Back to school “SOY YO”

If you took a vacation under a rock then maybe you have not heard of Bomba Estéreo’s AWESOME song “SOY YO”

In fact I know I am late to the game creating plans for this song

Sometimes I start the year with the same lesson plans for 6th-8th grade with little modifications between classes. It is unifying for them across classes, and makes an easier beginning of the year for me. This year I choose to start the year with the song “SOY YO.”

So what did I do?

First few days:

I projected Niki Tottingham story of the music video. 

  • I went through each slide. If I had a new student with NO SPANISH experience then at the end of each slide we translated the whole slide into English. Otherwise I would spot check a few words here and there. I focused on the phrases:
    • soy yo
    • no se preocupa

I didn’t get through the whole story in one lesson because I had administrative beginning of the year stuff to do with them. Also I didn’t want to rush it. They started to lose interested after 5 slides so I would stop and move to something else.

  • At the end of each story reading session, I would show the video (and to avoid mutiny.)
  • When I finished the whole story we watched the video again.
  • I passed out the lyrics to the chorus. One side had the lyrics in Spanish and the other side was blank. As a class we translated the chorus into ENGLISH and wrote it in the blank box. I started the translating with what they knew. Then I translated the rest for them.
  • We listened to the video again. Students had to sing along during the chorus OR follow along with their finger on their sheet as they listened. (I sang…loudly…with dance moves)


PDF version of image above HERE

  • Lastly I had students discuss in groups how they would translate the phrase “SOY YO” into English not literally but in the message the artists wanted to communicate. We discussed these translations and wrote them on cards for my bulletin board later.


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  • I had students draw their name on a half sheet of card stock. They had to incorporate 2-3 things that described them. It could be a hobby, interest, or a favorite food/book/movie. It could be ANYTHING they wanted their classmates and I to know about them. (Learned this from Ben Slavic And Tina Hargaden- CARD TALKS)
  • I showed them my example first. (I quickly explained what I choose to incorporate but I didn’t do a long presentation in Spanish. That is for later.)


  • Then the class got to work on their own drawings while we listened to music. I walked around asking questions and commenting on their work. Students could use technology to look up how to draw different things if they wanted.
  • ON THE BACK- they had to translate (using a online dictionary- after a quick lesson of how to use dictionary for good and not evil) their 2-3 things. They could write it in complete sentences -I like sushi.- OR just the important part –videojuegos = video games- (This made my job easier when we discussed the cards later.)


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What now?

  • Then we discussed the cards one by one. (I started with my own to give them an example.) I chose one student at a time and asked them questions about what they drew. I had 2 student jobs during these interviews
    • Summarizer- This student wrote down the information that we discussed in class in English, Spanish OR a mix of the two.
    • Quiz Maker- I had a student write True/False statements with the answer at the end of the statement. I had the student write 10-12 person knowing I wouldn’t use all the statements.
  • The day after we finished an interview I either…
    • had the students read independently or in partners the information typed up in Spanish by me beforehand.
    • OR I had groups write in English or Spanish what they remembered about that person’s interview then I wrote/typed up the information in Spanish to then give them to put in their folder.
  • I am trying something new this year. Not sure yet if I will like it. I have groups pick 3-5 vocabulary words/phrases from the information to add to their dictionary in their folder. It has to be IMPORTANT words/phrases to the student interview reading AND words/phrases that we don’t know well or are brand new. I use Martina Bex’s dictionary page on TPT HOWEVER I use it differently than her plans.
    • The students write the word/phrase in SPANISH and ENGLISH
    • In the first box they write a sentence from the student reading that uses the word/phrase.
    • The second box is an illustration of that sentence.

** See Martina’s blog post with FAQs for more information on her approach)

  • I gave them a TRUE/FALSE quiz after every 2-3 student interviews.

Finally – OPTIONAL Bulletin BOARD


  • I make color copies of the students name drawings and staple to the bulletin board along with the cards the students used to describe their group’s translation of the phrase “SOY YO.”
  • Here are the large SOY YO letters from my bulletin board which I printed on card stock, cut out and laminated.

** These interviews were inspired by Bryce Hedstrom’s “La Persona Especial”


Name Game Gold: Kindergarten Edition

So every year I get a new batch of 5 year olds. The most pressing issue for me on Day One is learning names. This summer I created a game for the beginning of the year.

This game is the main activity for Class ONE of my unit Me gusta which is an introductory unit for the year targeting Pre-K through 2nd grade. 

Here is Class One Lesson Plans as it is written in my unit. Below that is my reflection on Class One for me.

UNIT 1- Me gusta PLANS Class ONEUNIT 1- Me gusta PLANS Class ONE (2)


* Use the phrase “se llama” – his/her name is (he/she calls himself/herself)

* Learn everyone’s name

* Use action words like – salta (jumps), baila (dances), camina (walks), mira (looks at) etc.

  • So I started by telling my students in Spanish / English “Tengo un secreto” (I had them lean in to hear. – a trick I learned at Tina and Ben’s workshop) I told them that I have a magic box, and the magic box knows their names. “It may look like a plain cardboard box but it is isn’t. Don’t be fooled” I told them.
  • Then I had my most wiggly student come up and pull his name “NO MIRES” (Don’t look!) otherwise the box will know, and it won’t work.
  • He walks up to the box, and chooses a card. It is a girl name. I announce to the class “Se llama Ella Kate.” The class erupts into giggles and disagreement. After making sure that this is not his name, I wonder out loud why it didn’t work “no funciona”. I ask who has that name. I give her the card and the class says “Hola, Ella Kate”
  • I had other students try, and it continued to fail. I started to get pretend frustrated and I pretended to cry. “¿Por qué no funciona?” “Why won’t it work?” (I translate things for them since they are absolute beginners.)
  • Then I took suggestions of how to make the box work. A students suggested shaking the box. So I had the whole class stand up and shake with me. “La clase sacude.” Then we tried again. It didn’t work. I took suggestions from other students and turned them into mini TPR sessions (shake high, shake low, shake fast, shake slow) We jumped, danced, turned in circles, and talked to the box sweetly.
  • Then a brilliant student suggested we LOOK in the box. I walk over to him. “¿Mira?” He looks in the box and finds his name. He raises it as if he has found gold. The class cheers. I am so happy because “La caja mágica funciona.”
  • I let every student with a name still in the box find their name by LOOKING (“mira”) in the box. Each one celebrating their name.
  • It is time to go back.

45 minutes. 1 plain cardboard box. 21 pieces of paper with their names on it.

What did that make? GOLD!!

“CI without stress” Elementary Adaptations

I attended Ben Slavic and Tina Hargaden “Ci without Stress” workshop a few weeks ago in Atlanta. I had seen many of you who have attended their workshop this summer, and I was excited to see it for myself.

For those of you who have not read their book A Natural Approach to Stories I highly recommend it.  Whether you are adding tools to your teaching toolbox or adopting the whole program, I think all CI teachers can benefit from their book. It is a refresher in why we teach the way we do, and great CI activities.

Tina and Ben teach/taught middle school and high school language learners. So their methods are naturally targeted at those audiences.

On the second day, I was with some of my Chattanooga CI group and some elementary teachers are the workshop for lunch. We discussed how we could use the same methods we had learned in our own elementary classroom.

***If you live near Chattanooga and would like to join our PLC then email me. We would LOVE to have you!

Here are some of the things we discussed we would want to adapt for our elementary students.

Ben & Tina’s Classroom Rules

In the book and in the workshop Ben and Tina used 6 rules. I plan on using these rules in my room this year. They communicate exactly what I want students to understand about my expectations.  But as a group we felt that they needed a little “elementary make-over” to word the rules in a way our little language learners could understand. Here is what we came up with:




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Again you can get more information about this rules and the meaning behind them in Tina and Ben’s new book A Natural Approach to Stories.

Here is the PDF of the images above.

Questions to build imaginary characters

If you have seen Tina Hargaden’s posts and videos on her YouTube channel. Then you are familiar with the invisibles.

The invisibles start with a number of questions that choose between two opposite characteristic traits. Here is the traits they highlight below.


Tina and Ben chose these traits because they build characters with depth and purpose which make for compelling stories.

As a group of elementary teachers including the WONDERFULLY talented retired elementary teacher Jennifer Raulston, we discussed that these character traits are PERFECT for the middle and high school student, but elementary students might need some adaptations.

Our thought in changing some of the traits where in response to the emotional and mental development of our students. So we took the purpose of the traits along with some of the other things we learned from Tina and Ben and came up with a slightly different list. You will notice that the descriptions ABOVE the line DO NOT change, but the character traits BELOW the line are different.


What color?



Biggest Fear?

Favorite thing (to eat, to do, or object)



Student Jobs

Student jobs are an AWESOME way to give students responsibility in the classroom, reduce teacher workload, and give students ownership to a character and/or story. Ben and Tina have a list of important jobs for students during a story with detailed descriptions on what the student does and how to set up your room to use these jobs to their full potential. (read their book for more info)

When a student is doing their job then they are required to do at least 2 things at the same time: process the comprehensible input of the story or character AND complete their job responsibilities.

When we discussed student jobs as elementary teachers we felt that student jobs were difficult to pull off in the elementary setting especially the younger the student. We fear that students don’t have the mental ability to multitask in this way.

So what do you do? …

THE ARTIST- One idea that Elijah Barrera suggested was while creating an invisible character the teacher is the artist instead of a student.

  • You could turn the easel away from the students and as you are drawing you repeat the descriptions (maybe even getting it wrong sometimes so students can “correct” you.)
  • You could put on a beret and/or take on a different personality as “THE ARTIST”

This saves the REVEAL as a compelling activity. Students are invested and still excited.

VIDEOGRAPHER- I wonder if you could turn this into a PHOTOGRAPHER. Then as you retell the story. You pause and call on the photographer to take a picture. (Doesn’t every kid know how to use a camera on a phone or iPad?) This would solve three problems:

  • ONE – They don’t have to decide how to film a story.
  • TWO- You are pausing a story to let them do their job so they can pay attention because their job essentially stops when you are telling the story.
  • THREE- You still have visuals to use when retelling and reviewing the story


Professor #2 (Annabelle Allen had some interesting insights to what she does in her room with this job. She doesn’t use a Profesor #2 or second teacher as she calls it. See her post HERE.


Story Driver


So what are your thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

Do you plan to adapt Tina and Ben’s ideas for your classroom? In what way and why?