La Clase de la Sra. Moloney

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“-ismos” with the subjunctive

In the preliminary steps of learning another language,  we usually learn how to make small talk, describe things, make basic requests, and express likes and dislikes – all useful skills to get by in situations where target-language communication is a necessity.  We communicate and narrate about the concrete and articulate our wishes and desires for ourselves, but not for others.

However, as we move onto more complex grammar structures and higher-order thinking, we realize that, by employing other moods and tenses, we can make profound value judgments and express our opinions and thoughts about things outside of our own lives.  This is where the subjunctive mood comes in.  So, what is the subjunctive mood?  As you can see below, the subjunctive mood finally allows us to express:

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Sounds exciting?  Not really… (Well, to me it is, but…)  Is it tricky?  Yes.  But being able to employ the subjunctive mood effectively offers students the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills in the target language.  So, how do you reinforce the importance of the subjunctive and make it relevant in context?

I had the students study “-ismos”…  So, what’s an “-ismo”?  Basically, most words in English that end in “-ism”, end in “-ismo” in Spanish.  Words like nationalism, pacifism, utilitarianism, populism, racism, etc. are “-ismos”.   Students were asked to:

  1. Choose an “-ismo” that interested them on which they could base a strong or impassioned argument for or against
  2. Define it in their own words
  3. Analyze it
  4. Identify both positive and negative aspects it
  5. Formulate (12) declarations/value judgments that showed their (moral) position by addressing their:
    Wishes (for others)
    Emotions (regarding the actions of others)
    Impersonal Expressions
    Requests/Recommendation (for others)

  6. Create a professional, visually-appealing infographic

Everyone knows how much I LOVE infographics!  Students could use any format they wished: paper, poster,,,,,,, etc.)  I was really impressed with the results and learned a lot about how my students viewed some heavy social issues and timely political trends.  Here are a few samples:

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It’s That Time Again…

It is oral assessment time!  In level 3, we are doing it a bit differently this time.  We have been studying the imperative mood and how it fits into daily life situations.  We also have been looking into cultural celebrations such as el Día de los Muertos, Halloween, etc.  Instead of having a specific question that students must address and answer, students were given open-ended “cultural scenarios” in which they had to give a friend a command.

For example: Escenario #1 – Eres mi amigo/a. (You are my friend) Estamos en un autobús en Oaxaca, México porque estamos de vacaciones durante el Día de los Muertos. (We are on a bus in Oaxaca, Mexico because we are on vacation during the Day of the Dead celebrations.)  Quieres mostrarme algo interesante que miras por la ventana. (You want to show me something interesting that you see out your window.)  ¿Qué debo hacer yo? (What should I do?)

Students brainstormed some unique ideas such as:

Look at the ofrendas in the cemetery! – ¡Mira las ofrendas en el cementerio!
Pay attention to the parade in the street! – ¡Presta atención al desfile en la calle!
Check out the costumes! – ¡Fíjate en los disfraces!

During the face-to-face oral assessments, students get to process and interpret these scenarios by:

  1. Hearing – students are given these scenarios orally
  2. Visually – student are able to read these scenarios AND have a picture or a some visual “cue card” to help them put their scenario into context.

Some examples of our visual prompts are:

By the end of Term II, all Spanish III CPS students will be able to interpret and respond appropriately to the following scenarios:


Escenario #1 – Eres mi amigo/a. Estamos en un autobús en Oaxaca, México porque estamos de vacaciones durante el Día de los Muertos. Quieres mostrarme algo interesante que miras por la ventana. ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #2 – Eres mi amigo/a y te visito en EEUU por una semana durante Halloween. Soy de México y me gustaría experimentar una celebración típica de Halloween. ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #3 – Eres mi amigo/a y te visito en EEUU por el mes de noviembre. Soy de Guatemala y me gustaría hacer actividades típicas durante el otoño.  ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #4 – Eres mi primo(a) y te visito en Massachusetts por dos semanas durante el mes de diciembre. Soy de Paraguay y me gustaría hacer cosas típicas durante el invierno. ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



Escenario #5 – Soy tu amiga de Ecuador y te visito en EEUU para celebrar la Navidad en la Ciudad de Nueva York por una semana.  ¿Qué debo hacer yo?



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Por vs. Para Telenovelas – Student Work

I promised that I would have student sample work for you from our “Por vs. Para” Telenovela video project and, let me tell you, you will NOT be disappointed.  These amazing students did an UNBELIEVABLE job in making a pretty boring grammar concept into dramatic and fun telenovelas.  Check them all out by clicking on the image below!


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Habla conmigo…Level IV Oral Assessments

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 3.52.48 PMIt’s that time again!  Oral assessments have become the norm around here in the #niplang department for a variety of reasons.  In the past, students were able to “ace” 8-page written exams on vocabulary and grammar concepts.  These exams showed what these students remembered and memorized…and that’s about it.

Whenever past students would return home from college, they would tell me how much grammar they remembered and how their professors were so amazed by their vast vocabulary.  They talked about how they could conjugate all day long and translate like a pro.  They also lamented the fact that they “could write it” but “just couldn’t speak it.”

Ouch…  Professionally speaking, that stung pretty badly.  Not gonna lie.  I hated to admit it, but they were totally right.  Since, we NEVER really did speak that much in class, how could I have expected them to miraculously do that in college?  Speaking and instructing in the target language is the toughest thing to do as a language teacher, and I guess I had avoided doing it, at least with some level of consistency, for many years.  It was time to make a change.  Thus, the oral exam.

jobWe have been working over the past few years, slowly building on our successes and learning from our failures.  This year, for the first time ever, ALL 4 levels of Spanish are being assessed through a face-to-face interview in the target language.  This year’s Level IV questions have been reformulated and redesigned to make them more relevant and personal, giving the students more options to be creative and to take risks using the target language.

I don’t know that we will ever have a “final” set of oral exam questions, as our ideas and strategies are always evolving, but I do take great pride in #niplang’s reimagining of our world language goals to best serve our students.  Wish us luck!

By the end of Term I, all Spanish IV students will be able to execute (ask and explain) the following themes and questions:

  1. El primer día de clases, ¿cómo te sentías?
  2. ¿Qué puedo hacer yo para crear una clase interesante y emocionante?
  3. ¿Qué hiciste el año pasado que esperas hacer de nuevo este año?
  4. ¿Qué tipo de proyectos/actividades quieres hacer en la clase de español este año?
  5. Hasta ahora, ¿siempre tenías miedo de hablar en español en clase?  ¿Sí o no?  ¿Por qué?
  6. Dime un ejemplo cómo/cuándo trabajaste muy diligentemente en un proyecto.
  7. ¿Qué gramática necesito repasar contigo este año?
  8. ¿Cómo te ayudo a tener éxito este año?
  9. ¿Qué aprendiste con respeto a la cultura hispánica con el proyecto “Face Off”?
  10. Si prestas atención en la clase y te concentras en tu trabajo este año, ¿qué crees que vas a lograr?
  11. Describe una parte del proyecto “Face Off” que te fue muy difícil.
  12. Describe una parte del proyecto “Face Off” que te fue muy fácil.
  13. En la escuela primaria, ¿quién era tu maestro/a favorito/a? ¿Cómo era?
  14. ¿Siempre te gustaba la escuela? ¿Por qué? ¿Por qué no?
  15. ¿Seguirás estudiando español en la universidad?  ¿Por qué or por qué no?
  16. ¿Qué harás este ano para mejorar tus habilidades de comunicación en español?
  17. ¿Cuál sería tu trabajo soñado?  ¿Por qué?
  18. Si pudieras viajar a cualquier país, ¿adónde viajarías?  ¿Por qué?
  19. Si pudieras cambiar algo en Nipmuc, ¿qué cambiarías?
  20. ¿Cómo usarás tu español en el futuro?


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Who Are You Calling a Drama Queen?

Ok, so, if you know us in the #niplang department, we love our theatrics and drama.  The more outlandish and outrageous we can be, the better.  Overacting?  YES!  TOO MUCH AT TIMES?  Well…  Our mantra is: whatever works, we’ll do it.

As you also may know, big changes have occurred in #niplang’s approach to teaching world languages.  We are putting an increased emphasis on speaking and listening with the goal of increasing fluency and promoting communication skills.  This skills-based approach has created a new batch of competent, confident speakers who can communicate effectively with others.  However, as much as we have evolved in our language instruction, sometimes, we just have to get back to basics, especially with some important “boring grammar stuff, ” like POR vs. PARA and SER vs. ESTAR.  Differentiating between using ser or estar (the verbs “to be”) in the proper context can be very challenging.  Likewise, deciding between por/para (prepositions than can mean for, by, because of, per, in order to, etc.) can be nearly impossible without a formal introductory lesson.  Unless you learn the proper grammar rules, you can end up making some serious unintentional errors that could significantly change what you are trying to say.

But how do you make a boring grammar lesson fun?  With a little drama, of course!  Next week, students in Level 3 Honors Spanish will begin creating video “shorts” that contrast the uses of ser/estar and por/para.  So, how is this fun, you ask?  Haven’t we done enough videos?

In groups, students will have to execute their series of (10), 10-second video the style of an over-the-top, dramatic telenovela such as:

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Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 5.40.04 PMComplete with unnecessary close-ups and overreacting, students have to (over)act out these videos in Spanish, include English/Spanish text subtitles, and articulate their reason for using each respective word in context.

Knowing how creative my students are, I can’t wait to see how these videos turn out!  Check back soon for some sample student work.






So, how does our ridiculousness help us in our classrooms you ask?

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What is Your Ideal Global Classroom of the Future?

If you could design the ideal global classroom of the future, what would it have?  Flexible seating?  Bean bags? Holograms?  Therapy dogs?  Couches?  Vending machines?  A hot cocoa bar?

What would your ideal teachers be like?  Inspiring?  Dedicated? Supportive?  Optimistic?

How about the students?  Independent? Curious?  Diligent?  Positive?

What would teachers be doing in these innovative classrooms?  Perhaps they would be facilitating communication between their students and those from other countries. Maybe they would be brainstorming ideas for new and exciting projects or challenging their students to work with their local communities to solve real-world problems.

What would students be doing in these classes?  Maybe they would be creating indoor gardens or coding games.  Perhaps they would be designing and 3-D printing original sculptures.  The sky is the limit!

Students in Level 3 Spanish were asked this same question.  Students were given a blank classroom template and the task of designing their ideal global classroom on their Ipads. Students utilized both Notability (for its recording ability) as well as Snapchat (for its handy “sticker” feature) to create amazing learning spaces of the future.  Students then had to narrate (in both written and oral form) their view of this classroom by utilizing the present tense is Spanish.  As the first few assignments started to come in, I was so impressed with their suggestions and genuine interest in sharing their ideas with me, (never mind the excellent Spanish grammar.)  I just might have to incorporate some of these great “modern” elements into my classroom sometime soon!  (Hot cocoa, anyone?)

Here is a sneak peek but stay tuned for more amazing student work samples to come!

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Student Spotlight – Kerri F.

Periodically, we will have a “Star Student” serve as our class guest blogger.  This student will have the unique opportunity to tell you a little bit about themselves and to explain some of the exciting things going on in our classroom from a student’s perspective.
Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 2.39.41 PMNombre: Kerri F.
Clase: E Block Spanish 3 Honors
How many years have you studied Spanish?: 2
(Hobbies) Pasatiempos:  Singing Whitney Houston
(Favorite Food) Comida Favorita:  Mashed Potatoes, Mac’n’cheese bites
(Why are you studying a world language) ¿Por qué estudias un idioma mundial?:  To have experience if I ever travel
(What are you hoping to learn in Spanish class?) ¿Qué quieres aprender en la clase de Español?: Tenses
(What activities do you like to do in class?) ¿Qué tipo de actividades prefieres hacer en la clase?: KAHOOT
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be? Why?:
Shawn Mendes because he’s my favorite artist.
What are the top (3) places on your bucket list that you would like to visit?:
Germany, California, and Greece
(Dicho Favorito) Favorite Quote or Saying:  “Wherever you go, there you are.”