Fluency Exercises in the Native Spanish Speaker Classroom




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mad minute fluency drills for the spanish classroom

While grammar exercises are never the be-all end-all of the Native Spanish Speaker classroom, they are a super important part of ensuring our native Spanish speaking learners have a strong command of written language in order to be successful bilinguals in an educated setting. I often found straight-up memorization of very conjugations to get a bit boring, until I stumbled upon the fluency exercise called the Mad Minute. While often used in Math classrooms, the Mad Minute is easily adaptable for high school Spanish grammar students. You can find many Mad Minutes and accompanying answer keys on my Teachers Pay Teachers store, in this article I’ll share my top six tips for using the Mad Minute in the classroom! And if you’ve already mastered the use of the Mad Minute, head over to the article on using the Mad Minute Tracker (free download!) to create healthy competition in the classroom!

The idea behind the Mad Minute Fluency Drills is to create a sheet of lots of rote grammar exercises (some part of content that needs to be memorized and executed in the classroom at a high level in order to be successful in the course), that students must attempt to complete within one minute. There should be more exercises on the page than a student could reasonably complete in one minute, but not so many that a student looks at the paper and immediately wants to give up. Here’s a screen shot example of one row of the Irregular Subjunctive Mad Minute from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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Now that you have a visual for what a Mad Minute is, I’ll share my top six tips for executing the Mad Minute successfully in class (content you can’t find on Teachers Pay Teachers!)

  1. Xerox the Mad Minutes on only one side of the paper, or use the other side of the paper for a completely different activity. Students must keep the sheet facedown until you start the timer for them to start. It’s so fun to hear all of the papers turn over at the same time!
  2. Project your timer so that students can easily see how much time is left for them to complete the activity. I love to use the X Note Stopwatch Timer and put it on the nanoseconds, just to increase the feeling of urgency surrounding the activity.
  3. The entire exercise should be completed in silence. I used to say “Basta. Revíselo.” and that was the only sound in the room until I opened the activity up for questions at the end of students checking their own work.
  4. Go for perfect. I wanted to value accuracy for this activity, so I would ask students to first count the number of attempts they made and write that at the top of their papers under a division sign. After checking their work, they would then put the number of correct answers they got on top of the division sign. I asked them to try to get as close to 100% accuracy as possible. This motivated slower students to do as many correctly as possible, rather than trying to complete a whole bunch of exercises incorrectly. Of course, there was alway one smart-aleck kid who would consistently be proud of getting one out of one correct, which was 100%! (My eyes are rolling right now, there’s so many things wrong with that situation.)
  5. Allow students to check their own work, and then allow small groups of students to answer each other’s questions. At the end, allow 2 minutes of questions in a whole-group setting. (I include a random incorrect answer to a hard question on my answer key just to see if the students were paying enough attention to ask about it!) The whole Mad Minute exercise from start to finish shouldn’t last longer than 5 minutes, and should be done every day.
  6. Don’t grade this activity. I made it a competition between classes, between teams in classes, between teachers… lots of ways to keep this fun and fresh without it being a grade. Check out this post (and free class tracker download!) on ways to use the Mad Minute to motivate students.

And that’s it! There are LOTS of Spanish Mad Minutes (with accompanying answer keys!) on my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so check them out and use your precious teacher planning time for something other than creating monotonous fluency activities!

Did I miss something? How do YOU use Mad Minutes as fluency activities in your Spanish class?

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