#Langchat teachers held a discussion on appropriate and effective input to motivate low-engaged students. They shared useful strategies and advice for teaching the low-engaged student.

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Engaging Forms of Input

#Langchat participants began the conversation by sharing some of their most successful forms of input used to engage students. Total Physical Response lessons are always a good place to start when seeking participation from low-engaged students. @kclarkwny said, “My students love hands-on or game-type activities.” Finding input that students are interested in or are able to relate to is helpful in engaging them in the classroom. @jfh1790 shared, “The name of the game is context! Young ears only perk up when they hear something of interest. [Students] need context to focus.” @SrtaOlson said, “The authentic materials engage [students] the most! Give them the culture!” Engage students with “personalized or customized input.” (@welangley). Technology, songs, music, and movies are all popular among students. @JElderGCC “Found that [students] are engaged with songs and music. [They are a] great and easy way to incorporate content.”

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Teacher Strategies to Engage Students Aurally

Using audio input is a great way to engage students. #Langchat teachers shared the following classroom techniques to motivate low-engaged students through auditory-focused activities.

  • @SraWilliams3 said, “Edpuzzle has been a useful tool with audio input.”
  • @CHSSraHale shared, “Whenever I do a music/song lesson I intro the [students] to the artist with a jigsaw/video/autobiography activity. [It] gives them context.”
  • @JElderGCC said:

    Include hand motions and gestures with audio. [We] learned body parts in Spanish by tapping the appropriate part when song was on.

  • @SRARoblesHHS shared, “[Students] love a cloze activity with an authentic, hip song in the [target language]. I love recycling older grammar and vocab with it too.”
  • @MmeCarbonneau’s “novices need visuals and pre-listening scaffolding activities in order to focus their brains to listen well.”
  • @joyeuse212 suggests “using @nearpod, @flipgrid, and/or @padlet.” to engage students.

Teacher Strategies to Engage Students Through Written Input

#Langchat teachers also shared how using written input can engage students in both similar and different ways than aural input. The following strategies were shared.

  • @sharon_grele suggests that students “read, discuss with table group, and then [participate in] class discussion. Helps build confidence with [small] group.”
  • @MmeCarbonneau shared, “Just like listening, lots of images, pre-reading activities, scaffolding and make sure it is of high interest and relevant.”
  • @srafischer said, “I LOVE having them do chat stations for short bits of info. Gets them walking and talking.”
  • @seniorita_leake suggests “finding familiar concepts & vocab with highlighting and circling etc.”
  • @CHSSraHale said, “Let them help each other and play to each other’s strengths. Hyperdocs people, trust me.”

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Counteracting Outside Issues that Lower Engagement

There are many sources of distraction in the world language classroom. Many distractions stem from student’s home lives, school activities, sports, or social drama. “All things Social-Emotional affect [student] engagement. We should know our [students] well enough that we recognize when it’s an off-day” (@kellycondon). @ADiazMora shared that “phones, drama with friends and family” can affect a student’s “motivation for being in class.” According to @SraSpanglish, teachers can begin to counteract these issues by “listening. We begin with listening. I get a lot further if I cut out time to let a kid vent about other stuff [before] asking for [homework].” @JElderGcc suggests that teachers “Give [students] a chance to let out the drama and issues through writing or a project that uses vocab from class.” @sharon_grele said, “keep it fun. [High school] students love to be silly, even seniors in the fourth quarter like goofiness.” Thankfully, “the beauty of our classes is we can use ANYTHING as a prompt for conversation” (@welangley).

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Giving Feedback on Progress

Giving low-engaged students better feedback on their progress during the input phase has proven to increase their motivation. “[Students] need to know this learning is not just for a grade or to make teacher happy. When we connect with them, they care!” (@CatherineKU72). @senorita_leake said, “reinforce what [students] did do and give tips on improvement.” @doriecp shared, “having them monitor their own input works well for me.” For example, using “sticker charts for the [number] of books read. My littles love stickers!” Teachers can have an incredible impact in the lives of their students. “Making eye contact and letting [students] know you care – these can make such a huge difference” (@lushluxe).

Thank You

Your participation and involvement makes #langchat possible! Thank you for joining the conversation. Thank you to our lead moderator, Laura (@SraSpanglish) for guiding the conversation on Motivating Low-Engaged Students Using Input. Have a theme or question you would like to discuss? Please submit your ideas to the #langchat wiki!


We’re at it again!  We’re releasing another all-new music video for young Spanish learners, and this one has baila written all over it.  So, let’s dance!

(Side note: If you missed our other recent song releases, you’ll want to check them out: Move your body, find the pañuelito, and tell us what you like.)

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Left, right, up, down, baila

Amiguito baila conmigo - new Spanish song from Calico SpanishIn our newest video release, the boy and his little friend dance together.  They join hands and clap, which means you’ll get fun physical activity and repetitions of manos and dedos.  They move izquierda y derecha, arriba abajo y vuelta entera.  You can imagine how much fun children have with this song.  This is the favorite song at my daughter’s 4-year-old preschool class.  What can I say, at that age they love to dance and have few qualms about doing so!

A little Baile Viernes for the little ones?

If you’ve never heard of Baile Viernes, a quick perusal of Allison Weinhold’s blog will show you how she’s developed a routine of starting each Friday class with a dance, and a quick Google search would show you how understandably popular her idea has become across the Spanish teacher spectrum.  We all know that children love to dance as much as teenagers do, and in my opinion, this new release of Amiguito baila conmigo” is one of our best for starting any class on a fun, physical note – or for recapturing children’s attention when it’s lagging halfway through the allotted learning time!  (My other picks for this purpose would be Elefantes grandes and Todo mi cuerpo.)

Without further ado, give it a listen.  And then, give it a dance!


Discovering how to create successful language based classroom projects was the topic of last week’s #langchat. Participants discussed how to guide learners in communication-oriented fun projects and the pros and cons of past project experiences used in their world language classrooms.

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Grecian Urn Projects

Last week, the #langchat began with a discussion on past projects which could be considered ‘Grecian urns’. “In a nutshell, Grecian urns are projects that are fun, but don’t really advance [students] towards any particular goal or standard,” explained @doriecp. For many Spanish language teachers, for example, making a piñata seemed to take up way too much class time and met few beneficial language goals. @magisterb480 said, “Roman City Projects [where] students made structures that one would find in an ancient city and then wrote an English paper about it” proved to be unhelpful to language advancement. @MmeFarab added “make a menu, tissue box reports, ‘food day’, and elaborate family trees” to the list of ‘Grecian urn’ projects.

As for a possible reason? @MmeBlouwolff shared, “Group work where [students] have to plan something together is one way we lose the [target language] fast in my class.”

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Expanding Vocabulary-Centered Projects into More Communicative Tasks

Creating projects that move beyond simple vocabulary activities to more communicative tasks may be a challenge for #langchat teachers. However, when this is accomplished, language goals and standards are better and more efficiently achieved in the classroom. @welangley said, “make the task broad enough for large vocab but narrow enough for specific vocab.” @MlleSulewski suggests having students “create something that [they] have to explain in the [target language] to someone else.” “Giving students a real audience and a here and now purpose” is also important in building communicative projects (@MmeCarbonneau). @joyeuse212 shared:

Awareness of how much time is spent using the [language] vs. how much is spent crafting/creating the project is key.

@SECottrell said, a “second key is making sure there is an end goal of something to DO with the vocab: communicate something with it, don’t recite it.”

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Fun and Useful Projects

#Langchat participants shared a few of their favorite fun yet useful classroom projects.

  • @Marishawkins said, “One fun ‘project’ is I like when students tweet like a character from the book.”
  • According to @magisterb480, “If you can tie a ‘fun project’ into a reading/novella chapter there could be some value to it.”
  • @campspan gives “a lot of choices for Navidad projects-cook, watch videos, make buscapalabras, act out Año Nuevo customs, etc.”
  • @SECottrell shared, “I highly recommend the in-depth training & resources from @NFLRC through the #PBLL Online Institute! https://t.co/qQ3hPhRaUR

Incorporating more Target Language into Artistic and Crafty Projects

Sometimes the target language can get lost when creating artistic or crafty projects. @MlleSulewski incorporates more of the target language by leading with input. “Tie your input to your end goal for students; give them the [language] they need to succeed. Have the project accomplish something. Connect [with] a wider audience,” she said. @magistertalley said, “Students can create things in the target language to share with other learners at school and online.” @campspan added, “[there are] lots of options for projects following a novel.” @senoraMThomas tries “to plan one craft each unit. [She] tries to support culture to make a stronger memory. [Students] love culture and want more of it.”

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Communication-Oriented Projects

To end the discussion, #langchat teachers shared some of the projects they have adapted or would like to adapt in order to make them more communication-oriented.

  • @magistertalley would like to adapt the Mythology project. “I think it could be a good thematic project focus in the [target language].
  • @MmeBlouwolff said, “I used to do a cocktail party where [students] came dressed as [a] person and had to chat to learn about one another.
  • @GMancuso13 suggests a “collaborative project with pen pals!”
  • @magisterb480 shared, “Inscription writing is a good communicative Latin task – written in abbreviations, make modern connections to texting, etc.”
  • @MCanion said that an ideal project would consist of “[students] designing daily lessons to drive their own learning rather than [teachers]. [Students] create the graphics, vocabulary cards, and games.”

Thank You

Special thank you to all who participated in the discussion on World Language Classroom Projects with Purpose. Thank you to our lead moderator Megan (@MlleSulewski) for leading the conversation. Have a topic you would like to chat about? Please submit your ideas to the #langchat wiki!