Wanderlust Goals

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I started my summer with an unusual tour. In 2016, I began planning this 2018 tour to London, Paris, and Barcelona. My student tours had failed to make numbers twice in a row and I was looking for a way to get my small community interested in travel again! My tour coordinator at EF suggested a “community tour”.  Pitch a bucket list tour that would bring the adults in but then offer it to students as well. I loved the idea and set it up right away.

In the summer, just after my website went live, I got a job offer at a neighboring school. It was too good to pass up, so I accepted… but this left me in a bad place with my community tour! I had just left the school district and all of my potential student travelers! My new school had not traveled in years AND they didn’t know me… it took a while but we finally ended up with a group of 12 adventurous souls (10 adults and 2 kids).

Because our group was so small, we couldn’t be private without paying a LOT of extra fees so we had to agree to join a student tour group.


My group’s ages ranged from 88 to 17 so in some ways this was not the best fit! All that walking and public transportation was challenging for my three seniors but in the end, the tour was incredible! It really got everyone excited about traveling.


I had always stuck with Spanish speaking countries only so that my students could practice their new language skills but what I found on this trip was that in France, they were applying what they knew in Spanish to try and read maps, signs, and schedules! They were even figuring out French words on their own with no prior exposure!


For me, it was incredible to be a language learner again. My French is only about Novice High reading and even lower listening and speaking so I loved being in the place my students find themselves in my classroom.

At the end of our tour, everyone was so thrilled that we began to talk about where our next adult adventure would take us.


A friend recommended we give LingoTours a try. This company is based in the Netherlands but provides student AND adult tours. It’s incredible. For a fully private tour with as few as 15 travelers, they quoted me $500 lower than either of the bigger companies I’ve worked with in the past! We’ll be in central hotels and eat quality meals! And since this tour is designed to be an adult tour (although if a parent wants to bring a kid along, that is 100% fine), we’ll also visit some wineries, try Port wine in Porto, Portugal, have great Dutch beer and snacks in a brewery… It is going to be incredible!

Have you traveled only with students? From 2017’s tour of Ecuador with ICTFL and my travel-mate Kara Jacobs to this summer’s LPB with my 10 adults and 2 kids, I’ve discovered that student travel is a MUST and student travel to countries that speak your TL is also a must but a break now and then to travel with adults who are of the same mindset as you is a whole new experience! There isn’t the constant responsibility of counting your little ducklings before you put them to bed, there aren’t the complaints about the foods they’re served, there aren’t the homesick sweethearts! IMG_6428

If you’re interested in joining us, we’d love to experience Amsterdam, Portugal, and Galicia with you. If you are looking to take your own group and are interested in a more personalized experience, I can’t recommend Lingo enough! Whatever you do, see the world. It is more than just a bucket list to check things off of, it is a classroom that opens doors to things you never knew existed!

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So Much PD, So Little Time (and money)

What a beautiful and terrible problem we have! There is SO much professional development available this summer and fall and yet… there is no funding in many cases. It becomes a matter of spending your hard earned dollars on the best PD for you.  So how do you decide?

  1. Proximity – Sometimes, when the funding just isn’t there, going to the closest offering is the best way to get a PD experience! Keep your eyes peeled for chances to get positive, proficiency based strategies close to home!
  2. Presenters you know – Follow blogs, follow people on Twitter, get to know people who think like you (or like you want to) and then go where they are! If you’re spending a lot of money to go, go where you can see someone who you are sure can help you refine your practice!
  3. Access to the presenters – Is the person you want to see presenting a single keynote or a series of 1.5 hour sessions? Will you have access to the presenters through structured reflection/down time/collaboration time?
  4. Reading materials – Which vendors are exhibiting, if any, and how can you use sessions and visits to the exhibits to build more reading into your classroom?
  5. Depth – Does this PD offer strategies from level 1 to AP? For example, I am a science nut, so I am always looking for ways to deepen my cross curricular (still story but also culture, music, and movie-based) units.

Summer, for me, is a time to recharge and part of that is getting excited about new material in my classroom! I hope that you treat yourself to that feeling this summer! Go back in August ready to try something new and going back to school won’t feel painful at all… well, maybe still a little… but hardly at all!

Check out Mike Peto’s master map of PD! And don’t miss IFLT July 17-20 in Cincinnati! There are only 30 spots left and I have literally had to turn people away crying from Martina Bex’s presentations! 🙂 Don’t let that be you!

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Mar de plástico Speaking Assessment

In part 3 of our Plastic Ocean assessment, students could choose to make a real T shirt or draw one on paper.  They were amazing!  They presented via FlipGrid.  They had to explain what their design was, what it meant, and how it could inspire others to save the world’s oceans.


We had learned that cigarette butts make up 38% of the trash found on beaches so the student on the left made a shirt that said “Octopuses don’t smoke.”

The part that I loved the most was that it was a test but everyone CARES about this cause and they really put their hearts in telling what we could do!

These are my Spanish 4 loves and they are only with me 2 more days.  I am SO proud of what they can do with language and that is not something I felt before I began teaching for proficiency.

Storytelling with Yo voy gana’o

My friend Kristy introduced me to the song Yo voy gana’o by Systema Solar.  It is SO catchy! I have some fishermen in my level 2 group and it is SO close to the end of the year that they’re ready for FUN acquisition.

We started with the video and the full song lyrics.  After we had seen it once, we did the reading about the Chinchorreros of Taganga. On the sheet Kristy made, I had them make little images that summarized the main point of each paragraph.  We have iPads so it was fun to see the emojis they chose!

Today, we did the fill in of the song and we did a story about some fisherman! I don’t know how you like to do your storytelling but I like for my 3 level 2 classes to be in the same ball park with their stories! It makes it so much easier for me to remember the next day! So the first class set the basic main events and then I baited the other two groups into choosing the same events. 🙂

Our first fisherman didn’t fish with a pole or a net (I love that we’re getting the word net because next year in our plastic ocean unit, they’ll it when they talk about entanglement). The fisherman used his hands to fish!  Unfortunately there was a shark in the water and he was eaten.

The second fisherman thought he was a polar bear and fished with his mouth not a pole or a net.  Unfortunately, although he went to get revenge, he was eaten as well.

Suddenly, a giant bird attacked the shark who (Martina Bex, in your honor) got scared and pooped and that let the two other fishermen escape.  🙂 . It was disgusting but we got past tense reps of our new structures AND of flew, caught, saw, opened, escaped, disappeared… There’s so much grammatical gold in a story! And they just thought it was hilarious.

Tell some stories!  Make these last few days memorable!

Song of the Week with a Lesson

I love using music in the classroom but when the video has a great theme, it is an added bonus! I saw the video for Cali y el Dandee’s Sirena and it was so sweet that I knew I needed to create something to not only discuss sign language but also language in general.  Does a language need to be “spoken” to be considered a language?  In this unit we watch the video for Sirena, talk about sign language and learn some signs, discuss whether coding should be considered for world language credit, and even learn about mythical sirens!  From a movie talk to all the cultural connections, this week long unit is perfect any time of year!

My focus structures were se da cuenta, trata de, de nuevo, and aprende.  The thing I love about movie talks is that if you have different targets, it is really easy to adjust the questions you ask using your own choice of words/verb chunks!

TPT sale continues today, May 9, so snatch this (and any units you need for the new year) up while it’s discounted! Nothing makes me feel more excited about a new year than going back with new ideas!

Thank you so much for all your support!

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Mar de plástico Assessment Part 1 Blog

This test was fun. I’m not kidding! They had a great time writing their blogs and replying to each other’s entries! The affective filter was low and the Spanish was flowing!

It was great to see them outputting and then getting an interpersonal connection by responding!

I made a little handout for the Blog post so if you’re using Mar de plástico, please feel free to use this as well!

In 4 more classes they will be done and I’m so excited by the enthusiasm they’ve given this last unit of high school!

CI with or without Department Support

One of the things that I love about movie talks and using pop music in class is that I am able to create week long units that are very versatile.  What I select as structures for one class, I can adapt for another level.  Each time I find a great, new song with a video that is movie talkable, I use it across the curriculum to get more bang for my buck!

I think that music and movie talk are a low-risk activity that teachers, traditional or otherwise, are able to embrace.  A bridge that departments can use to build harmony between teachers with different pedagogies and a bridge between students and the language.  They LOVE music. No one ever told me that they went home and did extra conjugations over the weekend but many (even tough nuts to crack) go home and download songs to listen to on their own time.  In fact, they told me this week that I should DJ post prom.  I told them that I figure the rest of the student body might not appreciate that as much.

Here are some of my favorite units.  If you have a text you’re required to follow, find the right one and slip it in in place of one week’s worth of whatever you might be doing in the textbook! No one will ever notice.  If you love it, then add another and another. If you don’t have a textbook to follow but you are prescribed a different curriculum, do the same!  Just squeeze it in! Or encourage your department to try one of their own.  If you’re on your own, add lots! 🙂

Educarse para superarse – This includes a movie talk, song of the week (Morat – Aprender a quererte), follow up activities, and cultural lesson about school in the world.

Sirena – This includes a movie talk, song of the week (Sirena – Cali y el Dandee), follow up activities, and cultural lessons about sign and other languages.

Paraíso – This includes a class story related to the video, a song of the week, and follow up activities.

I love the mermaid story in this packet from Kristy Placido Darte un beso. Her Cuando me enamoró and Con quién se queda el perro are great too!

And Nelly Hughes at Comprendes Mendez has great packets on La estrategia (SO GOOD), Quédate conmigo, and Jueves.

Martina Bex has Simples corazones, Robarte un beso, and Gozadera in her shop!

Kara Jacobs and I went to Ecuador last summer and conveniently, Nicky Jam came out with Si tu la ves shortly after.  We shared our free packet (with help from Arianne Dowd) to share the culture of Ecuador and the Galapagos.

Kara Jacobs has great choices like La cintura, Internacionales, Cásate conmigo, and Soy yo.

Arianne Dowd also has wonderful song/video talk units like Cuánto me duele and Andas en mi cabeza.

With the big TPT teacher appreciation sale Tuesday and Wednesday (25% off with the code THANKYOU18), it is a great time to stock up for next school year (or to survive the last few weeks of this year!)sale_740_400.jpg