Classroom Dashboard

19 Aug


Here is a tutorial about creating a Dashboard. You’ll need some experience in Powerpoint to understand the tutorial, but it also teaches a lot of simple tips that many regular Powerpoint users aren’t aware of. 

Create a Classroom Dashboard in Powerpoint from Vallarie Sevilla on Vimeo.

Examples & Shares

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate image created by Val Sevilla

Since posting this, I have been asked about sharing my own dashboard. I’ve experimented with a few, so I am putting them in a folder to share, but many of my own have images related to our school as well. My favorite creation is the Yerba Mate that I added to my desk this year, so it is in the folder as well. I created an ending slide that shows the Mate finished up. All files are found here: Dashboards

What’s it about?

As my traditional students enter the room, they see something like this: 

SP2 Q3

And as my online students check the announcements, they see something like this: 


In the classroom, the Dashboard is on the screen letting students know the objectives, warm-up, word-of-the-day, homework, and upcoming due dates.

Online, it presents a clear picture of what needs to be done each day and where to find things. I found that online students frequently skim the page so I wanted to make my announcements more “skimmable”.

And it’s quick and easy to update! I created an overall design, then saved it as an image, like this one, which was customized for a friend. :0)


With the image as my background in Powerpoint, I just drag and drop, or modify text as needed before the next class session. For example, I move the homework from tonight to the box for what needs to be turned in, and the next quiz is dragged from the upcoming dates text. Then I add in any new homework and change the date. I have a full list of what needs to be turned in throughout the quarter, and then I just remove items from the list as they happen.

Please share your image in the comments if you make a Dashboard of your own! I’d love to see more designs. And feel free to ask if you run into any problems making it.


18 awesome TV shows in Spanish

14 Sep

The list: netflix.pdf

TV list

What it’s about:

I created a list of made-in-Spanish shows that are currently on Netflix, and added short descriptions. I shared it with my students before summer, and will pass it out again now. I’ve also thought of showing a trailer or two to try to see if it grabs interest.

I know of some schools that are allowing students to watch the episodes in class, but I don’t think I’d have time in my classes even if I could get permission. However, if you are showing them in class, check out the activity I posted about for movies: Quick Prep for a Movie

I want them to see that not all shows in Spanish are like the stereotypical telenovelas.

My personal favorites are El gran hotel, Lady la vendedora de rosas, and La esclava blanca. But I’ve watched enough of the others to be able to make recommendations. Certain students are fascinated that there’s a series about a secret ministry working for the king of Spain that travels time to correct inconsistencies.

By the way, no denying it, I deliberately left off all of the drug and cartel-themed programs. I don’t like the stereotype of all Latinos being drug dealers and cartel members and feel like a big part of that comes from the popularity of those shows.

I left it blank on top for others to use, but my own contains a disclaimer. I am only letting students know what’s out there and that they are expected to review their viewing choices with a parent, as I am unaware of the ratings or age-appropriateness of the shows, or of what is considered appropriate in their own homes.

Enjoy! Let me know what your own favorites are, especially if they’re not on my list.

Meanwhile, can anyone find out why we can’t view Soy Luna or Violetta here in the States? They are Disney programs made-in-Spanish and available on Netflix in other countries. Soy Luna would be really fun to share with students!


Comprehensible News

12 Feb

I’m just starting a project that I’ve been planning for a long time and wanted to share it with you.

Overview: My AP Spanish students will produce a newscast for lower level Spanish classes in the district.

Objective: To encourage novice Spanish learners by providing comprehensible news pertaining to local events.

The class is divided into groups of 4 (one group has 3). In each group, there is a writer, an editor, a reporter, and a producer (I will do the production role for the group with 3). Our district has Office 365, and all students already have accounts so all work is done in this platform. We will have a new broadcast every five class days (two weeks):

  • Day 1, they plan the topic in their groups and create an outline together. The writer takes the outline and uses it to write the script for the newscast in Office 365, saved in our group drive. This extends to Day 2 because the writer is given two class periods to write the script.
  • Day 3, I give each group a printed double-spaced copy of the script. As a group, they proofread and make editing marks on the page. They also make a list of all terms that will be difficult for novice Spanish students to understand (because they are not cognates or common words). The editor takes the page home and uses it to make all needed changes to the shared document. The producer takes the list home and starts finding clipart for those terms and storing it in the shared folder.
  • Day 4 is production day. We are using Touchcast on the iPad, which has a newsroom background and a teleprompter. I have a green screen that I keep in my classroom. For each group, we load the script into the teleprompter, practice, adjust the prompter speed, then record. In their groups, they watch the newscast and add in the clipart that they producer stored. *In Touchcast, they can add pop-up images to the screen during the newscast to aid in comprehension. Like when the reporter says “equipo”, a football team image pops up accompanied by the word “el equipo”. It is then posted to the Video Channel we have created in Office 365, that is accessible to all teachers and students in the district, but is not viewable by the general public.
  • Day 5 is for reflection and communicating with our audience. I have the Video channel linked to a Yammer group (in Office 365, Yammer is a lot like Facebook or Edmodo). All comments to the videos go directly to the group where our news team can respond. The news team will also post in the Yammer group, viewers what they would like us to report on next – any important games, concerts, etc coming up that we should attend?

Now, a few additional notes:

  • Instead of State Standards, our AP classes have a set of themes and contexts that they have to be proficient at discussing. They have to use that list to determine their newscast topics and keep a record of what they have covered. In this way, we are using the project to cover the required content, not deviating from it.
  • This will not take the place of regular “instruction”. Our school has a block system and I see them every other day. This means that a five-day schedule will produce a new video biweekly, more or less. Total class time spent on the video will be Day 1: 20 min, Day 3: 20 min, Day 4: 60 min, Day 5: 20 min. Our classes are 90 minutes long, so we are continuing the things we regularly do in class in the remaining time.
  • I want them to have a say in their jobs and groups. On Day 5, they turn in a page to tell me what jobs they have done and rank their preferences of tasks in order. I will try my best to give people the jobs they want and make it fair to all by making them share jobs that are wanted by more than one person. On the next Day 1, I tell them their jobs, and they form their groups making sure that there is one of each job in the group.
  • Grading – all grades are based on individual performance. I do not have a “group grade” for anything. They are all receiving grades for the work they produce according to their assigned tasks and speaking grades based on what I personally observe when they are collaborating.


We did a Fake News report last week to try it out and it went great! We then formed the new groups and they used the AP Themes/Contexts to decide on the next report. One group wants to focus on Science/Tech and Medicine and will do a report on some new genome that was discovered… Another group has members of our school’s Special Olympics club and wants to share it with the other schools in the district (using the Community theme and Volunteer context). Another group is focusing on Traditions and will compare Carnaval and Mardi Gras, and share pics from the Rosca de Reyes we had in January (to compare to a Mardi Gras King Cake).

Afrolatinos famosos

2 Feb

I was asked to share this unit… In the month of February, I try to incorporate a unit related to Afrolatino culture and history.

For my Spanish II classes, we have done this project: Popcorn Bag project I designed this so that I can incorporate what they learn into the curriculum (the grammar focus).

For my higher levels, we focus on the literary devices that are unique to la poesía afrolatina. We create a “Coffee shop poetry reading” setting on a selected date and they read their chosen poems with spirit and rhythm. Here is the document: La poesía afrolatina.

Here is a recording I made with a student who did a really good job of reading: Video

Other topics of interest:

  • Music:
    • Musical influences from Afrolatinos (from Cuban Jazz to Reggaeton)
    • Music of Chocquibtown:
    • Only in New York: Machito & His Afro-Cubans (2nd chapter of the DVD, (viewable on YouTube, purchasable from PBS, and available in Spanish).
    • AfroCuban Jazz and its influence on the American music scene of the 1940’s
  • Garifuna:
    • Origin of los Garífuna: a group of shipwrecked slaves who intermarried with local natives on the island of St. Vincent, only to be deported to the Central American coast in the late eighteenth century.
    • New York Times Article, Being Garifuna: 
    • Excellent documentary of Garifuna: – Follow with questions: ¿Qué deben hacer los Garífuna para seguir conservando su cultura tras las nuevas generaciones? ¿Si tú fueras Garífuna, que sería lo más importante para conservar la cultura tras las nuevas generaciones?

We have all been hearing about Project-Based Learning.  The main idea behind PBL is that it is inquiry-based, relevant, and that students are learning through the process rather than learning material and putting it into a project.

There are some topics to consider when planning a Project-Based Learning unit:

  • Relevance to the student: Focus on raising awareness and promoting an appreciation of diversity. Encourage the students to think deliberately on issues of racism and education and determine how this relates to them.
  • Content: At the core of PBL is content.
    • Read the current standards and pick out those that apply to your unit.  It is very easy to match standards to units such as this one.
    • Scrutinize your curriculum map and find areas in which your unit will be used to teach the content.
  • Driving question: This is an open-ended question that will guide them as they learn more about La cultura afrolatina.
  • Hook: Think of a video with great impact that will gain their interest. Use an image that will capture their attention as part of a lesson.  Show several images of Hispanic people, with varying appearances, and ask the students to identify the ones who are “hispanic”.  Discuss their responses and what conceptions we have of what Hispanics should “look like.”
  • Product: Think of ways that the product can be shared with a public audience outside of the classroom. They should think on what they learned and find ways to share that information with others.
  • Voice and Choice: Can you offer a variety of product options in your project? What other options can you give them to encourage ownership?
  • 21st century skills:
    • Find ways to let the students collaborate on the project, either making individual projects or working as a class to a final goal.
    • Share articles about the current trends regarding recognition of African roots in Latin American countries.  Students use critical thinking to plan ways of raising awareness and contemplate why it is important.
    • Most importantly, the students should be communicating in Spanish as much as possible.
  • Learn more here: Afrolatinos: The untaught story documentary series

Movie Talk – BunBun

30 Sep

I made this for an impromptu lesson in Spanish – teaching verbs like “gustar” in context. It has some questions in it – first I am answering them, and elaborating a bit, then I have the students doing it in small groups.

So, I made another with all words removed so that other languages can use it or it can be incorporated into other #movietalks . It’s just my bunny’s daily activities (mostly eating), but the length is just enough to hold attention for a good CI lesson. No words:


10 Jun


I created these stickers for my AP Spanish students as they finish the year. I told them to put them on any name tags, etc whenever they can. You never know when this little sticker might really help someone who needs it. And I want my students to know THEY can help someone with language because they really DO speak Spanish now. 🙂 You can print them here: hablo espanol stickers Using Avery stickers 6450.

Quick prep for a movie

19 Jan

This is a movie lesson that involves lots of discussion on part of the students, and very little prep on part of the teacher.  My AP class used this activity with the Argentinean film, Anita.

The students copy six questions from the board before the movie, leaving space for answers.

Describe a prominent character in this segment of the movie.
Tell what a character is feeling at this moment.
Explain both sides of a conflict in this part of the movie.
Make a prediction.
Find a connection, something you have in common with the movie.
Express your opinion about something going on in this part of the movie.

The questions can be modified for lower levels and would be in the target language.

The students are arranged in groups. I pause the movie periodically, and each student rolls the die to determine which question to answer in their group.  They don’t write answers yet, just share responses. I listen to their discussions. After the movie, they write answers for each question, to include a 7th question about the overall theme of the movie.

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