Making the Best of an Exhausting Year

Whew… the first quarter ends today for me. It has been WONDERFUL to be back face to face (mostly… that quarantining is tricky) and to full class periods (we were on a 12:40 dismissal last year). One thing that I missed terribly in 2020-21 was fun! We had plenty of time to get our lessons completed but we were hybrid most of the year… so playing games as follow ups was pretty much out. At first I couldn’t figure out why I felt so… heavy… last year. Then when we began school in August and we did our first review game, I realized what it was. We didn’t have FUN. That’s what makes language class special for me. We are learning a language that WE share and WE can use together in the classroom community but also we are building stronger bonds by laughing together.

Yesterday in Spanish 3 (they’re reading Kristy Placido’s Robo en la noche from Fluency Matters), we did Picasso of Plates. It was the suggested activity in the teacher’s guide and it was hilarious! I read prompts and students tried to draw what I said with the plate on their heads. They earned points for having accurate drawings!

Today in Spanish 4, we read chapter 11 of another of Kristy’s books, Noche de oro. I like to change up how we read so today we did it “speed dating style”. Half of the class formed an inside circle, the other half formed an outside circle. I turned on some music and they began reading the chapter together. When the music stopped, the outside circle moved one person clockwise and then began where the person who was “LEAST FAR” ended. They did a great job!

After we read, they did Martina Bex (at the Comprehensible Classroom) Running Dictation to review the events of the reader so far.

In Spanish 2 today, we’re reading chapter 8 (the final chapter) of my new book Papálotl from Fluency Matters. To wrap it up, we’re doing a Yellow Brick road retell. Nelly Hughes made the retell activity for this book (in the teacher’s guide) but I have made them for many of the units I use in class. The idea of a Yellow Brick Road retell is detailed in this blog post. In THIS yellow brick road, Nelly used illustrations from the reader to create the “bricks”.

I printed them out (on ink saver) and made TWO roads for my classes of 21 and 22. They moved brick to brick retelling events of the reader. I put up a “word bank” of new words we’ve learned on the Smart Board so they could be sure to incorporate them into their stories!

I love watching them use their Spanish, laugh, and enjoy being in my room. The year is exhausting but it’s also a relief to see them happy and thriving again!

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","Bananas", "Sostenible", and "Papálotl" 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

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