Medicina o Cura Hook

I just put the finishing touches on a Medicina o Cura unit a couple of weeks ago and it was finally time to try all the new parts with my intermediates.  Many will pursue a career in healthcare and I’d love for them to take away the understanding that our class gives them a skill not everyone has!

We started the unit with a hook.  If you buy my TPT unit, I have the handouts and specific instructions and questions but basically I brought a boiled egg to school and drew on some clothes.


I needed one per class so I made triplets!


When they came in, we listened to our song of the week “A mi burro” and did a manipulative activity then I picked up my egg and introduced him.  We talked about what he looked like and what we thought his personality was like.  Then I handed him to this guy, Dash.  IMG_5140

Unfortunately when we finished talking about what great friends “Huevo-bert” and Dash were, Dash passed him to me and he fell…. and cracked.  I didn’t do the best job of making it look natural but most of them bought it.

We took pictures of his injuries on my phone.  This class is small so I didn’t need to project them, we just looked at his injuries together.  We used the structures on our list to diagnose what was wrong with him and then filled in his medical chart. (All docs are available in the unit if you don’t have time and energy to make your own!

Poor Huevo-bert.  He was in bad shape.  Lots of injuries to his spine and head.  A broken arm and a cracked booty! ¡Ay, ay, ay!

I pulled out my first aid kit and we went to work deciding what kind of treatment he needed.  It was a lot of fun and the Spanish was flowing both as we talked about Huevo-bert as an egg friend and about his injuries after he had the great fall.  Day 1- Success!

I’ll post about our other medical adventures!


A.S.K. Me about National Geographic Certification


My path to proficiency as a language educator has taken many different turns.  From new jobs to new adventures in the language community at large, I have tried to never get so comfortable that I stop moving down the path.

Last summer, at IFLT in Denver, a friend asked me if I had ever considered National Geographic certification.  To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it.  I’d used many National Geographic video resources over the years but had never gone to the National Geographic Education site and looked at their resources.  What I found when I began to explore put my mind directly into planning mode.  All I could think was “so many resources, so little time”!

The National Geographic certification process was not hard. It took some time and some planning but never anything excessive and it was all very rewarding. I did mine by rebuilding an existing, favorite unit and adding resources that National Geographic had already created.

The first step of the process is to become familiar with the Nat Geo learning framework and its acronym, ASK.  From Attitudes to Skills to Knowledge, National Geographic explained what they looked for in their explorers and I immediately found things that connected with me and with my students.


Attitudes: Two of the words that jumped out at me immediately were persistant and empowered. When I taught by breaking language down into its component parts, my students’ attitudes toward language were poor.  There were students, typically those who liked playing the game of school, who studied and memorized and did well but they did not persist in their language study!  They were compliant.  They conjugated, accented, and filled in blanks but they never emotionally engaged with the language.  They didn’t feel empowered to use it.  For several years now, I have been shifting my focus from typical thematic units to content as the vehicle of language acquisition. As I looked at the National Geographic content, I realized that it was a perfect complement to the units I’ve been designing to empower my students to use their new language to communicate and to persist in their studies beyond my classroom walls.

Skills: One of the skills that National Geographic values in its explorers is communication.  National Geographic students are storytellers.  What is more important in language class than developing narrative?  Our story as individuals, as a class, and even as part of the bigger world are all narratives that students are learning to tell.


Knowledge: I’ve taught about the world’s water crisis, climate change, food insecurity, and biodiversity and conservation.  When I read that the three key subject areas of National Geographic’s were “Our Changing Planet”, “Our Human Journey”, and “Wildlife and Wild Places”, I knew that this certification was a perfect fit for my curriculum.  Incorporating new pieces into my well-loved units has let me bring in this year’s current events like the effects of climate change on coffee and chocolate, the melting arctic ice, and the first rainforest city.


One of my favorite new activities was suggested to me by fellow National Geographic certified Spanish teacher, Abra Koch.  Using the National Geographic table top maps, I can introduce my students to the geography of an area by “map talking” what they see.  For example, we are studying the Civil War in El Salvador and how many fled the war to the United States via Guatemala and Mexico.  I am able to talk about their journey as the students follow along on their maps!  They can draw in details, color and outline important features, and even practice giving directions!

The world is so much bigger than the inside of a textbook. Check out National Geographic certification and see for yourself! If you have any questions about the process, tweet at me (@senoraCMT) and we can connect.

March Music Madness

We are getting ready to have our yearly competition!  Huge shout-out to SpanishPlans for bringing this idea to classrooms across the US.  You had a GREAT idea!  My students have been asking for a month if we were doing this again and were glad to see the brackets go up today!

I’m sharing our songs.  I just print these out and hang on the wall.  Nothing fancy for sure!  I draw the bracket pieces on white paper or if I hang them on the white board, just directly on there.  🙂  Then hand write the name of the song that advances.

Can’t wait to see our winner! March Madness 18

I want to write a novel, where do I start?

Bianca-Novel-CoverI have to be honest, I didn’t know how to write a novel when I wrote La hija del sastre.  I was finishing my Master’s degree and had taken a class on the Spanish Civil War.  I wanted to bring what I had learned into my classroom so I designed a UbD (Understanding by Design-backward planning) unit that incorporated the cultural pieces.  But something was missing!


By this time in my life, I knew Kristy Placido, and she was a cool, famous author and I was a big fan.  She asked me if I’d like to meet Carol Gaab because she thought Carol might be interested in my Civil War unit.  OF COURSE I wanted to meet Carol Gaab!  I was so nervous, I bet I apologized 100 times during our conversation!  A little like this:

Carol- Oh, Carrie, you don’t want to have something to eat?

Me- No thank you. Sorry!

Carol- You don’t have to apologize!

Me- Sorry!

Continued for 20 minutes…


At this meeting, it was decided that I would try to write a novel to accompany my unit and the unit would become the Teacher’s Guide.  Well let me tell you, it was not easy!  I wrote the most Hallmark Channel story… full of running into each other’s arms and tears and gushy love… So then came the hard part… making it a real novel!  From this first novel to today, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons and wanted to share just a few with those who may be interested in writing novels… and by golly, if you’re a French teacher, write a darn novel!!! Your people need you!!!


  1. Editing is IMPORTANT!- I knew my story needed to be editing but I don’t know if I was prepared for how editing feels! At first, my heart wanted to see editing as my story being awful.  I wanted to beat myself up about being bad at this… but that isn’t at ALL what editing is!  Editing is about taking your story and making it the most engaging, well-crafted piece that it can be!  I was SO blessed to work with Carol during that process because her eye for what makes a good story is impeccable!  There are so many factors!  Is the vocabulary going to frustrate weak readers?  Is the story driven by emotion throughout? Is there enough repetition of structure for acquisition without “feeling” the repetition?  Will boys be turned away by the Hallmark movie moments?? J  As she taught me how to find the best path for my story, we co-authored my first baby!  La hija del sastre.  Since then I’ve written La Calaca Alegre- which I dreamt and it had no end so she was instrumental there again in helping me find exactly what I was looking for! Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos, and Vector.  I even wrote one last year that will live forever in my heart although probably never on paper!  The editing is the key to the best story in all of them!


  1. Cut the Cheese– HAHAHA Punny, right… One of my hallmarks is that I have a scene (or maybe two) that are impossibly coincidental… or that everything magically works out tying up 100 loose ends all at once. I’m learning to manage fewer balls in the air so that it doesn’t seem impossible that these books actually happened!


  1. Know your characters– When I wrote Bianca Nieves, I knew I wanted Salomé to be evil! I went back to the Bible story of John the Baptist and how Salomé wanted his head on a platter… There’s an evil lady, right? Her last name is Cuervo Real- Royal Crow. 😉 I listed things she could do to bully Bianca… before I ever wrote a word, I knew I wanted her to drive the story.  After Salomé was developed, I could drop the other characters into the scenes and stay true to her mean streak!  When I wrote Vector, I knew I wanted Antonio/Antoine to be like the main character in the Cortázar story “La noche boca arriba”… jumping back and forth in time… but he needed some “tells” that would make it obvious he was really jumping into that person. After a read aloud with friends on a writing retreat, we realized that if he blurted some French-Creole expressions as he was waking up, it would help him see that he was really there… how else would he know French-Creole, right?


  1. Leave the cultural meat in the Teacher’s Guide– There are SO many cultural pieces we want our students to know as we teach with novels, but when it comes to the story, write in little nuggets and leave the whole lesson to the guide! Students can feel it! “This is the part where we’re going to learn something.”  Let the story be a powerful narrative and either frontload those cultural bits or present them post-read as a way to clarify context!


  1. Don’t get too attached– The best advice I can give you comes back to the first point I made. Editing is so important.  If you get too attached to your story just the way it is, then it might feel painful to edit.  If you focus on creating the best possible resource for learners, you can walk through the editing process with an open mind!  Cutting out some out of bounds vocabulary or tightening up story events WILL result in a great product!  It isn’t a process meant to hurt feelings or say that a story isn’t good… it’s a process meant to make stories great!  Good grief, Stephen King has an editor who is working on his stories… and he is a MASTER storyteller!  I’m just Carrie Toth!  Why wouldn’t my story need the same!


Have a great week this week, and exercise your writing muscles!

Wooly Week, 2018

Everyone at Señor Wooly has been so hard at work making great things for us to use in our classrooms this spring (and beyond!)  It got me thinking about the videos that are coming (which you’re going to LOVE) and the videos that are already on the site!

So many people ask what to do with the video (beyond the obvious watching it!)  I use the Wooly videos to create story units!  I milk a small group of structures from the song and use them to create class stories, retells of the story in the video, movie talks… the possiblities are endless!

I really, really apologize for my darting eyes in the beginning of this video (you’ll notice now bc I mentioned it)… at first I thought I’d try to read you some ideas that I had… but the eye darting was weird so I quit! 🙂  You’ll thank me about 30 seconds in!

In this video, I will share how I use songs that are “too easy”, “too hard”, and right in the sweet spot!  I hope it helps you think of ways to incorporate Sr. Wooly into your curriculum.


Be (or don’t be) my valentine! Song of the week!

February is coming and I always debate how to approach Valentine’s day.  Not all of my students are in a relationship… some really want to be, some are in bad relationships, some are uncomfortable with the kind of relationship they wish they had… it is such a touchy topic!

When I heard the song Corazón by Maluma, I thought it might be a fun way to address the holiday without getting too romantic!  Listen to the song if you haven’t heard it!  His heart is broken but he’s decided it is ok because now he can take all the little pieces and give them to all the girls! 🙂

Here is my song of the week packet: Maluma Corazón

If you want to check out others as well, Kristy Placido has a FUN video study of Prince Royce’s Darte un beso… Nelly Hughes has a Morat/Juanes’s new song Besos en Guerra and Martina Bex has Morat’s hit from last year, Amor con hielo.  All are perfect for the season of love!  Fill your February with great music!

The good, the bad, and the wonderful: 2017


billy la bufanda enseña los animales.00_03_21_22.still006

Sr. Wooly caught this image of me just before break in December…  Oh wait, that’s a video screenshot… but still, that’s how I felt!  It was time for a break!

2017 was a great year… but don’t forget, as you return to work looking ahead to 2018, that even an overall great year can have some HUGE bumps in the road!

Highlights: I finished my first year at a new school and started my second year!  I went to  Ecuador and the Galapagos with the amazing Kara Jacobs and had  I went to iFLT, to ICTFL, keynoted WAFLT and CIIA, went to CSCTFL and ACTFL… I got National Geographic Educator Certification.  I sent my daughter to Spain for a semester abroad.  My son is getting better at both piano and guitar… and I had my 23rd anniversary!  What a year!

But with all the good came a big bump.  I wrote something.  Something I really loved.  It was a project I let myself get too close to!  Let me assure you, we can get WAY too close to our own work!  I thought it was the best thing I ever wrote and it was a stinker!! Seeing it in its finished form and then realizing it was not good enough for YOU to see in its finished form really made me feel bad about myself as an author!  But you know what?  I put it away.  I dropped it into the folder with such fascinating titles as “Bianca Nieves y Sábado” and “La Invasión”… the folder where things go to die!  And I put my heart into getting my Nat Geo certification… and slowly the funk is lifting! 🙂  It isn’t easy to see things we care about go down in a blaze of glory but it is so important!  Without these failures, we never grow!  Oh and that highlight of my daughter going to Spain… also a bump!  I miss her.  Come home, daughter! (Jan 12 is still so far away).

So please remember that for every huge success you have this year, there might be an accompanying huge fail!  Go back to your room in 2018 with a renewed desire to pick yourself up when things don’t turn out like you imagined!

“I know the plans I have for you…” Our plans are not always the right plans!

Happy New Year, friends!  Looking forward to seeing you at iFLT, CSCTFL, ICTFL, ACTFL…  Be there!