Week 2- The First “Exam”


Here’s a run down of my plans for my 100% TL Spanish 3 class this week.

We’ve been working on city locations and giving directions as well as the irregular preterite verbs traer, querer, decir, venir.  I feel as though my students have a good grasp on the verbs because they’ve heard them so much from me last week and I’ve been able to work them into teaching and asking them question using the target vocab.  I’m giving them the chapter “exam” on Thursday.  I am modeling it off of Cynthia Hitz (@sonrisadelcampo) exam she shared in this blog post.  Cynthia, whom I never met but would love to observe someday, has been very kind in sharing advice with me via Twitter as I embark on this journey.  I thought about when students would really need to use this language in the real world and what they would need it for.  From there I created my exam.  Here are the sections.

Listening– Your host mom has left your a voicemail with a list of errands and directions how to get to the places.  Follow her directions and trace your path on the map.  Students will be able to listen and pause the audio as much as they would like.

Writing – You need to leave your host brother directions how to find you.  You will draw two places randomly (a start point and end point).  Leave him a note with instructions on how to get from point A to point B.  To grade this I will follow your instructions without looking at the starting or end point until I’ve followed your directions and will see if I ended up in the right place.

Vocab – Your host sister has come to visit you in Nebraska.  You leave her a map but it’s in English.  Label the following places in Spanish on the map to help her.

Irreg. Verbs – You went to an exciting party last night.  You Spanish-speaking friend texts you the next morning to see how it was.  Respond to his/her texts in Spanish using complete sentences.

This will be a much shorter exam than those I’ve given in the past and a completely different format than the students are used to but I feel it is a more realistic test of their skills.

To prep for this here’s my plans for the week.

Monday-Review what exam will look like.  No surprises in my classroom.  Using shower curtain liners, create a city map with your group (4 people per group)

Tuesday-Practice giving directions.  We’ll do some large class practice first then break into groups.  Using their maps from yesterday each person will write a set of directions and their group mates will have to follow them.  I will then give each group short stories using our target verbs and vocab.  One student will read the story while the others act it out.

Wednesday – Using scratch paper, label your maps one person at a time.  See who can label the most items from our vocab and who can do it the fastest.  May have groups switch maps and repeat.  In groups of two, practice texting each other (using small white boards) using a guide I provided to practice the irregular verbs.  If time allows I may have two students “text” while another two students act out their conversation.

Thursday- Exam day!

Friday- We’ll be working with Belanova’s No me voy a morir from Zachary Jones (@ZJonesSpanish).  Zachary Jones has had a big influence on my teaching as well, inspiring me to work language into the classroom in fun, interesting ways I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

So those are my plans for the week.  Eventually I’d like to start posting some materials I use on this blog for others to use or be inspired by.  I’ll post at the end of the week and let you know how this week actually went!  My plans tend to change on the fly.

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH


100% TL: Just Add Caffeine


Today marked the end of my first week teaching my Spanish 3 class 100% in TL (Target Language).  Here is some background info on me and my class:

-I commute an hour to school each way every day.
-I have 14 students in my Spanish 3 class.
-I have no TPRS experience or experience teaching entirely in TL.
-I use a “traditional” textbook (Avancemos).
-This is my second year with this set of students.

OK, now that you’ve got an idea of what we’re working with, here’s how it’s going.  I’m going to break this down into “Lessons I’ve Learned (So Far)”.

Lesson #1: 100% TL Requires 100% Energy
It’s no secret that teaching takes a lot of energy.  Teaching 100% TL takes even more energy!  I started out Monday with a lot of excitement and energy.  This carried me through Tuesday.  Wednesday I crashed.  I had no energy.  I was tired.  It was not the best day of teaching.  Today (Thursday) I fueled up with some caffeine.  Today was a great day.  I’m not saying you have to run on caffeine but it sure helps!

Lesson #2: Me using TL = Students using TL
I did not tell my students that they have to use 100% TL (yet).  In fact, I made it clear that I did not expect them to flip a switch and be 100% TL right away.  What I’m finding is that they are speaking much more TL than they ever have!  That happens in the form of them trying to piece things together in their head as they speak one word at a time and them using Spanglish.  A great example from yesterday is, “¿Qué abouto fuimos?” (What “about” fuimos?).  The student wanted to know if he had spelled the word “fuimos” correctly.  Rather than just asking in English, he took what he knew and Spanglished the rest!  This is a student that has always struggled academically and had to work hard for everything he’s learned.  Awesome!

Lesson #3: Student Confidence is Soaring
I’ve seen student confidence soar this week.  I attribute this to the fact that for the first time students are really having to rely on their Spanish skills and they are amazed to see what they can do!  Vocabulary recognition and use has been at an all time high as well!

Lesson #4: Holy Engagement Batman!
Students are much more engaged in class because they have to be if they want to know what’s going on!  We’ve had a lot of laughs from me making mistakes, them making mistakes, my crazy drawings/sounds/actions to help understanding and all kinds of other stuff.  I can say this has been one of the most fun weeks teaching for me.  I overheard a student from one of my Spanish 2 classes (not 100% TL) talking about my Spanish 3 class and that the Spanish 3 students are saying that class goes much faster now.  This is awesome because we are doing way less in terms of actual activities but their brains are way more engaged!

That’s what I have for now.  I started this experiment in the middle of a unit so it will be interesting to see how I approach my next unit differently.  I am fortunate to have such an amazing group of students to go on this journey with!

I have so much to learn!  I’m pretty much winging this entire thing so all my conclusions so far could be delusions!  If you do this or have done this and are willing to help, find me on Twitter @lisajmch.  I’d love to chat and learn!

Until Next Time,
Maestra McH

Simultaneous Excitement and Terror


I just finished teaching my first period Spanish 3 class which consists of 13 juniors and 1 senior.  They are a bright and driven group.  We spent today watching a video and working on listening skills through it.  Afterwards the students were talking about how they can read and write Spanish but still have a hard time understanding it when they hear it.  

This prompted a crazy thought in me.

It was probably the large quantity of caffeine I had consumed 30 minutes prior talking but I proposed something to them.  I asked them to answer yes or no to the following statement, “I want this class to be completely in Spanish”.  They were to vote privately on paper, sí or no.

Before they voted I told them the following things, all in Spanish:
-It will be hard.  You will be frustrated.  You will probably want to do me harm at some point.
-Your head will hurt.
-We will move slower and you will not learn as much “formal grammar”.
-You will learn to understand spoken Spanish.
-I will expect your to speak more in Spanish.

I told them about my experience being fully immersed in Spanish in Mexico.
-I learned more in 6 weeks than I had in the previous 5 years.
-I had the worst head aches ever.
-I was extremely frustrated and overwhelmed.
-I learned.

After this was all said and done.  The students voted yes or no on paper.  No one really discussed it with each other.  They all voted privately on their own.  I had 12 of my 14 students today (I emailed the two that are sick).  As I opened up the votes I was surprised that every single one said “sí”.  I expected there to be at least a few that said “no”.  I’m not sure they know what they’re getting into but I know that they want to learn and they are motivated.

I am simultaneously excited and terrified.  This is going to be as challenging for me as for them.  I’m excited for the challenge and I’m excited to watch these students struggle (in the positive sense of the word) and grow.

If anyone has any advice, please tweet me!  I will need it! @lisajmch  

Stay posted for updates on this adventure!

Until next time,

Maestra McH.