I asked my Facebook followers what I blog about on this, my 500th blog post since switching to WordPress in March of 2011. The consensus was to do something reflective…so here it is!

CC 2014 Christian Schnettelker Flickr.com

When I dove head-first into TPRS® in early 2010, the only materials that I had to work with were those that I found on blogs. Ben Slavic’s blog was my home page, and I found scores of story scripts and TPRS® teaching tips in his archives. Betsy Paskvan and Michele Whaley introduced me to the mind-blowing Standards Based Assessment materials of Scott Benedict at Teach for June, and Carol Gaab’s downloadable articles, lesson plans, and handouts on the TPRS Publishing website gave depth to my instruction. I read many other blogs and pulled ideas from each of them, but those three had the biggest impact on my TPRS® infancy. In the real world, I was and still am incredibly blessed to live just 20 minutes away from the formidable mind and unspeakably warm heart of Michele Whaley. Under her gentle guidance, I learned that the power of TPRS® is found in the Comprehensible Input that it provides, and that it is just one of many ways to Teach with Comprehensible Input.

As I got my feet under me and began to write my own stories, I started sharing them on my class’s google site because I honestly thought that that was an unspoken “requirement” of TPRS® teachers. Whatever you do in class, you put on a blog so that others can figure out how to navigate a world without textbooks. I’ve since learned that it is not, in fact, a requirement: it’s just that TCI teachers are really, really kind and generous people that want their peers to love teaching again and students around the world to actually, truly learn language. Amazing!

In March of 2011, I made the switch to WordPress so that I could better file my posts and store my content. It’s pretty funny now to look back at my posts from the first few years–much of it is still good (in my eyes), but I have learned and changed a lot since then, so I would no longer stand behind all of my early ideas.

This blog has given me two wonderful gifts: first, the ability to stay home with my boys. I prayed long and hard that the Lord would make a way for me to stay home with my kids, and I never would have imagined that blogging would be the answer. He is so faithful to answer prayer!! The second, equally wonderful, gift that my blog has given me is cherished friendships. I’ll not list them here for fear that I would leave out a name, but a quick scroll through my archives will lead you to them. In particular, though, I do have to highlight Cynthia Hitz and Carol Gaab because I met both of them for the first time praying that I was not about to be brutally murdered by an psychopath disguising him or herself as a friendly world language teacher. I flew out to the remote woods of Wisconsin to meet Carol for the first time, and Cynthia came to my house–thankfully, without an ax in her luggage. So far, everyone that I have met online has turned out to be real, and really wonderful 🙂

I’d love to leave you with some of my “top posts”, but the most popular posts are skewed by Pinterest (most of the statistical top posts are ones that apply to teachers of all content areas and levels, not just World Language teachers), and I don’t have the mental stamina to consider all 500 to come up with my own personal favorites. So…methinks I’ll do a giveaway and leave the blogging to you!

I have recently begun to learn French as I have been reading the novel Brandon Brown veut un chien, listening to the audio book, and working with the Teacher’s Guide–the same three resources that are available to anyone that purchases a Teacher Package of one of the TPRS Publishing novels. IT IS AWESOME! I have become more convinced than ever that Comprehensible Input is the most effective way to learn a language, because I am experiencing it firsthand! For this reason, I am going to give away THREE TPRS Publishing Teacher Packages–each winner can choose the novel that they would like to have shipped to them.

If you’d like the chance to win one of the three teacher packages, just leave a comment with (at least) one thing you’ve read on this blog that other readers should not miss! If possible, find and include the link to the post; if not, just describe the idea (activity, strategy, etc.) and I’ll try to find and add the link to the specific post. It can be a post that inspired an ah-ha moment for you, the activity with which you’ve had the most success, your favorite story script…anything!

Any World Language teacher that comments will have their name entered in the raffle to win one of three teacher packages from TPRS Publishing. Comments must be received on or before Sunday, December 7, 2014, and I’ll notify the winner via email on Monday, December 8.

Can’t wait to see what YOUR top posts are!!

74 replies on “500 Posts

  1. The QAR presentations have really helped me work with my students in developing better questioning skills.

  2. I’m new to both world language teaching in general and your blog in specific. But, so far, the most helpful thing has been your list of brain breaks. I’m often at a loss for how to give my students a meaningful break that won’t turn into a derailing social occasion. Thank you!

  3. Martina,
    I come to your blog for inspiration on a weekly, if not daily basis. I have moved into CI teaching and am implementing TPRS novels for the first time this year. All of your Esperanza plans have been an amazing addition to the teacher’s guide.
    I also love your TPT storytelling & cultural units. Please keep them coming.
    I am so thankful for your ideas!
    – Allison

    1. I’m glad that you wrote ‘addition to the TG’, because I hope that my readers are making the investment in the official TG! It contains so much more than the things that I created to accompany it!!

  4. Oh my goodness…how about everything?!:-) You have helped me so much, Martina, but here are a few of my faves:

    “Las novias de mi hermano” script and plans — The kids LOVE this story! (http://martinabex.com/2012/12/09/las-novias-de-mi-hermano-script/)

    Your posters — Just discovered these a couple of months ago! (http://martinabex.com/category/posters/)

    “Los pollitos dicen” and the Cantaninja — (http://martinabex.com/2013/08/21/los-pollitos-dicen/)

  5. I have purchased several of your cultural units. They are awesome! In particular, I love the exercises linked to infographs. It gives even first year students confidence that they can read authentic material. Some of my favorites are from Día de Los Muertos, Semana Santa, and la Quinceañera, but I’m sure I’ll find others that are equally amazing!

  6. Martina,

    This is my second year trying to find my way as a TPRS teacher, and for me, Ben Slavic’s books, the novels from TPRS Publishing (along with the realization that it was ok…even good…to not be reading literature), and your blog have been absolutely invaluable to me, and have made teaching four preps as a new teacher without a textbook possible. I really appreciate all of your hard work and your wiliness to put yourself out there and share your ideas and your work.

    It’s really hard to pick one activity. Two of my favorites are probably running dictation: http://martinabex.com/2013/04/18/running-dictation-extension/

    and also, “I heard it” http://martinabex.com/2013/01/18/who-said-it/

    I try and do both of these activities at least once a quarter with something that we have been reading. The students love them!

    Also, recently I tried your hole punch idea to keep kids in the target language and it worked phenomenally.

    I also did the chain reaction activity for a movie talk and it went well. I am really looking forward to doing the first person interview “twist” the next time I try it.

      1. Your posts on movietalk have really added to my CI repertoire. My students LOVED the Destiny short and the Pingu clip. Now that I am getting better at it I find that these clips really fit seamlessly with their respective units (Cierra la puerta/ El nuevo Houdini ch. 3). It’s a highly engaging way to hit the target vocabulary and teach enrichment structures. Movietalk takes practice but so worth sticking with it!

  7. Pick one post that’s my favorite? That’s impossible, but I’ll list one that I liked and continue to use: “Rumors” found at: http://martinabex.com/2011/11/09/rumors/

    Another HUGE help in improving my teaching are the videos you post of you teaching in your classroom. The only thing better than watching a teacher on a video is actually visiting them in their classrooms as they teach, which, thanks to YOU, was also possible.

      1. Haha – funny, I heard the same rumor. 🙂
        I have the BEST memories of Alaska thanks to you, Michele, Betsy, and sweet little Leland. And those beautiful mountains and baluga whales have been beckoning me back since September 2013.
        What does the future hold? One never knows…

  8. This is one of my favorite blogs. I get excited when I see one of your posts in my mailbox because I know that it will be worth reading:) One of my favorites was a recent one – http://martinabex.com/2014/11/09/word-race-stories/.

    I read this post on Word Race Stories and immediately tried it in my class. The students were so focused and excited about the game and they got lots of Comprensible Input through the extension activities.

    Thanks so much for your guidance!

  9. I have used so very many of your materials! Most recently, I finally gave Movie Talk a go, and I loved it! I will be using that more with my classes. Also, I love the cultural readings that are included in your TPRS lesson plans. I love being able to give a cultural lesson about a Spanish speaking country embedded in CI. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas and materials!

  10. I am a second year Spanish teacher. When I started, I didn’t have a textbook or a concrete curriculum so my lesson plans were difficult to write. And then I found your site. I am so grateful to you and all the other educators I found because of you. There is always more to learn but I feel that my second year is so much more successful because of your guidance. Thank you for your help. Of course, picking one post that is more fabulous than the others is difficult – I always learn something from your posts – but …..I love to use music in my classes and I love Julieta so… https://martinabex.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/me-voy-lyrics.pdf

    Mil gracias – Bette.

  11. Hi Martina,
    I learned what “MovieTalk” is from you and how to do it thanks to your page with an explanation, AND video that you provided! I have had so much success enhancing my lessons with it (and all of your other resources, too!). It is one of my favorite things to do because it puts an image with the language we are practicing.


  12. Martina, I love all your ideas! so it’s very difficult to pick a favorite; however a couple I have successfully used include: the “camina, corre, ve” lesson plans and “movietalk”. I first heard about “movietalk” from you and I’ve used the wildebeest clip. My students are always shocked with the ending. Thank you for sharing such great ideas!

  13. I love your one page culture readings and info graphs. I believe the first item I ever purchased from you was about la basura. I love your info graphs- Cinco de mayo, etc… Thank you, Martina, for making language teaching fun!

    1. Martina;

      I started TPRS/CI three years ago. It was so overwhelming but the more I used it in class, the more I was convinced that it was the way to go in my Spanish class. There are many phases to this and I needed someone to guide me as I went through storytelling, reading, embedded readings, MovieTalk, novels, activities, etc. I came across your blog and it all clicked. Your activities spelled it all out for me and has allowed me to focus on the many aspects of it. I cannot thank you enough for all you do. I think it is expecially helpful to those of us getting startied.

  14. Martina, where do I start? You are *my* Ben Slavic (not that anyone can replace Ben Slavic!)! Your blog has inspired me in so many ways, even though I teach French and not Spanish; were it not for your site, I may never have decided to “try out” a TPRS training.

    It’s impossible to choose just one favorite, but some of my tried-and-true ones include “Rumors” (linked above), Write, Draw, Pass (http://martinabex.com/2011/08/28/write-draw-pass/), and Love Recipe (http://martinabex.com/2013/06/28/love-recipe/).

  15. Martina,
    I started using TPRS two years ago and without your blog, it would not been the same. I enjoy your posts and I appreciate that you share your ideas. My students enjoy activities I have borrowed from you. Have a great Thanksgiving.


    1. By the way. One activity that my students and myself enjoyed very much were the secrets. Teaching past tense, students need to come up with a secret about someone from the class and try to figure out who said it.

  16. Not sure that I could pick a single post as my favorite. I’ve tried so many of the ideas. I’m still one of those teachers who dreams of the day when I don’t have to rely on textbooks and continue to check back here for words of wisdom.

    I think that simply having this blog as a source of inspiration is what I appreciate most. There is always something to be learned.

    Thank you Martina!

  17. Martina…Congrats of #500!

    I often use the information that you put together on CCSS literacy standards aligned with TPRS/TCI. This is information that aligns specific CI practices with the national standards. In aligning non-CI activities with CCSS most activities just do not fulfill the standards which means teachers should reconsider how learning takes place. Articulating this information the way you did makes PLC conversations much more beneficial for the goal of acquisition. It also justifies the TPRS process. I tried to find it on your blog but couldn’t. Sorry this post is long. Here is the info…

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

  18. To try and identify just one post or activity that has been helpful is impossible for me. You are my inspiration, guide and “go to” for everything I am learning and doing with TPRS. Thank you so very much!

  19. Martina, I have simply loved your Nuevo Houdini curriculum. The creative ways you have added to make that book even better comprehensive are life savers! I love teaching that book and your items are a breath of fresh air. Also one more thing: Brains crave novelty….and what better novelty idea than “Strip Bingo”. My students’ faces after saying it is beyond priceless. Not to mention they love the simplicity and challenge of it all. If anyone hasn’t payed strip bingo before with his or her students….you’re missing out!

  20. There is so much I have used and loved from your site! It would be very difficult to choose just any one thing! I was almost ready to throw in the towel and find a different career when I started reading more about TPRS and found your site. It’s completely changed the way I teach and I now enjoy what I do so much more! Thank you so much for all that do!

  21. First off, I’m SO excited that you’re learning French. It’s clearly a fabulous language, no bias here!

    Secondly, since I can’t just say “your whole blog” as my activities, I’ll list a few that I think are fantastic:
    http://martinabex.com/2014/04/19/my-favorite-game-ever/ – the “I’m going to ______ and bringing a _________” game – I’m using it this week with my students and I’m so excited.

    Then, MOVIETALK. I couldn’t decide on one post, so here’s the entire category because all of it is GOLD. http://martinabex.com/category/movietalk/

    Then, over the summer, I read a lot of research about word walls and their use in the FL classroom. So, of course I have to note your posters post, http://martinabex.com/2012/08/09/posters/ and how I redid them in French and how great they’ve been for me this year! http://martinabex.com/2014/07/25/classroom-posters-en-francais/

  22. There are so many things that have been helpful to me, but I use your listening/drawing dictation form almost every week. Thanks for sharing so much of your work.

  23. I love your “Going on a trip” game. A colleague of mine, Dori Vittetoe, shared this idea from your blog with me last year. I then had the opportunity to see you present the “Going on a trip” game at iFLT in Denver this past summer. I love the idea because it is so versatile! It can be used with many different structures for many different units and is currently my students’ favorite “time filler” activity! http://martinabex.com/2014/04/19/my-favorite-game-ever/

  24. I enjoyed the notes and activities about movie talks, all of the Spanish I units you’ve posted to TpT (the ones I’ve tried) and the early finisher ideas.

  25. Ditto on all of the above! As I was preparing to leave for ACTFL conference, I decided to use your sub plan “El Zombi-Cientifico” … I hit gold!! Thank you!!!

  26. Martina — you know how much I love your site! I get all excited when I see an email in my inbox indicating that you have posted something new or you have new products available on TpT. Everything you produce is great. High quality. (Almost) error-free. Creative and lovely to look at. A while ago I received $100 from our PTO to purchase whatever I wanted for my classroom. I knew immediately where to begin! Thanks for everything. I love your logic problems. Your sudoku. The readings are really wonderful. I can’t even think of what is my favorite! I would have to say that your curriculum map is the thing I go back to most often.


  27. I learned about the Numbered Heads Together strategy from reading your blog. It is an awesome way to keep all kids engaged during group work. I use this activity on day one of all of your lesson plans to translate the practice sentences. I put the sentence slide up on the projector, give the groups 30 seconds to discuss the meaning of the sentence, call out a number, and that student grabs the mini whiteboard and writes the English translation of the sentence. The first group to correctly translate the sentence earns 2 points. All other groups that translate the sentence correctly earn 1 point. It turns the practice sentence portion of learning new vocabulary into a competitive game. My students love it! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

    Also, I’m inspired that you’ve been able to learn French on your own. I want to learn a 3rd language and maybe a 4th and 5th 😉 someday and you’ve proven that I could do it without finding a class to teach the language. Thanks!

  28. I have truly enjoyed all of your posts that I have read. I am just getting started with TPRS, Comprehensible input, etc. and it all just makes so much sense to me as a life-long learner and a teacher. I think the ones that have helped me the most so far are your MovieTalk video and your posts about checking for comprehension. That is what I need to continue to work on! Thanks for your help in my journey to be the best Spanish teacher I can be.

  29. I started reading your blog two years ago while developing a textbook free curriculum based on CI. Your resources were a great place to start and I still look daily for new things! Most helpful to me was Movie Talk. I can use this in all levels and my students are so engaged!

  30. Thank you for sharing freebies. We played “Strip Bingo” even when there isn’t time in the plan for a full game. Please consider how you can offer questions on TPT that teachers can use on Kahoot.it. You have a great way of selecting the appropriate level of difficulty for mid and high novice learners. Here’s to 500 more!

  31. I LOVE the CantaNinja. I am eternally forgetful and they never fail to remind me that we need to draw one.

  32. Hmmm. I really could just paste your whole blog here because it’s all been so helpful!

    This year, I switched to TPRS/CI and have been using your units. I still have a ton to learn, so I love checking your blog to see all your comments and everyone else’s. Your curriculum maps have been invaluable!

  33. I have used your Chicken Bus reading http://martinabex.com/2013/09/08/chicken-bus-song/, not just for when we read Esperanza, but also when another class was reading “Mi propio auto.” I love how many different resources you pulled to create those materials. I also used your website heavily when I was teaching Esperanza. You’ve been so helpful, I was inspired to start a blog of my own! Gracias for all that you do!

  34. Your materials have helped me learn how to teach students a second language after teaching ELA for 20+ years. I still teach 7th grade reading in addition to Spanish and have actually used some of your reading activity ideas with them! One of the most valuable resources I have gotten from you are sub plans – and not just those you’ve labeled sub plans. I find many of the other activities you’ve designed can easily be left with a sub and still keep the kids working with Spanish. Thanks for helping to make teaching Spanish fun.

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