front ANYWAY you like, and staple it so it will hold together.

So this book? Yeah, IT'S THEIR NOTES! Do you know how easy it is to get them to take notes now? I just say "Sacan los libros" and bam...easy peazy. Something about taking notes on a blank sheet of paper must be a dramatic experience for kids but when they are filling up these books day by day, they are addicted. They can easily look down, flip the page, and see how much Spanish they already know (and need to know). 

The reason I did this....I'm going on maternity leave in the fall (late October to be exact) and I really really needed some way that I knew my kids would have the material at their hands. Also, I can I get through the material a LITTLE quicker than last year...I don't want to leave and the kids have three months of Spanish left with a month to go...ahh, nightmare! 

So here's how "Chunk Teaching" works....I am also a Psychology major as well as Spanish...I know, very diversified but science proves our brain works better and "learns" better and retains the information longer if we learn concepts in "chunks" We can learn multiple concepts but like info must be in chunks "small pieces" so...I figured why not try this in my class?

The first concepts we teach in Spanish 1 are: Alphabet, Spanish Speaking Countries, and Basic Greetings. I usually try to throw a cognate lesson in there as well. So instead of spending two WHOLE classes learning the alphabet and then wondering if they got it....I said "let's open our new fresh books" and title the first page "The alphabet" (but in Spanish). I then taught them 5 to 6 letters (THAT'S IT).....We did pronunciation, we talked about how well they related to English, blah blah blah. Then, I said okay we're going to talk about Spanish Speaking Countries now...start a new page and call it "Spanish Speaking Countries" and then we only did like 5 or 6 with the capitals, talked about each one and done.

Then, last concept....we did greetings...I always teach them "Me llamo (my name is)", Soy de (I am from), and "Como estas" (accents included but keyboard won't do it right at this moment)...this way I can quiz them the next day at the door with telling me THESE 3 things about themselves. 

There are alot of activities to do to practice like presenting each other, presenting yourself, going around the room and filling up a hand (5 peers) by telling them these three things, etc. 

The next's like magic! They actually REMEMBER!!!! You're not OVERLOADING THEM! They can remember like concepts...they can remember chunk information and retain it longer. 

I do this EVERY class...we are on the 11th day of school and my kids CAN: say their alphabet (in Spanish), list and name some Spanish speaking countries with their capitals, know ALL their basic greetings (hello, how are you, i'm good, thanks, where are you from, what's your name, my name is, etc). Also my kids can conjugate in the YO form and the Tu form...they know 15 infinitives, they know adjective placement (putting the adjective AFTER the noun), definite articles, etc. If you don't believe me....take a look at our quiz which was done on the NINTH...yes I said that right....NINTH day of school! 

Chunk teaching....amazing! 

Here is evidence of EXCELLENCE from my freshmen Spanish 1 class: 

Here is the back of the test so you can see what all they did in NINE days of school!!! LOVE CHUNK TEACHING! :))) 

God Bless,
Brittany B. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Get off your butt and GO TALK!

So I think we can say as a language's ridiculous how little the kids want to speak the target language....why...they are scared...they know English...and usually NO ONE is holding them accountable to speaking that language.

Now, old school teachers, I might take a whopping for this but having the kids copy notes, do a worksheet, work their conjugations in a little boot is NOT working...they are becoming experts at getting their work done, and doing the task...but can they take that conjugated verb and go out in the world and produce a sentence? Many CAN'T!  

The other day I was teaching my Spanish 3 and I noticed that the kids "thought" they felt very confident about being able to conjugate present tense verbs. I said "Alright, if I's the verb "Escribir" right now...create a sentence using the nosotros form...who can do it?" Yep, what I thought...every single one of them were picturing that little boot and the nosotros form and trying to figure out what sentence to make...took on average about 45 seconds to a minute to get a sentence together....not good for Spanish 3. 

So I listed a bunch of infinitves on the board and I said "Get up"...they looked at me like I was weird...I said "Get up, c'mon, stand up" So then they got up...I said "Walk around in the room right now" Once again, weird looks (I am use to it by now). I said "STOP WHERE YOU ARE" I said look at the person who is standing the closest to you...and right now take the verb "trabajar" and create a sentence using the "ella" form....pause, pause, pause, and then I hear a little chattering....they were USING their verbs!!!! They were FINALLY speaking to each other. I then said okay, other partner....translate in ENGLISH what he just said.

We went on and did this for about 15 more minutes...walking around, stopping, choosing partners, and talking. I walked around and listened to each kid and I was soooo impressed that after 15 minutes it was coming to them so much faster. Bam, they got off their butts and talked.

Yes, I am doing this EVERY CLASS, EVERY LEVEL!!!!

God Bless,
Brittany B. 

Ahhh...the challenges of teaching advanced levels!

So I felt inspired and motivated to write tonight's post because here lately I have NOT felt very confident about my situation...the situation of having FOUR PREPS TO PLAN FOR and being 28 weeks pregnant!!!! I am the Spanish 3 teacher and the AP teacher at my school (we have no level 4) and here lately I am STRUGGLING to find where my kids are at in their Spanish learning with my advanced levels. 

It's SOOO hard to have 25 sets of eyes looking back at you and you're ready and excited to teach but it's like "Hey, what do you know? Can you conjugate a verb? Can you ask me my name?" I have realized SOME CAN....and SOME CAN'T and folks, that's just dang scary if you're a Spanish 3 or AP teacher. 

I have gone back and forth and wrestled with the fact of "Where are my students? How much do we need to review? Where can we back up to?" Ahh, these questions sometimes drive me crazy!

After weeks of idea inventing and pinterest craziness looking for inspiration....I think I might be onto a little something....task/stamp sheets.

Sad thing, I haven't created them yet but I am currently working on them as we speak actually. 

Here's what they are:
1. Every student will be asked to work with a partner. I am going to tell them CHOOSE SOMEONE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH! So in this case, yes...choose your bestie.

2. The students are going to be responsible for two things: Writing the tasks and Speaking the tasks.  I am wanting to see BOTH of their skills. 

3. The first week of school (and probably the second...heck, maybe the third) they will get time in class to receive a mini review over what their task category is that day (This you can forego or you can do). You can teach the "mini-lessons" right before the kids work on their category task sheets. 

For example...tomorrow we are reviewing "Common Conversational Components" like how are you, what's your profession, where are you from, where are you currently living, etc. 


But if they can't remember....they have to see it again and be re-taught. 

4. After the "Conversational Category Lesson" the kids will scatter all over the room with their partner, a paper, pencil, and a high-lighter.

5. They will receive their "Conversational Task Sheet/Stamp Sheet" and they are responsible for going through EACH task and seeing if they can speak it and write it. If they can't, they will high-light it and go onto another one. 

THE HIGH-LIGHTED AREAS IS WHERE "THEY" (THE STUDENTS, THE KIDS) have to go home and work on it. Study, read it, quiz each's on THEM to learn it. 

After they can confidently say, I know all this...they will get their next assignment....their "Real-Life Test" This is an assignment I am going to create where they have to take ALL THIS out into the world and use it. It might quiz another friend in class and show evidence of the answers, they might visit the local Mexican restaurant in town, or they might find a native that speaks Spanish or even better...they can schedule to come talk to me after school or before. THEY MUST show got it. 

Lastly, it all ends with a test over EVERYTHING....every category, every area, etc. This will be the final test of "IF THEY CAN DO IT" this a huge task? You betcha BUT if I can get this created...this will change my Spanish 3 and AP courses FOREVER! Also, I can ALWAYS review it and know where my kids stand ;) 

God Bless,
Brittany B.

P.S. When I get the first one created....I will be sure to post it on TPT :) Gracias! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

They Did It!!!!

Okay, so I am going to try to not let my excitement take off on me! As most of my readers have figured out...I teach Spanish 1, Spanish 3 (our school does not have a Spanish 4) and AP Spanish. Teaching upper level has been a journey as well as a challenge. Every year I get to fight the battle of my students close to forgetting every lick of Spanish I have taught them and then of course....I have to get them ready for one of the most difficult exams to ever walk the earth...the AP Spanish Exam...yikes!!!

After years of first day disappointments that my "UPPER LEVEL ADVANCED" kids forgot how to conjugate a freaking present tense verb...I knew something had to change. Sooo....last May I introduced the lovely "SUMMER HOMEWORK". It was a little shocking at first and I'm sure I probably ticked off a few kids but my thought want to learn Spanish bad want to take AP bad'll do it.....and.....they did! I still have a few stragglers that need to turn in their assignments and they have until Friday with a small late grade attached but wow, look at those completed books, papers, etc!

So...I decided to share my assignment since it turned out to be pretty darn successful! 

First, every AP student (no matter what subject) needs to be familiar with the college board website and familiar with the class they are going to take and the exam that is attached to it. Now, I know we preach we are educators, not "exam prep instructors" BUT in this case...they have to know what is sitting at the end of that very dark and challenging tunnel.

First assignment....easy easy....get on the site, look around, read about YOUR class, YOUR test, and then send me an email and tell me what you think. What are you scared of? What are you confident in? What do you need me to do this year? What can you do to prepare? At least two paragraphs and bam, you just completed your first "summer homework" 

SUCCESS...I was ALREADY getting emails by the first week of break...chu-ching! 

Second, 10 hours of  logged Spanish work....2 for writing, 2 for reading, 2 for speaking, 2 for listening, and 2 for grammar work. 

 I said...for writing...journal, make a blog, write letters, text, etc.

 I said for a novel, read twitter stuff in SPANISH, read texts, read CNN Espanol, etc. 

I said for speaking...visit little mexico communities (and we have them where I'm at), visit the Mexican restaurant and order a 1.50 taco if you're broke but talk to the employees, use a friend in our class to chat, visit groups of people that will just speak Spanish...

for listening...everything in reverse with speaking...

and grammar...get online, buy an AP prep book to work in, download a Spanish practice APP on your 500.00 iphone. 

They had to bring in their writings, provide proof of their speaking/listening, and bring me proof (written) of their grammar practice.


If anyone is interested in copies of my AP summer work...please send me a message and I would be happy to share my assignment with my readers as a "thank you" of support! :) 

You guys excited about going back?! Let's make it a great and fun year! 

God Bless,
Brittany B. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Can of Question and a Camera

One piece of technology I think every teacher should invest in are flip cameras. They literally can serve a great purpose in the classroom and save so much time when it comes to individual assessment. 

I have used flip camera for recording skits, interviews, conversations, or just a quick impromptu reply from my students. I think it's important to have an oral assessment with every unit. The kids need to know that they HAVE TO KNOW how to say it. Isn't that the point of being able to speak a language? 

Anyways, one activity I do which is quick and simple is I get a can (I have several of them). I got them for a 1.00 at the dollar store and I bought around 10, cut up questions pertaining to the current unit we are working on, and a put a camera in the can as well. I divide the class into groups...usually 5 to 6 groups. I tell them one person come get a can and then to scatter....some go in the hall, some in the back of the room, some in the front, etc. I tell them to record everyone pulling a question and asking the question on demand. 

Afterwards, I take up the cameras, plug them in, get my grade book and just go down the list grading oral responses right then and there. No pulling each one out in the hallway or figuring out how I am going to get to every kid. :) 

God Bless
-Brittany B. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quiet Sign means "BUSINESS"

So I teach freshmen....lovely little freshmen. I love their enthusiasm and creativity but sometimes having the freshmen separate from the HS allows them to act like well, freshmen :( 

There are certain classes where the chattiness ERKS me!!!! I am ready to teach and they are not ready to get calm, sooo.....I had to think of a way to get their attention. 

I try to be around my room but I'll be honest when I'm teaching I'm mostly around the front and the board. I have been saying for the longest time that I'm going to invest in a clicker but I always forget. 

I was so tired of teaching and having little conversations start off. I really got upset because I would spend time on these lessons and I felt like the kids were getting too chatty and sometimes it was about the content but it was just the wrong time. 

I was at the Dollar Store one day and I said a pack of attention getter signs. Now, I first thought this is too elementary but then I remembered Wait a freshmen act like elementary kids sometimes. 

Now, when I am trying to teach and the side conversations get too much or too rowdy, I hold up my "Quiet" sign...I give the kids 5 seconds and if there is still talking, I put a check beside their name on the roster. I tell the kids if they have 5 checks by the end of the week...I am calling home "ON A FRIDAY" Yes, right before your lovely weekend! 

Now, taking away points has been a controversial topic because some teachers say it's not fair to take points off their "grade" but I have in the past taken off their "participation" score. 

I have noticed though "calling home" is a much stronger punishment. This is something you will have to decide for yourself and what your district allows. 

God Bless
-Brittany B. 

Adjective Cards - Time Filler

When teaching the adjectives, there are so many fun things you can do with your kids. The kids love describing celebrities, other classmates, their parents and family, etc. 

One thing I like to do is the Adjective Cards...when there is only 3 minutes left of class or half my class leaves for a field trip...this is a fun and awesome learning activity. 

Here's how it's done:

Give every kid a flashcard. If you don't have any, tell them to use 1/2 sheet of paper. 

Have them answer these questions on their cards in this exact same order:

1. Chico o Chica (Boy or girl)
2. Pelo (Hair) - Brown, Blonde, Black, etc. (but in spanish) ;) 
3. Alto o bajo (short of tall)
4. Comico o serio (funny or serious)
5. Inteligente o estupido (intelligent or stupid)...the boys usually put "stupid" lol
6. Perozoso o ambicioso (lazy or ambitious)

and interesting thing about yourself (encourage them to make it funny but appropriate)...I have had kids who say "I like to wear one sock and dance in the rain." or "My nick name is wormy" 
The class usually gets a good laugh.

Here's how you play:

1. Have everyone stand up. The teacher stands on top of a chair (if you want) to see everyone.
2. As the teacher reads the card...if it doesn't apply to you...sit down...if so...keep standing.
3. The teacher keeps reading the cards until there is only one person standing. 

My kids LOVE this game. I keep their cards the whole year and if time, we always go to it. 

You can always do more cards for your favorite food, favorite class, favorite time of the day, favorite color, etc. This game is super flexible :)

God Bless
-Brittany B. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grading Tips and Tricks

In the teaching world, it is clear to say that we won't always get our weekends. I am guilty one too many times of going a few days in a row looking at that stack of papers hoping that they will magically grade themselves only to find my Saturday GONE by the task of getting 145 essays graded, quizzes, tests, correct writing errors, and entering participating. If ANY person says teaching is an easy takes every bone in my body not to haul off and attack them...ya know what I mean?!?! 

I'm still fairly new to this teaching "stuff" since I've only been in the teaching profession 3 years but I do know one thing about myself...I work on incentives. That's why you will always see my kids leaving with a star on their head or sugared up continuing their journey to the next teacher (Who I'm sure wants to give me 2 cents because kids are bringing their suckers into their rooms and not mine)...oops, sorry :( are a couple ideas of how to grade papers efficiently and maybe even somewhat 'ENJOY' the experience (yeah, I just said that)....


One thing that kills me is the dreaded fact KNOWING I have to be cooped up all day INSIDE reading a bunch of essays. I get tired, I say "I'm going to take a 30 minute nap" and I find myself sleeping for the next 3 hours, pushing off ANOTHER task. 

So..I leave. Yep, I pack my crap and I leave. I grab my laptop, charger (cuz the dang thing won't ever hold charge), my papers to grade, a couple nice handy dandy new pens, a pocket full of cash (COFFEE), and I'm gone. I have my selection of local cafes I go to. 

I tell myself I'm staying until X-amount of time and I sit my jolly butt down and grade. It works. It makes me feel better when I look around at the cafe and see a bunch of workaholics s like myself who are putting in their time too. 

Grab ya a coffee, plug up the laptop, get comfy, and grade. Take a friend with you if you have someone else who also partakes in this grading misery on the weekends as well.


So I'm not a procrastinator EVERY weekend...only the ones that have 2 days ;) Smart people will get that. Anyways, some week nights I have to get these dang things graded ASAP. So I assume the table cleared (no distractions), cell phone timer set, papers lined up, pen ready....GO. 

I start grading like a MAD-WOMEN. (Warning: grade the papers accurately and efficiently even though you set a timer.) Once the timer goes off...I am no longer obligated to grade ANYMORE papers for the night. I am off-duty, partner. PEACE OUT! But...usually since I get my momentum going...I end up adding 10 more minutes to the timer, and then another 7, and before I know it.....Yep, you guessed it...papers graded! It's a beautiful thing, people!


So I am as guilty as the next guy that if I get myself planted in that couch....done, finito, fin, he terminado! I am down for the night and there ain't no person going to stop designate certain nights as "work nights" the key is DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE. 

1. Get your papers ready to grade, lap top up on table, ready to grade and enter the grades. 
2. Start working around your house on your chores....straightening, laundry, cleaning, etc.
3. For every few minutes of back to the table and grade about 7 to 10 papers.....
4. Repeat and get those papers graded! 


If you get your momentum'll notice you'll get through the whole thing AND have a sparkling clean house afterwards. 

These are just some tricks that work for me!!! You guys post your ideas at the bottom. I am always up to new ideas of how to get those darn papers graded. :) 

God Bless,
Brittany B. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pick a Series and Let them Write...

I am always looking for new and exciting ways for the students to write. I feel like sometimes it's hard for the kids to have a wide variety of topics because they really are just learning the foundation of the language. Also, do they LIKE the topics we have them write about?!?!

One day I was on my facebook and I seen a video that was posted that made me laugh for days! It was called "Walk on the Wild Side" They were these hilarious videos of animals with voices. It was so funny because they each had their own personality and it was just nice clean comedy.

I then got to thinking....I bet my kids would enjoy this video. Now, I love sharing "clean" humor with the kids because I feel as if it's very rare these days but I worry about sometimes things not being tied to the curriculum so I thought how can I swing this Spanish....and then a light bulb went off!!!

What if....I had the students WRITE about what they saw. They could describe the animals (using ser), they could put which animals they liked (using me gusta and no me gusta) and they can even talk about verbs they do (La tortuga canta, La foca nada, etc.). So I ran a little "experiment" and now it is one of my favorite things to do in class to get them to write.

1. You can pick ANY you-tube video that you consider clean comedy. You can even pick a series like I did. Now, I ONLY show about 3 minutes of the video even though some of them are 15 minutes long...that's WAY too long.

2. Before showing them the video, teach them some of the common and popular vocabulary like Nadar = to swim and marmota = groundhog, etc. 

3. Develop some questions to GUIDE their writing. Remember they are JUST in Spanish you can do this with upper level and expect a bit more but for Spanish 1...give them some ideas. 

4. First time of watching...just watch....then show the guided questions. Go over them and see if they know what you mean. How would they answer? What vocabulary do they need?

5. Show it one more time and have them take some notes in English. The groundhog is brown, the otter sings, etc. 

6. Now.......give them a time limit and let them just go to town writing! Walk around and help with order, vocabulary, verb conjugations, etc. 

 Here is the link for the series I use:

You will be surprised how much they write :) and they are actually kind of fun to grade ;)

Infinitive Charades

So we all have those Fridays where we give a huge unit exam and the kids look like little zombies after taking the test. Their hands hurt from the writing, their heads are thumping from the listening....and you should really start a new unit but you know that's probably not going to the greatest idea? What do to do now!?!?

One really fun game is "Infinitive Charades" It involves no documents, grading, and it is easy to jump into after a few times of playing it. 

The first thing you need is a big stack of flashcards that have a bunch of infinitives on them. I like to continue adding to my stack as we go along through the year. It always makes the kids feel good when they know the WHOLE stack at the end of the year. 

Next, you'll need to divide the class into two different groups and assign each player a number that matches the other team.  So two # 1's, #2's....

Then call a random number from a certain team  (#6 Team A)....that person will make their way up to you in the front. (To speed up the game you can do a random number list at the beginning so they know they are next instead of waiting for them to come to the front.)

How to play.....

1. Show the player the verb card. If they know the verb without asking it's 1 point ALREADY.

2. Next the player goes to the front of the room to act it out. For instance "escribir".....they may start acting like they are writing or they may go over to the board and pick up the marker.

3. Now...picking a student to have two can be mean or nice....The "nice" way is for YOU to call on the student whose hand is already up. The "mean" way is for YOU to randomly call a student to answer. ON THE SPOT! You pick how mean or nice you are....just depends on the day and class, right?!?

4. If they get it right...they get another point. If not, the other team gets to guess and steals their point.

- Put a time limit on it to make it challenging.
-Allow only 2 tries from each team. 
-Decide to call on raised hands or randomly calling students. 
-Randomly call on students if only certain students are participating. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Make a Movie

So when my kids started learning their conjugations, I wanted to do something a bit non-traditional and out of the ordinary. I knew that if I could get the kids to do "something" with their conjugations they would remember them more. So...we made movies. The students were responsible for getting with a group, creating a song, getting footage, and making a conjugation movie. 

To my surprise...they were REALLY good. Not only did they memorize the Spanish but they got to incorporate technology into their content. 

Here is a sample video done by some girls in my class :)

Grab It Game - Modified for Conjugation

I was so inspired by the success of the "Grab It Game" I started to think of how I could change it up to fit other concepts and boy was I onto something.

Once again many thanks to my co-worker and awesome Spanish teacher, Marie Stevens, for telling me all about "Grab It Game". My kids are continuing their conjugation practice and I am currently focusing on -AR/-ER/-IR conjugations. The kids are getting good with certain words such as I and you but they still get confused on some here is what I did....

To play the game:
1. Divide the room up into two even teams.
2. Assign a student numbers for each teammate and make sure each student has a matching "opponent"
(For example there should be #1 for Team A and Team B.)
3. Have a small white board, marker, and eraser ready. 
4. Take an object in the classroom that you have alot of (at least 6 or so).
5. Make signs for the endings....o, as, a, amos, an (and if you teach vosotros) and tape them to the objects. I chose sombreros because you can buy them for a 1.00 at Dollar Tree.
6. Line them up and let the games begin....

Now...I am a very interactive hands on type of teacher. I love to see my students get into games and be competitive. If you haven't learned already, I am a former athlete/competitor and this often comes out in my classroom. My favorite students when playing these games are my aggressive kids who keep asking to get there number called.

Be sure to set some rules up at the beginning so no one gets hurt but here's how it goes....

1. STAY OUT OF THE WAY! I have a stool and I get my white board, a marker and I go sit on my stool OUT OF THE WAY. (I learned the hard way)....:(
2. Write down ANY infinitive...if you are working on -AR...write Hablar, Llegar, Mirar....ones that they know.
3. Write the verb down and show out the subject pronoun...and we go....the #....and you will see your students FLY out of their chairs and race up to the front to grab the certain hat that matches their subject pronoun. 
4. I give an extra point if they can put it all together and say the word "Hablar "Yo" = "Hablo"

Another thing is...some students will FLY out of their chairs that the opponent won't even try so I created a rule that even if you try...if your opponent gets it wrong...they are automatically rewarded the point. That gets them ALL trying at least :) 

You can change this up to fit any conjugation tense and any category of items.

God Bless -
Brittany B.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wall Station Writing

Sometimes its so hard for me to get the students to WANT to write. As their teacher, I LOVE watching them GO GO with their writing but the feeling isn't always I have learned something...students like to write on a non-traditional resources...using marker boards, on walls, on the floor etc...

In this activity, all I did was write a "person" (madre, abuela, mejor amigo, etc.) on the top of the paper and the students have to write a mini letter to each person. 

They didn't realize but they were writing a TON by the time they go around and hit each station. Be strict with your rules (no talking, time limit, must have at least 3 sentences, whatever you decide.) You can adjust this writing assignment WITH ANY objective...descriptions, telling birthdays, filling out a job application, etc. 

Have fun!

God Bless 
-Brittany Baxter 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Grab It Game - Learning New Vocabulary

I think every language teacher can say at one time or another....they have been in a situation where they didn't have a clue how to teach/practice vocabulary. How do we get the students to learn these words for easy recall?

With some vocab words , I have noticed it is hard to find a "theme" or "life experience" where you can  practice the words with real life experiences. For example...with teaching food...just have the students do a "Fake Cooking Show"....with learning clothes, do a "Fashion Show" I had a hard time thinking of what to do with "School Supply Vocabulary" I thought about loading different backpacks and having the kids describe verbally and in written form what was in each vocab....until I found an idea I like better.....

My awesome co-worker, Marie Stevens, suggested a game and I absolutely love it. Very easy to play:

1. Divide the class up into two even teams.
2. Assign a number to each team mate and make sure each person has an "opponent" someone is #1 on Team A and them someone is #1 on Team B, etc.
3. Lay out all the school supplies in the front of the room. I like to scatter them all out. 
4. Stand in the front and RANDOMLY call out the object in the target language and then a number.
5. Sit back and watch your students race to the front to grab the correct item.
6. Make the students say "lo/la tengo" or whatever "LOCK IN" word you want. This finalizes their decision.

Working out the kinks:
-Some students will not even try to make their way to the front so what I do long as they attempt to walk up IF the other person gets the other wrong when they "lock-in" their answer....the point goes automatically to the other teammate....BUT ONLY...if they attempted to walk up and give it a try. 
-Lay down the law on the rules. Some students are going to push, shove, trip, etc. Be sure to explain the expectation, rules, and consequences before the game starts. 
-Allow students to "switch sides" to make it fair if you have one side of the room that is hard for students to travel.

The kids loved this game and it can be done with ANY objects you teach. You could even laminate big cards and hang them on the board if there is not a tangible object.

 Some of the items laid out. 

And some more....

This student thought it would be funny to pick up ALL the items and then say the "lock-in" word....nice try, Juan Jesus!