¡Adios! Ciao!

And just like that – we’re wrapping up the 2016-2017 school year!  It’s hard to believe that another year is in the books and also hard to think that I’ll be saying adios and ciao to my wonderful students!  As we head for the beach, I thought it would be nice to look back on a few fun memories from this year.

Italian 3 has been an absolute pleasure to teach this year.  Both sections (A and E blocks) brought more creativity, innovation and humor to our projects than I’ve ever seen! From creating cooking shows to movie trailers, these ragazzi really displayed such genuine excitement to use Italian in a variety of authentic situations.  We had the opportunity to go on a field trip to explore DaVinci’s legacy at the Boston MOS and explore Italy’s culinary heritage by visiting Eataly.  Students wrote fairy tales, performed skits and read two mini-novels in Italian.  We had our first group of inductees in the Società Onoraria Italica in March and many of these students are off for more Italian adventures next year in Italian IV.  I look forward to chatting them up in italiano in the halls and to traveling to Italy with them next April!
Bravi, ragazzi!  Grazie per un anno indimenticabile!

Here are a couple of class photos we took at the end of the year.

This is my third year at Nipmuc, and my third year teaching Spanish 2 – a course I love for a lot of reasons.  Perhaps the most exciting part of a level 2 language course is the progress that students make from September to June.  Students arrive with a well-formed base in the present tense, but leave being able to speak/write about the past, future and hypothetical situations.  As a teacher, it’s so fun to watch as students realize how much they expand their communication abilities with each tense.  This year, students made this transformation with lots of interesting projects that got them out of their seats and using the language in fun new ways.  From creating iMovie trailers to introduce next year’s Spanish 2 students to the course to making mystery celebrity timelines and taking on the challenge of one-on-one quarterly interviews – these students impressed me each day.  Level 2 students also participated in a new (and amazingly fun) project for World Language Week – creating mock food trucks for a community-wide competition!  As an added bonus, some students were able to join Nipmuc’s April adventure in España!

Some photos from D, G and B blocks over the past couple of days:


Wishing everyone a safe, fun, adventurous summer!  See you next year!
Signora/Señora B.


Italian Student of the Week: Pasquale!

This week’s Italian Student of the Week is Peter Morelli.  Peter, or as he is called in Italian class “Pasquale” is a student in E Block Italian 3.  Here’s what Pasquale had to say about his experience in Italian 3 so far!


Il tuo nome (your name): Peter Morelli

Il tuo nome italiano (your Italian name): Pasquale

La tua classe (your class): Italian 3 (E Block)

I miei passatempi (my hobbies): reading, football, video games

La mia attivitá in questa classe è…. (my favorite activity in this class is….)
Sticky sentences

Che facciamo adesso nella nostra classe? (What are we doing now in our class?)
We are re-teaching the concepts we learned this year with review projects.  I presented the future tense with my group today.  (More on these review presentations in my next post!)

Quest’anno, io voglio imparare … (This year I want to learn …)
How to get better at speaking Italian (you can read more about how we worked on speaking skills in this post)

The #1 country on my travel bucket list is…
Italy (did you know Nipmuc is traveling to Italy in April 2018?  If you’d like to come, please see Signorina Reardon in 239!)

Detto preferito (favorite quote/saying:
“Nothing is impossible.”

Bravo!  Grazie, Pasquale!  🙂


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!  🙂

¡Una aventura en España!

After unpacking the souvenirs, washing all the laundry and recovering from a bit of jet lag, I finally have a moment to sit and share some details about our fantastic adventures in Spain last week!  Nipmuc sent 30 students and 5 chaperones off to the Iberian peninsula for 10 days of Spanish-speaking fun (from April 13 through April 22).  We walked a lot, ate even more and made countless memories.  Here are a few highlights:

I had never been to Barcelona, and was so impressed with this modern, artistic city!  We got right to visiting the city’s major monuments on our first day in Spain by walking along La Ramblas and getting acclimated.  Before heading to sleep that night, we enjoyed our first dinner in Spain – paella!  The next day was a full city tour, including some amazing stops – seeing the Sagrada Familia and the Parque Guell.  We also enjoyed some free time to explore the city for lunch!

Next, we were off to our next stop –  the capital city of Madrid!  On our way, we stopped in Zaragoza, a beautiful city with a phenomenal cathedral.  We enjoyed lunch and a visit to the cathedral before heading to Madrid.

I think Madrid really lives up to its status as a capital city.  Students were able to learn a lot about the city as well as the country’s history by visiting the Royal Palace and seeing the Plaza Mayor and the Plaza de Toros.  Students enjoyed their first taste of tapas and we also took a group stroll to San Ginés (the oldest chocolatería in Madrid) for churros and chocolate.  Some of us (ahem…me) actually visited twice – for cultural purposes, of course.

After our visit to Madrid, we took a high speed train (called the “AVE”) to the fantastic city of Córdoba for a visit to la Mezquita (an amazing half mosque/half cathedral monument).  We enjoyed a quick walking tour of the city and lunch before heading to Sevilla.

Students were able to see the major monuments of Seville during a busy day of sightseeing: we started in Plaza de España, then moved to El Alcazar and Seville’s cathedral.  Many students (and even this lucky chaperone) walked up to the top of the cathedral’s bell tower for an amazing view of the city from above.  We ended our day with a great flamenco show, where students were able to listen to traditional Spanish guitar and see the iconic flamenco dance.

After Sevilla, we were off to the southern coast.  Our bus ride took us to Granada, where we were lucky enough to see La Alhambra – a Moorish palace/fortress with absolutely breathtaking gardens that were just perfectly blooming when we arrived.  La Alhambra has been on my “must see” list for a long time, and it was such a thrill to finally see it for the first time with students!

Málaga/Costa del Sol
Due to high winds and cancelled ferries, we were unable to take our scheduled excursion to Morocco.  Though this was disappointing, we were able to visit the city of Málaga instead, which was a beautiful city with lots of shopping, a gorgeous cathedral and a museum with works by Picasso!

After a 2:00 am wake up call, we headed to the airport in Málaga and flew home – tired but happy after a busy and adventurous trip!

This trip was a fantastic experience for so many reasons, but especially….

First (on a personal note) it was wonderful to see cities in Spain that I haven’t yet visited.  This trip gave me the opportunity to see some of my “bucket list” destinations, such as Barcelona and La Alhambra.  It was great to enjoy some of my favorite Spanish treats (especially jamón and churros con chocolate) and of course it’s always fun for a language nerd to be immersed in another country’s culture and language.

More importantly, however, I was able to travel with my students!  As a teacher, it was an absolute thrill to watch the 30 kids embrace a new culture and venture out of their comfort zones to use the language in authentic, real-world situations.  Students from level 2 through immersion were using the concepts we learn in class and putting them to practical use.  Before I began working in education, I actually worked for a company that designed educational tours (just like the one we took) so it was fascinating (and a lot more fun) to experience a tour from a teacher’s perspective.

Many thanks (mil gracias) to Miss Reardon for inviting me to chaperone and to our wonderful students who represented Nipmuc with maturity, cultural awareness and a fantastic adventurous spirit!

Here are some photos from our trip!