My name is Nicole and I currently live in Hoboken, NJ. I am a first year teacher at a small Catholic High School where I teach Spanish I and Spanish II. I am actually the only Spanish teacher in my school so I am excited to meet other Spanish teachers!

A little bit more about me...
I was born and raised in the great state of New Jersey. I am the oldest of four children. My undergraduate degree is from Boston College - Go Eagles! I actually started college as an education major and switched my major sophomore year to Business Management/Marketing. I graduated with a degree in Business in 2008 and spent the next year living in San Diego, CA volunteering with the Augustinian Volunteers. During my volunteer year I spent three days a week volunteering at an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico called Hogar Infantil La Gloria. The orphanage is home to about 50 children ranging in ages from newborn to 15 so my tasks were quite varied. I did everything from helping with homework to feeding babies to helping with meals and chores to teaching a pre-preschool class. My time in San Diego and Tijuana really helped me develop my Spanish skills, my cultural awareness and form amazing relationships.

After I finished my volunteer year and realized how much I love Spanish, I volunteered for five months in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras. I was placed at an all girls high school run by the Salesian Sisters. My job was to teach, tutor, and supervise throughout the day. I specifically taught English, Computers, and Business Writing and lived on the school premises in a community with seven nuns. Being in Honduras was the complete immersion experience that propelled my Spanish to the next level. I loved working with the girls there, teaching, and practicing my Spanish. When I returned to the States I got my Masters in Secondary Education from Villanova University, started the painstaking job search process, was offered a job they day before school started, and now I am fortunate enough to be almost done my first full year of teaching! It has been a whirlwind year and I am so thankful to be participating in this program to prepare me for a spectacular second year. I have never been to Costa Rica but I have heard incredible things about the country and cannot wait to experience it firsthand!

#1 - At the orphanage feeding one of the babies
#2 - At the school in Honduras with some of the girls (I'm the one not in the school uniform!)

Curriculum Project:
Intended for a Spanish II HS Classroom

Overall Objectives:
Students should be able to:
-explain what a biological corridor is, its purpose, and their connection to sustaining them
-recognize Spanish/English cognates within the context of learning about biological corridors
-use tener que to think about how to protect biological corridors and wildlife
-research an endangered species and present it in Spanish via PowerPoint or Glogster

National Standards:
  • Standard 1.1: Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions
  • Standard 1.2: Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics
  • Standard 1.3: Students present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics.

  • Standard 3.1: Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language
  • Standard 3.2: Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures

Lesson Ideas:
1 – Guess the Animal: Costa Rica/Adivina el Animal: Costa Rica
I will have the students work in groups with cut up pictures of animals and have them see if they can identify what animal it is. For example, jaguar, butterfly, snake, parrot, and crocodile will be possible pictures to distribute to the students. Cooperatively students will identify each of the animals in Spanish and English.

Supplementary PowerPoint: Five Animals of Costa Rica with Spanish Sentences

After students have identified the animals and viewed the powerpoint to reinforce their learning, they will answer the following question: What is the most important part of nature?/ Que es mas importante de la naturaleza? Additional vocabulary words will supplement their answers: Agua, Tierra, Animales, Arboles
Discuss students answers and then watch the YouTube video Future Policy Award 2010: Costa Rica ( and write down the animals that they see in the video as well as what the girl responds to the same question posed to them.

The purpose of this activity is to engage the students using visuals and cooperative learning. It is a short activity meant to have them think about wildlife and learn some new Spanish vocabulary words. Once students have finished looking up and identifying the words we will practice with the verb ‘gustar’ using questions such as “Te gusta ver una mariposa?” Questions using simple Spanish structures, but a variety of prior knowledge will help connect the higher ideas with the Spanish language.

2 – Biological Corridors Cognate Activity/Actividad de Cognados: Corredores Biologicos
Students will each receive a piece of paper with the Spanish definition of a biological corridor. Their task is to underline each of the cognates that they see within the definition. At the bottom of the paper, students will write the English cognates for each of the words that they underlined. After we go over the cognates, we will focus on the definition of biological corridors as a whole – what are they? Where are they found? Why are they important?

Teacher Content:
The 7th United Nations Millennium Development Goal is focused on environmental sustainability. This topic will be addressed in my lesson through the topic of Costa Rica's biological corridors. A way to make this concept relate-able to students is to tell them to consider what would happen if a part of their hallway was completely impassable. Slowly let them think about being trapped in an area and what they would be forced to do. How would they go to class? Get food? Go home? Obviously this is a hypothetical, but it hopefully gets the students to think about what happens to animals when their habitats are endangered and eventually eliminated. Deforestation and hunting are two human actions that are threatening the homes and lifestyles of wildlife. Costa Rica (and other countries) have started to connect areas to promote wildlife movement and easier access to natural vegetation. These are known as biological corridors.

During our time in Costa Rica, we visited the Osa Peninsula. The Osa Peninsula is located in the southern part of the country, and is home to 2.5% of the Earth's biodiversity. (According to Human actions began to threaten isolate the peninsula area and cause the animals to suffer and change their lifestyles. This caused a need to create biological corridors. The purpose of this biological corridor is "to permit the continuity of the biological processes between the Corcovado Park National Park and the Piedras Blancas National Park." ( Currently, the Osa Peninsula contains the largest group of scarlet macaws as well as several other endangered species. One bird species, the yellow-billed cotinga, is endemic to the Osa Peninsula. (Endemic meaning only found in this area.) We saw the scarlett macaws during our time in the park, as well as an anteater, coatis, snakes, crabs, and spiders. The area has an abundance of wildlife and plant life and is an incredible opportunity to see the sheer natural beauty of Costa Rica.

What exactly is a biological corridor?

In English:
According to the Central American Commission for Environment and Development defines a biological corridor as a "geographically defined area which provides connectivity between landscapes, ecosystems and habitats, natural or modified, and ensures the maintenance of biodiversity and ecological and evolutionary processes."

In Spanish:
La Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo external image ic_ventana_45.png define a un corredor biológico como “un espacio geográfico delimitado que proporciona conectividad entre paisajes, ecosistemas y hábitat, naturales o modificados, y asegura el mantenimiento de la diversidad biológica y los procesos ecológicos y evolutivos”.
Include PowerPoint from Corcovado Reserve Presentation

Assessment of student understanding of biological corridors will be done via an Exit Slip.
Exit Slip Sample Questions:
Which of the following is NOT a biological corridor?
Why do biological corridors exist?
How do you say biological corridor in Spanish?

The purpose of this activity is to first recognize how many words are similar in both Spanish and English. These similarities make learning Spanish and understanding it much easier. Additionally, this activity is to inform students about biological corridors. Ideally making connections between things learned in Science class and knowledge about Costa Rica.

3 – Tener + que Activity/Actividad de Tener + Que
Students will work either in individually and in pairs to brainstorm two things they can do on an individual level to protect the biological corridors and the wildlife and two things that can be done as a planet. Each pair will write their sentences down on a piece of cardstock and decorate it with markers, colored pencils. They will present their goals to the class and practice their Spanish while sharing their ideas. Their work will be hung in the classroom as a reminder of their commitment to protecting the wildlife and biological corridors.

This activity is designed to use the present tense but think about the future. Students can use the structure tener + que to discuss what they need to do to protect the biological corridors for future generations. It is an opportunity to share ideas with a partner and think globally about the human impact on environment.

4 - Storytelling: El Gran Copaquero, Por: Lynne Cherry
First, students will view the powerpoint to reinforce the animal vocabulary and prepare them for background on El Gran Copaquero. Students will view the pictures of the story powerpoint and identify the animals and activities that they recognize in pairs. After familiarizing themselves with the pictures and characters, the teacher will act out the story using Spanish appropriate for the student's level of understanding. After acting out the story, students will then take the story pictures and put them in the appropriate order when the teacher repeats the story without the powerpoint. In order to check the students understanding, you can see what order the students put the pictures in and confirm that students have the proper order.

(Story PowerPoint is too large to upload to Wiki)
Story in Words:

Although the story takes place in the Amazon Rainforest, students can still make the connections to the Costa Rican rainforest. This story humanizes the concept of 'saving the rainforest' and helps students see the impact of human action.

Project Idea:
After learning more about Costa Rica’s rich wildlife and biological corridors, students will be assigned a project and an opportunity to work on it in the computer lab.

Project Objectives:
Students will be able to:
-identify at least one endangered species
-review present tense structures in Spanish
-review descriptive adjectives in Spanish
-look up new Spanish vocabulary

Students will peruse the list of endangered species in Central and/or South America. They will select an animal from the list and do more research on it. Their objective is to create a powerpoint or glogster about their animal in Spanish. The final product must include at least three pictures of the animal and a map of the country or area where the animal primarily lives. The following questions must be addressed in Spanish:
- Que animal eres?
-De donde eres? Cual pais? Donde vives?
-Que comes?
-Que haces durante el dia?
-Como eres? Que color eres?
-Por que eres casi extincto?
-Cuantos de ustedes todavía hay en el mundo?

After students have created their PowerPoint, they will present them to the class to practice their Spanish and their presentational skills, as well as inform other students about the variety of endangered species.
Endangered Species Link:

Project Content:
There are currently 16 bird species, 13 mammal species, 2 amphibians, and 8 reptiles listed as endangered according to the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species. During the course of our trip, several endagered or threatened species have been discussed. The leatherback turtle used to lay its eggs in abundance on the Costa Rican shores. Turtle eggs, however, are a very popular item and their collection has depleted the turtle population significantly. This saga was told to us during our Mangrove Boat Tour and it was interestingly enough mentioned that turtle eggs are believed to be an aphrodisiac by Costa Ricans. Another endangered specie that lives in Central America is the quetzal. The quetzal is a bird that is known for its tail feather and is also the currency for Guatemala. We had the luck to see the beautiful bird in the cloud forest of Monteverde Reserve, however, it is a rare occurence because of how few remain in the world.

NJ Grading Rubric for Presentation of Endagered Species PowerPoint

Additional Resources:
-(Brochure) Costa Rica Wildlife Brochure with Pictures and Animal Names in Spanish and English
- (Book) Mamiferos en Peligro: Entre Jaguares, Cauceles, y Pumas
Escrito por: Claudia Zuniga Vega