Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fun ideas for teaching colors

Good afternoon, everyone!  I hope your weekend was as restorative as mine!
Today I wanted to share a few fun ways to teach colors in a foreign language classroom.
The first way I like to teach colors is by having the kids color swatches on their paper and label them for their notebooks.  They enjoy this, and we avoid using English.
A quick application activity (and good time-filler or Friday activity) is to have the students draw a picture, and instead of coloring it in, they write the name of the color in the target language.
This is not the best example, but you can get the idea.
One of my absolute favorite ways to practice colors is with manipulatives.  A few years back, I cut up construction paper and put it into baggies so each student would have a swatch of all the main colors.  After passing out the bags to my students, I call out a color in the target language (or project it using a powerpoint) and they have to hold up that color.  After a little bit, I like to make it tricky by giving them color "equations" (ie: red + blue =??).
My final favorite activity is to play scoot using clip art.  Each card has a piece of clip art on it, and they have to write one (or two) colors from the picture on their answer sheet.

How do you like to teach colors?
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Favorite Recent Pins

Hey, everyone!  Today I wanted to pop in and share some of my recent pins that I'm really excited to use in my classroom.
In two weeks, we'll be talking about the verb "ser" in class, and I always get a few wise guys who love to say "soy sauce" or "soy milk" when we talk about the word "soy", so when I saw this image, I knew I needed to save it to show my kids when we talk about "ser".
I LOVE this conversation foldable idea from  I love that it's easily adapted to a ton of different topics and I think it will really help my students organize their thoughts.  I think I might have them put a few different answers to each question under the flap.
I'm not sure who made this activity, but I think my students will really enjoy it.  I love the tangible aspect!
I'm not sure who made this, but I love it.  I'll probably use it as a warm-up later in the year.
I'm not sure of the origin of this pin either.  I like this as a centers activity for review.

What are some of your favorite classroom pins?
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Great Time-Fillers for the Classroom

Good evening!
Tonight I wanted to post about some of my favorite time-fillers for any classroom, although these work especially well in a language classroom.
The first time filler I want to share is almost completely no-prep, is a great review of vocabulary, and can be adapted for any topic at any level.  All you have to do is pick a category (ie: fruits, things each student likes, supplies you can find in a backpack, words that describe your family, etc) and have each student (or pair) come up with 5 (or how ever many words you choose) that fit that category.  At the higher levels, you can even give them a letter all of their words have to begin with (similar to the board game Scattergories by Hasbro).  My students really enjoy this activity and love sharing their answers, and it can fill as little or as much time as you can think of categories.

Another great time filler is paired flyswatter or Matamoscas.  This one does require a little prep ahead of time.  I have a lot of matamoscas games you can purchase on my TpT store, or you can make your own version using for free.  I simply pair my students up, give each pair one copy of the flyswatter sheet, and two different colored markers, crayons, highlighters, etc.  All you, the teacher, have to do is call out terms for the students to find.  Whoever finds the term first gets to mark it with their color.  At the end of the game (which can last anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on the number of terms and how familiar your students are with the game), the student who has marked the most terms "wins".  Since I usually make this activity a grade, I give the winning student an extra 5 points on the game, but you could also give candy, a homework pass, or whatever other prize works well for your classes.

One of my favorite time fillers is a quick game of I have, Who has?  This does require you to make/buy and print out the cards ahead of time, but once you make a set and laminate it, it will last for years.  I also sell some of these in my store, but they are very easy to make using whatever vocabulary you want your students to practice.  The first time you play this game, it will take a little longer because a lot of students aren't really sure what they are doing, but once they are familiar with the game, you can play a round (including passing out and collecting the cards) in under 3 minutes.  This is another activity my students beg to play and they really love trying to beat their time.  I post all the times for all the classes to see, and they love to see how they stack up against my other class periods.  When I play this with my classes, I have them all start out standing up, and then they sit once they've read their card.  This helps me keep track of who has yet to read their card, and it also gives them the opportunity to move around a little bit.

A great communicative activity is to give the students a few questions to ask each other and answer.  These can be specific to what you are studying right then, or they can be review topics.  I love to give them very open-ended questions like "¿Cómo eres?" or "¿Qué te gusta hacer los fines de semana?" that give them lots of options to use different vocabulary.  You can have the students stay in their seats and just ask the people around them, or have them get up and circulate.  Whenever I can, I have the students get up so they're not sitting the whole period.  You can also have this be a teacher-centered activity where you ask the questions and call on a few students to answer.  I prefer this activity to be student-centered, simply because in most classrooms, students have a lot of opportunities to answer questions, but not to ask their classmates questions.

The final time filler I want to share is a tried and true favorite: individual whiteboards.  I have a pretty streamlined procedure in place for distributing and returning the whiteboards and supplies, so that doesn't eat up much time.  You can have the students answer questions on the boards, translate, play hangman in pairs (practices alphabet and vocabulary!), etc, but my favorite (and my students' favorite as well) is to draw a picture based on what I say in the target language.  I love this activity because it avoids translating into English, it's fun, and you can make some very creative and funny pictures for them to draw, which can help them remember the vocabulary better.  You can use this drawing activity to practice prepositions of location (The dinosaur is below the monkey), verbs (The principal rides his bike in the park), colors (The orange pig reads with the blue giraffe), body parts (The alien has three heads, five feet, one eye...), etc.  There are endless possibilities for whiteboards.  One tip - I use kids' socks as erasers, and I store the markers inside the socks, so there's no begging for a certain color and they're a lot easier to distribute.  At first, the kids balk at socks, but I make sure to tell them that they've never been worn before, which helps.  They really enjoy wearing the sock on their non-dominant hand and swiping when they erase :)  They are so funny!

How do you fill those extra minutes at the end of class?
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Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently September!

It's been a crazy week, and I'm glad I finally have the chance to update my blog!  I'm linking up with Farley for Currently September.

Listening: I love the Music Choice channels, especially the música urbana.  I always find new songs I need to buy after a little while on that channel!
Loving: I love shopping at thrift stores!  I've recently lost a lot of weight (and still going...), so I've run out of things to wear, especially to work.  Since I'm still losing weight, it feels wasteful to me to spend a lot of money on clothing that I would only be wearing for a short amount of time.  Enter thrift stores!  I love going to Goodwill, but the ones around me have pretty awful selection, so I usually drive out to Austin for Goodwill.  This morning I went by a thrift store near me (Texas Thrift, one of my faves!) for their Labor Day sale, 50% off everything!  I picked up 6 work shirts and 2 blazers for a grand total of $21.54 including tax!
Thinking: Tomorrow night is our Open House.  I like that we have it after school has started, so when I meet parents, I already know their child.  I'm both nervous and excited to meet some parents tomorrow night!
Wanting: This last week back has definitely reminded me of how important comfortable shoes are!  It's been really hard to find comfy shoes that are actually cute, so if anyone has any suggestions, please share!
Needing: I still haven't finished my powerpoint for tomorrow night, so that's next on my list...
Love Myself: I need to ramp up my walking.  Last week I walked 26 miles, and my goal is to hit 30 each week.  I have a fitbit, and I love how easy it makes keeping track of my daily progress.  I also want to look more "put-together" everyday.  I did really well these last two weeks, and I want to keep that momentum!  Finally, I want to try to cook more.  I don't eat out  much, but I don't do much real cooking either.  It's time to start using some of those awesome recipe pins I've been hoarding!

I have really enjoyed meeting all of my new students this last week.  The best part of my week was playing I have Who has with Spanish greetings and seeing how excited and motivated they were, encouraging each other and cheering when they heard their time.  It was one of the highlights of my career!  I am so excited for what this year will bring!

How did your week go?
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Finished Classroom (Finally!!)

Happy Saturday, everyone!  I am so excited to share my finished classroom with you!  It was mostly finished about a week ago, but I still had a few things to get just right, so I waited to share until today. 
Here's how it looked when I got started:
And here's how it looks now (the view from the back door):
And from the opposite corner:
Here's how the front wall ended up:
Here's a close-up of what's on the right side of the board:
And here's where I write our objectives and tasks for the day (on the left side of the board):
I cut these titles out with my silhouette.  I used KG Always a Good Time font by Kimberly Geswein Fonts)
Here is the inside of my "front"door:
I just love these posters!  I purchased these posters from SpanishPlans on TPT and changed the font.  My students love these posters!

In the back corner, next to the "front" door, I have the flags displayed, and our mascot, the blue iguana, frequently hangs out on the flagpole (although sometimes he spends class with a student).  My high schoolers love our iguana and I have various students that will beg to hold the iguana for the class period.
Finally, on my desk I have my lesson planner/calendar.  I used a small binder and it has my calendar first, followed by my lesson plans.
Whew!  What do you think?  I am so ready to welcome my students on Monday morning!  
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How I organize my Sub Binder

Good evening everyone!  I've been really busy this week with in-service meetings and making sure everything is ready for my students come Monday.  One of the things I've been working on was my Sub Binder.  Our school requires the use of a Sub Binder, and I wanted mine to be functional, but also pretty :)  I made these dividers, plus a cover page to use this year. I love that each cover page acts as a mini table of contents for each section, so hopefully my sub won't have any problem locating anything in my binder.  Click on the picture below to download my editable sub binder pages in PowerPoint form.
How do you organize for your subs?
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Saturday, August 17, 2013

TpT Back to School Sale!

I just wanted to stop in and remind everyone that the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale is today and tomorrow.  Everything in my store is 28% off when you use the promo code "BTS13" at checkout.  
image by the 3am teacher
I have had my eye on a few things for a while.  I'm thinking about buying:
from The Enlightened Elephant
also from The Enlightened Elephant
from Martina Bex
from Danielle Knight
from Glitter Meets Glue Designs
from Pink Cat Studio
What are you planning on buying?
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Friday, August 16, 2013

How I organize myself for the week

Happy Friday, everyone!  Today was my first day back since I had surgery last November, and it was so nice to see everyone again!  I am ridiculously excited to begin another year at such a great school with such awesome people.
Today I want to share how I organize my classes for the week.  I think I got this idea from Ladybug's Teacher Files a while back.  It's really simple, yet effective!  I bought 5 of these from Walmart:
12-quart Sterilite Dish Bin
and printed and cut out the days of the week titles using my Silhouette and Mod-Podged them on (I know most people say there's bleeding or smudging when Mod-Podging over printed items, but for some reason that didn't happen in this case).  In order to get them to all fit on the table, I took some old cube shelves I had lying around:
and zipties and made the shelf.  Here's what I ended up with:
What I love about these bins is how big they are.  I'm planning on keeping the coming week's copies in the bottom right spot and organizing everything into the correct bin on Fridays.  I love that they will hold copies, manipulatives, games, papers to return, whatever I want.  I just pull out the day's bin and everything I need for that day is in there.  This system saves me a lot of prep during the week and it's yet another way to reinforce the days of the week with my students.

How do you organize your copies?
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Three Quick, Easy and (Mostly) Free Ways to Randomly Group Your Students

Being able to quickly group your students is very helpful as a teacher.  I have three quick and (mostly) free ways to group them.  
This first set of grouping cards I use when I want to pair my students up.  I found these free grouping cards on Teachers Pay Teachers from Making it as a Middle School Teacher and I love them!
Another great way to group kids is by using cut up paint swatches, and the students have to find the other colors in their "family".  I got this idea from Fast Times of a Middle School Math Teacher, and headed straight for Home Depot.  I asked the lady in the paint section if I could take a few cards, and she let me take as many as I wanted (I only took 8: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and gray - of course I picked the cards that most closely matched my classroom colors, because I'm a little neurotic...)

The third easy grouping idea is to use a regular deck of cards.  I bought a new deck for $1 at Walmart.  What I love about playing cards, is you can split the class in half (red vs black), into four groups (each suit is its own group), you can group by fours (all kings, all queens, etc), and so on.  There are tons of different ways to group using playing cards.

How do you group your students?
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Monday Made It on Sunday

Happy Sunday, everyone!
I'm excited to link up again with Tara for Monday Made It!
I don't have nearly as much to share with y'all as last time, but I'm still pretty proud of my Made-Its this week.
I already shared my blank bulletin boards with you here, and here's how they turned out:
the left side (top is my color posters and bottom is an "about me" mini-board.  My students love to look at this, especially the pictures)
the whole board (for now, the right half is only announcements, but that will probably be changed out every month or so for a themed board)
I jumped on the "Copy, Grade, File" bandwagon.  There are so many cute options out there, but mine had to match my other drawers (of course!).  Click on the picture above if you would like to download my version.
I shared my manipulatives drawers a few weeks back and I wanted to show you how everything turned out.
Since I'm only teaching level one, I decided to only keep my Spanish 1 resources in the drawers.  If/when I teach level two again, I'll probably buy more drawers so that I can keep each level separate.
I'm in love with my new calendar!  It's velcro so it's easy to switch out.  I glued the days of the week to the poster board, as well as the border, and then laminated it.  I used the black velcro dots to hold each card.  I also made some other cards (exam, no school, early out, etc) to hang when appropriate.  Each month card has a matching piece of clip art (all clip art was purchased through the Silhouette Design Studio software).  I'm really excited to get to use this!
My last Made-It is a set of posters I made that correspond to the first set of vocabulary we study, Classroom Survival Phrases.  I used a chevron background (shocking, I know!) in my same bright colors so it coordinates with everything else in my room.  I'm planning on covering these with butcher block paper when they take their quiz over them.  I'm not sure how long I will keep these up, since I really like how they brighten up that wall.

I'm getting so excited to start the school year and meet all of my kids this year!  Our first day of in-service is this Friday, so I still have a few days off to tweak my set-up, finish up my plans, and relax before the big day.  I'm sure a few of you start back tomorrow, so good luck!  For those of you who still have a little more time, what do you have left to finish?
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