Plan it out!

Posted by Kara Parker on August 25, 2012 in 1 Planning

I was once told that I should look at my lesson plans to fix my classroom management issues. I was a little offended at first. Then I really looked at my plans and realized that they mainly consisted of writing activities from the book. It was boring. It was repetitive. They were not speaking in Spanish. No wonder they acted up!

Now I have a template that reminds me to cover a variety of skills, stay focused on the goal (backward design), and input before output.

Usually I mark all over this and include all of my activity ideas. I don’t use all of them, but then I have it to look at next time. I add numbers to show what order I want to present them. Just remember to have input (listening and/or reading) before output (speaking and/or writing)! See the post “My biggest teaching mistake” for more about this. Also I use Post-it notes to add a date so I can reuse these.

Here’s a shorter version that you can turn in to administrators to save paper. It tells them exactly when and what I taught. This is easy to modify when I reteach it the next trimester.

Special thanks to Roya P., Julia S., Mariam, Kristy, and others for this post idea! We love it when you let us know what you’d like to see.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the template: or in the Mercado.

How do you record your lesson plans?

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48 comments for “Plan it out!”

  1. Jen says:


    I love love love love your site and yor brilliant ideas. I actually receive them all on email I love them so much. Might I ask what app you are using to lesson plan? Also, I’m headed to read that post about your teaching mistakes because it made me rethinks warmup policy, which is almost always output first. Thanks for the fantastic ideas!

    1. Kara says:

      Thanks! I use Pages on the iPad ($10). It can be made on Word with the shapes too. I love what you are thinking about the warm-ups. Let me know what you are going to do!

  2. Since I put everything online for students and parents, I plan all of my lessons from my class website. I always try to get all four modes in each class period with speaking the TL being my main goal.

    1. Kara says:

      Nice idea! You have me thinking that maybe I should put them on my blog. Hmmm

      1. It definitely puts the responsibility on the students for make-up work. I rarely have a student ask what they need to do for make-up work. They know all lessons with attachments are online. I’m also using Google Voice as a way for students to make-up their oral productions points from organized speaking activities/practices.

        1. Kara says:

          I gotta try Google Voice!

          1. missivonne says:

            Google Voice isn’t for everyone. It works great for my son and husband; however, I have a high, squeaky little-girl voice, and it creates laugh-out-loud funny interpretations of what I say. The young man who lived with us had an alto voice, and it did the same to him.

  3. Liz says:

    This is WONDERFUL! A few questions: 1) I see you didn’t have time for 2 out of 5 of your activities. Truth be told, I think you have a lot on here. How long are your periods? Do you use what you didn’t get to in your reflection the next day? 2) What do the “T,” “W,” “R” and “F” stand for on the shorter version you hand to administrators? Thanks!!!

    1. Kara says:

      1) I write down ALL ideas on that sheet, but only do some of them (the ones with numbers plus the video). My classes have different “personalities” so I pick what fits them. 60 minute periods. I usually fit several (4-7) activities because they don’t take long. Whatever I don’t cover, I use when needed (sometimes the next day, sometimes as review). 2) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, thuRsday, Friday.

  4. Amy E says:

    I was curious about your app for lessons plan too. Have you ever shared the buenos Dias song? The family guy link sounds fun too. 🙂
    I appreciate all you share and feel inspired to be better.

    1. Kara says:

      Buenos Días song. I wish it was not so kiddy, but it always seems to go over well. We do a bunch of activities to it.

      1. I’m just curious, what sort of activities do you do with this video? I’m teaching all this now!

    2. Kara says:

      The YouTube link has been removed for the other clip. :/

  5. Megan Green says:

    Truly, I hope you two know that there are many classrooms of students that will be thanking you this year! Everything you post helps me become a better teacher.

    1. Kara says:

      Thank you. That means A LOT to me. 🙂 I love my job because I love the students.

    2. Megan says:

      Thanks Megan! I always think about where I would be if I didn’t have those key people helping and pushing me to be better! And I still have a lot to improve on!

  6. Emily says:

    Hey there! I just started following your blog a couple of weeks ago and want to thank you for all of the great ideas you’re compiling and sharing with your fellow language teachers here. I often feel like we are not as united as we should be (i.e. sharing ideas, vertically- and horizontally-aligning our curricula, etc.), and you two are really helping to change that. Thank you!

    Megan, if you’re reading, this is Emily that went through Option 7 with you. Glad to see all is well and that you’re rockin’ the classroom! What a hectic summer… We all should reunite at KWLA this fall. 🙂

    Kara, I love this lesson plan format; however, I noticed that there’s no area for culture (a topic my students LOVE). I realize that you probably work in a ton of culture with your videos and readings, but what about the “bigger” stuff (e.g. Día de Muertos)? Do you develop your own “I can” statements and make a lesson or two in which learning about that holiday/cultural item is your main focus? Would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. Kara says:

      Thanks Emily! I try to teach through the culture in each area, especially reading, listening, and the videos/images. I try not to teach culture alone. It is a powerful way to get them interested in learning the language. For special holidays, I make a lesson about it, tweak the goal to fit different levels, and we stay in the language as much as possible. Level 1: I can describe the Day of the Dead. Level 2: I can compare Day of the Dead to Halloween. Level 3: I can tell what happened on the Day of the Dead and Halloween. Still they will be getting rich input before they produce. If they make something, I do the instructions in Spanish. They describe it afterwards in Spanish. We have some Valentine posts that explain some more of this.

    2. Megan says:

      Hey Emily! I’d lve to meet up at KWLA- ill be there 🙂 Anyone else from our group going that you know of? It’s been a long time!

      1. Emily W. says:

        I had a few complications, but I’m still hoping to go! I’m not sure about anyone else, though. It would definitely be great to catch up.

  7. kathikahoun says:

    This is a super fantastic template for lesson planning. Would you be willing to share it as a PDF?? I thoroughly enjoy your blog:) I’ve been out of the classroom for 4 years while my kids were little and now that I’m back, I have found great information in all that you girls post! Mil gracias!

    1. Kara says:

      Sure! I’ll post it on TPT when I get to a laptop.

  8. Kristy says:

    Thank you so much! It’s so refreshing to see someone else’s ideas for a foreign language classroom. I’m going to put a bug in my principal’s ear about the ACTFL conference this year. Let’s see how that goes! Thanks again. This really helps to see your format. Right now, I just have a basic chart but will begin incorporating more of the specific areas. At my current school, I have to turn in a paper copy every Monday morning so I’m just trying to get established for now.

    1. Kara says:

      We are also trying to go to ACTFL!

      1. Kristy says:

        I’m going to print out the overview, share it with my principal, and see if there is any money available. I was able to go some years back when it was in Nashville but I am ready to go again. I’ll let you know if I’m able to go; would love to meet you!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kara- I was wondering, what kinds of activities do you do with the Buenos dias video? I feel like my students would find it catchy, but I’m not sure how to make it appropriate for freshmen. Thanks for the ideas!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kara- I was wondering what kinds of activities you do with the Buenos dias video. I think my students would find it really catchy, but I’m curious as to what you do to make it relevant to high school students. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Kara says:

      First they watch.
      Second they do motions with the words: Buenos días – wave hand, ¿Cómo está? – shrug shoulders, muy bien – thumbs up, Gracias – touch chin (sign language), ¿Y usted? – point to someone
      Third I put them in partners and they choose who is #1 and who is #2. 1 “sings” the first part, 2 repeats it. Then they switch who goes first.
      Fourth I tell them to find a new partner play song again. And then switch again. And again!
      Fifth they have a chance to write down the words in their notebooks and ask questions to clarify.
      Sixth they practice greeting each other.
      Seventh I call two random students, they greet each other. Sometimes I ask them to add names, I like, etc. if we have learned previously. That’s their stamp for the day.

      1. Jen Shaw says:

        I use that sound too, but I love your gestures. Out of curiosity, do you two pinterest? I would love to follow you and I’d love share any resources I have too. I find that I’ve started organizing most of the things I want to explore via Pinterest.

        1. Kara says:

          We both do! I’d love to see how you are organizing.

          1. Jen says:

            How would I go about findig you guys? Actually there is just one big teaching board, but I love it regardless. Our district pd this week apparantly is pinterest so I am stoked!

            1. Kara says:

              Put our names in the search bar and click on “people”. I’m Kara Parker and the other gal is Megan Johnston. My picture is the same one as my WordPress, in the red shirt.

  11. Stephanie Lint-Perez says:

    Kara–this is quite similar to my idea in planning my lessons! I love to see that you are validating what I am doing–yippee! I love reading all of the posts from your followers b/c they, too, bring up great points/questions. I was going to ask about the culture part–just out of curiosity, why don’t you jot down what you will be “incorporating” in that particular lesson on that sheet?
    Anyway, thanks for the great post…and great feedback from your followers!

    1. Kara says:

      Definitely great feedback. We have the best community here! Better than most PD. 🙂
      I guess I don’t jot the culture down out of laziness. It would not be a bad idea.

  12. Krista says:

    I just love this site! I have gotten lots of ideas to enhance my classroom-thank you! I am interested in the “I can. . .”approach. I use it from time to time as I am teaching something new, but how do you incorporate review/additional practice over several days? I’m positive that you go back and practice age (or whichever topic), so what does an I can statement look like in that case? Also, I think you mentioned in another post about how these I can statements can become challenging as you have to approach the topic of a pattern like verbs. Can you elaborate for us. Your ideas have been so helpful!

    1. Kara says:

      Thanks! If it is a review, you should be able to put them together like “I can introduce myself”. If you don’t have a common link, then you may want to change it up next time you teach it. The conjugations/verb patterns is a great question! I will have a post soon called “grammar sprinkles” which will explain it in detail. Quick answer: they are challenging because they are not proficiency-based. Try switching to “I can tell what happened over break” instead of “past tense verbs.”

  13. Therese says:

    I really love this blog you two. More than anything else, you have made prepping for my first year teaching Spanish manageable, tangible, and more creative! Thank you thank you! I really appreciate seeing how you map out your weeks – it is so helpful! Thanks a million!

  14. Stephanie LInt-Perez says:

    I would like to know people’s practice for VOCAB QUIZZES….I know some do not use them at all. I have been relying on them for the obvious reasons: we can easily see/show who is not doing work in class, it is a great way for people to help grade/confidence level, and it keeps them learning for those role plays that we do!

    However, I get it….they don’t really go along with the idea we are following now with standards-based language learning…no where does it describe that a novice learner can memorize x number of words, right! I understand…but do we GET RID OF THEM ALL TOGETHER?

    Just wanted some people’s feedback! I put it here b/c I am at this place reading comments..wasn’t sure where to put the comments for suggestions.

    Hopefully you’ll consider this for a near future topic?
    Thanks!! 🙂

    1. Kara says:

      This could a future topic! I am curious what everyone else thinks first.

    2. spanishplans says:

      Very interesting idea, Stephanie. You are right, memorizing a list of vocab is not proficiency, but some memorization of vocabulary is still required. I have used in the past to have students practice vocabulary and have even made it “required” homework. You can see the results (how long it took the student, number of tries, etc). You could even use this for a score. It’s also a good way to review at the beginning or end of class, by going through an activity with pictures of the vocab and having students name it.
      I’d be interested in what others say as well. Thanks for bringing it up.

      1. Alyson says:

        I believe that there needs to be some drill/memorizing in order for students to USE the target language. How can I ask my students to use Spanish if they don’t know what the words mean? In my school district, we have 6 ‘chunks’ (thematic units) complete with integrated performance assessments (interpretive, presentational and interpersonal). A lot of scaffolding needs to be done in order for my students to be able to PERFORM in the TL. I start out with some drill in English/Spanish and work on using the target content in context. All of my vocabulary lists have room for students to write a definition of the vocabulary word in Spanish or use it in a sentence. This really helps their circumlocution skills. I’ve also adapted it to a speaking activity.

        My students really like It has a chat option that I recommend you disable. Quia is another site that I use.

        I could go on and on but I’ll stop for now.

    1. Alyson says:

      Oh. My. Goodness! Thank you for posting this! I surprised my honors three students with this at the end of class today and everyone was singing — including the boys! What a great way to end class. Going to surprise the other classes tomorrow. 🙂

  15. Lindsay Davis says:

    I just came to your site to post the question “what does your plan book look like?” and found this-THANK YOU SO MUCH. Being able to SEE what your planning looks like is super helpful and I love the way you organize via listening, reading, speaking, writing. SO HELPFUL! Thanks a ton.

  16. Vonetta P says:

    Every day I find another reason to love this site and boast of it to my colleagues–thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us!

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