I have so many things in my store that I hope can make your life easier. From songs of the week to movie talks to proficiency building resources! Save big tomorrow! Thank you so much for supporting what I do!
I have SO many units. I mean… I can’t possibly fit in all the amazing units I own. My friends are so creative. TPT is so full of ideas. I can’t stop writing units about the SDGs… It’s sort of like I am a materials hoarder!
But… I love Lin-Manuel Miranda. And… as it turns out, In the Heights is about to become a feature film. So I clearly MUST introduce my students to him this year! But where does it go??
What if there were a series of ‘bookends’… cultural lessons that could serve as warm up and wrap up of the class period… but that still allowed me to teach the content I am focusing on during the majority of the class period?? What if I could start the hour with a soundtrack of Lin-Manuel songs and a beautiful LMM quote and end the period with some type of literacy based activity about his life and work? Well, we’re about to find out! I made it and I’m going to give it a try!
Citas de LMM – daily inspirational quotes from Lin-Manuel
Biography in colors – a reading comprehension activity
A 10 page reader about how Lin-Manuel decided to pursue his dream.
Twitterature – a peek inside Lin-Manuel’s amazing Twitter presence. He’s an uplifting guy, follow him now!
and readings about his two most famous musicals, Hamilton and In the Heights.
I hope you love it! If this is a hit with my students, I am going to make a series to let them get to know some of the amazing Latino leaders in the US!
The big back to school bonus sale is TUESDAY August 20! Don’t miss saving 25% on this new unit and ALL of my units at Somewhere to Share.
Looking for clever ways to grab some formative assessment grades? Try these generic exit tickets! Keep them in a folder and pull out what you need to check student comprehension of the day’s lesson! Available in Spanish and French, they are sure to make your life easier!
I have always been a huge fan of Ben Slavic’s Circling with Balls (now sometimes referred to as Card Talk). It is how we start our level 1 classes and we modify it slightly to start level 2! Upper level students have a different skill set. I hope this little 2.5 day mini unit can help you see that although they still love to build community and still need tons of reps, they can talk about more than just what they did over the summer!
It seems like just YESTERDAY I was reflecting on the 18-19 school year and remembering the joy that this journey brings me. A blink later, I’ve been to Costa Rica with an amazing group of students, I’ve written some new units, I’ve NAPPED, I’ve floated in my pool until I was a prune, I’ve been to Florida for IFLT19, I’ve taken a SILVER anniversary trip to wine country in Southern IL, and I’ve celebrated my 47th trip around the sun! It was an amazing summer! I’m sorry to see the relaxing days end, especially since my son is starting high school this year (and everyone who has already had a kid in high school knows that THOSE FOUR YEARS FLY BY) and I really enjoyed what I know are some of the last summer moments he’ll really spend hanging out at home with mom!
But now that the calendar page has turned to August and I’m watching my friends post pictures of their first days, I’m ready! Well… I posted a video on my Facebook that may prove that I’m not ACTUALLY ready… But internally, I am READY! I can’t wait to see the kids and get back in the routine!
Inspired by Meredith White, I have made myself a promise this year. A promise I know I can keep. It’s easy to overwhelm myself with a long list of things I’m going to do. I did it this summer! All inspired by Rachel Hollis and Girl Wash your Face, I promised about 10 things and did 5. Ok, 5 is fine but I should’ve started small and only PROMISED 5. So for the school year, I’m only promising 1.
I promise that I will make time to read. I love to read. I read at semester exam time when the world slows down a little. I read over breaks. I listen to books on long drives. I do not make a habit of reading during the active parts of the school year. But that is going to change. Reading relaxes me. Reading gives me new professional ideas and lets me slip into dystopian worlds (like the amazing series I just finished – Nyxia by Scott Reintgen). It lets me reset. So I’m going to read.
I think I can keep this promise. I have a nightstand. I can put my book there and pick it up every night before bed. I can keep a book on my desk at school too! I could sneak in a minute between when I arrive and when class starts! Or the last couple minutes of lunch hour! I can even keep one in the passenger door of the car for the times I am not driving (and lose control of the radio to my metal band loving husband). I will keep this promise.
I encourage you to set a small goal. Just ONE promise that will help you keep a great balance between teaching (which we love) and mental health (which we also love). I am never going to be able to “work less”… my brain fires on all cylinders ALL THE TIME… work helps me slow that train down! I can’t make a promise to take off Sundays (Meredith, I really wanted to join you in this but look at me typing a blog post AS I consider taking Sunday off… Maybe I’ll do every other Sunday??)… but I can promise myself I will do something I love and not stockpile my books for vacation times. I’m going to steal some vacation minutes every day this year! 🙂
Let Somewhere to Share help you with back to school planning! There’s no better time to fill your “bag of tricks” than the annual back to school sale!
From songs of the week to full units of study, movie talks to posters that help students find their way along the path to proficiency, you’re sure to find something to make the transition back to school smoother!
My teacher planner is bought and is ready to be filled! I love my time off but with 10 days until day 1, I am excited to go back and see my classes again! I have learned so much this summer and created a lot of new things! Time to tackle some new topics!!
The summer has been so wonderful! I got to visit Costa Rica with a group of students who were SO excited to use their Spanish in the real world! I got to float in my pool sooooo many days because it has been unseasonably warm! My hibiscus plants were the most beautiful I’ve ever had. The bird feeders have been busy now that our trees are bigger! I had an amazing cohort and got some good quality time (and food) in St. Petersburg at iFLT. I wrote a new book! (Watch for Bananas this fall!) From time with my family and pets to lots of lunches with friends, I have milked this summer for all it’s worth. Now my brain is starting that slow transition back to “planning mode”.
As I consider what units I will shift around this year, I thought I would make a short summary of some of the things that you’ll find in the units I write! Remember that the structures you want or need to teach can be added to any unit! If something seems to have a lot of present tense, add reps of past tense structures by retelling stories, asking what students (or people in general) used to do. Make predictions to get future reps! Need to teach subjunctive? Just ask for recommendations, give suggestions, or find out what they think is important! The value of a good unit is that the CONTENT you are delivering can be the vehicle that helps them acquire language that can be used in any context!
I’m attaching a document with a break down of (and links to) some of my content based units that might help with your planning as you go back to school! I am working on one last one… green energy Costa Rica style! (The research for this one was fun!) Hope I can have it ready to kick off the year and talk to my students about my trip! Like them all? Try the SUPER BUNDLE!
Happy planning! I hope that as you enjoy your last few weeks of summer, these ready-made units let you relax a little longer!
When I saw the Sebastian Yatra/Camilo video for En guerra, I was immediately drawn back to some of my darkest hours as a teen/young adult. I just didn’t love who I was and there was truly a storm raging inside of me. I couldn’t stop listening to this song. I immediately sent it to EVERYONE I knew.
En guerra speaks the truth of so many of our adolescent students and our own children! I knew from the moment I saw the video for the first time that I wanted to use it in class… but when you watch the video, you’ll see why I knew it had to be packaged in just the right unit. I will warn you that you need to evaluate your school setting before deciding to show it. I am holding it back for my Spanish 4 students and I have planned it into a unit on adolescent mental health.
Self-esteem and mental health are such a delicate topic and yet so relevant for the students we see every day. I wanted to honor the message of the song AND let students know that mental health issues are not something to fear or be ashamed of. This is the reality for most of them! In this unit, they’ll explore the song but also some stats about adolescent mental health, a movie talk about Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, and some posed and unposed photo experiments.
(This unit could EASILY be used with a lyric video in place of the official video. The other activities are all 100% universally acceptable.)
I hope that this unit can be the start of opening a discussion about self-image and the importance of keeping lines of communication open with parents and other trusted adults throughout the teen and young adult years!
We’ve all seen the quotes. “It’s not a journey, it’s a race.” “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, just don’t stop.” “Life is a journey, not a destination.” We actually get bombarded by them so often that they lose their effect. We’re immune to the message. We start to just look past it.
But in education, it is true. We are on a journey. Every day in the classroom, we do a little bit better, we try another new thing that moves our students along the path to proficiency, we add a bold new unit or reader… but we feel overwhelmed, rushed, behind. The teacher next door is using 4 readers and I am only using one. The teacher on Twitter posted pictures of her students discussing green energy and mine are just learning to talk about their family life.
If I can convince you of any one thing this summer, I hope that I can convince you to embrace change at your own pace. If you’re beginning a CI journey (or a textbookless journey, or a deskless journey, or any journey), considering the journey, or are ready to dive in head first, set a pace that you’re comfortable with and add new units, readers, skills, classroom set ups and activities slowly. It’s tempting to throw everything you’ve ever known out the window to try to achieve the same results as another teacher but the changes that are most impactful and longest lasting are the changes that we take a little at a time!
My “CHANGE EVERYTHING” teaching journey started in 2005. I had failed the National Board process and I felt lost. I loved my job and my students. I loved grammar and worksheets. I thought I was doing a good job. I began to research some of the terms that had come up in my NBCT testing centers and I realized where I had gone wrong. I was teaching a curriculum, not my students. I went through the book at the same pace year after year, leaving everyone behind who wasn’t strapped in and ready for the roller coaster! In that research, through some simple dumb luck, I stumbled my way into best practice.
I began attending some sessions at my state conference with Susan Gross. She got me excited to “peel the banana” differently! I went back to my room and began by telling a couple of stories and doing some TPR. The next year, I blended story telling with the textbook. Then I added a reader… Then I got bold and ditched the textbook because I felt like it was holding me back from talking about the things my students wanted to talk about… Little by little I purged my curriculum and turned it into what I wanted it to be! I’m now 13 years in and every year I still add new things and make a few more changes. It is definitely a journey.
I teach in a small, rural school. My challenges are different than the challenges you face if you’re in an urban district. I am in a department of 3, you may be in a department of 20 or a department of 1. Remember that we’re all working within the framework we’ve been given and that whatever changes we make for the good of our students have to be framed within the context of that department.
I hope you plan this summer! I hope you plan a TON of input for your students next year! I hope you plan to read with them, to build community with them, and to fill their cups with language input. I hope my scope and sequence for Wildcat Spanish can be of use to you. But mostly, I hope that you know it takes time. Every year, rather than rushing yourself to get it all done at once, stop to smile back on the successes you’ve seen through the pieces you managed to add to your curriculum! Did you ditch the chore chapter and add a reader? HOORAY FOR YOU! Find joy in that victory! Did your department agree to skip ‘the house chapter’ in favor of Viviendas del mundo? Just keep taking steps!! Watch for the joy in your journey to more effective practice!
The school year does two things for me: It inspires me to create new things, to forge new community in the classroom, to do my best in the classroom… and it WEARS. ME. OUT. I’m serious. WORN OUT. I love to work and I will work on a lot of side projects all summer long but I will also do some things that help me clear my mind and re-ignite my creativity. I want to share one of those things with you.
When my colleague, Matt Donoho, asked me if I would take on the role of a female superhero in a podcast that he and his friends write and produce, I looked him square in the eye and said…
OF COURSE I WILL! THAT SOUNDS AMAZING! I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SASSY, FEMINIST SUPERHERO!!! BRING IT ON!
I hadn’t heard season one of the podcast but when I’m not working on my computer, I am driving somewhere so I had plenty of time to get caught up! I laughed, my son laughed… it was just a great, wholesome show to listen to as we drove to all of our different engagements!
Today, season 2 debuts and I am about to binge listen to the whole thing! I hope you’ll join me… and I hope that if you like it, you’ll give @MrDonoho a shoutout on Twitter. He is a talented guy!
Don’t forget that in the midst of all of your summer reflecting and planning and scheming, you have to do some down-time things for yourself. Things that will help you re-center and cultivate those creative pockets deep inside. Whether it is listening to a podcast or participating in one, embrace a passion project that will help you return to the classroom in August ready to roll on another school year! It will be here in the blink of an eye!