Bringing culture to the classroom

Bringing culture to the classroom for Día de los Muertos


Skulls, flowers, music and food; there’s something for everyone in a Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead, celebration.

Born from thousand-year-old traditions, this predominately Mexican celebration honors ancestors and loved ones who have passed away with colorful and lively celebrations.

Spanish 10 & 20 celebrated in participated in these educational learning opportunities by research projects, the study & unit of the movie Coco, creating their own cempasúchil and decorated their own calaveras.






Spanish 20 Research project on Día de los Muertos



Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead

Día de los Muertos at Campbell Collegiate

Spanish 10 ofrendas project


Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated throughout Mexico, many other Latin countries, and among Latino communities. The holiday typically begins November 1st and continues through November 2.

Filled with vibrant color, music and food, Día de los Muertos is a way of honoring and remembering the lives of the departed. The origins of the Day of the Dead in Mexico can be traced back to the time of the Aztecs and the Mayans. The rituals that celebrate the lives of the ancestors were performed by these civilizations for the last 3,000 years.

In general, this celebration includes decorating “ofrendas” altars (in homes or on tombstones). Decorations include photographs, candles, bright colored flowers of cempasúchil, food and favorite items to honor loved ones.

In a collaborative effort between the Spanish 10 and the Visual Arts classes (Shaune Marchtaller’s classes made beautiful calaveras), we worked together to celebrate Día de los Muertos to unify us in this cultural celebration that honours loved ones.

Please check out our students ofrendas and calaveras on the main level by the art room (101) and by room (116).



Spanish 10 ofrenda project



Mes de la Herencia Hispana

Música miércoles (music Wednesday)

Música miércoles (music Wednesday)


Chayanne de Puerto Rico: Torero

We’re start the Spanish class Wednesday’s by watching a music video (or lyrics video) of a current or classic song in Spanish!  Then we answer questions and have a discussion about the song in the Spanish language!

*My amiga Allison from this great resource.

This is many students’ favorite day of the week for the reason that many students enjoy listening to music plus they get to:

  • Listening to the Spanish language through song.
  • They are being exposed to new genres and artists of Spanish speaking music.
  • They learning the geography of where the many artists are from.
  • Hearing different accents and slang from various parts of the Spanish speaking world.
  • Getting catchy music stuck in their head.
  • Cultivating an interest in new music.
  • Bringing up cultural similarities and differences.
  • Making learning Spanish.
  • Having students excited to come to Spanish class!

Tech tools for our Spanish classroom

Tech tools for our Spanish classroom

Speaking          Listening          Reading          Writing 

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  1. Online Spanish dictionary 
  2. Practice your Spanish with Duolingo
  3. Spanish speaking with Flipgrid
  4. Spanish writing & speaking projects with Adobe Spark
  5. Spanish speaking with Voki
  6. Spanish reading comprehension with the Disney website
  7. Spanish vocabulary games with audio
  8. Spanish listening & viewing : Mi vida Loca episodes (BBC)
  9. Spanish language game : Digital dialects
  10. Spanish listening via music from: Kevin y Karla

There’s a Snap chat etiquette?

Hi all!

snap 6

So I have a confession! I just turned the BIG 40 this year and I guess you could say I qualify as “old” to my students. For my major project I have been researching Snapchat (social media) and Google Classroom (Ed tech) with my students.

I added Snapchat ….I think 2-3 years ago. The main reason for creating an account was to:

  1. Check what the hype was all about.
  2. To have the domain name: kristabgates

When I first downloaded the app, I was confused on how to use it. I kept asking myself… the heck is this such a popular app? Why is it cool to take a picture and then it disappear into the digital world? It never made sense.

For the past 2 years, I have close friends on Snapchat. Mainly to take funny pictures and send to educator friends funny faces. Sometimes I delete the app because I never use it. Though for this major project I have begun to look deeper into this famous Snapchat app.

I found a funny article from Buzzfeed of all places entitled: You’re Old If You Don’t Know This Basic Snapchat Etiquette.

I didn’t know there was an etiquette to it?!?!?!?

Rule # 1: If someone /friends snap you and you don’t snap back it is considered rude.  I have for sure failed at this. If teacher friends or  friends snap me it takes me hours / days to open their snap or even respond.

Photo source 

Rule # 2: The uglier snaps you send, the better and closer the relationship you have. I think I passed this rule. I send only the ugliest snaps to my closest of friends.


Rule # 3: Streaks matter a lot.

First of all, what are streaks???? Must ask my students for my research purposes for my major project.

Rule # 4: If you’re dating a person, you must have a yellow heart to their name.

That’s cute! But I am married. Must I have a different coloured heart if I am married?

Photo source 

Rule # 5: Do not screenshot other people’s stories and snaps and then post them on other social media platforms.

This rule makes sense. It sounds like If you break this rule, you are breaching someone’s’ privacy without their consent. Though if you use Snapchat and are sharing openly, you are risking sharing too much information to others. (Must ask my students about this.)

Rule # 6: Don’t make your Snapchat story too long.

What? There’s a Snapchat story? What is the difference between a Snapchat and Snapchat story? Must ask my students about this one… do I even create a Snapchat story?

Photo source

Rule # 7: Do not post a story every 5 seconds of doing literally nothing.

Who has time to do that?

Though I wonder how much of my students do this on a daily basis? How and when do they find the time to do this? And what are they snapping all the time of?

Rule # 8: If you post something to your story, you should not send it separately to someone.

This Snapchat story is intriguing. Again, what the heck is it?

Rule # 9: Filters are for when you’re trying to look cute for a friend. This is mainly the dog filter.

How the heck is this a cute filter? (LOL).


Rule # 10: Don’t post landscape pictures.

Why the heck not? We are from Saskatchewan and we have the best landscape pictures on the planet?!?!

Photo source

Rule # 11: Use a geotag once while you’re somewhere, not in every single snap.

I just discovered geotags. Very cool. I would probably over use them!


Rule # 12: Do not respond to someone’s snap and then not respond to their text.

Really? But I already messaged you via snap! I have to respond again via text? That’s multitasking galore!

Rule # 13: If you respond to a person’s snap after many hours, remind them of what they said in a previous snap.

I guess Snapchat doesn’t save conversations and people won’t remember what they said or sent!? ! Crazy!

Photo source

Rule # 14: If you’re going to a concert, don’t snap the whole concert.

Again…..I would be guilty of this! I love concerts.

Rule # 15: Don’t lie and say you’re sick and then post a snap of you hanging with friends.

You’re busted for sure!!!!!

Photo source

Rule # 16: Don’t watch your ex’s story unless you’re trying to get them back.

What? You can see who has watched a story?!? Need to find out more about Snapchat story.

Rule # 17: If you’re flirting with someone via Snapchat wait a few minutes before opening their snap and responding.

It’s been over 15 years since I have been in the dating game. This sounds like torture!

Rule # 18: If you’re crush doesn’t respond to your snap with 2 hours they are not interested.

Reminds me of a book I read years and years ago….He’s Just Not That Into You! ….But that was via a phone call over the phone. ….I am old!

Photo source

Rule # 19: Don’t post snaps at the gym

I agree with this 110%. It is never a pretty site to see me on the treadmill.

Rule # 20: If someone is bothering you or creeping on you block them.

Are their stalkers on snaps? How do kids know when someone is creeping on them?!?! (Must ask my students!)

Rule # 21 Nobody will get tired of pet snaps.

This makes total sense.

Photo source

After reading this, I am for sure old because I had no idea about the Snapchat etiquette. I have a lot to ask my students about this.


AKA Madame Gates

P.S: Does anyone know the number next to my Snapchat profile name mean? Have I taken too many silly pictures that I’ve sent to friends?


Spanish chats about the weekend!


Spanish chats about the weekend! (Speed dating style!)

At the start of the class the students do a warm-up where they fill out the top section of the handout.

Finish each sentence with a verb in the past tense to tell what you did on the weekend.

El viernes yo ____________________________________________.

El sábado por la mañana yo__________________________________________.

El sábado por la noche yo__________________________________________.

El domingo yo__________________________________________.

Yo __________________________________ durante el fin de semana y fue muy divertido.

Yo comí ______________________ durante el fin de semana y fue muy delicioso.

The bottom section seen below, is what they ask their classmates:

  1. ¿Qué hiciste el viernes?
  2. ¿Qué hiciste sábado por la mañana?
  3. ¿Qué hiciste sábado por la noche?
  4. ¿Qué hiciste el domingo?
  5. ¿Hiciste algo divertido? ¿Qué?
  6. ¿Comiste algo delicioso? ¿Qué?

We then re-arrange the desks “speed dating style” where the students ask each other these questions and record their answers on the questions and answers sheets.

This activity is great for exposure to los verbos and a great tool to practice Spanish speaking.

Learning from around the world!

I was super pumped for Kirsten Hansen’s, Adam Krammer’s, Stephanie Grand’s, Lorraine Wagner’s, Venessa Vogel’s and Sharon Flaman’s presentation tonight on Tools for Distance and Online Education. It was also very cool to meet Jade Ballek as I have been a huge fan via Twitter.

I first discovered online education in 2013 via an ETMOOC led by Dr.Alec Couros.  From I remember Dr. Couros was on a sabbatical leave and was using his sabbatical time to connect with educators.  He used  Blackboard Collaborate as his tool for Distance and Online Education.  For a month we took part in a free online class where he invited anyone to come chat, learn and share from around the world literally. Connections from all over were made and I began to understand the importance of Personal Learning Networks and Connections. This was real authentic learning where everyone was trying new technology in education as well as stories were shared of what worked and did not work. Resources were shared and an online community was built via distance and online education. Check out the Lipdub our #etmooc created :

The terms connected learning, digital literacy, the open movement, digital citizenship, digital storytelling, the anatomy of a tweet were inspiring and great learning topics for newbie tech teachers. We were introduced to ED tech guru @Sue Waters, where she taught us about creative commons and proper online commenting etiquette and tips.  This open online concept truly blew my mind to online learning and all of the positive impacts of it. It pushed me as educator to share my resources and to make connectors with other language teachers.  In fact the whole process encouraged me to pursue and complete  my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.

This time around while pursuing my Master’s certificate in Second Language Acquisition, I am using new distance online learning tools like Zoom. Again this whole process has opened my mind to even more learning. I can go into breakout rooms like we did tonight with other classmates and have meaningful discussions. Using tools for online education has had a big impact on myself as I am learning to blog again. It is something that I enjoyed doing in the past and it has rekindled my joy for writing and sharing learning experiences with others. It has also given me the time to re-connect / connect with other educators as well as learn new tools that are available for teaching.

While teaching French Immersion and Spanish I would feel comfortable using these tools with my students such as Zoom especially for online / distance education classes. It would give my students the opportunity to connect with others who are learning a new or second language. Though I also believe my students would miss that face to face contact while learning a language and I believe that is an important link to have when learning a language. Face to face learning is a great opportunity to make a direct connection with students.

After having read the article on Identifying and Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Online Students in Higher Education, it was truly an eye opening learning experience.

It was quoted that “online educators need strategies for identifying mental health problems in their students, resources available to offer the distance student, and institutional policies addressing mental health and student performance”.

I was reminded about the sometimes negative effects of online learning especially for students who are or who may be suffering with mental illness. At the school we have direct contact with our students and where educators can hand can tell if my students need guidance. Though if teaching online students if would be difficult to do so. I was reminded that if teaching an online class we must create a school atmosphere where students are encouraged to seek and ask for help.


Thanks so much.


How to create a Skype Classroom

How to create a Skype Classroom

Skype Classroom  

Here’s how to get started:

Go to:

* How to create a profile and find a teacher

1) Create a Skype name and password

2) Create your own profile (Your screen name & description are how you will be known on Skype in the classroom.

*While your profile on Skype in the classroom is attached to your Skype account, other teachers won’t see your Skype details unless you accept their contact requests.

3) Choose an email that can link to your Skype classroom account & attach a picture of you.

4) Choose a category or as many categories as you’d like to describe yourself as a teacher. (Languages, Math, Arts, Culture, Social Studies, Physical Education, Arts, Reading & Writing, Guest Speaker and technology.)

5) Description gives other teachers information about yourself and what you are looking for on Skype classroom.

6) Location country and city of where you are located on map.

7) Languages you speak.

8) Add your own website, school website or your own blog.

9) Students age ranges of classes you would like to connect with. (12-15) (16-18)

Congrats! Your profile is now created!

How to connect with other teachers:

Go to the top (Directory) to locate other teachers.

-You can search other teachers by key words, subject areas and where they are located in the world.  You can check out their interests and what they would like to accomplish via Skype classroom.

If interested to connect, add them as a contact and send message.

How to create a project on Skype in the classroom

If you are looking to collaborate or want to create a teaching project:

-sign in to Skype Classroom

-click on create a project

-Provide detailed information of what you are looking for

-Projects are a way for teachers to collaborate around a specific goal. You can create a project to find partner classes, partner teachers or guest speakers. It’s super important that your project description clearly and thoroughly describes what you are looking for as this description is how other teachers will find you.

-Give your projects a title (keep it easy and short)

-Describe what your project is about and why it may be interesting for other teachers.

-Add videos or pictures to bring your project to life.

-Select the subject that best describes your project and the age group.

-Create project

-Relax… you can edit your project anytime.

-You can access your projects on your profile.

The following information has been adapted from

Example of a Skype Classroom Language exchange in the classroom:

Skype Classroom call (A learning call)

A Mystery call:

-A mystery Skype call is when; classrooms call each other & try to guess where the other classroom is located in the world.  Connect with other classrooms around the world, country and city.  Have the students share hints of their true location, challenging the other students to guess where in the world their new friends live.

When doing a Skype call, each student works at a specific job during the calls.

Hand out responsibilities before the Skype calls so every student feels engaged with the conversation, not just passive participants watching the interaction. Assign each student a task that is relevant to the Skype Classroom call.


*Familiarize your students with different geographical locations, cultures and languages etc.

*Maps, Google earth & Atlas

*Formulate questions with your students for Mystery Skype and Classroom Skype.

*Distribute job responsibilities (Skype Teacher, Skype mappers/ Atlas, Skype Greeters, Skype Inquirers, Skype Photographers, Skype Runners, Skype Note takers, Skype Clue Markers and Skype Problem Solvers.

During Skype call:

*Interview & mapping

*Questions and answers

*Taking pictures and video of the Skype call

*Data collection and notes in regards to the call

Post Activities:

*Debrief as a group about Skype call.

*Information Literacy (evaluates, analyze and categorize)

*Create video diary (Animoto)

*Blog Post (reflection)

*Share with students, other classrooms

Job responsibilities definitions:

Skype Teacher: The Teacher in charge of the classroom and set up of call.

Skype Mappers/ Atlas / Clue Markers: Students who use the maps to piece together the clues & location of the connected classroom.

Skype Greeters: Greet the connected classroom. They share an interesting fact about their own class, without giving away their location. They are also in charge of ending the call.

Skype Inquirers: These students will ask and answer the questions.

Skype Note takers: These students will write down notes and answers from the call.

Skype Photographers: using their device and or camera take photographs during the call.

Skype Runners: Students double checking and relaying out information from group to group.

Skype Problem Solvers: Helps students with any problems during call, vision, sound, technology issues.