This year continues to challenge; however, I feel much more motivated. Part of this involved going to NECTFL. I have to say- despite the pictures, NECTFL wasn’t all roses. Almost my WHOLE family got some stomach bug. I actually had to take off the day before I was leaving because I felt so bad. My husband and I came back early because my mom got it from my son. All that being said- IT WAS AMAZING. To be in the same place with all of these amazing and motivated educators and friends after so long, priceless. Since I have returned, I have felt more motivated and inspired within my classroom. If you are feeling comfortable to attend an in-person conference, I highly recommend it! (I am also SO excited to be going to SCOLT since it is in my home state and hometown! I am presenting with Lynne Hendrick about one of my favorite things which is the EdCamp model and why people should do this for PD!)
Favorite reflection style
One thing that was motivating for me was a presentation from the ever thoughtful and ever thought-provoking Thomas Sauer. We as teachers focus on what we need to do to get better. We always do that- from teacher programs to setting annual goals to evaluative observations. But when do we really reflect on what IS working in our classes? And not in a way like oooooh this sort of worked BUTTTTTT I could improve. But just taking stock in what is working and focusing on JUST that. I started reflecting, and it was hard not to continue as it became more of a habit. As I continued though, it became easier to focus on what was really working well.
Favorite infographic activity
An activity (from our book!) that was working well in all levels with various grades (starting in third grade!) was making more infographics hands-on. Option A was to white out some of words and have students guess which answer would correctly fill-in the blank. I have found that this can work well with numbers and percentages in infographics especially. Then, I would provide students with the options and they would discuss which answer they thought went where.
The other activity was to cut up an infographic and have students connect the symbols and titles with the description below each symbol/title. I would mix it up and make copies for each student. They would then cut the infographic back up and re-assemble it. They paid more attention overall than they normally did to making sure it was accurate. Another thing that I liked about this activity was I was VERY purposeful about what I did include. Did I really need to include the whole infographic? I could cut out whatever I wanted to because I was already cutting things up as it was.
Favorite new source for infographics
I felt like students were really observant, and they ended up asking even MORE questions than normal. The reason? Their comprehension was up. It was a more interactive practice than answering questions about an infographic. But I had to SEARCH at times to find good infographics. There was a few times that I wanted to use this in class, but I couldn’t find an infographic that suited the level or topic. Then- I was listening to an amazing session with Bertha Delgadillo and Claudia Elliott on Comprehended and they mentioned this source and I was blown away!!!! There were so many options for infographics and topics all pretty perfect for novice students and this activity!
Favorite field trips
As I switched schools, I found myself at a school which encourages field trips, and it is an essential part of our school. We are also in DC with experiences galore. We are also lucky to have someone who plans all of our field trips! As we are able to go on more field trips, I am loving it! I wanted to include a list here in case you are inspired to take a similar field trip to some place in your community OR you are visiting DC.
- Did you know that the Kennedy Center has ballet open rehearsals for students? Two years ago we went to Paquita (and I blogged about how I turned that into a comprehensible unit with my colleague) and this year, we are going to see Don Quijote!
- The American History Museum has a Pleibol exhibit which my sixth graders loved when we were reading the book Felipe Alou! Also, the Molina Gallery will be opening soon (hopefully!) as we wait for the full museum to be built (and decided where to be built).
- The Planet Word museum is straight up amazing and should be added to any trip!
- After watching Street Foods and completing Kara Jacobs’ Mañana unit, we went to Peruvian Brothers in La Cosecha. La Cosecha is a “contemporary Latin American market.” They have a ton of great stalls there that could be a great introduction to other cuisines as well. We went on a beautiful spring day, and it was so much fun to sit outside and enjoy a meal with my students.
- We read Capibara con botas in fourth grade and then we will visit the zoo. They have a rainforest exhibit, giant tortoises AND an anaconda (which will hopefully be on display!)
- I have always loved finding art exhibits that connect to my students’ studies. We looked at a street art festival while we were studying street art in various countries. I have also taken many trips to the National Gallery of Art which is one of my favorite museums.
- The Mexican Cultural Institute is beautiful and has some really interesting and compelling exhibits. We attended their Día de los Muertos exhibit in 2018.
I hope that my favorites inspire you to try one of these in your classes! Also, stay tuned! I have a post coming up about my new favorite unit to do before a break!