License to speak

In the past we’ve used the analogy of acquiring languages as being like learning to swim. Is it best to jump in the deep end of the pool with no support? Is it practical to learn the techniques and physics of swimming before you get into the pool? Can a spray bottle simulate the same experience as being in water?

You can see our ever expanding Language Acquisition memes here.

Recently, we created this new meme with a new analogy: You don’t need to know how an engine works to drive a car. And you don’t need to understand grammar rules to speak a language.Learning Language and driving Continue reading

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Teacher Appreciation

This week only we are offering our lowest prices ever on our latest feedback stamps. Included is our “Me Gusta”, Me Encanta”, and “Mi Parte Favorita” stamp now available in this “3 stamps for the price of 2” deal. Get the deal now and check out all our stamps from

Discount available now until Friday, 5/10/19  4pm ET.

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Using Peardeck: a tutorial

After our Billy y Las Botas 3 lesson on making predictions using Peardeck, some teachers wanted more information about PearDeck. So here’s a brief tutorial:

If you prefer to read,  Continue reading

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Previewing a Wooly Story

After months of anticipation, this week we started the third (and final) installment of the Billy y las Botas saga. I like to use a variety of strategies when telling a Wooly story, so this time we focused on making predictions. This is a great way to preview the story, as well as letting your students show their creative side and impress you with their language.

Step One: I started by pulling out 12 slides from the Powerpoint of Stills available in the extras section of every story with a Pro-subscription (if you don’t already have this, leave this post, buy it, and come back).

This activity is similar to the “Bunches of Hunches” activity combined with “A Parallel Universe” story that some of you may have used during Wooly Week 2019. Careful, not to give too much away and certainly no spoilers; you want to leave some ambiguity.
Predicting Senor Wooly story with stills from VideoStep Two: Continue reading

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Essay in Spanish with Rubric

This past week we finally watched the 3rd video of Senor Wooly’s epic Victor Trilogy (Guapo, La Confesión de Victor, Feo). I also needed to get a summative-type assessment grade in the gradebook, so I decided to try something new and see what my students could do. After sharing the results on twitter, I’ve had several requests for the rubric, which I will share below. Continue reading

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March Music Madness 2019

Are you ready for this year’s March Music Madness? As one of the first teacher bloggers to write about the idea of March Music Madness, we are excited for our sixth annual tournament. This year we have teamed up with Senor Ashby who has assembled hundreds and hundreds of teachers nationwide to partipcate in a Locura de Marzo bracket.

This year’s bracket is as follows: Continue reading

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Leveling up

When a gamer beats a level of a game and moves on to the next level, it is called “Leveling up”. In certain games, you can increase your chances by earning more points, collecting coins, or obtaining specific weapons to help you defeat the opponent.  Gamers have their strategies on what they need to do to level up. Our students also need to know what strategies they have as language students so that they too can “level up” on the ACTFL proficiency levels. Does a novice student know what they need to do to work their way up to the intermediate level?

My initial inspiration for this post started many months ago when I saw a tweet by Bethanie Drew (@lovemysummer) when she posted a link to her blog with placemats for “Weekend Chats“. In her document, she included this:

This encouraged students who were ready to add to their simple sentence by adding more details. I realized that students don’t know how to level up their language. In order to show higher proficiency, students must realize what that looks like. A few months into the school year, I went over the ACTFL proficiency ratings and its cone shape and that the more input a student has the more advanced their language will be. Then we went over this presentation.

Then I gave students sample sentences and had them work with partners to come up with the extra details.
You can download a copy of the presentation or the student handout sheets, which includes the as pictures above or a blank copy if you wish to fill it out as a class.

Take a look at how the following sentences were “leveled-up”:


Another way to talk about proficiency is to use the ice cream cone imagery, to encourage students to “Add an extra scoop” of language. See our previous post “Get a scoop of proficiency” which includes a free download of posters explaining the different proficiency levels.

Leave it to Bethanie, who also would go on to blog about this later as well. Look at her strategy to encourage better writing in her students, in her blog post “Level Up Language Framework (Structures to support student learning and teacher sanity, part 6)

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FVR Reading Log

One new thing that I implemented this year with FVR was a reading log. On one side of the sheet of paper I have all the books listed and on the other side is a chart that students can use to keep track of what page number they left off on. The following week, they can check their log and pick up on the page they left off, and when they are done, they can put a checkmark or write the date they finish.

As we come back from winter break, I have a new updated sheet for my students. This includes a tracking of the number of books they read each trimester as well as a place to count the number of words they read in Spanish.

I am posting what it looks like. You are welcome to make a copy of this document and edit it based on the books in your classroom. (Click on image, and then make a copy). This sheet is the only “accountability” factor that needs to result from FVR. But I think it also serves as a way for students to track their growth in reading. Continue reading

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Online timer as CI

I was recently doing a write/pass/draw activity where I wanted to use a timer to give the class a limit. I usually just use google timer or the regular classroom timer where it counts down on a clock. Previously, I had used another fun timer where you can change the music to the Pink Panther, Mission Impossible, or Indiana Jones among others.

But today as I was looking at the online classroom timers, it sparked a CI idea. They offer races such as a bicycle race, a sack-race, truck-race, robots and many more! I thought that this would be an interesting discussion in the target language: Who do you think is going to win the race?

You could talk about colors, numbers (ordinal), and even descriptions.

Take a look at this example:

Do you think the boy with the blue shirt will win? Do you think the 3rd person will win? Right now, the red-haired girl is in 2nd place? Will the boy with the blue bike pass her? Will the boy with the blue helmet finish last? Will he go faster?  Who is in first place right now? All of these questions can be asked and answered in the TARGET LANGUAGE. You can then ask students if they agree or disagree with their classmates. And the end, you can discuss which student was right.  Check out the timers here. Continue reading

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Proficiency Mindset Presentation




This past month, at the Illinois Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL) annual fall conference, I gave my first presentation in a session titled “Proficiency Mindset”. To view the presentation click:

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

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