Category Archives: CI



Back in March I read this blog post which had this brilliant idea of doing a musical ‘March Madness’. Well… I was way to busy and there was too much testing going on! But I really wanted to do this! SO….the past few weeks we’ve been working on a song every day. Then every other day we vote on our favorite. Each new round we have a new activity. I switch it up constantly so that it’s a variety of activities which work on listening, reading, and comprehension skills. As we get farther into the ‘Madness’ the students are really falling in love with the songs. They constantly come in singing them, asking for more, or telling me how they sang them all weekend long.

Next week we will finally be finishing it up! Which means, I’m starting to get new songs and activities on my teachers pay teachers!  Because not every song makes it all the way- I haven’t yet developed all the activities for all 16 songs. BUT- today my son decided to take a 3 1/2 hour nap…which means I have two songs completely done!

Two of the four remaining songs are ‘La Gozadera‘ by ‘Gente de Zona’ ft. Marc Anthony and ‘Me Voy Enamorando‘ by Chino & Nacho. My students LOOOOOVE these songs! And the videos are vibrant and (in my opinion) school appropriate! I especially love how you can link ‘La Gozadera’ to a unit about Spanish Speaking Countries and Capitals.

Click here to check out my lessons for both ‘La Gozadera’ and ‘Me Voy Enamorando‘!

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OFLA/CSCTFL (part 1)


It’s been a week since OFLA. I’ve been trying to process all the ‘gold nuggets’ I learned! Here’s a few of my favorites with brief summaries… (More so I can reference it when I accidentally misplace my stack of notes!)

***Grant Boulanger gave a wonderful presentation on engaging the novice learners, making your class a sanctuary and a space of JOY and success!

1. Make a space in your classroom for real/authentic communication. Focusing on the students live, personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations. 2. Simplify your life by narrowing your focus. Language is comprehensible when it’s understandable, interesting, and repetitive. For a few minutes in each class…worry only about language acquisition. I loved how Grant suggested striving for 8 minutes where only the TL is spoken.

We tried this in class the other day and it was a HUGE success! Without fail, someone would mess up around minute 6 or 7 so we would start the stop watch all over. Therefore, by time we accomplished the 8 minutes, it had really been more like 20-30 minutes in the TL. It also reduced behavioral problems and extra conversations because the students wanted to accomplish this!      

 3. Use your students as the content to drive the communication. Be attentive to them! Be in the moment with them! Is someone wearing a new Taylor Swift shirt? Ask about it! New hair? Go with it!

***How delightful is Carol Gaab? I loved her enthusiasm as she taught us about incorporating Higher Order Thinking in low level language. Some key points I took away from her session were: 1. Top 50 function/high frequency words = 60% of the spoken language! This means, less is more! We can shelter vocabulary but intentionally use high frequency words to increase proficiency. The use of cognates and visual cues will aid in comprehension as students acquire the language. 2. ¿Es Posible o Probable?….¿Por qué? Using these questions helps students make predictions and inferences. It allows them to answer, give their opinion, and not feel like they will be right or wrong.

***Two things I really want to learn more about and incorporate next year are proficiency based grading  and student portfolios. 

***50 shades of grades was a great session where Mercedes Koch and Ryan Rockaitis shared what has been working for them as they’ve made the switch to proficiency based grading.  You can check out the presentation here!  Some key changes they have incorporated in their classrooms during this transition are:                                                      1.Don’t lower grades for late work. When an assignment IS due, collect work individually. Everyone turns in something. “If you don’’t have the assignment, turn in a sheet of paper with your name, the date, the name of the assignment and the name and phone number of a parent or guardian. You could even have the student call their parent in class asking the to remind the to do their homework.  2. Don’t include student behaviors in grades. Would you go to a physician who got a good participation grade or one who was skilled? …good point. 3.Don’t give grades for formative assessment, group grades, academic dishonesty.                4. DO GRADE written, listening & speaking summative assessments! Such as a persuasive essay. But, before this give them many opportunities to practice, multiple revisions, structure to help plan essay, etc. If giving a speaking assessment, have students listen to their assessment after and write down what they said, and what changes should be made if any. What a great way for students to be part of the process! 5. DO allow students to retake assessments! Life is full of retakes! BUT to keep this manageable, students must “request to retest” (identify their struggles, show how they’re working to improve and acknowledge that regardless of the score, the new grade is the grade they will receive). 

***As we switch towards proficiency based grading, I think it’s important for students to “set goals, track their own progress, reflect on their progress, and give them a realistic idea of what they’ll be able to do”. I tried to create student portfolios this year, but they were hard to manage. Fortunately Lisa Sobb and Lucas Hoffman gave a great presentation on Tracking Student Progress Electronically Using Google!  When tracking students through google classroom or google docs, students can link video evidence, voice recordings, documents, etc. to demonstrate their ability to accomplish a variety of ‘CAN DO‘ tasks. Students can easily gather evidence, measure their growth and demonstrate their proficiency level. This is also a great way to track students through out their high school years even if they  have different teachers.

***All in all, it was so inspirational and validating to be reminded that comprehensible input is THE BEST WAY for students to acquire language and CI can look like many different things! (…we’ll save that for part 2)






Have you ever used ‘Storyboarding’ in your classroom to create a story? I was trying to change up how we created stories and decided to do a ‘twist’ on story boarding.

In groups students wrote down any words they could think of that had to do with ‘vacation’. Things like: places they went/visited, who they went with, things they saw, things they ate, activities they did, what they took with them, how they got there, etc.

As a class we added our words to the white board and separated them into different categories. Each group was then assigned a category. They were responsible for adding to that category and translating any unknown words into Spanish. We then used our lists to help us create a story! As a class we created 2 paragraphs of the story and then each student wrote their own ending to the story.

In one of my classes: “Alex was going on vacation to Hawaii by canoe. She went with Bernie Sanders (he was big and strong and could row for her-haha). They travelled to Hawaii to catch a crocodile. It was sunny and Hot. Alex wore shorts, and Bernie wore a grass skirt. They looked in Honolulu for a Crocodile, but they didn’t find one. Instead, they found a small Zebra! Alex took the Zebra, but still wanted a crocodile. So they travelled to Deutchland. They travelled to Deutchland by unicycle! They still wanted to catch a crocodile and went to Disney Land to look. But they didn’t find one….they found a giant worm instead! But they still wanted a crocodile… So they decided to ride the worm to California…”

The kids really enjoyed this because it was different and they felt like they had more control of the story. I enjoyed this because it helped generate ideas and recently my creative juices have been lacking! : )

Do you have any creative ways to come up with stories!?!? What’s working for you!?

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My favorite day …every year.


For those who know me, you may see this title and say…Oh that’s May 24th! … Back story, many many moons ago sitting in 10th grade study hall, I decided that May 24th would be my favorite day. It had nothing to do with holidays or birthdays. On this day, I wear my favorite colors, eat my favorite foods, hang out with my favorite people, and do my favorite things. Over the years it’s evolved into ….a big deal. Everyone who’s anyone celebrates! …..But I’ve digressed….

If I had to pick another favorite day it would be that magical moment in class when all the INPUT…starts to click. I remember experiencing that moment while studying abroad. But even more exciting is seeing your students experience it. It’s so awesome to see them excited to be able to manipulate the language even when grammar has NEVER been taught (exception: pop up grammar).

Today I asked my students…”If I wanted to say, ‘They think that’ how do I change ‘piensa que’.” …several students responded “add an N”. And when they responded…. others caught on. Someone raised their hand and asked “So if I want to say ‘they’ are doing something I add an ‘N’ don’t I!?

Yes Yes Yes!!!!!

Besides seeing my students ‘get it’. I also love this day because it is affirmation that CI works!

…And it works well!


Input for the win!


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Every. Single. Time…that I receive stories, re-writes, free writes, etc….I am blown away! Simply amazed and reminded of how GREAT comprehensible input works! Kids are acquiring language…and it’s exciting! Here is an example of 2 students work in my Spanish 1 classes. These stories were written after 3 days of circling this ‘Day of Dead‘ video. I gave students 10 minutes to re-write the story to the best of their ability. They were permitted to use the room as a resource -but no personal notes. It’s always amazing seeing the results of CI….not to mention it’s SO. MUCH. FUN!

Día De Los Muertos


Day of the dead is fast approaching! This year, I was determined to create lessons which were culturally relevant but more importantly contributed to the overarching goal of language acquisition.

Through several youtube searches I found this video!

What a great way to start making connections, lead to cultural conversations as well as create a movie talk which will provide repetition and language acquisition! (I’m a bit excited!) I created a packet where students will read about Day of the Dead in an infographic which I made. Then we will use the language while we create a narrative to the above video. Students continue practicing words and structures which they learn for additional forms of repetition through a timed-free-write, bingo, scene descriptions etc.

This year, I’m also trying a more ‘natural approach’ to language acquisition by incorporating both the present & past tenses. While narrating the video, we will be using the present  tense. While we discuss it in class and with other activities, we will be using the ‘past’ tense.

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NOTE: this packet can be purchased on teacherspayteachers, I made all of the activities in both the present & pasttenses in case you have a preference.