English Time!

After a couple of weeks, students KNOW that they leave the English at the door before entering their Spanish class at IACS.

But, there is an exception! Three times a year, we pause for some English time. Once in September (around the 3rd week), a second time in January and another in May. Each pause lasts about a week.

I want to take a moment to share some resources we use during the September English time. These are all from a variety of teachers, we pick and choose different ones each year and vary the time depending on the grade level.


Our main goals are: Debrief the first two weeks, discuss ACTFL proficiency guidelines & personal goals, discuss the grading policy & essential questions, set-up systems (digital portfolios & homework).

Our team is in the process of planning our English classes for 2016, so I am gathering up materials. I decided to share them here so we have them in future years and you all have them, too!

Resources & Ideas for Talking about ACTFL Levels and Language Acquisition:

Eliza Pfeifer shares some ideas on her blog

Profe Hanson’s Activity for understanding that Spanish is like any skill in which you can move from Novice, Intermediate, Advanced skill level.

Stephanie Williams introduced us to discussing Tacos by proficiency level and using an interactive notebook to do it (she’ll be blogging soon and I will include link). Here is the source she used for the Taco descriptors:  http://musicuentos.com/2015/09/tstalk-visual/ Using the taco descriptions is a great way to bring the proficiency levels to life!

We also try to use a Ted Talk or two when possible, but I tend to hold onto these for substitute teacher days. I’ll insert a few good examples below*.

The Systems We Set-Up @IACS:

At IACS we use this time to set-up ANYTHING we use during the year that we don’t want to have to worry about later.

For example, we set-up their homework which are called Diarios and Edmodo posts.

Edmodo is an assignment that students do in the target language each week. They are placed in a group with others who have their same proficiency goal and have to write about a prompt that is eliciting that level. Students are asked to comment on one another’s posts.

For both of these reoccurring assignments we have students set-up the technology during English classes, put all of the due dates into their planners, and they actually do their first ones to make sure there are no problems.

We also take time to set-up portfolios. We are lucky that all classes are now doing digital portfolios, so it a little easier for us now. This is what our portfolios look like: Digital Portfolios  We make sure that 6th graders have a YouTube channel set-up, and our 7th and 8th graders remember the process for videos and other aspects of the portfolio.

Finally, this year we are planning on brining Systems Thinking into our time, especially with 7th and 8th graders who don’t have as many logistical things to set-up. Jason Willoughby led a fantastic professional development series at IACS this August, and  it got us applying systems thinking to Spanish class.  Our idea is to have students brainstorm the behaviors that helped them acquire language in the first two weeks (or prior years), then build a connection circle and then feedback loop to show how the behaviors relate to language proficiency over time. We’ll share after we try it out!

What other resources are important? Which of these do you plan on using? Please comment below!