Thursday, August 27, 2015

Top 5 Spanish Foods to Bring to Class

Many of us Spanish teachers would claim that culture is one of our favorite parts of language teaching.  We desire for students to truly grasp how different countries and people groups live and work and eat and dance and dress.  Most of us fell in love with our target language through a cultural experience.  Our most vivid memories of using our beloved language probably involve being in a restaurant, our study abroad years, riding public transportation or asking questions of strangers; diving into the culture that surrounded us.

And yet, many of us have also felt the pressure of the upcoming chapter test or the need to stay on pace with the project we are doing with our team teachers.  And somehow, sadly, culture often takes a back seat.  Or gets left behind altogether. At least I remember those moments very vividly from my first years teaching.  I desired so badly to make culture less trivial facts and more real life experiences, but it was challenging and I failed many times.

So, here's one way to bring culture front and center in your Spanish class.  BRING FOOD.  I know, I know, we already contribute more than our share of hours and dollars, but the reason I am introducing these foods specifically is because they can take as much or as little time as you have to put into them.  They are foods my host mom served regularly in Spain (hence "Spanish", please let's use that adjective correctly :) ) in 2010 and 2011 and they are foods that are easily transported to class and split many ways.  My "go-to's", if you will.

**Recipes/videos are linked to the names of each dish**

1. Tortilla Española (O Tortilla de Patata):  This is a simple dish with really 3 ingredients, and yet it is all over the place in Spain.  You do have to master the art of flipping the tortilla, but if I can do it, so can you!
You can cut it into whatever shape/size is easiest for you!

An electric skillet is a great way to transport/warm tortilla.

If you don't want to worry about silverware, use toothpicks!

2. Pan con Aceite:  Easy. Peasy.  Get some crusty baguettes from your local bakery/grocery and bring out the olive oil (yes, poor quality compared to what you can feast on in Spain).  A couple of loafs go a very long way.  Maybe even try a little bit of Queso Manchego  on the side (a little pricey in the USA) or sprinkle some Parmesan on top!

3. Naranjas Preparadas:  A familiar fruit done differently.  Slice the oranges, drizzle the oil, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.  No cooking, baking, nothing.  Sticky, yes.  But they make your classroom smell great and about 99% of your students will love them.


4. Pisto Manchego: Best prepared the night before and brought to school in a crockpot, from my experience.  You will need a variety of veggies for this dish, and I recommend bringing bread along.  My grocery store carries pre-cut, pre-seasoned little bite size garlic toasts, so I buy a $3.99 bag of those and the crockpot goes a very long way!

This is one of those recipes that I change each time I make it.  My favorite includes eggplant!
To show you the little garlic toasts I was talking about :)

5. Patatas Bravas: Always a crowd pleaser.  Buy frozen potatoes to fry or dice up your own.  The beauty is is the salsa brava.  I normally put it on the side (although in Spain its all over the top!) for the students so they can just dip them in it.  Not to brag, but these have literally brought students into my classroom from the hallway during passing periods, so you know they smell great while cooking!  I recommend electric skillet plugged in at the back of your classroom so they're nice and warm.

Lovely picture by
There you have it! Five simple, easy and diverse authenticly Spanish recipes to bring culture to life in your classroom.  You can easily tie these in to adjectives practice (deliciosa, horrible, etc), food and ingredient words (go through the recipes together), or set up an food cart simulation where students have to read a menu and ask questions about prices in Spanish before ordering.  Get creative!  And let me know what your students think of these dishes.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Estacion Estudiantil

One adjustment I made my second year of teaching that I NEVER regretted was creating an "Estación Estudiantil."

From the poor picture quality it is hard to tell, but this small table was located directly next to the door to my classroom and also next to the turn in tray that my students used when it was time to submit their assignments.  My goal was to keep students away from my desk and to avoid constantly getting office supplies from my desk for them.  This way, students could find what they needed, when the needed it and leave me out of the picture!

I purchased...

  • Two 3-ring hole punchers
  • Two tape dispensers
  • Two staplers
  • Two large pairs of scissors
  • One package of sharpened pencils 
Then, I labeled them all in the target language.
  • Perforadora
  • Cinta
  • Grapadora
  • Tijeras
  • Lápiz
I lined them up on the table so the students could see everything and so that multiple students could use the table at once.  The pencils went in a pencil jar.  The scissors went in a jar as well. If I found random rubberbands, paperclips or other supplies on the floor throughout the year, I threw them in the jar.  

I printed out a label for my table as well by finding a font I liked, cutting and pasting it on bright construction paper and then laminating the whole thing and hanging it up with magnets. Underneath the table, I had a crate labeled "pizarritas" for white boards.  I normally had another crate (not pictured here) labeled "premios" full of random prizes for class competitions.  

My policy was that students could use anything on the table at any time without asking me.  By the end of class, everything had to be returned to the table.  If something went missing, I never replaced it.  Of course, we mysteriously lost all our pencils by the end of the year, but that just meant the students didn't have any "grace" pencils and they had to remember their own!

I would encourage ANYONE to do something similar, even if it is not in Spanish.  You could customize this station with whatever students need in your class most commonly.  It never became a distraction or a problem in my room; the students who needed to use these items frequently came in a minute earlier to get them done before turning in their assignments.  All in all, it was a way for me to streamline the process of getting assignments organized and completed without ME having to do anything during class time.