Site Share: Digital Collaboration Board

10 Jan is a site I’ve started using for collaboration. Imagine a big poster on the wall and everyone is throwing sticky notes onto it. This site uses the same concept, but digitally. Many sites share this concept, but I prefer because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require logins from anyone. We can all operate this site from whatever tech I can get my hands on that day – in a lab, on laptops, personal smartphones, iPads, or iPads. (In my school, it’s easiest to let them use phones, but have a school set of iPods on hand for anyone who needs it).

Open the site and create a board. Copy the link (or click the share button to get a QR code) and share it with the class. They go to the link, click anywhere on the board, and write.

With no login required, you can opt to let students post anonymously or tell them to title each post with their name, initials, or numbers you’ve assigned. Alternatively, if you have a class that may post unwanted material, you can create an account and require each participant to sign in with a name.

Uses I’ve enjoyed in class: 

  • Group or class brainstorming: The group throws their posts on the board then reads all of them to get idea of what to write. There can be a class board or small groups can each have their own board.
  • Feedback: During skits and performances, the audience submits positive feedback for the performers or general statements about the characters (Marcos es muy consentido).
  • FAQ’s: I particularly like using this one when I am explaining a project. When I stop to answer questions as I am explaining, it takes so much longer and I lose their attention. I tell them to post questions as I go along, then I address the questions at the end. By the time I get to the questions, they’ve usually already deleted their question if I answered it in my explanation or if they see someone else already asked it.
  • Predictions: During a movie in class, stop it periodically to ask a prediction question and allow time for them to post before moving on.
  • Comprehension check: After introducing a new concept, ask them to try it on their own and read the responses. If they’re anonymous, this gives them opportunity to find out if they are getting it right without exposing their possible errors to the class.
  • Redaction: 

padletMy most recent use, allowing me to correct their statements in real time before they have to say them out loud for an activity. We were about to conduct celebrity interviews and they had to create questions using “ser” and “estar”. I wanted their questions to be correct beforehand – I didn’t want to correct them during the interviews. One option was to have them turn their questions in and make corrections during my abundant free time. I chose instead to create a board and had them post their questions for redaction. We created a system in which I would move it to the right once it was correct so they could copy it on paper and delete it.

The interviews went very well. Four people had to come to the front of the room (join the panel), acting as the celebrities and answering questions from the “audience”. We then switched the celebrities out two more times during the activity, giving more students opportunity to do the answering. We used Enrique Iglesias, Manny Ramirez, Jennifer Lopez, and Sofia Vergara (because there is a page in our text that starts the activity out with brief bios of these people). We followed up the next class with 3-5 minutes (real) interviews of these four people. The students said they like the “real-time” feedback and knowing the questions were correct before starting the interviews.

Post a comment with other ideas you can think of for a digital collaboration board.


BTS after winter break

3 Jan

uvas2On the first day back, I want to share the tradition of eating 12 grapes along with the 12 bells at midnight. However, those of us with more than 100 students have no intentions of bringing 12 grapes per kid so they can try it out.

Instead, I bring in four sets of the grapes for each class and get four volunteers to demonstrate the ñom-ñomming of a grape with each chime.

Here’s the video we will use to demonstrate. (Let the volunteers know to not start devouring grapes until they actually see the numbers counting down on the screen.) *Update: the video was removed after a while. Just be sure to search You Tube after January 1 each year to find the latest posted clip. Here is an example (if it doesn’t get removed): 

Also, if you Google-Image doce uvas, you can find a variety of ways to set them up elegantly for the class to see before they are eaten.

This can be followed up with a range of activities, depending on the level. Have them draw 12 circles on a page and write a 2016 bendición on each one (dinero, salud, salud de mi familia, buenas notas, etc…)

Or have a higher level do a 3P’s chart (productos, prácticas, y perspectivas) after seeing the video and others that explain various New Year’s traditions and make a comparison between what they see and their own traditions.

¡Feliz año nuevo a todos y les deseo mucha risa y felicidad en 2016!

POSTER – Helping students overcome fear of the 90% (+)

17 Oct

When using comprehensible input, there is nothing more rewarding than the look on a student’s face when they realize they understand you even though you’re speaking another language. On the other hand, we also see another face at times – the look of “shut down”. When we see this face, we know that no comprehension is going to happen. I made this poster to help avoid the shut-down face. When I see a student starting to give up, I can direct them to this list of recommendations. 90 percent

Picture1My Spanish 2 Comprehensible Input shenanigans usually include:

  • speaking very slowly with lots of cognates. Avoid switching to L1 when you feel like you need to hurry – time is never wasted if you are only using L2!
  • Choose a student who is likely to understand and coach them through modeling what you want everyone to do.
  • Ask yes or no questions to check for understanding.
  • Use gestures as much as possible.
  • Make it clear to the students that your own personal goal is helping them understand, that you won’t give up on any of them. This is what I tell students who come to me outside of class about me using the target language so much.
  • Finally, I use my 10% in small-groups. My class is divided into four sections and I go to each, checking for understanding at each and giving them opportunity to clarify.
  • Find more CI tips here:

This year has been my toughest so far, for some reason, in feeling like they don’t trust that I will help them understand. It prompted me to make this poster and I will point it out from day one in consecutive years.

#FLAVA16 – the Speaking Assessment

1 Oct

Essential components to a formative speaking assessment:

  • Presentational and interpersonal modes of communication
  • Extemporaneous speaking
  • Teacher as silent observer
  • Useable and understandable feedback
  • A rubric that students and parents easily understand
  • A checklist so students know what is required

I presented at FLAVA about the speaking assessment and thought it was a good time to blog it, particularly because I gained new ideas from the participants and I want to write them while they are fresh.

We do our speaking assessments in small groups. While one group of six (plus or minus) students is speaking, the other students are working on their “rough drafts” for the essay they will have to type the next day.

The first student presents a brief monologue on the assigned topic. The next student asks a clarifying question about what was said and the presenter answers. Another student asks a clarifying question and the presenter answers. Then the next student in the rotation starts their monologue. It looks something like this:

examen oralI observe the speaking group and make notes on what they say. I use a chart: oral assessment charts

And use the notes provided on this slide: (This slide is what I post when I give the sheets back to the students so that they can see what their feedback notes mean)

oral assessmentPDA

When everyone in the group has spoken, I use this rubric to interpret my notes. rubric

I teach the students how to interpret the rubric in advance. If they have performed all of the tasks on the checklist, they score 8/10. In order to score a 9/10 or a 10/10, I need to hear elaboration, variety, and control (these look like pluses on the chart I used while they were speaking). If they cannot complete the checklist, their score is 6/10 or 7/10 (these look like minuses on the chart). *You can have a minus or two that mean you have a lot of mistakes in one area, but you are still completing the tasks and can score an 8. This is according to the interpretation of the teacher.

There are many variations to the tasks. Sometimes, I want students to make comments about the presenter, as well as ask clarifying questions.  Here are some additional tasks/checklists I’ve used:

  • Describe a problem you have, either with your computer or your car.
    • Your classmates will then ask clarifying questions about the problem and offer advice in the form of commands.
  • Offer a natural product for the health and wellness of your classmates. Explain with detail how to use the product and the benefits to using it.
    • Your classmates will ask clarifying questions about the product and doubt the properties you proclaim.
  • Teach your group a skill. Explain in several steps how to perform this skill.
    • Your classmates will ask clarifying questions and make suggestions about using your amazing skill.
  • You’ve just arrived at the clinic after a minor accident. Describe your symptoms to the triage team (your group).
    • Your classmates will ask clarifying questions and tell you what will need to be done to care for you.

Some notes I wanted to add:

  • If you ever use stations or centers in your class, try doing one of these for a lesser grade at one of the stations. The students gain experience this way.
  • Record them for them to be able to reflect. I use a smartphone with an MP3 recorder app. (It’s not even a working phone – no connection needed – just Wifi.) After a presenter has finished, they email the file to themselves. They can reflect by listening and writing what they would have said differently – always encourage them to think of ways they could have elaborated more! It can also be used at the end of the year for them to compare the first assessment with the last.

Conexiones assignment, other teachers needed

5 Sep

conexionesMy Conexiones assignment is a list of about 40 tasks that students do to seek out and use Spanish in their daily lives. They only have to choose about 6-12 per quarter, depending on the level of the class.  Conexiones v8.1 (This one does not contain the assignments that are specific to MY class)

One of the assignment choices was a Facebook page that I created with a teacher in Colombia. There are questions in both languages, but not translations. (What is a regional food where you live? ¿Quién es tu cantante/grupo favorito?) My requirement was that my students answer a question in English and a question in Spanish. She had a different requirement and they always had to reply in English. We each used it in different ways.

I would pull this page up in class. The students had to look for similarities and differences in the responses.  They would sometimes ask, “Why do we have to write in English for a Spanish class?” and I would reply, “So the Colombian students can use your answers as reading practice.” This really seemed to animate them!

I’ve now created a new one with a teacher in Mexico and a teacher in Spain. I would really like to find other English-speaking classes so that there are more perspectives than just East coast US. Anyone on board or have a friend you can suggest it to?


Spanish / English indicator

1 Sep


Just a borrowed idea to share quickly: For classes in which you will permit English for certain parts of the class, use a sign with the flags. I’m attaching mine – it’s justa powerpoint so you can print out both languages. I put a strip of magnet across the top of it so I can keep it on my dry erase board and flip it easily.


Cuadernos mariposas

28 Aug

Strange name? I have a class set of small notebooks to act as journals in the classroom. However, the journals do not belong to the students – they rotate through the classroom (like mariposas).

I want them to interact with each other’s writing, at a level beyond proofreading or critiquing. For example, one day the topic is about their future plans. The next day, they have different journals and they read the plans of a classmate and offer advice.

Or I put up a controversial question. They have to choose a side and support it. The next day, they read the opinion of a classmate and have to argue the other side, regardless of the side they had originally chosen.

The grades and feedback are written on a separate page, with a block for each student. Once I’ve recorded the grades, I cut it up and give them their slips. Each journal is numbered and I have a system for rotating them.

What do you do for interpersonal writing?

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