Tag Archives: CI

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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Fa la la la la…la la…la…la


I love December. Classes are filled with talk of traditions, festivities, and celebrations.

This December we learned about the Christmas lottery in Spain through Martina Bex’s unit. Previously, I wasn’t very familiar with this tradition. So it was fun to learn along side of the students.

We then continued with Martina’s (FREE!!!) supplementary lessons on the 2015 lottery announcement. 

My students have also been asking to learn some Christmas songs in Spanish. One student begged me to teach them “Rodolfo el reno” and another suggested ‘doce días de la navidad’. I’ve never taught Christmas songs before so when someone suggested 12 days of Christmas I got really excited. There’s so many great things to talk about through this song! (Ordinal numbers, Regular numbers, you could talk about the history of the song, write your own version, talk about What students want for Xmas, what they would give for xmas, etc…!)

I quickly whipped up some worksheets to correspond with the songs. And since ’tis the season of giving’ you can have them for FREE!!!!

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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!


La Persona Especial


This week I finally got on the band wagon and started doing ‘Student Interviews’. Basically one by one you call students up to the front of the room and interview them. I first heard of these here from Bryce Hedstrom. I keep seeing teachers post about these and after contemplation decided these could be a good way to use CI/repetition in 1st and 3rd person as well as learn more about each student.

Well……My. Students. LOVE. Them.

They keep begging to do more (yay), but I told them we’ll do 3 a week until everyone has gone. Hopefully the novelty of them will keep going!

Do you do student interviews? What follow up activities do you do? How do you keep your students engaged and responsible for paying attention and participating?

El Mismo Sol


My students have been asking for more songs. (I feel like I already do a lot!) But, hey if they’re asking…why not? I just finished making several listening activities for ‘El Mismo Sol’ by Alvaro Soler. It’s fantastic and very catchy!

I was trying to think of some more activities besides a ‘cloze’ activity and a ‘movie talk’ (which I also made). On the iflt facebook page someone (so sorry I can’t remember who you were!!!) gave the idea of using a word cloud as well as bingo! My students BEG ME for bingo!!!! What a great way to motivate students to partake in their own learning! Both of these activities will be help students to actively listen to the song and hopefully will improve their listening skills.

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What fun activities do YOU do to incorporate songs into the classroom????