Keeping it Comprehensible

Using language authentically outside of the classroom by answering weekly blog prompts. (the BEST way to learn about your students!!!)


This year, I was lucky enough to teach a Composición y Conversación course at my high school.  As it was the first year we ran the course, I was given the amazing, exciting and daunting task of creating the curriculum from scratch!!!  As I began looking through our course articulation and figuring out what exactly our students needed (and were missing) I knew for sure I wanted to find a way to ensure that they used the language authentically.  I mean… they could conjugate like no other, but could they just….. you know… talk??!  With that, I decided to do weekly blogs.

Trimester 1- I started out with blogger. As our school runs on google apps, it seems like a logical and easy outlet for the kids. The setting up of the blogs was smooth and the students enjoyed getting them going from the get-go.  I gave them a list of tasks/ideas that they could blog about and we were off!!!  Now, I said this was a new course, right?!  So….. this was a year of learning. And I learned pretty quick that it just didn’t work.  For some reason, my students hated it!! They never got them done on time, complained about them, blah, blah blah.

I knew I needed to scrap blogger (Hint: If 75% of your class doesn’t like something you are doing, CHANGE IT.  Let them have ownership in the design of our class) but I did not want to let go of the idea.  As I already had a google classroom site, I decided to try and load the blogs through that format.  Even better, I decided to create a google form.  YOU GUYS!!!!!  It’s AMAZING!!!  If you are not familiar with google forms, you must get yourself acquainted.    

Take 2.  Every Sunday, I loaded up a new google form.  Students had a week to complete their ‘blog’  andI would reload a new form every Sunday.  Most of the time, I would provide specific prompts. I was strategic in using what we were currently discussing in class, specific grammar that I felt needed to be (sneakingly) practiced, and what was going on in the world around us.  Sometimes, I would have a free write- and every week they were expected to get down at least 8 sentences.  (Wanna know the fun part?  Many of them voluntarily wrote more than 8 sentences!!!)  Here is a sample of what the students would see on google classroom:

See that last question that says ‘participación de la semana’?  That’s a drop down menu!! Students ranked themselves on their weekly participation (I use a variation of Bryce Hedstrom’s participation rubric)   Again…. AMAZING!!!

For those of you that are not familiar with google forms, the answers are compiled into one neat little spreadsheet for you! So from the teacher aspect, this is what you get:

Now, as the answers are longer, you will have to click on the cells to read the entire passage.  BUT….and here’s the best part…. all the answers are compiled in the same place!    And if you have a space for last name, like I do, you can alphabetize the entries…   SO GREAT!!!!  Easiest thing in the world to grade/keep track of…

Okay…. but I saved the best part for last.  I was happy that my students were given a designated task once a week to practice their Spanish outside of the classroom. The blogs were never perfect and were full of errors… and I LOVED IT!!  These errors meant that students were just writing what they had in their head and were AUTHENTIC!!  The blogs itself weren’t too labor intensive- just a time to reflect quick and use their Spanish. Next, I loved that because they all answered the same prompts, I could spot common errors and then give mini grammar pop up lessons.  (I can not tell you how many times I read tener divertido!!!).  I brought up these errors all the time and you could see the heads nodding and the light bulbs going off right in front of me.  But lastly, the best, best, best part….. I really got to know my students.  The things they wrote were unbelievable.  They told me about their families, their friends, amazing memories they had- difficult events they had endured, current life stressors…. everything. I found myself learning so much about all of them and was honored to be given a little glimpse of their world every week.

Wanting to start?? Here are some blog prompt ideas to begin with: 

What was the best part of your summer?/ What will you miss most about summer?

What are you looking forward to this school year? /What are you most exited for? 

What are your goals for this trimester?/ What do you hope to accomplish?  

What classes are you taking?/Are any of them challenging?/Which is your favorite and why? 

If you could skip school tomorrow how would you spend your day? Where would you go? Who would you spend the day with? 

If you were to have a celebrity dinner party at your house who would you invite over? What food would you provide? What else would you do to make it special? 

Questions, let me know in the comments!!  I hope you try it and I hope you love it as much as I did.