Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June Instructional Resource Update # 2

Here are some more great instructional and educational resources that I have learned about in the last month that you can peruse while you are relaxing this summer!

Post-it Activity Center, For Teachers. By Teachers 
(via Sheila Erickson on Pinterest)

Students love using Post-its in class! This site has more than 1,000 activity ideas! "Find free, quick and easy ways to enhance your lesson plans. Search and sort activities by grade & ESL, subject or teaching technique."

I love this site! If you think that you want to do more post-it activities next year, think about putting post-its on a classroom "wishlist" that you send home with parents at the beginning of the year, and maybe again around the winter holidays if you run out of supplies.

The True Cost of Skipping Class (Infographic via Terri on Pinterest)
"Although a student may believe sporadically skipping a class is a harmless act, in reality it’s costing a lot of money. The True Cost of Skipping Class Infographic below shows the alarming loss of educational and monetary value when students skip class."

This infographic is about students skipping class at the college or university level, but it still might be helpful to share with high school or middle school students to show them the "after-effects" of skipping class if they don't change their ways.

No Pain, No Gain. Standardized Test Preparation (Scholastic)
With testing in May and June this year, one of the teachers at my school asked me if I knew of any good resources that she could share with her students, or use in lessons for test prep. If you have already given your standardized tests this year, you may want to bookmark these sites for next year.

In this article they "share some of the strategies and ideas that have grown out of their efforts. In this article you'll find:"
  • Reading Strategies
  • Math Strategies
  • Format Fundamentals
  • Six Ways to Ease Test Stress

Test Taking Strategies (Baker College)
This site includes"

Test Taking Tips (
This site has test-taking tips, study skills and tips, note-taking tips, strategies for reducing test anxiety, and tips for parents to help their kids. 

Test Taking Foldable

(via A Teacher's Treasure Mrs. Zrihen on Pinterest, from the Savy School Counselor Blog)

Fun activity for teaching test taking strategies and tips! This foldable was designed for the elementary level, but could be adapted to almost any level.

Real Fun
Push buttons for 31 different noises! Could be really fun to use for games in your class! I like that there are a few in Spanish too like "Ole! Ole!", "Por que no te callas", and "Por que?"

From the 2012 iNACOL/SREB National Online Teacher of the Year

I am currently getting certified to teach French, and/or Spanish for North Carolina Virtual Public Schools. I know that many other teachers are doing the same. This post has five great tips if you are going to be teaching online!

It's Time For a New Kind of High School (Education Week)
An interesting article about student engagement, drop-out rates, and re-thinking the current high school system.

GSCE Bitesize (BBC)
If you have never checked out this section of the BBC website for schools, I highly recommend it! It has a lot of great resources for world language students and teachers. For French, and for Spanish you will find listening activities with video clips and questions, reading, speaking, writing, and grammar activities for the foundation level and for higher levels. With the current economy, and budget cuts, I know that many teachers' textbook resources are out of date, so sites like this are a good alternative to textbook videos and listening activities.

BrainGym (via Rachel Lynette on Pinterest)
Six minutes of brain gym activities to wake up your students' brains! Might be good to do during testing time when students have had to sit a lot.

June Instructional Technology Resource Update

It's time for another instructional technology update! Below you will find six of my favorite online resources that I have learned about in the last month. I hope that you will find at least one of the items useful for your classroom, and that you will be able to try it out if you are teaching this summer, or next fall!

Zingerbug has a big selection of Glitter Graphics, Backgrounds, and other cool stuff that you could use for your teacher web page, online course announcements, or any profile or blog! The items on this page will be sure to get your students attention! This page even has graphics IN SPANISH! :)

Here are some ideas and examples:

Wish your students Happy Birthday on your web page! 
They will love to see this and feel special to be recognized. 
(You might want to use only first names for privacy reasons.)

Welcome students and parents to your homepage!

Thank students for good behavior or hard work!

Encourage them on days before assessments!

The "Fun Note Generators" could be used for student activities (Personalized Fortune Cookies, Graffiti Generator, Secret Scratchcard Message Generator, etc.), and the Glitter Generators are a fun tool for teachers to use for blogs and websites.

Here are some examples:

You could use the graffiti generator to have students practice commands.

Cool Myspace Generators

The secret code generator could be used for a lot of different activities. One idea would be to have students write each other messages in the target language, and they would have to figure out what they mean. 

Orkut Scrap Toys

You could use the fortune cookie generator to have students practice the near future tense or future tense.

Myspace Code Generator 
"CoSketch is a multi-user online whiteboard designed to give you the ability to quickly visualize and share your ideas as images. Anything you paint will show up for all other users in the room in real time. Free and without registration."

Co-sketch is a good tool for group projects. It would also be a great tool to use for units on giving directions and downtown since it works with Google Maps. You could open a Google Map, give students directions in the target language, and see if they end up at the right spot. After you give them the answer you, could trace the directions right on the Google Map!
View more PowerPoint from COSKETCY
Paint Map
"Paintmap is a geolocation-oriented painting sharing website with the following goals: on one hand, it allows painters all around the World to locate physically the subject painted by others and learn about the artistic activity at a given area. On the other hand, Paintmap allows Google Earth users to complement the physical and photographic knowledge of a given area with the artistic descriptions provided by users." This site looks like a great resource for art, social studies, and world language classes!

Your Paintings (BBC)
"If you’re a teacher, you can now draw on paintings by nearly 20,000 artists, in a wide range of styles, painted over the last 800 years. Most of the great masters are well represented, with some of their best known works - but also examples of their lesser known paintings."

TooLoud? App (via Momma Cronan on Pinterest)
This free app is great for teachers who need to limit the noise level in their classrooms. You could put your iphone, ipad, or itouch under your doc cam and project the app so that your students have a visual of their noise level. If students get to the red zone they know they are being too loud.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Valentin" Movie Vocabulary and Activities and a FREEBIE!

Show the film "Valentin" (2002) in your Spanish classes! It is a cute story told by a young boy in Argentina. The activity includes a wordle of the synopsis of the film, and links to movie trailers on youtube as pre-viewing activities. It also has 17 vocabulary words, 10 fill in the blank comprehension questions in Spanish, a wordsearch, and a writing activity that requires students to use the "imperfecto".

If you want to preview the product you can download the word cloud activity for FREE! 

"Casi Casi" Movie Vocabulary and Activities and (of course) a FREEBIE!

Looking for a funny, and modern movie to show in your Spanish classes?  If you haven't done it already, it's time to throw away all those VHS tapes from the 80's! ;)  Show "Casi Casi" (2006)! Your students will love it! It is about a group of high school students in Puerto Rico so your students will be able to relate to it. It is also a great opportunity to teach them more about Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rican culture. 

The product includes a word cloud activity of the film summary as a pre-viewing activity, a link to the trailer on youtube, 20 vocabulary words, 17 fill in the blank comprehension questions in Spanish, and a word search. 

If you want to preview the product you can download the word cloud activity for FREE!

Friday, June 8, 2012

8 Great Ways to Use White Boards in the Classroom!

Using small white boards in your teaching is a great strategy. They can be used in any subject area, and they are great for teaching a World Language. For some reason students think that everything is more fun if you do it on a white board! When my students do the activities below, they are always very engaged.

If you don't have any small white boards, I would recommend going to Lowe's.  When I got mine, I went there, and the price was great! You can purchase a large piece of white board, and they will cut it up into smaller pieces for you at no extra charge. I believe it was $11 for one large piece. I had them cut one large piece into about 15-20 small boards for me. Then I had them cut a second large piece into about 5 medium sized boards to use with groups.

If you want to save money on buying erasers, you can cut up an old t-shirt. This is also a good technique because when they get dirty you can just through them into the washing machine for easier cleaning.

If you have your students use the white-boards often, you will probably go through a lot of dry-erase markers. At the beginning of the year, I sent home a classroom supply wish list with my letter to parents (in middle school and high school). I always asked for a box of dry erase markers from everyone that could afford to donate one to our class. This way I normally had a good supply that lasted me for the entire school year. If you run out, you can send home another wish list to parents around the winter holidays.

 8 Great Ways to Use White Boards

1.    Numbered Heads Together
I use this formative assessment as a review game at the end of each unit I teach.  I put the questions and answers on  a PowerPoint, and then I have student groups answer on small white boards.
  • Divide students into groups of 3-4 students, and have them turn their desks around so they are facing each other, and can work as a group.
  • I allow my students to use any resources they want for the game (textbook, notes, dictionary, etc.).
  • Ask all students to get out a piece of scrap paper.
  • Set a small white board for each group facing forward up on the ledge of your white board in the front. Write the group numbers in the corner of each board. 
  • I then give each group a number, and I also give each student an individual number. 
  • When you are ready, put a question up on the overhead/PowerPoint that is similar to a question you would ask on a test.  It should be a question with a fairly short answer.
  • Ask students to work together to figure out the answer as a team. Then they need to TEACH everyone on the team their answer because they do not know who will be called.
  • I often have students translate sentences from English to the target language for this game. 
  • Use a spinner, or randomly call out a number (Ex. All the # 4's come up!). The student with that number from each team needs to come up to their team board (they cannot bring their notes, or speak with their group members anymore at this point) and write down their answer.
  • Then they should put their board back facing backwards so that no one can see their answer and sit at their desks.
  • Now ask all the students what they think the answer is.  After they respond, show the correct answer on the overhead, or PowerPoint.  Turn around each board to check if the teams answer is correct.  If it is, give them one point.
  • The team with the most points at the end is the winner!  You may choose to give them a bonus point on their next quiz or test! 
2.    Pictionary
I have students play this game to practice fairly new vocabulary. Students draw the vocabulary words, and their classmates guess in the target language. 
  • Divide students into teams of about 4.
  • Give each student a list of vocabulary words (or ask them to open up to a page in their book, or notes). Or, cut up words on pieces of paper, and put the word strips in an envelope. Students can draw a word out of the envelope instead of choosing their own word.
  • Give each team a small white board, an eraser, and a dry-erase marker. 
  • Students take turns by passing the board around clockwise or counter clockwise so that everyone has an even amount of turns drawing. 
  • The first student to go selects a vocabulary word and draws it. Their teammates guess. The first student to guess correctly gets a point. Students can keep track of their points on a piece of scrap paper, on another white board, or on their desks if they work with dry-erase markers. 
  • Students should have the boards down while they are drawing so that the other students can see them and guess while they draw. They should not draw the entire picture and then flip the board around for guessing. 
  • If your students just shout out any random word, you may need to limit them to three educational guesses each (especially at the middle school level ;).
3.    Tutoring/Working One-on-One with Students
Last year, I started tutoring students in French and Spanish outside of school. Whenever I tutor, I bring one or two small white boards, a couple markers, and an eraser in my tutoring bag. My students really preferred to write their answers to practice questions, or worksheets on the white boards instead of on a piece of paper. Also, when they needed me to explain, or re-teach them a concept, I would write it on the board as I went. This visual helped them, and they preferred it to me writing notes for them on paper. We also used the boards for some of the review games and strategies in this post (Pictionary, Brainstorming, etc.) You can also ask students to re-teach the concept to you on the board to check for understanding. The same strategies can be used with your students who you might give extra help during lunch, or after school.  

4. Brainstorming
This is a great way to review, or to activate prior knowledge before teaching a new concept.
  • Divide students into pairs, or groups of 3-4.
  • Give each group one larger size white board, markers, and an eraser.
  • Have students choose a "writer", take turns writing, or they can all write from the angle they are sitting at.  
  • Give them a topic or theme to brainstorm about. For example, I might say, "Write down as many food related vocabulary words as you can think of in French". You could do this to review before an assessment, or to activate prior knowledge if they already know some food vocabulary, and you are about to teach them more. 
  • You could also have them do this to review cultural concepts, or grammar concepts. You could ask them to write down as many French dining customs as they can think of, or a list of grammatical rules to follow for using object pronouns.   
5.    Think-Pair-Share
  • Give each student a small white board, a marker, and an eraser.
  • Give your students a topic. Have them think of as many words as they can related to that topic, and write them on their small boards. 
  • Give them a reasonable time limit (1-2 minutes).
  • Now have them find a partner, and share their answers with each other. After it looks like they are done sharing give them a minute to see if they can think of more words that neither one of them has yet to add to their list. They can write the new words on either board.
  • Now have each pair, find another pair so that they are in groups of 4. Give each group of four a larger white board to use to create a master list of all their words. When they are done with their master lists give them one more minute to add any more words that they can think of. 
  • When time is up have them count their unique words. The group with the most words is the winner!
  • Have that group share their list with the class.
6.    Q & A or Ask & Lift
This technique is great for having students answer questions with short responses such as one word, verb, or pronoun. It can also be used for True/False questions, or Agree/Disagree questions. I often used this game with students to practice verb conjugations.
  • Give a small board to each student, pair, or group depending on how many small boards you have.
  • When doing pairs and groups you might give each duo or pair a number to write in the upper corner of their board if you want to keep score. 
  • Put group numbers up on the board, and add points as you play.
  • You can assign points based on speed and accuracy, or just on accuracy. I normally start out playing for accuracy, and tell students we are getting "warmed up".
  • Call out a question to students and ask them to write their answer on their boards. They may consult with their partner, or group.
  • When it looks like everyone has answered, you can say "Lift your boards!", in English or the target language. Check each board for the correct answer, and give points accordingly.
  • Have students pass their boards to their partner, or the next person in their group for the next question. Students should each have an equal number of opportunities to write. (They often figure out who is the fastest writer, and try to have that person do all the writing, so watch out for this).
  • After doing a few questions for accuracy, switch to speed and accuracy, or what I called "The Speed Round". As soon as students have answered they may lift up their boards to try to get a point. If they are first and correct, they get a point. However, if their answer is incorrect, I tell them, and they can try again. If another group lifts up their board and is correct before they correct their error, then the other team gets the point. 
  • During the speed round sometimes it is difficult to see which group lifts their board first. If I'm not sure and both teams have it correct, I give them both a point to be fair.
7.    Peer Teaching/Short Group Presentations
The larger white boards are great if you are having groups do a short in-class assignment, and then you want them to present their findings to the class. You can also have groups teach their peers a new concept. This strategy can also be used for review. You can have each group write out a short review for a concept on their board. The boards work well because they are about the size of a poster board.
  • Give each group a larger white board, some markers, and an eraser.
  • Give groups their assignment, and have them create a "poster" of it on their group board.  They can use words and pictures.
  • Have groups come up and present their boards to the class when they have finished.
8.  More Formative Assessments
You can also use small white boards for quick formative assessments. These assessments can be done on paper, or with the boards. They are good because they give you some immediate feedback on how well students are understanding the topics that they are learning.
  • Give each student a white board, marker, and eraser.
  • Choose one of the formative assessments below:
  • Analogy Prompt 
  • Give students a concept, principal or process being studied.
  • Have students write an analogy on their board and then lift it up to show you, or read it to the class.                                                                                                                              
  • Ex. ____________________ (a designated concept, principal, or process) is like_________________because __________________.
  • Self-Assessment
  • Write the current learning goal/objective on the board. 
  • Ask students to reflect what they have learned about a topic related to the goal.
  • Ask students to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 (1 being they still need help with understanding, and 10 being they have mastered the goal). 
  • Ask them "Where do you fall?", and have them write their number on their board and lift it up and show it to you.
  • ABC Summaries 
  • Assign each student or pair a letter of the alphabet, and give them a small board.
  • Ask them to select a word that starts with your letter that is related to the topic being studied.
  • This is a great way to review vocabulary in a world language class. For example, the topic could be shopping, and students would have to think of a French or Spanish clothing item or shopping related vocabulary word that started with their letter.
  • When they have all finished ask them to raise up their boards, or share their answers with the class one by one.
  • For less common letters, you may want to assign them a few letters to choose from ("Q or S", "X, Y, or Z").
  • One Word Summary
  • Give each student or pair a board.
  • Give them a topic they are learning about, and write it on the board.
  • Ask them to select (or invent) one word that best summarizes the topic, and to write in on their boards.
  • Have them share their answers with the class, and explain why they chose their word.
  • Misconception Check
  • Give each student or pair of students a board.
  • Select a common misconception about the topic being studied, and write it on the board as a statement. 
  • Ask students to write T/F, or Agree/Disagree on their board based on if they think the statement is accurate or not. 
  • When they have all finished, ask them to lift up their boards. 
  • Count the number of boards that say True, and how many say False.
  • Ask a student that chose False to explain their reasoning to the rest of the class.
  • Ex. A common misconception in beginner Spanish classes-"Yo tuve divertido"=I had fun. True or False?(Answer: False. The correct translation is "Yo me diverti").

Sunday, June 3, 2012

French and Spanish Father's Day Vocabulary & Activities and FREEBIES!

Teach your students some new vocabulary for Father's Day in you French or Spanish class! Help your students to make a card and gift for their fathers, or another special man in their lives.

The document includes greeting card expressions, related vocabulary words, a word search, a double puzzle, instructions for making virtual greeting cards, a father's day writing activity, and a bingo board template. It also has a Father's Day word cloud activity with Wordle, and an two acrostic poem templates that can be used as gifts for Dad!

If you would like to get a FREE sneak peak of these activities then you can download 
the files below for a free "Dia del Padre" or "Fete des Peres" 
word search, and acrostic poem templates!

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