Saturday, April 6, 2019

Mindset reminder: as the new trimester starts and pressure to get kids "ready" ramps up

Shortly before the grapefruit knee
I decided to get knee surgery after 2 years of PT, tons of doctor's appointments, and a grapefruit-sized knee after our second day of bike touring in southwestern Utah.

When I started paddle boarding because cycling was getting to be too much, I realized that I really needed to do something about it.  (If you don't know me, it might be helpful to know that I started teaching cycling in the public schools, and my previous career was as a cycling educator and advocate. So not being able to ride is major. And I ride to work every day possible.)

Back to school:
I sat on a stool, I put my knee up, and I tried to teach. I tried to follow my plan. I tried not to cry.

I sort of mostly succeeded, in that I didn't usually cry until I actually got home.  Usually.

Some days, the pain was so overwhelming that I could barely form words in English, and the thought of trying to do anything hard in another language brought those tears back.

So I let go.

I let go of my plans.  Instead, I did lots of card talk- only I would give the kids like 10 minutes and sometimes colored pencils to draw, and then collect their papers and make a slideshow for the next time I saw them. (Sounds like a lot of work- it's really, really not, with airdrop and a phone. Here is an old post about how I do this.)

These, plus some other pictures, ended up being an hour of lesson plan
in 2 different classes!

I decided to try Special Person interviews, something I had tried 4 years ago and hated.  The kids loved them and begged for them.  I tacked on some Write and Discuss, and voila, that was the lesson plan.  For an assessment, I had them write about themselves.  (And the results were mind-blowing.  Not a single student said "Yo es 13."  (I is 13).

I even showed funny videos, and used them for input, but I didn't always do a reading afterwards.  (The copier is a LONG way from my classroom.)

I leaned very heavily into FVR.  And Sr. Wooly.  And Weekend chat.  And small talk.  And whatever I could do to keep the language flowing, minimize trips to the copier, or even trips that involved standing up and writing a new word on the board with a translation.

I got REALLY GOOD at keeping my vocabulary in-bounds- and I was already getting good at it!

I'm not counting down. You're counting down.
I guess I want to write this for myself- to remind myself as I stare down the calendar at 40 more days of school, 8 of which are Mondays (at least according to the daughter of the kindergarten teacher, who is good at knowing things like how many days are left), that input is input.

Input that kids are interested in listening to and input that they understand and are interacting with is all good.  In fact, it's the best thing I can do for them.

There is no rule that says I have to follow my scope and sequence. (Thank goodness.)

There is no rule that says I have to cover this or make sure to teach that. (I am very fortunate.)  

There are only the constraints and demands I place on myself, and I really want to cultivate a different mindset.

I am incredibly lucky, I know, and I think I need to remember and acknowledge it.

I know myself.  I know that if I am not careful, I am going to look back at January, February, and March of this year and ask myself what the heck I was even doing those months.  There is hardly anything glued in our interactive-ish notebooks, and if it weren't for Anne Marie Chase's quick quizzes and weekly timed freewrites, there would be no assessment grades in the gradebook.

But you know what I was doing?  Getting to know my kids.  Exploring their interests, and mine.

Shooting the breeze with them, in Spanish.  Watching videos of cats and sloths and penguins and then talking about it. We literally spent an hour discussing the gross things that pets do and eat.  It was one of the funniest hours of my life as kids shared horribly funny stories of their pets bringing them dismembered bits of other animals.  We spent another hour talking about their class trip and what they saw, felt, and experienced in the nation's capitol, which led to an intense discussion about what is feminism, what is sexist, and what is culture.  I could not have planned that if I tried.

I want to remember that some of the fastest and best hours of teaching have gone by when we just read, or chat, or look at interesting pictures and talk about them.

I want to remember (in May, when the pressure to have my 8th graders "ready" is really building up) that I am preparing them to communicate, not to conjugate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

CI Overwhelm: practical tools for coping (#1)

Do you know that CI overwhelm feeling?  Like you have gone down into a black hole of resources and ideas and videos to watch and handouts to read and blogposts to follow and...and...and....

Which stage of CI are you in?  

Where do you even begin?

I have some ideas.  First, and foremost:


Now take another one.  Just for fun, take a couple more.

You are not alone. You are not the first person to have this experience.  Since I started focusing on speaking so that my students understand and want to engage in communication with me, aka providing Compelling, ComprehendED Input, there has been an actual explosion in resources, communities, trainings, blogs, readers, webinars, and more. *

Regarding all the amazing things you want to do/think you should be doing/feel bad about not doing:  Angela Watson over at TruthForTeachers has a lot of great ideas about being enough.**

It is really easy to think you have to be all of that.  And more.  That video that you saw? That person has probably been doing this for a long time.  (For some perspective, you might want to take a look at this post from Chris Stoltz:  You are now playing the long game.)

That writing sample where their kids are fluently using le passé composé?  Again, people don't post their student's worst writings.
And that bulletin board that is totally pinterest worthy and not in your classroom or even in your wildest dreams? (That teacher probably has a TA. Let's be honest here.)

Did you read that great blog post that makes you want to rethink everything and re-do it all, right now?  Do you think that you need to overhaul your classroom management system, assessment protocol, gradebook, and why not your entire teaching philosophy while you're at it?

Hang on.  More deep breaths.

You want to be a better teacher?   You want to get better at delivering input?

Slow down.

Slow down and get good at one thing. *** 

Just one.  OK, maybe that is not your style- you want it all, you are an overachiever, and you want it now. NOW.  Me too.  But let me tell you about the power of working on one thing.

Sorry for the poor quality- this is the
poster that is in my classroom
After attending NTPRS where, for the first time, I got to be a student in a less commonly taught language, I had a major aha moment.

I realized the power of going slow, and that the one thing I could change easily was to talk more slowly.

That was my only goal. SLOW DOWN.  I made a gigantic poster of my adorable cats lounging on my bed with the word "slowly" in Spanish, and hung it at the back of my room so I could see it every day.  And my goal for the whole year was to focus on that one thing.  And you know what, after about 6 months- six months!- of working on going slow, I was a better teacher.

I was better because I was more comprehensible.  I had to intentionally slow myself down by doing things like pausing. And pointing.  And writing new words on the board. And looking at their eyes.  So suddenly I was providing more comprehensible input and getting better at all kinds of discreet skills, by just focusing on that one thing.

A thinking exercise:  

Take some time, maybe your relaxing beverage of choice, and do some reflection. Below is a reflection form I created for a wonderful teacher I have been mentoring online. She was feeling all those emotions that I described above- like a failure, like she wasn't good enough, like she wanted to change everything right now but didn't know where to relate?  Me too.
Take your relaxing beverage of choice and do some reflecting.****

Look at your teaching life- your practice.  Fill out the Gut Level Teacher Reflection: CI Version (Click here for the printable version.)  Thanks to Jennifer Gonzalez' post over at Cult Of Pedagogy and her kind permission to adapt and share.

Download the form here:

Under each domain, list things that give you positive feelings (+), negative feelings (—), and mixed or unclear feelings (?) or questions.

Domain #1: Skills for Delivering CI

Which of these do you think you are good at? Which do you think need more practice at? Is there one that feels *more* manageable? Is there one that is overwhelming?
(asking circling and triangling questions, pause and point, staying in-bounds with vocab, slow speech, choral response, teaching to the eyes, checking for comprehension)

Domain #2: Techniques for delivering CI

What do you feel confident about? What activities give you dread?
(Calendar/card/small Talk, story-asking, PQA, PictureTalk, MovieChat, group reading, OWI, personalization, [too many to list])

Domain #3:Classroom management and relationships

What do you do to help build relationships with students and make them feel safe and ready to take risks? What are the behaviors that make you crazy?  Is there that one kid that you connected with?

Domain #4: Assessment

What do you believe about assessment? Do grades in your class reflect what students can do with language? What feels bad about grading? What feels ok?

Domain #5: The Why 

Sometimes, knowing why we do something paves the way for the what to become much easier. Take a look at some statements and note whether you have a positive, negative, or mixed/confused feeling. Some are statements about language acquisition, mostly taken from Dr. Bill VanPatten’s work.

  • A flood of input creates a trickle of output.
  • There are no such things as grammar rules.
  • What teachers call errors are indicators of developmental learning stages of the learner.
  • All students are capable of acquiring a language.
  • Language learning is stage like; more instruction does not alter the need to go through the stages.
  • Language is abstract, language is different than math.

Domain #6: Self-care 

Being attuned to the emotions and gauging comprehension levels and focusing on all the skills can be exhausting. Consider your work-life balance, your routines for self-care, your sleep and eating habits, and things that are important to you outside of school. Jot down what is working for you, what you feel is not working, etc.

Last step:

Take a look at your +, -, and ? notes.
Now pick one.

ONE, I said. Not one from each domain, you overachiever you.  Just one.

Pick one thing from your notes and work on that.  There might be a million more other things that WILL help you be a better teacher, but what, to you, today, is the one thing for you?  You can come back to your list later.  It will still be there. (Unless you lose it. Quick- snap a photo!)

* When I started, and I am one of the newer practicioners having only done this for five years, there were no facebook groups. There were no newsletters. Gosh darnit we had to connect via a listserv.  That's right.  Email listserv.  Occasionally I would send an email to that nice lady Martina and she would email me back a couple months later.

**Favorite blog posts by Angela Watson:
Getting out of the day-by-day lesson planning trap
The culture of cute in the classroom
The simplest way to stop feeling overwhelmed and over-scheduled 
When is it ok to feel like you have done enough for a student

***I realized, while watching Faith Laux's presentation on ComprehensibleOnline, where I learned the  "One thing" advice from: The amazingly influential Karen Rowan.  Thanks, Karen!

****Yes, I did just discover bitmoji.   And I am totally, utterly charmed by it, way more than I have any right to be.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Teaching about proficiency levels

At the beginning of the year, I take 1 whole hour per class to teach about proficiency levels. In English. (Gasp.)  It is a day where I provide virtually no input in the target language.  Double gasp!  But aren't you a CI teacher?  Don't you have to speak in 90% target language for students to acquire language? Yes, yes, and yes.  But I also have to teach in a school, which means I have to do all kinds of things that have nothing to do with language acquisition. I have to make compromises. I bet you do too!

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I do my best to use standards based grades, and that I try to spend as little time as possible assessing (in class) and grading (out of class) for many reasons.  (Curious to read more about how I actually do it? Here you go: Assessing writingassessing reading, and what goes in the grade book.)

Those reasons include (but are not limited to): it takes time away from providing input (unless it is an input-based assessment), it takes time away from planning great lessons, developing relationships with students, and taking care of myself. Since learners can't control their rate of acquisition, it is kind of pointless.  (See this post for a long, philosophical meditation on standards based grading.)

AND the ACTFL proficiency levels were *not* developed for schools.  Wait. Please go back and re-read that sentence.  My understanding is that they were originally developed for the Foreign Legion- to categorize overseas workers.

I KNOW!  So why do we used them?  Well, I use them because they come from our national organization, they provide common language, and someone else already invented that wheel (click here for resources regarding that wheel)  so I don't have to.  And, using these standards  means that I have a great deal of professional discretion in teaching what is going to be most effective for language acquisition.  Because the standards say nothing- NOTHING- about accuracy and grammar.  

Providing clear targets for learners *is* good practice in other subjects, and I have to squeeze into the school box and the grade box for my job.  And since I switched to talking about (and assessing with) proficiency targets, I have seen a HUGE shift- like earthquake level- in the mindset of my students when it comes to acquisition (instead of grade grabbing).

That in and of itself makes it worthwhile.

This is what it looks like at the beginning of the year:

I tell the kids that my goal for them is to have a certain level of proficiency at the end of the year.  My job is to give them as much input as they can, which is the only way to get there. Their job is to engage with the language.  But, I teach middle school. They want to know what that proficiency level actually means!

I use this activity from The Creative Language Class to introduce the different levels.  (Note: the authors have updated the original lesson plan from what I used- use the updated one that is linked!)

1) Show the first slide and come up with something that the class is going to describe.  Basically, there is a new kid in town and you have to describe something to that kid, but you can only use the kind of language you are given (novice low, intermediate high, etc.)
We have used these in the past: a watch, grocery store, taco, bicycle, cat, and circus.

2) Group students and give them markers, an 11 x 17 sheet of paper, and a card from the lesson plan.
     I have them glue the card on the paper.

3) Ask them to do their best to follow the directions on the card and try to explain what the thing is - IN English (or L1).

4) With time remaining in class, stop the kids and invite them to present.  They can read their card, then read their poster.

Here is a video of them presenting with a bonus peek at how I manage my classroom (making them practice routines, walking and pointing to the rules).

5) I usually project the slide for that level after the group goes.
Novice Mid poster

Intermediate Mid poster

6) Feeling frisky?  Good at making displays?  (I am not. See below.)  Make a display of the posters.  I leave mine up all year and have gotten very positive feedback from parents and administrators.  I also print up some of the slides to display.


Make sure that you remind them multiple times to write in L1 (English, in my case).
Check in often with the group that has novice low and novice mid.  They tend to need the most support.
If you have big classes, do 2 or 3 different groups for the same card.
This takes much longer than you think it will. That's fine. Go with it.
Have fun!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Standards Based Grading and My Classroom Practice

Grades. Assessment.  The pile of papers staring at me, just waiting for me to put little marks on them, then enter some more marks in the computer, so that kids and parents can ignore, celebrate, or argue  about (with each other or with me, depending on family culture).

Doesn't it just feel overwhelming sometimes?  And I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it!!! (Click here for information about what goes in my gradebook, here for how I grade reading and listening quizzes, and here for how I grade writing.)

I recently attended a 2 day seminar on Standards Based Grading with Rick Wormeli. (It was awesome.)  I am not at all new to his work and ideas, and I have spent time with proficiency based grading (a la Marzano- two full seminars).  I am also enrolled in an edX course (offered by the MIT teaching and learning lab) about Competency Based Grading.  Since the term ends in a few weeks, I am looking at end of term grades, my grading practice, my assessments, and trying to make sense of my new learning.   So, this is more of a personal blog post, with less practicality and more reflection.

 In no particular order, here is my attempt to process what I came away with:

Schools conspire against learning. Yes, well, this is so patently obvious it almost doesn't need commentary.  If I could just teach, and be free of the arbitrary nature of so much of my job, I would be a better teacher and I think the kids would acquire more.

Never sacrifice sound pedagogy because someone above you isn't there yet.
Yes.  Yes. A MILLION TIMES yes.

Sorting or cultivating? Is one better than the other?
Isn't that language super judgmental?
Are we here to sort or cultivate students?  I think I am here to cultivate students. So what am I doing that is sorting? Is sorting a negative word? Thanks to my colleague today who pointed out that it doesn't have to be negative.  When I differentiate, isn't it sorting?

Is it sorting to put a judgement on a product (an assessment, a project)?  Wormeli argues yes.  He argues that judgement does not promote learning.  But that assumes that students have control over their own learning, which is true for learning that involves the explicit system (math, science, other subjects) but not true for the implicit system of language acquisition.

I believe that giving feedback isn't going to affect their acquisition, especially not at the levels I teach (mostly 1 and 2).  Giving feedback on what they can control- that is, behavior that supports language acquisition...well, now we are getting into compliance.  And that is messy.

On another note: if I am teaching to cultivate, what about tracking students?  (My school has two tracks of math and Spanish.)  This brings up a lot of personal stuff for me because my experience with school was terrible and consisted of virtually no differentiation until there were honors classes that I could go into.  (I dropped out of public school and went to college at age 16.)  Now that I teach honors classes, I strongly believe that I am serving the kids better by splitting them up by proficiency, and meeting them where they are at.  But this is a very unpopular view, and I can see why.  I am going to have to put that one aside for now.

Compliance or competency?  MESSY!  
Compliance vs. Competency: It is MESSY.
Some of my peers and trainers argue that we should never grade for compliance (engagement), because that has nothing to do with their competency. And what about neuro-diverse students?   Others say that we should not grade their competency because they have no control over it, but we should grade what they can control (behaviors that support language learning), which is basically compliance.

Assessment is where we live our values. This resource, from the indominable Tina Hargaden, comes at just the right time.  But it brings up some difficult questions for me.  Am I grading too hard? Am I accurately assessing their proficiency levels?  Am I falsely inflating or deflating grades?  How do I know what proficiency levels look like?

Because if I am being honest, according to Tina's rubrics, I grade WAAAY low.  But I am consistent within my department, and within myself.  This is important to acknowledge, and a thought that I come back to again and again.  Scott Benedict's trainings on assessing freewrites helped me solidify this.  For more information, check out his work at

I am already using standards based grades, and I think that my grades finally (mostly) represent what students can do and understand.  Whew. What a relief.  I have worked SO hard on this. And this is the best year so far, in that my students' reported grades really do seem to reflect their proficiency, not their organization or compliance. Sure, I can improve, but I feel like I am on the right track.  Even if I am trying to squeeze into my school's 100 point averaging system.

If I believe that students have no control over the rate at which they acquire language, I should not be grading them. Period. Full stop.  
Ouch.  And yes.  But reporting what they can do is valuable, both for them and for me, and required in the school system.  And I do like to see what they can do, and so do they.

Corollary: If students can't control what they acquire, why am I spending so much time and effort on this assessment stuff?  I mean, weighing the pig more often does not make it fatter.  
Oh wait. Because this is actually part of my job. Hmm.  Refer to my first point.  However, it does give me some peace thinking that my goal to load up the input, create a community where students feel valued, recognized, and successful, and where I love to go every day (because I have the time for self-care and self-reflection), is actually where my time should be spent.  And the majority of my assessments *should* be input-focused.  (Thanks to Lance Piantaginni for helping me see the value in input-based assessments.  After all: more input is always a good thing.)

I am so grateful to not be tied to a fixed schedule of summative assessments that are worth a certain percent and are unrecoverable.  However, I *am* still tied to getting enough grades in the grade book.  And "citizenship" as a grading category. (Can you hear the scorn dripping from my voice? This is one school requirement that really chafes at me.)

The assumption that students can control their language acquisition is incorrect, and the assumption that giving them descriptive feedback will help is just plain wrong.  Sorry, Rick.  
It might not be wrong for subjects like math etc. that rely on explicit learning, but the nature of second language acquisition is different.  Thanks, Bill VanPatten, for helping me get real clear about this.  So I am not going to spend a ton of time giving them feedback.  The payoff isn't that great for the time spent, especially when I could spend my time taking care of myself so I can better connect with kids, or finding interesting, compelling things to talk about with them, or trying to build my skills to speak so that they understand me.  Because those actions actually will help them acquire more.

Which leads me to some classroom practices that I am re-examining: 

Student Learning Objectives: 

Oh man, we love our objectives, don't we?  Many teachers have to have different ones daily, and track each student through each one and blah blah blah.  I am (once again) very grateful to work at a school where they are not required.  I developed them anyway, and every time I go back to teach a unit again, I look at them to decide if they still have meaning.  I think it is important that the kids know what the end goal is, even if it is very broad.  In fact, I hand them out to the kids to glue in their interactive-ish notebooks, and even post them as part of our starters.

In the first few weeks of the year, I ask students to self-reflect on their learning daily, usually based on the starter we did, and discuss what objective it was checking and what they can do to acquire.

But I stopped doing this around around October. I stopped because I would rather speak Spanish and ask how they are doing and just converse, not meta-process something over which they have no control.  Plus, twice a week, my starter is FVR/SSR, with no paperwork for the kids.

Another reason I stopped going over objectives was because the answer to "how will you move up the proficiency ladder" is ALWAYS more input.  I can remind kids of where to find that input (in class, on my class web page, during office hours, etc.) and that they can access it without anyone else, but the answer never changes.  And I felt like a broken record.  (There might be value in that though.)  It can be useful to have the discussion about the value of "practice", quizlet, and "write sentences". (That is, if it is input, it's great.  "Practicing sentences" or flashcards on quizlet , probably not.)

What I changed: After returning from the Wormeli workshop, I intentionally decided to refer to the objectives again in each class, and give the opportunity for self-reflection of progress.  My high-anxiety, high achievers really liked it.  Most of the others seemed to be confused and/or tuned out. And it took SO MUCH TIME!!

My verdict?  I think that I will continue creating and sharing objectives, and when the mood strikes, ask the kids to look at their progress and the objectives (through the starter), but it is not going to be a daily thing.  Maybe weekly?

Target structures, rubrics, and feedback:
I often ask students to write quick freewrites (10 minutes) at the end of the unit and incorporate the target structures from that unit. For first year students in 7th grade and Spanish 1B (8th grade) I decided that students being able to use the structures as practiced (3rd person) was proficient, as that was mostly what they were reading in the units, and seemed reasonable.  The application of using different endings to the words to talk about self and others seemed like an advanced goal, for writing. So that was my rubric.  I also graded more holistically on a modified ACTFL rubric (basically this from Martina.)   

Now, I have been using this target structures rubric for four years, and never loved it.  What if they use two correctly and forget the third?  Wormeli would perhaps say that I should disaggregate the grade for each in the gradebook to give a better reflection of their learning.  Well, that is great if you are working on different skills in a different subject,  but since I know that language is acquired in messy chunks, and the stages of development are fixed and also messy, and that kind of feedback won't help with acquisition, disaggregating seems like a poor use of (my) limited time.

 Wormeli says that descriptive feedback is helpful. I am doubtful about this assertion regarding language acquisition, but I do see the value in showing students where they did or didn't meet the expectation.

What I changed: I decided to ask the kids.  I took 10 minutes of class and just told them what I was thinking, and asked if the target structures rubric was helpful for them.  They said that they wanted to know which words they were using at what level.  I suggested that I just give them feedback- a checklist and grade them holistically on the ACTFL rubric.
This is the new rubric- this DOES NOT go in the grade book!

It was so smooth for me to grade in this last round of writing, and they commented how useful it was to see what they were doing right.  So that's a keeper!!!

Proficiency levels
Posters on my classroom wall
The last thing that I decided to change up this week was to spend a little bit more time in L1 talking about proficiency levels.

I spend almost a whole day at the beginning of the year having students work on an activity that introduces them to proficiency levels. (See examples below.)  I will write about what I do more specifically- I even have a video- but for now, suffice it to say that I explicitly teach about the ACTFL levels at the beginning of the year, and discuss with kids and families what their goals are (for June).

I also use rubrics with proficiency levels on them already, and I do talk to the students about what they mean.  But am I doing it enough?  This is what I wanted to find out.

Proficiency Project in the hall
I do this at the beginning of the year
(Novice High)
Novice Low
Intermediate  Mid

I decided that after giving a writing quiz, I would take the kids out to the hallway where I have their proficiency level projects hanging.  I asked them to re-read their quizzes and mark on the rubric where they thought they were, proficiency-wise, based on the rubric and the examples we did at the beginning of the year.

Like this adorable cat that doesn't quite fit into his box, kids taught in comprehension based communicative
classrooms don't fit nicely into ACTFL levels.

Now, there is a MAJOR problem with this.  If you have been focused on providing compelling, comprehended input in your classes, you can probably guess what it is.  ACTFL proficiency levels, originally developed for a non-educational context, don't play nicely with kids who get tons of input and start writing paragraphs almost immediately.  They tend to skip novice low completely and speed through novice mid, at least in my experience and understanding.   Depending on the teacher, they might start writing paragraphs in a variety of time frames.
Yes, it is usually messy, but as Tina Hargaden reminds us, novice and intermediate writers need a sympathetic reader.  (And remember, there is no such thing as an error, only an indicator of the developmental stage the learner is in. Again, thanks to BVP for reminding me of this.) So is their writing indicative of micro-fluency, and thus they are really not intermediate low or mid?  Tina has a strong case for the opposite- that teachers constantly rate their students too low.  I am still really struggling with this, and have been for years.

That being said, is this a worthy struggle for me as a teacher?  Does it *really* matter if my kids are novice high or intermediate mid? It is probably not going to change what I do.  I am still going to give them a huge diet of comprehensible, comprehended input, including fiction, non-fiction, academic language, adapted authentic resources, music, etc.

I mean, common language is great but totally meaningless if other teachers have different interpretations of these same words.

Friday, January 25, 2019

More secret input! (post-story or reading activity)

Here is a secret input activity that I decided to do when I was exhausted and trying to teach on crutches.  Note to self: stop getting injured!!!  This, plus FVR and a post-reading review activity, took up a full hour and they didn't finish.  Hooray, Monday plan!  This secret input activity, with storyasking, was 2+ days.   It qualifies as Some Prep, in that you do have to take pictures, print them, and make a response sheet.

Secret input + being out of their chairs!
Day 1: First, I asked a story.  This story was one I created to teach some structures  for  Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro, and if you have the teacher's guide, it will soon be (or already is!) part of the online supplement.

It was one of those days where I finished the story mid-class, and had to come up with something to do for the rest of the hour.  You may be familiar with this!  Luckily, Martina Bex has lots of great suggestions for what to do in this post:  The story is done but class isn't over.

This is a mural.  
I had the kids grab mini white boards and markers, and introduced a mural to them.  (This step, for me, is really important because they tend to draw comics or more linear drawings, and I wanted something different for this activity.  We draw comics all the time.)  Murals are: non linear, with events happening in different places, all different sizes.

I retold the story from memory (which helps me remember for later when I type it up) while they drew.  I quickly took pictures of each mural.

SOME PREP:  The next day, I typed the story up and made copies for each kid.  Then I quickly imported the murals into google drive* and made a slideshow that could be printed.** I printed it in black and white.Finally, I created this response sheet: 

Click for a downloadable version!  

In class, after some FVR and reviewing the story as a class (this day, I did a volleyball translation, but  you could do any kind of oral reading activity with them or skip it and go straight to the secret input), I posted the murals around the room and gave kids a copy of the story.  They walked around the room, quickly sketching, and started finding the sentences and translating.

Some thoughts about this:  
It took a while for kids to do- longer than I was expecting.
Students were 100% engaged.
They can self differentiate- choosing the sentences that they feel like they can translate.
Some of them went around the room and did all the illustrations first (and then moved on to the next sections),  some did illustration-sentence, and some did illustration-sentence-translation, in that order.

Truthfully, I am playing around with using it as a reading assessment and assessing their translations, but I haven't decided.

STEPS for Murals/Read the Room
1) Find or create a text.
2) Explain what a mural is.
3) Read it out loud and have students draw the action as you read (or retell).
4) Photograph the murals.
5) Create a quick slideshow (or otherwise find a way to print them) and print the murals. (see below for Tech tips)
6) Give each student a copy of the text and the response sheet.
7) Hang the murals around the room.
8) Students look at the murals, quickly sketch one element, then find the sentence in the text. They transcribe the sentence, then translate it.

Technology Tips:  
*How to quickly import photos into GoogleDrive:  install the app on your phone or tablet.  Open the app and tap the + button.  Choose Use Camera, OR, if you have already taken the photos, choose upload.  They will go directly to your drive and are super easy to import into GoogleSlides.

**Change the page size in GoogleSlides.  Open a new Slides document.  Go to File>page set up> Custom.  Type 11 by 8.5.  Now your slides will print nicely.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Comprehensible Online

I'm presenting!  You can use the discount code elicia19 to get $25.00 off of your registration.  Plus, you can see all the presenters that I continue to learn from.

Register here! 

Presentation #1: Interactive-ish notebooks for the CI classroom
This presentation is a detailed look at how to adapt and implement interactive notebooks in our CI classrooms.  I will discuss logistics, implementation, quick and painless assessment, and share lots of examples and forms.  This is my 5th year using them successfully and several folks have reported being confident in implementing them after attending my session last summer at NTPRS18.

Presentation #2:  Start the Year 
Have you ever wondered "How on earth does that teacher get their kids to do that?"?   This  presentation will (hopefully) provide some answers.  For me, the key to a good year starts with the first day.  In this 30 minute session, I will focus on establishing community, establishing expectations, and establishing routines so that we can start a story on day 1.  It will include lots of simple routines that I use to start my year successfully plus a simple script you can start with on the very first day. The demo will be in Spanish, but will be comprehensible to everyone.

What Tina Hargarten over at CI Liftoff has to say about me- Thanks, Tina!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Video Yourself Challege

The awesome Sarah Breckley challenged teachers to make videos.  Sarah unashamedly shares her videos, so why not do it myself?

So, here's my response to the Video Yourself Challenge!  

Introducing vocabulary with ASL gestures, SOMOS 1, Unit 10
8th grade Spanish 1B