January 2017 - Mis Clases Locas

Box 1

Box 1
Teaching with Novels

Box 2

Box 2

Box 3

Box 3
Meet Sra. Wienhold

Leave Class on a "Teacher High"

Have you ever been on a teaching high? Have you finished a class that completely exceeded your expectations and you literally feel like jumping for joy. (Or running down the hall to tell your teaching bestie). This was me last Friday. What makes it 100x better, is that is was "that class." The class that has stretched me in new ways, who pushes back daily, and is my logistical puzzle of accommodations and large size. The class that was my reason to try going deskless, because I did not know what to do with them anymore. (By the way, going deskless is still going great and I think has a lot to do with our successful class). 

I do not have a secret formula for having a class that ends on a teacher high, but I can break down some factors that I believe helped to contribute to moving "that class' in a positive direction. 

1. Feedback  

Getting feedback (especially from a difficult group) is a great way to see your class through the eyes of the students. When I remember to do it, having students do a quick Friday Feedback from the Creative Language Class is very helpful. Even if I do not use the specific form, sometimes after an assessment I will have students give feedback on the back of the sheet about the unit. I ask them to write what they liked, what they would change, what activity helped them learn etc. I let them do it in English because it is about the content, not the writing in Spanish. I want them to be able to be honest and not get bogged down in the language. 

A couple of weeks ago I got feedback from this class and 90% said they loved doing the class story. The thing was, I thought the story went horrible. I had to give a lecture about expectation before starting and we planned out all of the characters and places in advance since I knew they were in a blurting mood. Even though the story did not have the flow I was hoping for, they enjoyed it and thought it was the highlight of their week. This gave me important feedback that the majority of this large, energetic class wanted to do more class stories. I adjusted my plans accordingly. 

Just know that if you request feedback, you have to have a thick enough skin to not take what they may tell you personally. For example, in the same group of feedback above, I had One student who said "story was stupid, I like worksheets." I shared this quote on twitter and got some great responses from other teachers who really put it into perspective. They related to having similar students, and someone mentioned that this particular student most likely did not like that he has to actually engage in class. It is pretty much impossible to completely disengage during my class, which some students find frustrating. This feedback reminded me that I need to make sure to allow for quiet, alone, processing time, and not just all full group activities for this stuednt, as well as the others who would not tell me. 

2. Back to the Basics

When I got back from maternity leave this Spanish 1 class did not follow the Martina Bex SOMOS curriculum I had left at all. Instead they started with the Realidades textbooks from storage. In my original plans, they were supposed to do SOMOS units 4-9, since we did units 1-3 last year in 8th grade exploratory. You can see my tentative curriculum plan here. Since writing that post, I realized that we needed to go back to the basics. Right when I returned from leave in November, we jumped into the novel Tumba, because that is what I had planned for, and I wanted to keep it in the fall to work with Day of the Dead. For their first novel, it actually went pretty well, but there were a few that obviously struggled. 

When it really hit me that we need to go back to the basics was while doing the Navidad and 3 Reyes readings that I use every year in Spanish 1. They STRUGGLED. There were many high frequency words that kept coming up that even the high flyers did not know. So after Christmas break we went back and started with unit 5, because it is one of my favorite cultural topics, bullfighting, and focuses on the verbs goes, is feeling, and has, which are 3 of the Super 7 high frequency verbs from Terry Waltz. I think it was the right choice because the students are doing much better with the high frequency structures and were very into the bull fight, especially since I showed them all of my pictures from when I went to one while in Spain. We are going to keep. 

We have been moving forward completing units 6 & 7. After that instead of reading Robo en la Noche as I originally planned, we are going to keep building confidence and read Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro. As I have heard many times, you can not read a novel that is too easy. There is no point chugging ahead with curriculum as the conductor when the rest of the train is not even attached. I realized I needed to stop, repair the train, and make sure everyone in on the same track, so we can move together as a team. With a solid foundation of the basics, we will just keep breaking down. 

3. Brain Breaks

You would think since I blogged about using brain breaks, that I am really great at consistently using them. Wrong. During that awesome class we stopped and did a quick Sra. Dice practicing unit 6 vocab such as "sit on the floor" "lift your friend," etc. It really helped to move successfully from our mini story that started class to our 2nd main activity. my goal is to actually plan and implement them each day in this class. 

Unfortunately, even though we are moving in the right direction, not every class ends on a teacher high. In fact, I started this post immediately after that class in an amazing mood. I am now coming back to finish it a few days later after a sub par experience with the same class. Their ability to get off task literally only takes 10 seconds of freedom, so I have to be ON my game with solid plans every day. Even though we still have a ways to go, we are moving forward in a positive direction. if you are struggling with "that class," I suggest you get feedback, go back to the basics and make sure to allow for brain breaks. 

What are your management secrets? Please share in the comments!


Libro lunes - El Ratón Pablito

Inside: El Ratón Pablito a book you need for your Spanish class library. 

Libro lunes - El Ratón Pablito


Quick Tip: Free Books in Spanish!

Quick Tip: Free Books in Spanish!

Quick Tip: Free Books in Spanish!

I blogged last summerlast year & the year before, about how to get free books for your classroom from the Kelloggs Family Rewards program and now it is back! (No I am not a sponsor of these products). This year the packages must be from Walmart, but 1 package gets you 1 free book!

The instructions can be seen above. By uploading a receipt from a specially marked Kelloggs product from Walmart you get a free book.
 I do not usually shop there, but I will have to, since the books below in Spanish can be earned for FREE through the program. 

How can you get many free books? Put a blurb in your school newsletter or facebook page for parents to save any WalMart receipts with participating products. Just make sure the book has the "Fantastic Book Giveaway" logo on the front (below), or you will just not get a free book. 

Below are the participating products this time. Just make sure they have the logo above on them to get the free books! You can also donate the books to a school of your choice. 
See the website for all of the details. 

If you would like more tips on getting free books for your classroom, check out the label $ Saver

What other way to you have to get free or cheap books in your target language?

10 Confessions of a Teacher Mom

If you ever look online and think that it is a sunshine and rainbows in everyone else's teaching and home lives, please know it is probably not. By nature I try to be a positive PollyAnna, so I often spin things in a good way and share successes in my classroom. That does not mean that every day is a 10. Even if I do have a stellar classroom day, I may come home to a house in shambles, toddler meltdown, teething 4 month old and "fend for yourself dinner." 

I read an article recently about how you can not have it all as a working mom. Something will suffer in the process and someone will judge you for the choices you make. I do not claim to have any magic solutions, but in honer of my first baby turning THREE on Saturday I thought I would share some Teacher Mom confessions. 
(If you are a reader who has no interest in bodily fluids and mommy talk, you can end here and come back on Monday when I get back to Spanish teaching talk). 

10 Confessions of a Teacher Mom

1. Over Christmas break I did not do a single school related thing (or even blog). It was amazing. 

2. I found a whole new level of panic when I woke up when I should have been leaving the house as a nursing mom. How am I supposed to nurse/pump, get myself ready, get the kids ready and be out the door in a total of 15 minutes?!? I asked my hubby to make me coffee on that fateful morning and realized in two years he had never used the Keurig. Cue coffee overflowing all over the counter. 

3. When the toddler wakes up at 5am to go potty, or in the middle of the night puking all over his bed, I may pretend to be sleeping and let my husband deal with it. I am up nursing at least once per night, so I think my ignoring is justified. 

4. Almost all classes just did Duolingo on Monday with a sub. Sub plans at 1am Sunday night after toddler woke up puking needed to be as simple as possible. 

5. The toddler can basically have any snacks he wants after school if they keep him occupied enough for me to nurse baby brother, while possibly relaxing on my phone. Luckily we have had an endless amount of Christmas cookies, candy canes and grandma's suckers. And to think  he started life eating only homemade, organic baby food. #LifeWith2Kids

6. I ordered just dry shampoo on Amazon Prime. If you need to use to dry shampoo on a regular basis like I do, you probably don't have the time to go to the store to buy it. 

7. I purposely planned a movie in one class to start us back from break to intro their new unit. This gave me a buffer planning zone for getting back into the swing of things.

8. All call announcement after school - "There is a maroon car in the teacher lot with an open trunk. It is raining and everything inside is getting wet."
Me - "Well I guess yesterday's frozen rain melted off my car and my trunk works again." 
Good thing no one on small town Iowa wanted to steal the wet two strollers & pack-n-play in my trunk. 

9. Every single plan and activity I am doing this week was written by someone else. Muchas gracias Martina, Sara-Elizabeth & Mike Peto. 

10. Yesterday we had a surprise 2 hour delay, turned snow day. My kids were at daycare for the day when it was called and I was actually already at school. The kids stayed the rest of the day while Mom had a me day. I worked out, went grocery shopping, did errands, cleaned the house, and went clothes shopping Alone. Go ahead and judge me for not picking them up immediately and spending the day together. 

This is real life. 
The days are long, but the years are short.
It is a lot of work,  it I wouldn't have it any other way.
Happy 3rd Birthday to the wild big boy who made me a mama. 

Do you have any confessions? Share below

Teaching Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha

Teaching Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha

Teaching Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha

Teaching the novel Fiesta Fatal

The first book I read with Spanish 2 when I returned from maternity leave was Fiesta Fatal by Mira Canion. It was their first novel in the past tense, and they really enjoyed it. Even through the main characters are girls, my predominantly boy class liked the action and connection with the cartel. If you are going to teach it, make sure to get the awesome Teacher's Guide

Teaching the novel Fiesta Fatal - Mis Clases Locas
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