Classroom Management & Organization, Sp 1 Unit 1: Greetings/goodbyes/ numbers/calendar, Teaching Reflections

First Week of School: I love everything!

2015-08-07 10.03.40
Reviewing our basic phrases with Bob and Squishy. I LOVE Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell’s “First Unit of Spanish 1” unit plans! I have to follow our department’s curriculum but her lesson plans let me start off the year with a comprehensible input BANG while still satisfying the department requirements.
  • Also, I love those speech bubbles. Spent waaaaay too much time getting them, the textboxes, and the animation perfect! Here’s the presentation, the template is on page 7.
  • I love stations! I repeated these station lesson plans from last year…so much easier this time around! Also easier with my new classroom and having space to organize materials!
2015-08-07 10.00.27

Basic “to-do” list on board, asterisks for what requires something to be written down, and a note on where to find instructions for each task.
  • I love having clothespins hot glued all over my walls:
2015-08-07 10.00.16
Grab a bag & take it back to your desks.
  • I love seeing my kiddos playing with the blocks AND following the instructions!
2015-08-07 10.05.41
I set a time limit on the blocks station… it worked well this year. Had issues last year with kids complaining about not getting the blocks because one group hogged them.
  • I love that I saved my example paragraph from last year, and COULD FIND IT when I needed it! Also, I love that I had all the instructions typed up and could actually find them on my computer! Hooray organization!
    2015-08-07 10.05.22
  • I love the enthusiasm of brand new Spanish 1 students! And I LOVE hearing them practice with each other!
2015-08-07 10.04.58

I love how organized I am the first week of school…even had a box with extra handouts for the week on the shelf below.
  • I love my Spanish books. And I LOVE seeing my students look through them!

2015-08-07 10.04.49

2015-08-07 11.41.58
Switched gears after 1st period and bagged up books in gallon zip locks for Spanish 2 to use in a cognate lesson.
  • I don’t love reviewing grammar in Spanish 2…but I loved doing conjugation practice in a walk-about with these prompts posted on the walls!
2015-08-05 07.26.57
Rules: 1. Write a verb in the correct form that makes sense in the sentence. 2. Don’t repeat any verb another student has already written. 3. Be creative! Be wordy! Be FUNNY!
2015-08-05 07.26.39
And I love that my department head bought me all this beautiful construction paper!
  • And last of all…I love the honeymoon phase. Happy back-to-school, y’all.
Class Activities

Reflection on Stations

Stations are….

  • [Sometimes] low prep.
2014-10-21 08.31.11
Today’s low-prep stations – beginning school unit and continuing to review Latin American Geography
  • Students getting CI from a source other than me.
  • Everyone working at their own pace.
  • No one getting left behind: stations let me sit with students who need support with their reading, without slowing down my students who process more quickly.
  • Built-in early finisher activities. Done with numbers one and two? Get on the ActivBoard and do a review game, or pull it up on your phone.
  • Stations are differentiated instruction.

I had another activity planned today, but I ended up switching gears about 7:45 this morning. I began my school unit yesterday, introducing school supplies and classes. At the end of class yesterday, my students wrote out their schedules in Spanish. The schedule-writing activity is important to me because, although it’s basically just copying vocabulary, it gives students a chance to identify what words they need to talk about their own classes, and organize that information in a logical way. The schedules will be the basis for a number of activities throughout the unit, so I wanted to make sure all my students completed it. Except all my juniors missed first period yesterday, and it took forever to present the vocabulary in fifth period, and my seventh period takes a long time to complete any written assignment because they have trouble concentrating (even I’m a little ADHD by 7th period!). So how to get everyone caught up, without having the people who did their work yesterday sitting around doing nothing? Stations.  I know this isn’t the most exciting collection of stations, but it accomplished what I needed from the activity: everyone finishes schedules, most everyone does the reading and gets some more contextualized CI for classes and school supplies (and if you didn’t, sorry, you’ve got homework), and my early finishers get to play some review games, rather than goofing off, sleeping, or playing on their phones.  Success.

Class Activities, Sp 1 Unit 2: Who am I?

Stations: Descriptions Unit

Today was station day in Spanish 1! Today we were practicing giving descriptions, as well as reviewing numbers and time.

2014-09-10 08.50.02

List of stations on the board: I let my kids free-range (no time limits or specific order to do the stations in), so writing the list on the board helps let them know what activities are available. Later in the day, I rewrote the list and starred the “required” stations, and specified where they were in the room.

2014-09-10 08.49.14


Writing station – instructions and an example on the board. I make multiple copies of the instructions so students can take it back to their desks. One of the beautiful things about stations is that it lets students work at their own pace – they can take as much time as they need to do the writing, without feeling like they need to keep up with their classmates.


2014-09-10 13.16.54


This is the second time we’ve done stations and my kids are trained! Taking a picture of the instructions is always acceptable, and saves on paper and clutter.


2014-09-10 08.51.54

This is just like last time – get a bag of questions, and practice out loud with your partner. I used the same bags of questions, and added ¿De qué color es tu pelo? ¿De qué color son tus ojos? for the current unit focus.  “Wait, what do we write? How will you know we did it?” Nothing. I’ll know you did it because you learned it.
2014-09-10 08.52.02

Reading/drawing station: Forgot to take a picture of the instructions, but basically, it’s “Draw What I Say” based on a text instead of listening. I typed up some short descriptions, and had them choose four of them to draw and label. Later in the day (I always learn as I go!), I also offered the option to summarize in English instead of drawing – the point is to demonstrate comprehension, and I’m happy to let them do that in the way that they are most comfortable with.
2014-09-10 08.52.09


Jenga: practice with numbers. Plus, it’s fun! Had to reduce the time limit to two games, then to one, because they’re just too good at it 🙂


2014-09-10 08.58.13


Yep, that’s a hump day shirt.

2014-09-10 08.52.192014-09-10 08.52.56
2014-09-10 13.18.05

More practice with time. Yep, we did that matching activity two weeks ago. #ShamelessRecycler

2014-09-10 15.11.10


Guess Who: I printed these Guess Who Boards with Spanish names in color last year (google “Quién es Quién to find them – bet there are other languages, too!) and laminated them. I provided students with a list of questions (they understand pretty well, but producing these questions is beyond their current ability level), and let them play the game, marking the boards with a dry erase marker. They don’t erase perfectly (these boards might have another year in them), but it’s pretty good for a cheap version of the game.


2014-09-10 08.52.39


We spent about 40 minutes on stations today, and I plan to give them another 15 or 20 minutes tomorrow. I found last time that two full days was too much time, and the behavior started to deteriorate. *Most* of my students really enjoyed the day, but there’s always that one who doesn’t, and I find it’s the negative comments that stick with me more than the positive. I had a student (at the ripe old age of 16) tell me that my class was too “freshman-y” today, and honestly, it really stung. It did inspire some reflection, though, and that comment sparked a few changes in how I managed the stations in the afternoon – mainly, clarifying that the reading, writing, time, and conversation stations MUST be done, but playing games was optional (as long as you are doing something related to Spanish), and giving the option to translate instead of draw at the reading station. I refuse to give up the [instructionally useful] silliness and games [that provide opportunities to practice language in context], but I can also find ways to incorporate options that appeal to a variety of students. Autonomy and choice are HUGE motivators, and it’s my goal to incorporate activities that allow students to learn and show me their learning in ways that are comfortable and meaningful to them. It also occurred to me that the freedom to manage your own time and participate in the learning activities that you prefer with minimal supervision from the teacher (I’m there, but on station day there’s no way I can be on top of every student simultaneously) takes a certain amount of maturity, and the freshmen and sophomores totally blew it out of the water today. 🙂

Class Activities, Sp 1 Unit 1: Greetings/goodbyes/ numbers/calendar

Stations: Practice and perfect!

I was talking to a few teachers in my department between classes earlier this week:

“I’ve introduced most of the unit’s vocab, but I need more ways to practice it. Students can do all right on straight translation, or remember a phrase long enough to do their stamps, but when I ask them a question out loud, they still can’t tell the difference between ¿Cómo estás? and ¿Cómo te llamas? How do I get them to keep practicing, without it being repetitious?”

How indeed, to get lots of repetitions without it getting old? STATIONS.

Here’s what I put together to practice basic beginning-of-Spanish-1 questions, numbers and letters, as well as letting them explore the language a little bit.

1. Conversation station: practice asking and answering questions out loud with a partner.

20140814_09562320140814_095742My classes are around 32 students each, so I make multiple sets of station supplies to give students the maximum number of options in choosing a station – I don’t want “but there’s nothing left to do!” or, “all the stations I need are taken!” to ever be an excuse. I printed the questions out on cardstock, and plan to save and add to these bags throughout the year. This station WILL be recycled!

2 . Numbers station: I bought these knock-off Jenga blocks from the Dollar General for $3 a few years ago. I wrote the numbers on them in a sharpie, from 1-42. Lots of teachers give students a task to correspond to a specific number, but today I just asked them to put the blocks in order.

20140814_104019 3. Reading station: I’ve been acquiring Spanish children’s books slowly over the past few years. I have pure Spanish children’s books, an Autobus Mágico, some bilingual books (some collected for me by my friend’s mom from Cheerio boxes), plus some “First 100 words in Spanish” type picture-dictionary books. I also have some novels, some poetry, a Bible, and a set of picture flashcards. This station was just for students to explore Spanish independently, from a book that looked interesting to them. For accountability, I asked them to write down five words they learned – either from looking at the English translation, looking at the picture, looking them up in a dictionary, or by recognizing a cognate.


In one period I caught two boys going through the flashcards – Guess what bicicleta means?? Ok, coche? Avión? #ReasonNumber287WhyILoveTeachingNovices

4. Spelling station: a good friend of mine gave me a Spanish Scrabble game (Pensante!) a few years ago. I divided the tiles into 4 baggies (about 25 tiles per bag – so multiple groups could participate at once), and asked students to first look at the tiles and review the alphabet (they need to be able to spell their name for their stamps). Then, they can arrange the letters into as many Spanish words as possible (they wrote them on their paper for accountability), and add up their points. They got really into this one! Also, isn’t it amazing how many words they know after just 2 weeks of class?20140814_10041020140814_104814 20140814_1053365. Tech stations: review vocabulary on Quizlet on smartphone, on my Promethean board, or on my desktop computer. They love the scatter game, and they can plug their headphones in and listen to the pronunciation.

6. Writing station: write a few sentences in Spanish about yourself telling your name, age, birthday, where you’re from, plus any bonus information you know how to say! I posted an example paragraph about myself on the board for extra reading input.

7. Stamps station: This is straight from the fabulous Jefferson County World Language Curriculum playbook. I gave them a set of speaking goals at the beginning of the unit, written as I can statements – I can introduce myself. I can ask someone their age. I can tell the date. As they learn how to do each goal, they do it for me out loud and I stamp their sheet. I LOVE the stamp sheets, but honestly, it’s difficult to balance listening to students individually while managing/teaching the other 31 students. Except on station day! I wrote up VERY CLEAR instructions for each station, posted around the room, and tried to be explicit about my expectations up front, so that students could manage their learning independently. If the rest of my students are occupied in learning tasks that don’t require my direct supervision, I’m free to focus on individual students, listen to their stamps, and give individual help and feedback. Differentiation success!


My stations instructions – don’t reinvent the wheel! I posted these around the room, and made multiple copies so students could take the instructions back to their work area. I also included suggested group size and how long to spend at each station, but I didn’t end up supervising this too closely – if they are engaged in language-learning activities and behaving appropriately, I am happy! Also, I might have taped the “Stamps Station” sign to my shirt… just sayin’ 🙂

More stations resources – the generous sharing of other language teachers has helped me so much in learning how to implement and manage stations! Here are some of the posts that have helped me:

The Creative Language Class has a pretty comprehensive series on stations (and have lots of other great ideas too!), so if you’re just getting started I would recommend starting by reading through their posts.

Kristy Placido on stations:

Stations in Spanish 3 and AP:

More on stations…