Storytelling Remotely

Despite being completely remote up until this point, I have done my best to continue to use storytelling as my main method to deliver comprehensible input in my Spanish class over our synchronous online Google Meets classes.

I know a lot of teachers are still hesitant about teaching online so I thought I would share some things that have worked well for me so far.

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Illustrating to show comprehension

In search of a quick input-based activity that you can use either in a remote or in-person setting? Have students draw the scenes of a story.

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Drag and Drop Audio with Google Slides

Spanish Drag and Drop Listening Activity on Google SlidesNow that most of us are giving classes virtually, how can we adapt our listening activities to an online format? Even if you are presenting it LIVE as a class over a video Meeting, it’s always best to provide an option for those who were absent or whose connection dropped.

Google Forms is great option – you can upload an image to a survey and turn it into a quiz to automatically grade. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any integration with audio. The only workaround I’ve seen is putting the url of the audio file from google drop into the question that students need to click on which will open a new tab. Yuck! Inserting an audio into Google Slides is easy– but it does need to be an MP3, so if you have it saved as another file, you will need to use a converter site or you can use to easy record and save audio files to then upload to your Google Drive. Watch our video tutorial below to find out how to create these drag-and-drops on Google Slides.

Anyway, let’s get to the pedagogy of it all. How can I use this in my World Language class? Continue reading

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Remote Learning: El Tigre Tiene Hambre

Our second week of remote learning is underway and we wanted to share with you what we’ve been up to.

El Tigre tiene hambre for distance learningMy set-up

All my students are working from home. I have the option to work from my classroom and I have my laptop for presenting. I also have the classroom computer logged in to the Google Meet grid view (and projected on the board for me to see my students and what the presentation looks like).

Most of my students have their cameras on (a district mandate that I don’t enforce) but I do tell them that having them react I can tell if they are understanding the story or not. The best way was to ask yes/no questions and have students nod or shake their heads. I would call on students to turn their mic on (using the shortcut of “control+ d” on keyboard is a timesaver!) and answer more specific questions. I used the chat to type in translations of key words that I would normally write on the board or point to on posters in my classroom. I also have these Zoom TPRS labels to hold up. Continue reading

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Distance Learning Memes

It wouldn’t be a back to the school year without us posting our favorite memes. We started making memes years ago and even launched our own website for teacher memes (since discontinued).

This summer we’ve been working on Distance Learning Memes, dealing with our new reality of teaching via Google Classroom, Screencastify, and Zoom sessions. While we insist on compassion and understanding for our students during these times, these memes will hopefully provide a laugh. It may be a good way to set expectations with your students or to start building relationships with them through humor.

The following is a sampling of our favorites, all of which are included in our latest product Remote Learning Memes, which is an editable document so you can fully customize the text of over 120 memes. The images in the product come without any branding or watermarks. If you like what you see here, please share by pinning on Pinterest, sharing on Twitter, or tagging us on Instagram. Continue reading

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Starting the Year Remotely

It’s something we never expected. Something we are not trained for. And yet millions of teachers will start the year remotely this fall, embarking on a journey unlike any other. Meeting your students for the first time on Zoom and trying to build a relationship through Google Classroom will certainly be a challenge.

I certainly don’t have all the answers yet and I, too, will be leaning on my colleagues’ advice and posts on social media. Here are a few resources that I’ve gathered that might help you this year.

1) (FREE) My First MovieTalk: We released this free product last year as a way to introduce teachers to the MovieTalk method. This product includes 7 screenshots in a PowerPoint to tell a simple story (as opposed to our more language-robust booklet of the same video). You can use this during a Live Session or even record a video and post it to your learning management system (Google Classroom/Canvas/etc.).

2) FVR Digital Library: Even if you are back in the classroom, most schools have Spanish FVR Digital Library Bundle available on TeachersPayTeachersa recommendation against sharing materials between students. That makes using your classroom FVR library problematic. One thing that you can do to continue to get your students reading is to purchase materials that can be legally shared digitally. This FVR Bundle includes 17 texts that you can legally post on Google Classroom for students to read.

3) MovieTalk: Whether you embed the actual video into Edpuzzle and use comprehension checks along the way (Kara Jacobs is amazing at this) or you use screenshots from the video and add texts, videos are always an easy way to make language comprehensible because of the visuals that aid comprehension. Check out these MovieTalks.

4) Social Justice: I’ve made a commitment to increase diversity in my curriculum. In addition to my Dolores Huerta Unit, and the Mujeres Poderosas free bulletin board, I will be adding lessons about more of those featured women, as well as other important people who have made an impact in our history who have typically been silenced. I hope to have more to share with you this year.

Also, don’t miss out on these limited deals on our new CLEARANCE section. We currently have stamps and more that have been slashed by nearly 50%. Check it out on

5) Google Classroom:
Check out our new Bundle including headers for Google Classroom and Backgrounds for Google Slides.

Check out our other new products for this fall:




Good luck this year, my friends!

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White privilege of Names

As you may know, I have devoted several blog posts over the years to the issue of assigning or letting students choose “Spanish names” in the Spanish classroom. Now with many more teachers being more aware of what white privilege is and how our education system is already part of a white supremacist system, I wanted to bring this topic back up so that teachers who may continue to engage in this practice are able to reflect.

How does this practice fit into white privilege? White students who take on the name “Nacho” or “Margarita” only wear that identity for fun in their Spanish class. It does not come with the discrimination that Latinos who live with that name face on a regular basis in this country. Don’t think people are discriminated against because of their names?

“Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.”NBER

I encourage you to read the following blog posts, but more importantly, the comments section, where you will hear the perspectives of other teachers. I encourage you to engage in a civil discussion on these posts and be reflective.

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Why students use google translate and what teachers can do

What to do when students use google translateDuring the quarantine, I’ve seen a lot of teachers complaining about students submitting work in which they’ve used Google Translate. The problem is not new for language teachers, but without being able to have all writing done in the classroom during distance learning, the problem is now more relevant than ever. So,  why do students use translators and what can we do about it?

Why students use translators?

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Google Classroom Tips

Some teacher tips for using Google Classroom during “Remote learning” Continue reading

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Rally Re-order

The following is a guest post that I invited Rich Madel to write after he mentioned this activity on twitter.

All world language teachers focused on providing rich, compelling, and comprehensible input to their students know the struggle: How can we mask the repetition of the same information, vocabulary, and structures in such a way that it seems novel and interesting and our students feel authentically compelled to engage with making meaning of the input?

We all know the value of repetition of vocabulary and structures embedded in strategies such as PQA (personalized questions and answers), TPRS, Movie Talk, and more. Today, leveled readers are written with this very focus in mind, often telling a compelling story by recycling little more than the same 150 words (in the case of some novice-level readers).

Telling the story is only one opportunity for input, however. What we do before the story and what we do after are critical opportunities to provide quality interactions with target language vocabulary and structures. One such strategy often used as a post-storytelling activity is for students to place scrambled events in their appropriate chronological order.

Working to order scrambled events from a story is a time-tested task that serves a dual purpose: it reinforces key moments from the plot that aides in comprehension and creates an opportunity for the teacher to repeat and reuse communicatively-embedded input. But let’s be honest, it’s not always the most exciting.

To that end, I present an event reorder challenge that takes the activity we all know and love and injects it with steroids. The end result is a whole class challenge that is exciting, promotes collaboration and communication, and vastly increases the repetition of the key events. Let’s call it, Rally Reorder! Below are the steps to prepare and conduct the activity. Continue reading

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