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 ūüôā

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Watching–and Learning From–El Internado

edited on 1 Feb., 2015 to include episode 6

Kara Jacobs (find her here) and I found each other through our PLN on Twitter, and I am a better teacher for it! ¬†Recently we have been collaborating on some viewing guides for our classes to accompany episodes of El Internado, and we would like to share them here. ¬†I have found them to be immensely helpful in aiding comprehension as well as with addressing the issue of student absences on viewing days and with recapping the story between viewings.¬† We credit Mr. Peto with giving us the idea of doing recaps this way. ¬†I added a “mi glosario” section to the later episodes to encourage students to keep a personal dictionary as we progressed through the series. ¬†Since our class is about 50/50 native/non-native speakers, it’s been very difficult to create a vocabulary “list” that addresses all their needs… so they are making their own!

Here are the viewing guides for episodes 3-6 of season 1:

El Internado Capítulo 3 Viewing Guide for blog

El Internado, capítulo 4 viewing guide for blog

El Internado capitulo 5 summary for blog

El Internado capitulo 6

If you would like to see more ways that I’ve used El Internado in class, check out these earlier posts:

Ratoncito Pérez (S1E5)

El Internado

Cola Cao

¬ŅHay Cola Cao?

The countdown to school is on! I’m trying to finish the last season of El Internado before classes start, and yet I feel like I’m going to be moving away from old friends when it’s done! ¬†Nonetheless, I continue to learn new things from the show, and here is one (NO spoilers): ¬†Cola Cao. ¬†It’s a chocolatey mix like Nesquick or Ovaltine, and Ferm√≠n mentions it during breakfast service in an episode of season 7. ¬†I pay extra attention to what Ferm√≠n says because his wit and humor are a class in themselves!

I have a friend in Spain who was an exchange student here in the US when I was little, and we found each other again on Facebook a couple of years ago.¬†He has been a gracious tutor, instrumental in explaining things like Cola Cao. ¬†He’s also a little surprised by the random things I ask… like “what’s cola cao?”. ¬†He connected me with this video that I thought fellow Internado fans might appreciate:


El Internado


Have you seen El Internado? ¬†Thanks to Kristy Placido, I started watching this show with my intermediate class this semester, and was absolutely blown away by their response. ¬†They would do ANYTHING to watch the show–including homework! ¬†I started having to give them a schedule of our weekly lesson plans¬†just so they weren’t continually asking me when we would watch it! ¬†One student told me, “on days that I wanted to skip your class I came because I knew we’d be watching Internado”. ¬†They asked every guest speaker if they had seen it, and it has come back to me from other students and teachers that they are passionately talking about it outside of class. ¬†Perhaps the icing on the cake was that they opted out of going to weekly study hall to stay and watch part of another episode on their own. ¬†I’m also watching the rest of the seasons this summer, and my family is even hooked on it–and they don’t speak Spanish yet! My son has even confessed that he looked up the show online and is sad that he knows some of what’s going to happen in future episodes. ¬†The show is PG-13 ish, so depending on your school climate, you might want to send a consent/permission letter to parents before beginning. ¬†My students and I had a very direct conversation about some of the language in the show–that some of it would not be appropriate in class, but is accurate¬†for the setting of the story.

I used the dialogue and scenarios to teach some pretty challenging grammar structures, as well as vocabulary. ¬†We worked on subjunctive by talking about what Marcos and Paula would want their parents to do. ¬†We learned several idioms, especially¬†dealing with¬†romance and frustration. ¬†One of my favorite parts, though, has been the doors it has opened to talk about culture and history. ¬†For example, in order to understand one of the first season episodes, you have to know about Ratoncito P√©rez; in another, it’s helpful to know about the Spanish Civil War. ¬†We read TPRS Publishing’s La Hija del Sastre as part of our curriculum, so students had a familiarity with that period of time; I prepared a mini-unit to help them with Ratoncito P√©rez here. ¬†We also followed some of the action on Twitter as the show was being shown in Chile this spring.

I’ll teach the beginning of the intermediate course in the fall, followed by the second part in the spring. ¬†My plan is to start the show in the fall with the goal of completing season 1, then continue through season 2 and maybe 3 in the spring. ¬† To that end, I’ll be working on a lot of support materials and activities this summer to supplement the ones I’ve already created, and would love your input! ¬†I’ve added El Internado pages to the Langcamp Wiki so that we can work collaboratively. ¬†Please sign up to be a part of the creative process at the Wiki page, and/or leave ideas in the comments below.

Have you watched El Internado?  What are your thoughts about it?