Monday, November 28, 2016

7 Gustar Activities to guarantee fun in the class!

Activities that promote a clear path to mastery; practice builds confidence. 

This week,  I'd like to share a few activities surrounding the structure gustar that helped my students stay in the target language, engage with authentic resources and stimulate ongoing conversation in the class. I implemented the lesson  referenced in this post with my Spanish I students, who truly were novice-low at the beginning of the year (I am used to having novice-mid first year).  Since my students were starting from scratch (pronouncing que as qwue),  I have had to retrofit my curriculum, to account for the needs of my present class. If you are like me, in need to some quick curriculum overalls, check out previous posts below, otherwise, enjoy the free Gustar activities! 

1. New spin on teaching the date and other boring things in Spanish!

These posts outline ideas, activities maps (most are free) for reshaping the novice- level experience and putting them on track for mastery.  

7- Gustar Activities to guarantee fun in the class!

We are well into our school unit, but prior to the unit, my first stop or preferred language structure is the verb gustar, similar to querer, tener and poder, I like to call them, “gateway verbs.”  After learning this verb, conversation skyrocketed to all new heights in my class. I believed the carefully crafted materials helped.  

We practiced discussing likes and dislikes without having had a proper “ introduction” but then the question arose and we dove right in. These seven activities afforded a combination of most learning styles and really pumped up my class. 

1. Activity 1: Rafael Nadal 

Authentic Video Activities for Novice Level Students 
Rafael Nadal: Power Commercial 

Video Link:

Rafael Nadal: Power Commercial 
Gustar Resource- Video-Listening- Speed dating activity and more!

1. I created a quick blurb about the tennis star so that students were familiar with him. Here is how it all went down: 

  •  First, they read blurb about the tennis star (in the suite of docs above). 
  • After they are introduced to him, I played the video with the audio only. I froze the screen and had them write down the words they heard.  
  • Then, I posted the words (in the activity) on the board. Students took another listen and they wrote the words they heard for the second time (I had added some distractor words to get a true test to their discriminative listening skills).
  • Then, I played the video and they were able to confirm. They then spoke about this likes and dislikes. Since the words flash across the screen, they were able to make an immediate connection. 

Activity 2-6: María Fernanda, Video and Activities 

Click the link below for her Youtube Video 

María una niña colombiana 

Click this link for free resources: Gustar Resource- Video-Listening- Speed dating activity and more!

I really liked this short video of a Colombian girl who talks about her likes and dislikes. Just like the first video, they listened and jotted down what they heard. 

I created 4 activities to accompany this video. They are in the above-referenced suite of documents. 

  • Basic question activity. Students listen once and then circle the correct answer (name, age, etc). 
  • Students listen again and then check off the things she likes and likes to do (list provided)
  • Write sentences using the structure
  • Extension activity. I gave them several options and they had to choose which event or class María would like or like to attend based on what she said in the video. Students are given a stem sentence/template for citing visual evidence. 

Speed Dating: Multiple forms activity (included in Free Gustar Resource Suite)

I gave students a 16 grid interview chart containing questions related to gustar and school.  First, we went over what each verb meant, for my nervous Nellys. They had this Quizlet set to study before hand because we are in our La educación, la tecnología y los desafíos globales Unit.  They went around, interviewed all 16 students and then they had to report out using the third person of the verb who likes what (this exercises is included as well).  Those who were up for a challenge used the plural forms of the verb Gustar. The reporting sheet is included as well. This was very energizing. 

Reading: La clase de confesiones

Click here for the story: La clase de confesiones 

Read synosis below: 

I created this story for my Spanish I novice/ novice-mid class. Yes, your students can read it and enjoy it at the novice level!  The story features most vocabulary associated with classes, school supplies and activities related to the classroom. There is lots of descriptive vocabulary (physical and personality traits). There is a little bit of poetry from one of the characters such as “ ella es el sol que ilumina mi día.”

 Phrases such as these are footnoted, listed in the pre-reading vocabulary and practiced in pre-reading exercises.  As I wrote the story for an upcoming class (if you have Spanish 3 or beyond, check out El Muerto en el Armario series), I thoughts teachers will read this and find their class reflected here, such as the texting student, teacher giving a lecture on what kids did in the old ways and a super funny surprise ending.

My students really likes the bossy-quick-witted teacher in the story. It reminded them of someone:)

The story comes with several front-loading and post-comprehension exercises (total of five). For example, one of the pre-reading activities familiarizes students with some authentic expressions used, such as “ más te vale.” Contextual fill-in-the-blank sentences also offers a unique peek into the story as well as access background knowledge. 


Carlos hates his English class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays eyes on Jessica. Her presence is both distracting and motivating. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up” in class. A simple writing assignment allows Carlos the creativity, which he has never had before in this class, and is a break from the teacher’s lecture teaching style. But the assignment is turning out to be a lethal injection to his social life, and by extension his chances with Jessica. From the nosy teacher inadvertently trying to help him “to get his beloved’s attention” to one of the most embarrassing things that has every happen to him, he sees that all is not lost.  This story proves that No hay mal del que por bien no venga.

Additional resources I found while looking for level appropriate material. 

Post related to revolutionizing the curriculum and classroom activities  (there are some free downloadables in the post as well).

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bringing the drama- -Skeletons in the Closet Part 2: Damage Control

El Muerto en el Armario- Skeletons in the Closet
Segunda Parte: Damage Control  

The second part of the story, which includes chapters 5-8,  ups the stakes, Liliana and Camilo. Their little secret is out: and there will be consequences. Through a series of clever maneuvers, they are still able to evade the truth; but the time is running out. A very close encounter with Juan, that will put students "pelos de punta" builds suspense as our friend Liliana is hiding the closet. Not only does Juan have Camilo's cell phone, that was left at school, but he also has his contraseña.  The interaction between Juan and Camilo heightens senses as Juan revealed that he has read some of those steamy (nothing inappropriate) messages.  Liliana, who is mired "frenemy" behavior, adds to her personal drama when she discovers a secret, belonging to one of Camilo's parents. The second installment is chock full of confessions, secrets and mysterious people that will inevitably be at the center of chapter's 9-10 dramatic close to the story. How will Camilo's parents handle her knowing sensitive information? Will Juan find out she is a traitor? How will Salomé exact revenge... find out in part 2! 

Click here for the first installment of the story

El Muerto en el Armario- Segunda Parte 

Previous Blog Post about El Muerto en el Armario 

I was thrilled by the concept of Novelas por Entregas such as those you read in Vanidades Magazine. I took a Hispanic American Literature class years ago and learned that authors in the 19th century published chapters of their work prior to publishing a novel.

 Inspired by this idea, I created this series for my Spanish IV class. I started by trying to write a simple story that would include the subjunctive. As an on-the-go teacher, it was virtually impossible for me to curate materials (that include both vocabulary and grammar) and control for many other variables, so I create my own. It started out as one story and now it is a full-blown series. After the first chapter, El Psicólogo (the original name of the cuento) students were asking for more. I started writing during my weekends to keep up with the demand. We are now are 4 chapters deep and I'd like to expand my audience.

The story starts with a group of close friends who have some pretty deep secrets. The main character Salomé (which students kept calling Salami- so irritating!) is going through a mala racha. With family problems, slipping grades and an ever-so-distant boyfriend, she begins to suspect the worst.  Her best friend helps her to discover that her goody-two-shoe boyfriend has some serious skeletons in the closet; this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The story is dialogue-based is replete with subjunctive and authentic expressions. No worries about teaching vocabulary,  most of the expressions and vocabulary are included in the footnote! My students did not miss a beat with the vocabulary accessible to them. Click here for the sample. 

This story may be best suited for Spanish 3 and above. There are a few kissing scenes, romantic talk and threats such as " Me las vas a pagar, te lo juro." There is some back-stabbing, betrayal, espionage and eventually a mysterious murder involved. I was surprised that the boys in my class rivaled the girls in their interest in the storyline.

Click here for the first installment of the story

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

3 Ways to use authentic resources in teaching/ learning subjunctive

Aunque Tú No Lo Sepas: Getting a Visceral - Subjunctive Triggering- Response from Students 

This is a very weird short film, but it is so weird that students are talking for days about it! The short film features the story of a guy who is so impacted by a girl's smile that he decides to "do" nice things for her, but she is a little weirded-out by some of his good deeds- since to her, he is still a stranger.

Aunque Tú No Lo Sepas does not have  not have subtitles, but I created a short background cloze-text passage with vocabulary (Quizlet set) from our current relationship unit. Additional activities surrounding vocabulary are linked toward the end of this post.

Me molesta que... Es raro que... No es buen que- subjunctive provoking reactions 

One of the hallmarks of using input such as this is that it provides a natural vehicle for students to use subjunctive expressions as emotional reactions to situation or statements of an impersonal nature. This year, instead of having them respond to questions regarding the conflicting motives and desires of onscreen characters, I have them process the visual content, react first and then get to the nitty-gritty subjunctive use. Here is how I used this film. Free resources are included in this link:

Free activity: Questions, readings, creative writing and speaking activities

Viewing protocol (This film is connected to my Relationships unit).

1. Pre-viewing questions about the nature of relationships- included in resource packet. I divided students into groups and have them one question each. Some groups had the same question, which deepened the conversations.

2. Project a picture of the flim. You can google the pic our use the one in the resource packet. Then I ask students questions:

-¿Quiénes son las personas en la foto?
-¿Se conocen?
-¿Tienen una amistad?
-¿Son una pareja?
-¿Dónde están?
-¿Cómo  se siente la chica?
-¿Cómo se siente el chico?
-¿Qué puede ser el enlace entre ellos dos?

3. Read and complete the cloze-text passage about the background of the film. Again, this vocabualry is connected to my Quizlet set for the unit.

4. View the movie. I stopped every two minutes to ask questions. For example, Adriana gets into a cab and her fare is paid for. I asked :

 ¿Ella pagó por el taxi?
¿Quién pagó?
¿Cómo se siente Adriana?
¿ Cómo te sentirías tú?

5. Students get into groups to discuss the first set of post-reading questions.
6. I give them the second set as a visual comprehension/ writing assessments.

Resources for the Aunque Tú Lo No Sepas Short Film: 

Video link: Aunque Tú No Lo Sepas 

Vocabulary set:  Quizlet set

Free activity: Questions, readings, creative writing and speaking activities

Use Short Series Trailers as a Catalyst for Speaking 

Mar de Plástico 
To get students excited about the unit in addition to providing them with resources they could view on their own beyond the four walls of the class,  I featured a few trailers of Spanish-speaking series. Most of the series are from Spain (I have A3series- a new channel offered on DirectTV).  However, it also highlights Spain's dominance in this particular market. Series such as Gran Hotel and El Internado are also popularly viewed by both Spanish-Speaking and non-Spanish-Speaking audiences. Since we had been working on the subjunctive in this particular unit, I organized activities to include that grammatical point. This activity Hoja de actividad worked the vocabulary and grammar.

Trailers o Avances to the series. 
El principe 

Quiero- Jorge Bucay- Seeing the Subjunctive in Action! 

Inject the class with a little bit of poetry!  I loved this activity! It was very fun and the students really got into this poem. We worked with the present subjunctive, but next week, I will have them rework the poem to practice the past subjunctive for both parts- how exciting.

Here is what I did:
  • I had a student read the biographical blurb about Benedetti. The poem features aspects of the Uruguayan dialect, especially in the last verse, so touching on his heritage gave students some insight into the language usage. 
  • I modeled the first few verses with adding the present subjunctive, to give them a sense of the activity.  
  • They worked in pairs or individually to finish the poem.
  • I did a round robin on this one, we went around and shared our one verse. 
  • We talked about the meaning of the poem, I ask students the questions bulleted below: 

  1. Inference- Who is this poem written to?  How do you know? Choose one verse to support your answer.
  2. Explain- What is your favorite verse of the poem and why? 
  3. Create - Students added three verses in the spirit of the poem (another segement of Round Robin).

The coolest thing about this was that students recreated some of the same nuances in the poem such as " Quiero que me abraces sin asfixiarme." I had one student who said " Quiero que salgas sin dejarme.- That is deep!

Some orginal versus by my students: 

Quiero que me ames sin romper mi corazón 
Quiero que me preguntes sin interrogarme 
Quiero que me escuches sin destrurime 

The information above is listed in this resource: Click here for resource 

Check out the previous post of short story for teens: El Muerto en el Armario: Amistad, Traición y Venganza. This story uses mostly subjunctive and features literacy and grammar-focused has pre, during and post reading activites.