First Days Survey and Exit Ticket

I will give a survey students on the second or third day of class, after they have had some time to get to know me. I will model my answers before asking them to share theirs.

This survey will allow me to be more culturally responsive, to be more aware of my students’ preferences, and to celebrate the talents of students who know more languages than English.

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first day survey doc
first day survey pdf

I also have two exit tickets to gauge student comprehension and take some feedback. These were adapted from Scott Benedict’s first days lesson plans on

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day one class reflection doc
day one class reflection pdf

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day two class reflection
day two class reflection

I hope these help you build those relationships on the first days!

101 Memes for Spanish class

On the eve of reporting back to school, I decided to take a few hours to gather all of the memes I’ve saved and put them in a slideshow.

I included the basics of how I will introduce and train this procedure, along with some sample PQA questions for the first couple of memes.

The two goals of Meme Martes are:
1. expose students to authentic materials (materials made by Spanish-speakers for Spanish-speakers).
2. use the pictures to launch personalized questions so I can provide more compelling, personalized, silly input.

If you have some great ways that you implement Meme martes, or memes in general, please share!

101 memes for Spanish class ppt

101 memes for Spanish class pdf

Back-to-School Resources Part 1: Posters

I know. It’s not time to go back, yet. Just save this for later in the month when you’re emotionally ready. 

Here are some resources I will be using to set up my classroom this year.

Job Description Posters:

Job Description posters pdf   Job Description posters editable  My plan is to laminate them and hang them up with Velcro. When I assign a new job, or when a student forgets their job description, I will pass the poster to them. More information on jobs in a previous post: How I Do Class Jobs

Reading Quotes and How to Choose Reading Material

Bryce Hedstrom has so many brilliant resources that he generously shares on his site. I love these reading quotes. I will spend a few moments before free reading to highlight one of the quotes every so often.

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How to Choose Reading Material

P.S…. What do you think Krashen would say about this Mitch Hedberg quote? Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 7.13.54 PM

High Frequency Verbs in Past and Present Tense

This idea is borrowed from Mike Peto in his post here. You can see my high frequency verbs posters above me.


Rules Poster

I still haven’t decided which rules I want to go with this year. Do I want the rules to be broad or more specific?

One option is Bryce’s Participation scale:

Or Scott Benedict’s five rules:

  1. “It’s not okay to talk to your neighbors.
  2. Listen with your ears and your eyes.
  3. Don’t sink! Ask questions!
  4. Make smart choices.
  5. Keep Profe happy.”

Or my five rules, partially stolen from Annabelle Allen.


Rejoinders Wall! 

Rejoinders are phrases that keep the conversation moving. Phrases like “No way!” “That’s not fair.” and “Awesome!” See my previous post for how Grant Boulanger uses rejoinders.

Question Words with Word Walls

I stole this from Jason Fritze:
Underneath your question words, give students a bank of WORDS THEY ALREADY KNOW (without the translation) that can help them answer the question/invent an answer. For example:

¿Quién? (Who)
la profesora
el muchacho

These words can be written on Post-It Paper so you can add to them and change them throughout the year.

Visual Aides to Promote Ease of Conversation

See these posters in more detail on this post.

Los Números

Very simple numbers poster..once I tape them all together. Numbers poster pdf

Growth Mindset Poster

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This seems like a lot of posters. I don’t want to overwhelm the students with tooo much visual stimuli but I do want to provide them with lots of cues. I moved schools so I will have to see how it looks once I get into my class.

Jason Fritze at iFLT: Procedures in the TL

Jason Fritze’s message during his iFLT session was clear: Our class time is precious. Waste NO time speaking in English. Train your students IN THE TL. Keep your expectations high, your language comprehensible, and your class POSITIVE AND HAPPY.

Here are some of his tips and tricks!

  • TEACH and QUIZ the signals.
    • Have a SLOW DOWN signal, a NOT CLEAR signal and a I WANT TO SEE IT WRITTEN signal. (“The signal for I would like to speak in English is….. (drumroll) a raised hand! Because it’s important OR an emergency.”)
    • Allow students to create their class signals. Thanks them for helping you create the procedures.
    • Teach the signals like TPR. “Show me what to do when you want me to slow down. Show me the signal for That wasn’t clear.”
    • Train them to use the signals by throwing in random stories in high level Spanish. Or use a different language completely.
    • Later in the week, quiz the signals using an eyes-closed quiz. “Everyone got a 5/5 except for Tina who was peeking and she’ll have to retest with me some other time. That was her choice.”
  • PRAISE and THANK students often. Thank them for listening. Thank them for speaking in the TL. Thank them for doing the procedure. When they use the signal, thank them for helping you be a better teacher CHASTISE yourself when you are going too fast “Oh noooo. ¡Yo hablo muy rápido! ¡Profe mala!”
  • WORD WALLS!!!!!! Put your word walls under your question words. (No translation) Under “Where” put a list of place words they know. Under “Who” list people vocab they know. Under how put a list of adverbs. Under “what” write your verbs.
  • !!!SO SO SO IMPORTANT: PLAN ALL THE LANGUAGE YOU WILL NEED FOR YOUR PROCEDURES!!! In order to stay in the Target Language, we need to give lots of commands throughout the day. Put those words in your lesson plan, then teach them with TPR and circling. For example, levántense or se levanta (stand up). Teach that word. Write it on the board. Do basic TPR action with half the class, then the other half, then individual students. Circle “Does Sally stand up? Does Jim stand up? Does Sally or Jim stand up? Does Sally stand up quickly or slowly?”
    • Here is my list of words I need for the first week
      • stand up
      • sit down
      • look at
      • stop
      • touch
      • hand
      • foot
      • say
      • high five
      • open
      • close
      • write
      • listen
      • read
      • turn on
      • turn off
      • change positions
      • raise your hand
    • They do NOT need to fully acquire these words. They DO need to be able to recognize them so they you don’t just sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher when you give instructions.IMG_5578

Some other ideas: 

  • 10 Wonderful Interactions to every 1 Mildly Punitive Interactions: Give students a chance to hold the stuffed unicorn as a reward. Give students a chance to press the Easy button. Give students a high five. Have a box with dumb prizes in it marked “¿Quieres un regalito?” (Do you want a little present?) When it’s their birthday or something special happened ask them “¿Quieres un regalito?” Do the same thing with a box of pencils marked “¿Quieres un lápiz?”
  • Get students’ attention with a sound. (He uses a gong.) Use your voice only when you have their attention. (I just bought a music wand… and I plan on using it with high schoolers. And I’m totally comfortable with that.)
  • English Infractions:
    • FROG OF SHAME: Student who speaks English has to hold the “English frog” or “Frog of shame.” If someone else speaks English, they hold the frog. The last student holding the frog has to stay after class to speak Spanish with the teacher.
    • MYSTERY STUDENT: Choose one random student, but do not tell who it is. When that 1 student speaks English, the class loses points. When they speak Spanish, the class earns points.
  • “Rituals build good will” 
    • Birthday crown or birthday sign!
    • Weather: Give students the job of telling the weather, the highs and lows for the day, maybe they take guesses from students about what the exact temperature is right now.
    • Day/date: Another student job.
    • Cantaninja a la Martina Bex
  • Humans like having control, or the illusion of control. When possible, give them choices (always in the TL!)
  • Use CLASS JOBS to keep everything in the target language
    • Have a student answer the phone in the TL. Put a script by the phone.
    • Have a student keep track of your markers.
    • Plus the million other class jobs from my previous post
  • We generally know to always use two colors: one for English, one for Spanish, but I did NOT think about underlining the Spanish or TL word. IMG_5576

iFLT17: Grant Boulanger

iFLT, the International Forum on Language Teaching, was held in Denver this year. What sets iFLT apart from other conferences is that it hosts language labs of REAL kids in a week-long class with master teachers. I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend and learn from so many talented teachers.

After dropping into Grant Boulanger’s class for a bit, it is no wonder he is was named the 2016 Central States Teacher of the Year and 2017 ACTFL TOY Finalist.

(BLATANT ADVERTISEMENT: Grant will be the Keynote Speaker at CCFLT’s Fall Conference, October 7th in Colorado Springs! See our promo video here )

Here are my takeaways from his presentation:

Creating a Welcoming Community

Grant’s kindness and care blankets the room in a calming comfort, a comfort that says “It’s OK to be who you are.” This is no accident. It is very purposeful. Grant emphasizes this point throughout his lessons.

  • Before asking students about their parents, Grant starts with “¿Quién vive en tu casa?” (Who lives in your house?) What a simple, beautiful way to show students that there is no typical family structure. As he was storyasking, Grant whispered to a student to lie to him. Grant then asked the student “How many moms do you have?” and “How many Dads do you have?” The student told Grant that she has two moms and four dads. Grant earnestly told the class “La familia se define por el amor (Families are defined by love)” Through this invented story, Grant reinforced the norm in the class that all families are accepted.
  • Girls are funny! Grant consistently pulled up girls to act in his story, including a story where the character had a beard and the girl LOVED wearing the beard. In my classroom, it is easy for me to let the boy be the star, maybe because he is a little hyperactive or a little more outgoing. But I need to foster the comedic side in my girls too, because they are some of the FUNNIEST people in class.
  • Personalize, personalize, personalize. Grant only had his students for one week of classes. But it seemed like he had really gotten to know them. He did this through a lot of PQA, starting his first class off by discussing their vacations. He also did this by creating class characters. Creating characters is such a powerful community-builder. It is something the class made together, it is humorous (so the class bonds through laughter!) and it becomes part of the class culture.


  • Set-up: Have a wall of rejoinders that are detachable, perhaps with Velcro. (You can buy them from Grant here) When you want to highlight a certain rejoinder, take it down from wall and place it in a central location on the board. Once students have a grasp on that expression, move it to location 2 on the board (less centrally located.) When students are using it freely, place it back on the big board of rejoinders.
  • Teach each rejoinder expression with a gesture (ex. Imagínate or Olvídalo). Honestly, why didn’t I think of this??
  • Students practice hearing and saying it in rhythm: Snap or clap a slow beat and say it in rhythm, students repeat in rhythm. Gradually increase the pace. Then give a student the job of snapping the rhythm. Grant would tell the student to create the beat “muyy lento” very slow.. “más lento” slower.
  • Students earn the rejoinder if they use it in context correctly, or if it just fits with their personality. They become the figurative “keeper” of that rejoinder and can try to fit it in wherever appropriate in class.
  • Practice the rejoinder gestures as a movement break. Throw in the rejoinders with the rest of the words you have been working on.

Kind and Firm Classroom Management:

Grant’s classroom management is kind because because it is direct. He treats the students like adults. He explains what he expects and why he expects it. He clearly restated his expectations when they are not complying. He does not try to shame students or make them feel sad. He just tells it like it is. Here are some of the re-directs I heard.

  • A student who continually gives too many suggestions: Grant, with a smile, “You’re trying to hijack my story. That’s not gonna happen.”
  • After not getting a solid choral response, Grant says, “I didn’t get a strong response from you.”
  • Grant, in a loud whisper, with a twinkle in his eye “I can tell that some of you don’t get it by looking at your eyes.”
  • Student actor starts deciding details, like her mom is a dog, Grant takes back control of the story. “No, your mom is not a dog.”
  • Grant asks student A a question and they don’t understand. Student B whispers the translation. Grant says “You’re doing a great thing by helping your buddy, but I need to make sure he can ask for clarification.”


(Me and my new BFF, Grant)

Closet Space MovieTalk

Are you losing steam? Feeling the post Spring-break slump? Trying to make it to the end of the year with the same passion and enthusiasm that you had at the beginning of the year?

Try this awesome MovieTalk. All six of my classes were gripped by it. I adapted it for level 1 and for level 2 and it worked beautifully for both levels (which I am kind of sad about because now I can’t use it next year.)

French, German, Latin, Mandarin, Arabic, and all other language teachers: I tried to use as much English as possible in these lessons so you can adapt them to the language you teach!

Martina Bex/SOMOS teachers, this can be a lead-in for Chapter 9 El Cucuy, or it can be adapted for Chapter 3, Cierra la Puerta.

In this Google folder you will find:

  1. Step-by-step lesson plans for 4 days
  2. A powerpoint with slides of screenshots
  3. A prepped slideshow of a reading activity called Read, Cover, Tell
  4. Two levels of readings
  5. A song and lyrics