Interacting with the Authors

I loved creative writing when I was in high school.  I wrote stories about everything!  What I never imagined was that I’d use that love in my teaching career!

In 2010 I was taking a class (for my Master’s program) about the Spanish Civil War.  It was so engaging and I wondered how I could bring this rich culture to my own classroom.  I backward designed a unit that included all of the cultural features of the class but I knew that I couldn’t bring any of the readings to my high school level students!  The undergrads in MY class cried at least once a week because they had no idea what they were reading.  It was then that Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido asked me, “Why don’t YOU write a book?”

Let me tell you, that is NOT as easy as it sounds!!! I didn’t even know where to begin.  Fortunately, I had a dream (during a much needed nap) that turned into the basic story line!  Carol walked me through every step of creating an engaging story (for all readers, not just the girls) and managing vocabulary/structure to keep students from becoming frustrated.  This first novel, La hija del sastre, allowed me to bring both culture AND literacy into my classroom! AND my college professor started using the novel with HIS students!! What an honor!

From there, I took my Chicano literature course, a dream, and some hard core editing and released La Calaca Alegre.  When I needed an anchor for my bullfighting unit, I wrote Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos. And when I wanted a tie to magical realism and embedded readings of some classics like La noche boca arriba and La continuidad de los parques, I took a dream and a plan and wrote Vector.  Each met a need in my classroom and each allows my students to build literacy skill as part of a meaningful cultural unit!

I didn’t write any of these things just for my students!  I wrote them for all of our students!  I want to see our language programs grow and flourish.  It shouldn’t be just the honor students who make it through the gauntlet to level 4!  Fill those desks!  Make learners and lovers of language!  If they can’t read the original “Quijote”, who cares!!!??? Will they love language class and advocate for it as a future admin, politician, or parent?

I also didn’t write these things and walk away!  If your class is reading something I wrote, connect with me!  I have times of the year (Oct-Nov and Mar-Apr) when life keeps me much busier than others… but I am usually able to find time to respond promptly to contact from student groups!

I may not have time to read 75 copies of “chapter 11 of the novel” to decide who has the best epilogue, but if you narrow it down to four and ask me to pick, I can absolutely do that!!  I probably can’t listen to 100 questions to the author but if you send me your top 10, I can answer those!!  If you have a class pose questions on FlipGrid, I’m happy to answer as many as I can!!!  I’ve done Skype type visits with classes who’ve finished a novel and have met for a TweetUp!

We are authors but we are also teachers!  Let us know how we can help make novels more successful in your classroom by connecting with your students!  We love meeting the people who use our materials and are SO grateful for your support of our work!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at gmail.com.

One thought

Leave a Reply