That moment when….

…..your Spanish 2 students know the present tense so well, they can write their own memes!

Today we tried out a new activity to practice using the present tense (not just regular verbs, but boot/stem-change verbs, irregulars and even our new reflexive verbs).  Thinking about authentic uses of the present tense, I stumbled upon the idea of a meme.  Lots of memes begin with the phrase “that moment when….” which (conveniently) provides an ideal opening for use of the present tense.

I gave students this example….

Ese momento cuando mis estudiantes dicen que no quieren hacer el proyecto.
Here, Dwight Schrute is sharing many teachers’ frustrations, that moment… “….when my students say they don’t want to do the project.”

meme for assignment sheet

After brainstorming some ways to incorporate our verbs into the memes, students were off and running!  I’ve gotten some hilarious examples (see below) and I’m so happy to have found a way to use the present tense to create some fun “real life” projects.  Can you guess what these memes say?  I’ve put the translations for each at the end of this post – ENJOY!

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1.) That moment when you go to bed, then realize you have homework.

2.) That moment when you drive for the first time.

3.) That moment when you don’t remember the homework.

4.) That moment when you wake up and it’s Saturday!

¡Buen trabajo, chicos!


Italian 3 Student of the Week: Stefania!

Ciao tutti!

This week’s Italian 3 Student of the Week is Erin Murphy, or Stefania, as we call her in Italian class.  I recently learned that Stefania is a twin (just like me!) so we’ve been enjoying chatting about being a gemella.  Stefania is also interested in horseback riding and is focusing her vocabulary for this semester on horses!  Here’s a picture of Stefania and of her first project – a Sketch Note sheet (visual note-taking assignment) on her topic (horseback riding)!  Check back soon for more on these FANTASTIC projects!



Il tuo nome (your name): Erin Murphy

Il tuo nome italiano (your Italian name): Stefania

La tua classe (your class): Italian 3 CPS

What is one thing you want me to know about you? Hobbies, unique talents, cool facts about YOU – anything fun or non-school related!
I am a twin, my favorite animal is a horse, I play soccer, and I love animals

By the end of this year, I want to be able to _______ in Italian.
Speak better.  (Blackburn side-note: check out this post about how we’re working on speaking skills in Italian 3 this year!)

If you could have lunch with one famous person (fictional or real), who would you choose?
Tyler Seguin

The #1 country on my travel bucket list is…
Fiji or Hawaii

Grazie, Stefania!  🙂

Spanish 1 Student of the Week: Jack

This week we’re kicking off our Student of the Week for Spanish 1, Spanish 2 and Italian 3!  Our first Student of the Week for Spanish 1 is Jack Thompson!  Jack is a 9th grader in Spanish 1 Honors.  He recently completed a creative puppet show with Owen (more on that in a future blog) and has been a wonderful addition to this amazing class!  

Here’s a bit about Jack!


Tu nombre (your name): Jack Thompson

Tu clase (your class): Spanish 1H (D Block)

Tu cumpleaños (your birthday): el 8 de abril

Right now, I know I can ____ in Spanish:
Speak in little phrases like “¿Cómo te llamas?”

By the end of this year, I want to be able to ______ in Spanish.
Be better at being able to understand people in a Spanish conversation and knowing how to respond.  

What is one thing you want me to know about you? Hobbies, unique talents, cool facts about YOU – anything fun or non-school related!
I am in the band.  

If you could have lunch with one famous person (fictional or real, dead or alive), who would you choose?
John F. Kennedy

The #1 destination on my travel bucket list is…

¡Gracias, Jack!


Learning to flirt (and other things too): Spanish 1 is off to a great start!

My first group of Spanish 1 students is already impressing me with their creativity, excitement and quick transition to high school world language classes!

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been slowly creating a collection of greetings to use in daily conversations.  We started covering the greetings (los saludos) by watching two videos.  Check out the links to view them!  (They’re funny, I promise!)

What we DON’T WANT

first semester

What we DO WANT:

Speaking video

It got a few giggles, but I really did mean it: after watching the second movie, I explained that our term 1 goal is to be able to flirt and introduce ourselves in Spanish.  We brainstormed the basics of what we’d need and got started!

Since beginning the greetings, we’ve added a new one each class, slowly expanding our conversation each day.  We’ve practiced as a class by throwing a beachball and racing to answer, by introducing ourselves as famous characters or people and most recently by creating short video introductions!  Using the Flipgrid app, students greeted their audience, stated (and spelled) their names, explained where they are from and added an ending “adiós” salutation.  Flipgrid also allows adding stickers and fun, colorful images to your video, so students were able to showcase their creativity and have a little fun.  (Even I got in on the action, recording my demo video with a T-Rex on my shoulder!)  Parents/family members: ask your Spanish 1 student to show you their video!  Here’s our final result – a full grid of target language speaking!

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Needless to say, I am so impressed.  While a few students have had an introduction to Spanish at the middle school, most students are exploring this language for the first time. To see them embracing the challenge and venturing out of their comfort zones has been so exciting, rewarding and fun for me.  Stay tuned for future blog posts about this fantastic group!


Andiamo al caffè!

Thanks to a fantastic idea from my Italian partner in crime, Signorina Reardon, I had a fantastic Friday morning with my level 3 Italian students!

Last year Signorina Reardon and I were brainstorming about ways to help our students speak more in the target language.  Talking in a new language presents a few challenges.  Cognitively, it takes time to craft a response in your native language and consider how to communicate it in another language.  Socially, it’s difficult to allow yourself this time when your peers and your teacher are watching you and expecting an answer.  In past years, full class “chat” sessions can get awkward pretty quickly.  As the teacher, I would find myself choosing the next victim instead of facilitating a conversation of volunteers.

Signorina Reardon’s idea was simple, but fantastic: why not create a more casual setting, like a cafe, in which students can chat and drive the conversation.  (You might even see a “Caffè Signorina” sign on her door!)  Each day that our levels 3 and 4 classes meet for first block, we’ll pause with content and assignments and hold small conversations.

This morning was my first caffè/chat session with Italian 3.  This is a relatively large class (22 students) and I wanted students to feel comfortable.  So, I divided the class in half.  One group worked collaboratively to read the first chapter of our novel Destinazione Italia (more on that later!!)  The other group put some chairs in the back of the room, brought their coffee and enjoyed some Munchkins….and only spoke in Italian.

Was it awkward at first?  Yup.  But, did it lead to some fun, non-academic conversation in Italian?  YES!  SÌ!!!!  I learned so much about my students today!  Some students work after school (from serving as a host at a restaurant, to lifeguarding, to working at coffee shops).  Other students talked about their involvement in sports, clubs or activities. I have students who are ballroom dancers, piano players, year-round athletes, and more. Drama students explained the basic plot of the upcoming fall play.  They shared details about their families, interests and asked how to say goofy phrases in Italian.  Even I shared the mortifying tale of my experience trying out for my high school tennis team. With a little time (and sugar) we fell into a conversation that was fun, organic and really rewarding.

Looking forward to this fun new tradition!  Do you have ideas about topics we can cover?  Leave them in comments below!

caffe italiano


Week 1 = done!

The first two days of school in Room 236 were a blur!  I learned dozens of new names and shared lots of details about me (I’m afraid of cats, have an identical twin and wore braces for 6 horrible years….all true).

While everything had a little Italian or Spanish “twist” on it, this week’s activities were all about getting to know my new students!  I created five stations for students to complete, each with a different task.  We practiced conversation skills with Jenga, learned about each other (and Sra. Blackburn….ha!) and worked as a team to accomplish some fun, different tasks.  Level 1 students took some time to think about starting to study Spanish, and what their goals are for the year.  Some pictures are below at the end of the post.

As former students know, I am bizarrely excited about Spanish and Italian, so it’s hard for me not to jump right into (what I consider) the “fun stuff”. However, we took some time in these first two days to really chat about what we like (not what we like about Spanish verbs or Italian regions) but what inspires us, excites us and lights us up.

This conversation was a great way to introduce some new initiatives our department is trying out this year and hopefully demonstrate to students that languages reach beyond conjugations and verb tenses: they are simply new ways to express ourselves, our passions and our lives.  I am SO EXCITED to start some fascinating new projects that will capture each student’s individual passion and excitement.  (More on this next week!!)

To my students – you re-energized me about being back here at school and I’m ready for a great year with you!  Happy 4-day weekend!

Ci vediamo….nos vemos! 🙂


True or false? Students learned a lot about me this week!

Are you ready?

To my students this year:

As a teacher, I’ve always thought of the first day of school like the best fresh start of the year – even more than January 1st.  So….happy new year to you all!

Room 236 is ready to go: my door is covered in tacky bright (?) pictures, my pencils are sharpened and I’ve had a whole summer to drum up some new crazy Blackburn ideas. All that’s missing is YOU!  I am so excited to get to know you and discover together how a new language can help you fuel your interests, ideas and passions.

So….you ready to crush it?