Are you ready for AP Spanish Exam day?

The most challenging part of the AP Spanish Language and Culture course, in my opinion, is administering the exam. I’ll describe what I do get everything ready for the Big Day. If you have a kick-butt AP Coordinator at your school, then maybe they already do this for you.

We use digital voice recorders. I have every one labeled with a number. I make sure each one has fully-charged batteries and have all the correct settings, like the volume turned up. When students check their recordings at the end, they might think they haven’t recorded anything, when it might actually just be the volume. 🙂 I also have a cheat-sheet (AP exam recording instructions sound recorder) that I tape inside the tri-fold foam board the students use for privacy and to reduce sound since there are 10 students in the room recording at a time. The conversation and the cultural comparison have to be together in one recording, so the students have to practice this before the exam.

We test a large number of students since most of our students are heritage Spanish speakers. This year, 2018, we are testing 107 students. I follow the recommendation in the proctor’s manual to put a recorder in a bag. I label the bag with the names of the 2 students who will be using that recorder since they do the recording in two testing groups. I put the recorders in a plastic basket, one for each testing room. This year we will have 6 testing rooms.

If you use computers or a computer lab, there are other instructions. Chromebooks are not allowed for the 2018 exam unless you contacted College Board before March 1st. Ipads are accepted and have an app that you must use.

I have already coordinated with my tech team to be available in the afternoon to download the recordings from the voice recorders, name the files with the AP student number, and upload them to the DAS portal since I cannot touch them. My AP Coordinator set up the account for the tech team.

I create a seating chart for each room. On that chart, I note in which recording group each student will be and which recorder they will use. I like to do this in case there is some issue with a recording. That way we know whose it is.

We use CD players for the CD’s that are used in several parts of the exam. We used laptops one year, but a teacher’s laptop went into sleep mode but the CD continued on and it threw some students off when they missed a bit of the recording. I put the CD player in each room and test it. Some rooms need an extension cord or power strip, so I have a few of those. Second-hand stores are great for those things.

I prepare a binder for each proctor that includes the proctor’s manual. I highlight the relevant information and cross out the recording instructions that do not pertain to them. I also meet with the proctors and go through all the parts, especially the recording.

The afternoon before the exam, we set up each room according to the seating chart and label each desk or table with who should sit there, and in which recording group they are. We make sure all desks or tables are 5 feet apart for the paper-pencil parts of the exam according to the instructions on pp. 55-58 of the Coordinator’s Manual. The manual also give specifications for recording set-up. I leave the correct number of tri-fold boards in the room for the recording.

Since there are two recording groups and group 1 cannot interact with group 2 should they reveal what the recordings are about, group 2 is eating lunch in a room while group 1 trickles into a different room as each testing room finishes to eat their lunch and return to class. As soon as a group 1 room finishes, the group 2 that tests in that room is sent to record.

Occasionally there is a problem with a CD or a recording. The technology fails, or the student makes a mistake in recording. The Coordinator’s Manual has a chart that deals with administration incidents (this one is 2016-17) that tells what to do in different situations.

I think that is it! If I remember anything else, I’ll be sure to add it. ¡Suerte con todo!





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También la lluvia

I’ve taught this film to my AP Spanish Language class, and I like how it addresses the idea of history repeating itself, treatment of indigenous peoples, and the right to access of natural resources.

Here is what I gathered for showing the film and a few activities I tried.

Lesson plans:

Unit packet:

Movie guides: (scroll down for questions and activities) (in English)

I used the text of the sermon from the Fray de Montesinos on page 3 of the following document with my students. We worked with 3 primary documents: this excerpt of the sermon, the part of Columbus’ first letter to the King of Spain that is mentioned in the film, and the Ten Commandments in Spanish that I found online. (I used the biographies in this packet before we began watching the film.)

I also did an activity with part of Diego Rivera’s mural that shows the Conquest. I used an activity from blog by Rebecca M. Bender, PhD. In her blog entry about Picasso, she gave students an image of “Guernica” and had them write phrases from a poem near parts of the painting which, in their opinion, showed similarities and differences between the two. I had students use phrases from the Fray de Montensino’s sermon to tie to images in the mural.



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Día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer

Una actividad para conmemorar el Día International del la Elminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer podría ser trabajar con la canción “Malo” por la cantante española Bebé.






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La película “Sleep Dealer”

En mi clase de AP Spanish Language enseño la película “Sleep Dealer.” Abarca varios temas del curso de AP, como la inmigración, la familia, la tecnología y los recursos naturales. Creo que también se puede incorporar el tema de las maquiladoras en la frontera entre México y los Estados Unidos. Como obra cinematográfica tiene sus limitaciones, pero es una película hecha en México y no en Hollywood, lo que yo aprecio. Hay una escena de sexo por si no quieren enseñar esa parte.


Aquí les comparto lo que he encontrado en Internet para enseñar esta película.

Información sobre la película

Guía didáctica

otra guía

Guía de TES (cuesta $3)

mis preguntas de comprensión Sleep Dealer questions

Yo compré la película de Amazon, pero está disponible en línea




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Resources for teaching HLL’s

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is currently a gap in materials and methodologies for teaching Heritage Language Learners. It is widely acknowledged that HLL’s have needs that differ from second language learners, but how that actually manifests itself in the classroom is not that clear. I personally think that approaches such as project-based learning, service learning, and content-based instruction would work well in HLL courses.

Here are a few resources that help guide teachers with specific types of activities that can be used with HLL’s.

Guidelines for instructional materials:

Scholarly article about the role of grammar:

Workshop handout about adapting and creating materials:

Mike Peto’s blog:

Strategies for teaching HLL’s from the Ohio DOE:

Cherice’s Montgomery’s wiki and conference handout–download it now, as wikispaces is closing down in July 2018:

Links to lessons and units:

Some teaching units:

Spanish Language Arts Curriculum Guide from NYC:

Ideas for teachers of HLL’s:

Teacher’s case study of teaching HLL course:

List of texbooks for HLL’s:

A couple of Facebook groups for teachers:

My course syllabi:




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National Board Renewal WLOE-EAYA

I am working on my renewal for my National Board certification in World Languages Other than English, Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood. I have been trying to find support groups and resources for the renewal process because I find the instructions to be rather vague and the rubric even more so. I do not want to waste time and money doing it again next year because I simply did not understand what was required. I am going to compile a list of resources here that I have found so far, and I’ll add to entries to my blog as I complete the process in hopes of helping others through the journey.

NBPTS Renewal Resources and Forms:

Instructions for the electronic portfolio submission. This part seems to be the most confusing/frustrating, according to what I have read on the Facebook group, so plan ahead for this. I got an e-mail in March with instructions for registering at the online submission website and how to get a code that I needed.

Electronic submission page–it may take multiple days to upload, so do not wait until May 16. Mailing the box was easier!

I filmed my classes before I read the suggestions for making the video a small size. I hope it all works out when I edit it!

Utah National Board Coalition: printable organizers to help you identify and develop your 4 PGE’s

More help with organizing your PGE’s

National Board Resource Center in Illinois: podcasts and printable organizers for Renewal Candidates

South Carolina’s CERRA has a Power Point for Renewal Candidates

CERRA also has training videos from 2012 and

Here is a CERRA handout

Resources from the Stanford National Board Research Center

PPT from a 2011 Conference for teachers in Virginia

Blog with resources and advice from a school counselor who went through renewal in 2013, including a link to a Yahoo group for renewal candidates

Arkansas Center for National Board Certification PPT from 2014

Renewal at a Glance! Beth Edwards, Renewed NBCT: The video has an automated voice, so it sounds odd, but the content of each PPT slide appears below the video and the PPT is downloadable

A Slideplayer presentation without audio for Component #2: It’s from 2012, so the videotaping requirements are a bit different (videos are now directly uploaded to NBPTS, according to what I understand)

Another Slideplayer (again, weird voice on video), this time for Component #3

I found a large number of Pinterest pins. My trouble with those boards is that sometimes I feel like I’m looking for a needle in a haystack, as the saying goes.

This is a Wikispaces page so it won’t be around for much longer, but it was updated in 2017, so I think the material is current

Facebook renewal group that is very activce

Pro Teacher has a lively discussion group, though the conversation is primarily around 1st time certification

This is from 2004, but it still appears to align with the 8 criteria in the renewal rubric


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I think this would make a good topic for an advanced Spanish class, or a heritage speakers’ class. It could work in a high school ESL or Social Justice class, as well. I see gentrification happening currently in Latino and African American neighborhoods of Denver.

Here is a video from Mexico City.

Anti-gentrification saint

More about the saint in Spanish

Song in Spanish called “Se van”

Song in English called “Rican Beach”

Lesson plans in English

Lesson plans in English and Spanish




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Games for Spanish Class

When I was out on maternity leave 13 years ago, I typed up a description of classroom activities for my substitute. I was looking them over the other day, and thought they might make a useful blog post for changing things up when kids need to get moving or need some socialization. I think most of these were made up by other people, do I am not going to take any credit for them. 🙂


DRY-ERASE GAME:  Students are in groups of 3-4 by their seating arrangement.  Each group needs a small dry-erase board, marker, and paper towel or clean sock.  I draw stairs or a ladder on the board.  Each group chooses a magnet from my blue basket of magnets.  I give a sentence in English that practices as much vocabulary and grammar from a given unit or lesson as possible.  I also like to throw in vocab and grammar from previous units.  Students write the translation on their boards.  When all are finished, I ask to see the sentences, and then I move the magnets of all correct groups up one stair.  I have tried to think of ways to make each student responsible, but the thing that I do now is remind students to take turns writing the sentences.  Students like this game.  You need about 20 minutes for a good game, so if you have less than that, you can do board races or the translation game.

TRANSLATION GAME:  Some students don’t care much for this game, but it is good when there is only 10 minutes left and you don’t want to start another activity.  The first person in each row takes out a scrap of paper.  You give a sentence in English and each person writes one or two words of the sentence in Spanish on the paper then passes it back.  Every person in the row should write at least one word.  When the sentence is finished, the row must hold up the paper, not their hands.  If they are still writing or bring the paper down to write more, it does not count.  The first row to hold up the paper and have the sentence correct gets a point.

BOARD RACES:  Either divide the class into teams or use the note cards they filled out on the first day to randomly choose two people to go up to the board.  In English, give them something short to write, like a current vocabulary word or grammatical concept, that they have to write in Spanish.  Either the first one correct wins a point for the team, or stays up and goes against another student until he/she loses.  I don’t do this activity very often because only 2 students are engaged at a time.

TEAM GAMES WITH CARDS:  Divide the room into two teams.  Pass out the cards with Spanish words on them to the teams.  One team usually gets cards with red writing and the other black.  Some students may have more than one card, but I don’t let any student have more than two or three.  You stand at the back of the room and read a sentence in English.  The first group go up to the front of the room and get the correct cards in the correct order gets a point.  The kids like this game.  It can get loud. I have also done with more sets of cards and students forming smaller groups. They spread the cards on the floor. I use this mostly when word order is different from English, such as with pronouns.

MATAMOSCAS:  Put the overhead on the projector and put a transparency of flies with words in Spanish on the overhead.  Divide the class into two teams.  Call out a word in English and the first person to swat it gets a point for his/her team.  If they behave inappropriately with the flyswatters, the game is immediately over. I got this from another teacher; I don’t know who the original author is. Here is my template:

flyswatter game template

“CIRCLE” GAME: I give each student a piece of scrap paper and have them all write a list of words in the target language randomly in multiple directions. Then they partner up, using one paper at a time (we can play 2 rounds). Each partner needs a different colored writing utensil. The teacher calls out a word in English and the students try to circle the word on their paper before the other person. At the end, they total up the number of circles in their color to see who wins. I have made game pages for the students using pictures, as well, such as this example:

LIKE AND VERBS circle game

TIC TAC TOE:  I usually have the students work in groups of three, with one student having the answer key and playing the winner.  The two students who are playing play a normal game of tic-tac-toe except that they must write the correct answer in the square in order to put their X or O.  The person with the answer key tells them whether or not they are correct.  If they are not correct, they do not get to put an X or O and that square is still available.   Here is the template:


GRAB GAME:  I have students make sets of flashcards on 3×5 notecards that practice vocabulary or grammar.  You should enough cards for kids to work with partners, but you can also have them make enough for each student.  The students can use the cards to like flashcards to quiz each other.  Then they spread them out between them for a game.  I call a word in English and they try to grab it in Spanish before their partner.  Then I call in Spanish and they grab the English.  They like this game, but it can get loud.  I have also made them myself using pictures.

BLIND SEQUENCING:  Each group of 3-4 students has an envelope of pictures.  Keeping the pictures face down, they are distributed evenly among the group members.  Each group member looks at his/her pictures only, and describes each to the group in SPANISH.  Once every picture has been described to the group in Spanish, the group decides in which order the pictures should go chronologically, STILL KEEPING THE PICTURES FACE DOWN.  Once the order is agreed upon, the pictures are turned face up to see whether or not the order is correct.  Pick someone from each group to describe pictures aloud in Spanish.

 SHOWDOWN:  Students are in groups of 3-4.  Each student has a scrap of paper, folded in half.  Teacher asks a question and student writes response on paper without showing the other students his/her answer.  The teacher says “showdown” and the students compare their answers with their group members.  You can have them pick a score keeper and keep track of how many times the entire group gets one correct.

TWINS:  Each student gets a card with information on it.  Students must question other students about the information on their cards in order to find the person with the exact same information.  They may NOT show their cards to others, just ask questions in Spanish.  When they find their twin, they sit.  It is a fairly quick activity if you only have 3-5 pieces of information on each card. Here is an example for beginning level 1:

EP Twins Game

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Free Voluntary Reading

I’m trying to find out what I can about free voluntary reading. Here are the fruits of my research:




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El Salvador trip for teachers?

I’ve spent the last few weeks in El Salvador with my husband visiting his family, and I got this hair-brained idea that teachers might like to participate in a tour specifically for them. The fact that El Salvador doesn’t have much of a tourism infastructure yet, and it’s reputation for gang violence do not make it a student tour destination just yet, but I think it is possible.


I have spent the bulk of my time in western El Salvador, and I have found that the violence is mostly confined to certain neighborhoods in San Salvador. And, like Costa Rica, it is not advisable to go out at night. Another helpful tip is to go with a local resident or guide if traveling to an unfamiliar town.

So this is what my tour would look like:

Day 1: Arrive to San Salvador to stay the night. If time, visit a shopping mall (not very touristy, but safe to visit).

Day 2: Head out for the Ruta de las flores:

Nahuizalco–town with indigenous roots. Watch crafts being made, buy a tule basket and other crafts, visit the tiny museum, have a lunch that includes indigenous foods like tuyuyo.

Salcoatitán–According to the Moon guidebook, there is nothing to see there, but we had a nice coffee at the Museo de la Imprenta. The museum itself is tiny and not that interesting, but it appears they also have a woodworking shop and sell items in a small gift shop. I saw several signs advertising quesadilla artesanales (homemade), which is a sweet bread, not the Mexican kind of quesadilla. There also appears to be art shops, but I will have to return to find that out. There were lovely mosaics on the walls around town.

Juayúa–This would be on a Saturday so that we could visit the Feria Gastronómica for an early dinner. Other options would be a hike to the waterfalls called Las Siete Cascadas, or a coffee plantation tour. We would spend the night in this area.

Day 3: Ruta de las flores

Apaneca–visit the Laguna Verde and Laguna de Las Ninfas. There is also a zip-lining canopy tour available.

Ataco–visit the weekend artisanal market. There is also a coffee farm tour available here is we do not do it the day before.

Ahuachapán–visit the aguas termales and spend the night.

Day 4:

Tazumal–Mayan ruins between Ahuachapán and Santa Ana

Cerro Verde–easy hike up this dormant volcano and enjoy views of Volcán Izalco.

Volcán Santa Ana–another hiking option

Lago Coatepeque–since most of the lakefront is privately owned by wealthy Salvadorans, we would most likely enjoy views from the miradores along the highway above the lake.

Santa Ana–spend the night. There is an organic farm nearly that invites volunteers to work or teach classes at their local school; I think this would add an extra day to the trip.

Day 5:

San Andrés–Mayan ruins

Joya de Cerén–more Maya ruins; called the Pompeii of Central America because a volcanic eruption preserved the daily life of the common people of that era.

head to el Puerto de la Libertad to spend the night

Day 6:

Puerto de la Libertad–day at the beach; optional cacao plantation tour

Day 7 (and maybe Day 8): San Salvador

Catedral Metropolitana y Palacio Nacional

Museo Nacional de la Antropología

Museo de Arte de El Salvador

Museo de Arte Popular

Centro Monseñor Romero

Mercado Nacional de Artesanías

Day 8 or 9: Fly home

So that is my rough idea. I was also thinking that, since it is a group of teachers and we cannot go out much at night, we could do talleres some evenings where we could learn about certains aspects of Salvadoran history and culture in an immersion setting, complete with lesson plan ideas for teachers to take back to their classrooms. Some ideas I have are: making pupusas, coffee, cacao and sugar production, El Salvador’s civil war and Archbishop Romero, something related to the indigenous populations past and present, and Salvadoran authors and artists such as Roque Dalton and Fernando Llort.

I visited a school during my time here, and they were very welcoming, so I think I could arrange such a visit as part of the tour if this would be of interest to teachers. We could have a school tour and a student panel to converse with them about their lives and educational experiences, etc.

One caveat would be that this would be a trip best suited for El Salvador’s summer season from November to April. The winter months from May to September are rainy. This was my experience in Costa Rica on both my trips. We took students in June because that is our summer vacation, but both times we got soaked to the bone during excursions because of the downpours common during that time of year.

I think this trip would be great for El Salvador and it’s tiny and unexploited tourism industry, and a nice way to teachers to learn about this little country.




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