Teachers spend around $1.6 billion dollars annually of their own money on school supplies.
It’s hard to believe, but according to a recent study by the Education Market Association, teachers are reaching deep into their own pockets to stock their classrooms.
Why are teachers forking over their hard-earned cash for school supplies?
Because having the right supplies makes a difference.
Solid classroom materials provide students with a better learning experience and teachers want what’s best for their students—even if it affects their wallets. Besides, if this job was about the money… we probably would’ve studied something else (can I get a witness?).
The trick to not single-handedly spending $1.6 billion dollars on your classroom is knowing where to find the right materials. You can find countless authentic Spanish teaching materials out there for cheap, or even better, free. The more authentic materials you have, the more effective your classroom!
So let’s look at how the right supplies will encourage higher-level thinking and where we can stock up.
Why Does Having the Right Supplies Matter?
- The right teaching supplies make learning multi-dimensional. Students have different learning styles and acquire new information in a variety of ways. Having a wide assortment of materials allows you to reach students according to how they learn best.
For example, an auditory learner may prefer to listen to a dialogue clip, while a visual learner may prefer to read an article about the same topic. It’s important to have tools to reach both these learners and more.
- Happy students. Happy teachers. The right supplies make class more engaging for your students, which leads to rich learning experiences… which leads to you feeling like a rockstar in the classroom.
- Relevance. Authentic classroom materials are getting a lot of airtime recently. Why? Because they make learning relevant to our everyday lives. The more your students see that Spanish is useful for their lives, the more interest they’ll have in studying it.
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How Authentic Spanish Teaching Supplies Can Help the Learning Process
To understand the significance of authentic Spanish materials for language learners, let’s explore how they relate to Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is the holy grail for higher-level learning in the classroom. If you studied education, you most likely remember hearing about Bloom’s pyramid of critical thinking. In the Spanish classroom, it’s essential to getting students thinking critically about the language and culture.
Authentic Spanish teaching supplies can help you achieve this because they provide you with a tool to take students deeper into their subject matter. Let’s look at Bloom’s six levels of learning and how they can be enhanced by the right supplies in the Spanish classroom.
- Level 1: Remember. This is the basic level that asks students to define and memorize information.
- Example: Use Spanish songs to help students memorize words through lyrical context.
- Level 2: Understand. On this level, students are asked to discuss and describe information.
- Example: Watch a video in Spanish and then have students explain, discuss and even translate what the video portrayed.
- Level 3: Apply. Here we want students to implement and execute new learning.
- Example: Grab a Spanish board game to challenge students on their ability to put their learning into action. Games that encourage verbal expression provide a great way for students to implement new vocabulary.
- Level 4: Analyze. When we make it to level four, we want students to be connecting ideas. Students should be comparing, contrasting and organizing learned information. Finding patterns in their learning will help students form a bridge between already-learned information to new facts.
- Example: Take two works of art, Spanish literature or even pamphlets written in Spanish and have students examine them to find similarities and differences. It’s essential to getting students questioning the material.
- Level 5: Evaluate. At this higher thinking level, students will be judging and critiquing materials. This shows if they truly grasp the material and can respond according to their own worldview.
- Example: Have students choose an article about current events or controversial issues and have them appraise the views mentioned in the article.
- Level 6: Create. The highest level of thinking asks students to produce. We want them to take what has been learned and then develop something of their own.
- Example: Have students research a Hispanic city and create advertisements, itineraries and menus for tourists visiting these cities.
Where to Find Spanish Teaching Supplies So Your Classroom Is Always Stocked
No need for a 10-page shopping list next back to school season. Here are some resources for finding tons of authentic Spanish teaching supplies, broken up by category.
1. Spanish Music
Start with YouTube. It’s no secret that you can find music videos and children’s songs on YouTube, but one feature you might not yet be taking advantage of is the playlist creator. If you sign up for a free YouTube account, you can create lists of videos under the “Library” section of your account. Choose your songs and you’ll have easy access to them for listening during class.
For more children-oriented material, Mama Lisa’s World has tons of Spanish rhymes, songs and chants from a variety of Hispanic countries.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you already have access to millions of songs and can stream directly through your phone or computer through Amazon Prime Music. If you’re not a Prime member, you can also sign up for Amazon Unlimited. For a low fee per month you have access to millions of songs and can download them to listen offline. You can find anything from recent Hispanic hits to children’s songs in Spanish.
2. Books and Magazines
One great way to get your older students reading is using articles about current events with “CNN Español,” about sports with “ESPN Deportes” or about country-specific news with local online newspapers like La Nación from Costa Rica or El Universal from Mexico. With most major publications available at least partially online, you’ll easily be able to find articles to pique your students’ interests.
Magazines, meanwhile, are just plain useful in the classroom. Students love flipping through them and eventually they’re great to cut up for art projects. Some great subscriptions that may appeal to your students include People en Español, ChopChop Cooking (Spanish edition subscription) or National Geographic en Español.
For simpler reading, you can also check out the International Children’s Digital Library. This site has countless books from all over the world and you can search for books by language. The site itself could use a facelift, but the Spanish books database is a great free tool!
If you’re looking to buy some books to stock up your classroom, ThriftBooks is a great site that has tens of thousands of used Spanish books for great prices. They even have a special deal for teachers who buy used class sets.
And again, we can’t forget about Amazon. I’m not telling you anything new by saying Amazon has books. I just have to mention it because Amazon often has the best prices and the best selection… not to mention free two-day shipping if you’re a Prime member. I especially love browsing through the Spanish children’s books list to see what’s on sale.
You can find a lot of Spanish videos on the internet, but definitely consider using FluentU to turn the best among them into the ultimate teaching tool.
Not only will students be exposed to Spanish in a real-world context, they’ll also be able to engage in interactive lessons with what they’re learning. You’ll love watching their vocabularies expand while they become immersed in Spanish-speaking cultures and media.
In addition to the exciting authentic content, FluentU also provides awesome tools to make teachers’ lives easier. Student progress tracking will give you instant feedback on your class’ progress, you can design your own curriculum with the videos and vocabulary lists that’ll most benefit your students and you can even show some school pride by customizing the app with the logo and colors of your choice.
Another obvious but excellent tool is YouTube. You can search for basically any language concept or topic that interests you in Spanish, but here are a few ideas that’ll engage most learners:
And don’t forget about cartoons! Most children’s DVDs have an option to have a Spanish voice-over. But for online cartoon access, there are a number of animated shows on Netflix that allow you to switch the language to Spanish for the kiddos.
Here’s a comprehensive list of Netflix shows with Spanish audio/subtitles (be sure to select “TV Cartoons” from the pulldown menu).
First, get yourself some word games, like Spanish Scrabble, Spanish Banagrams and ¡Basta! These and similar word games provide students with a fun way to practice Spanish vocabulary and spelling.
You can also bring card games to school and challenge students to speak only in Spanish as they play. Some simple yet fun games to use for Spanish practice inclulde UNO, SkipBo and Go Fish!
5. Posters and Classroom Décor
When you don’t feel like purchasing fancy posters for your class, you can always get on Pinterest and type in “Spanish posters.” You’ll find traditional classroom wall art and vocabulary lists, but also several ideas that incorporate authentic posters, photos and famous quotes. There are some creative teachers out there and their Pins often include step by step directions for recreating their ideas, in case you’re the least artistic teacher in the world (like me).
Another great place to search for supplies is Teachers Pay Teachers. If you haven’t been on this site, you just need to go and check it out. This is a site where teachers post the stuff they create for their classes. A lot of it’s free, while other items are available for purchase at low prices. I mean, you can buy whole Spanish unit plans on there for cheap.
Save yourself some work and let someone else who’s good at Clipart make you look like a genius. Or if you’re an artistic genius, post some of your creations and make some pocket change (which in turn can be used to buy more supplies).
6. Real-world Reading Materials
You don’t have to go far to find real-world reading materials to incorporate into your classroom. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- If you go to a Spanish restaurant and they have a paper take-out menu, ask if you can snag some copies!
- There are also tons of images online for Spanish menus, so you don’t even need to leave your desk to grab some.
- Hunt down pamphlets and publications from tours, museums or public entities. Check out information desks and brochure wall displays to see if you can find some useful items in Spanish!
- Google up some images of Spanish road signage in different regions of the world, and have students compare them to one another.
As you can see, stocking up on some terrific Spanish supplies for your classroom doesn’t have to break the bank. Hopefully this list will save you some dough and help take your students’ learning to a whole new level!
Tricia Wegman Contreras has spent the last seven years in Costa Rica working as a bilingual Learning Specialist with students of all ages. She enjoys using her background as an Intervention Specialist to help all types of language learners succeed.
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