I recently finished my first attempt at teaching high school. I began in mid-February as a long-term sub for three Spanish 1 classes on block scheduling. As all of my prior teaching experience was at the university level, boy did I have a lot to learn! I am appreciative for the learning experience for so many reasons, one being that it really challenged me to diversify my lesson formats. I am thankful for the wonderful community of Spanish teachers/bloggers on the internet as well as my colleagues and professors who shared materials with me and gave me ideas for new lesson styles.
The lesson in this blog post was one of the best days in my high school classroom! It includes a read-along story, ¡Vamos al restaurante!, to be presented on the board as well as a handout for students to follow along with.
The story takes place in Mexico City, and I chose the restaurant Café de Tacuba because it was my favorite place to eat when I was in D.F. I was attempting to incorporate something authentic while also covering the target vocabulary from the textbook (Avancemos). The presentation includes pictures of this beautiful stop in the historical center in D.F. and concludes with a video of the musicians who fill the restaurant with string serenades.
Topics covered include:
- review of food vocabulary (based on Avancemos textbook)
- introduction of family vocabulary
- practice with verb conjugation, focus on -er/-ir
- review of question words (in follow-up reading comprehension activity)
One goal of this lesson was to segue from food vocabulary to family vocabulary, and I was so proud of my students who really rose to the challenge and read along with me for the whole story! The pictures, simple as they may be, provided just the right amount of scaffolding for them to incorporate the new vocabulary. The cloze activity served as a reference for them to use while answering the reading comprehension questions as well as a study guide. We went back and read it a few times because it really seemed to boost the students´confidence to be able to read a whole story in Spanish! The success of this lesson really got me interested in learning more about the TPRS method (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Story-Telling). (I´m not sure if this lesson is exactly TPRS because I still need to learn more about it! If you have any favorite TPRS resources please comment below!)
You can view the presentation below (made on Google Drive). You can advance with the arrow keys or by a click. Here is a link to the handout that I used: ¡Vamos al restaurante! handout (PDF)
As always, keep the comments coming! I love connecting with other Spanish teachers online!
This activity is a simple one, but it goes over very well with my students. Yes, even college students like to break out the crayons & markers every once and a while! The idea is that drawing their ideas in Spanish will help enforce their language learning and develop the skill of thinking in Spanish. I use this activity as a review before a quiz that covers vocabulary for descriptions, the present tense verbs, different verbs for expressing “to be,” and comparisons. As you can see in the paragraph depicted to the left, it is pretty manageable to fit in all of these elements.
Here’s the lesson plan:
1. Introduction: Display sample. Read the paragraph together as a class. Ask students to find examples different elements in the paragraph that we are studying. For example, ” ‘Ella es rubia’ es un ejemplo del uso del verbo ser para describir un rasgo físico. ´La montaña más alta del país´ es un ejemplo del superlativo.”
2. Instructions: Challenge students to think in Spanish while they draw. They may prefer to write the paragraph first so that they can have their vision clearly in mind once they begin drawing. Almost all of my students choose this option. While they are drawing, I remind them to, “¡Piensa en español!”
3. Peer editing: Students swap papers with one or two classmates.
4. Visually reinforcing the grammar: Students highlight or circle the different verbs using different colors to reinforce the grammar aspect of the lesson. For example, highlight all forms of the verb ser in orange and all forms of the verb estar in blue. Now, the paper may be a more helpful study tool for visual learners.
The sample pictured here is the one I use as a model while introducing the activity. Here´s the PDF worksheet you can print!
If you use this activity in your classroom, please leave a comment because I´d love to hear how it goes! Also, suggestions are always welcome!
Here are some samples of my students´work!
How cool are these photoshopped pictures of hybrid animals? They could kick-off some really interesting activities for practicing descriptions and/or learning animal vocabulary words (not just the names of the animals, but also their features, body parts, behaviors, habitat)! Students could name and write descriptions of these animals, or even better, draw their own!
I came across this guide for palm reading, and thought it could make an interesting activity for students to practice descriptions, the verb ser, and the present tense (what we’re working on this unit)! Here’s a possible way of giving the lesson:
1. Discuss the guide:
present tense verbs & present tense conjugations of ser for describing personality traits
gender of the adjectives must agree with the person being described
2. In pairs, students read each other’s palms and compare what the palm tells about their personality with how they really are.
3. Students get a new partner and describe their first partner based on what the palm-reading revealed and the discussion that followed OR that could be the writing prompt:
¿Qué aprendiste sobre tu compañero al leer su mano? ¿Es así de verdad?
This fun, creative music video by Chilean singer-songwriter Francisca Valenzuela, who has been dubbed “la princesa del rock chileno,” is sure to be a hit with your students! Here you will find a free PDF worksheet with which your students can get creative as well! I would recommend this activity for beginner and intermediate-beginner levels. It could be used at the beginning of the semester, which from my experience usually features a unit on the verb ser and descriptions. The activity begins with simply watching the video. I show it twice (or three times if requested) to give the students time to both enjoy the video and follow along with the lyrics, which are provided on the worksheet. As you can see, the lyrics have plenty of cognates, and I´ve provided translations of some other words verse by verse. After discussing the video and lyrics, the students fill out the bottom part of the worksheet in which they rewrite the first verse to describe their own personality. Special attention is drawn to agreement between possessive adjectives and the nouns they describe.
One thing to mention in the class discussion is that the singer´s description of herself is quite candid and includes some negative traits. She states that she feels she needs to change, while in the end we hear that the recipient of the song does not think she needs to change at all. Here we find the message of the song, that it is dedicated to someone who loves the singer for just who she is, the good and the bad. Students may want to take this angle to writing their own verses, but it´s just one option. Any sort of description will be fine!
As always, feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions. I love getting comments! Also, if you try this activity in your class I´d love to know how it goes!
Note: Currently on the video there is a pop-up annotation that takes you to another music video for the song “Buen Soldado.” Just a heads up, that video is not school-appropriate!
Here’s a gallery of some examples of my students’ work. We did this activity on the second day of class, so while checking them I got to know a little bit of each student’s personality. The students participated really well, and we got the semester off to a great start!