Thursday, September 10, 2015

Spanish Classroom Decor 2.0

Just a few photos of my walls this year :)

I created a culture wall this year but used my same Instagram photos from last year. Each large photo has a caption in Spanish describing its significance.

 My High Frequency Word Wall (with Useful Phrases now) is available on TPT.

 My fun meme door! They LOVE reading these and trying to figure out what they mean. (All found on Pinterest)

Behind my desk (mini posters available on TPT)

Hope you enjoyed!

The First Days of School

I like to start of my first day with a healthy mixture of scaring them and peeking their interest :)

I start off by standing at my door with a clipboard in hand. I allow them to sit wherever they like because (unbeknownst to them) I base my seating chart for the next weeks off of who they chose to sit next to the first day. I then take attendance in Spanish. They must say "aquí" after I call their name and then the next day turns into "estoy aquí."

I then hand out my syllabus (see older posts). I have students read the large parts out loud and then I go over my expectations, materials they need, class rules and procedures, technology rules and consequences, and homework and grading policies. Finally I ask if there are any questions (usually no) and I have them pack it up and take it home for their parents to sign for 5 points. 

Typically this only takes about 15 -20 minutes or so, which is why I created a little intro to Spanish Powerpoint to inform them / see what they know already. They really enjoy this and it gets them a tiny bit excited to learn.

Here we talk about which countries speak Spanish. We see how many they can name without looking at the map. Luckily our 9th graders took Geography last year so they remember a lot!

 We talk about words of Latin origin and loan words that the English language has borrowed...

 This is where I build their confidence and take away any fears of learning a new language. They'll already be able to recognize over 3,000 words in Spanish! And it will help them learn other languages in the future :)
I read through this list and they call out the English meaning. 
 Finally we talk about the importance of learning a language and some students share why they think it will be useful.
And that's it! Please share any ideas from your own first days in the comments below :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Is it August ALREADY????

Yikes! Between building a new house and trying to tweak things for my second year at my new school, summer has FLOWN by. My wheels are turning and I've already got my mind set on the first week of school (it's uncontrollable!).

I typically start off my first day with my syllabus. I created last year's with Piktochart (as inspired by Creative Language Class' blog post last year about the best syllabus). It was a beautiful masterpiece in my humble opinion and focused on rules as well as the language journey that my students make throughout the year and how far they will advance in the proficiency path. Take a look!! I think it's really pretty and I'm obsessed with it :)

This Path to Proficiency is available for free download on TPT!

I'd LOVE to share this with you guys, so instead of paying a buttload to be able to "share" the editable version with you all, for now I'm going to post it on TPT. *When you purchase it you can send me an email and I will EDIT it and personally replace my info with yours and truly make it personal for you and your school. Is that crazy?? YES, but I'd love to help you all out and my students truly loved going over this the first day of class. Here's the link below:

Next, I go over my expectations for each class with a heavy emphasis on behavioral issues. Luckily, my school is full of wonderful students with very involved parents so a simple threat or phone call home will stop any annoyance or issue right in its tracks. If it goes any further they are immediately sent out and typically sent home for the day. (I know, right??)

I also have this sign hanging right next to the front board. And another one next to the door. And another one next to the clock. :) If they interrupt me, which I HATE, they have to write this sentence a certain number of times (my choice) as a first warning. After that, they get sent out. Adioooooos!
And I have these signs above my board as a friendly reminder:

This concludes my first day - for now. Hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Teachers Pay Teachers!

Hi guys! Thank you so much for your recent interest in my High Frequency Word Wall and my Vowel posters! 

I've created a Teachers Pay Teachers account so you all can easily download my FREE documents. I've borrowed a lot of free resources over the years so I'm making these free for all of you too! Enjoy :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pretty Spanish Classroom Walls!

So I started writing this post last August and got SO entirely busy that I never finished it. Take a look :)

(August 2014)
I have to admit - one of my favorite things about teaching is getting to decorate my classroom. My Mom is an interior designer and she passed on her talents to my sister and I. So all summer it's been in the back of my head: what's my color scheme? where can I find great wrapping paper deals? how much decor am I going to reuse and how much am I going to buy new? Ugh. Too much to think about.

Anyways, I'm trying to FOCUS on one thing at a time, which is hard when all of my stuff is packed away in boxes. Also, it's amazing how much my taste and purpose has changed. My first year, I just wanted everything to look "pretty." Now, everything has to have a function. So here's my list:

1. A "key" word wall that the students can reference at all times
2. An instagram picture wall with a hashtag attached that the students can use for extra credit
3. A student center with everything they'll need during class
4. A display of Proficiency Targets + Stamp Sheets (if you're unfamiliar with this, please visit the Creative Language Class blog).

On a side note, this year I'm starting at a new school. I loved my old school (middle - public), but I got an offer I couldn't refuse at my alma mater (9th-10th - private)! So I really am starting from scratch. The biggest change within the classroom (besides class sizes) will be moving from a brand new Smartboard to having an iPad with Apple TV (oh each kid has an iPad too - eek!). So once I figure that out, I'll write about it. But for now, I'm just focusing on decor and what I can use from the last three years and how to improve it. 

Here's a before picture of my new classroom :)

Here are the after pictures!

My Instagram wall is in the center (photos were printed into 4x4s from Walgreens online)

My High Frequency Word Wall! I LOVE IT
These were a lot of hard work - about 40 words total!

And here's my semi-clean desk area. You can see my rules above the white board, vowel sounds to the left, and my question words below.

Hope you guys enjoyed my room! My kids loved it this year and it was my best, most enjoyable year of teaching yet!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


One of the things I love about teaching is the amount of creative, authentic resources available. I love that there are so many aspiring graphic artists out there - they know just how to get me excited about datos (facts)! Enter Infografías...

Do any of you print out Infografías and use them in your classroom? I was lucky enough to use the community college's teacher center to print some of mine into posters - fo free! - but I know it can be really difficult to find those massive printers.

I found some new ones this year that I can't wait to make into posters for my little reading and grammar corners.

1. An Infografía about the hardest/medium/easiest languages to learn:

2. Here's a great one about participles:

3. An AWESOME one about spelling...

4. This Spain Infografía is so fun!

I hope you'll find these useful! There are a TON out there, you just have to spend some time searching. Happy decorating!





Pinterest Successes and Pinterest Fails

Being the only Spanish teacher in my school, I have to depend on myself, my brain, and the Internet (Pinterest, in particular) when it comes to planning. We're also on a 90 minute block schedule in our middle school - crazy right? So needless to say I've got a TON of time to fill and need to keep my 12-14 year olds occupied and engaged. This is where I try out some of the things I find on Pinterest.

Some of the ideas and activities I've found are incredible, and some are pretty worthless. Here's my personal Spanish class Pinterest Review...


I've tried these on multiple occasions when we have a craft making day for certain holidays. I use construction paper, model an example for the students, give them scissors and a hole punch and let them loose. We work as a class to string them together and then I have my good helpers hang them from the ceiling! They're awesome.

This game is incredibly successful over and over again and my kids REQUEST to play it often. I renamed it "Ay Caramba!" and made my own versions out of tissue boxes and laminated word strips. (Metal buckets will work too). You can use this with ANY unit that has several new vocab words.
Here's the description: Students take turns drawing cards out of a container. If they can define the vocabulary word they keep the card. If not, the card goes back in. Whoever collects the most cards wins the game. Beware of the CARAMBA cards though. If you draw one, you have to put back ALL of the cards you have collected! Game ends when teacher puts a time limit up - Best in groups of 4+ and when no one peeks in the bucket/box!

This is a GREAT resource from zachary jones for conjugating verbs at any level. It's challenging and it allows my more artistic students to show their creativity while conjugating verbs. Even the non artistic students enjoyed filling in the squares. I bought the entire packet for about $14 and it includes all kinds of verb conjugations.

I absolutely LOVE this idea. Here's my problem with the average word wall that we're all required to display: if I had to display EVERY new vocabulary word that my students learned, my entire classroom would be covered. Yes, I understand that Spanish builds on prior knowledge and it's important to keep these words present, but I think word walls need to be constructive and ever changing. 

Except for the above, which displays KEY words that students will forever and always need. For example, during writing prompts, I often get asked how to say the word "but." I find this interesting because it's not a word that pops up in any of our units, but it's so useful. So, for the upcoming year I'm creating a Key Word Wall full of useful single words and prepositions that they can reference for the entire year. I think this will be extremely helpful and I plan on making it stick out (I still remember certain signs and words from my high school Spanish classroom!). Pictures soon to come :)

And my fun Spanish meme door! 

My kids LOVE looking at this and they're always trying to figure out what they say. Yayy for Real World Target Language Use! Here are a few examples of what I had on my door this year:
just a teaser :) I was so excited for summer that I took it all down before I could take a picture!

(only one so far)

 Here's my enthusiastic pin from about 2 years ago..... "Car wash mittens - 1$ from the dollar store - kids can use them to clean white boards!"

Great idea, right? WRONG. Although they're a great alternative to the average square eraser for your white boards, these ink sucking mittens do just one thing: suck. They literally suck marker ink up, never to let it go again. Even after 2 washes! Not only that, they don't even work that well - my boards are left with marker residue which creates even more work. My advice? Stick to the regular ones.

Here's what they looked like after 12 weeks of mild use.