Language Lab- Observations – Annabelle Allen (iFLT 2016)

Elementary Spanish – Annabelle Allen

Classroom environment and technology

DOCERI (technology to project from iPad and laptop at same time)

Deck less- turn and use your seat for a desk

Pre-planning- general order of a unit

  • 2/3 target structures
  • establishing- TPR, photos, PQA
  • Story
  • Reading
  • Alternative reading using same structures
  • Writing


Student draws the story instead of actors (novelty)- checking with them and whispering to them in english if needed- then student shows drawing to review the story

Designated sounds to certain kids. One kid always cries. One always does the car sounds etc. (**Jason Fritz idea-“try-outs” during TPR to see which kid does the sound well)

When asking a question- Ask questions and say ESPAÑOL ESPAÑOL ESPAÑOL (pointing to your brain to remind them to respond in español) then ask question again

Using current culture in story to engage students Example- Pokemon Go – la pelota de Pokemon

Tell in present tense and review in past but with the same pictures. (only list the structures with translation to prompt oral review, not the whole narrative)

Slides of places for the characters to go in story- use local location pictures

Slides- use .gif for action then have students mimic

lots of brain breaks (see below)

“va a”- use the maps to ask where the character goes

Use KIDDLE to google information during a story to show kids real pictures. (It is a kid friendly Google search)


Reading chorally- using laser pointer to read together. when you get to a word you want to focus on then repeat them over and over. El gato tiene…el gato tiene…

Sentence strips- “Carlos” messed up our story and now we have to put it in order again with a partner- (drops the sentence strips “accidentally”) Change a detail and then in review you ask about the change.

Comprehension Checks- Example: Teacher says “¿Cómo se dice ‘tiene’ en ingles? 1,2,3” Students say  – he or she has (with gesture) The counting allows for think time for students.

Classroom Management

  • REGLAS (15 minute explanation/discussion on the first day in English but review other days in Spanish) Talk about processing speeds, you make mistakes and I make mistakes
  • Story-asking- Freeze, no audience interruptions
  • If you have a funny slide then pause to laugh at first then move on to the language
  • Spend the time training your kids
  • Training- build community letting them know it is safe, run off of relationships (know their stuff)
    • Told them about me
  • Picking groups- “Without words put yourself in a line in order of birthday month” Students use fingers then go down the line to check in Spanish. Then pair up the students by 2s down the line
  • On-going tally PUNTOS for good response to directions. Class vs. Teacher (puntos)- then change – points don’t really count for anything
    • Speaking Spanish (points to students)
    • Speaking English (points to teacher)
    • Not responding to questions or call & response (points to teacher)
    • Following her directions correctly (points to students)
  • Change up your classroom management point system to create novelty (, Puntos etc.)

FRASES de Annabelle

  • Teacher “pero”- students -“buuuut”
  • 30% of Spanish is cognados
  • “se me olvidó” – I forgot
  • Gestures- tiene (cross body) tenía (cross body then thumb back to indicate past)
  • Teacher – Yo Yo Yo when the verb ends in O it means “yo” What does Yo mean? Students – I, I,  I
  • “Se sienta normal” (desk less)
  • “¿en serio?” – Really?
  • “I need 100% for a class response.”
  • Primero (writes “1st”) Segundo (writes “2nd”)

Brain Breaks 

  • Follow the leader dancing to a song clip (starts class with a dance)
  • Evolution Rock Paper Scissors (egg, chicken, dragon) 1, 2, 3, DALE- when a dragon beats a dragon then that student wins (María ganó)
  • MIX- They dance around to song and then do Rock paper scissors with the person next to them when the music stops
  • Rock Paper Scissors- if you lose then you go behind the winner and create a “conga line” as the winner finds someone else. If they win again the other person’s “chain” joins them until there are only 2 lines. Winner of that wins or pays the teacher.
  • TPR- (in 3rd person) OR “Simon dice”

There is a revenge video – Check out the YouTube channel

Establishing Meaning

Project structure with translation on screen for whole class, student draws on her iPad and class tries to guess (“QUIERE-WANTS” students draws a dog.) Then PQA around the picture. Erase the picture on iPad and have another student draw something else using the same structure.

Cheat Sheet (vocabulary sheet) Name in Spanish for the word “cheat sheet” from certain region (POP-UP Culture)-

  • Dictionary page with the structure and English translation. Then at the bottom students add a picture and out-of-bounds vocabulary from the board. They can only add 3/4 of the words from the board.


¿Cuántos?- Ask students to come up and have students show on hand then bring up to front to cover


Practice OUTPUT (Not to introduce vocabulary)  – Yo quiero ______ . Practice saying. Each student gets a card with an animal. Practice again. Ball up and snowball fight when you hear music. Pick one up and find a partner. Say the phrase (Yo quiero ______), high-five then wait for music to snowball fight again. Rinse and Repeat.

Little POMPOM game- Student throws pompoms into the cup their partner is holding for each Spanish phrase (starting with the same structure). Example: “Yo quiero un carro. throw pompom Yo quiero un perro. throw pompom” with language that they have heard and understand MULTIPLE TIMES. (not new language) **My idea- Maybe groups of three- 2 students throw to the other holding the cup but they have to agree before they throw saying the nosotros form. Example “Queremos un perro”

After story listening/writing the story in simple sentences with drawings- “Do I care about your spelling??” NO NO NO

  • Students write the sentence as the teacher says the sentence of the story multiple times. Then the teacher writes it on board so kids can check their work. Then on to the next sentence of the story. (There is a box next to or above the sentence for students to draw the sentence)
  • GREAT opportunities for pop-up grammar

TRUE/FALSE quiz “This quiz is for me not for you. It is to see how well I did today.”

  • Teacher says Spanish sentence from the story. Students write if it is true or false.



(All her activities up till now were about Mickey.)

VERY SIMPLE SENTENCES – corre rápidamente, llevan/tienen ropa rojo, ¡Qué chistoso!

Ask questions: ¿Es un animal pequeño? Es un ____ toro (draws a picture on the board with Spanish word)

¿Al toro le gusta rojo?

Stopped and paused for the first 3 minutes then just let the video run.

Reading activities for the cultural parts of the video- La Tomatina, Running of the Bulls


Kids said about Annabelle Allen “You are much more fun” “Exciting” “You are the best teacher of my life” “It is different because you have energy” “Best teacher in the universe” “You are funny””We don’t fall asleep because you aren’t boring” “You have happiness in your voice” “There was a lot more Spanish than English” “We do a lot more acting” “They (stories) are fun to act out”

**Check out Annabelle’s blog- She is planning to post her resources from this week on her blog.

If you see any typos, feel free to email me. Typed up quickly.


¿Te gusta la pizza?

I like to introduce the words “quiere” and “tiene” to my Kindergarten class early in the year.

I love to use one of my favorite songs from the CD Charlotte Diamond’s “Soy una pizza” My students love this song! Check out the link to get the whole CD which is great!! My students love to watch a youtube video that uses this song.  

***Disclaimer “Soy una pizza” doesn’t use the words “quiere” or “tiene” but…

This song helps me kick off a unit of talking about pizza. What do you want on your pizza? What do you NOT want on your pizza? What does the pizza have on it?

First I teach the song with lots of motions. I have the students draw their “ideal” pizza. I use the ingredients from the song and their pictures to talk about what they “want” on their pizza. (I can use “con/sin” because the song introduces this concept)

  • I also use pictures of pizzas to talk about different types of pizzas.
  • We tell stories about different characters wanting crazy things on their pizzas.
  • I use GPTV Salsa Episode 114 about the three goats that order crazy pizzas.
  • Then we make our own pretend pizzas. I walk around with fake ingredients asking “¿Quieres queso? ¿Quieres mucho queso?”
  • We take a picture then talk about what Ben’s pizza compared to Anna’s pizza.


This is a great unit that leads us into the main story from ConversaBooks “¡Quiere pizza!” about a boy who is looking for 9 special pizzas.

My students and I have a great time talking about pizza and it always ends up bringing up the words “¡Tengo hambre!” because at the end of the each lesson we all want pizza.

NTPRS – Top Take aways (4-5) Technology that is worth it!

In a previous post I mentioned some of the most important things I learned at NTPRS in Chicago this summer. I mentioned TIME, PROPS, and PQA treasure hunts.  In this post I wanted to highlight some very simple technology tricks that I saw at NTPRS.

I love technology. I love making videos and presentations. I love new gadgets, and new websites, …BUT that being said

I have made the mistake in the past of letting the process of creating a product overshadow demonstrating the content. 

I had grand plans for my students to use technology for a project, but spent twice the time teaching the technology and the content got left behind. I am all for teaching technology skills, but if the content isn’t there first then the technology becomes a distraction not a demonstration. At the end of the day if a pencil and some paper does the trick… then why bother?

(climbs off soapbox)

So I was excited to pick up some SIMPLE technology tricks that ACTUALLY enhance my student’s learning. Most of these come from the Elementary Workshop with Leslie Davison.

NÚMERO CUATRO- PHOTOS capturing the moment

Take photos of your stories! (better yet, let the students do it for you)

Blog images.002

It has been a simple addition to my storytelling that has had a HUGE impact. First, you have a student take pictures as you tell the story. That student is now engaged in the story in a whole different way because they are held accountant (by their peers) to have told the story in pictures. My students beg for this responsibility. Second, you have photos of that class story which is so powerful for retells, partner tells, writing and speaking activities, listening quizzes and review.

The story you told in class now has a physical presence instead of just a memory in your student’s mind.

My students know and come into class asking the next time I see them to see all the photos. They can’t wait to see themselves. So I retell the story on a powerpoint on the screen, and  then they get their own copy to put in their folder. I even put some of the photos up in my room to remind us of the important vocabulary. Has it every been a distraction? Of course, what hasn’t been a distraction or a disruption in your classroom, (…talking to you pencil sharpener) but any good tool is worth taking the time to establish rules and expectations. It has breathed life into the stories for my students.

Does anyone use pictures too, and have a cool activity to go with them??


My school has iPads. When we got the iPads, I was super pumped and excited. Then I started thinking about how to use them. What can my students DO with them? Well at NTPRS I got a very simple answer.

Let the students video their stories.

I really felt dumb for not thinking of this one. There is a camera feature that allows someone to film with very little setup. So far I have used them for three different assignments where students use the iPad camera.

1. Speaking assessments- I used to pull my students into the hall for individual speaking assessments with me. It took me 2 days of class time to complete. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!)

So… now with the iPads, I have my students take a comic strip or picture or some other prompt and send them off into nature to find a quiet spot to record. I give them 10-15 minutes to come back with a video. No pencil, no paper, no books.. nothing but the prompt and an iPad. I walk around and monitor my kids to make sure their technology is working and for accountability. 15 minutes later and I have completed my class speaking assignments. Can they look up words on an online/app dictionary?…yeah probably, but I am asking for a story so if they are looking up a word then they might be able to look up one or two but they still have to put it into context. To me, it wasn’t an issue worth worrying about.

**An unexpected advantage was some of my students chose to walk around holding the iPad as they were telling the story. The physical activity helped them focus and let go of some of their nervous energy.

2. Group stories- This can be retelling a story or creating a new story with familiar vocabulary. Students get together to write a story or retell. They assign jobs to each group member (cameraman, actor, narrator etc..) Then they film. This can take a class period or two depending on the complexity of the content, but the best part is the next day when everyone wants to see their video and their friends’ videos. REPETITIONS!! (Also a great project for parents to see what their kids are doing in class)

3. Vocabulary images- This activity uses the camera on the iPad to take pictures instead of video. Have students take pictures of different vocabulary. I am going to use this in a few weeks to have students take pictures using their location prepositions. Above, under, beside etc…Then throw the pictures into a presentations and/or print them out for a personalized vocabulary reference.

What have you done with your iPads or other technology that was simple but effective??