An output activity

Partner Retell story swap

Over the past two weeks, we have done several stories: including Senor Wooly’s La Invitación, La Confesión de Víctor, a movietalk for El Gato con Café, a Movietalk and Story for Bomba’s Estereo Soy Yo video, and a PictureTalk for Biblioburro.

In addition to the class story, students have also practiced on quizlet and answered comprehension questions while watching the video on They have had sufficient input and this allowed us to move to the next step…. output.

I took screen shots of important parts from each story and created a page for each story. This serves as a reference sheet for students. You can view that here: StoryRetell_PicturePrompt. Then I had the students get with a partner. Each group had 1 sheet of paper to write on and I passed out the picture prompts of the stories. The student rotated roles: One student was the writer and the other student was the storyteller. Continue reading

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Top 10 Novels for Spanish 1

One of my favorite things in my Spanish 1 class is implementing Free Voluntary Reading time (FVR) aka SSR. It is probably the most important thing we do in class. If you need convincing of that, then you need to read The Power of Reading by Dr. Stephen Krashen or read any of his free articles about the topic.

Many teachers are overwhelmed by the number of choices. If you are able to, start building your library. Whatever you can get your hands on. Buy as much as you can each year if you have department money or write whatever grants you can. In the meantime, I can going to post my personal favorites.

Again, these books are the ones that appeal to me or to my students. I encourage you to share your own lists of your favorites. (Pssst…That’s the best part about free reading is that students have a choice!)
Top 10 Spanish Novels FVR

Justin’s 10 Favorite Spanish learner Novels

1. Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro by Carol Gaab, FluencyMatters

Continue reading

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Story with 5 Phrases

I was going through some old blog posts the other day and happened upon one that reminded me of an activity that I learned from Carol Gaab at the first annual Comprehensible Midwest. I ended up using it as a lesson on Friday and it was one of the most fun days I’ve had this year so far!

How to do a 5 Phrase Story in a CI classroomI started with 5 phrases. We had already finished the book Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro and just done a story using the song Fotografia so I selected these 5 phrases to incorporate some of the key verbs we’ve been using lately and continued to expose my students to direct object pronouns in context (don’t worry, no grammar explanation was needed).

The 5 phrases were:
Continue reading

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Chapter Recaps with Images

This year I hit the gates running with a class read of the Fluency Matters novel “Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro”, a super easy and fun reader.

I usually like to act the chapter out before having the students read it. I narrate as I tell the student actors what to do and what they say. The class can see what is happening and it makes it easier when they read it by themselves, or when we follow along as we listen to the audiobook.

But I do like mixing it up and doing different activities. So for chapter 6, before students read the chapter, Continue reading

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Timed Writing Prompts

If you purchased our World Language SLO product earlier this summer, make sure you have redownloaded the updated product, as we added a second picture prompt in late August.
Timed Writing Picture Prompt for World Langauge

The characters in the first prompt are designed to be ambigious. Some students use the following words to talk about them: osos, monstruos, personas, familia (and then mamá, papá, hijos)  The idea is that is it up to them. I would recommend NOT going over the images beforehand, because they are then going to just write about what you’ve told them. As the year goes on, they will have more language to be able to talk about the scenes. At the beginning of the year, they may not have much…. and that’s ok. The idea is to show growth and for the students to write what THEY SEE and what they know to talk about.

Some key phrases that students might talk about in Spanish (although this prompt can be used for any language): Hay una familia, hace calor, Van a la playa, quieren nadar, ven algo en el agua, tienen miedo, los niños tienen hambre, quiere pizza, toma algo, juegan fútbol, le gusta el fútbol, busca los niños, llueve, van al cine, quieren ver una película de horror.

If you use our prompt, we would love for you to add your class averages for each timed writing to the google doc linked in the download.

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4 million

During last week’s first days of school, our blog passed the 4 million total views mark. Wow, what an honor to know that thousands of Spanish teachers around the world have visited our blog. We are truly amazed to see the wide range of countries that our visitors originate from. 

We started this blog 8 years ago in November of 2010. We are thankful to those first 82 views we received that month. In one year’s time our reach had grown to 11 thousand in the month of November.  This November we expect over 40 thousands page views.

It has been a pleasure to share what I am doing in my classroom, and even those blogs posts that don’t get many hits still allow me to reflect on my own practices, something that I am thankful for.  So let’s talk a look back and celebrate, and give our guests a chance to win some prizes.

Some highlights:

Some of our most viewed pages:

  • We originally posted teacher memes, that we have since moved to their own website, Spanish Captain is Si-sick, chiste from, but our Spanish Chistes are a big hit as well, featuring 20 cheesy Spanglish jokes.
  • Originally posted in 2011, this post talks about 6 different Spanish Projects, including our popular Facebook Spanish Profile Project.
  • In 2013, we started posting a collection of resources for thematic units, and LA ROPA unit and LA COMIDA unit are the two most visited.

Some of our most participated posts:

  • Every year, our post on Why We Don’t Give Spanish Names gets shared on social media and people sure have their opinions. It’s why it’s our most commented post.
  • One of my favorite things all year is the March Music competition, where hundreds of teachers joined us in our 2018 March Music Madness challenge. While thousands of teachers across the US now do their own tournament, it was THIS POST on this blog in 2014 that set the waves in motion. This may be our single biggest impact in Spanish classrooms across the US.
  • Other posts that sparked discussions with comments include our take on Cinco de Mayo (2011) as well as Attributes of Effective WL teachers (2014).

Ok, so let’s get to the fun part. What does this celebration mean for you? Well, to celebrate we are giving away the following prizes: Continue reading

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Papel Picado Bulletin Board

Most teachers will use paper from the butcher paper roll to use as a background for their Spanish Bulletin Board alternativesto their room, we have some classy alternatives in mind:bulletin boards. I don’t blame them: it’s available and it’s easy. Most schools provide this paper to teaches, so it’s an affordable option. For those who are looking to add a little flair Continue reading

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Vocabulary in Context

As we looked at the last data collection of student vocabulary, we were a bit surprised that some words had lower correct responses than we expected. So we decided to do a little educational research and what we discovered really didn’t surprise us: Continue reading

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SLO and Vocabulary

SLO 2: Vocabulary Growth

See our preview post about using Timed Writing to track student growth as part of our our teacher evaluation. (Referred to as SLO or SGO in some states).

Our second SLO (Student Learning Objective) was to show student growth in vocabulary. We put together a list of 180 words, mostly from the Top 300 Common Words in Spanish. The words were not a list of textbook vocabulary words, but rather common words that are part of every day language. Some of these words were non-targeted, meaning they were not explicitly taught, and others were some of the targeted vocabulary from class stories. Continue reading

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World Language SLO with Timed Writing

Many states now require teachers to show evidence of student growth as part of their teacher evaluation. One such example is the Student Learning Objective (SLO). This collection of data can be laboring, but it can also be useful as a tool of communication to students and parents about their growth in the language. This past year I used Timed Writing as a data collection piece as part of my SLO for

Timed Writing World Language SLO


The SLO would be to increase student fluency in the target language. The methods to achieve this Continue reading

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