Strategies for AP Spanish Language & Culture, part 2

I started writing this post back in May, but then life got busy. Now I’ve got a few hours to kill at the airport before we head to Costa Rica.

Back in December I shared some strategies for teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture that helped me through fall semester and I’ve got a few more fun things that have made it into my AP toolbox this semester. And just like in my first AP post, I feel morally obligated to disclose that I really don’t have any idea what I’m doing basically everything feels like a shot in the dark. While, I am by no means an expert on AP Spanish, I got my AP results back last week and I am absolutely delighted to share that ALL my Little Darlings (19 of them, mostly heritage students and 6 güeritos) passed their AP exam, and the majority with 4s and 5s! We worked really hard and I am so proud of their hard work! Here are a few more tools we added to the AP toolbox last semester that you might find useful!

Happy World Foundation: I learned about this gem at SWCOLT 2022 and it is the coolest! Basically it is a FREE way to connect native speakers from around the globe with your classroom via Zoom. Here are all the details and how to request a volunteer. Last semester we did this twice, once chatting with Gabby in Costa Rica, who shared with us about going to college in CR and of course she mentioned Gallo Pinto! Then we visited with Luciana in Argentina, who just happened to be sipping mate and taught us all about it. We started both visits by students asking questions to figure out where our Mystery Guest was zooming from. This is definitely something we’ll be incorporating more next year- my students LOVED it!

My brilliant friend Ashley has a great idea to make this even better for AP classes specifically…she wants to request volunteers based on the AP theme they’re studying. Wouldn’t it be cool for our students to interview a scientist or artist or…so many possibilities?! I can’t wait to try this next year!

Lucky Reading Jigsaw: This game is like The Lucky Reading Game, but better! In a nutshell, everyone in a team reads a different article, then collaboratively they have to answer questions. Here are the full instructions and a template to create your own! We played this during our Ciencia y Tecnología Tema, and each student read a different article about a Latin American Invention. Although I haven’t created it yet, I think this would be a great strategy to introduce students to a handful of artists during Belleza y Estética! Or a handful of desafíos mundiales (or how several countries are tackling the same desafío!) I’ll be incorporating a bunch more Lucky Reading Jigsaws next year.

GimKit KitCollab+ Claudia Elliott’s Question Resource: Claudia Elliott wrote an amazing blog post 3 Strategies to Successfully Tackle the Multiple Choice Section of the Spanish Language and Culture Exam that you’ve got to read! Within her post you’ll find a link to download the Question Guide and this is PURE GOLD! It will guide you and your students into creating AP type multiple choice type questions for any reading. Pair Claudia’s Question Guide with Gim Kit’s Kit Collab and BAM! You’ve got a fun, no prep way to get those Little Darlings comfortable with the tricky MC questions!

If you’re not familiar with GimKit it’s a game subscription that allows your students to play a bunch of different “game modes” with the content (questions, vocab, etc) that you create. I’m pretty stingy when it comes to spending my own $$ in the classroom, but I pay for this one, out of pocket. It is totally worth it!

Give your students an article to read, then create a “KitCollab”. Log into GimKit, create a “Kit” (which is essentially creating a new set of questions), but don’t make up any questions! Put those Little Darlings to work by clicking “Create KitCollab” which will give you a link to share with students:

Give your students the link AND Claudia’s Question Guide. Pair up students and assign each group a “Question Type” from Claudia’s resource. Have them re-read their article and formulate 1-2 questions to type into the “KitCollab”. All those beautiful questions will come to the teacher, and you’ll have a chance to preview them, approve them, and edit them if necessary. In no time, you’ll have a collection of AP Style Multiple Choice questions based on the article, read to play. But don’t be deceived the playing isn’t the powerful part…the real magic is the students getting familiar with the AP question types and thinking critically to write their own. Oh yeah…and the beauty for exhausted AP teachers…all you have to do is find an article! Talk about low prep!

Cover up the answers for multiple choice practice: I learned this nugget from Carolyn Bracksieck and Stacy Forero at their SWCOLT Session, Fluency + Fun= Five. It is mindblowingly simple: give students a practice text to read or recording to listen to and give them the multiple choice questions…but don’t give them the multiple choice answers. I played around with typing up the questions and giving students space to answer in writing. After they’ve had plenty of time to read and respond, then give them the multiple choice answers and ask them pick the letter that most closely matches what they wrote. My Little Darlings hate when I do this (because it’s more work for them, ha!) but I love that it slows them down and they really have to think about what they’ve read (or listened to) and what the question is asking them.

Here’s what it looks like:

Peer scoring for Free Response Tasks: 2nd semester I really upped the peer scoring game…what’s not to love?! They get really familiar with what the College Board is looking for by reading each other’s work and then I don’t have to feel guilty for not reading their work. The give each other feedback and I don’t take home mountains of grading. Win-Win-Win-Win! I started by just using the task rubrics published in AP Central, but my students needed a bit more structure to help them focus their attention on the task requirements, so created these Peer Scoring Guides. Copy them with the AP Rubric printed on the back, and have them give each other feedback while you catch your breath! Download the FREE Argumentative Essay Peer Scoring Guide and after you love it (I know you will!) you can purchase the whole set here, with Peer Scoring Guides for ALL Free Response Tasks.

Flippity Random Name Selector: This is a super simple FREE tool that I used nearly every single class, multiple times in each class This year’s AP class was made up of 13 heritage students, and 6 Spanish language learners, and so it was really important to me to get them used to interacting with each other. I love how simple Flippity makes it to randomly pair students, create groups or teams. I’ve got the link saved in my bookmarks bar and I use it all the time! Here’s a quick video showing you how to set it up and how to use it, if you’re new to Flippity:

Cortometrajes and Películas: Second semester we did a lot more movies/short films than we did in the fall. It was enjoyable for all of us and here are a few that we especially loved:

  • Bienvenidos– A darling short film about the Internet coming to a school in rural Perú. We jumped into this film during Ciencia y Tecnología. I created this quick slideshow intro to give them a bit of information about the organization featured in the film. As they watched, the reflected on how the cortometraje tied into the different AP Themes and Subthemes, using my AP Movie Guide.
  • Cuánto. Más allá del dinero. Here’s another short film set in the future in Spain. We used this one in the Ciencia y Tecnología unit as well. It’s super freaky and generated some great discussion. Along with using the materials for this corto created by Voces Digitales, here’s a Scrambled Sentences Game: Cuánto. Más allá del dinero to play after you’ve watched and discussed the film.
  • Amor de Lata For Valentine’s Day, we watched and discussed this one. It is so cringey and hilarious! While discussing, we made a lot of comparisons between schools in Mexico and in the US.
  • Abuela Grillo We watched and discussed this Bolivian cortometraje during Desafíos Mundiales, while we learned about water scarcity. I bought this TPT Unit: Abuela Grillo, a Bolivian legend about the exploitation of water and I can’t recommend it enough!
  • También la lluvia Holy moly, this is a powerful movie with so much to talk about! My Little Darlings really enjoyed this one. Although the full movie is available on YouTube, I wanted the option to play the Spanish subtitles, while watching it in Spanish, so I bought the DVD. I also purchased the También la lluvia Film Study from TPT. The Film Study comes with a TON of materials…I didn’t use everything, but it was nice to have materials to pick and choose from, especially for teaching the background info essential for the movie.

Blank Footnotes: Here’s another one of those super simple ideas that I think was helpful in preparing my Little Darlings for the big exam. Often in my Spanish 1-4 classes, I use footnotes to help comprehensify a reading, by giving them an English translation or a Spanish synonym at the bottom of the page. I started inserting footnotes on their readings for tricky words…but just leaving a blank space at the bottom of the page (rather than giving a translation or synonym). While they were reading, they had to look at the context, then write in their best guess, using all their clues.

Passwords at the door: In my lower levels, I teach them a useful (or funny) phrase and everyone has to say it to get inside at the beginning of class. I stand at the door, they say the “password” upon entering and it gives me a chance to look every student in the eyes and make a connection before we start class. Passwords in AP were super helpful, especially giving them some fancy language for their Email and Argumentative Essay. I’d love them a password, we’d keep it for a few weeks, until EVERYONE had it perfectly, then I’d introduce a new one. It really helped them to internalize the structures and they felt comfortable using them in their writing. One change I’ll make for next year: they had their fancy phrases down…but spelling was still a little rough when they appeared in their writings. Next year I’ll introduce the phrase, they’ll say the password upon entering, then once they’re pretty good at it, I’ll have a mini whiteboard and they’ll write it down to enter. Here are some passwords that come to mind that we used last year:

  • He recibido su email y se lo agradezco
  • Si me permite, tengo algunas preguntas con respecto a…
  • En la fuente 2, el autor suigere…pero se equivoca porque…
  • No cabe duda de que…
  • La perspectiva de … es relevente porque…
  • La afirmación  de … es desacertada porque….

Duolingo Podcasts: I know, I know, I already mentioned this great resource in my last post of AP resources but it’s worth repeating. They are just so good and FREE! My heritage kids love them because they feel “easy”, my güeritos love them because they can understand them (confidence boost!) and everyone agrees that they stories are interesting. Sometimes I will assign a specific on to listen to for homework, other times I’ll give them a Podcast Choice Board and let them pick one that sounds interesting, then they’ll create a cultural comparison with a partner…without any prep from me!

Facebook Group- AP Spanish Language and Culture Teachers: This FB group is amazing, full of a zillion AP teachers, ready to answer your questions and share great resources! There is so much awesomeness that can be overwhelming. You find something INCREDIBLE, but you don’t need it until next May…what to do?! Put Google Keep to work! Create a label for each AP Tema, and as you come across posts, videos, pictures, articles, websites and advice that you want to hang onto, drop it into Google Keep and label it so it’s easy to find when you arrive at that tema. Facebook Collab Groups + Google Keep= Match made in heaven!

And while we’re on the subject, you better drop this post into Google Keep, because it’s summer now and I hope you’re having all kinds of fun and not thinking about school year! Tuck it away so that when you’re heading back and ready to start thinking about AP, you’ve got it ready to go!

Well, it’s about time to board so I better wrap it up! Señor Chase and I are heading to Costa Rica! Do we look excited?! After a week at the beach, pobre esposito must return home (because someone has a real job!) and I’ll hook up with a bunch of CI teachers and we’ll head to the Osa Peninsula to learn, play and explore.

While I may be in Costa Rica, famous for the coffee….tea is really more my style!


  1. Thank you so much! I’m wondering if you use all these strategies with only your “AP” class or do you also use them with lower levels (maybe with the level that precedes your AP level).

    I teach Italian and by level 4 they are already in AP. Since I don’t have a lot of time with them before they get to AP, I have many “pre-AP” activities ranging from novice to advanced for levels 1-3. Therefore, I’m wondering if I should use some of these ideas for my level 3 (such as peer grading essays, etc) or if you would suggest to wait until they actually get into the AP class. What do you do?


    • I’ve incorporated some of these strategies in my level 4 class and with my heritage students! Do it and see what works best!


      • Ok thanks!! Is your level 4 or is it the level that precedes your AP?

        By the way, I think it’s AMAZING that all your kiddos passed the exam!!! Congratulations!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you very much for sharing! The lucky reading game had been a game changer in my French 1B and Honors 3 classes this past year thanks to your post. I teach AP too and loved reading your tips 🙂 I too am a big fan of GimKit Collab and Google Keep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know what I’d do without Google Keep- I sure wouldn’t remember all the good ideas that everyone shares!


  3. Congrats on your 100% pass rate in AP! I would love to purchase your Peer Scoring Guides. Question: are they generic or generic enough to use for non-Spanish languages? Thank you for sharing these great AP strategies.


    • Hello!! I’m not sure about the structure of other AP Lang exams. If they’re the same (same tasks/same rubrics) then you could use them if you translate them. (All the student instructions and check lists are in Spanish)


      • Hi! I teach Italian AP and they are exactly the same! I’m not sure which language you teach.


  4. Hello! I purchased your peer scoring sheets and I can’t wait to use them! I’m just wondering what exactly you mean to say in English when you wrote “Email scoring sheet” on the Email scoring sheet.
    Thank you so much!


  5. I’m so sorry- I meant to ask what you meant when you wrote “comentó en el email” on the “email scoring sheet”. Sorry for the confusion!
    I’m trying to translate these into Italian and I was just a little confused on this phrase. I’m guessing you may have meant whether or not the student commented or referred back to the original email but I’m not sure.
    Thank you!!


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