Conversation Cups Assessment


I’ve really enjoyed doing simultaneous presentations with speaking practice in my Spanish 2 and Spanish 3 classes but something that I’ve done recently with Seesaw is also working out well. I’ve done Conversation Cups both as a formative assessment and a summative assessment of interpersonal communication.

For Conversation Cups, I create a list of discussion questions in Quizlet, cut them out and put them in a cup. Students sit in small groups and use the questions as discussion prompts. I usually have them record their group conversations in Seesaw so that I can provide feedback.

This week students did the Conversation Cups as a station activity (formative assessment) and then again two days later as a summative assessment. I like to level the groups by skill level so the conversation is balanced but sometimes it’s nice to see what happens when random students get together.

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Reading Assessment & Interactive Google Slides


I’ve reflected in the past on using Google Slides as Hyperdoc activities.  This morning I graded reading assessments that were completed using drag and drop activities in Google Slides and I’m excited about the ease of the activities and the skills I was able to assess.

This week I did a lecture on M-11 and the terrorist attacks in Madrid in 2004. The assessment for this kids at the end of the week was to read and comprehend statements and key vocabulary words. The 4 slide assessment included matching vocabulary to pictures, matching up sentence fragments to create complete statements and matching emojis with selected statements. The end result gave me a great assessment of the student’s ability to comprehend written phrases.

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Although the sentences could be in any order, I looked for color combinations to let me know if the students correctly matched the sentences. 

They enjoyed the ease of the drag and drop elements and I enjoyed the ease of the grading. I color coded boxes so that I could easily compare correct answers. For anything that was not looking correct, I changed the line color to red and made it bigger.

Although these sentences could be listed in any order, I looked to make sure the color combinations were correct. I highlighted in red anything that is incorrect.I would encourage you to play around with drag and drop and color in Google Slides to simplify your assessments. It’s a great way to go digital with assessments and the students really enjoyed this method. I’ll put a copy of the assessment before. If you are interested in this Unit let me know and I can do a write-up and share the lecture, station activities and discussion prompts.

El Amante y el Desacuerdo


One of my most popular CI units in the last two years has been the Unit where we discuss “desacuerdos”. This year I tweaked it a little bit to incorporate the fabulous Nicky Jam and the results were immediate and engagement high.

I used this lesson in Spanish 2 right after the introduction of irregular past tense verbs “fue” and “vio”. One day the kids played Nicky Jam’s “El Amante” during Cantaninja. I was preparing for my traditional storytelling intro to “desacuerdo” in the next week and while watching the video, fireworks went off. THAT video would make a great MovieTalk introduction to desacuerdo. I scraped the old story-asking script and created a new unit.

I began by introducing the targets, circling and discussing them with personal details. We talked about types of disagreements, what happens, how do you deal or resolve, etc. The next day we did a MovieTalk with images from “El Amante”. The past tense targets fit in so nicely and I was able to introduce them to some new vocab words along the way. They picked up a lot through context. We then watched the video. Some content in the video may not be suitable for all levels. There is the implication of domestic violence and some language. My students loved it…especially the ending which gave me the opening to tease the future tense.

Over the next two days we continued with storytelling and retelling activities:

  • Back AtCha
  • Blind Retell
  • 8 Essential Events
  • Collaborative Mural
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The collaborative storytelling mural my students did for El Amante (using the interactive whiteboard)

The targets were hit and the story retold. Then we spent a day analyzing the actual lyrics and doing a Coro with the chorus. We also continued to listen to the song throughout these days too and also did a Lyrics Training as a class. I created a Goosechase to have the students create Freeze Frame images of key phrases. I used those phrases in a Listening Assessment later that week. I also made a cloze Reading Assessment based on the story too and administered that through PearDeck.

Another one of the most fun activities we did while analyzing the lyrics was a version of #Booksnaps which I called Palabras en Escenas. We had a large Google Slide deck (using the amazing Roster to Slides add-on) where each student had to create one slide which depicted part of Nicky Jam’s lyrics and how they were applicable in other situations. Students got creative, showcased their own pop culture loves and used images and Bitmojis to reflect meaning. It was a quick activity that produced some great connections.

The music based CI lesson went so well that I’m trying to figure out what to do next. At this same time I also did “No Soy como tu Crees” with Spanish 3 as a tie in with La Llorona de Mazatlan. I can tell Nicky Jam was a hit through as he keeps being requested for Cantaninja…and several students downloaded “El Amante” and have it on their current playlist. Music + CI for the win!

Almost forgot my Pop Culture interpretation of El Amante con Jim y Pam 🙂

Interactive Google Slides as Hyperdoc


Recently Kristine Keefe wrote a guest blog on Maris Hawkin’s site about the amazing uses of Google in the classroom. It really got me excited about the possibilities with assessments and different visual activities that are possible by integrating Google Drawings and Google Slides into the classroom.

Typically when I create a Hyperdoc, I use just a Google Doc and include hyperlink or embedded activity elements. For an upcoming Hyperdoc I created to review different tenses and information from the beginning episodes of Internado, I decided to make a Google Slides Hyperdoc.

One thing I already like about the Google Slides Hyperdoc vs. my traditional Google Doc is that it is easy to organize and navigate. I can easily flip to the slide that I want to see—AND the information is visible at a quick glance in the sidebar view. I can easily see if students skipped any steps without having to scroll through a 3 page doc. With Google Slides, I have some added design elements that I enjoyed playing with too. I could color code different sections and create some cohesiveness with design and organization that is not possible with a Google Doc.

The best part about Kristine’s suggestions and using Google Slides is that you can easily create drag and drop elements for interactive opportunities. I used to be able to do this by inserting a Google Drawing into a Google Doc, but it’s so much easier and more intuitive with a Google Slide.  I can create activities where students drag colored text boxes that look like buttons. There is something engaging about dragging and dropping vs. typing answers that gives Hyperdocs a nice element.

Here is a copy of my Internado Tense Review Hyperdoc. It is based on information from Season 1 Episodes 1-4.

In the coming weeks I plan on making listening assessments and reading assessments with Google Docs. If you are interested, check back here and I might do a write up on those.

Maravilla: Wonder Projects in the Foreign Language Classroom


Prompted by a post by John Spencer, I knew I wanted to end 2017 in an engaging way. In my Spanish 2 classes, I had the perfect opportunity to have a week and a half open for a Wonder Week/Genius Hour type activity. All semester I’ve been focused on creating authentic opportunities for students to be creators and architects of their own learning. I knew what I wanted to do but wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to execute it. In fact, I had back up Spanish 2 lesson plans sketched out because I didn’t know if this was going to go anywhere.

Now that I’m staring at the results and reflecting on the process, I can share with you our journey and how valuable a time it was.

Una Semana de Maravilla: The Journey of Wonder Week

Day One: Curiosities

I had spent a lot of time looking through Laura Sexton’s reflections on Genius Hour and felt that the the most important part was to do a strong introduction and hook to generate some ideas and spark passion. Based on some of Laura’s prompts and our own unit on entertainment we just finished, I created a PearDeck where the students had to DRAW their responses to some questions. I only have them 3 minutes and then we discussed (and circled with PQA) some of the student responses. We got some good repetition and a fun discussion.

As I started to slide into the investigation project, we watched a TED talk and a few other clips I had seen from a PL class I took with George Curous. The idea here was to show them possibilities that young people can do and to inspire them.

I gave students a brainstorming sheet with some sentence starters that we would refer to for the next week. Their brainstorming assignment was in English and I wanted them to think of three topics or categories that interest them and think of questions that they have about each of these topics.

This was a very full Day One. If I had it to do over again, I would split it into two days. The CI we got from the PearDeck was super valuable and I could have spent a class period on that alone—-probably should have. I definitely cut us off short so that I could intro the brainstorming.

Day Two: Questions

I brought us back on Day Two with a pep talk from Kid President on changing the world. They somewhat laughed at my suggestion that they could change the world but couldn’t argue when I said it was possible.

Around the room I had 10-12 large posters with topics written on them: Art, Technology, Sports, Human Relationships etc. Then I gave them 10 minutes to walk around and write and brainstorm questions they can related to these topics. At first they weren’t sure but seeing other people’s questions on different posters really launched them into thinking of more questions. I had two empty posters with no category and students were encouraged to think of questions that wouldn’t fall into any category there too. By the time my three classes were done, they generated nearly 180 questions on a wide variety of topics.

We discussed how all learning begins with questioning. Their task today was to think of something they want to investigate and come up with THREE questions they are curious to know the answers how.

Foreign language confession: at this point I break from the target language. The questioning done today and the investigation to follow is all in English. Perhaps a breach of FL “best practice” but I shifted my focus to general “learning” for this portion of the project and would pick up FL for the reflections at the end.

Students submitted their three (or more!) questions to me in classroom and I responded by asking at least 3 more questions related to their questions. This was 1) my attempt to guide some students that I knew were going to get stuck, 2) expand the focus of students looking only for basic information and 3) show my natural curiosity in their investigation.

Their homework was to #neverstoplearning about their topic for the next 48 hours. They would ask me questions about “How should we answers? Do you want us to write things down?” and my answer was the same: I want you to learn for the next 48 hours. Whatever that means to you—-just never stop learning. If you think you are done—you are not. Keep investigating for 48 hours. Some did not like this response but it was one of the most valuable things I think I did to encourage them in their investigations.

Day Three & Four: Investigation

I was gone on a professional day so students had freedom to explore and learn. While I wasn’t in the classroom, they were sharing their insights with me through classroom. I asked them to fill me in on the process and this was a rewarding day. To hear from them during the inquiry process was great. There were a lot of discoveries and surprises and I was eager to wrap this up with them and let them share their learning.

Day Five: Yo Tengo Maravilla Presentation

Welcome back to the target language! Remember those sentence starters and phrases I introduced a while back. Well, today it was time to put those into practice. We had a quick informal sharing of our topic information in the target language and then I shared a presentation template with the students.

Based on their research, I wanted them to generate a list of 10 vocabulary words associated with their learning, one phrase that shares their wondering, one phrase of what they learned and one personal reflection about the project and/or their learning. Within the presentation they could also use English for supportive details and extra information.

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This was a great guide and I’m happy with the FL tie-in. It is not much but my goal is to increase their familiarity with these reflective phrase starters so this was a good way to accomplish that. The vocabulary I thought was important and it had two unforeseen benefits. One, we had a discussion about proper use of translators and dictionaries and how to use them. I said that obviously they were going to need to look things up but wanted them to do so responsibly. This gave me the opportunity to teach them how to do this.

Secondly, I was surprised how the personal vocabulary really helped the students build their own skills. The day before break we did a non-wonder-week related game about our “Palabra Más Impresionante” (the vocab word we are most impressed that we know) and a few students used these vocabulary words as their example. And they were words that I didn’t know (I’m not up to date on my fishing and lure terminology) but these kids were able to use the vocabulary correctly. Very impressive moment for me.

Final Day: Sharing

We were up against a holiday break but I know that it’s important for the students to share their information. I wanted this to be shared with other teachers since it is such a cross-curriculum activity, so I had them record their investigative experience in English in a FlipGrid.

Hear our learning here!

I love FlipGrid because you get to hear the reflections of the students in their own words. You can reply and share with a global audience. All learning should be shared with a global audience and I’m happy to share ours with you. If you have a moment, please listen to what they learned and share feedback.

If I were to do it again, I would do something bigger as a sharing component. I wanted to do a gallery walk in Spanish with those presentations and maybe a small group IPA/speed dating activity.

I think that I will do something similar again at the end of the year or maybe 3rd Quarter and then I’ll be able to use some more of these ideas. In the meantime I’m really grateful that I didn’t have to resort to my back up plans and instead had an engaging and meaningful end of 2017 with my Spanish 2 class.

Differentiated Communication Tasks


Among the internet’s greatest resources for language teachers interested in comprehensible input is Laura Sexton. Her blog PBL in the TL has given me a lot of inspiration. My recent implementation of PUEDOS stems from a blog she wrote

I started using PUEDOS at the beginning of my Spanish 2, 3 and 4 classes the past two weeks. Now I can sit back and reflect on their power and feel encouraged about the potential for increased communication happening student-to-student in the classroom. Students are given a sheet with 10 communication tasks; varying in complexity and skill. I appreciated the template for these proficiency tasks provided by AATSPSC keynote speaker Alanna Breen and used this to help me develop communication tasks related to the content and skills I was trying to develop within our units.

Puedos

I allot the first 5 to 8 minutes of class for 5 consecutive days for the completion of PUEDOS. The goal is to prove that you can do as many different communication tasks as possible (Puedo hacerlo). Each student must get a classmate to assess whether or not they can do the task. I asked the students to be critical and helpful and to really be sure that the student could complete the task confidently before signing off.

During PUEDO time, students interact with each other in the target language; listening, responding and helping each other successfully complete communication tasks. I would also float around the room, listening and occasionally assessing a student’s ability to complete a task as well.

After five days I collected the sheets to see how the students did. When I collected them, I would spot check and ask students to complete a task that they had indicated that they could do. This helped keep them accountable for the learning and also cautioned classmates to be honest in their assessments of each other. If they didn’t feel confident that Riley could do it when I asked him–don’t tell him that he can do it (No, lo siento no puedes).

I loved using this at the beginning of class because it just blasted the room with a sea of Spanish sounds and communication and helped set the tone for an enriching and engaging experience. Since each student could only sign off twice on a paper, it forced interaction between students that normally don’t interact. The repetitive nature of it was nice and it allowed for a lot of individualization. Certain students were stronger in some of the tasks than in others and benefited from hearing, or “testing”, another student. I also was able to witness great examples of collaborative learning and students helping each other out. One girl told a student that she didn’t think he could do it yet and then followed up with a great explanation of why and suggestions of how he could improve and practice.

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For Spanish 2 and 3, I did use these PUEDOS as a general summative assessment in interpersonal communication. I don’t know if I always will but I did for our first implementation. I love the fact that I can customize these tasks to address Unit specific objectives or extensions. Spanish 3 recently completed PUEDOS while working on the first half of “La Llorona de Mazatlan” by Katie Baker and some of the PUEDO tasks really helped comprehension and connection of the material.

I look forward to more engaging communication tasks like this and am so proud of my students and their ability to communicate with each other on a daily basis.

Read Laura Sexton’s Blog on Differentiated Social Warm-ups here.

Comprehension with Emojis


I occasionally give students comprehension assessment options and one of the options is to summarize the passages using emojis. Emojis are great in the language learning classroom because it forces the student to infer meaning through drawings and pictures rather than just writing in English.

Today we continued reading Chapter 2 of Frida Kahlo by Kristy Placido. I wanted an activity where the students worked without me to read and comprehend, yet I still wanted to check and see how they were doing. And it was 8:11 in the morning and I hadn’t thought of anything.

Quickly I revisited my objective: What was it that I wanted? I wanted the students to read Chapter 2 and demonstrate that they comprehended key information. They read Chapter 2 silently and then I read it out loud to them.

As their comprehension exercise, they created a Google Doc with three columns; in one column they put emojis and in the second column they described in English how that emoji or emoji phrase relates to the text, using the third column to cite information in the text.

It was a quick activity that I was really pleased with. The students demonstrated creativity and good textual comprehension.

Skill Building Station Activity


During our Spanish 2 Unit on travel and trains, I try to highlight the cultural importance of train travel in other countries. Towards the end of the Unit, we do some exploration with the Atocha train station in Madrid and discuss the bombings of M-11. I find the discussions about the terrorist attacks is something that interests, surprises and engages the students. It prompts a lot of questions – – which is classroom gold.

Recently I used the Atocha M-11 attacks for a stations activity. Although all the materials used in the stations could be used as summative assessments, I use it merely as skill building formative assessment. This year I used this skill building stations the day after the end of 3rd Quarter. My goal was for my students to use these activities to build their skills.

Using data from the last grading period, I split the class into small groups based on which skill they needed to work on. I identified a group to work on improving their writing and a group to improve their reading skills. I had one group of students that were missing work or had missed class time recently so that they could do acquisition or make-up activities. And most importantly, I identified a group of students for enrichment that could really do a deeper activity.


Normally I like to physically have different stations set up around the room so that the students have to physically move from one spot to another. On this day, however, the physical environment was set-up for an activity in my Spanish 3 class and I didn’t want to mess with two different set-ups. So instead I labeled file folders in the front of the room. Working in their small groups, students went and grabbed a station’s folder and completed the work. When finished, they put that folder back and grabbed another one.

I assigned each group a starting folder. (For example, the group that needed for focus on writing was assigned to start with Folder #1) This was the activity I was most interested in assessing for those students. Each station activity could take a varying length of time. Students were expected to continue to work on the other stations for the remainder of class. At the end of class, I collected all activities to see how they did.

One thing I love about collaboration, student centered activities like stations is that it leaves me untethered so that I can freely float around to areas where I am needed. It gives the students a chance to work independently and really challenges them to rely on themselves.

Dot Game Review


Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 11.19.28 AM.pngI love working in familiar games to review and practice vocabulary. One simple game my kids get excited about is the Dot Game.

In the Dot Game, you have a grid of dots. Partners take turns drawing lines, connecting the dots. If you draw the fourth line completing a box, you score a point and put your initials in the box. The objective is to make more boxes than your partner.

So how to turn this into an activity?

I create a grid of dots. I choose a word from our Unit to be in the center of the boxes that will potentially be formed.

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Students take turns drawing lines and making boxes. Once a student has made a box, their partner must use that word in a sentence. Sometimes I just do this out loud as oral practice and sometimes I have them write sentences using the word. It just depends on our focus.

It’s a nice way to review vocabulary while staying in the target language. Today I wanted my students to prepare for tomorrow’s writing assessment (I’ll be using a variation of Martina Bex’s BINGO writing activity). For the assessment, students need to write a paragraph about television and movies using the target vocabulary in their BINGO card (using words correctly to form at least one BINGO).

After we played the Dot Game today, I had students make a list of the words in their partner’s boxes. Then, they had to use those words to write a paragraph about television and movies—essentially the same standard that I am grading tomorrow. Today was all about practice. How can I use this list of words into a paragraph? What do these words mean? How do I use them?

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Students in this class circled the words they needed to use on their vocabulary sheets; in other classes I just told them to write their list on their paper.

Today this worked great for me as a Monday activity. It’s largely student centered so my job was to just facilitate the activities. I also love getting them to review vocabulary while staying in the target language and not thinking just about the straight translations of everything. Today they were focused on how to use the words to express thoughts rather than just trying to be a dictionary of terms. I feel like it gave them some good practice for tomorrow’s final writing assessment.

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Trapdoor Activity


Trapdoor is a bellringer or opening activity I do to engage the class in listening, speaking and comprehending the Spanish language. It takes a small amount of prep work but the payoff is great.

I created some warm-up activities for the first days of class in Spanish 2. It always takes me a little while to gauge where these new students are in their proficiency.  The warm-up activities I created go over the basics from Spanish 1.Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 1.45.43 PM.png

Here’s how it works: I read a paragraph to the students, telling them that they need to pay attention and be able to repeat the paragraph back to me. They usually get a little scared by the notion that they have to repeat a paragraph. After I’m done reading, I project the Trapdoor Script to the class. The paragraph is missing words and in their place are three options.

I choose one student. That student begins to read the paragraph–filling in the blank with appropriate word. Once they are wrong, just “buzz” them or say “no” and choose another student. The next student has to go back to the beginning and read the paragraph.

Occasionally the first student is able to knock it out of the park. Sometimes we have to go through about 15 students before it’s read back to be perfectly from start to finish. I prefer when it needs to be repeated because the class gets to hear the language from their classmates and needs to listen to hear if their choices were correct.

 

Download the free Novice Trapdoor Activities here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Trapdoor-Novice-Activity-Spanish-2590256