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Lesson plans for 'Dice' unit

August 23, 2013

Here are the lesson plans that I use for the first four days of school in Spanish 1. Click here to download a free PDF of this post and all the resources it mentions.


  1. At a table by the door, or at the front of the room, have copies of these papers: course syllabus, proficiency targets (which could be attached to the syllabus), blank name card, and syllabus homework.
  2. Leave markers spread out on the tables.
  3. “Assign” seats using color coded, laminated character cards.
  4. Campanada: Toma los papeles, busca tu asiento y siéntate, escribe tu nombre en este papel con un marcador Projectable slide is on page 8
  5. Take attendance by calling students’ names. Make sure that everyone in the classroom is on your attendance sheet! If not, follow your school’s procedure (ex: send student to a counselor, check his/her schedule, send his/her name to a counselor, etc.).
  6. Introduce yourself in English and tell the kids how EXCITED you are to have them in your class! Tell them about the wonderful fun you will have together this year!
  7. Clarify to students that you wanted them to write their first name on their name card with a marker. If they haven’t already done so, they can work on this while you keep talking.
  8. Ask students to grab their syllabus and read through it with you. Don’t read it verbatim, but give a brief overview of each part. You can talk about each part in more detail as you experience it in class (ex: review grading policies when students receive their first graded assignment). Show them the Proficiency Targets for their class as you discuss grading policies. Keep this short; kids must endure this all day long, so make sure you leave time for the fun stuff--the singing!
  9. Explain the Syllabus Homework and give them a due date to write on the handout.
  10. Teach the song “Los pollitos dicen” Click here for resources and instructions.
  11. If you have more than 5 minutes left in class, write this on the board with a black and blue marker: Projectable slide is on page 9

éste es... / ésta es...   this is

un muchacho   a boy

una muchacha   a girl

  1. Pull up an over-enthusiastic student and start a vignette. If time allows, pull up a student of the opposite gender and do a two-ring circus. Introduce adjective cognates like inteligente, atractivo, creativo, etc.
  2. With five minutes left in the period....
    • QUICKLY tell students to grab their name tags and stand in groups of two-three. They must hold their name tags in front of them. Run around the room like a crazy person and snap each group’s picture with your camera. This is so that you can learn their names by the end of the week!
    • Collect name cards in one pile
    • Collect the character cards in another pile so that you can use them to assign seats again tomorrow or in the next class (leave one copy taped to the desk if no one else will be using the room in the meantime).
    • Remind students about the due date for the syllabus homework


  1. Use character cards to assign seating again today. Give yourself a few days using this method before you assign official seats. That way, you can make an ‘informed’ seating chart. We start classes on a Wednesday, so I do character cards from W-F, and then assign official seats on Monday, the first day of the first full week of school.
  2. Have students grab their name cards since you collected them yesterday.
  3. Collect any completed syllabus homework.
  4. Tell students that they must complete the Campanada when they enter the room every day. Explain how you will grade it (I mark completion on my seating chart, and I enter a grade based on how often it is/isn’t completed twice per quarter, in the Work Habits category.)
  5. Campanada: “«Los pollitos dicen “pío pío pío”» means “The little chickies say “peep peep peep”... (1) Which word means the? (2) Which word means little chickies? (3) Which word means they say? (4) Translate “The little chickies say “hello”” into Spanish. Projectable slide is on page 10
  6. Review the correct answers for the Campanada.
  7. Sing ‘Los pollitos dicen’ as you show the slideshow again and students gesture.
  8. Write this on the board with a black and blue marker: Projectable slide is on page 9

éste es... / ésta es...   this is

un muchacho   a boy

una muchacha   a girl

se llama   he/she calls him/herself

  1. Tell the class that they are about to participate in Storyasking. You can review all of the rules for storyasking at this time, but I would just go over these:
    1. You need to understand everything at all times. I’ll help by pointing to words on the board and going slowly. If you don’t understand me, you need to let me know. (Tell kids what your “I’m lost” signal is--hand in fist, hand zooming past your head, hand up, etc.) You can only learn a language when you understand it, so we have to make sure that you understand what I’m saying in class so that you learn it.
    2. Remind them of the interested rule from yesterday (if you got to this): Whenever I make a statement in Spanish that gives you new information about the story, it is the most interesting thing that you have ever heard. Since you think it is so interesting, you gasp/ooh/ahh/etc. (Practice.)
    3. When I ask a question, I need an answer. Most of the time, it will be a question to the whole class, but sometimes it will be a question to a group or to an individual. Participation in storyasking looks like you answering every question that is asked to you, whether it is asked to the whole class or to you as an individual. Yes/no, either/or, open-ended questions all require your response.
  2. Grab a guy (or girl) that seems outgoing and glad to be the center of attention. Introduce him to the class. «Clase, éste es un muchacho». At this point, STOP, step away from the student, and remind the class that they need to act super interested. Practice their reaction once or twice, then step back to the student and continue the ‘story’.
  3. Present as many students as you can get through (but remember, it’s about quality--lots of circling--not quantity! If you only ‘get through’ one or two...that’s great!!). Present their gender, their name, and something about their personality (that may or may not be true) that is a cognate...things like inteligente, atractivo, creativo, atlético, etc. Simple PQA!

BRAIN BREAKS (do one of these activities when it seems like kids are starting to zone out and need a wake-up call!):

  • Time the class to see how fast you can work your way around the room with each student presenting the student next to him/her (éste es un muchacho/ésta es una muchacha).
  • Try to have each student say their own gender (muchacho/muchacha) like ‘popcorn’--no planned order. The goal is to have each student in the class state their gender, but no two people can speak at the same time. Once they’ve said their gender, they can sit. If two people start to speak at the same time, everyone stands up and you start over. Again--they can’t plan an order (like strategically going around the room or going in the same order each time). See how many people they can get through before two people shout out their gender at the same time. Then, have everyone stand back up and start again.
  1. If it seems like students have the new structures down very well, add in a new one that fits with whatever you’re talking about. In one of my classes, we added tiene -s/he has and talked about the secret that a mysterious (misteriosa) girl has (she was wearing sunglasses when she came in the room!)--and it turns out she is a superhero named Superchacha! And she has a special friend who is a superhero named Superchacho! Whatever you do, SHELTER VOCABULARY. Do not overload them with many new words, even if the translations are on the board. Keep it simple and CIRCLE!
  2. Give cheese awards to all the students that you talked about (and explain what cheese awards are). Give Chiles (described on the same post as cheese awards) to kids that are volunteering to answer your questions individually.
  3. With 15 minutes or so left in the period, stop and tell everyone that they are amazing.
  4. Pull up the reading on your projector. Read it aloud in Spanish, then grab a laser pointer and point to each word and have students translate it out loud in unison, following your pointer. Then tell them how amazingly smart they all are! Slide options are on pages 11-12 (Jesus or Michael Jackson bios)
  5. Do a quick up/down listening assessment. Explain how the assessment works and that it is FORMATIVE--done while they are still forming their understanding of the topic--and therefore not graded. This is for your information as the teacher to be able to decide how to proceed with your lesson planning. Ask questions like, “Does muchacho mean boy?” “True or false: La muchacha se llama Pat means the boy’s name is Pat” “
  6. Hand out blank copies of the personal inventory and assign a due date for it. The personal inventory that I use is a version of Carol Gaab’s, but I can’t find the link to hers now that has been re-vamped. If anyone can find the link, please send it to me!
  7. Read through the personal inventory with the kids and give them YOUR answers to it (in English)! It’s only fair that if you are going to know all of this info about them, they also know it about you.
  8. Collect name cards and character cards for seating. Remember to study the photos of students with their name cards to keep trying to learn them!!

**Optional homework/sub plan/alternate activity to do before learning the next set of vocab: Te presento a...worksheet**


  1. Use character cards to assign seating again today.
  2. Have students grab their name cards since you collected them yesterday.
  3. Remind students of their Campanada responsibility.
  4. *You could personalize this for your school!* Campanada: Write down the translation of this paragraph in English: Ésta es una muchacha. Esta muchacha se llama María. María es una estudiante de Birchwood Christian School. María es inteligente. María es cristiana. Two slide options are on pages 13-14
  5. Review the correct answer for the Campanada, then personalize it by doing more Q&A for about 5 minutes with students from the class.
  6. Write these structures on the board in Spanish and English and teach a gesture for each one. Projectable slide is on page 15

dice   s/he says

me llamo   I call myself (my name is)

¿cómo te llamas?   how do you call yourself? (what’s your name?)

  1. Storyasking for Dice. (here is how my scripts work). You can also check out the Demo on my website. Script is on page 17
  • Listen to ‘Los pollitos dicen’ as a brain break.
  1. With a few minutes left in the period or after you’ve finished the story, do an Up/Down formative listening assessment.
  2. If you finish the story before the end of class, play “Famous One-Liners”: Divide the class into quadrants or rows and tell each student to number themselves 1-however many are in the group. Give each group a whiteboard and a marker. Quiz the kids with famous ‘dice’ lines: Ex: ¿Quién dice “I’ll be back!”/”There’s no place like home”/”Life is like a box of chocolates”/”May the force be with you”/”ET phone home”/”Shaken, not stirred.”/”If you build it, he will come”/”Houston, we have a problem”/”My precious”/”Elementary, my dear watson”/”There’s no crying in baseball!”/”I’m the king of the world”!/”I feel the need: the need for speed”)? Call out a number, and the person from each group with that number should grab the whiteboard and the marker and write down the answer that the group comes up with. Whoever puts up the correct answer receives one point. The first group to put up the correct answer receives two points. Remember--the point is to get reps out of the structure ‘dice’, so circle each line after you say it!


  1. Campanada: Traduce al inglés: Esta muchacha se llama María. Este muchacho se llama Roberto. María dice, «¿Cómo te llamas?». Roberto dice, «Me llamo Roberto». Projectable slide is on page 16
  2. Review the Campanada.
  3. Give each student a copy of the booklet containing the embedded reading for “Isabela y Ronaldo” for students to complete on their own. This is a formative reading assessment, and it will begin to form a picture of which of your students acquire the language quickly and which will need more time (your barometer students!), although you should already have an idea just from comprehension checks during storyasking. Have the students complete it on their own, first, then project the final version of the reading and review it together. Do NOT put this assessment in the gradebook. Download this reading here.
  4. If you didn’t have time yesterday, play the “Famous One-Liners” game (#9 on Day 3’s plans).

If you are following my curriculum map, the next unit that you teach will be ‘Camina y corre’.

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