Brillante Viernes: February 24, 2017

Brillante Viernes Feb 24

Happy Friday!  This weather has been phenomenal around DC!  Although it has me ready for Spring Break, and Spring Break is far away.  March is here and with it brings March Music Madness in many FL classes.  I have been updating my Facebook page with all of the brackets across the web.  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • I have been focusing on how I am providing feedback.  This post was great.
  • These are some great tips for working with a novel and how to start.
  • I integrated this today!  Have students write 4-word picture stories.
  • I love how Laura is integrating grammar and culture.

Now, #flashbackfriday:

  • How I combined authentic resources
  • Template for an interpretive listening task
  • A small change that I implemented to increase TL use
  • I still love the song Mi Favorita by Renzo!
  • A fashion webquest (one of the links doesn’t work, but you could modify that question)
  • An English website with a lot of conversation starters
  • The game Chaos is people’s favorite post that I wrote

Summer Professional Development: 2017

Summer Professional Development 2017

Last year, I put together a list of professional development ideas for you to do over the summer.  I wanted to create a new list for you to consider attending- especially when I am on a conference high after NECTFL!

  • AATSP has their national conference this year in Chicago from July 6-9.  It is their 99th conference!  I attended this conference in DC, and I enjoyed it and learned a lot from the presenters.
  • NTPRS is back at San Antonio from July 17-21.  I went there many years ago and learned a lot especially from the elementary strand when I was teaching Lower School.  I went back when I was teaching Middle School and Upper School and also learned a ton of information.  You can read all of my notes to see what a valuable conference this was.  If you cannot make it to NTPRS, TPRS Books has workshops all around the country over the summer.
  • iFLT is in Denver from July 11-14.  This has always been on my list to attend.  Laura attended and posted a lot on her blog about this conference.
  • TELL Collab is also an awesome conference in Austin from July 24-26.  It is a participant driven conference.  Here are Amy’s notes on the conference!
  • We had Sara-Elizabeth visit our school, and we learned so much (and switched to more proficiency based teaching).  She has two BaseCamp Musicuentos: June 15-16 in Louisville, Kentucky and July 10-11 in Warwick, Rhode Island.  She will also offer the Brave Little Tailor July 31-August 1 in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • I learned about LILL  (Leadership Initiative for Language Learning) at the ACTFL conference this year, and many people gave it high marks.  It is June 27-29 in Skokie, IL which is close to Chicago.
  • CARLA institutes also have summer programs.  Some are held at the University of Minnesota, but they have some online as well, so you can complete them from any location.
  • AIM Language Learning has a 2.5 day Summer Institute for French, Spanish and Mandarin teachers that will be July 5-7, 2017 in Niagara area, Ontario, Canada.  It looks fascinating!

Also, there are a lot of amazing non foreign language related professional developments to attend.

  • ISTE (an instructional technology conference) is being held in San Antonio from June 25-28.  This is on my list of conferences that I really want to attend.  Many colleagues have been and enjoyed this conference.  One of my teacher friends posted about her experience last year at ISTE.
  • Also, if you are near Maine, you can go to a conference with Richard of Free Tech 4 Teachers about BYOD.  I learn so much from his blog that I am sure you would get a lot out of a face to face conference.
  • I have been to an art teacher institute at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va.  I loved it and loved all of that extra time in the museum.  We even got to go behind the scenes and see where they store the art that isn’t on display.  Here are some other art institutes, but I would encourage you to check your local art museum.  The Smithsonian American Art museum has a teaching Humanities through the Arts institute. The NGA has a summer institute on Renaissance art.  Many teachers from my school attended the National Portrait Gallery‘s learning to look institute and learned a lot- one ended up becoming a docent!
  • EdCamps are free and held all throughout the year!  Last year, the department of education in Maryland hosted subject specific edcamps.  I loved the EdCamp Maryland WL, and I met a lot of local teachers which is also fun.
  • I loved Ditch Summit over the winter break.  Check out Matt Miller’s (Ditch That Textbook and former Spanish teacher) list of presentations at the end of his blog posts.  Some may be near you!

What did I miss?  Message me, and I will add your PD to the list.

Jigsaw technique in a FL class

Jigsaw technique

To me, one of the best things about a teacher education program is that you learn techniques that you store away until they make so much sense to use!  Jigsaw is one technique that helped me recently.  Essentially, students break into smaller groups then they recombine to form new groups to teach each other the material.  The article describes this much better than I could.  I had trouble applying this to my current teaching until the other day.

Recently, we did Martina’s unit El Secreto.  I added in the story of Te Veo at the beginning.  For the assessment, I wanted students to compare these stories to a wordless video that they watched.  However, many students had forgotten or confused some of the earlier stories.  I decided to use the Jigsaw method to review the stories.  I had students break into smaller groups based on what story they wanted.  In their smaller groups, they summarized the story in Spanish and wrote 3 comprehension questions for the group.

Then, I regrouped the students in groups of 3-4.  I put one student that had reviewed different stories, so I would have one student from Te Veo, one student from El Secreto and one student from La novia desaparecida.  If I needed a fourth student, I would double up one story.  One student was able to read the recap, and the other partner could read the questions.  This worked really well, and many of the students spoke in Spanish, and seemed to understand what their partners were saying.

I needed my online/blended class to replicate this method.  Instead of working in groups, I put them in partners, and they added their notes to a Padlet.  This helped them all review in one area, and they could see everyone’s notes.

How do you use Jigsaw in your classes?  I have also recently read of a teacher using the Jigsaw method with different authentic resources.  I look forward to trying it again.

Brillante Viernes: February 17, 2017

Brillante Viernes: February 17

Happy Friday before a three day weekend!  Hurrah!  It is supposed to be warm in DC this weekend which if it isn’t going to snow, I will take.  Hopefully you have time to spend time with friends and family.  Here are some of my favorite blog posts from this week (and I normally post 4, but I just couldn’t limit myself this week!)  You have an extra day, so spend a few more minutes reading:

  • TeachThought has a great post about how to stop praising student work and give specific feedback and this post by Betsy about specific feedback.
  • Martina posts a valuable piece on copyright concern as more teachers post their work online, and Mike adds to this discussion as well.
  • I keep thinking about pre-listening/speaking/writing/reading activities.  Here are some pre-listening activities to do.
  • Also because I couldn’t decide between Bethany’s posts on adding videos to Google slides (and how to use this ability in the FL classroom) and open mind interactive slides.
  • Finally- if you have even more time, check out Sara-Elizabeth’s post on her blogs to watch!

More of my posts from this time in the past years of my blog:

NECTFL Recap Day 2


You can find the first part of my recap here.  Saturday started bright and early!

  • My first session was with ACTFL TOY Katrina Griffin.  She had some easy, quick ideas to incorporate into my classes.  After an interpretive reading activity, she has students create a headline, three summarizing facts, a slogan and a picture or two.  She also will ask questions and have students vote via legos.  I love this for novice learners!  Then she has students create their own infographic.  Infographics do not have to be flashy- you can have students draw their infographic!  Also, she mentioned doing see think wonder with a reading or topic.
  • I watched my colleagues Andrea Martin and Kate Ramella present on Spanish 4 and AP.  I really like that they have a separate cultural rubric when that is used.  They have also used Google Slides to have students collaborate on presentations.  Kate created a slide with each topic and a student’s name to fill out.  Also, I never seem to have the right programs to create a word cloud.  They recommended Tagul which allows you to rank words in importance to make those words bigger.
  • My last presentation on Saturday was by Lori Langer de Ramirez about the proficiency puzzle.  She always gives a lot of food for thought.  One thing that she emphasizes when switching to a proficiency is to constantly say “PROFICIENT” instead of fluent.  This helps administration and parents make the switch.  Also, she talked about the differences between the European model of levels and ours.  This chart helps explain it (especially if you have found something awesome on Pinterest and have NO clue if B2 is appropriate for your students).
  • On a side note, I saw some awesome tweets from others during this presentation!  Here are a few that were my favorites!  Do two truths and a lie about an infographic (and one I did today)!
  • If you don’t follow, Jim Ventosa on Twitter you should!  He has the best sketch notes!  In his notes, a presenter has students poll about an infographic concept then compare the in class poll to the results on the infographic.

Hope you can take something away to use in your class!  I can’t emphasize how wonderful of a weekend it was.

NECTFL conference recap: day 1

NECTFL Day 1 recap

Whew!  NYC did not make it easy for me to get in and out of via plane this weekend.  I had two delayed flights, but luckily they were direct.  I also got to meet some awesome FL teachers, see some familiar faces and spend time with my family and one of my best friends from studying abroad.  I had not attended a regional conference before, and it was really manageable, and I learned a lot.  I highly recommend this conference!  Also, thank you thank you thank you to everyone who stopped by my table at the techlab!  I was so nervous at first at the thought of having 10 minutes, and I am not sure I took a breath during the first two sessions.  The other ones were better, so I appreciate your patience with me.

Without further babbling, here are some of my favorite ideas and links from NECTFL day one!

  • I started out learning about how to integrate more interpersonal communication with Glennysha Jorado-Moran and Sylvia Guensch.  One thing that they said that really resonated me was how accepting we are of how toddlers talk, but we expect much more accuracy from our students when they are really learning in some of the same ways as first language learners.  This really cemented to me a lot of my feelings about proficiency development.  They also emphasized how to constantly recycle the question words because many times communication fails when students do not understand these words.  Finally, a tweeter mentioned the charades app to help with circumlocution in addition to the heads up app and to practice interpersonal skills.
  • The next session had teachers from the Penn Charter School who made the switch from traditional textbook teaching to a proficiency based curriculum.  The presenters were David Brightbill and Sarah Aguilar-Francis.  They talked about the process when they switched from proficiency.  One of the things that they mentioned was how much we expect from level one when teachers switch from traditional grammar based tests to proficiency based tests.  In this case, I think they mean that we can expect students to get 100% when we teach traditionally.  They can conjugate/memorize all of the correct verbs or vocabulary.  However, we cannot expect this knowledge to transfer when we switch to proficiency.  Just because a student can fill out a verb conjugation chart doesn’t mean that they will always write perfectly or speak perfectly.  To me, this is really important for teachers to realize.  Finally, one of the awesome authentic resources they mentioned for the Spanish house unit is segundamano.
  • My last session of the day was about how to prevent students from relying on online translators by Amanda Robustelli-Price.  There were a lot of good ideas that I had not thought of initially.  One idea is to allow students to use Word Reference and give them a specific number of words that they can look up before an assignment.  I really like that this takes away the ambiguity from an assignment.  As a teacher, I can see students who use online translators excessively; however, students may not see that or realize that they are relying on a translator while their neighbor is only looking up 3-4 words per section.  When I make my expectations clearer, I can help my students improve.  I also like the idea of a pre-writing strategy called list group label.  Finally, many people (including the presenter!) noted that they will provide key words that you want students to use on a writing practice.  This is such an easy and obvious scaffold, but I didn’t think of it.  Yes, they have Quizlet or their vocabulary lists, but many times they will ignore Quizlet and use their go to reference… the online translator!  This will help them not automatically reference the translator.

Here is a picture from my session of presenting!

NECTFL techlab presentation

Brillante Viernes: February 10, 2017


Happy Friday!  I am writing this from the airport- nervously hoping that my flight makes it to New York City tonight for NECTFL!  I will keep you updated via Twitter.  Follow along with #nectfl17.  Also, check out some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • Looking for a Valentine’s Day activity?  The Secondary Spanish Blog has you covered.
  • I love Annabelle’s brain breaks.  Here are some of her latest additions.
  • As I keep working on my own travel unit, this is a great addition with the foldable city.
  • One of my favorite music blogs is back!  Check out Emily’s latest post on new music.

Here is what I was up to in previous years:

Talking about the Super Bowl


I am a member of the Inspired Proficiency Facebook group.  There has been a lot of talk on how to incorporate the Super Bowl into our classes.  Tomorrow will be the perfect time to talk about the Super Bowl instead of a weekend chat!  I plan on using PearDeck to scaffold and survey my students.  I like that PearDeck can show my students live results, and I can have students respond to a multiple choice poll or write a longer response.  It can also give everyone time to process and respond.  It also goes well with Google accounts.  Finally, it holds everyone responsible because it tallies who has responded.  First, I can survey who watched the show and half time show.  I can ask feelings if they were happy or disappointed with the outcome and half time show.  I also will ask who watched the Puppy Bowl for those students who do not love football.  I will select the top 4 commercials and ask students what their favorite commercials were.  Also, I am going to take some stills of commercials and have students label them in Spanish.  This can be a great review of previous vocabulary.  I love that it is easy to embed pictures, and students can write on them.  This will also continue to involve students who didn’t watch the Super Bowl.  Finally, I will ask students what they ate during the game.

Also, I found this fun authentic resource for the Super Bowl.  It is pre-Super Bowl, but it will work.  I can actually embed it into PearDeck and have students comment on words that they can identify.  ESPN Deportes has some other resources and videos including Latin American fans at the Super Bowl.  (I sympathize with that poor Buffalo Bills fan… maybe next year they will at least make the playoffs…)  Zachary Jones also has a nice collection of football/Super Bowl activities.  Also, you can ask which quarterback is better Joe Montana or Tom Brady with this infographic.  This infographic would go well with the food question, but it does include beer in the infographic.  How will you celebrate the Super Bowl tomorrow?

Brillante Viernes: February 3, 2017

Brillante Viernes: February 3

Happy Friday!  This was our second full week, and I am beat.  I am ready for a relaxing weekend.  Also, we STILL haven’t had any snow.  I am getting antsy and will take a two hour delay at this point.  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • Elizabeth has been posting up a storm!  I am still figuring out how to continue to incorporate songs into class, and I love how she did an interpretive listening assessment for Bailando!
  • Check out Laura’s Chill Pill post.  I have decided that I will not apologize for creating community in L1.
  • I just did a singalong Friday with our chorus teacher and really like the idea of a singalong in class with the lyrics video!
  • Do you talk about what students did over the weekend?  I really like the idea of giving students a choice of a talking topic.  Here are 18 ideas to mix and match how to talk about your weekend.


  • This year, I am planning on doing a PearDeck to talk about the Super Bowl on Monday, but here was a reading that I have used in the past.
  • Some of my #authres from a medical unit
  • I love the group C9 and this was an activity from their song Eres.
  • My students go to visit the NGA each year.  I put together articles for them to read about each artist that we see.
  • Here are some of my wayback Wednesday ideas for Valentine’s Day.
  • I love Luis Fonsi!  This was one of the first songs that I discovered of his: Me gustas tú.