“Coco” Inspired Door Decoration

“Coco” Inspired Door Decoration


Hello and happy Saturday. Halloween is one of the holidays I like the most because I feel like I can be super crafty and creative inside and outside the classroom. I never considered myself super artsy before becoming a teacher, but I felt to develop those crafty skills was necessary to teach younger kids. Now, that being said, I think we currently live in an awesome time in which there are things like Pinterest and directed drawing videos, so if we’re resourceful we can do wonderful things even if we’re not naturally artsy.

My door is a collage of ideas I took from the internet based on the movie Coco. We went with that theme at school, so I decided to incorporate it at home as well. My objective was to use as many of the supplies I had at home as possible, to really take advantage of those, thus helping out the environment and saving money. That’s why I used small black cardboard sheets instead of a big one.

For the frames I just looked at the basic shape of a sugar skull online and free-drew a bunch of them using four different colors. The vine thingies were inspired by the actual movie banner, but I decided to keep them white because of the colorful flowers I added. When I was brainstorming on ideas for the decor, I knew I was going to put flowers in the background. You see, I have two dogs that hate children, so for a few years now what we’ve done was decorate my door and tape pieces of candy on it so that the kids can take them without us having to open the door. The candy went in the center of each flower.

As for the guitar, the maracas, and the hat, I watched directed drawing videos and drew them over brown cardboard to give them that wooden/ old time-y effect. I used mostly orange and green, also for effect and to make them seem more authentic looking.

I already have a very cool idea for next year, but I want you to try to guess in the comments. Hint: it’s going to be spooky.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

Bolsas de Regalo Para Estudiantes

Bolsas de Regalo Para Estudiantes

Hola y feliz sábado. Este tipo de publicaciones es mi favorito, porque les puedo mostrar cosas que hago para mis clases y compartir con ustedes cómo hacerlas. Hoy les voy a mostrar los contenidos de las bolsas de regalo que hice para mis estudiantes de jardín al comienzo del año, junto con los precios de cada producto. ¿Comenzamos?






Todas mis compras las hice en Dollar City, pensando en veinte estudiantes. Les voy a dar los precios tanto en dólares como en pesos colombianos para que tengan una referencia más clara de cuánto costó todo.

-Un paquete de 40 bolsas de papel cuesta 5000 pesos o 1.59 USD. Yo utilicé 20.

-Los pompones, que fueron la base de cada bolsa, cuestan 4000 pesos cada bolsa, o 1.27 USD. Yo compré dos.

-Un paquete de 20 pulseras que alumbran en la oscuridad cuesta 6000 pesos o 1.91 USD.

-Cada paquete de 10 lápices cuesta 3000 pesos o 0.96 UDS. Yo compré dos.

-Compré una bolsa de chocolates y una de dulces rellenos. Los chocolates cuestan 3000 pesos o 0.96 USD, y los dulces cuestan 4000 pesos o 1.27 USD. De ambas bolsas me sobraron dulces.

-Finalmente, compré un álbum de stickers para poner en las bolsas y guardar para mí. Cuesta 10000 pesos o 3.18 USD.

En total el contenido de las bolsas me costó 42000 pesos, o 13.37 USD. Esto quiere decir que cada bolsa cuesta 2100 pesos o 0.67 USD. Para decorar cada bolsa, utilicé materiales que tenía en mi casa, como cabuya para hacer los nudos y fichas bibliográficas que corté en dos para las tarjetas.

¿Qué más le pondrían a estas bolsas? Cuéntenme en los comentarios.

¡Feliz sábado!

Con amor, Miss Camila

Music in the Classroom

Music in the Classroom

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Hello and happy Saturday. I have talked about how I love playing music in class while my students work because I think that puts everyone in a good mood. That post was written when I was teaching younger students and the technological status was different.

When I started teaching high school, I didn’t really see the music thing as an option the way it used to be, which I think did affect the general mood, but it was a situation that had to do with the lack of resources in the classroom, and I couldn’t do much about it. I couldn’t play music on an everyday basis, but what I could do was include songs as part of the lesson.

One of the things I remember most about one of my school teachers was that he gave us the lyrics to songs, and had us complete them as we listened. Then, he included a writing prompt at the end for us to work individually, and that was it. That was the lesson. I worked with my babies using songs, but it was a much more simple approach than what my teacher used to do, so that was one of the things I took advantage of when given the chance to work with high school.

With ninth grade, the topic was Social and Environmental Issues, so when we were still working on the environment, I played for them Bloom by Troye Sivan. I copied the lyrics of the song and took out words related to nature and the environment, like garden, waters, and fountains. The first thing they had to do was try and complete the lyrics with what they thought was correct, before listening to the song. I wrote their predictions on the board and then played the song.

A suggestion for when you’re creating materials is to number the gaps, so that students know which is which. After that, we heard the song once, the students got the chance to correct or confirm their guesses and then we socialized them. We played the song again, but that time I had the students sing, and they loved it. They actually asked me to play it over and over again.

After that, we did an exquisite corpse in small groups. This is the activity in which one person writes a word, a sentence, or a paragraph, and passes the story to the next person, who can only read the last part of what was written, and so on. My students wrote very short stories, but the condition was that they had to include the vocabulary words from the song, so the words that were missing and that they had to write.

With tenth grade, we were working on health and wellness, so of course I picked The Cure by Lady Gaga. The song work itself was the same as with ninth grade. First they tried to guess, then they heard the song and corrected or confirmed their guesses, and finally we all sang. Now, I had more time with this class than I did with ninth grade, so I had them get into groups and write a response to this song. And then perform. A group of girls actually made a choreography, and they were so into it.

A suggestion that I would give you, especially if, like me, you work with English Language Learners, is to show students the lyric video so they can follow along even if they don’t understand everything that is being sung. What other adaptations do you suggest to work with songs in the classroom? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

My Happy Face System

My Happy Face System

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Hello and happy Saturday. I want to take today’s post with a grain of salt, I want you to really think about your situation in terms of the students you currently have and the way they respond to your classroom management strategies.

By the title of this post you maybe thought that I’ll be talking about something I do with kindergarten, but no. Today I will tell you how I applied behaviorism at its finest with my 9th graders. I learned about behaviorism in university and I have to admit that I’ve always been fascinated by it. I think sometimes we have to appeal to the most basic stimulus-response-reward procedures in order to shape or model behavior.

I used a more sophisticated way of behaviorism with my first graders using a Loki pop funko. You can click here to read about that. The system I’l explain is way more basic but strangely, it was super effective.

When I got to the school where I had to teach high school I noticed my students refused to work unless the assignment was graded. They had no motivation other than the grade, and they didn’t even expect to do well, they just expected to pass. I needed them to work, though, I needed them to write stuff in their notebooks, to practice, I didn’t need to grade every single thing. So I started giving happy faces to students who finished their classwork and would show it to me, just like I used to do with first grade.

Now first graders were happy enough with a happy face. That was their reward. Ninth graders weren’t so nice. They even thought the idea of getting a happy face in their notebook was ridiculous, and let me tell you, it was, but it started being something to look forward to when I told them that every time they got five happy faces, I would give them an extra tenth of a point.

Let me explain that better. Our grading system was from zero to five, but you could get tenths, so you could get a 3.5, which actually was the minimum passing grade. For every five happy faces, I’d give my students 0.1 points. That’s nothing, and I was very aware that I was nothing, but I wasn’t going to give them more because I wasn’t going to reward them for doing what they were supposed to. I was giving them the illusion of a reward, though.

What started happening was that students would do their work and show it to me so that I could give them a happy face. After they got the five happy faces, they would approach me and we’d count them together. It became a thing! At the end of the year, when we were counting the final happy faces, some students asked me whether they could transfer their happy faces to someone else because they had only three and couldn’t do anything with them. I said no, obviously, but I thought it was cute.

Would I try this system again? No. I think it was an emergency situation and it required a quick fix. I only taught those students for three months, and I basically needed them to pass English at the end of the year. Something about behaviorism you have to keep in mind is that the strategies used rarely last a prolonged amount of time, so you either have to modify your plan or replace it altogether. My students responded to this strategy because it was a short-term thing, but I doubt that the hype would’ve stayed alive after a semester, even less after a full year.

What are some strategies you’ve tried to get your students to work? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

How to Make Grammar Engaging

How to Make Grammar Engaging

100th day (1).pngHello and happy Saturday. I don’t know what a good introduction to today’s post might be because I know what the general public thinks about teaching grammar. Take a wild guess at what my ninth-graders thought about it.  I saw them struggling with the passive voice, though, and I felt that they only used “said” or “told” as introductory verbs and I knew they could do better than that, so I prepared for them the ultimate lesson on passive voice.

I used the kid’s workbook as a guide because usually language books have a grammar section at the end. Now this was a very complete chart on the different special introductory verbs they are and how to structure a sentence in the passive voice using them, but it was too much for my students. I don’t mean that they weren’t smart enough to get that, I mean that sometimes information is put for teachers to modify it in the way that best suits the students, and that’s what I did.

I’m going to go back and forth between the passive voice lesson and how that translates in general to what you can do. So, like I said, step number one is to gather the information and adapt it. Adapting can be removing some stuff you consider unnecessary, it can mean to make something more accessible to students by simplifying the language or providing examples, and it can even mean to add to what you have from other sources. I took that chart, which had three rules and about twenty special introductory verbs and I divided it into four. There was a rule that had ten verbs as an example, so two groups would work on that one.

Step two for me is to have students activate their previous knowledge so that they can make connections and come up with their own conclusions. I did this by having my students make four groups and giving each groups a chart, each with one rule for the passive voice. But the chart wasn’t complete: it only had the list of verbs and next to each verb an example of a sentence in the active voice. My students had two tasks: number one, to transform the sentences to the passive voice, and number two, to try and think what the general rule for that group of verbs was.

After that, step three is to socialize findings but also to clarify information that might not be correct. What I did with my class was draw a chart on the whiteboard and have each group of students share an example of one verb, how they used it in a sentence in the passive voice, and the rule they found. Now students had two other tasks. The first one was to make a small poster illustrating their rule, so they wrote the “formula” for the sentence in the passive voice, and an example of said sentence. Some of my students color-coded the parts of speech, which I thought was very smart. I displayed the posters on the wall. Task number two was to copy the chart I’d made in their notebook.

Now my favorite part is application, and that means that students get to use what they just learned. I have to clarify something because I think these many activities are confusing in terms of timing. I used to have blocks with my students, that means that sometimes we had one hour and a half instead of forty-five minutes of class, which is why I was able to do so many things.

For application, I searched for special introductory verbs, wrote them in slips of paper, put them in a bag. Each student had to draw a verb, write a sentence in the passive voice using it, and then switch verbs with a partner. For this I used new verbs, which means they were unknown to the students because I wanted to know how they used them. To finish the class, some kids shared their sentences and I wrote them on the board for everyone to see.

I think this is a simple way to teach grammar and keep students engaged while challenging them a bit. What would you do to teach a not-so-fun topic? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

How I Keep Students Engaged: MUN

How I Keep Students Engaged: MUN

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Hello and happy Saturday. If you don’t know what MUN stands for, where have you been hiding all these years? MUN stands for Model of the United Nations and is basically a foolproof activity when you’re teaching teenagers.

When I was at school, MUN was this big thing where you had to dress up and prepare for months, and most of the people who attended ended up studying law or economics or you know, boring adult stuff. As an academic activity, MUN has everything, especially if you’re an English or a Social Studies teacher, and you don’t need a massive event; you can adapt it to your classroom in whichever way you like.

I used MUN to work with tenth graders on the subject of globalization, so what I did is I looked through all the material there is and picked the topic: “Education as a tool to prevent violent extremism.” The idea with this topic is that students would 1. Interpret the topic according the country they represented, and 2. Understand the role of globalization when talking about education and extremism. Students had the chance to ask questions related to the topic, but like I said, the idea was for them to redirect it however they saw fit. Of course, for this they had already selected their country, and the good thing is that even if you have a numerous class, each students can get a country assigned.

Time was an issue for me, so we only had time to write and read opening speeches. I gave my students guidelines, and I even found a sample speech they could use as a base for what they had to write. Like I explained in a previous post, I did give them a one-minute limit and once it was met, I would cut them off, saying “thank you, delegate.”

Now, I personally believe that you can carry out a MUN for a whole term and that you will be able to accomplish many goals through it. I have to be honest and admit that I really wasn’t focusing on the content of my students’ speeches, but rather on the use of formal language when writing, and their fluency, pronunciation and overall performance when reading the speech. That being said, this was a two-week activity. We didn’t get to carry out debates or do working papers, although I would’ve loved it and they kept asking me when that would happen.

If you’re a new teacher or you want to incorporate new classroom management strategies, MUN will also be super helpful because you have points, and motions, as well as rules of conduct within the model that you can apply to your classroom. For example, if a student (delegate) is talking with out your (the chair’s) permission, that gives them a warning. After three warnings, delegates are usually required to leave the session, but you can’t do that when you’re in class, so instead you can say that each time a student gets three strikes, you’ll lower their grade or whichever consequence you decide.

In my experience, following the MUN procedures was more useful in terms of classroom management than when we were carrying out “regular” lessons. My students used their name plates to participate and to vote, which gives them a sense of empowerment that they usually don’t get. It’s like they can decide what’s going to happen next in the agenda.

Have you done MUN in your classroom? How did you adapt it? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

What We Watched in Class

What We Watched in Class

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Hello and happy Saturday. Are you the kind of teacher who likes including movies when you’re planning a unit? If you’re not, then maybe reading this post will change your mind. Either way, these recommendations might be helpful for you at some point. What I’m going to do is list the movies and documentaries I watched with my high school students and tell you how I used them in class. All of them can be found on Netflix. Let’s get started, shall we?

Living On One Dollar

I think documentaries like this one are a great opportunity to start discussions in your classroom, so I did come up with a series of questions for my students to answer. I graded speaking through this activity. Obviously, if you have more time, or if you’re discussing social or economic issues, this is a great documentary.

The Lorax

With ninth grade we were working on social and environmental issues, and I wasn’t sure what they’d think or say about me playing The Lorax to them. Well, they loved it. I have always taught English as a Second Language, which means that my students are not all fluent in English and they still have a hard time when movies don’t have subtitles, so I feel that this was challenging enough for them, but they could still understand most of what was being said. I think that through this movie my students were able to apply the vocabulary we had already worked on while making comparisons with the real world. After watching the movie, they developed a guide that I adapted from different activities I saw on Pinterest. If your students are younger, I’m sure there’s a lot you can find that is ready to download.

Live and Let Live

I did sort of push my vegetarian agenda into my students and I’m not sorry. No, but honestly, I feel like the impact on the environment that comes from eating animals is rarely mentioned and I wanted to include it in our Social and Environmental Issues unit. For this activity they had to take notes throughout the documentary and then complete a chart with information of each of the people interviewed. I wanted them to write who the person was, what they did, why they’d become a vegan and what their thoughts on veganism were.

Health for Sale

For tenth grade our topics were Hobbies, Health, and Wellness or something like that. The documentary Health for Sale was actually suggested by another teacher who was in charge of planning for tenth grade. I watched the documentary beforehand and came up with some comprehension questions. Then, while my students watched I asked them to take notes and to pick five questions from the list of around thirty that I’d proposed and answer them. I have to check this product and see if it’s ready for TpT, and as soon as it is, I’ll let you know.

The Magic Pill 

This documentary was proposed by me for tenth grade, and more that talking about a specific kind of diet, I wanted my students to see how what you eat can affect your brain and your health so much, but also how some disorders like those from the autistic spectrum can be “treated” using natural methods. I wanted to work on listening skills because after the Health for Sale activity I realized that my students were lacking comprehension, so I wanted to take a step back. The idea with this was for my students to watch the documentary and answer a series of brief questions as they watched, so it was more like a guided note-taking activity. I will put this activity on TpT, but I don’t have a definitive date yet, so be patient on that one.


Which movies/documentaries would you play or have you played in class? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila