Students: Spanish Level 3
Students in Level 3 have been introduced to the concept of ser and estar verbs in previous years. But at this point, they will begin to work with these two verbs in a more-advanced fashion. In the first two years they learn that ser is normally used for permanent actions, and that estar is used to talk about temporary actions. The challenge arises when the students attempt to use the English verb to be to understand these two verbs in Spanish. Normally, ser and estar are analogous to the verb to be. However, there are specific instances for using one verb over the other in Spanish, meaning that the students must identify the context of sentences before deciding which verb to use in Spanish.

Lesson Objectives
  • Students will understand the difference between the Spanish verbs ser and estar, especially in relationship to the equivalent English verb to be
  • Students will be able to understand and recognize the difference between these two verbs in authentic language samples
  • Students will be able to make the correct selection between ser and estar in the context of Spanish sentences, while also conjugating the verbs correctly in the present indicative tense in both mechanical and creative fashion
  • Students will be aware of different outside resources that can assist in further study and practice of the Spanish language

Teacher Goals
  • To introduce the Spanish verbs ser and estar
  • To compare and contrast ser and estar with the English verb to be
  • To provide explicit grammar explanations
  • To give students the opportunity to see these verbs in an authentic language text
  • To give students the opportunity to practice the difference between these two verbs
  • To give students the opportunity to collaboratively produce language samples that successfully implement the use of these two verbs

National Standards for Foreign Language Education (link)
  • Comparisons: Standard 4.1 - Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own
  • Note: The National Standards offer sufficient flexibility for the ser and estar concept to fit several of the different standards. However, Standard 4.1 is the main impetus behind this lesson

  • Web site - direct grammar instruction and practice
  • Web site - grammar practice and drills
  • Web site - authentic language resource (newspaper from Spain)
  • Web site - vehicle for collaboration and presentation
  • Website - vehicle for collaboration and presentation
  • Web site - collection of additional language resources

  • Discuss the idea that languages differ from one another in more ways than just vocabulary
  • Present students with a brief description and examples of the verb ser as the verb of choice when talking about permanent descriptions, time, events, or inherent qualities
  • Present students with a brief description and examples of the verb estar as the the verb of choice when talking about temporary descriptions, location or progressive actions
  • Provide students with English sentences that model the different uses of ser and estar, and ask that they make a choice between the Spanish verbs (Example: My friend is Cuban <ser>. My friend is in Cuba <estar>.)
  • Use as the formal grammar resource/explanation. This can be done using the classroom LCD projector (Note: My district is moving away from textbooks in foreign-language classes, and replacing them with online and authentic resources.)
    • Use the traditional site to introduce to the students
    • Use the diigo version of to explain my highlights and show my comments (link)
    • Show students where/how to access the diigo version of the page (e.g., school website, blog, Wiki, Twitter, Moodle, etc.)
  • Use for the students to receive direct drill (i.e., mechanical) practice, where the specific need for ser or estar is indicated, and students have to only conjugate correctly. (Example: Javier _ en la escuela. <estar>) The goal is to solidify for the students the individual conjugations, as well as to begin becoming familiar with the different contexts in which these verbs appear (activity link)
  • Use to give students the opportunity to experience the language in an authentic context, where the uses of ser and estar are embedded in a bona fide newspaper story
    • Use the traditional site to introduce the news story (Note: The students at this point will already be familiar with "El País" as both a traditional newspaper and an online version)
    • Use the diigo version of the news story, and explain my highlights (conjugated versions of ser and estar) and comments about the context of the verb choices (link)
    • Use the diigo version of the story to explain that, as an authentic text, there are multiple verb tenses present in the story
  • Students will receive an opportunity to make their own choices between ser and estar, in a cloze exercise. In order to receive immediate feedback, the activity will take place in Moodle, where students receive an automatic score, based on their answers.
  • Students will use a combination of the diigo site and to create and give feedback to presentations
    • Students are divided into teams and each team is assigned a digital camera from the media center
    • Each team is responsible for taking photographs that represent a pre-determined number of ser and estar rules. The photos will then be uploaded to a wikispace page that each individual group will create
    • Every team will be assigned another team to work with, but the two teams do not necessarily work with one another. For example, team A will look at the photos from team B, but team B will not necessarily look at team A's pictures. Team B will be assigned to look at photos from team C
    • Every team will create a diigo page for the assigned team's photo wikispace page, and for each photo, write a sentence with ser or estar, depending on what they interpret the photo to represent (For example, the picture of a red car in front of a house can be described in a number of ways, depending on the team's interpretation. The team could write, "The car is (estar) in front of the house" or "The car is (es) red."
    • The last step is for each team to visit the diigo version of their own photo page, and explain the rule that the sentence-writing team applied to the photo descriptions. (From the example above, "Estar was used to represent location of an object" and "Ser was used to describe the inherent quality of an object, such as color.")
  • Students will be made aware of different language resources where the concept of ser and estar is available for review and practice (i.e., MU's ethemes site for Spanish language)

Validation of outcomes
  • Formative assessment - This activity has provided a baseline awareness of the differences between ser and estar. The Moodle cloze exercise described above is modified and converted into a graded quiz activity. Different prompts are given in the assessment from the prompts in the practice activity, but the spirit of the prompts will remain the same. Example for the verb estar: (practice activity) Las camisestas están en el armario. The t-shirts are in the closet. (assessment) Las camisas están en el sótano. The shirts are in the basement.
  • Summative assessment - After a number of other activities, a summative assessment will take place, where students will write original sentences in Spanish that will include the correct use of ser and estar.

  • Students will use diigo to annotate news stories found within that are of personal interest to them
  • Students will continue to use these sites throughout the year to both reinforce the material in this lesson, as well as to receive instruction and practice in other concepts and material

The images you see below are home pages. Clicking on the URL will take you directly to the diigo version of the target activities described above.
Grammar Explanation:
Authentic Resource:
Verb Practice:
Additional Resources: