#MyFives: Lessons I loved in 2018

In 2018, I followed some inspiring teachers, I read some insightful posts, and I learned in many different ways. Now, I want to share with you some of the lessons that I loved in 2018.

Welcome to Day 4 of the #MyFives #langchat series. I invite you to share your own list each day according to the topics outlined in the image below. I also encourage you to follow the hashtag #MyFives to see what has inspired other teachers, and possibly to find some fresh inspiration to propel you into the new year!

#MyFives Day 4: Lessons I loved in 2018

I wasn’t teaching for most of 2018 (but I am now!), so I’m going to share two sets of five lessons: Five lessons that I created and that other teachers used, and Five lessons that I watched on YouTube by other teachers. (I stuck to YouTube so that I could embed the videos here for you to watch.)

Five lessons I created for other teachers

La chancla

I taught a version of this unit with my third year, Spanish 2 students as part of the SOMOS Curriculum, but I didn’t love the cultural component that I had originally used with it. When I found this Young Swagon video, everything came together for me!

He gave me permission to use his video as a basis for the lessons, and voilà! This unit–which targets -AR preterite verb conjugations–is now one of my favorites ever!

Click here to get the Chancla unit!

COCO materials

Due to the rich cultural content in COCO, I was excited that I could put together materials to support teachers wanting to use this film in class even given Disney-Pixar’s strict copyright policies.

I’ll be honest–one of the top reasons I would use movies in class was to give myself a break and get some grading done! Alternating movie-watching days with instructional days was my go-to method to maximize the educational benefit of a film without losing my teacher relief days.

The COCO materials are intended to fill seven class days, alternating teaching with watching 30 minute clips of the movie: TEACH-WATCH-TEACH-WATCH-TEACH-TEACH.

Get the COCO bundle here!

La rana de la boca grande

No class? No problem! This was a unit that I got to test drive with my own children. We love animals and we love the story of the Wide Mouthed Frog, so of course they were happy to be my guinea pigs!

I love spinning together traditional folktales, cultural insights, and content area knowledge into fun, cohesive units, and this one does just that.

Get the Rana de la boca grande unit here!

El lago encantado

I taught this unit with my Spanish 2s as well, but I never seemed to be able to find the time to go back in to put together and prepare the raw materials for other teachers to use them. This year, I did it!

El lago encantado  was a legend that I studied in Spanish 4 when I was in high school, and I wanted to revisit it as a teacher, seeing how much more my students could learn through it now that I understood the mysteries of language acquisition. I brought together many of my favorite comprehension based techniques–even some Reader’s Theater!–to captivate my students with this beautiful legend.

El lago encantado is an Incan legend that offers an incredible view into Incan society! Perfect for Spanish classes
Click here to get El lago encantado!

La motocrotte

This year, I began working with Blair Richards to adapt more of my materials to French. This has been one of the most powerful learning experiences of my year, and not just because my French is improving through it! Blair shares my same passion for culture, and she is incredibly creative and knowledgeable, so she is able to make connections between the language that we are working with and cultural topics that students are interested in. Once we finish a unit, it is reviewed by several native French speakers prior to publication.

Motocrotte is my favorite French lesson. It is a surprising hook for conversations about how we identify and attempt to solve problems in our communities. If you’ll be at Comprehensible Online, you’ll see why this unit is one of my faves!

Get Motocrotte here!

Five video lessons I loved

Adriana Ramirez chatting with her students

Okay, perhaps this is a bit of a cheat because it’s not a lesson that you will teach in class. But it IS a lesson for language teachers! Adriana is a Spanish teacher and author in Canada whose videos are both helpful and inspiring for teachers journeying into comprehension based teaching.

In this video, Adriana talks completely off the cuff with some of her students about their experience in language class. The conversation is in Spanish, so you will need to be able to understand Spanish to benefit from this video:

Alina Filipescu teaching “I am me”

This is a twist on Weekend Chat. Alina is making statements in Spanish about what she did or what students might have done in the past (over the weekend, in the summer, during vacations). If any student agrees with the statement (if it is true for them), they stand and say “Soy yo” (I am me).

Notice how relaxed Alina is. This is neither a prep-intensive activity nor one that requires the teacher to invest much emotion and energy in the moment.

Notice how Alina engages with her students and asks follow up questions. Notice how she uses the skills outlined in this post to support comprehension.

Notice how this took up 15 minutes of her class and it was completely in the target language!

Marta Yedinak playing Mystery Student

In this video, Marta Yedinak does a twist on Persona Especial. She already has information about her students on cards in her hand. She selects the Mystery Student card, and she shares three pieces of information about that student–one at a time, slowly, sprinkled with conversation–with the class.

Notice the different ways that she supports comprehension and how she makes the class feel comfortable with gestures, call and response, and routines.

Also I loved that she channeled one of Pam Kaatz’ Rock The Capitals songs, my all time favorite way to teach geography (your students will love to hate it)!

Alice Ayel talking about Chloé

Really, I love all of Alice’s videos. I picked this one because it has a SUPER limited range of vocabulary, which makes it parfait for moi!

Notice how slowly Alice speaks. Notice how drawing the pictures slows her down. Notice how to fill what would be silence while she is drawing, she repeats and restates what she just said and recaps what we have already learned. Notice the repetition that is built into the story that naturally supports comprehension.

Notice how calm Alice is and how calming her voice is. You might be tempted to dismiss this as “Well it’s because she’s not in a class with 35 rambunctious students”. I would argue, based on my experience, that telling a story is a way to captivate students. Management concerns do not go away (read Cécile’s post linked in my #MyFives Top 5 blog posts of 2018), but I think that you will notice that by and large, students will mirror the energy that you model for them.

Carrie Toth Circling the Wagons

Circle the Wagons is a retell activity created by Carrie Toth that allows students to speak at their level.

Notice how Carrie produced this lesson with teacher talk so that I don’t have to tell you what to notice about it because SHE does 😉


Your Turn!

What are five lessons that you taught, created, or participated in that you loved this year?

If a video or description exists, link it! If not, summarize them briefly.

Share your list with #MyFives #langchat so that we can share in the inspiration!

3 thoughts on “#MyFives: Lessons I loved in 2018

  1. Emily Serafa Manschot says:

    Hello Martina,

    I think you may know that the Rock de las Capitales was written and performed by my friend Pamela Kaatz. She originally wrote it and recorded it for her students, then decided to publish it for her company, The Color Connection. She is also the one who brought Justo Lamas, the Argentine singer, to the United States to perform concerts for students studying Spanish. I have attended many sessions where her materials are used and copied, most without giving her credit. She is a wealth of information and her personal experiences make you really think (she was one of my keynote speakers when I was president of MIWLA). It would be really nice if you could send her an email (kaatz@airmail.net) and thank her for all her work.

    Emily Serafa Manschot

    • Martina Bex says:

      I am so glad that you wrote this! I didn’t know where it came from; I just added her name to the post and I will reach out! Thank you SO much!

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