This list was posted as a series on my blog and also on Facebook. They were some of the most read and liked posts on the page. All seven reviews are combined here for easy reference.
Latest update on the Classroom Passwords: WHATS THE PASSWORD? This is a pdf of a highly viewed Facebook post that has been added to considerably. The original post is added to weekly with more comments, explanations and content. See it here.
Thanks to Nina Barber for the cartoon. Perfect password.
Latest version of the LIGHT READING BOOK REPORTS The Reports have been modified to deal with ways students have misunderstood the purposes and assignments.
The CLASSROOM JOBS list has been changed and added to. The former job of “Donald Trump” has been changed (Trying to avoid partisan politics in the classroom). Additional jobs suggested by Lauren Tauchman and Ron Wilber have been added.
SPECIAL PERSON INTERVIEWS
Real Students, Real Language, Real Interest, Real Acquisition
“Special Person” student interviews are the very definition of student-centered learning. In this ongoing classroom interview activity we focus on the students and ask them questions about their lives, their interests and their goals. A common definition of student-centered learning is that it “… puts students’ interests first. It acknowledges student voice as central to the learning experience and allows students to choose what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they will assess their own learning.”
This is precisely what we do with personal interviews: We interview each student in the target language and the interviews grow in depth and complexity as the students grow in language ability. Students choose what they will share and the direction of the interview by their responses. Every so often we quiz the students on what they know about their classmates.
“Special Person” student interview questions and answers are available in several languages below. These questions can help provide a format to help you to begin this fantastically engaging activity with your students.
Personal interview questions are available in these languages:
Spanish: LA PERSONA ESPECIAL CLASSROOM POSTER & Other Questions There are also scores of sample questions in English to adapt for upper levels at the end of this document.
Interview posters with graphics in Spanish for ELEMENTARY STUDENTS by Amy Roe
French: LA PERSONNE SPECIALE FRENCH CLASSROOM POSTER Thanks to Carrie Ely from Lee, Massachusetts for these.
Japanese: SPECIAL PERSON QUESTIONS IN JAPANESE Thanks to Betsy Paskvan from Anchorage, Alaska for these!
Russian: “OUR STAR” PERSONAL INTERVIEW IN RUSSIAN Thanks to Michele Whaley for the language and Don Read for the formatting on this labor-intensive PowerPoint for the Russian classroom. Follow Michele’s outstanding Comprehensible Input blog here.
German: (NEW!) Superstar – Eine spezielle Person German PowerPoint Superstar Interviewfragen-1 German Thanks to Ulrike “Ulla” Seckler for creating and sharing these German Special Person Interview materials.
Focusing on a student and asking the right kind of questions to bring out her personality and make her shine like never before is a skill that can be developed. In this article I explain how to put the focus on the students and make them a star as you do personal interviews in your classroom: Make Any Student The Most Interesting Person in The Room
Here is a format for a Special Person Quiz. They can write as many sentences as they like, but the grade is cut off at 25 sentences. No one can get more than 100% now. Too many students were getting 200%. Special Person Quiz Form
Engaging Students With LA PERSONA ESPECIAL This is a popular and successful activity in my classes that starts on day 1 and continues for the rest of the year, where we get to know one anther in the TL. It’s using real language and real interest in real people and the result is real acquisition.
Here are some examples of using Special Person interviews with the present perfect verb form–sometimes thought of as grammar for a higher level class. If it is comprehensible and interesting it can work: Special Person with Traditional Upper Levels
Some Pig! This is a summary of a Person Especial interview that generated enormous engagement with students.
TESTIMONIALS Here is what teachers are saying about Bryce’s presentations, keynote addresses and materials
New participation rubric adapted from Lauren Tauchman: Participation Self Assessment
You want differentiation? We got your differentiation right here. Check out an explanation from a workshop on how I use Susan Gross’s idea of Contrastive Grammar.
DUAL ENTRY JOURNAL Updated! Medium level of accountability. Shows you care and are aware, but not smothering students with too many detailed questions about their reading.
ONE PAGE “ADS” FOR THE WORLD LANGUAGE CLASSROOM DOOR
You know those one page ads you see taped to posts and stapled to bulletin boards, especially on college campuses? The ones with the little tear off strips? I have been experimenting with some funny ones and putting them in Spanish. The idea here is to use high frequency words (sheltering the vocabulary, but not the grammar) in a fun way to get students’ attention and to get them to read it over and over because it is so ridiculous, funny or stupid. They are also great conversation starters once students are in the classroom.
DERECHA Y IZQUIERDA POSTER Check to see if students understand left & right as well as their abstract thinking. Will this really avoid traffic jams at the classroom door?
HAS VISTO ESTE GATO Another cat poster. Could this be the continuation of the old “Cat Story” by Blaine Ray?
HELLO HOLA LIONEL RICHIE & WALDO This one has Lionel Richie giving Waldo a dirty look.
Hello Hola Lionel Richie This one is Lionel Richie alone (Lionel who?) with the lyrics to “Hello?” in Spanish for students to tear off.
SE BUSCA AYUDANTES Every evil genius needs minions! Join up!
QUISIERAS TENER UN PAPELITO Who doesn’t need a little tiny lift?
ES ESTO TU GATO Mistaken identity cat.
If you can not read Spanish, you can find the translations to the posters here.
The popularity of eating guinea pigs is growing. It is sustainable, affordable, and oh so tasty. A short article for your students written in Novice Mid Spanish can be found here.
Giving students classroom jobs makes them feel useful; like they are helping. Classroom jobs not only help the classroom run more smoothly, but it also helps the affective component. CLASSROOM JOBS (Updated!)
This is a big help for little annoyances in the classroom THINK SHEET
How to Participate Classroom Poster PARTICIPATION POSTER
Here is a helpful handout for students. It coordinates with the participation poster and allows students to reflect on their participation in class. Participation Grading Scale (Updated)
Why use materials & training by Bryce Hedstrom?
Because Bryce’s materials and presentations can train your teachers in techniques that will connect with and engage students! Teachers will be happier and students will learn more! He also offers a variety of workshops to train teachers at all levels and in all subject areas in your department, school, district, or region. Teachers are raving about the results.
Contact Bryce today at:
Phone: 970-290-4228 (talk or text)
GET KIDS UP, MOVING, INTERACTING & LEARNING PLACE NAMES WITH “FRIENDS FROM…” MAPS
Study Partner Maps help students learn the geography of the target language world easily and quickly.
French (Thanks to Bridget Webster of Colorado Springs, Colorado for these):
SUPPORT & CONNECT WITH OTHER CONTENT AREAS
USE THE MATERIALS BELOW TO ENGAGE YOUR STUDENTS: All of the lessons below support content in other areas. Kids want to learn and even seemingly reluctant learners will be more likely to engage with readings that have real content. Some students do not see the practicality of World Languages–they tend to see subjects like math and science as more valuable. This will help you bridge that gap.
USE THEM TO HELP WITH YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL EVALUATIONS: Readings like these can also be used as evaluation evidence for “designing coherent instruction” because they provide scaffolding for later learning. They access students’ prior knowledge about geography, math, science and other subjects. Cross-curricular and varied instruction like this can go a long way to “engaging students in learning”.
LA CORZA BLANCA Simplified summary with illustrations of the legend La corza blanca by the Spanish romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer as a pre-reading for the novel.
THANKSGIVING QUIZ in Spanish and English. What do you and your students know about the holiday?
This is a pre-reading quiz and an embedded reading in Spanish about the story of Christopher Columbus, his impact on the world and “El Dia de la Raza” in Latin America.
Many students seem to think that Cinco de Mayo is mainly about drinking Corona and driving around in a pickup waving a giant Mexican flag. Tell them the rest of the story and teach them about the courageous citizen soldiers of Puebla, Mexico and how they influenced the outcome of the US Civil War with this CINCO DE MAYO QUIZ & READING written in simple Spanish.
EL CHUPACABRAS is always a fun scary urban legend to talk about. Here is a reading in Spanish with a map, mini-glossary and a quiz.
LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE is a cultural symbol of Mexico as well as the patron saint of Mexico and of all Latin America. In the first 10 years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico only a handful of the indigenous population converted to Christianity, after the apparition of the Virgin millions joined the church. It was the greatest mass conversion (pun intended) in the history of the world; a historical and sociological wonder that your students may not know enough about. Here is the story in high frequency Spanish. A fascinating read connecting history and religion.
PAÍSES MEGADIVERSOS / THE MEGADIVERSE COUNTRIES The “Mega Diverse” countries are those which have been designated as valuable due to their vast and different flora and fauna. An unusually large portion of these countries are in Latin America. Here is a reading in novice level Spanish about these biological treasures.
EL JAGUAR Despite environmental pressures and declining overall numbers, the jaguar, most adaptable of the big cats, is expanding its range and can now be found from Arizona to Argentina. Read about it in novice level Spanish.
LA MANO DEL DESIERTO / THE HAND IN THE DESERT In the middle of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, the driest desert in the world, is a sculpture of a giant, solitary hand. Who made it? Why is it there? What does it signify? Find out in this novice level reading in Spanish.
¿ESPAÑOL O CASTELLANO? / SPANISH OR CASTILIAN? The word castellano perplexed me when I arrived in Chile as a teenager: Everyone seemed to be telling me they did not speak español (in Spanish!) but rather something called castellano; it sure sounded like Spanish to me. This level I reading explains which word speakers use to refer to their language in the Spanish-speaking world.
¿POR QUÉ EXISTEN LAS ESTACIONES DEL AÑO? / WHY DO SEASONS EXIST? This is interesting comprehensible input in the form of a reading in simple Spanish about why seasons exist on the earth. As an avid cyclist, it amazes me that students do not appreciate (?) or even notice (!) the changing seasons. This lesson uses students’ prior knowledge about weather and terms in Spanish, and it prepares them to learn about the culture of Guatemala, which in turn will be an introductory set to reading the novel Patricia va a California. This type of mulit-faceted instruction can go a long way to engaging students in learning.
¿CÓMO SABEMOS QUE LA TIERRA ES REDONDA? / HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THE EARTH IS ROUND? The ancient Greeks knew that the earth was round and had the measurements figured out almost as accurately as we know them today. How did they do this without space ships? They didn’t need aliens to help them. Here are five ways to explain that the earth is spherical based on observation and logic–all in simple Spanish.
Cómo mirar un eclipse del sol / HOW TO WATCH A SOLAR ECLIPSE It is always gratifying to teach students concepts and skills that they may have missed in other subjects areas—and to do it in a second language! We have actually done this eclipse watching activity several times with novice Spanish students. The instructions were given, discussed, checked and re-checked for understanding and then we went out to experiment with the low-cost, low-tech eclipse watching equipment. No eye damage yet!
Introduction to Guatemala (PowerPoint to introduce the country to level I Spanish and/or as a set for the Blaine Ray novel Patricia va a California. Coordinates with the 5 themes that students learn in their geography classes)
NOVICE-LOW to NOVICE MID
This is a winner story for early level I language learners. It is now in English and Spanish to help teachers that teach languages other than Spanish: LA CHICA QUIERE CAFE THE GIRL WANTS COFFEE . This is a story in a simple format that was modeled for a new teacher observing my class. I wanted to show her that students could learn a story very early in the year and I wrote down the explanations I gave to her in our conversations afterwards. The super simple approach worked so well I plan on using it again.
This is a simple story for Level I Spanish to review and consolidate some basic grammar and vocabulary. There are 12 pages of notes, explanations and activities, plus illustrations for students to tell the story and write the story.
La Leyenda de la Llorona Embedded Reading
This is a revised and expanded version of the unit and lessons plans for the legend. It includes examples of level I Spanish student timed writing for the final assessment. Be sure to read Example #5.I just wanted to express my gratitude to Bryce and his La leyenda de la Llorona. This week I gave my students two exams. One was the state exam where they had to write a story. Many of my Spanish One students wrote out the story of la Llorona. The vocabulary in that story is much higher than I had ever encountered in a Spanish One class and I was afraid that it was too high for my Spanish One students; however after seeing their writing and language after completion of the story and activities I couldn’t be prouder. They then had to do a five minute presentation of them talking to the class and talking to me afterwards about their story. Many of them chose La Llorona. They were spot on and many of them even picked up the words aside of the intended structures. I then asked my students about that story and why so many had chosen it. I got the same response: that this story just stood out to them. They loved that it was a legend as opposed to a class story and it was the only one that I had retold embedded style more than five times. Bryce has added activities to go with each telling of the story and each one just helped the students to acquire the story and use the language outside of the story. I could not be happier with this story and the activities that he included. I am definitely using it again next year and from then on. —Nancy Wallace
What I love about your Llorona project is that it gives a teacher a blueprint of how to work with a story. Your work helped me understand a lot better how to put some things together. —Michele Whaley, developer of Embedded Reading with Laurie Clarcq
THE GIRL AND THE CAT This is a whimsical story for novice language classes that uses high frequency vocabulary. It deals with coming-of-age issues and also has elements of other disciplines, including numbers, built in to it. The nature of the story requires repetition in order for students to get the final question. The story and questions are in both Spanish and English and in the present and past tenses.
NOVICE MID to NOVICE HIGH
THE JOB AT THE ZOO This is a joke in Spanish (& in English on the second page) that my kids liked. More and more, I like telling jokes that impact students at multiple levels. This one is funny and students can relate to it, because it addresses the impostor syndrome, that nagging feeling that we might just be faking our way through life. Amy Cuddy addresses this issue in her book Presence. At least half of all successful people report feeling this way from time to time.
El secreto de hablar con las chicas Here is a story for Spanish 1-3 about a boy who is popular with the girls by always responding with a simple “I understand.” I offered it as a service to the guys in my class and it went viral in the school. Kids that were not even in the class, kids I didn’t even know, kept coming up to offer their opinions for or against the premise. I of course responded to all with “I understand.” Works like a dream, even with difficult people–especially with difficult people. Try it and see if it doesn’t work for you too.
Here it is in English: THE SECRET TO TALKING WITH GIRLS
This is a Spanish 2 story that grew over a period of two weeks: EL AMIGO ESPECIAL. The girl in the story is a good-natured student in a Spanish 2 class that played along, and with whom the other students had fun giving ideas. It is about her special friend, a toad, inspired by the stuffed cane toad from Guatemala in my classroom.
I love Aesop’s story of The Tortoise and The Hare. I have always considered myself to be a tortoise in some ways and I want to encourage others to keep at it too. This version of the story is written as a Spanish embedded reading and includes color illustrations. It is now expanded an available for purchase. There is also a teacher guide to help you teach the story and English embedded readings. See the Products Page for a sample and to get it for your students. We’re all in this together. Keep at the race, mis amigos tortugas.
TOOLS TO HELP US BECOME BETTER TEACHERS
The New Bloom’s Taxonomy and Foreign Language Instruction (PDF) Memorization is the very lowest level of learning. With comprehensible input strategies we can ask students to think at higher levels, even in beginning language classes.
Checklist for Observing a FL Classroom (PDF) This latest version has more specific guidance built into the form to point out what good foreign language teaching should look like. This can be a big help to administrators and guests by giving them specifics to focus on. I give a copy to every observer in my classes to get some guided feedback and help me to get better.
Checklist for Observing a FL Classroom This is the Checklist in a Word format so you can adapt it to your needs.
Rachel Seay from North Carolina modified the observation form with spaces for notes from the BSCS 5 E’s Instructional Model. Get it here.
UNDERSTANDING TPRS Updated and Expanded –Formerly “The Basics of TPRS”
VERBS IN THE TOP 505 SPANISH WORDS This is an analysis of the verbs on the Wiktionary word frequency list for Spanish. This analysis can make it easier to see which verbs in which specific forms occur most often in the language and has implications for what we should be teaching if we want our students to become fluent.
TOP 400 SPANISH WORDS This is a list of the 400 most frequent words in Spanish from Wiktionary.org based on movie and television program subtitles, so it may approximate actual speech. It is organized so that students can check off the words they recognize as a general vocabulary comprehension check.
HOW TO GET YOUR STUDENTS TO READ–AND LIKE IT
READING REFLECTION This form is short and simple and it is the best tool I have for getting students to enjoy reading because they get to express themselves. It corresponds to the ways of assessing reading explained in Free Voluntary Reading by Stephen Krashen and in Readicide by Kelly Gallagher.
1) Be convinced yourself of the value of reading, and particularly self-selected reading
2) Model reading by reading to them and by reading in front of them
3) Teach them how to choose reading materials
Summer Reading This is a list of books my level 4 & AP students said they enjoyed reading. It explains why reading novels is important and includes reading levels for many novels to help guide students into picking something comprehensible and interesting.
4) Provide plenty of reading materials that are comprehensible, interesting and (when possible) culturally relevant
RANKING-THE-NOVELS This is a list of language learner novels by TPRS authors ranked in order of readability to help teachers and students pick material for Light Reading. Includes the number of pages and the total number of words for each novel, plus the genre and cultural setting.
Books Read Independently This is a list of language learner novels in Spanish on one page. They are listed in order of unique words in the text according to the publisher. A sheet follows to keep trak of which novels students have read.
5) Teach them how to read in another language
6) Make reading a regular part of the routine in your classroom and enforce it consistently
7) Continually point out why we are reading (like every single time they read until they can say it to your first)
QUOTES ABOUT READING Print these out, hang them around your classroom and shine your laser pointer at them when the “Why are we reading again?” questions start. they will eventually get to the place where they say, “I don’t really like to read in English, but for some reason I like it in Spanish.”
8) Hold them accountable for their reading (lightly)
DUAL ENTRY JOURNAL Updated! Medium level of accountability. Shows you care and are aware, but not smothering students with too many detailed questions about their reading.
LIGHT READING BOOK REPORTS Updated! Why read? Why read novels? Motivation for reading. Justification for reading. And how to assess without killing the joy of reading.
The Reading Reflection is an opportunity for students to think about their reading in the target language. The gains from teaching with comprehensible input are so subtle that students may not realize they are learning. Encouraging them to think like this may help them to see that they are really picking up a lot of language.
SAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK WITH TPRS/TCI
READING & (EVENTUAL) OUTPUT This is an essay that a Spanish I 9th grade student (an exceptionally hard working and focused non-native with no background in Spanish) did during two days in class. The challenge assignment for students was to read an entire novel, and then close the book and summarize (not re-write) each chapter. They could re-read portions beforehand, but they could not look at the book as they wrote. She wrote this in class with no dictionary and no outside help. These are not typical results, but it does show the differentiated results that are possible with comprehensible input-based methods. Patricia va a CA Student Summary (pdf)
OTHER HELPFUL & FUN DOWNLOADS
I like to put a funny posters on the door of my classroom to delight my students.
Cinco signos que a una chica le gustas (5 Signs that a Girl Likes You) Careful, guys! There are more like this below.
APRENDA LAS EMOCIONES con Kristen Stewart The many different and obvious emotional expressions on the face of a professional actress can help your students to learn the words for emotions in Spanish!
Darmok This is an information and activity sheet based on the classic Star Trek the Next Generation episode where Captain Picard learns to communicate with an alien captain via storytelling and shared metaphors. This article is referenced on the German Wikipedia page (of all places!) about Star Trek! Check it out here (at he bottom of the page in the Einzelnachweise Bearbeiten [References Edit] section).
Eres Tu Valentine’s Day Activity This is a type of “Occupy Valentine’s Day” activity for the 99% of our students that do not have boy/girlfriends and feel awkward and unwanted on Valentine’s Day.
FUNNY PLACE NAMES Spice up your stories with these unusual places in the USA that actually exist.
Nicknames in Spanish Enough with Paco and Maria already. Give your students meaningful and descriptive names.
Songs All Spanish Students Need to Know Cliches? Maybe. They still should know these songs.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS with SAMPLE ANSWERS Looking for a new job in a school that teaches with comprehensible input? Look at these questions first to get your thoughts together.
Placing Students in Spanish Classes A native speaker in Spanish 2? An ELL student in level 1 so they can “learn English”? Nope. This document will help guide counselors, administrators, fellow teachers and parents in placing students in the appropriate class.
Placing Native Speakers If not in a lower level Spanish class, where do we put native speakers?
Alternative for Unwilling Students (in Word format so you can adjust to your needs) Despite our best efforts sometimes things do not work out and the rest of the class is suffering. Here is a way to deal with the occasional unwilling student.