Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth chapter 1 Reflection

We are doing a book study at RCS with the book "Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth". It's a very short, very readable book. I'm going to cross post my discussion board posts from the study's Canvas page here to share out a bit more of what we're doing.

1. If you knew you would have visitors in your class or in your building what would you address with your students before the visitors arrived?  Why not tackle that now?

I have my classroom expectations posted clearly at the front of my room. I try to review them EVERY DAY, and I model what those expectations look like. "Does it look like I am ready for class?" "Am I meeting expectations if...?" We also practice attention getters so that when they are necessary they work.

2. How do we respond to academic and behavioral mistakes differently?  Why do we have such different approaches?

I don't think I respond to them differently. I do a lot of pedagogical research and extra reading on my own and find that the two are extremely linked. If a student is not performing well in my class, I have a conversation with them. I let students put blame on me, or I frame the discussion about what I am or am not doing to support them. It's my belief that if a student is acting out in class, they probably got bored, or lost, or got lost because they were bored and act out because of that. I try to remediate both the same way by starting each conversation with "Am I going at a speed that is comfortable for you? Am I clarifying things when I see that you look confused?" I do then ask students if they are doing everything they can to meet expectations, and remind them that I am doing my best to do my part in the learning process and they need to do their part. I finally follow up with "What can I do to support you moving forward?"

3. What are the skills we assume students should just have, the ones we think we shouldn't teach?

I know that every student comes from different backgrounds, so I try not to assume what skills they have.

4. Share a time with a student when "I'm proud of you" and/or "I'm sorry" helped to solidify your relationship.

My professional goal this year is to be more in touch with parents, and I've called quite a few parents/guardians this year to compliment their children, and maybe slip in a "we need to work on meeting class expectations", leading with a compliment has really helped!

Ditching Textbook =/= Ditching Curriculum

Ditching the textbook does not mean that you don't have a curriculum. It just means that you gotta know a few things ahead of time.

What you gotta know before you ditch the textbook.

You gotta know your standards.  Or at least be really familiar with them. Textbooks DO sometimes lay out how they relate to the standards, so if you're following the textbook you're getting all the standards... theoretically. If you're going to get rid of the textbook you need to know what your state/national organization expects students to know.

You gotta know what your goals are. This may look different for everyone. Maybe your goals are that students succeed on the end of course assessment. Maybe your goals are that students have mastered some kind of skill. For me, I know that I want my level 1 students to be Novice mid-High according to my national organizations proficiency guidelines. And I know that I want students to be able to talk about themselves and others in a basic yet meaningful way.

You gotta know what your assessments are. You have your goals... How are you going to know when students have met those goals? How are students going to know when they've met those goals? I think that when you get rid of the textbook that people need to be really good backwards planners. I know some people will disagree with that, that's fine. I've seen some teachers go in without a plan every single day (either intentionally or not) and do just fine. 

You gotta know how to deal with the unexpected. Much easier said than done. With a textbook, you can meticulously plan every second of your class with ease. When you don't have, what some might call, the crutch of a textbook, what do you do when the lesson is derailed or an activity that you thought was so great falls flat? My suggestion is to have some go-to bail out moves. Maybe you have a Kahoot or Gimkit ready to go *just in case* you need to fill time, or catch your breath. For me, it might be a quick way to turn a listening activity into a writing activity. Even the most foolproof lessons fall flat sometimes, just gotta be prepared.

You gotta know how to find resources. This is probably the toughest part. And I'm sorry, I probably don't have a lot of real advice for teachers who don't teach languages. We essentially have all the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. Even though it's not my favorite thing because I there is so much to dig through, Pinterest has a lot of stuff there, and other teachers who have ditched the textbook have probably been nice enough to share what they like to use. Or Twitter, once you find the right hashtag, like for language teachers #authres to find authentic resources, you will find so many ideas to use in your classroom.


Ditching the textbook isn't easy. I think, though, that it allows teachers to inject more of their personality into their lessons, and allows teachers to teach what they believe is truly necessary for students to succeed.

iFLT18 Reflection pt. 2: No one is born knowing how to manage a classroom

    Within the classroom I am pretty confident in my abilities to create engaging, meaningful language experiences. However, one of the challenges that I often face within my classroom is classroom management. Personally, I think that teacher education courses often forget about classroom management. In my undergraduate program I did take a classroom management class, but after the first few classes I felt the course did not focus much on classroom management.

    Jon Cowart, a language teacher from Memphis, Tennessee has long been an outspoken force for classroom management in language classrooms. Specifically in urban settings. Before this session, I thought that maybe I was just bad at classroom management, but Jon brought to my attention that there are outside forces at play too. Things that we do not see in the classroom can cause issues in the classroom.

    Mr. Cowart also walked participants of the presentations through some actual scenarios that can happen in the classroom. He did demonstrations how he would use the target language to positively narrate the class, providing students with more input in a non-threatening way. He said that when doing positive narration, try to avoid personal feelings, only state what you see.

    During the session, Jon also emphasized the importance of positive relationships. He shared some stories of having positive relationships with students and keeping their stakeholders involved in their education. I plan on setting aside a day, or at least half a class, a week to hold some individual conferences with students to try to better establish those relationships so that I can show them they have a positive adult role model, and to help maximize their investment in my class.




Some other quick tips that Jon gave us were to:


  • Make directions SOC(Specific, observable, concise). Jon helped us practice this, and reaffirmed that we “cannot punish students because we are unclear”.

  • positively narrate classroom actions

  • make sure that everyone is paying attention when you are giving directions

  • use the phrase “When I say go…” when giving directions allowing students to hear all of the directions before attempting to work on an assignment

  • create concise, positive instructions “No blurting” becomes “Respond when I signal you”.

  • Not redirect actions until after positive narration is done to give students one more opportunity to hear the directions

  • Positively frame consequences, eg. “I’m moving your seat so that you can learn more”

  • End hallway conversations with “What can I do to help you more?”

iFLT18 Reflection pt. 1 Dr. Krashen on the Net Hypothesis

    One of the talks that I was most looking forward to was a talk from Dr. Stephen Krashen on the Net Hypothesis and “Drop-in” language classes. Dr. Krashen started his presentation by discussing an overview of some of his foundational hypotheses such as the comprehension hypothesis, and the natural order hypothesis.

    Dr. Krashen discussed in length the natural order hypothesis and the pedagogical implications of it. The natural order hypothesis states that there is a predictable and reliable order in which constructions are acquired in a language be it in first or second language acquisition. What is sometimes misunderstood about the natural order hypothesis is that the natural order may not rely on what we believe to be simple versus complex constructions. In some cases, what are typically described in grammatical textbooks as complex. Dr. Krashen states that even though we know that there is a natural order, any type of grammatical based syllabus for a language class should not be used. By using any kind of grammatical syllabus, teachers would be under the assumption that the students learn what the teacher is currently teaching, which is simply not true. We still have to account for individual differences.

    Within the classroom, because individual differences occur, Dr. Krashen suggests that the Net Hypothesis will take care of the individual needs of students at the appropriate time. He says that if we cast a large enough “net” of input, i+1 will be available and students will acquire language. He did also reaffirm in this talk that the ‘i’ of i+1 does not necessarily stand for anything, it was just the variable he chose to use. Dr. Krashen gave a great metaphor, as is typical whenever I have seen him speak, he said that if we have a balanced diet (compelling comprehensible input) then all of the vitamins and nutrients (i+1) will be available and one does not need to worry about adding supplements to their diets.

    An issue that arose for me during this talk is that Dr. Krashen was talking about how ‘noise’ in the input, that is language that is not ready to be acquired, is fine. I did ask Dr. Krashen if he had an idea of how much ‘noise’ was appropriate in the language classroom, his response was simply ‘Let’s find out’, as though it were something that we still needed to investigate.

    In the classroom, the idea of the Net Hypothesis, especially with the background in Natural Order Hypothesis allows me to view student growth in a different way. I do still use some targeted input, so I am sure I may not be casting a large enough ‘net’ for students, but perhaps when evaluating students I will take a look at what it is that I am asking them to be able to do. Perhaps the student’s individual net is not catching all of the input yet to produce what I am asking them to produce.



Conference time!

2017-2018 was my first conference free school year since I started teaching. It was weird, but also kind of relaxing. 2018-2019 however is going to be a whirlwind and I'm starting off with iFLT in Cincinnati.

iFLT is the international Forum on Language Teaching. The conference is often held in the US. I did attend last summer, in Denver and it was AMAZING. This year, the conference is a bit closer, in Cincinnati so I'll be driving down tomorrow to start the conference.

I am starting my week at the Coaching for Coaches workshop. We will be practicing, and discussing coaching styles to better train teachers that come to our workshops/events etc. After that We will have our first coaching session, and then I will meet with my Adult Spanish teacher team.

I am one of five teachers that will be teaching the Adult Spanish class. What is unique about iFLT is that conference attendees can go and watch real classes with real students. This is the first time that iFLT has done an "apprentice" program, so I will be paid with a Master teacher who will observe me being observed. I am so looking forward to this experience, especially because I'm wanting to start an adult Spanish class of my own.

My mornings this week will be filled with the the language labs, and then I'll have time to go to other sessions and talks that pique my interest. But there are SO MANY OPTIONS! I think I am most looking forward to learning more about the Net Hypothesis with Dr. Stephen Krashen. I have a basic understanding of the Net (that if you give students enough input, they will have uptake in whatever they are cognitively ready for), but I think it will be a very interesting session.

While I'm at the conference, I will be working on grad school. I'm currently taking a Methods Course, and doing an experiential module(essentially, a self planned project). My EM, originally, was going to be conference attendance/reflection. But after talking with my adviser, we decided to go a different route. I will be using what I do at this conference as a basis to develop training modules for language teachers (Look for those in Spring 19).

And of course, one of the biggest reasons I am looking forward to iFLT is to hang out with my teacher tribe. It is such a rejuvenating experience to be around folks who believe the same things you believe, but who are also willing to challenge you in those beliefs.

Part of my EM will be reflections on sessions I attend so I will probably create a Master Post for that where everything will hang out.

BTW, check out all of the iFLT18 tweets here!


Developing a PAT Point System

I have tried an failed over the years to incorporate a PAT(Preferred Activity Time) point system.

In brief, a PAT point system awards a class with points to earn some sort of prize.

I've tried giving points for staying in the Target Language, but that ended up being too much running back and forth with a timer, sometimes felt subjective, and wasted my time when I had to keep resetting the timer.

I know some people work wonderfully with a timer, but it just wasn't my thing. I decided I needed to take a look at my class expectations, and see how I could reward students for meeting and exceeding those expectations.

These are the expectations that I hold students to, and potential for points in meeting/exceeding these expectations.

  1. Listen and read with the intent to understand, and let me know when I'm not being clear.
    A few different point possibilities here. I'm thinking 3 points when I ask a whole class question and get a partial response, and 5 points when I ask a whole class question and get a (what sounds like) full class response. And although I probably wouldn't announce it because I don't want it to be taken advantage of, but when a student asks a GREAT question, or stops me because I'm going too quickly or said something incomprehensible (they use my stop signal, fist in hand) I'd probably give like 10 points because that is SO important as a language learner to be able to say 'hey, I want to be able to understand you, let's try again'.
  2. Be free from potential distractions such as side conversations, cell phones, other technology.
    My admin bought be this pocket chart. I'm going to establish a routine for students to put their phones in the pocket chart (I give students numbers alphabetically for when they turn in on-paper work, and for my popsicle sticks for cold-calling, they will use this number for their phones) OR put their phone on a charger at the front of the room. Each phone is worth 1 point. Honestly... might need to put smart watches up too... yay technology!
  3. Sit up with clear laps, look like you're paying attention.
    I'm not sure how I would reward this one, tbh, it's such a basic skill, but it is CRUCIAL.
  4. Be respectful of peers, teachers, and the classroom.
    If I see something great, reward it, and praise it. Probably be willing to give like 2/3 points for this.
  5. Push yourself to respond in Spanish, act it out, draw it out, use words you already know.
    If a student feels comfortable enough (which is my goal!) to try to output I'm going to praise them like none other! Give a sticker, a high five, call home, whatever is appropriate, but make a big deal about it in front of everyone. 10 points!

So there are some of the things I give points for. Now... how many points are they shooting for and what happens when they get those points?

When I test drove this point system in the last few weeks of class, we were shooting for 100 points by the end of class Thursday. That seemed pretty reasonable. If my classes are 25 students and each student puts up a phone every day, voila! Maybe I'll up it, I'm not sure.

So 100 points earned students 10 minutes of a preferred activity at the end of class Friday. I think maybe an additional minute for every 10 points after 100.

So I've done, outdoor time, dance party, a game, a movie (I know 10 minutes of a movie doesn't seem like long, but they know they can earn extra class points). I'm still working on compiling more rewards though. A friend of mine suggested something that *I* do, like sing a song in front of the class, dance in front of the class... or something. I'm not sure. What do you all do for PAT?

An EduTryGuy at Heart

It is summer! The second half of this year was so much busier than I ever anticipated, and ended with some devastating tragedies. As a district, we lost two students, and a teacher within one week. On my personal social media pages I've done a lot of reflection on what the friendship of our Friend/Colleague Casey meant to me.

As I'm looking at EduTryGuys for the first time in a while, I see a tweet that we retweeted from Casey about him trying NearPod with his students.

That is one of the things I respected the most about Casey. He taught for 10+ years but was always willing to try something new. He was sometimes hesitant, and would text me about "How do I do this?" or text me about something he's trying that he thought I might like.

An unfortunate reality is that sometimes, after 10 years of teaching, teachers become settled in what they've been doing. Although I'm sure that we all get stubborn about things we do in the classroom, we do get settled in some things, and that's fine. But Casey always kept a very open mind about education, always striving for the best for his students, and the girls he coached.

Casey always tried, and succeeded, in making those around him feel heard and cared for. At his memorial service, I heard so many people talk about how much they cared for him, and how much he cared for them. He had such a huge heart, and put that before anything else. He put relationships before anything else. Casey has given me one more "Try".

Try relationships. He knew that without positive relationships, whatever you're doing in the classroom won't reach the ones who truly need it.

I'm going to try my very best to honor Casey every day in the classroom by trying to establish such great relationships.

Casey was always supportive of this endeavor of ours, and he will always be an EduTryGuy in my eyes.

Observe, Support, Grow

Observe, Support, Grow

In my PLCs we do a lot of teacher coaching. I was trained as a coach last year at iFLT (International Forum for Language Teaching) in Denver. It was a great experience, and I'll be going to the training again this summer when iFLT is held in Cincinnati.

Basically our set up is: One teacher, one coach, a row of chairs for 'students'(other teachers usually) and a row of observers. Teachers teach, students are the most perfect angels that they can be and are focused on learning, and the observers watch the teacher interact with the students.

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Book Discussion: Social by Matthew D. Lieberman

I've been reading the book Social by Matthew D. Lieberman. It is a book recommended by the great Bryce Hedstrom. I've had the book on my bookshelf for a while and decided to dive back into it. General thoughts are that it is an enjoyable, easy read with a lot of anecdotal, and scientific evidence on the importances of being social. Though Social isn't necessarily about the classroom it gives a lot of food for thought in how we should treat our students, and how we should expect our students to treat each other.

Part 1: Beginnings

The first chapter of the first book starts off with brief discussion of the author's grandparents and how after his grandfather died, the fun-loving and energetic part of his grandmother died. 

Using task based language teaching with TCI/TPRS

Yay! Acronyms! TBLT, or Task Based Language Teaching is quickly becoming an obsession of mine.  At the beginning of the summer I was introduced to TBLT through the SLA course I took at MSU. I had to create a research proposal that used data from a task based activity. My proposal was about interaction with vocabulary and interactions affects on long term retention of vocabulary. What is a task? Ellis (2003) says that a task resembles a real world activity, has a primary focus on meaning, has a non-linguistic outcome, and learners are expected to use their own linguistic resources.

When creating a task there are some questions that we need to answer to make sure it's truly TBLT. (from Dr. Amanda Lanier, MSU)

What is the authentic task? What is the real world application of the task? Is it something that people REALLY, ACTUALLY do?

What are the teacher's goals for the activity? What CAN students do to complete the activity? (Look at ACTFL can-do statements.)

What are students aiming to accomplish? What is the outcome of the task? What happens when they complete the task? e.g. If the task is ordering food, they will know they are successful if they receive the food they ordered.

What do students need to know? Basically, what do students already know, and how can they build on that to complete the task?

What terms and phrases do they need? These could be language chunks, meaning based chunks of words that students don't need to know the grammar for, but will help express what they want to express for task completion.

What is the task? What is the activity that students are actually doing? What is the evidence of completion?

How can you extend the task to other modes of communication? If it's a speaking task, how can we make that to an interpretive task, etc.?

What I absolutely LOVE about TBLT is that there is no required grammar, the only requirement is that students complete the task by any means necessary, and by any means available to them.

The reason I'm trying to use more TBLT in my TCI class room is that there is  ONE thing that I just can't get into. I like funny and interesting stories, but I can't get into how bizarre some people get. There's nothing wrong with it at all, if it works for you in your classroom it is not wrong. It works great for some people, but it’s not quite my style. I do like to stretch reality with my stories, but I tend to not ever really arrive in BIZARRE story land. Something came up on a Facebook group that, sarcastically, mentioned “when will students talk about purple dancing cows?!”  Yea, I get it.  When do we do that? We don't, but we use a lot of high frequency vocabulary that students will acquire and be able to reconstruct into their own thoughts as their journey through proficiency goes on.

Like I said, I’ve been dabbling in TBLT for a little bit, but I had a great idea for a task today and I’m just thinking about how I can implement it. It does take some backwards planning, and it may work better in a Targeted classroom (if you think Untargeted works with TBLT as well please let me know!). But that doesn't mean that each story you do has to be about the same topic.

Right now I'm doing some TPRS/TCI with routines. (Basically I'm just doing some PQA and extending that into mini stories) In a couple weeks my students should be ready for a task involving their daily routines. But we can get to that point using the vocabulary that we've already started to acquire, and we can add vocabulary that we are working on acquiring now through stories and other TCI activities! If I do more stories does that mean I have to teach thematic vocabulary in a list? No. Do I have to focus JUST on reflexive verbs because a lot of routine verbs are reflexive? No. If I'm talking about my routine I also need to be able to say when I leave, when I get to a place, I can talk about eating lunch... There are a lot of things that go into talking about routines. I'm not simply telling stories about people doing mundane activities.

I believe, and I would need to collect some surveys on this, that students will feel more successful in a TCI/TPRS classroom if we involve tasks. It's like "YES we do talk about silly things, now here’s how you can apply what we’ve been doing to real world".


TPRS with a textbook is really easy.

That is a bold statement, I know. This is coming from someone who had monthly common assessments. But I think this could work for even those who have weekly common assessments!

The first two years when I was just a baby teacher working with CI I was department of one. I did whatever I wanted with the blessing of my administrator. Then this past year I started teaching in a department. With a textbook. I was overwhelmed because I did NOT want to lose what I gained as a person by using CI. I turned to the internet and the wonderful iFLT/NTPRS/CI Teaching Facebook page to ask what to do. I was turned to Terry Waltz's blog post about using TPRS from a Textbook. This was a god-send. I immediately got to inputting all of the vocabulary words from my textbook into a spreadsheet to start organizing what was important (or at least perceived important by me).

But then I started altering my approach. I decided to go chapter by chapter and focus on the grammatical aspects. I know (now, anyway) that the research says we cannot alter the natural order, just because we focus on a grammatical aspect it doesn't mean students are ready to acquire it. However, I'm just trying to find the best balance so someone else can stay sane AND keep their job if they are in a tight situation.

So here is what I suggest as a 'chapter outline'.

  1. What is the focus of the chapter? First, you gotta look at what the goals of the chapter are. For example let's say that it's present tense stem changing verbs, and verbs like gustar all enveloped in the vocabulary theme of ALL OF THE SPORTS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE BALLS.
  2. What can I PQA (personalized questions and answers)? Sports are really easy to PQA, so PART of the sports vocabulary was really easy to PQA "What sport do you play?" But then I had to look at the other grammar stuff, thankfully it was pretty easy to PQA these structures as well "Does football bore you, interest you, do sports movies interest you, bore you etc. and I branched off into "what else interests/bores you?"
  3. What kind of stories can I write? This is the trickier part. You DO NOT need include ALL of the grammar points in one story. I spent a few weeks on each type of present stem changing verbs (in Spanish e-ie, i-e, and o-ue). And continued to PQA the gustar verbs. I did a couple stories with each type of verb but one story might have only had one occurrence of a stem changing verb, and I tried to use some of the target vocabulary in each story.
  4. What if I can't use all of the vocabulary I'm supposed to cover? For each chapter I made a textivate match set. (Textivate is my preferred tech tool click HERE to see how else I use textivate in my class). Or you can of course use whatever else you may use to have students practice vocabulary. It's my suggestion that the vocabulary is available for students at the beginning of the chapter. I often have a textivate challenge throughout the entire chapter and the winner might get some candy or something (because sometimes they are LONG challenges).


Anyway I hope this may help someone else :) Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Bulletin board!

I should be working on my SLA presentation for my grad class... but I made a bulletin board instead. Feel free to use this. I'm getting it put on cardstock so it's sturdy and glare free. They are 11.5" by 42.5" (1 sheet tall, 5 sheets wide)

If any other languages want to adapt this I'd be more than happy to help :)



months poster

numbers poster

Days of the week poster

Weather and Date poster

My classroom expectations

These are the expectations I have posted at the front of my room that I review EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It's important for me to review them every day. It's a procedure that students know to expect, and it reminds me to be consistent. When writing these I tried to make them all encompassing but at the same time specific to a CI classroom. I also tried to make them sound positive, but I couldn't think of a super bright and shiny way to say all of them. So here's what I have posted, and the little blurb I say about each one every day.

  1. "I listen and read with the intent of understanding. I stop Sr. Langley if he speaks too fast or is unclear" If we believe we can do something we are much more likely to be able to do that thing. It is my job to make what I say in Spanish understandable to you, it is your job to pay attention. I'll do my 50% of the job, but you have to do your 50% as well. You can tell me when I'm not doing a good job, and I'll make sure you are doing everything you can do to do your job.
  2. I only speak when addressed as an individual, or as part of the class. I need you to remain silent so you can hear all these new words clearly, and so you can hear them enough times to get them stuck in your head. This means no side conversations, and no blurting out. When I ask a question to the class I need everyone who is able to answer to answer so I can get a feel for how strongly you all understand something.
  3. I am physically and mentally present in class, I am free from potential distractions. You look like you're paying attention, and you are freeing yourself from anything that may be distracting. That include homework for other classes, cellphones, headphones, whatever else that may distract you from class.
  4. I respect my teachers, my pears, and our physical space. I want you to have a space that you can be proud of, so while we're here we're respectful, and clean, and we try to stay positive.
  5. Todo es posible en la clase de español. Everything is possible in Spanish class. How much fun we have in here is up to you. I will always try to make things enjoyable, but you have to remember that if you think a story or discussion is boring, make it exciting!

Circling "I" and "We" during PQA

As a department, we noticed students having trouble identifying subjects that included 'I" with other people. So I decided I wanted to come up with something to circle the "I" and "we" subjects. I decided I'd do some picture PQA. The prompt was simple: Draw an activity that you do with other people.

I had students come to the front with their interesting drawings and we started talking. I started off each discussion with "Student and I are friends" And then circled that relationship a bit. "Are we best friends? Are we brothers? Are we enemies?"

Then got into the meat of the discussion. One student drew a picture of running. I circled the verb a bit "Bob and I run" "Do we walk? or do we run" etc. Maybe come up with a little bit of a story. One class had us throwing frogs into the pond, that was... interesting.

Then I changed it up, even though we did the activity together, *I* did the activity a little bit different. "Bob and I run, but I run slow. Bob runs fast" "Does Bob run slow or do I run slow?" Circling the subject is kind of hard there if students are ready to output "you" forms, so I tried to keep away from the wh- questions.

We'll be doing a little more of this tomorrow and I'm hoping to end the week with a horizontal conjugation as an assessment.

How I use Textivate in class

EDIT: NEW with Textivate: Student passwords. Students can now save progress on sequences and continue on other devices, or at a later date.  

I LOVE Textivate! Textivate is a website that allows students to manipulate texts in various ways. And it's SO easy to use. You paste in your text, hit "textivate" and you have 20+ activities ready made to give your students repetition in reading, but in interesting ways. It has a few subscription options, but I strongly suggest getting the pro. It ends up being about $50 for a year and you'll get your money's worth quickly.

Here's a short list of how I use/plan to use Textivate, and then I'll get into some details.

  1. Review a class story
  2. Differentiate instruction
  3. Practice textbook vocab that I don't want to use in class
  4. First person (singular and plural) practice
  5. Sub-work/homework (when we go 1:1)
  6. Easy bail out move

1. After reading a story with the class, set up a story for students to review on their own, or maybe you aren't feeling hot one day so you paste the story, send out the link, and let students go! There are a couple different ways to have students review stories. You can set up a challenge where students do different activities for different amount of points. Or you can set up a sequence where you decide which activities students do. Currently, sequences are all or nothing. Either you get it done, or you don't. Unfortunately students didn't always have enough time to get through a sequence in a class period. It could work well for homework, but if I'm using textivate in class, I'm going to go with a Challenge.

2. BUZZ WORD ALERT. Differentiation! There are so many ways to support students at varying levels with Textivate. From adding alternate texts, to images, to videos. There is so much that you can add along side your primary text to support comprehension. When you do challenges, and allow students to pick the activities that they want to do, they will pick which activity is useful to them!

3. When you have a textbook, how do you include every single low-frequency word that they give you? You put it into a Textivate match activity and let the students go! I have a hard time fitting "Ferris Wheel" into enough context so that students can acquire it. BUT I can give them these lists where they can practice the absurd vocabulary that a textbook manufacturer thinks my students should know.

4. This is one of those things that I'm GOING to start doing more of.  I started messing around with Textivate PLUS (Textivate's pre-made French Units) to learn a little French. I feel comfortable enough trying to talk about myself in French because of the reading and listening I've done with first person texts. I have a rough time fitting in person in my classes so I'm excited to see what this can potentially do for my students!

5. When we go 1:1 next year my line up for Sub Work is going to include Sr. Wooly and Textivate. Didn't finish a sequence in class? Oh, well just take it home and finish it there! Your parents want me to give you more homework? Ok have a sequence! Your parent wants you "practicing more" Spanish? Have a sequence! I'm so excited for this!

6. Class story fall flat? Project Textivate in front of the class and go to town! Although it's not super Comprehension based, a great bail out is to have students spell out a story using Textivate. Or if I've recently given a vocab matching activity, we can do that as a class. Just gotta make sure you already have something in Textivate and you can bail yourself out of almost anything!


So once again, I LOVE Textivate. Go check it out!

What I want my students to KNOW.

I am employed as a Spanish teacher. I go in every day and do my best to teach them. In my short three years as a teacher getting students to know what I want them to know has been so hard. Maybe it's that my expectations are too high. Maybe they don't know what I want them to know.  Maybe they know but they just can't LEARN it.

The thing is though, I don't want students to KNOW Spanish. I don't want to teach Spanish, I want to facilitate language acquisition. It's not that my students don't know what a subject, verb, or object is. But that's not what I want them to KNOW.

I want students to know that from the moment they enter my class, they are in a space that is unlike anywhere else in the school. They should be able to tell that from the whole not having desks thing. I want them to know that they are in a a space where they can make a connection with an adult. I want them to know that the bull crap that they deal with outside of school can take at least a 52 minute break and they can just enjoy the company of other kind-hearted people. I want them to know that they can be silly. I want them to know that they can stretch their imagination.

Ultimately, I want them to know I care. And I am grateful for the vehicle that TCI has allowed me to have real conversations with students in Spanish.


I want them to know all those things. Being able to communicate in Spanish is just a byproduct.

It's never too late to start over.

I believe there are two main (classroom) reasons why students lose focus and start being disruptive in a CI class. 1)The input you're (read: I am) giving is boring. And 2) the input that you're giving is incomprehensible. This is my third year teaching, and third year using TCI/TPRS in my classroom. Every year, every semester I have gotten to a point where I lost students. I start getting incomprehensible because I'm over-estimating what is comprehensible to students. Students were getting frustrated and restless, and I was getting frustrated and restless. It was because instead of going i+1 I was going i+1000. That wasn't doing any good for anyone.

At the beginning of second semester I did not take the time to review the Super Seven . This was such a big mistake. These are words that I use every day, but I had not taken the time to establish the meaning for the students I didn't have last semester.

So I started over. Last week I spent a couple days TPR-ing the super seven. Students were familiar with these but they were nowhere near being able to recognize them without a lot of support (which is fine, but I knew I could be doing more to help them). I LOVE using TPR from time to time. During TPR a student said "These are too many words and I'm not going to remember all of these gestures" And then it was the end of the week and I did some review of the TPR and they sure did remember all of the gestures. The human brain is amazing, guys. Connecting these words to gestures and connecting the gestures to meaning is so powerful.

After doing this TPR we moved into a story. It was the most successful story-asking days that I've had this year. It was the first time I tried doing parallel characters, and it was great. So many reps of the target structures, so much more comprehension, and so much more production!

It was a great week, and if you feel like you've lost your students somewhere along the way this year, just start over. You'll be happy you did, and your students will be happy you did.