by Sheri Rodman

I have never taken a Spanish class or observed a Spanish teacher so I was really looking for to visiting Señora Smith and her students at L.A. Webber Middle-High School in Lyndonville.  


Despite a very limited knowledge of the language, I quickly realized that the class was reviewing their new vocabulary words. Señora Smith shouted out objects (snow, sidewalk) and the class responded with the objects' color (blanco, gris). Then the conversation turned to clothing items, and the class reviewed the words for T-Shirt, tie, and suit.

Following the brief call-and-response, the class split into teams of four, and the review turned into a game that became more competitive with each round. Each team was equipped with a box of clothing, colored cards, and a dry erase board.

At first Señora Smith would call out a clothing item (in Spanish) and one of the students on each team would hold it up. The students were required to rotate the hold-it-up responsibility to ensure that everyone participated and that Señora Smith could get a pulse on her students' comfort with the vocabulary words. In the beginning each team that held up the correct piece of clothing received a point, then the game became a competition and only the first team to hold it up received the point.

Then Señora Smith began calling out more specific items, combining a piece of clothing with a color: green pants, red pajamas. The students held up the object and a card with the correct color. The students continued to take turns.

During the final round with teams, Señora Smith called out an entire sentence: I need a white T-Shirt, I use an orange sweater. Now almost all of the students on each team were involved on every turn. The first student held up the piece of clothing, the second held up the color card, and the third wrote the correct verb on the whiteboard, and of course the students rotated responsibilities.

To conclude the game each student had an individual task: they had to write the sentence 'I look for two black socks' (in Spanish) on an index card.

During the last few minutes of the class, after the official game ended an informal one began. The students were asked to line up at the back of the classroom. Señora Smith called out vocabulary words and everyone responded correctly took one step forward.

Within minutes almost everyone was near the front of the classroom and Señora Smith threw a stumper by asking for the word 'dress.' It took a few seconds, and a few wrong guesses, and when one student got it right, Señora Smith's reaction was priceless.

The students returned to their desks to wrap up the lesson. Señora Smith told the students to review their vocabulary words for homework and quizzed them on what they needed to bring with them tomorrow... The students were quick with the right answer, "study proof." Señora Smith reminded them that several things would count as study proof: a new study sheet, a parent or study hall teacher signature, flashcards, logging into Quizlet and take a screenshot or picture with their phone.

These eighth graders were moving around and engaged with the content during every minute of the class. Throughout the lesson the classroom was a tad chaotic at times, but Señora Smith had complete control. She was assessing her students, and they had no idea. They thought they were playing a game. When assessment = fun, everyone wins.