Best. Project. Ever.

I tried a new project this year for Spanish 2 Honors.  And the kids rocked it.  Sometimes I get a semi-interesting idea for a project, but by the time the students take it on it becomes AMAZING.

To help us use the future tense in an authentic context, I asked B block students to create iMovie trailers that show what next year’s Spanish 2 students WILL learn.  They worked during our last class to create the trailers in groups of 4 and today we watched the 6 videos from our class.  The results are below and speak for themselves – they’re full of fun, creativity, future tense verbs and ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS details.

You’ll notice some common themes: they hated the preterite tense (sorry, guys) and apparently were not fans of the temperature in my classroom.  I’m always opening the windows for “fresh air” which translates to “arctic chill” for some  (…sorry again).  Students also displayed the big projects of the year: from the International Food Truck competition, to quarterly oral interviews.  The trailers also highlight every day class activities, such as conversation Jenga, pop songs and (of course) my killer dance moves.

Check them out below and get ready to be impressed!

Taylor L, Audrey, Lily and Taylor H chose to make a horror film and it is HYSTERICAL.
Hint: definitely watch it all the way to the end for a spooky finish!

Tom, Hannah, Alyssa and Ashley created a fantastic trailer with some really excellent advice for next year (you should always laugh at Sra. Blackburn’s stories).  So true, chicos.

Hayden, Charr, Colby and Osama made a trailer that featured Osama in a role as Sra. Blackburn, complete with denim jacket and scarf.

Graysen, Cole, Divya and Clare created a super trailer, which highlights the year-long power struggle among Graysen, me and the front classroom window.

Kacy, Jenny, Chris and Noah made a great trailer in the style of an expedition film, portraying four students on a mission to ace Spanish 2 Honors!

Maya, Willow, Lauren and Bella put their creative talent to work in this awesome trailer that highlights all the fun of Spanish 2 Honors (a nice contrast to the horror film – HA!)


Spanish Student of the Week: Jason Bates

This week’s Student of the Week is Jason Bates.  Jason is a student in Spanish 2 (which meets during D Block).  Jason has done a phenomenal job this year and is known in our class for singing all of our pop songs with lots of (hilarious) emotion!  If you know Jason, be sure to ask him to sing a few lines of the song Fuiste tú!  


Here’s what Jason said about her experience in Spanish 2 this year:

Tu nombre (your name): Jason Bates

Tu clase (your class): Spanish 2 (D Block)

Mis pasatiempos (my hobbies): hanging with friends, riding my four wheeler, sleeping

Mi actividad favorita en esta clase es… (my favorite activity in this class is….)
Zapped (learn more about the game Zapped in this post!)

Este año, yo quiero aprender…(This year I want to learn …)
The past tense

¿Qué hacemos ahora en nuestra clase? (What are we doing now in our class?)
We are learning the future tense, writing horoscopes.

The #1 destination on my travel bucket list is…

¡Gracias, Jason!


How will my life be in 2030? Italian 3 students explore the possibilities!

Students in Italian 3 explored this fun, thought-provoking question by writing letters (from 2030 to their 2017 selves) and making fun, creative movie trailers that previewed life in 2030.  As always, this group totally impressed me with their creativity, use of written and spoken Italian and their great sense of humor.  Each block (A and E) approached this in different ways…..

A Block students decided to make this project about self-reflection and chose to work independently.  I absolutely loved the range of creative ideas that students included in their projects.  Students outlined their future careers (from FBI agents to doctors to teachers) and created hilariously creative trailers to illustrate.

E Block students also created some fantastic trailers about the future!  For example, Pasquale’s film provided a hilariously dramatic depiction of his future as the President! Many students in E Block chose to take a group approach and really went outside the box. Since many of the students are fans of the show The Office, they used the project to imagine that they were all future employees at Munder Difflin (a play on Dunder Mifflin, the fictional paper company from the show).  Students individually wrote letters “in character” as various employees (Dwight, Pam, Jim and many others).  Then, they filmed their movie trailer as a group in class.  Coincidentally, we had a visit from our superintendent Dr. M that day who taught “Dwight” and “Stanley” how to tie their ties and get into character.  Click here to see their final result!

These two sections of Italian 3 have been so much fun to teach this year.  One of the many reasons I love these students is their passion and excitement about projects. Not only do they approach tasks with dedication and excellent work ethic, but they bring creativity, energy and fun to each project they attempt.  Bravi, ragazzi!! 🙂

Cartoons in the classroom!

If you popped by room 236 this week, you may have caught some cartoons!  While it might seem a little silly to play an animated movie for a group of high school students, using digital animated shorts has been a fun and useful activity in my Spanish 2 and Italian 3 classes!

The digital shorts that I’ve been showing (links are below) are typically between 3-7 minutes long, and none of them contain spoken dialogue.  Instead, the characters act out the scenes, allowing the students to focus on the actions instead of the dialogue.  Then, we use the animated videos as creative prompts to write in the target language.  Because the videos are fun and engaging, the writing samples I’ve received from students based on the videos have been phenomenal.  The students often discover that they can say more than they think possible by using the video as a jumping-off point.  I love that they are engaged and having fun while writing in the target language (a difficult, sometimes daunting task).

This week we watched the movie “Pigeon Impossible” – a hilarious tale of a Washington D.C. secret agent whose day goes terribly awry when a pigeon interferes in secret government business!  We used this film to narrate in the past using the preterite and imperfect tenses.  You can view it here.


Here are some ways we’ve used animated shorts in previous classes to spark our target language writing skills:

Spanish 2: preterite or Italian 3: passato prossimo (past tenses)
One major use of the preterite tense is to narrate series of past completed actions or events.  For this reason, the video “French Roast” works really well.  The story shows what happens in a French cafe throughout the course of a day – there is a homeless man begging for change, a nun, a business man, a police chief and a waiter, and one is a bank robber!  It’s packed with action and surprise, and the students love it!  Students write from the perspective of a police investigator, narrating the past actions of the crime in the preterite or passato prossimo tense.  I’ve seen it dozens of times and still get caught up in it every year!  You can watch it here.

french roast

Spanish 2 and Italian 3: reflexive verbs
This video is a great way to have students practice using reflexive verbs.  In the short film (“Qui e Ora”), the character repeats the same morning routine several times, with a bizarre and thought-provoking twist!  Because it covers morning “getting ready” actions, it’s a perfect fit for the concept of reflexive verbs.  And, because it repeats multiple times, it provides students with an opportunity to practice.  You can watch it here.

Qui e Ora

Spanish 2 and Italian 3: review of present tense
The animation “Oktapodi” is one of the shortest films I show, and I typically use it at the beginning of the school year to review the present tense with students.  It’s fast-paced and action packed, including two squid, a fish salesman and a very unique love story.  The surprise ending always gets a great reaction from the students.  To have students practice the present tense, I usually have them write a play-by-play narration of the actions in the film (as if it’s a sporting event).  You can watch it here.

oktapodiUsing these animated short films has been such a fun way to engage students and get them thinking, writing and speaking in the target language.  Do you have any short animated films you enjoy?  Please feel free to share them in the comments.  I’d love to incorporate them into class!  🙂