Friday, February 26, 2016

Ice Breaker Game (Yes, in Spanish) Idea

Hello All Hardworking Fellow Teachers, 

It's Friday and I don't know about you all but shew...that's all I can say! We just rounded up another trimester at my school, and we'll start a new one on Monday! I know with a new trimester brings new lovelies, and new relationships. One thing I LOVE to do is a few ice breaker games but here's my dilemma......I need them IN Spanish! 

Haha, duh! While I love doing ice breaker games since we are on the trimester, I need them to be in Spanish! I love playing "team" games and I can tell my kiddos love it. I created a fun little game called "Find your Family - Identity Game" 

Best news:  This can be played in ANY language and yes, ANY subject! 

I make my kids use ALL Spanish but you could play this in a 7th grade English class, a french class, or even like a business class. 

The goal the kids must get up and ask "What's your name" and "My name is" using their NEW identities. By asking each other their names, the will find their "families" 

Check out my 3 minute video & if you would like to simply buy my pre-made cards with the game directions...the tpt link is below! 

God Bless, 
Brittany B.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Spicing up Affirmative Informal Commands

I don't know about you all but teaching affirmative informal commands can be kind of...boring. It's a pretty easy concept, but easy to put in the back of your mind & forget to use. 

I always tell my kids it IS a really important concept because IF you ever needed something from someone (whether it's help, a favor, chore, etc) using these commands would help get your point across. 

The kids usually appreciate the easiness of forming commands but sometimes it's just a little boring to teach. What all can you do with it? 

So I decided to spice things up a bit with some hands-on activities. Check them out below: 

1. Charades. You need a simple set of around 35 action cards that are already in command form. Simply divide the class into 2 teams and wah-la, you have your own ready made charade game. It's fun to do on a Friday after everyone has taken their quiz, or a day when the kids get stuck in class a few minutes after the bell. It's usually comical to watch and participate as well. 

2. Team Charades. Do the same concept, except let the kids play on their own within their teams. I let some kids go in the hallway. Give each group around 6 cards, let them play a few minutes, and then switch with the other teams in the class. I sometimes even tell them to go find ANOTHER team and play against them. 

3. Race Against the Clock. Get everyone in your class in a line, set the clock, and see if everyone can complete an action from a card that the teacher shows them. Try to beat the clock. Uh oh, if you don't know have to sit and add 3 seconds to your classes FINAL time. Can the class beat the clock? Hint: I bribe them with a 1/2 point extra credit if they can do it. It really gets them pumped! 

4. Race Teams. Same concept as #3 except this time, instead of racing the clock, the students are racing each other trying to get the cards completed that are laid in front of them. Have the teams face each other for intensity. 

5. Action Train. Easy Peasy - set the cards in a circle on the ground (it should be a pretty big circle), students then stand behind a card (your students should be in a massive circle with a card in front of them). They flip the card, start doing the action, once everyone in the class is DOING their action (Teacher, you'll need to be in the middle watching), then everyone gets to rotate to the right and repeat! Also, instant intervention to help students who don't know the verbs. 

6. Partner Visits. Teaches passes out an action card to each student. Students get up, visit another person, shows their card, the other partner has to do the action, and vice-versa. Then, go find a new partner and repeat. 

The results are endless and it only takes a simple set of action cards. 

I have created a document that shares these games (these are great for days where the copier is broken, sub, field trips, etc.) Along with the directions of the activities, they also include 35 action cards ready to go. The document is editable if you want to add/modify any verbs.

Also, if you want to have your kids complete some written activities using the commands, check out my "Affirmative Informal Command Activity Packet"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Conjugation Frustration!

Okay, so not every post is butterflies and sunshine and today....I'm doing a little blog venting BUT I do offer a solution in the end (if you're willing to hang with me).

So....if you are a language teacher, (while you were learning the language yourself) you figured out that verbs were important. You also learned very quickly that conjugation is super important. 

If you can't conjugate a verb well, sound like Tarzan, and even though they may "know the main idea" there is a lot of uncertainty, and you can't call yourself a proficient speaker. 

Well, I TRULY feel like my kids do very well with their verbs and conjugation, but there is a small percentage that never learned it, refuse to get it, it.just.doesn't.stick! 

So of course, I'm trying to find the secret formula to make it to where EVERYONE can conjugate a verb in the blink of an eye. 

My kids who are going onto Spanish 3 and are over-achievers can forms all kinds of sentences with the correct subject pronoun and make sense of it. I'm amazed at their abilities! 

Okay, so, my kids in the middle (on paper) can do it, but they still lack that "be able to do with your eyes closed & hand behind your back" kind of skill. 

So, I got curious and decided an investigation needed to take place. I have a couple students who I like to use to get honest information about my teaching and just a general insight into the student's minds. Of course these kiddos are geniuses, but I feel like they can outgoingly (is that a word) represent their classmates. 

So I asked them, 1)Do you think conjugation is important? "Yeaahhhh...(eyebrow raise)" 2)Do you think we do enough of it in class? "Not really sure (confused look)" 3) Do you think we should be conjugating verbs everyday in class? (developing a little confidence to speak about this) "Well I think that your "smart" kids are going to get it no matter what but I feel like the ones that don't care or the ones in the middle easily forget it" hmmm....I liked his answer but this is what got me more when he said "I think that if we did something everyday with it, the kids CAN'T forget it. It will be stuck into their heads. And to be honest, I sometimes struggle with the irregulars anyway."

Wow, eye opening...very eye opening! 

So their lovely answers gave me enough evidence that I needed to work on incorporating a daily conjugation practice. Here's the problem....HOW? WHEN? And the final thought...seriously, how am I going to get through everything?! (Hands on heads, gripping hair, moans of frustration)! 

So another guilty confession? (I'm just letting it fly today, ain't I?) I don't really like my bell ringer system and another confession, I change it almost every other trimester. I want to start with a bell ringer, and I think it's important. But, I struggle with a few things: making sure every kid is accountable? Grading? Meaningful? How--worksheet, notebooks, their notebook paper? and what exactly do I push in the bell ringer? 

So this trimester has been great, and I honestly do like my bell ringer choice a bit better BUT I'm still not totally in love with it. 

I make a worksheet, Yes, I make it (I hate that I'm killing trees). The worksheet is front & back. Front is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and back is Thursday & Friday. They come in, pull it back out from the day before and do the 5 to 7 questions on the projector. Usually, they are translating "something" 

So...I've got an idea to incorporate daily conjugation & I'm going to be working on it asap! It will include something you can do everyday, have them turn in, check over, etc. 

Coming in a couple days!!! 

Does anyone else struggle with constant conjugation & wanting to make sure your kid NEVER forget it?! 

God Bless, 
Brittany B. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Harry Potter Command Game

So most of the high school population has seen the movies or read the book(s), Harry Potter. 

CONFESSION TIME: I have been married to my husband for almost 5 years and it wasn't until a few months ago that I became a huge Harry Potter fan, and yes....I'm hooked! 

So what better way than to incorporate it into the classroom?! I randomly thought of this game one night & got super excited so just "go with me here" (even if you think it's lame)! Okay, so here goes...

First, you have to teach your kids how to make basic commands in Spanish (or any other language you teach). For us Spanish teachers, it's: habla, come, bebe, escribe, etc. 

Once that you feel they have got the hang of it and you're ready to do something hands on, this game works great! 

Here goes: 

1. If you have a big sombrero in your class, you can use it as the "Sorting Hat" (If you have not watched HP, this probably makes no sense) so you can just say Team 1 or Team 2. We sorted between Gryffindor & Slytherin. I let one kid go around and announce with team they were was quite comical. 

2. Once everyone has a team, tell the kids to huddle in a circle with their teams. They get 30 seconds to try to come together & get as MANY commands fresh on their minds. They can't write anything down, so a good memory is needed. 

3. Once the 30 seconds is up, they need to grab a chair, their wand (we used rulers) and form a line facing each other. They need to place their chair BEHIND them so if they get out, they sit down. The two teams will face each other in the rooms. 

4. I tell the kids they must throw a command at the other team by saying it correctly. Make sure you go in a line so it doesn't get confusing & people don't get laughed out. If they say the command incorrectly or lose their train of thought...they have to sit! 

5. Now, once they say their command if the opposing team does not know the command or what action to do immediately, they are out. I let my kids have about 3 seconds to "think" before I told them they were out. 

6. Keep going back and forth. Whichever team can get the opposing team to sit down FIRST, wins!!! 

Make it more interesting: 

Once a "spell" is thrown, I made my kids CONTINUE to do the was funny watching them keeping dancing, or eating, etc. I told them once 3 people on their team IN A ROW were doing an action, then I (the Head Master) would throw a spell that allowed them to stop...(I said "Basta") 

Another thing to make it interesting, I only let each team say their verb "ONCE" and if they accidentally said it, they were out. If you don't make this rule, every other command is "come" or "habla" LOL 

Have fun playing the game & if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below! 

P.S. I think the game was a hit considering I caught my kids talking about it on social media!!! 

God Bless,
Britt Baxter 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Explore the World in One Class Period

Today was such a cool lesson & I had a blast with my class...we traveled the world in 70 minutes. We didn't use any money, or have to wait in airport lines...we jumped from Mexico City to Madrid to Buenos Aires and never had to change an outfit. 

Yes, we used Google Earth! So I told the kids last week that we would be going around the world, and I think they thought "Oh, Mrs. Baxter is crazy as usual!" haha! So here's just a quick lesson plan but feel free to use Google Earth in anyway you would want:

1. The very first thing I did was explain WHAT Google Earth was. I wanted to avoid all the questions of how did they do that? What type of camera did they use? Blah blah blah (those details aren't important)!!!

We talked about it being a satellite and the use of Google Earth Cars (Yes, they exist)! 

2. I started in OUR hometown with Google Earth. I wanted the kids to see how accurate it was and how it looked in an aerial view. We placed the little "orange person" on some popular streets so they could see street view. The kids found it so nifty and were blown away! I heard comments like "They were in our town!" and "What is this black magic?" 

It was quite comical! 

3. Have the kids create a list of popular places they want to visit that speak Spanish. Have them take turns because they will be screaming things aloud. haha! 

When looking at the cities especially like Mexico City and Madrid...have them write down when they see Spanish words. 

You can do a "familiar/unfamiliar" side of words and places they see. My kids saw farmacia and made the assumption that there were lots of pharmacies in Mexico City (actually Mexico in general). Which, they were VERY right! :) 

Another activity I liked doing is typing in a city, bringing it up, and having them GUESS what place we were in. 

I would name 3 options and they would eliminate one and then guess between the two! 

4. Lastly, if you have ANY foreign exchange or any students from another country...have them look up their home city. We did this with our student from Colombia and we actually got to see where he went to school. It was so powerful and such an eye-opening experience for the kids. 

5. At the very end (or for a bellringer the next day if you are teaching upper level) you can have them write a mini summary of their experience (what they saw, how they felt, were their predictions correct, what things did they learn, which places are their favorite, etc.) 

If you are teaching level 1, they could write it in English and add in Spanish keywords. 

Hope you enjoy this activity!!! Put all kinds of feedback below :) 

God Bless,
Brittany B.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Excitement with Teaching Music...Ya'll got to do this!

Check out my video of my excitement of how teaching with music has changed my attitude of teaching upper levels. Teach grammar without TEACHING GRAMMAR!