Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What's your "Review" style?

So here in the big (actually small) AC, we are getting ready to switch trimesters. This means 4 of my classes are already OVER (for the first 1/2). Yes, at the beginning of November. Now, I'm not going to make this post a rant about the trimesters because that's a new day, a new post, and probably a new blog BUT...I have's time to review!

I always get anxiety over what style, technique, activities, etc. do I use to review. Sometimes I feel like I give the test to kids on a silver platter and then I try to justify that if I don't study with them a few days before the exam, they just won't study at all. 

I have compiled a few ways to "Review" with your kids and keep it interesting...feel free to steal and use:

1. Group Up & Create Flash-Cards: This is tell the kids to get together in a group, and create flash cards (I usually make each kid make about 20). Then after all that is over, they can partner up and quiz each other. I usually assign a small grade for creating their flashcards and some, ACTUALLY take them home to study! Wowzers. You can also use these for later activities incorporating the whole class. 

2. "Join My Team" FlashCard Challenge: This game is fun and a good time-filler. You have the kids pull out their flash cards they made for the test. You make 2 kids the leaders...they are trying to see who can get the most people on their team before the other student does. Each person they call to join has to answer a "RANDOM" flashcard question. If not, they go to the other team. It can get interesting...only downfall: the students will blatantly call on all the "smart kids" first so it really displays your top kids versus lower kids but you can add in modifications to prevent this.

3. Mock Exam: This one might not be as "fun" but if you are truly curious where your kids are...this is great. I have a PPT prepared:

and this PPT is the ultimate review. When I have done mock exams, it's usually with my mixed learner classes where I am confused if they are ready or not. Since this is just for fun and I give participation for completing, I let the kids fold down their name at the top, and then I give random papers to kids to check. Some will get 100 on the mock and they are READY for the exam, ahhh, this makes you feel better.

4. A game with a Nerf Net: I bought a simple $8 Nerf Net and Ball I keep in my room for review games. Pretty simple, divide up into teams (however many you want) and each team has to answer a question to shoot, 1 point for the correct answer, 1 point for the shot, if they mess up, another team can steal and take away the point. You can create your own rules but I find this is fun to do with the kids.

5. Baseball Game: this involves some pre-planning. Set up the class as home, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. A kid can pick a single, double, triple, or a homerun. If he/she picks a single and get it right, they advance on to 1st and the next kid picks their selection. When there are 3 wrong answers, time to switch out the teams. Kids really love this one too! 

Well these are my top 5 and there are SOOO many more. 
Feel free to use my PPT review for any of your games, activities, or to do a mock exam. IF you don't want the kids to prepare flash cards, you can use the questions from my PPT.

Feel free to share your awesome review games in the comment section! 

God Bless,
Brittany B. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Different Kind of Fashion Show..."

So one of the many reasons I love teaching Spanish 2 is because we have the clothing unit. The clothing unit has a ton of opportunities for some really fun and engaging activities.

I am going to share my top TWO favorite clothing projects:

1. Create your own fashion line - This project is a individual written project. It makes the students write, use their vocabulary, tie in styles, use their adjectives that have to match in gender and in number. It's something you can post on the "Good Job Board" and show off your students' skills.

How I do this:

1. Get a blank sheet of paper and make a window on both sides (this creates 8 blocks).

2. Draw your "fashion styles" I ask that the kids pick a theme and try to stay with it. I have had kids do "Biker Style, County Boy Style, Camo Girl Style, Pretty in Pink Style, Formal Night Out, etc." The options are limitless.

3. They have to color....they like this task.

4. Lastly, they create their paragraphs that describe what their model is wearing. I tell the kids they have to have at least 4 clothing/accessory pieces in every box and there must be an adjective for every item (Long Pants, Pink Dress, Yellow Scarf, Big Sun Glasses, etc.) I also tell the kids all the sentences must be complete. It's not just listing what the person is wearing but describing it as if the model was walking down a runway.

This is about a day and half project. Whatever the kids don't finish on the 2nd day is homework. If you are monitoring and the kids are working hard...they should finish within a day and half.

Next project....A Surprise Fashion Show...Ahh, I love this one!

1. Divide your kids into groups of 4 to 5 kids.

2. They will pick who is going to be their "model" I give a few extra credit points to the person that is willing to be the model, just like 2 points.

3. I go around to each group and ask who their model is going to be and write it down.

4. After this, I get their attention. I tell them that whoever they picked that is going to be the model...but not for THEIR group. At this time you'll hear the kids go What? huh? I say "We are going to switch things up a bit" I then start assigning OTHER groups to OTHER models.

This is where it gets interesting because you'll hear "Wait, does that mean we get to dress "this person"?" Yep...and they can't argue! It then gets really fun and interesting because you have dudes dressing girls and girls dressing dudes. You have the country kids dressing the preppy kids and vice-versa.

Now, they need to develop a list of what they are going to bring in for the fashion show THE NEXT DAY. EVERYONE must bring something in from home. After forming the English of the clothing & accessories, they have to pass the paper and translate into Spanish adding lots of detail. (Chance wears a red hat with flowers). THEY MUST USE DETAILS!

After they have their sentences with lots of descriptions about the clothes, I check them. I give feedback and write little corrections such as "Make that adjective plural"

Now, it's onto the next day....I bring in a massive sheet from my house. Behind it, the model will put on the clothing (OVER THEIR OWN CLOTHES) of what the group has brought.

The groups get in front of the class and read off what the model is currently putting on. It gets VERY interesting. The kids in the audience have to raise their hand and GUESS what they are currently putting on in English.

Finally, the group drops the curtain and the model does a little stroll on the cat walk displaying all the great wonderful clothes his/her opposing group has brought. :)

So much fun!!! And tons of engagement!

Here is a pic of one of my models sporting his attire that was chosen for him by a bunch of his gal pals! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Field Trips, Testing...and WHEN DO I TEACH!?!?

I'm sure by just reading the title of this post you are already saying "FOR REAL" or as the kids say "For Realz"...(okay, maybe they don't say that) but seems like in our fast paced world and especially in the education industry..."It's always something." Testing, Makeups, Field Trips, Pulling kids out for RTI, Pep Rallies, Fire Drills, Tornado Drills, Earthquake Drills, Zombie Protection Practice (Guess, we haven't gotten there yet....just wait, it'll come)!

We ask ourselves constantly..."When do I teach?" I have been teaching for 5 years now and I can say within that 5 years there have been plenty times when my lessons was...."shot to H*!!" I look around at the 12 kids sitting in my classroom and they say "Can we just listen to music?" AHHHH! What do I do, what do I do? Any true good teacher understands a day wasted of no educational content, is well....a day wasted! We are already under so much pressure to get through the content and then THESE things happen...shoot me in my freakin' foot! 

I am here today to share with you some of my "Emergency Activities" for when things like this happen! I learned my first year of teaching when I looked at the remaining half my class and I heard the ever-so-popular "Are we going to do anything in here today?" I knew I had to prepare for these days. FROM THE BEGINNING, you have to preach and teach to your kids that EVERYDAY will be valued and YES, you will be learning and doing SOMETHING today! 

So here it is my Top 5 "Get Your Crap In Gear, Your Butt Is Doing SOMETHING Today" Activities... :) 

1. Circle Conjugation Game: Get the kids in a circle (they can sit down or stand up), put infinitives on the board, and make them go around and conjugate in order (yo, tu, el, ella, etc.)---I want to apologize for the no accents. Spanish teachers are clinching their teeth together after seeing that! When it comes your turn, you don't know the conjugation, big fat buzzer---you're out. It will come down to two kids going back and forth. IT CAN GET INTENSE! You can also do this with counting or category vocabulary sets!!! :) 

2. El Cuerpo: This takes a little pre-planning. Take thick paper (cardstock is the best) and put two body parts on each card. You'll need about 10 to 12 cards. Ask for two volunteers to come to the front. Whatever card you pull out of the basket is what two body parts they have to touch together. BE CAREFUL AMIGOS! I usually say 2 guys or 2 girls because it will get physical....but funny! 

3. Youtube Vids on Hand: Take time to develop an emergency youtube CULTURAL/EDUCATIONAL video list...of course they will ask you can we watch "Ridiculousness" or something totally non-content...just say no! 

4. Conjugation Board Race: Two teams of 5 or 6 (vosotros) 10 or 12 kids. Have them face each other. Ones at the top of line holds a white board on each team. Say an infinitive, and they have to conjugate and pass until the last dude or dudette has conjugated. Whoever is the fastest...wins! 

5. Nerf Ball Goal Review: I keep a nerf goal in my room for emergencies like these. Days of chaos or schedule change...conduct a 2 or however many teams review game. Give each team a point for answering and an additional point for making the shot. If they steal, they can take away OTHERS points! 

So these are just scratching the surface may save you from a day of chaos, schedule modification, and lesson melt-down. 

Enjoy & Steal!!!

God Bless,
Brittany B, 

Happy Dia de Los Muertos

So tomorrow "officially" starts Day of the Dead but since it's over the weekend...why not have some fun with the kids TODAY (since it is also Halloween)!!! 

The kids brought in food, we built some fake altars, we are watching some you tube videos over La Llorona, La calavera Catrina, La isla de las munecas, and I am showing the kids some videos/pictures of when I visited the Mummy Museum in Mexico. 

We have been watching lots of videos over el dia the past month so they have practically seen them all. LOL 

Anyways, today is a class day celebrating and learning how the hispanic cultural deals with death, celebration of life, and just overall culture. I think they have learned we are VERY similar and the curiosity of life after death is a universal concern/interest for ALL cultures! 

I love this day! It's one of my favorite holidays (American and Mexican) and I'm so blessed to celebrate it with my kiddos! 

Here is a pic of my annual tradition "Dead Makeup" 

I always have such a hard time being "dead"/"scary"/"serious" here is a pic of me smiling. Yes, I kind of look weird and you can laugh! 

Everyone have a safe and festive holiday whether you're celebrating Halloween, Day of the Dead, or both. 

God Bless,
Britttany B. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breaking the "Packet" Stereotype

So I remember being a student in high school and the teacher would slap a big packet in front of us and we would moan and cry and she would wobble back to her desk. (Not my Spanish teacher though, but other classes). I remember not comprehending any of that packet because we were not made to be engaged with the packet. We were just suppose to sit there like model students and complete the packet. It was pointless and as a student, I learned to hate packets. 

I promised myself when becoming a teacher I would never give ANY worksheets or packets and I would always be engaging. It was until recently I heard a few of my really "good kids" say "We never really do simple written tasks that could help us learn it better and practice." I was taken back...Wait, you WANT that work? I was so surprised...I went back to these two same girls and asked them. After having a little conversation I found out that students actually like this work as long as it's given in moderation and they are asked to be engaged. 

I then went back into work mode to make sure I could offer kids written and fun activities and practices. I also had some really good kids say "I would like some more work to work on at home." Do what now?! 

I decided you know what...I am going to prepare a huge activity packet jam-packed with activities, practices, written opportunities and it will all be together and I won't have to worry about giving out a bunch of different papers and copies. Shew, having it all together was SO much easier! 

So this is what I did exactly! The kids LOVE it! My biggest challenge is keeping them from flying ahead so lesson learned: I will attach "EXTRA CREDIT" pages within my next packet for all my little over-achievers to do. 

We have done the following activities with working with the packet: Partner Rally, Pass & Write, Stand up-Hand up-Pair up, All Class Together where we try it and check it, Individual work (quiet time), we used it in a class game (they LOVED that day), attached homework, and even study hall work! 

Now that I have been convinced, I will create a packet with EVERY concept I teach. The kids are REALLY getting their "Ser Verb" I attach different grading criteria to each page and it's a great practice.

If you want to do the same, you can always create your own packet using the same idea. My "All About the Ser Verb" packet is available at:

Thanks & God Bless,
Brittany B. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teach Them What You Want to Hear...

So it would be a foreign language teacher's dream to hear the beauty of the classroom target language flowing from the students mouth every time they attempted to speak, right? But let's be honest. We may start strong but how many of us ACTUALLY have a classroom that is achieving 80% target language coming from the STUDENTS' mouths? IF you do have this, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell us all your dirty little secret because we're dying to know! In reality, we may start off strong at the beginning of the year but we get a little "too nice" allowing our kids to speak English just a little too much! I'm guilty...what's my punishment? A nap...BRUTAL *but I'll take it* 

So I decided to examine this problem a little more deeply and I realized you know what...what if we started small? Giving the kids the EXACT words we MUST hear (FREQUENTLY USED WORDS), giving them activities to practice, and then ENFORCING (BIG OL' MEAN TEACHER) them to use them. When the kids master this set, I'll pass on some more words. 

I created this special packet I plan on giving ALL my levels (1, 2, and 3). The packet can be done all in one class period OR you can do a page a day spreading it out over a week's time. Your choice. 

I start off with giving them the words, we'll repeat and word on pronunciation. This 1st page is for me to be able to teach the kids. The 2nd page is a "Find Someone Who" where the kids will get to get up and interact with one another. Of course, I will play too. My favorite is probably the charades activity where they must act out the phrases and the other person has to guess the world. Other activities include unscramble, matching, and a scenario/riddles games. 

I think that kids hear so much Spanish that to them is seems like a billion words. I think we have to put it back on them that we want THEM to be able to give it back to us. This year I'm starting off small in little chunks with highly frequent used words and then expanding.

What do you guys do to get the kids speaking Spanish in your classroom?

I have included the link to my "Lucky 13" Packet if you are interested in using mine, or you can make your own with special words for your classroom.

God Bless,
Brittany B. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

A paragraph a day, gets the Spanish underway...

I'm always trying to figure out the perfect that is going to allow my Spanish 1 kids to walk out at the end of the year learning such a high amount of Spanish and taking it with them to Spanish 2. I am always trying to implement new things that will give my students a ton of practice with using words and phrases they will see and need all the time. 

I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to AP Spanish training, and I met some really cool individuals and rockstar teachers while I was there. While I was there, I met an awesome teacher who had been teaching AP for years along with the basic Spanish one, Spanish two, and three and four.The number one thing he told us was get your kids reading every day! Considering he had a high pass rate for the AP exam, and has been doing this for years... I took his advice to heart and tried to figure out how could I get my kids reading on a daily basis or at least every other day. 

I finally realized this past year that my kids have to be reading at least every other day. I created these paragraphs that emphasize the Spanish 1 material, but they are also great for Spanish two review. 
I told the kids they would get 30 to 45 seconds to read the paragraph in their head, then I would draw a name out of a stick and if they could translate it into perfect English then they would get some pesos (extra credit system I use). 

The kids started to see all the words in context and were so confident when they were able to translate the paragraph into perfect English. This is something they wanted to do every day and would ask "Are we getting a paragraph today?"I would even have kids asking at the door if they could translate the paragraph that day! 

My administrators were amazed by how the students wanted to read and how well they did it. Instead of using old traditional methods like making the kids write the words over and over, worksheets or book work, they quickly learned from seeing everything in context. Also, I was even able to include words that I wasn't going to introduce until later that year into the paragraphs and by the time the kids got to when I was supposed to teach it...they already knew it! 

So I'm sure you are interested in what my AP pass rate was using this system?!? Using this system...All my kids passed! I had one get a five, a lot get a four, and the rest got threes! 

To purchase my pre-made paragraphs...(So you don't have to write them your self... Believe me it takes time.) Click the link below to purchase from my teachers pay teachers account.

These paragraphs can be used in Spanish 1 and are great for Spanish 2 review. They are edible so you can mix up the details and even include your own students name. They come in PowerPoint form, but you may also take them and put them on any document you like. You may use them in a reading folder, stations, or like I am doing with a daily reading time. 

Hope this works for you as well as it has for me :) 

God Bless, 
Brittany B. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Culture in Music

One of the best classroom management strategies I have is using music. Everyday I play an artist that represents a Spanish singer. I mix it up with Country, Rap, Salsa, Cumbia, and more.  Instead of just playing the music...I like to introduce the artist on Monday and give some information over the artist (where they are from, how old, languages they speak). Throughout the week I will play songs of that singer. 

Here's my classroom management tip: I am always playing music while the students are switching classes. I am out in the hall welcoming my students in and using this time to ask Spanish questions. My students usually love to talk to me and try to answer Spanish questions. My rule is...when the bell rings I am IMMEDIATELY coming into my room and shutting the door. I am then making my way to my desk to turn off the music. IF you are not in your seat by the time I turn off the music, you are considered tardy and points will be deducted from your weekly participation grade. 

AMAZING!!!!!! It works! You HAVE HAVE HAVE to stay consistent with it and do it everyday. There have been a few days where I got side-tracked and didn't get the music going and it made a huge difference. It broke their routine, their stability. From now on, I keep a loaded you-tube page up on computer with the daily song ready to go. 

Here's a list of popular artists I play that the kids 

1. Shakira
2. Ricky Martin
3. J-LO
4. Prince Royce
5. Fanny Lu
6. Enrique Iglesias
7. Santana
8. Paulina
9. Celia Cruz
10. Marc Anthony
11. Alejandre Pires
12. Juanes 

They Took Their Test...Now What?

So I teach AP Spanish and anyone who teaches this knows that we usually take our AP Spanish test very very early (May 6th to be exact). After taking the tests...try telling SENIORS that we are going to continue class "and learn"...ha, (hold up shield for the tomatoes thrown at face).

This year I didn't want to just "quit" after the test...with the snow and lovely KY weather this year...we're here to June. (Swallow Valium) So I was thinking what can I do that will be fun but not intense that will challenge the kids but not overwhelm them and just be "FUN LEARNING" So I have come up with a mini-idea list...enjoy!!!

(Some of these activities were actually done in Spanish 3 and AP but are great repeats because you can switch them up.)

1. Mock Court Cases - Let the kids create their own crazy trial, organize the positions, allow them time to work on what they will say and ask, present and enjoy!

2. Bizarre News Reports - Let the kids organize "fake" news reports. We actually do this in Spanish 3 and it's always really fun to watch. Put them in small groups and have them create at least 3 stories: You can do top news, sports, weather, etc. Always fun to watch. You can also give them cameras and let them record their reports!!!

3. Helping Out Lower Levels - Let them be the "teacher" and prepare a mini-lesson for the lower levels. Let them pick a topic, organize a level. It's cool if you can actually pull them out of class to teach this lesson. If not, just record and show lower level classes. 

4. Create a song and dance - There are so many grammar topics that are just easier with a little tune and a little jig. Give the groups a topic and let them prepare this. Record and show your lower levels (if they let you) ;-) 

Hope these activities will keep your Spanish mojo flowing and allow the kids to have a little fun with Spanish being the center :)

God Bless,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Are You Hitting Every Area?

As a language teacher, I think we all have our favorite when it comes to reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Have you noticed that maybe in class you are getting your students engaged in the area that YOU are best at? When having this discussion with a friend who also teaches Spanish, we came to the realization that WE (the teachers) are pushing the activities that WE are best at. I was a translator for an agriculture office in college and I was constantly reading and verbally translating for others. I think it's safe to say my kids do A LOT of reading. I also love to SPEAK in Spanish, so my kids are constantly speaking. 

I am not going to lie when I say my kids need MORE practice with writing and reading. It's hard sometimes to do writing activities in Spanish 1 because they know so little. But I created this MINI chart for a reminder that each lesson....every single component needs to be in there in someway. It's helped me out a ton but I am struggling to think of writing ideas: 

-I have my Spanish 3 & AP writing over notebook topics everyday for 10 minutes. Easy for Spanish 3 because they have the knowledge to write over these topics. 

-I let my Spanish 1 have quiet, free writing time where they can go anywhere in the room and then write for 10 minutes straight about whatever they like. Sometimes I even say "OK, here is your goal: Use your -AR verbs conjugated in this writing" 

-I have my Spanish 1 kids translate sentences but this is more guided writing than their production. We occasionally do essays but like I said, this is more guided. 

So.....Let's have a SHAREFEST!!! Post your ideas for writing below in the comments section!!!!

God Bless,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Conjugation Activity - Great Introduction!

So I try to do as many on-hand activities with conjugating verbs right after the students are given the basic lesson of conjugating verbs. I personally HATE worksheets and you won't see alot of worksheet ideas from me. I like them for basic assessment checks, sub work, and a little quick practice activity but as far as checking knowledge, thorough practicing, and really diving into the material...worksheets OUT! This idea I'm getting ready to talk about is a super duper EASY activity AND the kids really enjoy it. :)

First of need to visit your teacher resource room and get about 5 to 7 large pieces of colorful paper (like the butcher paper). Stash them in your classroom for later use.

Next, make sure you TEACH the infinitives and the students are comfortable with the meaning of the infinitives. There are lots of activities for that (and I'll come back to that at a later time).
After you feel like your students understand the basic concept of conjugating, why it's important, and the whole PURPOSE of conjugating...then let's practice!

Tell the kids to form groups of 3 to 5 (or however many you feel comfortable with working together in a group).

Next, give each group a large piece of colorful butcher paper and some markers (you want to be able to display these later on).

Tell them to do basic conjugations such as "Ella habla" or "Nosotros pasamos" and you can even throw in some -er or -ir verbs. Tell them with each conjugation they need to draw a basic little picture that illustrates their conjugations.

I told my kids they could be creative and set up the conjugations anyway they like: bubbles, draw a picture and let the conjugations create the picture, little boxes, and more. I let their creativity come out.

Here are some examples of the ones that were created. Warning: there are a few mistakes. (They are practicing and that's okay). They are given a small little paper rubric so I don't mark on their creation where it's showing in the hallway with my pen markings all over it and the world to see their grade.

God Bless,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I'm Back and Ready To Blog!

First of all, I want to apologize for the huge leave of absence. As you can last entry was in August...before my baby! Now it's March (almost 5 months AFTER my baby). Life is starting to get back into motion and our new normal is well...just the normal. Shew, a new baby is ALOT of work but the BEST blessing in this world! With that being said...I am back and ready to pick up where I left off. Heck, maybe I can throw in a few posts involving being a mom and balancing the classroom (and life)...or maybe you guys can send ME some advice! Good to be back!

God Bless,