Chatting about childhood in Spanish 2!

Spanish 2 students are progressing really well with the current unit on the imperfect tense.  As noted in a previous post, the imperfect is a past tense used to speak about actions/events that happened habitually (or “used to” happen).  One practical context to use this tense is when talking about our childhood experiences.

Today Spanish 2 students practiced speaking, listening and writing with the imperfect tense by interviewing each other about their childhoods.  First, students explored some new targeted vocabulary about childhood activities and learned words like swings, action figures, hide and seek, and jump rope.  Then, they created 10 different questions to ask their peers about their own childhood experiences (using the  or you form).

Then, they circulated around the room and only in Spanish asked, answered and recorded results using various forms of the imperfect tense.  To end the class, we sat in a big circle and I prompted students in Spanish to identify peers that did certain activities as kids.  For example, “¿Hay alguien que jugaba con muñecas?” (Is there someone who used to play with dolls?) and students would check their sheets to report who did/did not do various actions.


I liked that the students had the opportunity to repeatedly practice with the tense and its endings before they had to utilize their speaking skills.  I think it helped them to build confidence with the tense and made them more willing and confident to speak.  Looking forward to more fun with the imperfect after vacation!


Italian Student of the Week: Pippo!

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


Il tuo nome (your name): Alex Chu

Il tuo nome italiano (your Italian name): Pippo

La tua classe (your class): Italian 3 Honors (A Block)

I miei passatempi (my hobbies): Lacrosse, reading, and watching movies

La mia attivitá in questa classe è…. (my favorite activity in this class is….)
Grammar Kahoots
(Blackburn side-note: you can see more about how we’ve been using Kahoot and other digital formative assessment in this post).  

Che facciamo adesso nella nostra classe? (What are we doing now in our class?)
We are learning the future tense.  
(Blackburn side-note: want to see more about Italian 3 and the future tense?  Sure you do! Click here!)

Quest’anno, io voglio imparare … (This year I want to learn …)
How to read Italian at a higher level

The #1 country on my travel bucket list is…

Detto preferito (favorite quote/saying):
“Everyone says life is too short, but it’s the longest thing you will ever do.”

Bravo!  Grazie, Pippo!  🙂

Term 4: coming attractions!

Term FOUR?!  Can you believe we’re in the final term of this school year?  Here’s a quick update on all classes – what we’re up to now + what we’ll be doing until June!

Italian 3:
Italian students have been working on lots of projects and activities that use the future tense.  Having mastered the present tense and two past tenses, learning the future tense really helps students to expand their communication skills even further.  We are having lots of fun imagining our future lives with a variety of activities.

Students have acted as “fortune tellers” for their peers during a recent in-class activity. First students brainstormed questions about their future lives and asked them in the first person (like, “who will I marry?” and “where will I work?”).  Then they traded papers and answered the questions for their peers (in the second person).  We ended the class by having a conversation as a whole class, in which students shared some facts about their partner’s future (now using the third person).  It was a lot of fun and great practice with our newest tense.

The big project for the future tense is a new one for this year.  I’m asking students to imagine that they’re sitting in a movie theater, watching the trailers.  Suddenly, they see a trailer for a film about their own future life in 2030!  Students are using iMovie to create customized trailers that give a glimpse of their future lives in 2030.  To accompany the trailer, they’re also writing letters to themselves (from 2030 to 2017).  Their future personas will narrate all about 2030 in the ‘you’ form.  I can’t wait to see how these projects come out!

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By the end of term 4, students will be learning the conditional tense, as well as several perfect tenses.  In addition, we’ll be reading the sequel to the short novel we read earlier this year.  The sequel is called “Avventure in Toscana” and tells the story of a group of American students traveling to Tuscany.

Spanish 2:
Spanish 2 Honors students are currently finishing up Term 3 interviews.  (You can learn more about our quarterly interviews in this post).  This term’s questions focus on the past tense – both preterite and imperfect.  So far students are doing a fantastic job using both tenses and elaborating in Spanish when prompted.

After vacation, students will be working on a great project along with Sra. Moloney’s Spanish 2 Honors.  They’ll be working with the preterite and imperfect tenses to create a narrative about encountering a unique “hybrid” animal in the wild.  More about this project in a future post!

By the end of term 4, students will also be learning the future tense (to describe actions that will happen) and the conditional tense (to describe actions that they would do). These tenses will really help students to expand their communication skills!

Spanish 2 CPS have wrapped up the preterite tense by creating Facebook profile projects (similar to 2 Honors projects – see more here).  Here are some examples of great student work!

D and G block students are also learning the imperfect tense.  We’ve had a lot of fun practicing with this new tense – between playing Zapped and talking about our childhood.  Next up after April vacation we’ll work on a new project – a digital photo album about our childhoods!  I love this project because students are typically excited and engaged when talking about their own personal memories.  Incorporating baby/kid pictures makes these projects really fun to share with the class.

By the end of term 4, students will also be introduced to the future and conditional tenses before heading to Spanish 3!

It would be an understatement to say I enjoyed my students this year.  They are engaged, hard-working and make me laugh every day.  Looking forward to a great final term with these great students!

Have a great weekend!
Sra. Blackburn

¡Sígueme en Twitter! Follow me!

¡Hola todos!

As many of you may know, Nipmuc is hitting the road in less than two weeks, heading to España!  I am so fortunate to be traveling with Signorina Reardon, Señora Moloney, Señora Soto and a group of wonderful students.

It seems like a fantastic time to invite you to follow me on Twitter, where I will be posting pictures and updates from our international adventures.  You won’t want to miss a glimpse into our escapades – from visiting Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, to attending a flamenco show and even riding a camel in Morocco!

Please follow me @senorablackburn for updates and photos on our trip, as well as regular class happenings right here at Nipmuc!

Have a wonderful weekend!
Sra. Blackburn

twitter follow me.png

Biscottini di fortuna and the future tense!

Ciao tutti!

Italian 3 students are doing a fantastic job learning the future tense (il futuro semplice) this week!  Today we practiced our skills in a variety of stations activities that got the students writing and speaking with the future tense!

Students rotated in groups of 4 and used the future tense in different activities, including:

Jenga: The blocks are numbered and correspond to a question that uses the future tense.  More about that can be found in this previous post.


Conversation pairs: Students asked each other future tense questions, which will be making another appearance on our term 4 interview!


Quizizz: This is a great online review game that makes fun, fast-paced quizzes out of my customized questions.  Students are shown funny memes based on their right (or wrong) answers.  I like Quizizz a lot because it allows for quick, fun review, and I often have students re-take the same quiz multiple times (usually as a warm up to start class or a station activity).

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Biscottini di fortuna: This was my favorite station today!  Students used the chart (in the picture below) to write five different fortunes using different pronouns and verbs (both regular and irregular).  In our next class, we will be translating them to English and (if I can find them at the grocery store….) I’m hoping we can eat some actual fortune cookies too!

I just LOVE the future tense and I’m really pleased with how well these students have picked it up!  Look for an upcoming post that will feature our future tense project – a movie trailer about our future lives!

Ciao for now! 🙂

Choice projects: Spanish 2H students show me their preterite skills!

One of the longest and most difficult units in Spanish 2 is the one that focuses on the preterite tense.  The preterite (el pretérito) is a past tense, used to express completed past actions/events (or series of completed past events).  It’s pretty complex and dense to get through all of the material.  There are a lot of irregular verbs and exceptions to nearly every rule.  And, while it’s obviously crucial to be able to speak in the past tense, it’s also difficult (and sometimes frustrating) to learn.

For this reason, I wanted to re-think the way I assess student understanding at the end of the unit.  In past years I had given a preterite tense unit-ending test.  It was 4 pages long and everybody hated it.  Including me.  So, I started brainstorming about how I could test student understanding of the topic in a fun, authentic way that was still rigorous.  I came up with a few ideas but couldn’t really settle on one.  So, I decided to pitch all three options to the students and let them choose.

I tried this out with my B Block Spanish 2 Honors class, and the results were fantastic! I was pleased that the students were nearly evenly split among the three options.  The students were given class time to brainstorm and create their projects.  Although this was an individual assignment, I encouraged the students to brainstorm together and was thrilled with the results.  Some students pretended they were on the same trip and wrote separate travel journals about their own perspectives.  Others created Facebook profiles for similar characters that interacted with one another across projects.  Best of all, the students were using the preterite tense in creative, interesting and innovative ways – more fun, more authentic and less stressful than a 4 page translation test.

Here are the three options, along with some examples of student work!

Option 1: Travel Journal
Imagine that you’re on a fantastic trip of a lifetime and you don’t want to forget any detail, big or small.  You decide to write about your trip each evening, recounting what happened earlier that day.  Please write at least 2 journal entries in your travel journal, describing everything you did on two (or more) particular days of your vacation.

Here’s a great example from Willow, who wrote about an Australian adventure with several of her B Block classmates!

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Option 2: Dear Diary…. (Best/Worst Day Ever)
You have either just had the best day (or the worst day) of your life and you just have to write about it in your trusty diary.  Please write 1 diary entry (with 2 paragraphs), describing everything that happened on your best/worst day ever.

Here’s a great example by Alyssa, who chose to create an Adobe Spark Pages website to present her diary entry!  Click this link to see her page!

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Option 3: Facebook profile
Using Google Slides (template provided), create a Facebook profile.  Your status updates (10 total) will narrate various events/actions that took place, thereby using the preterite tense.  You could create a Facebook page for yourself, but you could also be a celebrity, historical figure, book/movie character, your dog – be creative!

Here are two examples.  Osama chose to create a page as Drake, while Hayden made a page for himself.


¡Bien hecho, chicos!  Well done! 🙂


Italian Student of the Week: Jesse Godfrey

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


Il tuo nome (your name): Jesse Godfrey

Il tuo nome italiano (your Italian name): Fabio

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

I miei passatempi (my hobbies): Collecting and reading comics, Archery, Hanging out with friends

La mia attivitá in questa classe é…. (my favorite activity in this class is….)
The projects!
(Blackburn side note – see some projects we’ve done this year in Italian 3, here and here).  

Che facciamo adesso nella nostra class?  (What are we doing now in our class?)
We are learning and practicing the future tense!
(Blackburn side note – keep an eye out for future posts about a new project with the future tense!)

Quest’anno, io voglio imparare … (This year I want to learn …)
More about the regions of Italy

The #1 country on my travel bucket list is…

Detto preferito (favorite quote/saying:
“You’ll never know if you can fly unless you take the risk of falling”
-Dick Grayson (Nightwing)

Bravo!  Grazie, Fabio!  🙂