Month: December 2014


“Alma” is a fantastic animated short that was making the rounds in CI circles last year. It’s perfect for this time of year because of the weather and winter clothing vocabulary. I borrowed several ideas from around the web as I built my lesson plans around the video.

First, I pre-taught some vocabulary. “arriba del estante” and “escribió en la pared” are easy enough to TPR, and then I used PQA to circle the word “muñeca.”

Then, I used a shortened version of the embedded reading from Nina Barber, changed to the past tense since that is what my students have been using all semester, to do a Pictado. Students listened as I told the story and drew pictures of what they heard. I got a lot of repetitions from simply saying the story multiple times, then I circled some questions about it to make sure they understood. Then they used their pictures to practice saying the story back to a partner.

The next day, we reviewed the story by talking about a student’s Pictado drawings. I wrote the essential vocabulary on the board as we went, then added the words “gorra,” “guantes,” and “chaleco.” It happened to be a hat day in my school, so we talked about the different hats people were wearing. Then I copy-pasted version 2 of the embedded reading into IMTranslator, using their TTS Voice service to read the story in Spanish. Students listened to the Spanish and translated it aloud into English. (I love IMTranslator when I want to give my kids a break from hearing my voice!) Then I used the photo collage on Cynthia Hitz’s site as an informal listening assessment, with students holding up their fingers to indicate the number of the photo I was talking about.

FINALLY it was time to watch the film. The first time through, I paused it at different times to talk about what they were seeing in Spanish. I really liked how pre-teaching with the readings helped them understand the final film. I stopped right before she touches the doll and asked for predictions. Then we got to watch the whole thing through without pausing. After discussing the ending, I had them do a timed writing assignment about the story. (If students finished early, I challenged them to continue the story on their own.)

There are so many other different things to do with this video, I couldn’t try them all. Martina Bex even turned it into a midterm exam!


Or, How To Make Your Math Department Love You.

Numbers are so useful, yet so boring to teach. One thing that I have been using in all my classes throughout this year is a Matedictado, or Math Dictation. I originally got the idea from Ben Slavic’s blog (the source of many great CI ideas!), but have put my own little spin on it.

First, students have to practice the numbers. If they haven’t worked with higher numbers before, I like to drill them using Martina Bex’s Final Countdown Brain Break: I say “uno,” the next person stands up and says “dos,” and we see how high we can get without two people standing up at once or messing up the pattern. We get to do higher numbers if I start with a different number, forcing them to count by threes, fives, tens, or hundreds. Another way to practice numbers are to include them as details in stories. Some teachers use a Sesame Street-style Number of the Week for this purpose.

For the Matedictado itself, I teach operations vocabulary for plus, minus, or multiplied by, give five or ten problems. Students have to correctly hear and write down the two numbers for the problem, then solve it. Students get to hear the numbers again when they trade papers for grading.

The Girl Who Didn’t Know How to Drive

In order to pre-teach vocabulary for the upcoming Rio Movie-Talk video, I wrote a short script and did a regular story-asking session today. It worked out well, and I think the Movie-Talk will be much richer and more productive when students already know the core vocabulary.

Target Structures in this case are:

No sabía manejar   She didn’t know how to drive

Chocó con   She crashed into/ran into

There was a girl who didn’t know how to drive. One day, she wanted to go to her friend’s house. So, she got in her dad’s truck and tried to drive to her friend’s house. But there was a problem: She didn’t know how to drive. She crashed into a gas station, and the gas station exploded. The girl and the truck both died and went to heaven.

When she arrived in heaven, the girl was an angel. But there was a problem: She didn’t know how to fly. She was a very sad angel. Her dad’s truck was in heaven, too, but it was not an angel. It had turned into a Transformer. The Transformer knew how to fly. It taught the girl how to fly, and she was very happy.