Maestros de Español Fall/Winter Blog Hop

Spanish Teacher Sale Alert! A bunch of the top Spanish sellers on TpT have gotten together and we are having a sale on 4 items in our stores and many of us are also offering a giveaway! You can search #fallwinterspanishsale on and all the sale items will come up. Sale runs November 1-4. Stock up on fall and winter items!  

Those of us with blogs are also taking part in this Blog Hop, so at the bottom of my blog post you will find links for the other Spanish sellers that are participating! Show everyone some love and hop on over to their blogs!

Fall/Winter Tips & Activities

Planning is honestly one of my most favorite activities. I love planning vacations, lessons, and anything else that needs to be planned. #nerdalert

When I sit down to plan, I start with a unit in mind, as opposed to a lesson that will only last one period, because I need to know where I'm going. It's like getting in the car and driving without any destination. Why would you do that? Who has that kind of money to spend on gas? When planning a unit, I first consider my objectives for what students should be able to do. What should they be able to talk about? What should they be able to understand and respond to? What specific vocabulary and grammar should they know? I like to make a list of all the vocabulary, phrases, and grammar topics I want students to be learn. It's usually several pages in Word single-spaced.

These 3 Word docs are gems from my second year of teaching
Then once I have my Master List of Vocabulary and Grammar Topics, I group everything. For example, for a clothing unit, I group all the clothing items together. I group all the ways you can describe clothing together. I group all the names of stores together. And I list all the verbs I want to teach (for a clothing unit these might be llevar, quedar, parecer, costar, etc).

Then I put my Master List into some sort of chronological order and I start matching vocabulary with grammar topics. I teach vocabulary words in context, so they need to have a grammar topic (old or new) to be given a context!

This is from my second year of teaching, before I truly mastered color coding!
Finally, I open up a blank calendar in Word (or a year's worth if I'm really good) and I start putting groups of vocabulary and grammar onto the calendar, one day at a time. Those will be the lessons for each individual day. For a clothing unit, I start by teaching clothing vocabulary with the verb llevar, 10-14 words at a time. I broke up all the vocabulary over two days, plus a third day with accessories vocabulary. If you squint at the picture above, I started this clothing unit on March 18th way back in 2009 (why do I still have these calendars from my second year of teaching?). Then I teach colors vocabulary, and on March 25th I put colors and clothing vocab together. Students should have been able to state what color clothing items they were wearing. Then I teach students how to describe how clothing items fit with the verb quedar. And then we move on to numbers with costar so we can state how much clothing items cost - first with numbers they already know (0-100), then with new vocabulary 100-1,000,000. And I just keep chugging along, plugging all my vocabulary and grammar requirements into the calendar in the way that makes the most logical sense.

I was always given the chapter and unit tests either by my department chair or my school system, to ensure uniformity across teachers. I never had to sit down and create a big period-long test, so I create my Master Lists by combing through the test so I knew everything students had to know and exactly what context they had to know it in. If you don't have tests handed to you, then I suggest creating a unit test before sitting down and planning each day's lesson. Or a skit. Or whatever culminating assessment you plan on using for students to demonstrate what they did (or didn't) learn. It matters how you teach students the vocabulary and grammar and how they have to demonstrate their understanding and those two hows should align with each other.

Once I have the big picture and I know everything the unit will include, I get down to the nitty-gritty and plan each day's individual lesson. For my first couple years of teaching I wrote out the objective (in a Word doc for that day's lesson - I <3 Microsoft Word) and brainstormed listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities that would help my students achieve that objective, but after a few years I would just start creating the exit ticket, then the powerpoint lesson (I also <3 Microsoft Powerpoint), then the classwork, and finally the bell ringer.

The calendar above is from May 2015. I clearly became a master of color coding!

Planning out the whole unit (deciding what vocab and grammar to teach, and in what order) honestly only takes an hour or two. It's the creation of each day's lessons that is time-consuming. I use the calendars in Microsoft Word to keep track of what I'm teaching each day, what has and hasn't been done in terms of preparing the lesson, which days I assign homework, which days there is a quiz, which days there is no school or a half-day or a dress down (avoid important things like quizzes on a dress down day if at all possible) or any other reason for shortened periods (no need to plan a 50-minute lesson when you're only going to have a 35-minute class!).

I am allergic to paper plan books because I can't copy/paste or delete or move things around as easily as I can digitally. The first school I worked at gave everyone a paper plan book like they didn't know what computers were, so I used mine as a mouse pad. It made an excellent mouse pad.

How do you like to plan? What have you found to be most helpful in the planning process?

Fall/Winter On Sale Products

I don't have many fall- or winter-themed holiday products in my store, so I found my 4 best-selling products in early November of 2014 and I put those products on sale with a 20% discount for this blog hop! The sale runs November 1-4 and you can search for everyone's sale items with the hashtag #fallwinterspanishsale. My sale items are:

The Alphabet Unit is actually my all-time best-selling product! It doesn't surprise me that it's still a top-seller in November. It is designed for a Spanish 1 class and teaches the alphabet over 5 days (for 50-minute periods). I use a song to teach the alphabet, so a youtube link is included, as well as bell ringers, a vocabulary sheet, classwork assignments, listening scrips, exit tickets, and lesson plans for the first two days. The classwork assignments include listening, speaking, and writing activities. The next three days are for a project where students create an alphabet book with vocabulary for all 30 letters of the Spanish alphabet. Students will be able to spell their names in Spanish, as well as vocabulary words, and they will get practice with sound discrimination. Everything is editable!

It surprises me that the -AR Verbs with Adverbs of Frequency Lesson sells well in November! I didn't teach that until March or April! Lots of teachers must teach verb conjugation in Spanish 1 early in the year or review it in Spanish 2 with adverbs of frequency around this time. This lesson is meant to be a review of regular -AR verb conjugation and adverbs of frequency - students should already be familiar with both, but not together. The lesson includes a bell ringer, powerpoint, classwork, an exit ticket and a lesson plan for a 50-minute class period! The powerpoint teaches ¿qué haces todos los días?, ¿qué haces los fines de semana? and 5 other adverbs of frequency. The classwork includes listening, speaking, and writing activities. Everything is editable.

The Definite Articles Lesson also makes sense that it sells well at the beginning of the year. It teaches what types of nouns commonly fall into the categories of el, la, los, and las, and also teaches common irregular nouns (la mano, el problema, etc). The lesson includes a bell ringer activity, powerpoint, classwork, exit ticket, and a lesson plan for a 50-minute period. All documents are editable!

The Future Tense Bundle also surprises me for selling so well in November! I never taught the future tense until the third quarter probably. This bundle includes a lesson on regular verbs (for a 50-minute period), a lesson on irregular verbs, a homework assignment, and a quiz. Both lessons include a bell ringer, a powerpoint that teaches the verb forms, a notes page for students, a classwork with 2-3 pages of writing activities, an exit ticket, and a lesson plan. Everything is editable.

Fall/Winter Giveaway

I'm also including a giveaway for this blog hop.  Yes, for those of you keeping track, that is TWO blog hops and TWO giveaways in less than 10 days for me and my little blog!  This giveaway is for a $25 gift card to TpT and you can enter either by following my facebook page, following my Instagram, or by commenting on this blog post!

I'd love to hear what planning tips you have and if you use anything better than Microsoft Word calendars and a lot of color coding!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out some of the other Spanish blogs participating in this Blog Hop!

Trick or Treat! {A fun blog hop!}

I am participating in the Trick or Treat blog hop hosted by The Classroom Game Nook Blog! It runs from October 24-31 and there are more than 50 blogs participating! Whoa! We are all blogging about a "trick" or tip we use in our classroom, "treating" all our readers to a freebie, AND participating in a giveaway! This is my first giveaway so I'm kind of excited. There is a link at the bottom of this post to take you to the next blog post in the hop. See how many blogs you can "hop" over to!  
I'm not in the classroom anymore, but I taught both middle and high school Spanish. I always tried to incorporate a variety of activities and not do the same types of activities day after day. If students see that they are going to do the same fill-in-the-blank or matching or whatever type of activity AGAIN, the same activity that they did yesterday, the day before that, and the last 6 school days before that, then they quickly become disengaged and turn to creating chaos. Chaos is my worst enemy.

I liked to incorporate an activity into my lessons that would let students get up out of their seats not only to let them get out their restless energy, but also to keep things interesting and keep their interest in Spanish grammar. It turns out not everyone thinks conjugating verbs is quite as fun as I think it is.

One activity I did frequently I called "scavenger hunts". It's fabulous because it can be adapted for any subject and any grade level. I saw a 6th grade science teacher do it with his classes and he got the idea from a math teacher. I really do mean it's great for ANY grade level and ANY subject. And just about anything that gets students up out of their seats is automatically engaging for them.

Scavenger Hunt stem-changing Spanish verbs
How to Prepare a Scavenger Hunt Activity:
  1. Come up with a list of 10 (or 20 or 30 or however many) questions and answers. I usually do "subject pronoun/verb" and the conjugated verb as the answer like "yo/nadar" and "nado". A math teacher might do "2+2" and the answer "4". An English teacher might do "a metaphor using like or as" and "simile". You get the idea.
  2. I cut 5 sheets of paper in half (for 10 questions), giving me 10 half-sheets. I write or type answer #1 in large letters (it needs to be legible from across the room) on the first half-sheet and at the bottom I write question #2 in small letters (should only be readable standing right in front of it). And on the second half-sheet I write answer #2 in large letters and question #3 in small letters. And on the third I write answer #3 and question #4. And the last sheet will have the last answer and question #1 at the bottom. The questions loop, so the last one leads you back to the first.
  3. Tape these half-sheets to the wall around the room at eye level in a random order. You want students to have to look for the answer.
  4. Students get a handout with as many lines as half-sheets that you prepared. Students get up and start at any half-sheet closest to them. The last one will lead them back to the first, so it doesn't matter where they start in the loop. They read the question at the bottom of the half-sheet in front of them, write the answer on their paper, find the answer around the room, walk over to it, read the next question, write the answer, find it, walk over to it, and repeat until they have completed the loop.  
This activity gets students up out of their seats, gets their blood flowing back to their legs since they basically sit all day (at least in middle and high school!), and it makes that boring matching activity engaging and interesting. Sometimes I spice it up and include wrong answers and under the wrong answer I write "try again" instead of the next question so students know they made a mistake. It's a great activity to review and students get to use their energy in a positive academic way and not for evil chaos-creating.

The freebie I'm offering is (of course!) a scavenger hunt! It is for present tense stem-changing verbs and is available in my store and also HERE. It includes 25 verbs, and both an easy and a hard version. The easy version only has correct answers and the hard version includes a wrong answer alternative for each of the 25 verbs with "try again" at the bottom instead of the next prompt so students know they made a mistake. A Student Handout and Teacher's Guide are also included.

It will only be free until (and including) October 31. It is normally priced at $4. I have 16 different versions of these Scavenger Hunts with a variety of verb tenses. If you don't teach Spanish, then check it out and see how you can modify the activity for your subject and grade level!

I'm offering a similar activity in my giveaway - but this time it's a game. It's Dominoes for Spanish 1! I chose this product of all the products in my store because it's also easy to modify to fit any subject and grade level. There are 7 topics in my store - Present Tense -AR verbs, Present Tense -ER & -IR verbs, Numbers 1-100, Adjectives, Affirmative Commands, Reflexive Verbs, and Stem-Changing Verbs. Each topic includes 40 Dominoes. Each Dominoes game also includes a document with the Rules for how to play, and the giveaway Dominoes set will include a blank template for teachers to make their own dominoes if they teach a different subject. This activity takes a bit of prep, but students will have a lot of fun playing a game, while you watch them review material. It's like sneaking vegetables into a dish your children love and they don't even realize they're eating vegetables! *evil teacher laugh*

Spanish 1 Dominoes game with adjectives
A math teacher could have students match numbers to their word form (2 and two). Or match decimals to their percent (.3 and 30%). A science teacher could have students match pictures of parts of the microscope with their names. An English teacher could have students match short definitions of the parts of speech with their names ("person, place, or thing" and "noun"). A Social Studies teacher could have students match the state capitals with their states. There are endless variations for how to incorporate Dominoes into the classroom and students won't even realize they are learning and reviewing! #teacherwin

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment below and let me know how the scavenger hunt activity goes in your classroom! Click on the image below to "trick or treat" over to the next blog for more tips and freebies!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NYSAFLT Conference

NYSAFLT stands for New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers. I'm attending on October 30-31 with Sherry from The World Language Café! If you are also attending, come to our booth and say hi! This will be my first teacher conference at a booth, so I'm kind of stoked to see how it goes and get the conference exhibitor experience!

Sherry and I will be handing out freebies from our stores, as well as from many other top Spanish and French sellers on Tpt!  We will also have a raffle - the winner gets paid products from each seller emailed to them for free!

Sellers included on the freebie handout and in the raffle:
-Fun for Spanish Teachers
-Island Teacher
-La Profe Plotts
-La Profesora Frida
-Lectura Para Niños
-M&M Bilingual
-Mundo de Pepita
-Miss Señorita (me!)
-Sol Azúcar
-Spanish Plans
-Sra Cruz
-Sue Summers
-The World Language Café (Sherry!)

Hope to see you at the conference!

Ten on the Tenth {October}

I'm on a roll participating in linkies! I'm following Rachael's lead over on The Classroom Game Nook and participating in her linky with 10 pictures on the 10th of October.

Baby vomit!!! Aaaaaah! Eeeeewwwwwww! One of my friends is the auntie of the cutest baby on this earth and I can't resist holding her when I see her, but she looooooooves to vomit on people. I like her better from a distance. Close enough that I can pinch her cheeks but far enough that I don't get vomited on.

Bier International! It's Manhattan's version of a Beer Garden (read: lots of beer, zero garden).

I grew up in the country, where the carnival goes from one small podunk town out in the boonies to another podunk town somewhere else in the boonies all summer. In the Bronx they shut the street down for a half mile and put a ferris wheel in the middle of the street. Whatever works, I guess.

I'm going to a conference at the end of October and I'll be wearing this button! I just ordered it online a few days ago :)

My brother is getting married next weekend and this is the dress I decided on. Yes, this is my messy bedroom.

Chicken gyros for dinner! So delicious.

My cousin got married this past September and gave these out! 2015 has been the summer and fall of weddings in my family.

I updated one of my products! Spanish 3 Warm-ups now has 130 instead of 55!

The view of Manhattan from Roosevelt Island. Roosevelt Island is a teeny little island between Manhattan and Queens. You can make out the Chrystler Building and the Empire state building on the right, and you can see the new World Trade Tower all the way in lower Manhattan.  

Take some plain yogurt and add a squeeze of honey, a handful of walnuts, and a sprinkling of blueberries! This is my favorite breakfast. And lunch. And snack. Nom nom nom.

Five Facts about Me!

I'm participating in Nikki from Teaching Autism's 5 facts linky! This seems like a fun opportunity to reveal some info about myself!

1.  I live in the Bronx in New York City, but I am not from New York. New Yorkers take one look at me and ask me where I'm from. They instinctively know somehow that I'm not from around these parts. I tell people in New York that I'm from Maryland. I tell people in Maryland that I'm from New Jersey. I tell people in New Jersey that I'm from Maryland but I live in New York. Complicated, right? I lived in New Jersey until I was 12, then moved to Maryland. I lived there until I was 28. I've been in New York for 3 years now! I speak like I'm from New Jersey though! You can take the girl out of South Jersey, but you can't take the South Jersey out of the girl.

2.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE traveling!!! I went to Greece and Italy for 16 days this past summer. You can read all about that trip (and be jealous of how amazing it was) HERE. I also went to San Francisco for the first time this summer! I had been to Italy before (3rd time!) but that was my first time in Greece. It's the 16th country I've visited! I'm going to Machu Picchu in March and I'm DELIRIOUSLY excited! Is it March yet???

3.  Yup, you read that right. I do not have a television. I watch lots of tv though on Hulu and I have Netflix and HBO go. So I still keep up with Empire!

4.  I've had guinea pigs since I was about 5. They are so adorable! And easy to take care of. That's an important quality in a pet. My current piggie's name is Honey because her coat is the color of honey. She's hard to take a decent picture of though because she is the scardiest scardy pig on the planet. Scaredy is totally a word. It's a synonym with "afraid of everything". Now you know.

5.  I cannot stop eating hummus. I make my own because otherwise I'd be spending $20/week just on hummus and I cannot afford to live like that. Making my own hummus also means I get to play with different flavors not available in stores. Chipotle flavor is really good and I swear I was making it before it showed up in stores!

So there are 5 fun facts about me! Who else is addicted to hummus?

Coloring Activities in the High School Classroom

Coloring is the best thing ever.

High school students like to pretend they are too cool for coloring activities, but that is a straight-up lie. Middle school students love coloring as well, but will also pretend they are "too old for coloring".

When I talk about coloring activities in the high school and middle school Spanish classroom, I don't mean coloring pictures of Dora and staying in the lines. I mean activities with colored pencils (or markers or crayons) that support that day's objective for the Spanish lesson.  Or honestly a lesson of any subject.

Coloring Activities in the HIgh School Classroom

Ideas for how to incorporate coloring activities in the high school (or middle school) Spanish classroom:

1.  During a unit on Color Vocabulary. This one is obvious. I teach colors right after clothing vocabulary. I pass out a handout to students with outlines of clothing items and I pass out my colored pencils. I use this as a listening activity - I say "La camiseta es roja" and students have to find the camiseta on their handout and color it red. I wait 30 seconds or so and then I pick another clothing item on their handout and state that it is a different color. They hear several sentences in Spanish and they have to process that information and color the correct clothing item the correct color. This activity is included in THIS LESSON.

This listening activity could be modified for any vocabulary! Make a handout of the outlines of school supplies (body parts, food items, or items in the house would also work great) and tell students what color to color each item ("El lápiz es azul"). They have to listen to the words and understand the new vocabulary to follow your directions. Or make it a partner activity - each student tells their partner (in Spanish!) what color 4 items are on their paper and their partner has to color in the correct items in the correct color. Students love to boss each other around and play teacher and this way they get both speaking and listening practice!

2.  Teaching present tense conjugation in Spanish 1 (or Spanish 2 review). When students takes notes on present tense verb conjugation, have them color the endings each a different color on their notes. If you can color-code your presentation of the material (on powerpoint or however you present the lesson) keep the colors the same as how you want the students to color their notes. Have the entire class color the yo form of the verb on their notes blue, and the  form red, etc. Then when you are walking around the class and you see a student who is completing his classwork incorrectly or is simply lost, you can say "This verb should be in the blue form".

If you choose to color-code the verbs when you introduce them, you have to keep the colors the same for the rest of the year. If the yo form starts out blue, it cannot ever switch to green or students will get confused.

3.  Reviewing the 89 verb tenses students are required to know in upper levels. Okay, maybe it's not 89 tenses, but it sure does feel like that sometimes doesn't it? Last year I taught a Spanish 2 Honors class and by the end of the year my students knew the present, preterite, imperfect, present progressive, past progressive, future, future progressive, conditional, conditional progressive, present perfect, pluperfect, and present subjunctive. Oh, and affirmative and negative commands. But I digress... instead of passing out a handout to students with pictures of vocabulary words, pass out verbs in various tenses. Think like a Wordle, but with Spanish verbs in as many tenses as you want to review. Tell the class to color all the imperfect verbs purple, all the preterite verbs green, all the future tense verbs yellow, etc. Students have to identify the tense of each verb and decide which color it should be.

Spanish clothing vocabulary and Spanish verb tenses coloring activities

The stages of coloring in a high school classroom:

Stage 1:  Excitement. Students see the colored pencil boxes stacked on my desk. "Are we coloring today?!" There is hope in their voices. This stage lasts only for as long as it takes students to walk into the classroom.

Stage 2:  Everyone complains. Their attitudes turn sour very fast. "We're too old for coloring!" Teenagers don't want to seem uncool in the eyes of their peers because they like coloring so they pretend to hate it, but they really are just pretending. They love coloring. This stage lasts between when students get settled in class and right up until the colored pencils are passed out.

Stage 3:  Selfishness. I pass the colored pencils out and no one wants to share. "Those are my colored pencils! Give me my purple back!" There is yelling and stealing of colored pencils from neighbors. This stage lasts no more than 2 minutes.

Stage 4:  Silence. Coloring is a calming activity and even the most disruptive students are silently coloring. I sit back and smile. This stage lasts the duration of the coloring activity minus the first two angry minutes.

Stage 5:  Happiness. Students quietly share their work and comment politely on neighbors' work. Students share colored pencils and I quietly grade papers in the back of the room.

I'll say it again.  Coloring is the best thing ever.  Don't let stages 2 or 3 discourage you from breaking out the colored pencils every once in a while.

If an administrator walks into your room, you want it to be during Stages 4 or 5. He or she may be initially surprised to see students coloring in a high school classroom, but that's only because your colleagues haven't caught on yet to the wonders of coloring activities. And once that administrator sees that literally every single student in your class is engaged in the activity (even That Student or Those Students who act out in every teacher's class) and students are using their Spanish skills in a creative way, he or she will be impressed with you!

You may be wondering where I get my colored pencils from. I do not rob the art teacher once a month for a class-set of colored pencils. No art teacher would support that for an entire school year, let alone year after year. I bought 20 boxes from This blog post is in no way designed to be an advertisement for them. They have the cheapest colored pencils of high sufficient quality that I have found. They last for years, so however much I spent on 20 boxes 3 years ago was worth it because I still have all 20 of those boxes and all the colored pencils are still in good shape. It's the sharpeners that die. Colored pencils and electric pencil sharpeners are not friends and I do not have a solution for the fact that colored pencils kill electric pencil sharpeners (the expensive ones!) at an alarming rate. Be advised of that.

As amazing as coloring activities are (they truly are amazing), coloring cannot be an every day activity.  It needs to be a special activity, at least in high school.  It can be good for the day before a break, or once every few weeks as a way to break up all that vocabulary or grammar you want students to master.

What coloring activities do you do in your Spanish classroom?