iFLT 2018 “Flow in the Elementary Classroom” – Erica Peplinski

Erica Peplinski –

check out her website for LOTS of GREAT ideas

FLOW – being in the zone, immersed, energized focus, enjoyment, complete absorption in what one is doing (Example: You are reading a good book, and you lose track of time).

** To gain attention back to directions after a group/partner activity – Countdown from 10 in L1. If students are quiet and ready, they can get class points.


How can you create “FLOW” in your elementary classroom??


Improve your FLOW with your classroom setup

Going desk less – lots of room to move and space to work/play

Bucket rockers, tables in back at different heights, Open spaces and places to curl up with a book

Clipboards, cubbies, SitSpots, alternative seating

Chalkboard contact paper to extend writing space.

Word Walls around the room and some with thematic vocabulary to direct students when they need a certain vocabulary word


Improve your FLOW with RULES

Respect – For you, for me, for all

One Person talks, the class listens

Sit Well (give lots of silly examples at the beginning to help kids visualize)

Look and Listen. 100% participation

Spanish! Spanish! No English


POINT SYSTEM – Profe vs. Class,

Erica doesn’t keep up with how many points till a reward like I have this past year. Students are earning points to BEAT the teacher. Then she counts HOW MANY TIMES the class has beaten her for them to get a reward. But, in reality, she chooses when to reward them because she does not really keep up with the points. That takes too much time and effort with that many classes and students. (LOVE THIS!)

With the point system, she uses random numbers (57, 22, 75) to get comprehensible input practice with numbers.

Teacher/class yells “¡PUNTO!” Makes a big deal of them getting points.

Classroom parties and rewards that DO NOT require food/candy/drinks.

  • Wear your PJs, bring a stuffed animal and we will tell stories with them, pick a crazy outfit for teacher etc. Check out Pinterest for more ideas on classroom celebrations that do not involve food.

Annabelle Alen has a similar point system. You can see my blog on Annabelle Allen in action at iFLT 2016 including her point system.


Improve your FLOW with Student Jobs

** Students wear lanyards with classroom job cards for the first few days but then they don’t have to wear them because they know what they are supposed to do.

Moviemaker – The student films the action in class when the class is telling a story, recording a game, or recording a song etc.

Policía – During “NO ENGLISH” time, this student can call out a phrase if they hear English, and the teacher will NOT get points if they say it before the teacher gets to the points on the board.

King/Queen – decision maker – when the teacher is telling a story and needs help to make decisions on story details or other things, the teacher can ask the “king/queen”

Mini Maestros – passing things out, turning lights on/off

Doctor – gives other students band-aids or takes the child to the office, someone sneezes then the “doctor” stand up and say UNO, DOS, TRES and everyone says ¡SALUD!

Puntos – This student keeps up with the points (see above about Points)

HELPER – If something goes flying then that student goes to get it. (LOVE!) I think there is more to this but that part of the job really got my attention because that is a common occurrence in my room. (LOL, what happens in Spanish class, stays in Spanish class.)

Calendar person – helps with the calendar, sets it up, helps lead this time

Designer – comes in and can reset the classroom (they pick 3 helpers)

ESPÍA – They can quietly report any ENGLISH spoken during NO ENGLISH time to the teacher OR if a student speaks Spanish outside of class, the spy reports it to the teacher for points. They also run TOP SECRET messages to the office or other teachers.

Expert – They make up the answer to something the teacher/class doesn’t know. Example: What is the fastest car in the world? If you don’t know then that student gets to make up the answer and for THAT story this is the answer.

Suplente – Do the jobs of the absent students

¿Qué? Whaaaat? – Student answers like gato from El perro y el gato

¿Por qué? WHYYYYY? – Student answers dramatically in English when the teacher uses ¿por qué?

She has other question word jobs also.

Every student has a job!


Improve your FLOW with BRAIN RESEARCH

Postive motivation helps the brain learn more.

“Fight or Flight” – When you feel you don’t belong, or you are wrong, your brain will find it hard to learn. The same part of the brain that signals to you that you are in pain is the same for PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL pain except with physical pain there is part of the brain that says where the pain is.

Neurons & Axons – Repetitions are “working out” your brain muscle. Every time knowledge pathways are used then the brain gets faster.

“Our brains are most receptive to learning when we combine novelty with repetition.”


Improve your FLOW with Activites

Her Class Schedule –

Greeting– Talk to them. They will want to tell you something.

Talk – Brief talk in Spanish about what is going on.

Movement – Music/TPR/Game

Explain in the TL

Focus Activity

More movement or short game


Community Circle –

Pass the teddy bear, and ask the student with the teddy bear “¿Cómo estás?” The teacher talks about emotions, asking students to share their emotions. Then the teacher reports it to the class and reacts teaching the kids to pick up the emotions and reactions. Students can tell ONE thing about WHY they are feeling that way in ENGLISH. When introducing this activity, give examples of what is too much information.

This activity is about learning to be communicative. It is important to the students and builds community and empathy.

Older kids – What did you go over the weekend? Ask your partner, ¿Cómo estás?

Where are you going? GAME – Ask students where they are going tonight? this weekend? for the holidays? Students can tell the truth or lie. Then students have to guess if the student is telling a truth or a lie. (This allows students who may not have an exciting answer to participate without feeling like they are being compared to others.)


HIGH MOVING ACTIVITIES (5 minutes quick movement)

Yoga – Name the poses in L2

Work Out – count reps in the target language

“Go to” (different locations then add descriptors like slowly, dramatically…etc.)

Obstacle Course – Google Wii obstacle courses, Students stand up and pretend you are moving the video game character, calling out the actions in Spanish. Run, to the left etc. Other videos: Olympic Sports – LUGE, 5-a-day TV, Go Noodle

Dance & Play – They dance until the music stops then they have to play a slap game or rock paper scissors with a partner. New partner each time.

Evolución Style – Rock Paper Scissors (similar to Annabelle’s Allen) – But Erica’s “LEVELS” are different- Every student starts as a Baby then when they win they move to a Brother/Sister, then Mom/Dad, and then Grandma/Grandpa. They can only play students who are the same family member as themselves (baby vs. baby, grandma vs. grandma) Then later you can add new levels for novelty… Hero (this student can play anyone they want), and Super Hero (This student can play anyone they want AND They DO NOT go back to a baby if they lose. A student becomes a Super Hero when they beat a Hero)

Action Stories  – Quick story and everyone acts it out in L2. “The monster walks to the door slowly. He opens the door slowly. He sees a cat. He is scared of cats. He runs around yelling “CATS, CATS, No MORE CATS” (That was an example I thought up.)

TPR – Establish meaning for classroom management using the vocabulary you will need.

For You / For Me – Slap game, One student is a minion with chocolate, the first student holds out their hands with pretend chocolate and the other student tries to grab it. If they grab it then that student has the chocolate, repeat.

4 corners – All students run to numbered different places. One student who is not looking calls out a number. The group in that corner has to answer a question from the teacher. If the student can’t answer he/she is “out” and go to the middle of the room. the teachers ask another student in the group. Students can reenter the game if no one in the numbered group knows the answer and a student in the middle can answer it.

FOCUSED Activity

Time Lapsed Story VIDEO – Video yourself drawing a scene/story. Then move video into another program, speed it up and then add narration. Use it in class or as sub plans.

Sleep Walker – check for comprehension for a story you have already done. They pretend to be sleepwalking and act out the story with eyes closed as you tell the story. You are assessing them and you can video it for fun viewing later.


Presentation Link Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s