Juancho y su bola de golf, por el General Ricardo.

Comic books - RicardoPages 1 and 2 of the comic book

comic books ricardo 2Pages 3 and 4 of the comic book.

comic books ricardo 3Pages 5 and 6 of the comic book.

comic books ricardo 4Pages 7 and 8 of the comic book.

My son Ricardo, who is nine years old,  loves to write and to create stories. He has his own folder labeled: Ricardo’s comic books. He will typically create a minimum of 10 comic books stories in one weekend. Most holidays and birthdays, his wish list includes note pads, pens, gel pens, colored pencils, and all sorts of art related things.

He is also an avid reader and as of late, I have been reading to him in Spanish. He is starting to read to me, with a bit more confidence. Sometimes he will say things like; oh, I get it, this is just like in English. Ahhhhh, gracias mama.

So, this past week he spent 4 of the 5 days at home due to an on and off fever, you know, the annoying kind that is diagnosed as a “virus” but prevents a child from going to school. I asked him what would he like to do other than sit and watch TV and he asked if he could get a new drawing pad. I immediately said, sure, you got it. It then dawned on me, wait a minute, Ricardo can create comic books without the story lines, but he would have to think of the story line in order to create the images. I asked him if he could create a comic book for my class and he excitedly said: Me? Sure!

Well, Ricardo delivered not one but 5 of them. The agreement was that he creates, I color. Typically, his comic books have lots and lots of details and since I am in charge of coloring his illustrations … I asked him to keep the illustrations interesting but simple :-

The pictures you see at the top of this post are part of the comic book called: Juancho y su bola de golf, por el General Ricardo. [Ricardo’s nickname is “the general” – we like to think that he is strong, determined, focused, and yes, a leader :-]

My plan:

Day 1: I will show the comic book, picture by picture, to my students, and we will create a story to go along with the pictures. We will do this orally at first. We will then, write it in class. We will read the story aloud. We will then compare their story line to the original version; Ricardo’s version.

Day 2: I will make 6 copies of the pictures for my class. Each group of students will get one set and create a story, verbally and in written form. Each group will share with the class.

Day 3: I will ask the same groups to create their own illustrations and repeat the process, as if they were the teachers presenting their artwork.

Here is the written version story line that inspired his illustrations:


Comic books - Ricardo

Title page: Juancho y su bola de golf.

Second page:

There is a boy named Juancho. Juancho is an excellent golf player and he practices every single day. One day, he was out at the Monticello Golf course, all by himself, practicing his batting skills. Ricardo does not have a golf cart so he has to carry his golf club and his favorite red golf ball, all over the golf course. His red golf ball was a present from his favorite sisters Minga and Petraca.

comic books ricardo 2

Third page:

Juancho had just hit the golf ball when Jose, the golf ball thief, spotted Juancho’s red golf ball. Juancho’s red golf ball did not make it into the hole. Jose, was “flying” around, suspended from a string that was anchored to an opening from a helicopter flying above where Juancho was practicing his golf skills.

Fourth page:

Jose was able to come all the way down and grab Juancho’s red golf ball. Juancho was mad. Jose is not a good person Juancho is very sad, and mad.

comic books ricardo 3

Page 5:

Juancho had a great idea. He thought of his magical pair of scissors, which is important to note they show up at the right time, every time. Juancho’s idea was to cut the string that was holding Jose tied to the helicopter. His magical scissors, hot pink, blue, and yellow, would cut the string and Jose would fall to the ground, Then,  Juancho would be able to get this red golf ball back. IT was/is an awesome idea.

Page 6:

Juancho’s magical scissors cut the string and bam! Jose falls to the ground. Jajaja

Now, Jose is very mad because his plan did not work. Juancho is happy because he has his red golf ball back. 🙂

comic books ricardo 4

Page 7:

In that moment, a police man comes over and arrests Jose. Juancho smiles because he has his most favorite red golf ball and now, he can continue to practice his batting skills. Jose goes to jail.

Page 8:

Juancho is very happy, not only because he has his red golf ball back, but because there is a huge and beautiful rainbow in the sky.

El fin





Seesaw – best tool ever –

Like most things, I found out about Seesaw on Tweeter, where else, right? I am blessed to be connected with fabulous and amazing world language teachers via tweeter #langchat. So, in my typical fashion, I decided to research this thing called “Seesaw.” Here is what I found out:

  1. It is a digital portfolio used in elementary as well as secondary school.
  2. It offers a multitude of options for students to showcase their work: photo, video, link to a page, uploading documents, note writing capabilities, peer feedback, drawing and illustrating, and now a direct link from google drive.

One of the challenges in the world language classroom is: How do I get my students to “talk” more without the stress of everyone watching them like hawks? Well, here you go, Seesaw has been the answer for me, at least for this year. I hear “recap” is also a great option.  Something to look into for next school year. Here is how I have used Seesaw this year, all formative assessments:

  1. Short [40 seconds short] homework assignments in which they have to record an audio/visual recording, answering a prompt that I upload to Seesaw.
  2. Snapchats: short recordings and one sentence summaries that tells me whether they understood what we read, listened to, or worked on in class.

Why do I love it so much:

  1. It keeps a running record of the student’s progress throughout the school year.
  2. It is fun for the students to see/hear themselves use the target language and how they have progressed and feel a lot more confident to “walk on the wild side.”
  3. Parents have the option to connect to their child’s account and delight in hearing their child use the target language.
  4. I can give immediate feedback without having to “correct’ their pronunciation or grammar usage, in front of everyone else. For example: If the prompt asked them to tell me the name of the main character and their place of origin, and the student replied: Se llama es Enrique y es de donde Puerto Rico. I would then write them a note that says: Su nombre es Enrique y es de Puerto Rico – or – Se llama Enrique y es de Puerto Rico. Simple, short and to the point.
  5. I can upload an assignment by recording a video of myself talking to them in the target language.
  6. The student accounts are private – I see them, the individual student sees their work, and their parents [if they choose to.]

Seesaw works really well on smart devices but will also work on regular computers. The smart devices are awesome because it sends you a notification when an assignment is uploaded and registered.

Here are some examples of Seesaw:





Gracias por…

It is the end of the school year.  It is also that time in the school year that we look back to see whether we accomplished what we set out to do back in September.  This has been a wonderful year, in fact, each year I seem to get closer to being even more excited about my career choice. Each year, I set out on this “blind date”, embrace hundreds of students and their families, their dreams, their fears, and make one big collage that includes my dreams, my fears, and my goals for the school year.

This is a  difficult time of the year as I say goodbye to a group of students that I have had for the past two years.  These students will be moving on to high school and with their move they will say goodbye to a village of teachers, staff members, coaches, administrators, counselors, and even younger siblings, who helped shaped their three years while at the middle school.

So, I knew I wanted them to reflect on their experiences while in middle school. Pinterest has all these beautiful picture frames hanging from vines, ropes, and they just look so hip and cool…so I got the idea of creating a banner that would spell out the word “Gracias” = Thank you, and the students would complete the task.

Here is the plan I developed:

  1. Students were asked to choose a teacher per grade level they would like to honor. One for sixth, one for seventh, and one for eight grade. The caveat was that I could not be one of the teachers because in the end…is not about me. I wanted my students to reflect and think: Who made me feel welcomed? Who smiled? Who offered lunch bunch? Who talked to me, one on one? Who asked me…Hey, how are you doing today? Anyhow, you get the idea.
  2. I have two blocks of eight graders and so they voted on 6 teachers, all from different subjects; from math to physical education.
  3. I brought the canvas, string, and sign.  The students cut out card stock, which they used to write thank you notes, in both English and Spanish.
  4. Thank you notes in Spanish…well this involves them knowing how to use “por” and “para.” I have never explicitly taught these concepts but they have heard and read them, in my many lectures, stories, and chats of what we graciously call “random useless information.” But, being the teacher that I am, I wanted to make sure they used the structures “somewhat” accurately. So…
  5. I wrote the preposition Por on the white board, three times, in three separate lines.
  6. Gracias por …….[things], example: los cuentos, las charlas, las galletas, el turron, etc.
  7. Gracias por …….[adjectives], example: ser buena, bueno, amable, chistoso, parlanchin, etc.
  8. Gracias por ……[actions], example: hablar conmigo, escribir cuentos, llevarnos de gira, ense~arnos a leer, etc.
  9. You get the point. The students had NO difficulty in writing these thank you notes because they have heard, read, listened, to all these structures for two years, whether in novels from the amazing Mira Canion, Karen Rowan, Carol Gaab, or stories that we made up in class, like the Blazian Asian baseball who was sad because he did not have any money to buy a package of rammen noodles.

On June 5th, my students will honor those teachers who touched their lives while on their journey through middle school. My students will bring to life what Carl Jung has beautifully said: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and the soul of a child.”

At the end of the day, everything comes back to one thing: relationships. It is so important to build relationships with our students and our colleagues. It is imperative that we realize we are on the same cruise ship and we all want to get to our destination.

So this is how we are saying goodbye.


As you can see, the individual card stocks are hanging from the banner, by threading thin ribbon thru each card stock. We used blue and orange ribbons = school colors.

So, how will you finish out the year?

Happy teaching 🙂


La comida – a bit more input before output.

After reading several tweeter posts from @tmsaue1 and @Marishawkins on IPAs and the presentational mode of the IPA, I was reminded once again of the importance of providing LOTS and LOTS of comprehensible input to my level 1 students before asking them to produce output.  I knew I wanted/needed to review the structures of “gustar, encantar, fascinar, as well as the use of regular verbs” within the context of talking about food. Before reading their posts, I was ready to hand out a heavily grammar based worksheet, full of broken down sentences, which asks students to conjugate verbs, match the verbs to the subjects inherent in the statements and finally write sentences in complete sentence format = boring and boring.

The one thing that kept circling in my head was: What is your goal for your students? What have you presented to them thus far? How have you presented this material to them? Did you talk to them? With them? Did you chat about what we all like to eat? What we dislike? What the favorite meals are when we visit a Spanish speaking country or our  favorite restaurant? The answer to all these questions is a redundant YES! So, with this in mind, I realized I needed to change how I was going to assess their level of comprehension. I sat down and wrote a story, just like the ones we co-create in class, because:

No assessment should not bring a surprise element to the table. Teach at level +1, assess at their level.

All assessments should serve as the gauge that tells me what I need to reinforce and what  has been added to their tool box.

Here is what I drafted.





Listening assessment – The perfect game

As fate would have it, I was sure I had prepared a great listening assessment only to find out that most of my students failed it. They failed it not because it was too difficult, I mean, I did not think so. They failed it because it was “different” from what they were used to in class.

The original assessment was purely dependent on their listening skills. The modified version, asked the students to listen to me describe the main characters of the movie The perfect game, match their comprehension to a written version, and then select the person or thing that was being described. Needless to say, most students earned a perfect score. I am kind of glad they “failed” my well constructed assessment because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on my point of view and to stay the course in assessing at their level…never higher.

Anyhow, there is the modified version.

_____ Es la persona que escucha los juegos de béisbol en la radio con los chicos.

_____ Es una chica muy hermosa y posiblemente, la novia de César.

_____ Es un equipo profesional de béisbol de las Ligas Mayores.

_____ Es un país donde se habla español.

_____ Es la persona que ayuda a César a organizar el equipo de Los Industriales de Monterrey.

_____ Es el personaje principal de la película y el mejor lanzador.

_____ Es el chico que ama a una chica que se llama Gloria.

_____ Es el chico que conoce a todas las chicas.

_____ Es el entrenador del Equipo de Monterrey.

_____ Es el nombre del equipo de béisbol de los chicos mexicanos.

Students used the same listening assessment in the google docs for the Perfect game, and had this extra visual to help them figure things out.  – On fire –

Happy teaching,

Maestra Reed

Food unit – El juego perfecto

Today, after chatting about our favorite foods with two of my dear friends, I realized that I needed to make a change to the lesson plan on the food unit. I realized that if I wanted my students to buy into this unit, I needed to make it completely relatable. So, below you will find the modified version of the “food unit”, part A of the lesson that is written around  the movie “The perfect game” – El juego perfecto.

Everything else will remain the same.

Go Cardinals 🙂



The perfect game – El juego perfecto

Here it is, my last unit plan for the school year. I have never been a fan of any kind of sports because culturally speaking, sports are not meant for females, they are to be played and pursued by males. However, living in a home where the Yankees, the NY Giants, and Chelsea are teams that are constantly watched, whether in person or on television, I have had no choice but to join the party boat. For one, I am now the oddity and the rival in my own house, as I have chosen to follow the St. Louis Cardinals as my ultimate favorite baseball team. Needless to say, this is not good in a Yankee’s house…but, such is life.

Anyhow, the plan you will see here uses the movie The Perfect Game to bring comprehensible input to my students, and in that process, talk about sports, food, sportsmanship, goals, and cultural aspects that are clearly displayed in the movie.

I will use this resource in two different ways: One, to accommodate the “food” thematic unit that is mandated by my district, and two, to bring lots and lots of input to my students. There is an IPA, multiple activities, and several quizzes.

Go St. Louis Cardinals! Go get your perfect game!