Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: May 17, 2019

brillante viernes: may 17

Happy Friday!  It has been a loooong week, but we got some exciting news!  As of now, 13 students have qualified for the Global Seal of Biliteracy!  Due to AP testing, we have a few more students who are finishing up the tests this week.  We are thrilled!  I feel particularly moved by the fact that I have been able to teach some of these students for multiple years.  One student I have taught for four years!  I am so proud of how well they did.  I encourage you to check out the program especially if your state doesn’t have the state seal or you are in an independent school.

Here are some of my favorite posts from this past week:

  • I love AnneMarie’s post about rethinking May.
  • I used Kara’s song with my seniors and loved it!
  • My classes ran out of time this year, but I want to try a WalkTalk next year.
  • So many teachers keep recommending Teach Like a Champion!  Brett’s post discusses how we can link this to FL teaching.


Posted in reflection

Reflection: Spanish VI

Spanish VI Reflections

This was my first year of teaching Spanish VI.  As with any class, at the end of the year, I am ready to redo half of it!  I have found with myself as I constantly want to keep improving, I come up with things that I wanted to do different.  But at times, I forget what my original goal was.  Therefore, it is easier to think about how I would improve things for my students, but a lot of good really did happen.  So first, I will start with what I am happy about:

  • I brought a local organization to my class to talk about the current immigration situation going on.  She spoke almost exclusively in Spanish, and my students were proud of themselves that they could understand her.  They also all asked her a question in Spanish.  That made me happy because they realized that she could understand them and respond to them.  I have done the same thing when we tour the National Gallery of Art, but my hope again is to show them that there are other Spanish speakers who are not their teacher that can understand them.
  • We successfully read a novel for adults.  By the end, I felt like it helped students acquire language, and they felt more comfortable reading a book aimed toward native speakers which they will have to do next year.
  • Their projects had mixed results, but one student volunteered at an immigrant research center in our library.  She had to use her Spanish to communicate with them, and she did it!  She had been hesitant to use her Spanish outside of the classroom overall.  The person that she spoke with even complimented her Spanish!
  • We watched Ocho Apellidos Catalanes via Kara Jacobs- and it was a big hit!
  • Overall, I keep seeing students’ development in their Spanish proficiency.  I hear students’ increasing accuracy when they speak in multiple tenses, I see students starting to use more tenses in their writing, and I can see them speaking a bit faster each time.  I consider myself fortunate to teach students for multiple years over multiple levels to truly see their acquisition take place.  It has allowed me to be more trusting in the actual acquisition.  I have also had more and more stories of students feeling comfortable using their Spanish outside the classroom.  This is one of my biggest goals that I continue to have for all of my classes.

Many of these topics were my goals for the year.  I wanted students to find a connection to next year, and I wanted them to continue to feel more confident in their abilities.  So mostly, I am happy with the results.  However, I would want to change a few things.

  • Making the jump from leveled reader to full on adult novel was a bit too high.  I didn’t get to do as many extension activities that I feel like really help cement the vocabulary and topics in my students’ heads with Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.  We really had to sprint through to read the whole novel before the end of the year.  (Seniors end two weeks earlier than the rest of the school.)  Someone asked for a more of a transition book.  Martina suggested a YA novel.  That would have done the trick!
  • While some of my students’ year-long projects were great, some weren’t as successful.  I think the difference was how connected they were to the community.  Especially after reading Sara-Elizabeth’s post, I would have them connect their project to the community somehow.  I want them to get out and use their Spanish in some capacity.
  • I also should have made the project due earlier.  When I wait too long with any seniors, senioritis kicks in.  The projects aren’t as good.  If I had students finish this by the end of second trimester, we could have dedicated the third trimester just to the book.

As you reflect, remember to take in account your original goals.  It can be easy to set newer goals based on what your students have done throughout the year, but that isn’t where they were at the beginning.

Posted in Review

Book review: Tech with Heart

Tech with Heart book review

I just finished reading my colleague Stacey Roshan’s book, Tech with Heart.  Stacey shares her incredible journey and shows strength and vulnerability.  I have been lucky to work with Stacey while I have been at Bullis.  Typically, the first thing that I do when I find a tech tool is email Stacey to ask her advice on it!  While Stacey is a math teacher, her ideas have influenced my thinking in a variety of ways.

In her book, she talks about how a classroom can recognize introverts.  I can relate to this because I have changed my grading and class participation based on some of the reasons Stacey discusses in her book.  In my second year of teaching, I taught a sweet boy in second grade with brown hair and glasses.  He didn’t participate much, so my only understanding of his understanding was when we would have assessments or I would do checks for understanding.  Then, at the end of the year, we were playing a Jeopardy review game of the whole year.  He knew every single word that I asked!  His face lit up when he realized that no one else knew some the of the answers, and I realized that just because a student doesn’t participate doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t know the answers.  That was one of my biggest lightbulbs when I found out that I could never grade participation.  If I did, his grade would be low, and it truly wouldn’t reflect what he knew.

Stacey discusses how she has used PearDeck, Flipgrid and EdPuzzle in her classes to transform them and give a space for introverts who prefer to have time to think.  While I have been using these tools for years, Stacey’s book made me rethink how I can use them even more to transform my classes.  I love pre-made PearDecks, but another feature that I love about them is that I can just open one up and start asking questions aloud.  Especially in May when I have four preps, it is just easier to do this.  However, the other day, I decided to ask a social-emotional question at the beginning of my PearDeck.  I asked students what they were happy about recently.  I told them to respond in English and that I wouldn’t project their responses.  While many of them wrote that they were happy for the end of the school year, some students wrote a few things that really provided insight into what is going on with their lives.

That was when it hit me!  I have mostly shied away from assigning a ton of homework due to the fact that a lot of research questions the validity of the homework.  However, I realized that PearDeck may be the key for me to gather some of this information consistently and help me plan for my classes especially around novels.  The homework load would still be light, but it would be valuable.  For example, I can make a three to four question slide deck for homework.  I can include one social-emotional question that I can vary.  (PearDeck even has some sample ones that I can use!)  Then, I can ask students a few questions to help them recall the chapter.  This will also fit nicely with retrieval practices.  Some ideas that I am thinking about include:

  • write a 3-4 sentence summary of the chapter in Spanish or English (depending on the level)
  • draw a timeline of events in the past chapter
  • write 3-4 new words that you learned or remember from the book that are important
  • how does this part affect other parts of the book
  • make a prediction based on what happened in the last chapter

Then, based on what my students say, I can reiterate any parts that they do not understand at the beginning of class.  As Stacey also points out, I can have students look at these decks before a quiz to help them study.  I can also find time to discuss with my students how they are doing based on their responses to the other questions.

Another idea that Stacey shared in her book is having students reflect on the year using Sutori.  I love this idea!  I believe that I can alternate this assignment with PearDeck every other week.  This way, students can use the feedback that I give them after assessments to discuss their growth.  I have been inconsistent with how students use my feedback and reflect.  This is a low-prep homework idea from me that will help students in the long run, and it will provide more insight for me to see how students feel.

I highly recommend Stacey’s book because it is a great insight to how students feel with anxiety and perfectionism and how we can lessen the burden!  I know that you will come away with your own takeaways and how you can apply it to the foreign language classroom.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: May 10, 2019

Brillante Viernes: May 10

Happy Friday!  For our seniors, we only have two more classes.  It seems like this part of the year has flown by.  Many of these seniors, I have known since 7th grade.  I can’t wait to see them graduate, and I am so proud of them.  Some of them were in my first blended class and my last blended class (at least for now!)  I know I will be teary at their graduation.

There are some great posts this week!  Check them out:

Previous post of mine from this time:

Posted in Teachers Pay Teachers

Last few hours of the Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Teachers Pay Teachers sale

Ahh!  This spring has been CRAZY!!!  I have a lot of changes going on.  And with all of the changes and the general end of year craziness- I am done.  (But not actually done with school things until the beginning of June!)

I wanted to put together this post yesterday, but with all the craziness, I didn’t get to it.  I am participating in the Teachers Pay Teachers store sale!  You can get 25% off with the code: GIFT4YOU.  If you haven’t seen our free edition of the newsletter, El Mundo en Tus Manos, check it out!  The newsletter will be on sale for $56!  It will go up to $80 after June 1st.

This year, I have been adding a few more products to my store to help teachers who want to move away from the textbook.  I have been including traditional textbook themes, but I have added proficiency and comprehensible input based activities.  In addition, I also have included news type articles that cover culture and activities associated with these.  These have really helped teachers!  One teacher commented that they are great resources with a lot of activities to choose from.  Another teacher commented that it helped her cover all of the vocabulary she was “supposed to” cover but in a more interactive way.  So far I have a house unit, clothes unit, food unit and community unit.  They are all on sale for $2.40.

As more teachers want to assess with Integrated Performance Assessments, I have included some of mine in my store as well.  I have a daily routine assessment, restaurant assessment, clothing assessment, and my end of the year level 1 Bolivia assessment.  Each assessment includes an interpretive, interpersonal and presentational section.  I also included rubrics and an answer key for any interpretive assessment.  These are on sale for $3.20.

I hope that this helps you finish the year strong!  I appreciate all of your support!

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: May 3, 2019

Brillante Viernes: May 3

Happy Friday!  It seems like this week has flown by!  I took some time this afternoon to get a pedicure and finally dive into this book.  My colleague wrote it, and I cannot recommend it enough!  It is truly inspiring, and her story is so important.  I know that I plan on putting it by my desk and referencing it when I need to be reminded of my why and inspiration.  Check out these posts as well:

  • Martina and I are changing up our newsletter for next year!  You can check it out and get a free preview issue.
  • I think everyone needs the screaming ninja game in May!
  • I love this post about the women and girls who inspire us.  This could also be done in Spanish as well.
  • I have used Kara’s unit on Ecuador with my Spanish V for the past two years.  Arianne’s additions are excellent.

Flashback Friday:

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: April 26, 2019

brillante viernes april 26

Happy Friday Sunday!  I was ready to publish my post on Friday and then we had a tornado warning and we all had to go to the bottom floor!  Then, I have been out of town, so it has been a whirlwind weekend already.  I keep going back and forth that the days in April seem long- but then we realize that we only have 24 days of classes left!  Meanwhile, it is fun figuring out ways to keep our classes novel even though it is the end of the year.  Check out some of these posts with some ideas:


Posted in game, Novel

Quick tip: A variation on an old game for novels!

A variation of a game for novels

It is interesting that students love certain games certain years.  One of my Spanish V classes loves the game that we play with weekend chat.  I love that I can alter this game easily to work with what we are doing.  We had just finished reading the novel Calaca Alegre.  I decided to play the game Great Minds Think Alike with the novel!  It went well, and there was a lot of excitement, cheering and groans when the answer was incorrect!  One student left the room and students wrote the answer that they thought the student in the hallway would give.  Some of the questions that we used to get you thinking of other questions:

  • Who was your favorite character?
  • Who was your least favorite character?
  • What was your favorite event?
  • What part made you… happy/sad/frustrated?
  • What is your favorite taqueria?
  • What is your favorite Mexican food to eat?
  • What would you paint on a mural?
  • Who is your favorite artist?
  • Where would you like to visit in Pilsen?
  • What actor should play Carlos (or any other character) in the creation of the movie?

Sometimes, I also like to have students guess what I would say!  Now, this game will be in my permanent rotation for post novel activities!  Have you tried the game Great Minds Think Alike?

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: April 19, 2019

Brillante Viernes: April 19

Happy Friday!  I hope you are enjoying Spring Break if you have the time off!  We are lucky to have today off as a nice break before the end of the school year.  Not only that, but it is the 100th episode of We Teach Languages!  I got to record the beginning and ending of it!  Yayyyy!!!  It was really moving for me to listen to teachers talking about what an impact the podcast has had on them.  I feel very lucky to help and work with Stacey.  She is amazing and has dedicated so much time to the podcast!

I have definitely caught the interview bug!  I have interviewed Erin with Lead with Languages (and go to ACTFL headquarters and geek out!!), Kara Jacobs and Luis Deocares.  It has been fun to take time out of my week to just have a conversation with some of my favorite people about language teaching.  I also have recorded an episode with Heidi Trude that will come out soon.  I encourage you to submit your own episode to the podcast!  I always like to emphasize that everyone has something to contribute to the world language teaching community!

As you are catching up on your favorite podcasts, check out these posts, too:

  • I LOVE PearDeck- SpanishPlans blogged a great tutorial if you haven’t jumped in yet!
  • Allison wrote a great post about the AAPPL test with reflections and how she wants to prepare students next year.  As the Seal of Biliteracy becomes more viable for more people, I know more teachers are using this test.
  • I am saving all of these Maravillas posts to use in class!  This week Arianne shares some more!
  • I am always looking for better questions to ask students with feedback- these 10 questions should be incorporated by everyone!

Flashback time: