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.
EVERYTHING is on sale! February 9 and 10, TPT is having a site wide sale and Somewhere to Share is participating. Just use code FEBSALE21 at checkout!
Don’t forget: If you go back and leave feedback for your past purchases, you get TPT credits to buy NEW RESOURCES!It is helpful to other buyers if you leave feedback that is descriptive and specific to the product! Of COURSE if you’re unhappy, do not leave a 5 but remember that other buyers will see your ratings so if you give a product a 3 because you haven’t had the chance to use it yet, it might mislead people into thinking it was not a good product! Don’t be afraid to give a rating you feel comfortable with but also don’t be afraid to give 5 stars to things you’ve liked that make life easier!!
It’s February and that means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… but not everyone loves LOVE… May we suggest the song Corazón by Maluma instead? Whether our students are in a relationship now or not, everyone can appreciate a good heartbreak story!
Whether you’re using the Huellas curriculum or not, Compra menos y haz que dure is a unit of study that helps students understand the impact of fast fashion and teaches them tips and tricks for being a responsible consumer!
This song… I HATED it the first time I heard it. But now I can’t stop listening. The video is NOT for school but the music is 100% kid safe. (Remember to always read product descriptions so that you don’t get any surprises!) I love it because it tells a story! This would make a great song of the week for Haz que dure or just a stand alone for a brain break every day. PLUS sometimes the most hated songs end up being the ones they remember most!
If you’re new to Somewhere to Share, you can get our movie talks, readings, and songs of the week in deeply discounted bundles! The perks? As we add more items, your bundle grows and you get to download them for free! The cultural reading bundle makes a great set of sub plans to have on hand!
Huellas 1 and Huellas 2 bundles are on sale! If you have been considering our curriculum, now is a great time to get it at a discounted price! Learn more about what’s in Huellas here.
This has been a hard year in education. Not just the 2020-21 school year… this calendar year.
We did not get to spend the 4th quarter with our students in 2020. Our seniors graduated without closure for us as educators.
We have lost some of what made it easy to collaborate with others – consistency in what school looks like. For some it has been normal classes, face to face all year long. For others, it has been 100% remote. In the middle there are as many different ways of handling this year’s challenges as there are teaching styles.
We have lost our face to face connection time. No matter how our schools have handled the pandemic, we have had no opportunity to learn and grow together face to face at conferences. We are not getting face to face planning time with colleagues. We are spending more time alone.
We have another class of seniors nearing their graduation and, for many of us, our time face to face with them has been/will be limited.
Many have been afraid for their health and the health of their loved ones. On top of planning in new ways, creating lessons that engage both face to face and remote students, and missing our social connections… we are living through a pandemic. It is stress that we don’t normally carry added to a lot of other stresses we don’t normally carry.
I have spent the year watching you, my colleagues, as you’ve had to go into the classroom face to face. I recognize 100% the privilege I have being able to teach remotely this year. Although I do have underlying health problems, I know that many of you do as well and your district was unable or unwilling to give you a modified work environment. I can not thank my district enough.
Watching teacher friends on Facebook discuss vaccine rollouts in their state has made it clear that, while the vaccine IS a game changer, it is going to take time for the game to be changed. My husband and I work for the same school and were able to get vaccine 1 yesterday. Some teacher friends have already had both. Some teacher friends are probably going to be waiting deep into March and April.
But there is light. As we near the end of the year, we also near summer break. We NEED that break this year. It will give the vaccine rollout time to reach the general population and I hope that by fall, even if we return to school masked, we will return to a more normal schedule and approaching herd immunity.
My planned return to in person teaching date is March 22. It will be the first time since March 16, 2020 that I have been in my classroom in front of my students. I can’t believe I have spent a YEAR away from them. We see each other every day as I Zoom in to do live lessons but… I feed off their energy and it’s hard to be as energetic about a giant head on a smart board. Some of my favorite units to teach are my “spring themes” like Plastic Ocean and Zero Waste! I am anxious to be able to teach those IN PERSON!! The light at the end of the tunnel really is getting a little brighter.
There is a sale this week (Feb 9 and 10, 2021) at TPT and my whole store will be 20% off. You can get an extra 5% off by using the code FEBSALE21. We’ve been working to add new French resources and to digitize some of our most popular units to make them easier to use in the uncertainty of pandemic education. The overwhelming brain fog of this year has made it harder to create new things so we’ve focused a lot of effort on making older things better! If you own units that you haven’t updated recently, be sure to check in your TPT purchases. You may have some surprises waiting!
Thank you for all you’ve done this year. Thank you for being a great educator. Remember, you ARE a great educator. This year, we are all doing our best. And our best is enough.
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!