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.
I wanted to finish the semester strong but I’m struggling. My brain just isn’t working for me like normal! My creative juices have all flowed into some mysterious portal that has opened to help keep me from losing my mind in this crazy 2020 madness!
Then, someone shared this adorable commercial. I loved it and knew I wanted to use it in my classroom:
Normally, I do a lot of movie talks but those have been less successful in the hybrid/full remote setting! Pear Deck works GREAT in this new world! It’s so easy to throw some screenshots into a Google Slides and then add the Pear Deck questions with the add-on!
We did this slide show today in levels 2-4 and EVERYONE was engaged! It was great! It made our class time fly by! I couldn’t believe it! In every hour, our discussion of the slides took about 30 minutes so we had just enough time to watch the video so they could find out what happened to the man! Just be sure you have Pear Deck as an add on in your Drive and you should be able to make a copy and use this with your own classes!
While we DID discuss the things in the questions, we also built a bit of a back story as we talked. For example, after we had the man’s name and description, we began discussing one student’s suggestion that he was sad because he was alone. They decided he hadn’t seen his family in a while. Or when we saw the pictures of him as a younger man, they said he’d run in the Olympics and wanted to train to be Mr. Senior America.
Hopefully this little freebie will give you a fun day of connecting with your students too!
Huellas 1 is growing by 11 days of fashion filled engagement! Say hello to Huellas 1.11, Compra menos y haz que dure. This unit is new and is not part of the Huellas 1 bundle. It is the first of what will hopefully be 5-10 new units to build Huellas 1 into an even stronger foundation for your level 3-AP students!
In this unit, students will learn about Fast Fashion, Greenwashing, and what it takes to make the clothing industry sustainable! It includes a world map unit hook, centers, Blooket, Pear Deck, infographics, memes, and more! If you love what you’re learning, I’ve even suggested some follow ups you might dig into at the end of the unit!
If you haven’t tried Huellas 1 and Huellas 2 yet, what better time to try! TPT is hosting their annual Cyber Monday (and Tuesday sale) so you can grab it at a BIG discount! 20% off from me and an extra 5% from TPT if you use the code CYBER20
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. In spite of all the really hard things that have happened this year, I found that I had a lot to be thankful for. I hope you will be safe as we round out the semester! And I hope these lessons will help ring in the new year with ready made plans that are designed to make input easy and engaging!
When I started to compile my individual units into a cohesive curriculum for upper level students, I had no idea how much that work would pay off in this crazy school year. For so long I had dreaded hammering out exactly how the units best fit together. And then COVID hit. And I was scrambling to figure out how to bring the lessons I loved into the 2020 classroom!
It was a labor of love this summer and I couldn’t have done it without Melisa Lopez and Kayla VonBurg! Kayla helped me sort through what I had and identify just the right flow from unit to unit. Melisa took a MILLION documents and turned each one into Google student slides that are so easy to distribute through my LMS!
If you already own Huellas 1 and 2 be SURE you’ve gone back to TPT and updated all your folders! If you were an early adopter, you may not have all of the great Google Slide student sheets Melisa made!
What IS Huellas? Huellas is a two part curriculum for upper level Spanish classes. I shared how I use SOMOS by Martina Bex then Huellas in my Spanish program in this post.
Huellas 1 uses narrative to help students develop language through comprehensible, input based units. From art to food to health, Huellas 1 opens students minds to studying content IN the target language. In Huellas 2, students dig deep into the idea of leaving a mark on the world by being a global citizen. They study the environment, green energy, the golden years, waste management and more… and ALL in the target language!
I am working on an ELEVENTH unit for the Huellas 1 bundle right now and I am so excited and also a bit disappointed in my own consumption… School keeps me so crazy I don’t know if I’ll have it done this semester but I hope that I do!
If you’re already using Huellas and don’t know about our Facebook group, join us! When you put a bunch of teachers in a group together you get nothing but AWESOME ideas!
I love Kahoot, Quizlet, Gimkit, Quizizz… they all have their own little thing that makes them special. Kahoot is just a quick game, Quizlet live is fun for the class, Gimkit has so many special modes and is based so much on strategy, Quizizz lets me include some reflective pieces… did I need ONE MORE game site?? Quite frankly, YES!! I saw a teacher mention Blooket on Facebook a few days ago and I just didn’t have the energy to learn something new… but then, this morning before school, I decided to give it one chance. We were reading a chapter in Kristy Placido’s Noche de oro eBook and I wanted to pre-teach some of the vocabulary. Not pre-teach… more like pre-expose! So I made a Blooket.
Students logged in, chose an animal avatar, and got ready to play! (We chose the Candy Rush edition that ends 11/6… don’t miss it!)
The BEST PART about Blooket was that it’s not just skill, knowledge, speed… there is a HEAVY element of LUCK. So in all 3 hours some of the top 3 were students who NEVER win games like this! I loved it!! They were committed to playing the whole time because they all had a chance!
They just choose the answer…
Picked a pumpkin…
Got a reward!
Some rewards let them steal from one another! And some steal from them!
It was a GREAT way to introduce some of the new structures they were about to see (in context) AND they wanted to read the chapter at FULL ATTENTION so we could hurry and play again at the end.
Three cheers for Blooket!!! I can’t wait to try the other modes!! OH! Be sure YOU log in and play too! It is SO MUCH FUN!
A few years ago, as my students were reading “Reading Club” style, I was so frustrated with the way that class discussions were going. It always turned into students listing fact after fact without ever listening to their classmates’ contributions to the discussion!
Discussion Thursday allowed me to step back and let STUDENTS lead our discussions of what we were reading. I was blown away by their ability to do ALLLLL the question asking and answering. I was also blown away by how much they paid attention to one another during these discussions!
So here we are… 2020… Pandemic… Hybrid… I’m teaching from home. We’re reading our first readers of the year thanks to Fluency Matters amazing ECourses and it was time for a Discussion Thursday (on Tuesday) and I was shaking in my slippers (I teach on Zoom, don’t judge).
My first hour class is so quiet. I was particularly nervous about them! Would they talk??? Well, I am proud to report that YES THEY DID! They not only asked and answered questions, they interacted with one another despite whether they were at home or on Zoom!!! I used a Zoom background with the question words and also some of our favorite discussion key phrases. (If you’d like this image, just email! I’ll send it to you!)
The kids completely led our class discussion! I heard every single voice both in class and online and all of them had great things to say about our reader. They talked about Frida Kahlo, her family, her artwork, and themselves! If you’ve hesitated to try it because you’re hybrid, I would encourage you to give it a go! I felt happier than I have ALL YEAR getting to hear from everyone! Still a lot of dark cameras but the voices were there and were evidence they ARE learning in spite of some less than ideal circumstances!
I’m proud of all of you for being out there, in the classroom, teaching students. Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving them and helping them love language even when nobody loves the situation we are in.
Whether you’re two weeks in or five, you’re probably beginning to think about what assessment looks like in the pandemic classroom. Maybe it even makes you sweaty and short of breath… We just can’t control the environment for a test like we could last year this time.
How do I take these faceless cells in my Zoom and administer a hybrid assessment?? It’s a real conundrum! But I’ve done it once and here are my takeaways:
Set realistic expectations and be clear about what they are. I have been planning using the UbD (Understanding by Design) “backward” model since 2010. I design my assessment before I begin the unit and before I present ANY new content, I share with the kids what their assessment will be. This allows me to spend the entire unit explaining how each piece fits into their inevitable success on the test!
Allow choice.In a normal year, my assessments have often included interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational elements. This year, I am streamlining. My goal is for students to acquire language AND enroll again next year. If I over burden them when they’re already carrying a lot of extra weight, it does not draw people to my program… it scares them away. In our first assessment, I did the interpretive assessment with them as a large group as a completion grade then gave them the option of speaking or writing for their presentational element. I have a WONDERFUL young lady whose biggest concern is always her spelling. She is so afraid of making mistakes because she knows that she doesn’t spell well in English. Offering her the option to speak took the pressure off and let her soar.
Assess less! You’ve heard the cliche a million times in workshops… weighing the pig more often doesn’t make it grow faster. Quit rolling your eyes and weigh that darn pig less.
Set up assessment day expectations in advance. Two weeks ago we did the final assessment for my Bajo la mesa unit. (Bajo la mesa is unit 1 of the Huellas 1 curriculum) I told students in advance that everyone… at home or in class… would need a sheet of paper and a pen/pencil. In class students would write with all of their other materials on the floor and at home students would write with the camera on and at an angle that allowed me to watch them as they wrote. I had two of 90 writings that were suspicious for using a translator (I suspect they pre-wrote). I privately messaged both students and told them that I could only give 1/4 credit for work that was run through Google and offered them the chance to meet for a re-take. I feel like it is important right away to establish that I know when they are using language beyond their proficiency level.
Grade with compassion. This isn’t a normal year. Intermediate language is MESSY. Mistakes are part of even ADVANCED level proficiency. Look for evidence that they’re acquiring the new structures in your unit but don’t expect them to speak and write at the same level as YOU do! They’re still brand new language learners and they need a lot of time with the language to reach the levels we have reached! Grading with the proficiency descriptors in mind can really help keep those expectations realistic AND encourage kids to continue their language study! Check out my proficiency based rubrics here for FREE!
For more information on how and why I assess the way I do, you can watch my Assess with Finesse training session here.
This year is going to be great. It will be different, it will be exhausting, it will have a lot of peaks and valleys, but in the end… if we do it right… we can give our students a lot of positive experiences in the language classroom that will draw them back next year and fill our rooms with students who are confident that they are capable of becoming bilingual!
By this time, many of us have been back to school at least a week and some (like me) are going to be seeing midterm in a couple of days! It has both been surreal and real.
For me, the surreal is looking at ALL the things I love to do with my classes… sing, gesture, act out stories, play cooperative games, read in the lounge… are now OUT THE DOOR. I struggle with being at home and missing being in the classroom when really the classroom isn’t what my mind is missing. It is the normal routine!
It’s a whole new routine this year and it is REAL. REAL(ly) hard. REAL(ly) tiring. REAL(ly) challenging me to be creative. REAL(ly) inspiring. REAL(ly) low some days and REAL(ly) high others.
I have had days when the kids have blown my mind with how well they engaged and I have had days where we soaked in awkward silence during the class discussion and breathed a sigh of relief when the bell rang. I have had the home kids do all the talking while the class stared at me glassy eyed through the webcam and I have had days when the class is carrying the group and I had to ask the “homies” to check in with a thumbs up just so I’d know they haven’t fallen asleep.
I’ve lost “control” if you ever really have that in the first place… In the classroom of 2019, they dutifully motioned along with me as we sang or opened their iPad documents when I asked… (were they always checked in? NO. Some kids are GREAT at going through the motions and being mentally checked out.) 2020 has shown me that a kid who is pouring a bowl of cereal can jump right in and answer a question and a kid sitting front and center in the room looking my giant zoom head in the eyes can have no idea what to say! I just have to trust that they’re along for the ride and keep comprehension checks plentiful so we don’t leave anyone behind!
Huellas 1 & 2 have been a dream of mine for a while.
I had created a ton of units that I loved using in my classroom but they were created little by little over 3 years and I had not mapped out the best path to move from unit to unit! Over the summer, I asked my former student turned grad student to help me look at the material with a critical eye, fill in the gaps, and organize into a smooth sequence. Over the course of 3 months, we were able to polish each and every unit and add remote plans so that not only would they make MY life easier this fall but so that other teachers could have a curriculum to use in their upper level classes as well.
Huellas is going to be on sale for a surprise EXTRABONUS from TPT! They normally have a Back to School sale in August and that’s it for the fall! It looks like they see that teachers are leaning on resources BEYOND the textbook much more this year because… well, 2020 is hard! I hope that if you have been considering Huellas, you’ll find just what you need in the units I have created and that the EXTRABONUS sale will help it fit your budget!
I’ve been teaching for 6 days in the most surreal school year in my 27 years in the classroom.
First, our students are hybrid. We have an A/B schedule. On Monday and Thursday group A attends face to face and group B attends via Zoom. On Tuesday and Friday the groups reverse. Wednesday everyone attends via Zoom.
Our class periods are shortened to 35 minutes so our day ends at 12:40.
My classroom has between 3 and 16 students attending face to face in each period.
It’s got all the germ-X, all the wipes, and all the spray cleaners!
I’m not in it.
I have an arrhythmia that, over time, has caused my heart to weaken.
Oh and yay… I have asthma.
Basically… I can’t play covid roulette.
So I’m teaching hybrid students AND I am also virtual!!!
Maybe it sounds like a recipe for disaster… pandemic, the teacher is a head on the wall like (I’m dating myself here…) Max Headroom. 😂 Look it up all you young ones.
BUT IT ISN’T.
I’m learning some important lessons.
SLOW IS SO GOOD.
I always thought I was taking my time and teaching things very slowly. I thought I was making SURE they were acquiring. But I was not going as slowly as I have to now (because it takes me a minute to type stuff on my whiteboard in Zoom)… and my students have never been as sure of themselves as they have been the last few days.
RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST
I was scared to death about how I would get to know kids virtually. BUT that was 180 degrees off what I’m finding.
As the virtual talking head at school, they’re still in MY kingdom. All the stuff is mine. They like to look at it, tell stories and use my props, see my pics…
…but as the virtual talking head on Zoom, they’re bringing me into THEIR space.
I’ve met their pets (SO MANY PETS… Guys… I LOVE all the pets), their little siblings, their parents, and even one neighbor’s kid who just thought Spanish sounded fun so she stayed to watch the Zoom).
This is a whole new level of meeting my students. We’ve detoured our conversations to meet Isaac’s hedgehog Chip (we won’t tell mom he was on the table) or for my dog, Sasha to stick her nose in the camera… We’re becoming a community. I wasn’t sure HOW community felt online but 6 days in, I find myself smiling ear to ear about some of the earliest signs that it is there and it will be strong.
I REMEMBERED THE JOY OF TEACHING
Guys… I graded papers yesterday. We’re doing Card Talk in 2, 3, and 4 to get back into the routine and get Spanish back in our brains after a 5 month hiatus.
After having talked about 5 days worth of peers sharing their summer activities, future goals, or plans for a million dollars, I asked them to illustrate 4 things they learned about their classmates and write a sentence or two about each one.
I smiled the WHOLE TIME I WAS GRADING THEM. I love seeing them drop in an inside joke that already happened in their class… or one that happened last year that they still remember… or just writing three sentences instead of one… or a COMPLETE SENTENCE FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER… There was so much to smile about.
THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE EASY…
It’s honestly exhausting. I have to be in “extra” mode ALL THE TIME to engage kids in person and online… so I am learning that if I build in a warm up and a wrap up, that “extra” mode can be 25 minutes long instead of 35!
This can’t be about “gotchas” and “covering the curriculum” and “rigor”(mortis)… We have to be flexible or we’re going to end up poisoning the waters we’re trying to keep them afloat in!
SO MY ADVICE TO YOU…
Love those kids… even the ones who sneak out to get a snack during class.
Ask to see the pets.
Cover less material but dig deep together and enjoy the experience.
Thank your admin.
Pat yourself on the back at the end of every day.
People told us in the spring that they were so impressed that we built the plane as we were flying it. That hasn’t stopped. This is a jumbo jet and we have a lot left to construct. Lean on your co-workers, relax with your family, and most importantly, give yourself grace.
It’s going to be a year of re-teaching ourselves as teachers but I have no doubt that from this crazy experience will come amazing new ideas and techniques that will reshape the next 100 years of education.
Today, August 18, 2020, Teachers Pay Teachers is offering the last sale of the summer to get everyone ready to go back to school and Somewhere to Share is participating!
This is your chance to get HUELLAS 1 and 2 for 25% off! And Huellas 2 is still on pre-release discount so this is a GREAT deal!
From movie talks, to unit plans, to songs of the week, Somewhere to Share has the resources you need to go back to school with confidence that your students will be acquiring language and enjoying the time they spend in your classroom!
Starting any new curriculum can be really scary! Especially in a year as upside down as this one!! We are facing time in and out of school, remote students and face to face students, and in many cases, less contact hours!
I’m in it with you!! I wrote all of the units in the Huellas packages to use with my own students and as I reworked them this summer, the goal was to go back to school this year confident that I had lessons planned whether I was face to face or remote!
If you’re just hearing about Huellas, check out this blog post to find out more: Huellas 1 & 2 intro
If you have the units but you’re not quite sure how you will use them this year, I posted my Scope and Sequence (along with some thoughts about how it may look different this year).
If you’re already considering using Huellas 1, 2, or both… THERE’S A BOOSTER SALE ON TPT!!! On August 18, TPT will again offer a site wide sale. My site will be 20% off but using the code BTSBONUS20, you can earn an extra 5%!
Huellas 1 is 10 units, 14+ weeks of material in a NORMAL, face to face environment and is complete with face to face and remote plans. We are ALSO adding fillable google slides for all student forms to make it easier to assign them digitally!
Huellas 2 is still in “Pre-Release” pricing! We have TWO MORE UNITS to update with remote plans (unit 5 – la energía renovable, and unit 7 – los años dorados). When those units are complete, the bundle will go to its regular price of $110 but right now it is only $75 (AND THAT WILL BE EVEN LOWER ON THE 18th).
*Don’t forget that the BTSBONUS20 code does not work until August 18th! You can fill your cart now but the discounts won’t apply until that day.
If you’re looking for support throughout the year as you use Huellas 1 & 2, you can always email email@example.com or visit our Facebook Page. I hope we can have some great collaboration on Facebook!