First Day Ice Breaker

Get students speaking Spanish and getting to know each other on the very first day of Spanish 1!  This activity would also work as a great review of Spanish for Spanish 2 students!  Or it could be used as a time-filler when you find out 5 minutes before 1st period that there will be an assembly with another grade level and 1st period will not be dismissed until the assembly is out, and of course no one knows how long it will run.  Administrators like to surprise teachers like this at other schools too, right?  #beflexible

First Day Spanish Ice Breaker Activity
This is an ice breaker activity in which students have to find someone who... knows how to say "good morning" in Spanish, has a cumpleaños en agosto o septiembre, es impaciente, and 12 other questions.  There are prompts for the questions so students know how to ask their classmates each question.  This document is also editable so it can be customized to suit classrooms all around the world!

First Day Spanish Ice Breaker Activity
Students get up and walk around the room, asking their classmates in Spanish the questions on their paper.  They answer  or no and write the names of their classmates who do each activity in the box.  The goal is to find all 15 people in the class.

The teacher can then call on students and ask who they have in each box and get to know each student!  Spanish 1 students will find out they can already figure out many things in Spanish, and Spanish 2 students can start reviewing Spanish 1 material.

This ice breaker activity is available for free here in my store!  Check it out and have fun with it!

What other activities do you do to start getting to know students and break the ice?

Teacher Time Saver Linky Party

Teacher Time Saver Linky Party
I'm participating in Literacy Loves Company's Teacher Time Savers Linky Party!  When I was a new teacher, it used to take me forever and a half to take attendance.  My first year I actually gave up very early in the school year on taking attendance.  It took too long and I was losing tons of precious time every day to staring at students' names on a list.  And what was the point of taking attendance anyway?  I would still do it wrong half the time.  I relied solely on my memory to decide if a student was absent that day or if he or she simply did not turn the classwork or quiz in.  It was honestly not a great system.  My mentor teacher was mortified when I told her I don't take attendance, so I had to figure something out.

My second year I got tired of spending 10 minutes taking attendance in every 42 minute class period and so I got creative to solve this problem!  I went into Paint and created boxes for students' "seats" in my classroom, and under those boxes for students' names I added 2 rows of 5 small boxes so I could take attendance for 2 weeks right on the seating chart.  I could simply stand at the front of the room while students were completing their bellringer activity, look at which seats were empty, and mark those students absent.  It took mere seconds.  Then when I went into the grade book later I could look at my seating chart for each class and see who was absent (and therefore needed to make up work) and who was present (and very well should have turned work in).

Editable Seating Chart

I added the boxes I made in Paint to a Word document.  I arranged the "seats" like my classroom, added text boxes over top of them, and typed students names in.  When I changed students' seats, I could simply move the text boxes around without having to move the "seats" of the classroom.  Every two weeks I would print off a new seating chart for each class and I was good to go!  Voila!

Editable Seating Chart
Taking attendance right on the seating chart saved me many minutes every class period because it was so easy and let me start teaching as soon as my students were done their bellringer!  

This editable seating chart is a freebie available in my Tpt store HERE or you can click on the "Editable Seating Chart" picture above.  You can move the boxes all around to arrange the seats like your own classroom, copy/paste the document so you have as many seating charts as classes you teach, and then type students' names in the boxes for each class period.  Then when you change seats you can simply move the students' names around, and every two weeks you can print off a new seating chart to take attendance!  I hope this helps save you time like it did for me!  

Love Back to School Boost Sale!

There is a Back to School Sale today on TeachersPayTeachers!  It's a one-day sale so be sure to get everything on your wishlist today!  Happy Back to School shopping!

Love Back to School One-Day Tpt Sale

Trip to Greece and Italy

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? I have so very many places I want to go, and this summer I went to Greece and Italy. I've been to Italy before (this was my third time!), but I had never been to Greece before and I wanted to go so very badly. I traveled to Athens, Santorini, and Naxos in Greece for 10 days with my mom, and then I went to Naples, Capri, Verona, and Lake Garda in Italy by myself for 6 days.

I have to say, I would not recommend going to Greece or Italy in July and August. It was 36-38 degrees Celsius (96-100 degrees Fahrenheit) every single day. I uploaded a lot of pictures to Instagram and Facebook with #heatstroke. Every single smile on my face is a lie. It was too hot to truly be happy.

City #1:  Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Athens was unbearably hot. The picture on the left is in the National Gardens. The cicadas were so loud I could barely hear myself think, but I live in NYC where there are no bugs or wildlife of any kind, so I'm just not used to hearing anything besides cars.

The top-right picture is the Parthenon at the Acropolis. Below that is Hadrian's Arch, which we passed on our walk to the Acropolis. Then there is the front of the Acropolis, which was unfortunately under restoration. Not a pretty picture, but I wanted to show what it really looked like.

At the bottom my mom and I are smiling in order to fake like we are enjoying ourselves but we were honestly just trying not to die of #heatstroke. It was 100 degrees and we were at the Acropolis at noon. Sometimes it pays to be a morning person. Like when you are going to the Acropolis in July. We are not morning people.

Greek Food
I would move to Greece just for the food. In the upper-left corner is a picture of the yogurt plain and with jam mixed in. Top-right is feta cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and fried with honey and sesame seeds on top. It's heaven! Bottom-right is dolmades. It's seasoned rice wrapped in grape leaves with tzatziki in the center for dipping. You eat the grape leaves! And the bottom-left is baklava. Also heaven!

If you prefer to vacation in English-speaking countries, then go to Greece. Everyone greeted us in English, spoke excellent English, and was very friendly. I think I said "good morning" in Greek once in the whole 10 days. Everyone spoke English, including to the Italians, Spanish, French, basically all the tourists except other Greeks. I have no problem fumbling through another country's language to the best of my ability when visiting other countries, but I always appreciate being spoken to in English!

City #2:  Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece
Santorini is beautiful. And the island is quite large. The capital of the island is Fira, we stayed in the town Kamari because there is a beach, and the famous part that people are used to seeing pictures of is the city of Oia (or also spelled Ia). The middle picture in the collage, the top-middle, and top-right pictures above are from Oia. The top-right picture is from the sunset. About a billion people pour into the tiny streets of Oia to watch the sun set every day. I do not recommend this experience. It's not only so crowded you can't walk anywhere, but it's just a sunset. It's only impressive if you have spent your entire life living in a cave and have literally never seen what happens to the sun just before it gets dark. It goes down and disappears. And that's it. Very anticlimactic and overcrowded.

The island itself is shaped like a crescent moon and it used to be a circle, but there is a volcano and now there are 5 islands and the beaches have black pebbles. I say pebbles instead of sand because it is NOT sand. It's pebbles. You can see the color of the pebbles in the upper-left picture.

My mom and I hiked up to the top of the volcano and I took a selfie at the top in the lower-left picture. The white on top of the island in the background is Oia. I do not recommend hiking a volcano in July. It's very hot. #heatstroke

The lower-middle picture is how I truly felt in Santorini. It was too hot anywhere that wasn't on the beach. The lower-right picture is my fake smile. #heatstroke

City #3:  Naxos, Greece

Naxos, Greece
Naxos is an incredibly adorable little town on a little island by the same name. It's a 2 hour ferry ride from Santorini. It has white sand beaches! My mom and I took pictures in front of the yacht we want to buy some day and sail around the Greek isles in. Do you see it? It looks amazing. #lifegoal

The middle-right picture is of the town of Naxos. It winds up a hill and you can get lost in the tiny little streets, but you find yourself pretty easily by just walking downhill. This picture is basically the entire town. Didn't I say it's little?

The bottom three pictures are of the beautiful water in Naxos. The bottom-middle picture includes the Temple of Apollo Portara Arch off in the distance. It's the only ruin left of the Temple of Apollo.

City #4:  Naples, Italy

In all honesty, I really didn't want to go to Naples. But it's the easiest way to get to Capri, which is where I really wanted to go.

Naples is an interesting city. It's very old, and looks like it hasn't had a paint job in about 500 years. I've never heard anyone say anything positive about Naples, and I'm certainly not going to break that streak.

Naples, Italy
Mount Vesuvius is across the Bay of Naples. Can you see the sweat dripping down my cheek in the left picture above?  Did I mention it was sweltering hot?  #heatstroke

Naples is the birth place of pizza.  If you do one thing in Naples, eat pizza.  It's honestly the best thing to do.

There is a castle in Naples right down by the harbor!  It's big and old.  There is also a Royal Palace right behind the castle, but it was completely covered for restoration, so I didn't take any pictures of the outside.  It was disappointing.

I met a woman in my hostel who had been traveling for 8 months. Eight! She had been to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Dubai, Lebanon, Jordan, and many other places. She keeps a blog about her travels. It's all in Spanish, but check it out, if even just to look at all her beautiful pictures! Her blog is Add traveling to all these places to my growing list of #lifegoals.

I also met three wonderful Italian girls in my hostel in Naples. I love hostels because you make friends with strangers and hang out like you've always known each other! If you have some fear about staying in hostels, just know that you've seen too many movies and people are always kind and friendly in hostels. I promise. I've only ever had good experiences in hostels. My Italian besties loaned me their phone charger when I realized I left mine in Greece! They also told me how to ask in Italian for a new charger so I could get a new one the next day and they invited me out for dinner and drinks.  That's how they became my Italian besties.

I believe at least 10% of traveling successfully through non-English-speaking countries is relying on the kindness and English skills of strangers. I had to ask strangers for directions or clarification numerous times and people always responded politely in English, both in Greece and Italy. I had to take two trains in Italy and both times I had to lift my 30-pound suitcase into the overhead bin. I do not have the arm strength to do this, so I would make a half-attempt, look around pitifully and make eye contact with whichever man was closest to me, make a pitiful look in my eyes, and ask in broken English if he could kindly put my suitcase up there. Every single time I did this, a man gladly got out of his seat and put my suitcase up or took it down. Don't ask me why my English became broken, since it is my native language, but it was an effective way of getting strangers to help me.

City #5:  Capri, Italy

I felt like a little kid whose birthday came twice in one year when I got on the ferry to Capri. I was giddy!

Capri, Italy
I took a boat tour around the island. If you ever go to Capri, I HIGHLY recommend taking a boat tour around the island. It cost 16 euros because I booked in advance, and it would have been 18 if I had bought the tour when I got to Capri. So it's very affordable and the most beautiful boat tour I've ever taken. Also probably the only one, but I think that's beside the point. And seeing the water around the island is the highlight of any trip to Capri.

The island of Capri is beautiful because the water is a gorgeous blue-green, and there are caves and arches all over around the island at the bottom of sheer cliffs. The picture in the upper-right is in one of the caves. This picture is not filtered - the water really is that color. In the caves, the sunlight gets reflected in a way that makes the water a neon aquamarine color. It's incredible! You can rent a private boat with a group of friends or family for the day and then boat around the island, stop at a pretty place, and jump off the boat and swim around in the gorgeous water. Many people did this and I was jealous of every single one of them!

The island has two towns on it - Capri and Anacapri. You have to take a funicular up to Capri from the harbor, or you can take a bus up to Anacapri. The town of Capri is the smallest town I've ever been to. It is a square, a church, and several streets that shoot off the square. You can walk down these streets and there is shopping. But that is the entire town of Capri. There is a bus that goes from Capri to Anacapri. Anacapri, on the other side of the island, is twice the size of Capri and is the second smallest town I've ever been to. It has two squares and two churches and a few streets with shopping. However, shopper beware, everything on the island of Capri is very expensive. My lunch at the harbor, which was a tuna panini, a bottle of water, and a slice of watermelon, cost 16 euros. For a one-day trip, Capri is absolutely worth visiting to see its beauty. But again, the highlight is the water around the island. Not the towns.

The Blue Grotto is in Capri. I did not go in. It costs 13 euros to get in. There was an hour and a half wait to get in when I got there at about 2pm. If you do want to go see the Blue Grotto, be sure to go early in the morning to avoid the wait, however be warned that you only spend a minute or two in the grotto itself. And again, it costs 13 euros for those two minutes.

City #6:  Verona, Italy

Verona, Italy
Verona is famous because Romeo and Juliet was supposed to have taken place here. There is a Romeo House and a Juliet House and they attract tons of tourists. It is a very nice town even if you are like me and don't care about Romeo and Juliet.

There is an old castle on top of a hill across the river and my picture in the upper-left is from the castle, overlooking the whole city. It is free to walk up to the castle and it's beautiful. It's not a long walk and I highly recommend the views.

There are also manicured gardens, Giardino Giusti, across the river outside of the touristy part of town. These are the upper-right and middle-right pictures. It costs 7 euros to get in, unless you are like me and get there 40 minutes before it closes and then they let you in for free! I was eaten alive by mosquitos though, so I paid in blood.

The bottom-right picture is of the Arena. It is like the Coliseum in Rome. It dates back to the Romans, except it is still in use! There was an opera one night that I was there and thousands of people poured out of the Arena at midnight when it ended. You can go inside and walk around, but I chose not to because I've been to the Coliseum in Rome and I just didn't think it could possibly compare to that. Once you've been to the Coliseum, all other Roman arenas look pretty lame.

The bottom-middle and bottom-left pictures are of my addiction. Gelato! I had gelato at least once a day, most days twice. Including in Greece. It was very hot and ice cream cools you down immediately, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it. Gelato probably saved me from dying of heat stroke. I didn't take that many pictures of all my gelato because I didn't want there to be proof of how my weight gain journey started. Before this trip, kiwi gelato was my favorite. And then I had pear gelato and that is my new favorite. I also highly recommend papaya gelato! And mango. And nocciola (hazelnut). Oh lord, I recommend them all. If you have never had gelato in Italy, then do yourself a favor a book a trip to Italy ASAP. Like next week. Seriously. Clear your schedule and go to Italy.

City #7:  Lake Garda, Italy

Lake Garda is a big guitar-shaped lake in the Alps, halfway between Venice and Milan, and about a half hour from Verona. It was also noticeably cooler in Lake Garda. About 2 degrees cooler than sweltering.

Lake Garda, Italy
The upper-left picture is my new favorite drink. It's called the Spritz and it's all over northern Italy. It's fruit-flavored Aperol, sparkling Italian wine, and soda water. And then throw a slice of fresh fruit in and you're good to go! Spritzes have lower alcohol content than other mixed drinks, and are quite refreshing in the heat of summer. These are watermelon and grapefruit spritzes. I need to find spritzes in NYC. Or I need to find Aperol and prosecco so I can make my own!

The upper-right picture is of the lake. You can see the Alps across on the other side. It was kind of hazy and cloudy that day unfortunately, so it wasn't a great day for pictures.

The castle in the lower-left picture is in Sirmione, which is on a peninsula that sticks out into the lake. It's a cool castle right?

The lower-right picture is my future house. I want to live in a house covered in purple flowers! This is also in Sirmione. It's in a very touristy part of town, but I feel like I could get used to having so many people walk past my house all the time and take pictures of my gorgeous purple flowers. And there are dozens of gelato places around, so I could certainly comfort myself with gelato. Six times a day. This is my life plan.

Have you been to Greece or Italy? What were your favorite parts of visiting? What other fabulous places have you visited? And most importantly, what are your favorite gelato flavors?

Back to School Freebies!

Back to School season always fills me with anxiety.  There are soooooo many things to do and such a short period of time to do them all.  And there are so many meetings to attend!

I have the same nightmare every year.  It's the first day of school, there is a classroom of new students staring at me, and I am completely unprepared.  It's like I went to school that day and didn't know I had to teach.  And so I teach a lesson on "¿cómo te llamas?" and I totally wing it.  And I look completely unprepared in front of a whole classroom of students.  I don't like winging anything, so this nightmare fills me with anxiety.  Can you imagine teaching a lesson without any prep?  I don't even like thinking about it.

There are two ebooks that have just come out, both of which will help Spanish teachers get prepared for the year!  Avoid that back to school nightmare and maybe also peruse these ebooks at one of those faculty meetings.  You have to do something while listening to ELA Common Core Standards, right?

Back to School K-12 Spanish ebook freebies

This Spanish ebook includes more than 20 Spanish teachers of all grade levels from TpT.  It is a freebie in The World Language Cafe's store.  There are ice breaker activities, review games for upper-level classes, classroom signs, and even a song!

Back to School K-12 ebook freebies

The second freebie includes Spanish teachers in Michele Luck's Social Studies store.  There are task cards, and activities with stereotypes, cognates, useful phrases, and culture facts.  

Download both Back to School ebooks and enjoy the abundance of resources!  I hope this makes the Back to School season just a little bit smoother!