“La Mano”…a kinesthetic, musical & visual way to understand verb endings

“La Mano”

I’ve been using the “mano” for a number of years with my students, to help when it comes to their speaking and writing in terms of remembering which ending goes with which person or group of persons. I’m not quite sure if I came up with this strategy all on my own or if I had some help but either way, I love using it as a useful tool with students studying Spanish.

Students trace their own hand in their notebooks and label each finger accordingly. The thumb is considered “Yo” and they write “Yo” on the inside and “o” on the tip of the outside of the thumb. They signal to themselves with their own thumb and say “Yo, o”. The pointer finger becomes “Tú” with “as, es” and although it is not nice to point, they point to the person sitting next to them and as I like to say “stare into their eyeballs” and say, “Tú, as, es”. Next, as if they are counting starting with their thumb, they have three fingers in the air and point up to signify “Usted” by pointing towards me (their teacher), and finding a classmate in the room, point out  “él” and “ella”. With these movements, they state, “Usted, él, ella, a, e”. Now, the longest of all, we. The students have four fingers (ring finger) displayed and take their hands, so that they circle it around their head to say “Nosotros, nosotras, amos, emos, imos”. Some students like to circle around their head multiple times, no harm in that! Finally, all five fingers are out and the entire mano is now displayed, because we have arrived to our last endings, on the pinky. Students, using their entire hand, point up to signify a group of individuals who are older than they are to state “Ustedes” and then towards their classmates, “ellos” and a group of female classmates, “ellas”.  The tricky part is coordinating the hand movements with the statements. Once they get the hang of this slowly, you can then speed it up into a chant or rap, to make it more interesting and fun to do.

Yo, o

Tú, as, es

Usted, él, ella, a, e

Nosotros, nosotras, amos, emos, imos

Ustedes, ellos, ellas, an, en

Students practice “la mano” at the beginning of the school year and learn what each of the subject pronouns mean. When it comes to memorization, we turn “la mano” into a chant or rhyme to make it easier to recall. We practice “la mano” in various contexts, one on one, in partners, small groups and as a whole class. Either way, after repetition and practice, it does stick! I also allow students to quickly create “la mano” at the top of their writing assignments,  speaking prompts, free writes or quizzes/tests as an additional reference tool. This is especially helpful for students who struggle with the endings and need a visual reminder.

The mano can be used for ALL different types of endings, based on the -AR, -ER and -IR verbs and tenses of emphasis in your level of Spanish. Students in level one enjoyed the present tense and preterit tense “mano”- so we used our right & left hands.

Hopefully this trick will allow for smoother speaking and writing on behalf of your novice, intermediate or advanced learners of Spanish! ¡Suerte! 🙂

Power Point (ppt):  La Mano

2014: The year of “Why Not?”

2014 has begun and New Years Resolutions are all around us! However, have you taken a few minutes to reflect on your “educational” resolution? For this year, I plan to embrace the philosophy of “Why not?” and hope you will as well. Ultimately, how do you know if that strategy, technique or idea will work…if you don’t at least take the time to plan & try?

So, I say pick one new thing…one new idea…something you’ve heard about in the educational realm and wondered. Take a few minutes to open yourself up to trying out these unchartered waters. And when you begin to doubt your ambitious 2014 nature, stop and say, “Why not?”

Here are some suggestions: 

(1) Involve yourself in a social media website with other educators. Whether it be Edmodo, LinkedIn, Thinkfinity, Twitter, Schoology, Pinterest, etc….take a few minutes to explore at least one. Just by reading what other educators are posting and discussing online, you may feel inspired to pick up your “new thing” through the help of others.

(2) Go watch a colleague you’ve worked with and have always wanted to watch. Whether it be in your subject area or a different discipline, schedule the time with the help of your building administration, to observe your colleague for at least one class period. While visiting, take notes, ask yourself reflective questions about the strategies they use and whether or not you can implement what you see into your own practice.

(3) If your “one new idea” is costly, then it looks like grant writing is the way to go. Seek out a local or national organizations/business that supports educational institutions. Writing a grant is similar to filling out an application- you provide as much criteria as possible about what you would like to do and the purpose behind the financial necessity in your request. It is simple! The hard part is finding the right organization that will support your idea. This website is a good place to start: http://www.donorschoose.org/

(4) Pick up a copy of Dave Burgess’s Teach like a Pirate. I guarantee you will be inspired.

(5) Sign up for a Professional Development experience that is new for you! There are always plenty of ways for world language educators to learn- whether it be online or in person-you just have to find the best one for you based on your schedule. This year, I was fortunate enough to attend ACTFL and I was amazed by the amount of passionate educators I met and connected with, not to mention all the wonderful sessions I attended! As a first-time attendee, ACTFL was quite rewarding.


So, I ask….will 2014 also be your year of Why not?

Go for it! 🙂