The Best Laid Plans…


February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! Now that I got that out of the way…

I am a creature of habit. I find something that works, and I stick with it. So you may have noticed I haven’t posted lately. Things have been crazy. It’s that time of year (general post-Midterms craziness coupled with a reprise as a co-sponsor of the school Talent Show that I “swore” I wouldn’t do after last year. Long story. But I digress…)

So I had all these great ideas and plans at the beginning of the year. I was going to start CI (Comprehensible Input) and incorporate all of these new resources that I had found over the summer and it was going to be awesome! And then I started, with the best of intentions, to speak to my classes in only Spanish (yes, that was including my 1s)…and then that sort of fell by the wayside.

On the one hand, there’s the old “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” philosophy. But sometimes I get bored and want to switch it up. So I feel like there’s never a “right” time to just go into something different, but at the same time, I want to try something new. But then there’s the evil cycle of me being a creature of habit. And the circle of life continues!

So here I am back at the beginning. I keep telling myself that the next chapter that each of my classes start, I’m going to incorporate some new resources in, like Sr. Wooly. I figure rather than changing everything all at once, it will be easier to gradually introduce new things into my curriculum.

So now I have to keep you posted, which will hopefully increase my accountability! What new things are you trying with your classes? Gimme your ideas!


Adventures in CI…er, sort of…

Adventures in CI

October 5, 2017

It is now a month into school. I’m not doing a traditional CI classroom model, but I make an effort to speak more Spanish to my students, including my 1s. This has been going well, but I find myself slipping into English more. There are definitely days that I use more English than Spanish, and while I’m not doing traditional CI, I feel like the exposure to the language is making the work itself less intimidating.

My goal is to use more Spanish than English by midyear, but that means I need to use it more on a daily basis. I need to take the “No inglés, sólo español” approach that my high school Spanish teacher did with my class. The only difference would be that my 1s would have less of a language base to work off of, and would probably default to English.

I flip flop between teaching grammar points in English with my 1s but doing all Spanish with my 2s, to thinking about doing all Spanish all the time with both my levels, but I have a feeling that this would lead to confusion with my 1s. I go into English when necessary, but this hasn’t changed my overall teaching method or approach.

I have all these ideas swirling in my head about how my ideal class would be taught, but when it comes down to it, I’m a creature of habit, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But then that gets me thinking, ‘is it actually broke and I’m in denial about it?’

I have been teaching for 14 years and the quality/learning style of students has definitely changed since I first started teaching. I am now competing with YouTube and reality TV for their attention, and just the thought of that makes me so tired! To keep their attention, but still make it fun, engaging and <gasp> educational?! I might as well be a miracle worker!

But then I go back to thinking about my Methods teacher in Undergrad, who I respect and admire: Spanish is fun. Period. I want them to have fun and learn something at the same time. I guess that’s what we all want. But I’m still figuring out how to do that.

For those of you who do more CI-type methods, I would be more than happy to hear any tips/tricks/suggestions of how to transition to a more TL-dense classroom!

Fresh Start


August 31, 2017

Today is my last day of work for this week. Well, at least working while I’m at school. Here in Michigan, most teachers started back to work this week, and we’ll meet our new batch of kiddos next Tuesday after Labor Day.

As you may have noticed, I took a true break this summer and did almost nothing school-related. Unless you count me tutoring as a second job. But, I digress…No blogging stuff (unless you follow me on Instagram. Which you totally should!)

So now it’s back to the grind. I finally have my classroom in order and pretty much ready to go! For those of you who are interested, here’s my wonderful room!

I’ve been lucky enough to be in the same room for all 14 (!!!) years of my teaching career. And yes, I mean I have been teaching in the same room, in the same school, for all 14 years of my teaching career. I call that a win! (And a super lucky break!)

My classes are smaller this year (most of them are 23-29 kids), while my homeroom is my only class over 30 (33 kids). I think this will be a nice break from last year. Plus, I only see my homeroom for 20ish minutes before they go on their way to 1st hour. And then I see most of them again for 3rd hour.

So this year I have decided to go all in with TL spoken in class. 90/10 is my goal. Mostly I’m putting that in writing so I can remind myself when I’m teaching next week (already?!) that that will be the case moving forward. I wanted to give my kids (especially my 1s) a head’s up about what that means for them. Hopefully it will make them more engaged overall since they’ll really have to make sure they understand what’s going on!

So, I’ll definitely keep you updated as to how things go. What new things are you trying this year with your kids? Let me know and keep me posted as the year progresses!

Year in Review 2016-17


May 31, 2017

So I’ve seen some “it’s the last week of school” posts from my teacher friends in other parts of the country in the last few days. While I envy them for being on break already, I know they go back earlier than us, so I guess it all balances out. Here in Michigan, we still have about 3ish weeks of school left, but because of an 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C., that leaves next Wednesday, I’ve had to give my Final Exams a bit earlier than in previous years.

While my kids are starting final preps for Final Exams, I thought I’d take the time to check in and let you guys know what has been going on here lately and recap this year, which I already sort of did in a previous post.

So here’s the plan for the last few weeks. My kids (both my 1s and 2s) take their Finals next week Tuesday and Wednesday. After that my classes will probably be smaller as a large percentage of our school’s 8th grade class is going on this trip. I haven’t told them yet, but all we’re basically doing is watching movies in Spanish.

The first movie we’ll watch is Finding Nemo. I’ll put the Spanish language track on with the Spanish subtitles, and then have them watch it, completing this sheet as they go. One of the things my students have picked up on in previous years is that the Spanish language track and the Spanish subtitles don’t always match up. Additionally, they start to pick up on the slang that Crush uses with his surfer talk. When I get the sheets back, I notice them making notes in the margin like “compa=dude”. I’ve also found some really talented artists in my classes. Check it out below!

The end of the sheet asks them to describe their favorite part. In Spanish, of course!

The second movie we’ll be watching is Beverly Hills Chihuahua. This time we watch the movie in English. Because the majority of the movie takes place in Mexico, I have the students take notes on a lined piece of paper. I tell them to divide their paper into two columns: One for new Spanish words they learn, and another for new culture points they learn.

I think the twist on it this year will be that I will tell students that how well they pay attention will determine whether or not I collect it at the end. This forces students to pay attention, do the worksheet, take the notes, and then if they don’t pay complete attention, I make it for points at the end and collect it.

So overall, I think this year went well. As I mentioned in my previous post, there were definitely some bumps in the road and it was a learning experience for all. In planning for next year, I’m going to attempt doing Comprehensible Input (CI). I think this will help my students be more confident conversationalists overall, and encourage more of an immersion culture. I feel that this will also help their listening and reading comprehension skills as well.

Those of you who are following this blog may be recruited for some help. If you have experience in TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling) or CI, I may be wanting to pick your brain about things. Things like how to do a Movie Talk, whether or not to read a story like Pobre Ana, or something similar. I know I’ll definitely have to figure out how to do assessments that support CI/TPRS. I got a lot of good ideas at a local conference, CI in the Mitten (see my post here about it), and got some amazing ideas from the presenters there. I also currently follow Martina Bex and Maris Hawkins.

So this is my starting point. I can’t promise another post before the school year is over, but just in case, I leave you with these wise words of wisdom:

“Learning from our mistakes and holding on to our memories help us become deeper individuals with a better sense of who we are and how we choose to live our lives.” –Ron Clark

CI in the Mitten: Another #mindblown Day


April 22, 2017

You know that feeling when you come back from a conference and your head is swimming with all the amazing ideas you were just learning about and you can’t wait to try them out in your classroom ASAP? Yeah, that’s me right about now. After realizing that–aside from my brief foray into PBL with my 2s earlier this year–I haven’t really changed my teaching methodology the whole time I’ve been teaching. That’s 13 years of doing the same thing with the same methods. My kids have changed, why shouldn’t I?

If you read my last post, I gave you a brief overview of what has happened to the clientele in my school over the last few years. Since I’m not dealing with the same types of learners I had when I first started teaching, it seems only logical that I work with a different methodology to fit the currently clientele.

Let’s face it: kids today want to be entertained. All. The. Time. And what better way to do that than creating stories with Comprehensible Input (CI)? I think this is a more viable option for both of my levels, especially my 1s. And while every hour will not go exactly the same, I think this will keep me on my toes more!

So what exactly got me so super geeked? To start the day off, I was in the same room with Dr. Bill Van Patten! Having done my Masters in Second Language Acquisition (SLA), this guy’s name was all over everything that I read research-wise. To say I was fangirling out was kind of an understatement! Then, I got to go to CI bootcamp with Carol Gaab. She taught us by putting us in the students’ seat by teaching us Hebrew. In the 3ish hours that I was in that workshop, I learned more than I did when I took the same conversational Hebrew class twice in Sunday school!

After getting a good intro to how the method works, I then went to learn about Movie Talks from Jen Kron. She made references to Martina Bex and Maris Hawkins, both of whom I love! After lunch, I got some good hands-on practice with a Coaching Session. Super helpful and although it may take some practice, I think this is a better way to go.

Finally, the last session that I attended was presented by Kristi Shaffer about using Realia with CI. She gave some really good examples of what she uses with her 1s and 4s. I got some amazing ideas on how to use things with both my 1s and 2s.

So, to recap: I think CI is a great method/technique to use because while it’s still teacher-driven, the kids get more of a role in creating the stories, and as a result they stay engaged and it’s more about having fun and–Oh, by the way, you’re learning!