In all things, give thanks

TLDR: Free Thanksgiving Activity with (almost) no prep!


I am tired. I love my job, I love my students, I love my coworkers, but I am done. I am so ready for vacation and to decorate for CHRISTMAS!!!

Image result for i love christmas elf


To help me get through tomorrow, I am going to do my normal Monday routine: (1) introduce our song/artist of the week (Happy by Nacho feat Los Mendoza. Students love how he is singing with his kids, and they also love his name. Nacho. We talk about how his real name is Ignacio, his full name is Miguel Ignacio Mendoza Donatti, why his name was so long, and then experiment with writing our names the Spanish way), (2) have students do their conversation circles for about 5 minutes, (3) then we will do our Thanksgiving Glyph, because everyone loves coloring! And turkeys are so fun to color!

Image result for turkey color by number 11


Students will color in this activity by answering the questions in this presentation. I will walk through this activity with students, doing some PQA, along the way. When they select their answer to a question, they will not color in the turkey at that time, but will instead circle the number at the bottom of the turkey (as seen here). When we are done going through all the questions, they will be able to color their turkey without me bothering them. If they chose more than one color, I encourage students to have stripes, dots, or designs! The best part is – with our 45 minute class periods they won’t have time to color today, so they’ll color tomorrow! Two days of activities out of one!!

Good luck – may our chocolate be stronger than your students this week!


Remember me in everything

TLDR: Día de los muertos ideas including arts/crafts, a glyph, a movie talk and a digital breakout edu (I am 1:1, and this breakout canNOT be done without tech)


I have never been more motivated to teach about Día de los Muertos than this year. My father, whom I love desperately, was telling me about his business trip in  California and how the streets were flooded with people from Mexico celebrating and he couldn’t figure out why. I told him “well it’s probably for Día de los Muertos” and he immediately says “Oh I don’t like that”. I asked him why and he replied with the stereotypical “oh it’s so scary and skeletons everywhere and I don’t like it” so I proceeded to tell him about the real reason people celebrate Día de los Muertos and it ended up with him being very on board with the whole idea. I know I have many students who feel the same way, and I look forward to helping them understand the holiday instead of believing the “fake news” about it. Here’s my breakdown for how I taught it this year (disclaimer, this lined up with our assessment battery week a la Tina Hargaden from A Natural Approach to the Year)

Monday 22nd: Reading assessment, Calendar Talk ended with how a special holiday was coming up and we needed decorations.  We made papel picado first, and my students just LOVED it!Yes, I cut the large pieces of tissue paper I had down to letter-sized papers so they were easier to manipulate. Make sure to end class 5 minutes early to allow time to clean up messes!


Tuesday 23rd: Listening assessment and more decorations! Today, we made flores de campasúchil (my small classes made GIANT ones and my bigger classes made medium-small ones. I found staples to be VERY helpful, the pipe cleaners not as much, and the kids LOVED making these.)

Wednesday 24th/25th: We run a modified block schedule in my building, so on this day we have 90 minute classes. We did our writing assessment on this day, and then we switched to a glyph about día de los muertos. I used the glyph from the AMAZING Srta. Spanish on Teachers Pay Teachers, added a few numbers to the calaca, and had each student get a bucket of markers (I have all colors divided in the $1 buckets from the dollar spot at Target. They live stashed in the back of my classroom until students need them). When I printed the calacas, at the top of them I wrote the numbers 1-10.

1) I project the first question and second question (slide 3/4) and have students hold up the marker they feel best describes them that day – we then small talk and PQA our way around a bit. After we PQA a question, they circle the number 1 or 2 at the top so they can go back and color the correct number the correct color later.

2) For the rest of the questions, they make a prediction by holding up their markers  and drumroll to reveal which is the correct color. Whichever color they held up is the color they circle their answer with. Then we talk about the pictures, compare/contrast Iowa, where we live and Mexico – very much trying to focus on perspectives of those from other countries. And of course, all in the Target Language!!

3) I turn on Coco and let them color their calacas

Friday 26th: Hand back portfolios so they can see the results on their assessment batteries. Shout out to Señora Chase on helping make those so quick and easy to grade! One more decoration – calaveras! I LOVE creating these skeletons – and it is so fun to watch students freak out about not being able to write in cursive. I highly recommend requiring students to practice writing their name in cursive on a whiteboard 3 times before they get their paper. They then have the rest of class time to finish their calacas, calaveras, glue them on their favorite piece of construction paper, draw in hands/arms/feet, and hang them on their lockers.


Monday 29th: no school!

Tuesday 30th: students point to their papel picado, their favorite papel picado – just to get them to walk around and look at them all – because they already are – might as well make it fun! Movie talk of La Niña Recuerda! I really did NOT want to do this movie talk – I didn’t think it would be interesting to my students, but they ate it up!!!  I always use EdPuzzle for  my movie talks so I don’t have to hit pause. I also love how I can type in my keywords for easy access.

Wednesday 31st/Thursday 1st: Breakout EDU!!! I went to a conference and heard all about how Ms. Kristine Jimenez talk about how she made Breakout EDU’s for her classes, and I was in awe. I couldn’t BELIEVE how easy she made it look! I loved the one she made for Día de los Muertos, but I did have to tweak it for my class. Here’s how I did mine (at the end of this post is the walkthrough of where the clues are as well as their answers, and pictures of the locks to help you visualize):

  • You’ll need
    • PROGRAMMABLE locks – a 4 letter lock, two 3-digit locks, 1 4-number lock, a directional lock, a hasp, and a box you can lock up. On the inside I had a slip of paper that said “¡Nosotros escapamos!”. It is EXTREMELY important to make a big deal out of earning the “we escaped” slip otherwise students are disappointed when they see that they didn’t “win anything”. Have them sign it, hang it up in the room, put pictures on your school’s social media, whatever it takes!
      • If you don’t want to deal with the locks, you could use this guide and answer key, but it’s just not as much fun.
    • Numbered envelopes, one envelope for however many teams you would like to have with these cards inside of them. Also have one copy of the table printed off for each class who will be participating (more on the cards and table later).
  • Each group will be working independently to breakout, but in order to breakout everyone must break out. (I got this idea from this pin) Eventually, instead of circling the room asking questions, you will be stationed by the locks. In order to attempt to open a lock, students will hand you a card valid for 1 minute at the lock. Set your phone for 30 seconds and let them work. If they open the lock, they can check off the lock number for their group number on this table. THEN THE LOCK GOES BACK ON THE HASP. The lock only comes all the way off the hasp when all teams have unlocked that lock. When the last team has unlocked the last lock, the entire class has escaped! Groups who are fast finishes may work in textivate
  • Hide the locked items in your room, and set your 60 minute timer, but hide it from your students and don’t start it yet!
  • Hand out this slip of paper all about Calavera Catrina to students when they walk in. Tell students they are going to practice their pronunciation and reading as they “volleyball read” back and forth with their partner one sentence at a time (one read, the other listens, then switch). As they read it they’ll notice some of the letters are weird, or a different font. put them all together and they get a bitly ( to this website!
  • After a few students have figured out there’s a website, bring out your locks to create drama and put them on display in the front of the room (I projected them on the board with my document camera). Some of them still won’t figure it out and you’ll have to prompt them to look for the secret text. After 3-5 minutes, if not everyone has found the bitly yet, post it in Google Classroom. Everyone should have their Chromebook and be working. Otherwise they are in textivate working.
  • Once everyone is on the website, start your 60 minute timer and project it on the board. That will REALLY amp up the competitive spirit. Walk around the room and hand out envelopes with the “hint/30 seconds of time with  lock” cards. And begin answering questions. You may answer little simple questions, but big questions require a hint card. Here’s a big “hint” card for you to find and solve the clues on the website!
  • Circle around and answer questions. Once one group is ready to try a lock, have them tell you which lock they need so you can direct them to the correct lock (or help them know how to use a lock) and set your phone timer for 30 seconds. If they unlock the lock, check off that lock number on the table for their group, put the lock back on, give their coupon card back, and send them on their merry way. If they’re wrong after 30 seconds, keep their coupon card. You can give them a clue if you are feeling generous.
  • Once all groups have unlocked all the locks, the class has escaped!


Friday 2nd: Quizlet Live Competition followed by some Textivate time!