Free Reading Resource for Using "Eres Tú María" by Prentice Hall in Spanish Class

 I am always looking for ways to inject more readings and structured conversation into my curriculum. My level 1 students need it!  With Novice- low students being fairly new to the language, this can be problematic. However, I am learning that with a little dose of creativity, peppered by resourcefulness, I can make my class a language laboratory! And I may have found my niche with this older series from Realidades: Eres TÚ María.  I have never used the textbook from which the series hail, but the first 10 videos are on Youtube and/or Vimeo. Each year, we see about 5-7 episodes, and they are well worth it because: 

  • The language goes from simple to complex 
  • In terms of content, it is very safe (you don't have to preview it)
  • It is fairly interesting, last year we talked about the sexism that the main character experienced as a female detective among her male counterparts 
  • You can provide ample input, and get ample output as well. 

With the accompanying text that I created, you can get even more input!

Download Reading Here 
What is the series about? 
Eres Tú María is a detective series created by Realidades (by Prentice Hall). The main character is Lola, who is a detective, and a darn good one at that! The series kicks off when Lola observes some suspicious activity in her neighborhood. Her investigative senses kick in immediately and the plot begins to unfold. 

I have found this to be a great way to include Movie Talk activities (click here for more information on Movie talks) as you can circle and ask tons of questions about the character. For example, you could ask questions about: 

  • The main character's clothing
  • The city where she lives 
  • Her personality traits 
  • Her physical traits 

It is quite interesting, and my students are usually engaged as it is the only series they will see in the first couple months of school. 

This past week we just watched our first episode, and it went really well. Prior to the episode, they had just finished up talking about our the things we like with this activity here: Las cosas que me gustan. That is why you will see references to Netflix and Snapchat in the article below for Eres Tú María

Last year, when I included this episode, I had students focused on writing the date and describing the character (boring!)- lots of output-oriented activities. This year, we read, I circled a bit, I asked them questions and it was more suitable for their level. It was also enjoyable. Many students actually wanted to talk (which was not required), and they did and felt successful.  Check out the activity below!

Free Reading Download 
¿Eres Tú María?

Extra Series 
Christy Lade, an amazing CI Teacher created some amazing resources for Extra, another short video series in Spanish. Click here for the first episode. Click here for her resources. We used the first episode resources and it was very complete. Students had a chance to read through and get acquainted with the vocabulary and themes before diving in. I highly recommend it!

What a "novel" idea! Check out the new novels for Spanish class!

Click here:

TPT Store!

Click here:

Promoting Equity, Empathy, and Engagement In the World Language Classroom with These Simple Tasks

Promoting Equity, Empathy, and Engagement in the World Language Classroom with Simple Tasks! 

Five reasons why I am excited about this post and subsequent activities:

1. These activities foster community in the world language classroom. 

2. They promote equity in the classroom, which in turn creates a thriving community where taking risks, are the norm, and not the exception. 

3. They hit all the communicative modes: Interpersonal Speaking, Interpretive Reading, Presentational Speaking, Interpretive Listening, and Presentational Writing. 

4. They connect to students' passions in life. 

5. They present useful structures that students will recycle throughout the year!

Game-Changer: Teacher-led PD
One week prior to the beginning of classes, our school, like most other educational institutions, had a full week of Professional Development. This year was a bit different. Our PPLC had worked diligently throughout the summer months piecing together a dynamic learning schedule that would make us reflect on our practices, challenge inequitable positions, and recommit to our students' success. The topic was "Equity." 

I thought I knew what equity was and that I was an "equitable" teacher, but I discovered more about myself, my colleagues, and the nature of learning and brain. In this post, I'd like to share on how this teacher-led PD changed my perspective on the topic and has been slowing reshaping my instructional practices. I will provide several ideas, examples, and downloadable activities that YOU CAN USE IN YOUR CLASSROOM AS WELL

The aforementioned PD was largely based on Zarreta Hammond's book: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students 

Website: Teaching Tolerance 

Zarreta Speaks:

1. Equity is making sure all students have what they need

 Slowing down and taking the temperature of the class, on the surface, does not seem like a practice to promote equity. It appears to be more of a personal realization of the teacher switching up her instructional approach. However, after a week on equitable practices in the classroom, the practice of slowing down has enabled me to better "understand where students are in the lesson." If I better understand where students are on the learning continuum, the better able I am at adjusting the lesson to accommodate them; and that is an equitable practice. 

This was best illustrated during the first activity of our unit on Identity.  I do this unit every year, and prior to getting into the nuts and bolts of the unit, we engage in a "Todo sobre mí" activity, which is a free activity on This activity includes some basic to thought-provoking questions about students' interests, personality, and learning styles. 

Every year, I'd start by distributing the activity, and giving students 10-15 minutes to finish. They'd share with other students and then we'd move on. However, this year, after our PD, I decided to slow things down a bit, and I am glad I did. This 15-minute activity morphed into a  dynamic community-building, communicatively rich three- day task, where equity was the centerpiece. 

Here is how I tweaked the lesson in order to cultivate students' voice and to build community (my previous goals were completing, sharing and getting into the main course of the unit). 

1. I made time to listen and "hear" students; I also made sure that other students "heard" each other. I had them sit down, look each other in the eye, listen, and ask good follow up questions. Each student had the same amount of speaking time. 

  •     This was made possible by including modeling examples and "think-tank" time, a concept that I learned in the PD. Also, once students were comfortable enough, we did "Persona Especial" interviews introduced by 
2. I gave them tools (structures) for sharing about themselves, to their classmates in a meaningful way. 

  • In asking students to share, I simply wrote phrases on the board that they could use. For the "Lo que me apasiona" activity, I curated some phrases and gave them a guide sheet. This helped students who might have experienced some attrition over the summer with those phrases. I wanted everyone to feel and be successful. This leveled the "language field." 

Throughout the lesson, I felt myself adjusting to their needs, and not the other way around. Since I had primarily made this activity about community, the goal was communication and building relationships, with is my equity goal for the first quarter.  

2. Todo Sobre Mí: No, let's really get to know each other!

 Since my Spanish IV students knew how to respond the first few cognate-rich questions of this activity "Todo sobre mí" , I centered upon the meatier questions such as "¿Cual es un tema que te apasiona?"  I knew that this would have been really important for them, even more so than the superficial information solicited in the queries leading up this "essential question." Don't get me wrong, in no way I am not saying that those superficial questions were not relevant, but the notion of sharing about what drives you, and what you're passionate about, centers on at what you care about as a person; and that's a game-changer.  We chewed on this question for two days (tons of confidence- building, reading and language exercises in between), and it was amazing. Check out the flow below!

Side note, but not really
During the summer, I had some teachers from Twitter such as @placido @Spanishcuentos, and @Carrietoth to name a few, talk about their passions. I had originally intended this curation of authentic resources to be used for my PBL unit. However, since this was one of the questions on their Todo sobre mí activity, I put together the infographic below, highlighting the different interests. This activity helped students to accomplish a few things: 

  • Students had an opportunity to see the passions of other Spanish speakers (native and non-native so they saw themselves reflected) 
  • Students had an opportunity to interact with the language and structures "Me apasiona"
  • Students had an opportunity to read and discuss the passions of others before crafting their own (cognitive priming/ building interest)
  • This activity also gave them ideas. When I mentioned passions, I was not talking about "food" necessarily, but issues that move you to act in the world (models and examples of expectant learning task)

3. Expanding the scope of the activity 
Initially, we were talking about our passions, but seeing the teachable moment, I also wanted students to incorporate similar structures and thus add more vocabulary to their toolbox. I simply added structures that were similar to "me apasiona." After modeling, and giving examples, they seamlessly incorporated these structures into the conversation.  I had them also discuss the questions below. We even threw in a "Persona Especial"(see section below) interview with a few of the students. They got to sit on the class throne and share about their gustos and disgustos

4. Incorporating "La persona especial"

This was a very natural segue. I had not planned on doing Bryce's "Persona Especial" but it fit naturally with what we were doing.  An important tenet of equity is dismantling "hegemony", which in my case is "teacher-led and controlled class". Instead of me asking the questions, I empowered my students to ask questions, and it was electric. A few students who had been quiet before were stealing the show! They asked so many questions, that we had to extend the activity. But most importantly, I learned so much about them, and they learned a lot about each other!

5.  Prioritizing TTT (Think-Tank-Time) 
Providing thinking time was one of the hallmarks of equity in the class. Some students (like me) need that time to really sit with an activity or question. In language class, that time is even more precious because students are synthesizing in the target language. Also, when you think about students backgrounds and the nature of speaking, some students may be more adept to pouring out their ideas, raising their hands to participate, whereas some students are still processing the question.  Giving this time in my class made a huge difference! Think-tank-time=lower affective filter. Once I gave students the question: ¿Qué te apasiona? They had a chance to: 

  • Think it out
  • Write it out 
  • Talk it out with a friend 
  • Share with the class 
  • Share with the teacher (Presentational Speaking Grade)
(Not all in the same day!)

6. Talk it out!
After "think-tank time", students had a chance to talk it out with a friend. Yes, I did this protocol before, but my intentions were different. In the past, I had students talk it over with a friend in class, not to solidify their ideas and become more confident speakers, but to just "talk it out." I learned in our PD that talking it over with a friend first, before sharing with the class (which I would normally do), builds students' confidence. I added one more thing to the mix. In sharing, I ASKED STUDENT TO TAKE NOTE OF WHAT THEY DID NOT KNOW HOW TO SAY. This simple gesture communicated to them that I DON'T EXPECT THEM TO KNOW EVERYTHING, and it is okay not to know. Of course, our next step was to circumlocute with a partner. I saw sparks!  

7. Speed dating: Luces, Cámeras, Acción

After we initially talked about our passions, I gave students this short planning template to expand on their ideas. This template allowed them to do the following: 

1. Narrow down their topic 

2. Make a short list of words that they'll need for discussing their topic. 
3. Think deeply about WHY they are passionate about the topic. 

Then, we did a speaking protocol(I modified it slightly) that I learned from our Equity training. I call it: Luces, Camaras, Acción. 

The idea is that students will speak the 2-3 different people about their topic. I have organized this activity into three steps: 

Luces: Students may use the planning template to discuss their topic. I emphasize "glancing" at the template and looking at listener while they talk. They have to share and then listen to the other student. Teachers may have other students ask clarifying questions about vocabulary and also why the speaker thinks it is a worthwhile topic. 

Cámaras: Students now speak to a different student. This time, they try to depend less on their graphic organizer. 

Acción: This step consists of students speaking to other students without the graphic organizer. 

For the last activity, I gave students 45 seconds to share. They ended up sharing for 2 minutes! Speaking to other students beforehand, really made the difference! In the end, this activity was really fun! After a few days, I created a short assessment. Students got into pairs and I interviewed them on the topics about which they were passionate. Most of the students spoke eloquently about the "medio ambiente". I was sooo impressed. The level 3 teacher told me that that was their last unit of the year! ¡Con razón hablaban con tanta fluidez! 

You can download the activity below. Please enjoy! 

Stay tuned as my next blog post for levels 3/4 will center on a poem (La mujer del otro lado) we read in class and the Identity Movie Talk (free on TPT). This poem is so amazing, as it is the perfect poem with which to discuss the theme of identity. I have a few activities and assessments we embarked on, so stay tuned!!!! 
Click Here for Activity
 All the activities that will be shared over the next two posts will eventually lead up to our Identity unit!

Check out the entire Identity Unit! 30+ activities to engage students. Topic includes: 

1. Adolescent Identity and the brain 
2. Indigenous Identity: Cultural preservation or assimilation 
3. Transgender Identity in Argentina 

Articles include a variety of engagement activities including reading comprehension questions, writing prompts, and debate activities!

What a "novel" idea! Check out the new novels for Spanish class!

Click here:

TPT Store!

Click here:


CI for World Language Teachers: 5 Ways to Enrich Your Second Language Skills Over the Summer

"CI" for World Language Teachers: 5 Ways to Enrich Your Second Language Skills During The Summer
The summer is the perfect time to relax, go on vacation and to tackle that never-ending to-do list. It is also a time to  ENRICH and/or CULTIVATE the language you so love and teach. This post is geared toward non-native speakers and teachers of a World Language who are looking for ideas to keep their language skills sharp during the lazy hazy days of summer.  

1. Take Full Advantage of the Series and Shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime

In the last few years, there has been an explosion of Foreign Language Films. My father-in-law, my go-to person for Netflix series, has even started watching Turkish movies and soap operas; he loves them! Netflix has a lot to offer for those who speak and understand Spanish and French. and  have made some bonafide suggestions over the past year.
Similar to how and why we provide comprehensible input to students, watching shows or listening to the language continually during the summer months "attunes" your ear, helps you to stay in the language, and to stay motivated.  Once school starts back, you'll have "menos lagunas mentales" and will be ready to jump back into the swing of things, and provide your students a rich aural experience!

Spanish-Shows-on-Netflix French Shows 

[gallery ids="1248,1247" type="rectangular"]
My personal favorites on Netflix are:

Mar de plástico 

I really like this show because the cast is so diverse!
I am also a big fan of " Tiempos de Guerra". I am so desiring the second season!_tiemposdeguerranuevagallerya_a7eb3218.png
In addition to watching movies, there are other things you can do to keep your language skills well-polished. 

2. Watch Youtube Videos on topics with which you are both familiar and interested.

When strangers find out that I am a Spanish teacher, they immediately confess how they've always wanted to learn Spanish as a second language. Then they ask the million dollar question: What is the best way to learn a language? They then begin to list off all the programs they've tried such as Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, etc. They feel compelled to tell me their life's story about how they've been learning Spanish for decades or took years of it in school, only to be able to muster up a few words. My advice is always the same: Start with what you love! If you love knitting, find videos on knitting, learn some of the specialized vocabulary, and follow prominent knitters on Social Media. You will not only learn vocabulary incidentally, the way it works in a CI classroom, but you will find yourself doing something that you so enjoy!

My Favorite Topics to Seek Out

These last few years, I have taken a very keen interest in writing (hence my Language Learner CI Novels). But lately, I started relying less on my storytelling skills and more on honing the techniques of seasoned writers and some famous "Literary" Youtubbers. I have checked out several videos (posted below) that have enabled me to communicate better with writers that I meet on Social Media.  Not only have I learned meaningful techniques on outlining or "Esquematizando" my stories, but I have also added new "writing" jargon to my Spanish lexicon. I am also passionate about aliens, bioethics, philosophy, the Bible, Apologetics, and cloning (all of which we explore in Spanish IV), so I am always looking for novel perspectives on these topics.

3.  Subscribe to Magazines in The Target Language

Subscribing to online magazines is another way to prevent your language skills from atrophying during those summer months.  Twitter is a great place to find daily inspirations for your interests.  Below are two of my favorite organizations to follow on Twitter. I get little snippets of psychology articles, studies, or quotes that keep the target language at the forefront of my mind. They are also topics with which I love to debate with my father-in-law, that keeps me on my toes as well. I am always surprising him with new words!

 I also love going to Target or Hispanic grocery store to stockpile print magazines. We have a store near my house called "La única" and they sell my favorite magazine of all times: Muy Interestante. If you don't have the luxury of living near a store that sells Spanish-language magazines, check out as they have quite a selection of Spanish-speaking publications. 
[gallery ids="1256,1257,1258" type="rectangular"]

4. Listen to Podcasts (that interest you) 

There are tons of great content on Tunein radio! My two favorite programs, aside from listening to "Las noticas de las ilsas canarias" are:
  1. Todos somos sospechosos - Is a program dedicated to "La novela negra". They talk about books, characters, and the "La novela Negra" genre on a whole.  I have learned quite a bit about new authors, the genre, and of course, the jargon (although these are mostly English words to define phenomena). Best of all, the program's host is very
  1. El ojo crítico-  Is an Arts and Culture podcast. The themes are wide-ranging but include interviews with authors and episodes dedicated to the work of Classical Spanish Artists and Writers ( Picasso, Cervantes).

5. Read A Book in The Target Language

This may be an obvious step, but recently I just realized the plethora of Kindle books le available in Spanish. I have three authors whose books I am crazy about, and they are all on Kindle!  Dulcinea,  Yauci Manuel Fernández, and Marcos Nieto Pallarés. They all have very different styles.   Dulcinea's writing style is very contemporary, immediate, she makes you feel part of the action, and has a way of pulling you into the drama. Her book "El día que el océano te mire a los ojos" is a gripping account about a girl who has a terminal diagnosis, a cheating boyfriend (all on the back of the book's jacket), whose life takes a sudden turn. I discovered in " El Corte Inglés" in Madrid, and am so happy that she is on Kindle!  I recommend her books!
I also like Yauci Manuel Fernández. He authored "Cada día cuenta" and "Dos palabras para enamorarte". I read his first book and am making my way through the second one. I have opted to read his book rather than watch my favorite telenovela "Amar es para siempre".  His writing is reminiscent of  Paulo Coehlo's themes, as his books center on the human journey in life, priorities, decisions, and living through past hurts. Good stuff!

"El asesino indeleble" a suspenseful read. I bought it on Kindle a few months ago, and I could not put it down. It is so entralling. I love the characterization and the dialogue. If you like crime mysteries, I'd recommend this!

6. Find Opportunities to Speak the Language (I know I said 5, but this one is important as well!). 

 Make the extra effort to speak the language during the summer months, even if you speak the language at home. Although I speak Spanish very regularly with my husband and his family, and my friends, I go out of my way to experience the language in new ways. Last summer I joined a book club. We read one book a month and then meet up to discuss them. In the group were Spanish-speaking people from all over. I remember learning "Ándate a la punta de un cuerno" from one of the Ecuadorian women in the group. We'd discuss different ways of saying things, our cultures and so forth.  

I hope these tips were helpful. What are ways you keep up with the language during the summer months? Please comment below!

What a "novel" idea! Check out the new novels for Spanish class!

Click here:

TPT Store!

Click here:

¡Qué Chévere! Novels and Resources that Highlight Colombia

El Último Viaje 
A Comprehensible Input Novella by A.C Quintero, Voces Digital & Teacher's Discovrery 

 My newest novel is the fruit of a wonderful collaboration between Voces Digital by Teacher's Discovery and myself. El Último Viaje will be part of their Nuestra Historia Curriculum, as well as my collection of CI novels. Click this link to find out more about this new CI novel that chronicles the journey of Valeria, and up-and-coming- model from Medellín, whose life takes a series of unexpected turns. 

A huge thanks to Erin Almeratti, Voces Digital for giving me the opportunity to tell this story! 

A huge thanks to Diego Ojeda y Diego Cuadrado for their contribution in helping me keep a good balance in the novel! 

El Último Viaje is inspired by true events. This is a story about a middle-class model from Medellín, Colombia, whose thirst for fame lead her to the center of some controversial decisions. My impetus from writing this novella stemmed from an article read last year during my upper-level Spanish class. It as about a model, whose life was turned upside down. Her story really gripped because it was different. 

Usually, when I have heard of people confronted with the same decisions as "Valeria", they are invariably poor, and their decisions are predictable, due to their extenuating circumstances. This story was different. This girl had it all; beauty, brains, and opportunity. Yet, she was still faced with a choice once thought relegated to poor and underserved people. I saw an opportunity for students to learn about the burgeoning success of Medellín, with the backdrop of this teenager, who in many ways, is a lot like them. Our students are faced with difficult decisions every day. And like Valeria, they must choose. However, as with their own complex lives, there is more than meets the eye in this story. Check it out!

Check out the preview here: El Último Viaje 

Amazon: El Último Viaje 

Whether you are thinking of a class novel that incorporates themes of culture or wanting a compelling read for your students engaging in FVR, I'd encourage you to consider this novel. Although it takes place in  Medellín, Colombia, a beautiful, innovative, artistic, warm, and eco-friendly city that has escaped the grips of its violent past, the central message is critical to students in the US. Choices determine our path forward.  

As a design student, Valeria wants to play an intricate part of the vibrant, colorful, international fashion, and modeling industry in Medellín, Colombia. Her beauty is her passport, and her connections catapult to new heights. Adrenaline, ambition, and adventure drive her thirst for success. As glitz and glam steal her heart, her core values are challenged. Life takes some unexpected turns, and Valeria encounters detours that lead to different paths. Each path has its own set of risks. There comes a time where we each have to choose our own destiny. How will Valeria choose?

Novel Themes Places 

Family, Relationships, Decisions, Health-Care System, Fashion Industry, Modelling, etc. 
Drug Mules /War on drugs (Parts of the story chronicles how Medellín climbed from a dangerous city to one of the most visited, beloved, and technological cities of Colombia!). 
Venezuelan Crisis- (Reference to the Venezuelan-Colombian Crisis through an ancillary character)

La EPS- health care system in Colombia (One of the major cruxes of the novel)

Medellín, Barranquilla, Cali, Barcelona

People (referenced as part of the story):
Fernando Botero- Artist 
Pablo Escobar (One of the character's father died in the fight against Escobar, which gives him the impetus behind contributing to the new "Medellín). 
Shakira (yes, there is a connection, this equals "Songs")
Vanessa Mendoza- First Afro-Colombian beauty Queen 

Artwork, Fashion and Technology Industry in Medellín, Tourism, Typical Colombian Breakfast, Botero, Relationships, etc
Medelllín new economy (Fashion industry, Technology Innovation) 
Clothing (Fashion/Modeling)
Beauty Pageants (References)
Coffee Zone (connection)

Teacher's Manual for El Último Viaje will be available through Voces Digital by Teacher's Discovery. 
Freebie! This activity is actually part of the Cómo Salir de la Zona de Amigos" resource, and it is also free on TPT. Use as part of a health unit, Free Voluntary Reading, or as sub plans!

Short article 
Comprehension Questions 
Writing Activity 

Click the link below: 

La ciclovía

Vanessa Mendoza 

Learn about Colombia's first Beauty Queen of African-Descent. This biographical article is perfect for Spanish 1! 

Click the link below: 

Soy La Reina

Short Film and Activities 

El Almuerzo 

This short eight-minute film highlights the challenges that poor families, especially children face in Colombia. It is about two young girls trying to get a meal. They face a few difficulties, which force them to be creative in solving their problem.  The resource below gives an overview of the film for students, vocabulary activities, especially Colombian regionalisms. It also gives students an opportunity to think about the broader themes touched upon in the Cortometraje. We had a great discussion and then went around the class greeting each other with "Qué hubo" a particularly Colombian expression. See the activities outlined below. Check out the preview on TPT! 

- Short introduction to the film in the target language 
- Vocabulary from the film and information gap activity using the vocabulary

- Watch and pause questions (freeze frame- paying homage to the Movietalk strategy).

- Discussion questions

- Deep Dive (more in-depth) questions

- Writing prompt

Maria, Llena Eres de Gracia 

This film has become a staple in my Cine Latino Series. It highlights the life of "mules" or people who transport drugs. I used the SparkEnthusiasm's packet, click here for the link. I also created some of my own resources to widen the snapshot of this issue. You can see those resources below. They are totally free and were compiled by online resources and made more comprehensible for students. With the SparkEnthusiasm Kit, I was able to do a gallery walk around the class and have students jot down information about the movie. Also, this packet comes with tons of activities that could be used for pre, during and post. In fact, my summative assessment will consist of the viewing questions, listening, and summary. Had I more time, I would have organized stations. 

                                                  Spanish Level 2 

                              Cómo Salir de la Zona de Amigos 

We’ve all been there. We have an amazing friend, who knows everything about us. We do everything together. We even finish each other’s sentences. It’s crazy! Then, one day, while harmlessly hanging out and laughing at each other’s jokes, something shifts. Our eyes glisten and our heart jumps. We are helplessly swept away by the wave of attraction. Before we know it, we are head over heels in love, but hopelessly stuck in the friend zone! Lena and Tristan can definitely relate! They are best friends, video game enthusiasts, and running buddies who explore the beautiful city of Bogotá, Colombia. But when their relationship starts to change, they realize that are in uncharted waters. They’d make the perfect pair but must fight a few uphill battles. Will their lifelong friendship help or hinder any chance of romance? Find out in "Cómo salir de la zona de amigos"…you may learn a few things!

What a "novel" idea! Check out the new novels for Spanish class!

Click here:

TPT Store!

Click here: