El Mapa

In an effort to improve my own teaching and share my experiences with others, I am making a commitment today to update this blog more often! Recently our department has been having lots of discussions about creating and implementing more interpretive tasks into the classroom so I hope that I will be able to share more of those with you soon.

In the meantime, I just uploaded a copy of a map  I created with the spanish speaking countries for my Spanish 1-2 classes, you can download it for free here! 

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Rome is a city with a lot of history which makes the historical sites fascinating to visit but in my opinion it was also a very overwhelming city. I’m not sure if the high tourist season or the sweltering heat of the summer were to blame but the city felt a bit like a huge amusement park. I visited the big attractions like the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi fountain etc…but I what I wanted to share and what was actually was one of my favorite parts of Rome was when we traveled across the river to the Trastevere to have dinner one night. The Trastevere is a quaint neighborhood in Rome with narrow cobbled streets. There were less people, the streets were walkable, the restaurants were packed with people speaking Italian instead of English…we had finally found an area that was calm and welcoming. Visiting the Trastevere was the perfect way to relax after a full day of visiting all of Rome’s incredible sites.


Florence is an amazing city and it continually surprised me around every corner. First it was the grandeur of the Duomo, next it was walking through the Uffizi and Accademia museums and then finally arriving at the Piazza Michelangelo at the perfect time to watch the sun set over this beautiful city. Of course my favorite part of Italy was the delicious fresh pastas and house wines at every restaurant we visited.

Highlights from Florence:
I definitely recommend walking the 400ish steps up to the top of the Duomo as the view from the top is spectactular. We did have to wait in a short line but it is definitely worth it!


At the end of the second day we stumbled upon Piazza Michelangelo at just the right time to catch the sunset over the city. This was a spectacular view of the city and the sunset made it even better.


Piazza Michelangelo, Florence, Italy.

Although I didn’t have time to enjoy any of the vegan restaurants I was surprised to find that Florence was fairly vegan friendly. I stumbled upon quite a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants which made me love the city even more.

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Barcelona, España

My summer travels through Europe have begun and I am loving every minute of it! The first country we hit was España and I must say it is quite a different experience being in Spain since I studied abroad in college. Madrid felt the same but Barcelona blew me away. Maybe it was the beautiful summer weather and the location of our hostel but I am now having dreams of living in Barcelona sometime in the future. I’m very glad I’ll be back there again to visit other friends on my trip.


Ensalada Italiana, Quinoa, Travessera de Gracia, 203

One of the best things about Barcelona was an amazing restaurant I discovered through that handy Yelp app. It’s called Quinoa and they have vegan and vegetarian options including an all vegan dessert menu! Spain is full of rich and heavy foods so to find this charming hole in the wall that had the most amazing salad I had ever eaten (at least that is what I told the waiter in Spanish after I ate it) was like finding a diamond in the rough! I highly recommend this place for vegans and vegetarians looking for something different, light and healthy while in the beautiful neighborhood of Gracia in Barcelona.

The hostel we stayed in was fabulous as well. They had a lovely outdoor terrace that I enjoyed each morning with my tea and avocado toast. And although I am not sure how I missed it on my first trip, Park Guell is a must see attraction. Adiós Barcelona y Buongiorno Firenze!


Casa Gracia Hostel, Barcelona


Park Guell, Barcelona


View of the city from Park Guell, Barcelona


IMG_3067Had a splendid evening yesterday checking out Swami’s State Beach and Peace Pies for dinner in the quaint town of Encinitas just north of San Diego. Swami’s beach was beautiful with lots of surfers out and some nice packed sand that I started to dream about doing some early morning yoga on. Peace Pies blew my mind with their pesto stuffed tomatoes. The pesto was thick and flavorful, a recipe I will have to try and replicate sometime soon. For my entree I had the Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla which was also delicious. Their spicy salsa and fresh guacamole are definitely what hit the spot. Both the beach and the restaurant I highly recommend for a nice quiet evening in Encinitas. Looking forward to seeing what else Encinitas and North County have to offer.


Peace Pies, Encinitas, California


Peace Pies, Encinitas, California


Pesto Stuffed Tomates


IMG_3046One of the things I added to my teaching repertoire this year was the PASAPORTE. Although I cannot take all the credit for this idea (I do believe there was something similar posted on the Creative Language Classroom blog) I have adapted the idea in my own way and I absolutely love these! Looking for a fun and creative way to keep track of participation that also relieves some of your work load?!? Instead of trying to keep track of participation on my clipboard with a million tally marks that start to make it so I cannot even read my seating chart…the students use their pasaportes and collect stamps to keep track of how many times they have participated. I usually only gives stamps out for answering questions in Spanish (since that is the main purpose of participation in a Spanish class) but sometimes they can receive stamps for other things such as: winning a vocabulary game, reading something out loud…etc. The best part about the pasaportes is that I choose a student to do the stamping for me (they also receive a stamp for this) so I can focus on the response of the student and not worry about making sure to give them the participation stamps for a response.IMG_3047 2

In addition to being a great way to keep track of participation, I have also added a cultural element to them by giving students a new Spanish speaking country nationality and they display this on the front of the pasaporte. My students sit at tables that have a certain country assigned to that table so when they fill out their pasaportes they receive the nationality of the country assigned to their table. To add some student choice you could always let them pick their country. I have them do this for one of the quarters and it always brings up great discussions about what Spanish speaking countries interest the kids and why.

I tell students up front how many stamps they need for an A, B, C…etc. and then I collect them at the end of each grading period. I never thought high schoolers would be motivated by stamps, but it really does work. I highly recommend this fun and interactive tool for participation. Students are able to see their progress with participation, it is a fun and hands on experience to collect stamps and create the pasaportes and it also brings in an element of culture to the classroom. I must say if my students ever go through customs in a Spanish Speaking country at least they’ll know what document to present when the officer says ‘Pasaporte por favor.’

Download my Pasaporte Template for FREE here