We’re BREAKOUTing outta here!

Today is our last day of classes, and we are wrapping up with one of the most-requested activities of the year: Breakout Boxes.  I’ve found them to be a mind-boggling challenge for students that re-energized a love for learning… and taught content and soft skills along the way.

This semester we did Breakout activities three times in two classes: Spanish 2 and AP Language.  Level 2’s topics were Quinceañera/McFarland USA (some quinceañera activities are adapted from the amazing Martina Bex) ; AP’s were based on the novel La Guerra Sucia from Fluency Matters and season 1 of El Internado (thanks to Dustin Williamson).  I’ll gladly share the materials for the Quinceañera & Guerra Sucia breakouts–just email me with the request.

The activities are challenging to build, but it’s so gratifying to see students diving in and grappling with the adventure.  See some pictures below!

If you are interested in exploring more, check out these links:

Looking for clues

Weighing strategies

Teamwork to select the right answer

EVERYONE is involved!


Mirabal Sisters + 25 de noviembre

As I’ve mentioned previously, we watch In the Time of Butterflies as a prelude to reading Felipe Alou. Here’s a resource I created that uses jigsaw exploration of three infographics related to the issue of violence against women and the UN day on the same issue that is named in honor of the Mirabal sisters.

The first two pages are done as a group. Then they break into 3 jigsaw groups and use worksheet A with infographic A, B with B, and C with C.  Next they come together, prepare a Venn Diagram, and then create a PSA to share what they have learned. Even though it’s short & sweet, I think it’s important to get some of this info in front of our students in case they or someone they know ever needs it.

Mirabal sisters violence against women

Introduction to Felipe Alou

I’m returning to the Spanish 2 classroom tomorrow after several weeks in the background as my student teacher has been leading those classes. Our last unit is called Caras Inolvidables (Unforgettable Faces) and is built around biographies of several well-known people from Spanish-speaking culture. We will read the Felipe Alou book from Fluency Matters, watch the film Selena, and will work with mini biographies along the way. This year we are liberated from having to give a formal final exam, so I’m working on developing an autobiography project to wrap things up.

Tomorrow we are beginning a gentle entry into the unit to get reacquainted and also accommodate the students who will be taking AP exams this week.  I developed this resource (Felipe Alou + Robinson Cano intro) to help us with some pre-reading activities before diving into the book.  Hope it is helpful to you!

Lost in Paradise

Here’s a quick activity that has students shop for clothing in Spain to replace their lost luggage.  After “shopping” online in stores that our exchange students have recommended, they prepare a brief video telling what they bought (similar to a haul video).  Click here to download the file:  Lost Luggage

Central States Conference: Chicago 2017

What a pleasure it has been to be back in the land of good food (Portillo’s, Culver’s Gino’s East, Potbelly, Cafecito, Garretts‘), amazing friends (too many to name!), amazing radio (WXRT), efficient public transportation that works, and my home state of Illinois.

You can find a link to my presentation on Fortify with Feedback here.  You might also be interested in some related posts herehere, here, and here.

Thanks for visiting, y’all.

Gracias, Shutterfly! Using Memory Games & Puzzles to spark curiosity

I recently had an idea that Shutterfly made easy to try out: what if I used jigsaw puzzles to introduce art works? I used a picture of Guernica, had a free code, and gave it a spin. It came out great (even though Shutterfly sent me a warning that the image quality low)! Encouraged by this, I started to explore other options. Meninas puzzle? Yes, please!

I also discovered their memory games. Again, armed with a free code, I tried out one of these with pictures of family members as a gift for my primary school aged niece. They came out beautifully! So then back to art for class… I chose 12 iconic art pieces and made a memory game with them, and then made another one with characters from El Internado.

So while it’s fun to make these things, it’s even better using them in class. We started El Internado in class last week, and so we used the Internado memory game to remind students who was who. We can extend this as the series goes on by adding that students must say something about the characters that they draw in TL. Students also suggested playing Go Fish–so now I think we have a plan for next week!

I introduced Guernica before with a paper puzzle I made from cutting a print of the artwork apart. I asked students to put it back together in a team, but without telling them what it should look like. While this worked, and most importantly, got students really looking at the image and the elements of the work, I’m excited about the prospect of using an actual jigsaw puzzle with them to do this.

One of my goals this year is to intentionally inject more fun into what we do, all while continuing to push students’ growth and proficiency. Nothing spurs their growth more than being curious about what we are studying, and these two tools have helped to do just that.

Here’s a really cool thing: Shutterfly is running a promo right now where the memory games and puzzles are on deep discount. Use deals4u as your promo code to get the sale price (under $10 each). **I have no connection with Shutterfly other than being a superfan.**

Another really cool thing: I’ll be at Central States in March, and the conference hotel is just steps away from a world class art museum, The Art Institute of Chicago. It’s at this museum that I had the chance to study, explore, and develop art-based curriculum tailored to language classes many years ago. It’s an amazing place! I had planned to deliver an art integration workshop at the conference this year that would include a trip, but it didn’t work out. Nonetheless, I’m planning to go while I’m in Chicago. If you will be at the conference and want to join in, let me know 🙂

img_8566 img_8677