Spanish-Speaking Culture Sheets: More than a Simple Worksheet

Recently a co-worker told me she was teaching the Spanish-speaking countries and capitals and my next question was, “Why?” Not that there is anything wrong with teaching those, but if the end goal is just so students can recite the countries and capitals of Hispanic countries, we’ve done a disservice. These Spanish-speaking country culture sheets dive deeper into Hispanic countries and culture. At first glance, it may look like a fill-it-in, review-it, file-it worksheet but if you know me, you know I want to get the most mileage out of every resource I make. Let me show you why these are so much more than a simple worksheet.

As an Introduction

Some of these I specifically designed as an introduction to people or concepts I’ll be teaching this year. Colombia features the musical group Bomba Estéreo. I’ll use this sheet with my physical/personality description unit and the song “Soy yo“. (Click here to learn more about how I use “Soy yo”) I’m also planning to include their song, “Internacionales” this year during Hispanic Heritage month.

For upper-levels, I’ll be teaching about La Guerra Sucia in Argentina and hope to teach the novel from Fluency Matters so that sheet mentions Las Abuela de Plaza de Mayo.

Kara Jacobs (Twitter @karacjacobs) recently shared this awesome video from Juan Luis Guerra that shows off the Dominican Republic. Guess who is on the DR sheet and guess which video I’ll be using with Spanish 1 to review colors, simple -ar verbs (bailar, cantar, montar, caminar, tocar, etc)? Yep! The DR sheet will serve as an intro to who Juan Luis Guerra is.

As a Starting Point for Something Bigger

You could give each student a different country and have them use this sheet as an outline to create a presentation about the country that they present live in class, create a Prezi, Flipgrid, or Screencast-o-Matic video.

Another option is to have students pick one of the places of interest and plan a trip to that country. What will they wear? How will they get there? What phrases will they need to know and what will they do once there?

I love food. Students could actually make one of the food items (assuming the ingredients are available where you live!) and make a video or food blog post about it.

When Should I Use These?

In my opinion, there is way too much information on these Hispanic culture sheets to cram in to one month AND to do it justice. I plan to space them out over the course of an entire school year and introduce 1 or 2 countries each month. How will you use these sheets in your classes?

Grab your copy here!

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Impromptu Spanish Speaking Practice

I don’t know about you but some of my students dread speaking in Spanish. Hello?! It’s a language. Most often, you speak it! One way I’m pushing my kids to practice speaking Spanish without freaking out is what I’m calling “Impromptus”.

Microphone with text easy, no-prep, spanish speaking practice

This idea was born out of a spur of the moment idea and I’m happy with how it’s progressing. Some key points:

  • This is my third year teaching these students so we have an established relationship of trust.
  • It is a 5 point formative grade so it is very low risk.
  • I stress that the goal is not perfection, it’s communication.

The Process

One day each week, 2-3 students (depending on the size of the class) will do an impromptu to practice speaking Spanish informally. Each week the theme is different but it always centers around known, familiar vocab. The goal is for each student to do an impromptu each month.

I model first with whatever prompt they’ll use. I draw pictures to help understanding and use circumlocution to model the skill.

drawing of stick figures, castle, racoon, disney figure, curly hair, for Spanish speaking practice activity
My amazing drawing skills. That’s a raccoon, not a ninja cat.

Next, I’ll clarify the speaking prompt, and the first student (volunteer or random draw) will come up, speak & draw. I may ask questions to encourage more language use or because I’m genuinely curious. I allow the class to comment or ask questions in the TL as well.

This is not meant to be a long, nor a formal speech. There is no set time limit but they range anywhere from 3-7 minutes depending on how much students have to say and how many pauses they have.

Prompt Ideas

I’m setting the prompts to guide them to use certain skills (ir a + infinitive, subjunctive, comparisons, etc).

  • Describe your best friend.
  • What did you do this weekend?
  • What’s your favorite meal?
  • What are you going to do this weekend?
  • Describe your favorite place. Why do you like it?
  • What was your favorite TV show or book as a kid? Describe the characters and premise.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • If you could change something about our school, what would it be and why?
  • What was the best gift you ever received?
  • What Christmas traditions do you have (I teach at a private Christian school)?
  • What’s the best restaurant/school meal/sports team/app/etc & why?

Grading

This is a 5 point formative grade. Currently I grade on the following criteria:
-Is it comprehensible: 2 points
Effort (Stays in TL, uses circumlocution): 2 points
-Speaks in sentences: 1 point

rubric to grade spanish speaking practice

Students have blown me away with how creative and (intentionally) funny they are in this impromptu Spanish speaking practice. Next semester the point value may increase but for now, it will remain a relatively low-risk speaking practice activity as students gain confidence and model language for each other.

How do you encourage students to practice speaking Spanish? Leave a comment or link to a post below. I’d love to hear and learn from you!

Commands With Pronouns: How I Finally Got it Right

Do you ever have those moments when you are SURE your lesson is going to go great? You KNOW students are going to remember past skills, understand this next step, and it’s all going to be a breeze? Then, it all comes crashing down into a hot dumpster fire of stinky diapers?

Yeah, me too.

I had one of those days recently. My foe: Spanish commands with pronouns. I won’t bore you with what went wrong. I’ll skip right to how I fixed it AND hook you up with some FREE materials & ideas for teaching commands with pronouns.

White board on shiplap that says "Spanish Commands With Pronouns: How I finally got it right"

I love Spanish commands with pronouns. Not only do students need to remember what the pronouns are but there are so many fun quirks:
-pronoun order
-pronoun placement
-adding accents to positive commands
-“le lo” > “se lo” or “les las” > “se las”, etc

Step 1: Review pronouns.

Direct & Indirect Object Pronouns: Enter Señor Wooly’s, “No lo tengo”. I modified embedded readings (available with a pro subscription) and made a short activity where students circle the item the girl is missing and then circle the direct object pronoun in the sentence, “Ella no ____ tiene” and draw a line connecting this. It also offers examples of “le dice,” “les respondió,” They then translated sentences. Done!

2 half-sheets of paper with an activity to review pronouns for spanish commands with pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns: Good old fashioned charades, kind of. I project a command on my wall (lávate las manos, cepíllate el pelo, ponte los zapatos, no te sientes) and the first team to act it out correctly gets a point.

Step 2: Where to put pronouns with commands and in what order.

Placement: “In life, attach yourself to positive things and stay in front of the negative things.” I tell students this quote as a memory aide and after they see enough examples, placement really isn’t an issue.

Order: I was taught the rhyme, “Indirect, direct, reflexive always first”. Ok, so it doesn’t rhyme but when you say it with the right rhythm, it’s catchy. I also told them “RID,” “Reflexive, Indirect, Direct”.

Step 3: Accents

I decided not to focus TOO much on this. As students kept seeing examples of commands with pronouns attached, they began to figure it out. I’ve decided I can relax on this point, for now. As time the year goes on, I’m confident they’ll sort it out after enough input.

Written Practice

I had students start with a stair-step style worksheet. (You can get a free copy here!) We did a few as a class before letting them do it on their own/with a partner. Breaking commands with pronouns down into more manageable chunks made it less intimidating.

Hands-on Activity

white cards with spanish commands with pronouns on purple paper

Next, I used these hands-on cards with a slide show of English & Spanish commands. I projected the English commands. Students formed the command with pronouns using their cards. I walked around and offered helpful reminders about pronoun placement or vocab. When students were done making their commands, I projected the correct answer and fielded any questions. As we moved through the commands, the students caught on to the “se lo” spelling changes and became more confident in the placement and order of the pronouns with commands. Many students even said that the activity helped them. Like, they actually said it, out loud, to me!

Situations & Advice

The next class we used the same cards as above with a twist (I’m all about getting more use out of one resource!). I began to tell students situations I was in and asked for their advice in the form of a Spanish command with pronouns. For example,

You guys, this morning I heard a rumor. A bad rumor. About Mr. H (our principal). Should I tell him or not?

I wrote the word for rumor on the board since students didn’t know it and then wrote the sentence scaffold, “¿Debo yo ________?” This allowed me to provide support by telling them the verb to use, decir in the example above. Students could then form any of the following commands with pronouns, dilo, díselo, dile, no lo digas, no se lo digas, no le digas. It was fun to follow up and laugh about who the “honest” students were in this case. Other situations I used:

  • I have a pet cow AND I love hamburgers. Should I eat my pet?
  • Should I get this awful drawing (which I drew on the board) as a tattoo?
  • My friend wants to copy my homework. She’s really stressed. Should I give it to her?
  • Should I put my Christmas tree up in October?

In one class we had time for students to come up with their own situation and ask advice from their classmates, which was so fun! This would be a fun extension activity to pursue further.

Other Practice Opportunities

table to practice spanish commands with pronouns

Sprinkled in among these activities were two work book style activities for concrete, individual practice students could do. I also had them match commands with pronouns to their favorite Señor Wooly characters (e.g. Sé amable con Gorro, for Billy from Billy y las botas 1). Each daily warm up offered some review questions about the pronouns and some opportunities to create commands. In class, students previewed the vocab for Señor Wooly’s “Sé Chévere“, and created commands with this document. Make yourself a copy if you’d like. For homework, after watching, they created Spanish commands with pronouns for a new teacher.

Next week they’ll be taking a quiz over commands with pronouns on which they’ll offer up some advice in response to situations I present them. As well as translating some commands for teachers and students.

Do you have any tips for teaching Spanish commands with pronouns or any double object pronoun practice? I’d love to hear it below!

And if you want to get a your own copy of the hands-on activity, click here!

Álvaro Soler’s “La libertad” Activities

Do your students love Álvaro Soler as much as mine do? Here are FREE activities to go along with his song, “La libertad”.

I was inspired to use this song after seeing Kara Jacob’s amazing work with it. She provided a story and activities with the lyrics that I adapted. I couldn’t wait to use this story so instead of a graduation theme, I modified it to open with a story about students taking one last road trip before going back to school. The story is written in the past tense.

Here you’ll find the opening story, a chunky monkey listening activity (Chunky Monkey was created by the wonderful Carrie Toth aka @senoraCMT on Twitter), and an end of unit quiz. Instructions for use are included. Feel free to make a copy!

This link will take you to a SLAP listening game with song lyrics and the marker game (click here if you’re not familiar with it) based on the music video.

Why I Began Making my Own High School Stories and Materials

You know what you want to teach. You know how you want to teach it. The problem? You can’t find the right Spanish resource to introduce/practice/work with/reinforce it. What’s the solution? Make your own! It’s not as hard as you think.

I entered teaching through a non-traditional route so never had a methods course on best Spanish teaching practices. Because of this, I taught Spanish how I learned it, with a text book. This wasn’t fun for the students or me. The activities were cheesy (and not in the good way), uninteresting, disconnected, and kind of wimpy.

Eventually I realized I could look online for Spanish resources. However, I couldn’t find what I wanted/needed. What I found was too juvenile for my high school Spanish classes. What I ended up using still didn’t feel like “me” and “my class”. So I began making my own Spanish short stories and activities for high school classes.

Here are the benefits I’ve seen in my classes:

  • Increased student interest and engagement
  • Students are more willing to stick with a Spanish story and work on reading comprehension because they want to see what happens
  • I’m able to easily personalize the materials and extension activities to my students interest
  • Students are more motivated to create their own stories

Not going to lie, it was difficult at first. As the years have gone on, it’s gotten easier and I’ve found the activities that work for me and my classes which I can adapt to any short Spanish story. For example, I love to chunk a story and have students read and draw it. I go about creating materials a few different ways:

  • Think about how I use the target words/structures in the real world and go from there
  • Adapt whatever pop culture fad my students are currently obsessed with
  • Have students help me

Student created Spanish stories are the best! For example, the story in which a guy’s pet snake eats his best friend’s cat (or does it?) was first drafted with a Spanish 1 class! I later added to it, built it up and plan to use it with upper level classes for preterite and imperfect review, Spanish reading comprehension practice, and to introduce the past subjunctive and conditional tenses. It took some time to bulk up the story but I’ll probably get three 90-minutes classes out of it!

Another student-created story example is the story of a narwhal setting out on an adventure to meet his unknown cousin who happens to be an octopus (Wait, how is his cousin and octopus? Did his aunt marry an octopus? How did he not know about this cousin? Tons of review opportunities here!). The focus of the story is actually the uses of saber and conocer!

The Spanish stories and materials I create feel like me and they work in my classroom. They might not be for everyone but creating my own Spanish stories and activities has made teaching more fun and more effective in my classes. I’ve seen student engagement increase, and seeing me use my own voice has helped students find their authentic voices when writing Spanish.

If you’d like to learn more about or use the quirky Spanish stories I’ve written for my high school Spanish classes, you can find them below!

La familia Lopez – Reflexive vs Non-reflexive Verbs
Saber vs Conocer Narwhal Story
La mascota de Abram – The one where the cat gets eaten by a snake (maybe…)

9 Tips to Overcome Procrastination This Back To School Season

Hi. My name is Lisa and I am a procrastinator. I am also anxious and stressed when I don’t get things done. As back to school approaches, I am in serious denial and procrastination mode. All those things I said I’d do over the summer but haven’t. All the prep I know I should be doing, but am not. With three weeks until students walk in my door, it’s time to get over procrastination and get to work. Here are 9 tips on how to avoid procrastination or at least attempt to out smart it.

Make a list

I am a list maker and there is something so satisfying about crossing something off a to do list. I’ve been known to add things to a list just so I can cross them off! A list also gives me a visual of what I need to tackle and often makes it seems less overwhelming. Standing in an empty classroom, wondering where to start? Start at the door. Walk around the room and note what needs to be done. Then sit and imagine that first day. What will it be like and what needs to happen to make that a reality? Got a list? Start doing things and crossing them off!

Break it Down and Spread It Out

Once you have that list made, add a schedule to it. Know that if that list is long, you don’t need to cross everything off today! Look it over and prioritize what needs to be done first before other items can be accomplished. Choose one big thing each day or week and sprinkle the smaller tasks around it.

Do the Worst First

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

Mark Twain

I love my slow cooker. I LOATHE cleaning a slow cooker (I’m not a liner gal, something about plastic being heated up all around my food all day doesn’t feel right to me). That sucker would sit in my sink getting grosser and stinkier, taunting me every time I saw it. Then one day I decided I’d just get it over with and clean it first. You know what? The rest of the dishes didn’t seem so bad after I finished that task and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
The same goes for back to school (or anytime really). Dreading all that back to school paperwork? Do it first. Digging in to curriculum maps to design a new course seem daunting? Take it head on. Arranging desks, tables, bookshelves in your room your least favorite thing? Get it done and then admire your work from your desk as you finish other tasks knowing that one is done!

Set a Timer

I first started doing this when I didn’t want to clean my kitchen (do you see a theme developing here? Slow cookers, kitchens…). I decided I’d set a timer for ten minutes and what ever I got done in ten minutes was enough. I set the timer, focused, and got to work. You know what? I got way more done in that ten minutes than I thought I would. It was a pleasant surprise to realize that the tasks I had dreaded, unloading the dishwasher, mopping the floor, didn’t take nearly as a long they seemed. The key is to set the timer, commit, and not get distracted.

Schedule the Time (and Place)

Along with setting a timer, it helps me to schedule a time to do tasks. I am teaching two new classes this coming year and I have A LOT to do before day 1 of class. I know that Tuesday I am going to go to my classroom, sort through the materials I inherited from my predecessor and start laying out the semester plan. It still all seems a bit overwhelming but knowing exactly when and where I am going to tackle it helps to pen it all in and gives me some power over it.

Remove Distractions

I can’t work at home. I just can’t. I will look up and see that the dishes need to go in the washer, or that the living room needs to be picked up. I’ll remember the overflowing clothes hamper or be tempted to watch just one more episode on Netflix. There are too many things that I can use as an excuse not to accomplish the task at hand.
I need to go to my classroom or a coffee shop to focus. Even then, I forbid myself from getting on social media and falling down that rabbit hole. If I’m at school, I shut myself in my room and try not to talk to anyone. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb. No excuses. I’m here to work!

Find Someone to Hold You Accountable

My college roommate and I used to go to the gym together in the mornings. We’d walk over together, part ways, and meet up in an hour to head home. We didn’t work out together but knowing that she would be disappointed if I didn’t go with her in the morning got me out of bed those mornings I didn’t want to work out. We discovered there were several mornings that the only reason we both got up and went was because we thought the other person would be let down if we didn’t go.
Find someone you trust and tell them what you’re going to do today. Then, ask them to call or text and check up on you at the end of the day. Knowing you’re going to have to check in with someone can help push you forward. It doesn’t need to be another teacher, it can be a friend or neighbor. It doesn’t even need to be someone you see often. Reach out on social media or to a friend out of state. Both have helped me overcome procrastination in several areas of my life!

Reward Yourself

Set goals. Once you finish up XYZ, you’ll grab your favorite iced coffee, drink it in peace and then get back to the next task. If you dislike filing papers, get some cute folders to make the task more enjoyable. Rewards don’t need to be big or cost money. When I finish this blog post, I’m going to watch the next chapter of my favorite series!

Give Yourself Grace

There is a lot to get done. As teachers, the list is never finished. There is always something to do. It’s OK if you don’t get it all done today, or this week, or this summer. You are human. You are a person. It’s important to take care of yourself too. You might not finish that back to school handout tonight but you’ll be no good tomorrow if you stay up until 2 a.m. today. This doesn’t mean you get to slough off all responsibility and let everything slide, it means you recognize that you’re human.

Break is ending, whether we want it to or not. The days to get all those, “I’ll do it this summer” tasks done are winding down. You will be ready for day one. You can do this. You just have to start.

Extension Activities for Spanish: How Minimalism Changed my Teaching

“How am I going to fill 50 minutes?” That was my first panicked question as a new teacher. I had no idea how to keep high school Spanish students engaged in meaningful activities at an appropriate pace for 50 minutes. My solution? ALL THE DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES! I over-planned each class to keep my students busy. And that’s what I did. I kept them, and myself, busy. I spent hours planning and creating individual activities. They were low quality and I rushed through them leaving students confused, and wondering what the point was.

When I transitioned to block scheduling, 90 minute classes, that same question, and self-doubt, crept back into my mind. Fifty minutes was one thing, how was I going to fill 90 minutes and keep my Spanish students from getting bored? Let’s just say, I was busy. Very, very busy.

The Shift

During that first year of block scheduling I realized I was going about this all wrong. I shouldn’t be doing ALL THE DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES at a fast pace. I needed to do fewer activities, create extension activities for students and slow down. So that is what I did.

Minimalism

Joshua Becker wrote, “The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.” It was one of the first books I read on my personal minimalism journey. Here’s how it’s impacted my teaching.

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.” 

-Joshua Becker, 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life

ALL THE DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES distracted from the core of what I wanted for my students. When I let go of the Spanish worksheets, gimmicky games, and wimpy textbook activities, I was left with the rich, rigorous activities for my high school Spanish students. I narrowed my focus and improved my teaching.

“Simplicity slows down life and frees us from this modern hysteria to live faster.”

Joshua Becker, Inside-Out Simplicity

Doing fewer activities allows me to invest more in the meaningful ones and build them up with extension activities designed for high school students. There are days that I have 1 or 2 main activities for a 90 minute class, and that’s it. I now have the time to slow down, explain, model, & teach students to reflect on their work before moving on.

Do More With Less

I make one resource and get over two hours of engagement from it by creating extension activities for students, during which I walk around, observe, encourage, answer questions, and correct. Students read, draw, speak the target language, hear other students and myself speak the TL, order and match pictures and story captions, and write in the TL. That’s six different ways of working with the same material. All of these extension task changes keep the content fresh and increase in difficulty as students gain confidence and knowledge.
The overall slower pace and hands off approach (meaning, I’m not the one doing the work, students are) allows me to be calmer, better handle any disruptions, seek out struggling students to help, see and praise student successes.

Here are some extension activity examples for high school students I use to simplify and improve my class time. The items in ** explain what I now have time to do since simplifying.

Reflexive vs Non-Reflexive Spanish Verbs Example

1. Students receive a quirky story full of reflexive and non-reflexive Spanish verbs. They read it with a partner and illustrate the story to show their understanding. **Explain the kinds of things they might draw, cognates they may see, remind them how to use context clues, roam the room and encourage/help**

2. Switch partners, and compare pictures to check understanding of the story. **Stop and explain the purpose of switching partners, give examples of how they might help each other understand more details, facilitate smoother transitions**

3. Go through the story as a class & check for understanding. **call on multiple students to share their understanding, find struggling students who were successful and let them shine, discuss common mistakes to encourage students, personalize with questions, ask opinions of the story**

4. Cut apart pictures, switch partners, describe the pictures in Spanish without the words **model expectations of what I expect & don’t expect them to do, take pictures of their drawings as they talk**

5. Project student drawings to the entire class, with a new partner, describe the picture in Spanish, call on students to share aloud **highlight reflexive and non-reflexive use of verbs, personalize with questions**

This usually takes the whole 90 minutes. Next class, we continue with this resource and build to students writing their own simple story. It’s still several different activities but I only create one of them then guide students through the others, all of which build from the original and have students doing the work, not me.

I don’t need 7 different activities. I need 1 activity with meaningful extension activities for vocabulary, reading, writing, etc.


In the past students would read and drew the story, next we would have done an unrelated textbook activity or worksheet, maybe some big group fill in the blank practice, then I’d ask them to write their own story (way before they were ready). Now I have one main activity that I build up with logical extension activities to get them to the end goal. I don’t need 7 different activities. I need 1 activity with meaningful extension activities for vocabulary, reading, writing, etc.

I have a similar approach with a saber and conocer story. You can read about that here.     

The Bottom Line

Do more with less. You don’t need a million different resources and activities, you need to focus on the core and branch out from there. Yes, I still do a lot of different extension activities but they are related and logically build upon each other.
Make students do the work, not you. Find one resource and build meaningful extension activities for your students.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find extension activities that work and apply them to other resources. I, and my students, love to read and draw.
Step outside your comfort zone. It was hard for me to slow down and not cram a lot of different, teacher led activities in my class. I was scared to try different activities I’d never done. You can be uncomfortable and still do new new things.

7 Ways to Use Spanish Number Task Cards in High School Classes

As back to school time approaches, I’ve thought a lot about what I want to review as the year begins.  Numbers are on the list. We use numbers for so many things, addresses, phone numbers, prices, times, and other practical communication goals that I felt it important to give my students a refresher.  I’ve been creating several sets of Spanish number task cards for use with my high schoolers.  Here are the different ways I plan on using them.

A Different Type of Task Card

Most Spanish number task cards I’ve run across seem geared towards younger students and are overly simple for high school students.  It could be that I haven’t been looking in the right places but I decided to create my own.  I’ve created two types of number task cards. The first involves a sequence of numbers with a blank the students need to fill in (_____ quince, diez, cinco).  The second involves math problems written in words (cien más cien son…). Both of these offer repeated opportunities to read and interpret numbers in their written form as well as write them.

Grading Task Cards

I was recently asked how I grade task cards. The simple answer, I don’t. I use task cards purely for formative assessment or practice. They give students an opportunity to work with the material or practice a skill more. Task cards give me the opportunity to observe what students can do with the focus vocabulary or skill and determine how to move forward with instruction.

Now, if you want to grade them, here’s how I’ve occasionally done it. Let’s say there are 12 task cards. I choose 5 numbers at random (card 2, 5, 6, 8, 10) and check the students’ answers for those cards only and assign a formative 5 point grade. That’s the only way I’ve ever assigned points to this kind of formative practice.

This graphic says “6” but this post has more than six ways. That’s what happens when you get more ideas!

Around the Room Activity

I love hanging cards around the room on the walls and for students to move around and answer.  Any time students are up and moving, engagement is higher in my experience. This is a simple way to make what may be a simple activity, more interesting.

Manipulatives

I LOVE me some manipulatives. Late one night it dawned on me (ha! night, dawn) that I could easily make my Spanish number task cards into a physical matching manipulative activity. I’m creating smaller cards with all of the answers on them so rather than writing or saying the answer, students can find the answer and match it to the correct task card. Hello hands on differentiation!

Stations

Rather than hanging the number task cards on the walls, use them as a station. Using my idea of manipulatives, I’d break down these 24 cards in my sets of Spanish number task cards into the following stations: read to your partner and say the answer, look and write the answer, use the answer cards and match the task card to the answer. An easy way to take one resource and hit different modes of communication and create several stations.

Speaking Activity

Rather than having students look at and read the cards themselves, pair students, students read the cards aloud to a partner to work on speaking and listening skills. The student who hears the cards can write the words they hear then fill in the missing word/solve the math problem.

Old School Review Game

Laminate the cards, write point values on the back with dry erase markers, tape them to your board and voila you have an old school, paper review game!  I teach in a 1:1 school and find that students often appreciate old school paper approaches.

Tape Them to the Back of Mini White Boards

If you have mini white boards, students can tape them to the back of mini white boards. Use a two-line/inside-outside circle format to answer the questions and write on the boards.

Use Them as Daily Warm Ups

Project a few or hand one to each student as they enter for a warm up activity.

Movement in the Classroom: 9 Easy Ways With Little or No Prep

Since 2015 I’ve taught high schoolers 90 minute classes in a small trailer. Believe me when I say, movement is a necessity. It was one of the first things I realized transitioning from teaching 50 minute classes to block scheduling.  You probably already know there are many benefits to movement in the classroom but sometimes I think we over complicate movement ideas. They don’t have to be cutesy, pre-planned, or complicated.  Here are 9 ways to easily incorporate movement in the classroom that I do with my high schoolers.

1. Group Work

I do a lot of group work. I don’t mean big group projects. I mean partner up and do this short activity, read this paragraph, compare your answers.  Sometimes I put students in groups just because I can tell they are getting squirrely and need to get up and move. A quick way to do this is to use popsicle sticks or something similar with students names.  I use index cards (a traumatic splinter incident during student teaching turned me off of popsicle sticks forever). Flip through those cards, read the names and tell students to move and compare answers for 1 minute then go back to their seats. Want to really make the students feel special? Let THEM pick the cards! They’re up, they’re moving, they’re talking, it took zero prep.

2. Two Lines Compare/Talk/Ask/Practice

You can partner students and draw out the movement time. Let’s say I have 20 students.  I draw 10 names and tell the to form a line. The remaining students stand across from someone, anyone. They discuss a question, share a response, whatever the task is. Then tell one line to move two people to the right (I do this in TL). New partner, same task. Tell the other line to move 2 people to the right. New people, same task. You can have every other partnership trade places across the line so now there are new people in the lines and students have a chance to work with more people.  Rather than sit and review a worksheet or discuss a paragraph, students can do it standing. Again, zero prep for lots of movement in the classroom.

3. Scavenger Hunts & Puzzles

I’ve done a longer post here about scavenger hunts and puzzles. I love them. It’s one of my favorite ways to get movement in my classroom.  My students moan that they’ll have to walk a lot but they secretly love it and we jam out to music during the activity. You can do scavenger hunts with ANYTHING. Here are some of the scavenger hunts I’ve used with Señor Wooly videos!

4. Activities Around the Room

You do not have to reinvent the wheel to have movement in the classroom.  I repeat, do not work harder than you need to. Take a worksheet, or paper activity and cut it up. Seriously, cut it into sections and hang them around the room.  You can color code them or shape code them (I’ve had A LOT of color blind students, including one that only saw black/white), and assign students to a certain color/shape. This way you don’t have students all crowded around one sheet and you don’t need to make a brand new activity to spread out the students. They walk around and do the activity on their own paper or mini-white boards, just like they would on paper sitting. Very little prep, lots of movement.

5. Have Students Help You Prep!

When I need to hang papers around the room for scavenger hunts or activities around the room.  I have the kids do it! I hand out whatever needs to be hung, have them go to one of three tape dispensers and then hang the materials up for me! I have Spanish 2 hang things for Spanish 1 and vice versa.  Sometimes they hang things for their own activities! Boom! Double movement in the classroom! Pro-tips: Show students how much tape to use and give them guidance about where to hang things (Which walls? Close together or spread out? Are there off limits areas? Up high or eye level?)

6. Do Your Activities Standing Up

Seriously, just make the kids stand up. I teach the song “Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes” when we do the body unit.  I also have actions for irregular tú commands and always make the kids stand to do them. Do they really need to stand? No. Can they? You betcha! There’s no reason not to! You can stand while reviewing a worksheet, you can stand while asking review questions. You can stand during a game of Pictionary or Charades or while reading a story or watching a video. Just tell the kids to stand up. They will grumble but it’s for their own good. How much more zero prep does classroom movement get than that?

7. Quizlet Live

If you haven’t tried Quizlet Live, you’re missing out. It’s a great filler activity and a great on-the-fly movement activity. My students get up and move to their groups and 99% of the students stand the entire time.  Quizlet Live relay style is another great way to get more movement in the classroom out of Quizlet Live and a fun twist to keep the Quizet Live from getting stale. Need more Quizlet ideas? Check out this post for 12 ways I use Quizlet beyond a basic vocab list.

8. Brain Breaks

If you aren’t familiar with brain breaks, they are short (1-2 minute) activities that give students a break and a chance to move.  I’m not going to describe any here. Instead I’m going to point you to Annabelle Allen aka La Maestra Loca. She is fun, spunky, energetic and known for her brain breaks.  Here’s a link to all of her posts with that tag. I’d be shocked if you didn’t find a new way to incorporate movement in the classroom from this list!

9. How Much do You Want to Move?

Head to Twitter and search #baileviernes (Dance Fridays).  That’s all I’m gonna say. 🙂 Admittedly, this one requires a little prep, a Google search a day or two ahead of time. I haven’t done this one yet. Perhaps this coming year…keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram to see!

I hope you’ve been inspired by these easy, little to no prep ideas to incorporate movement in the classroom.  Remember, it doesn’t have to be a big, complicated thing. Keep it simple and keep them moving.

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