We will always remember this past school year for all the difficulty it was! One of the things that I really learned was to be flexible and to let go. It was a tiring school year and I really needed to take a break from many things. As a result I actually haven’t added any new posts to this blog since April. But I love to blog as a way of publicly reflecting on my teaching, and I really enjoy sharing about what happens in my classroom. However, like many of you, I was too exhausted to even open my blog to add one more post.
I’m writing this post close to the new school year, and somehow I feel a lot of excitement to go back to school because I’m going back to a school I have in my heart and really love. But I also have mixed feelings because we don’t really know how everything will run until we are all together in school.
One thing that I learned through this pandemic, and I can’t believe it took experiencing something like this to learn (!), is to take “un día a la vez.” I decided to make it my motto because taking one day at a time for me means being flexible, having the ability to let go, and being reflective! Say no more, I will start the school year with this mindset!
I teach at a school with strong SEL and Responsive Classroom programs, so many of the teachers already have as part of their routine the practice of greeting their students at the door. I have seen how positive the children enter the classrooms after greeting their teacher.
Last year I started using “La frase de la semana”as part of my classroom routine and a way to teach new phrases to my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. I normally great my K-2 students with a simple “buenos días” or “buenas tardes.” Inspired by all the videos of teachers using different greetings with their students at the door, I created this set of signs. I made different types of greetings that I rotate weekly. The poster only has room for three greetings. I feel that adding all the greetings will make it hard for my students to choose one, so I keep it simple.
Watch the videos below to get inspired!
You can even make it a classroom job!
Are you ready to bring this idea to your classroom? After downloading the pages, I recommend laminating then trimming down each sign and adding velcro on the back so you can change the greetings easily. As I mentioned above, it’s better to keep it simple for the little ones, so I don’t recommend adding more than three greetings to the poster at a time. Here is an example:
Click here to download all the signs to make your poster!
It doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the 20th year teaching, the feeling of the butterflies in the stomach always comes back on the first day of school, and I had mine this week!
Every year I have new students so I put together a book or a powerpoint. This year I decided to go with a Prezi presentation – I used the free version. I included pictures of my family and Colombia and shared them with my students. I used this with my second and third grade classes. At the end of my presentation we played a game called “Falso o Cierto,” and it was basically questions about my presentation. I asked questions such as ¿Es tu maestra de español de Costa Rica?, ¿En la familia de tu maestra de español hay 5 personas? and the children had to answer if it was false or true. They seemed to enjoy playing this game. Many of them participated, and the new ones got to learn something about me.
After the game we played “pasa la bola,” and students had to answer, using full sentences, when asked ¿Cómo estas? and also ¿Cómo te llamas?
They needed a little bit of movement, we reviewed colors and the shared about their favorite color before playing the “color, colorcito ” game.
(image taken from the Boston Children’s museum website)
It was time to settle down and talk about the rules in class. Toward the end of last school year, I started using “Whole Brain Teaching“in my class. I had great results, so I decided to implement it from the outset of this school year.
We went over the first 5 classroom rules and practiced them a lot!
At the end of class, I used an oral “exit ticket” about the rules and then they went to line up to go back to their classrooms.
It was a simple lesson, but it seemed to be a good fit to start the new school year. If you were wondering if this all happened in Spanish, yes, it did! Modeling a lot, using TPR, and tons of visuals help! It was a 45 minute period too!
I am one of those Spanish teachers that loves singing in class for many reasons. Through songs, students learn new vocabulary, internalize grammar structures that may be useful in the future, and explore vocabulary in context – and singing along to a tune is a great way for them to practice pronunciation.
I teach at the elementary level and of course some songs may be complicated for my students. However I ensure there is a natural progression, where I first introduce some basic rhythms, and later, with greater familiarity of beats and timing, we use the rhythms in the various songs we learn in class. We sing the songs while adding some features of the rhythms and some basic dance steps, which adds some movement to the singing and gets everyone moving in class to break the ice and get circulation moving! I also have a set of flash cards with some famous singers that I show while doing the activity. You can download the cards for this activity HERE.
This is how I use the cards:
Rock: Pretend you are playing an electric guitar while singing. Bachata: Use a soft voice and pretend to hold a microphone. Salsa: Sing faster and use the basic Salsa step. Merengue: Use the Merengue step and sing fast. Ranchera: Use a deep voice and pretend to hold a sombrero while singing. Vallenato: Pretend that you are playing an accordion, which is the main instrument in Vallenato.
I have put together a list of songs that go along with the pictures. This might help your students identify the rhythms with the singers. This is also a fun way to bring some culture (and pop culture) into your classes. Feel free to add more traditional rhythms to your list. ¡A cantar y bailar!
Are we supposed to return those 3-D glasses after we watch a movie? I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that your students will have so much fun with them! I have a couple of pairs that I’ve kept and use with my students to play a simple and silly game they all love.
I’ve created small flash cards that I stick to the glasses using velcro. I ask for a volunteer to wear the glasses and guess the name of the flash card that I’ve placed on top. There are different cards related to the units we’re exploring. This game never gets old!
Once the volunteer is wearing the glasses, the class asks the questions in unison. The student with the glasses gets three turns to guess. Depending on their level, I might ask them to make sentences using each specific word.
I also use this game as an opportunity to explain the differences between ¿qué es? and ¿qué son? vs ¿quién es? and ¿quienes son? My students are very young, so I choose not to have discussions specifically about grammar in my classes, but they understand it through songs and games like this one. Naturally 🙂
There is a freebie here for you! Just click HERE to download the cards.
I teach PreK-3 Spanish in a FLES program. I don’t have a classroom, which means I am always on the run. Sometimes I consider myself lucky not to have a classroom – like a traveler who can live simply with whatever she can carry instead of building up “stuff” or having to take care of a “home base.” It’s also really nice to get to know what’s happening in all the different teachers’ classrooms so I can coordinate my curriculum and tailor or tweak my lessons to support some of the units my students are exploring with their homeroom teachers, and to match each classroom’s distinctive look, feel, and personality. However, the downside to being an itinerant viajera (traveler) is that my school is laid out as a campus, with several small buildings scattered about, and when the weather gets bad, I suffer from all the things I have to carry with me (though I save money on gym memberships, but that’s another story…). I have been teaching for 15 years and have found that every year I have been developing strategies to make my job easier when moving from classroom to classroom. In this post, I’ll share what I’ve been doing, hoping this can help you too 🙂
TOTE BAGS ARE GREAT!I use rigid canvas tote bags because they remain open, making it easier for me to reach my materials at a moment’s notice when teaching. Since I teach from Pre-K through 3rd grade, I use three bags: One for Pre-K and K
One for First and Second grade One for Third Grade
LET’S TAKE A LOOK INSIDE ONE OF MY BAGS
They might look heavy, but really they are not! I’m careful to pay attention to the weight I put in my bag, again like a backpacking traveler! Many of the objects I have are made of fabrics or paper – more bulk than weight.
USEFUL PROPS TO CARRY IN YOUR BAG
1. Clipboards: I use clipboards to carry my lesson plan for the day and my schedule.
2. Chime: I have a chime in my bag just in case my chants don’t work to call the
students to attention!
3. Balls: I use them in games to give turns to children. There is also a game called “Pasa la Bola” that my students love to play. You can find more info about this gamehere.
4. Hangers: I use them to carry a calendar and posters.
4. Puppets: My younger students always love when I invite puppet friends to class to sing songs or play games. Here is a post that will give you more tips to use puppets in class.
5. A map: I found one at a fabric store, and I love it! It has every single continent, and I just fold it and put it in my bag. I am still trying to find one in Spanish!
6. Gloves: I use gloves for storytelling with my younger students. I love making props out of fabric and just add velcro on the back. Students love stories and poems with props!
7. Flash cards and fly swatters: Flash cards are always easy to carry and are helpful when introducing vocabulary. Here is a postthat will help you with different games to play with flashcards and fly swatters.
8. Cookie tray: I use cookie trays with small pictures and magnets on the back. I also use them to place work that I collect from my students.
9. Music: An iPod or CD players are always helpful. Believe or not, not every teacher has a device to play music in their classrooms, so it helps to have my own. Plus, I can pre-load playlists according to my lesson plans and class adventures.
10. Last, but not least! This one is not heavy and belongs inside your heart! Creativity and passion for what you do!
¡Hola! I am Carolina, a Colombian elementary Spanish teacher based in Austin, Texas. Fun for Spanish Teachers is the result of my passion for teaching Spanish to children and my desire to inspire collaboration and creativity in a vibrant teaching and learning community. It’s the perfect stop if you are looking for songs, games, teaching tips, stories, and fun for your classes.