Inside the Piñata

Welcome to my classroom!

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I realize that I’m incredibly lucky to have a classroom to call my own, and to be in a new building (we moved to this campus in 2012) complete with an overhead projector, document camera, and sound system with teacher microphone. I’ve also been blessed with supportive administrators who have given me professional wiggle-room to try new things like abandoning traditional language teaching methods, growing an FVR library and going deskless.

My first year teaching didn’t have these perks. When I was hired as a one year temp no one mentioned that I would be teaching from a cart, imposing myself in some poor teacher’s room during his/her planning time. Boy was that the pits, trying to navigate a campus with outside walkways alongside several hundred students transitioning to their classes.

The following year I was super anxious to nest in my own room. Even before transitioning to CI, my classes were often described as “animated and energetic” marching through the walls with various games and activities. Three rooms later I’m comfortably settled between the speech therapy office and the electrical engineering closet with an outside wall to the courtyard. We still march through walls.   

Over the last few years as I’ve learned new skills and adopted new practices, the walls of my classroom have evolved in their function. The old grammar posters have been replaced with high frequency verbs, rejoinders and question words. I like the walls of my classroom to support the learners in their use of Spanish while supplying visual interest. Some have described my room as a bit overwhelming but the kids love it.

Let me walk you through my room.

Enter Here: On my door I have greetings posted for students to see and use as they enter the classroom and farewells are also posted (as well as the Fire Exit Route-safety first!) for students to see before exiting. I never teach greetings and farewells as a unit. I just introduce different greetings and farewells throughout the year. My students do have a page for a foldable in their interactive notebooks which they can refer to when writing a dialogue or when they just have to know.

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 To the right of the door is an area for announcements and posting the weekly passwordI like to use fun phrases from the novels we’ll read throughout the year as well as other useful expressions. Below the password sign is a self-assessment tool from Martina Bex. Students can answer 1-3 questions (on a sticky note) linked to the Learning Target and then place the sticky note under the poster they feel corresponds to their performance. It’s really important that students feel safe and comfortable enough to be honest with this type of exit ticket. I wouldn’t suggest using it until the class has really “gelled.”  We’ve been working hard on cultivating a positive classroom community by celebrating triumphs, pairing up with new partners each week, reading our #MuyAmables each week and getting to know one another through Special Person Interviews.

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Continuing clockwise are the ACTFL Proficiency Descriptors I bought from Carrie Toth’s TPT store. I keep them posted so that students know what they should be able to do at each level of proficiency. They also have these Proficiency Babies from Laura Sexton’s TPT store for a better understanding of their performance as we crawl through the vast expanse that is Novice.  Next is Bryce Hedstrom’s Bloom’s. I like posting this resource as a reminder for myself to differentiate activities not just by content and process but also by product.  And my story characters poster from Spanish Cuentos. The rejoinders posters are from Teacher’s Discovery and Grant Boulanger also sells them on his website here

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I’ve been working on this circumlocution board, adding words as they’ve come up. I’m not sure if this is the best way to scaffold the process for students but it gives them something to reference when they don’t know how to say something.  I’ll have to spend some time monitoring their progress and reflecting on the effectiveness of this tool.                      IMG_3711

These pink signs are all classroom terms I found myself using ALL THE TIME. I needed something to point to when I used these words. They also help me slow down my rate of speech and give students time to process the language.

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To the right of the board I have Martina Bex’s interrogative words postersThese are super handy. They support students in their language production and comprehension.

There are lights around the board that I turn on when we watch something or dance. Recently I’ve been using them to signal “en español” to keep students in the target language. We’ve set some small goals where students can earn points towards their weekly tally. I got the idea from Emily Erwin who uses a disco ball to signal TL time. Read more about it here.

This hanging file is where I put handouts for absent students. I have the absent student’s partner collect any handouts for that day, write his/her partner’s name on them and place them in the folders.

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La Persona Especial Board: Here is where the Todo Sobre Mi pages go. Sorry for the blank wall BUT I don’t want to break any laws by violating my student’s privacy.

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The back wall is where the Super 7 and the other verbs that make up the Sweet 16 are posted. For a professional look you might like this product: Sweet 16 PostersWe reference these multiple times DAILY. It never fails. Even words I haven’t targeted get used as my students grow bolder in their language use and their need to express themselves increases.

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FVR Library Board: I have the cover of each book in the FVR library posted on a bulletin board. The books are categorized by level of difficulty. I used Bryce’s novel rankings  document but had to guess at several. The library is growing faster than I can read each new title and I’m currently waiting to print the covers of all of the new additions (the color printer is broken!).  My goal this month is to add a sticker with the number of copies available so students who want to read with a partner or small group can easily identify titles that are possible.

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The Library: This is the crowning glory of the whole room. Almost every title is proudly displayed against a backdrop of chile pepper print fabric my mom gifted me from her old table cloths. I made cardboard shelves out of copy paper box lids. It was my intention to make a tutorial for them but then someone on the iFLT page shared how s/he used window caps like these paired with some fishing line (to hold the books in place) and in all honesty that option is far easier and very cost effective. To keep the books neat and organized I have two classroom librarians in each class who are in charge of making sure students return the books to their places. To facilitate this I printed in miniature the same book covers I have displayed on the FVR board then taped them to the shelves. Now students can easily find where their selection belongs. My goal is to buy a rug and some comfy chairs with a lamp for a reading nook in the corner.

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To the right of the library and the left of the door there’s a lot going on. I keep the classroom competition board here (read more about La Maestra Loca’s point system). Right now my two Spanish 1 classes are competing against each other and my two Spanish II classes are battling each other for points weekly. There’s a spot for each class to earn points against me and if they have more points by the end of the week they get to log those points against one another. The kids were really disappointed when I didn’t put their skeletons back up after the first quarter. I think I’ll bring them back for the 3rd quarter. I also have these awesomely adorable classroom signs from El Mundo de Pepita. Very reasonably priced. Most importantly I have my RULES and Consequences, another idea from La Loca.

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Four corners: Well almost. One corner is by my computer stations and built-in storage  cabinet so I use a corner made by one of the support pillars in my room instead. Each corner has the following signs:  

Frequency: rarely, never, sometimes, always.                                                                         Preference: I like, I don’t like, I don’t care, I hate                                                                             A   B   C    D                                                                                                                                          1    2    3    4

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This is super functional for me because my corners serve many purposes. We can play Four Corners with a slide show of national eateries, various foods, places to visit, leisure activities, class subjects, characters from a story. Endless possibilities. I’ve also used them as designated areas for grouping students by letter or number. We use the corners for Brain Breaks such as the Dice Game or Would You Rather?

The fun stuff! I also have three BIG Day of the Dead masks I made which are hanging around the room, and the Papel Picado banner you see in the library and verbs wall pictures. I made the banner using these templates

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I hope you enjoyed touring my room! See you at the next Puente.

 

 

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