School Shutdown: Planning for the NEXT Two Weeks

I have been SO grateful to my friends Martina Bex, Pat and Carol Gaab, and Jim and Jennifer Wooldridge for saving my behind this week. When I went to school Thursday, we were told that we should start thinking of how we would do ELearning should the schools close. By Friday evening, we were facing two weeks of planning!

Thank GOD for all the free resources that not only small companies like Fluency Matters, Señor Wooly, and The Comprehensible Classroom are sharing… big companies are opening up their platforms to bail teachers out as we navigate these unknown waters. Working at Fluency Matters and Wooly has let me see up close and personally how HARD everyone is working to give these materials away. Who could’ve ever imagined that nearly EVERY SCHOOL IN THE US would close??

But what they’ve given us is all for the first two weeks! They’ve shared and saved my hide for now and I need to start thinking ahead to what I’m going to do next. I would encourage you, as you try out all of these new resources to choose some and support the companies after the freebies run out. As our schools ask us to teach virtually, we need to be prepared to ask them for help with resources.

My first thought is that the ECourses worked out great today in my classes. I had all my students set up and we were able to log in and preview how to tackle the reader on our day together before the closure. If we end up with a full month closure, I’m going to purchase another title and do that next.

I’m a Señor Wooly subscriber so I plan to take the plans we are sharing through his site and use them for the next song that we tackle.

I am going to keep doing free-reading using Martina’s Choice Board and Revista Literal.

I love Screencastify so I am using the 2 week free resource and then renewing my subscription.

I am so excited about using Zoom too! It is free right now and it will make it nice to get to see my kids face to face (those who can make it at the given time).

What are your plans if the shutdown lingers on?

My E-Learning and Social Distancing Plans… and FREE STUFF.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I started buying a few extra things at the grocery store each time we stopped in. “Just in case”. In the back of our minds, I don’t think we ever believed that in 14 days, the whole state of IL would basically shut down. We are facing an unprecedented time as a family and as educators.

I’ve spent the last 7 days working fast and furious with Fluency Matters and Señor Wooly to get plans in the hands of teachers who are facing up to a month of E-Learning for their students. As my classes begin to work from home, here are my 5 major plans.

  1. Connect: At least twice a week we are going to have a “SnapChat” assignment that will get all of our selfies into our class SnapChat story. They’re going to be hungry for interaction, and I hope this helps a little. Twice a week, I will post a video lesson so that students can see and hear me instead of just doing the work from their Schoology accounts.
  2. E-Courses: My level 2 and 3 students are reading from the FREE ECourses that Fluency Matters is offering here. My level 4s are up in the air. We haven’t heard yet whether or not we will see them Monday (our schools officially close Tuesday but I see that some districts are having Monday be a teacher work day). If I SEE them Monday, they’ll take home a copy of La hija del sastre and will do the follow up activities from my post-reading packets: (I’ve made these FREE to help teachers who would like to see their students reading over the break): Reading Follow Ups Spanish, More Reading Follow Ups Spanish, Reading Follow Ups French, More Reading Follow Ups French
  3. Señor Wooly: I am a long time subscriber and curriculum designer at Wooly but for now, you don’t need a subscription to load your students up with musical input! Check out the Señor Wooly Covid plan here. We think the first set of plans will be ready for teachers TODAY (Sunday March 15). We hope to release a couple more in the coming week or two.
  4. SSR: Martina Bex shared an amazing packet of free resources and my department is going to use her materials for some choice reading. Between the choice board and the Revista literal stories, I think I can continue my Tuesday/Thursday 8-10 minute reading time with my classes. IF I see students tomorrow, I will also let them take a book from the class library but I don’t know yet so I’m counting on it being Martina’s stuff for now.
  5. I’m going to take time to PRAISE MY STUDENTS. As the mom of a 14 year old who has lots of questions right now, I know that our students are confused, maybe a little nervous, and also probably going to miss us a lot more than they realize. This isn’t going to replace classroom education. If it COULD, we’d all be posting resumes on INDEED. The thing is, we want to keep them dipping their toes in language. I am going to ask them to turn in work but I know it can’t be of the same quality as it would be if I were with them. I am going to choose to write positive feedback, send bitmojis, and even share my favorites on our class SnapChat. I am going to make sure to give them funny creative projects from the Wooly plans like singing with their family and doodling hilarious lyrics. I want them to feel like they are moving forward and like I am right there with them.

Oh… and as a final note: After school hours, I am going to do some things I never usually have time to do… like read and binge a Netflix show. Any suggestions?

What CI is… and isn’t.

You’ve probably heard (or even said) it. “I am having so much trouble with my classes since I tried CI. I am going to stop doing it.” Or maybe it was “CI is like a cult, I would never consider it.”

The problem is that CI means comprehensible input. Our options are: be comprehensible or be incomprehensible. What we mean in our frustration is that we aren’t finding success in techniques that we’ve learned and the textbook or curriculum we used in the past is looking really, really good.

The textbook for me, was a map. Honestly, and this is dating me, it is like a map I printed from MapQuest in 1999. It gave me one route to my destination and it did not account for any issues that might arise along the way. I sat in traffic many times because I didn’t know any other way to get somewhere.

Then came GPS. It was a fancy MapQuest. It read off the directions to you but still took you along one set route.

But GPS continued to evolve (like we do in our classroom practice) and now it is intuitive. When I put on Waze before I leave home, I choose my route but if there is a traffic jam or some other unforeseen circumstance, it re-routes me. Waze gets me where I need to go in the most efficient way.

CI can be story-telling, story asking, movie talks, authentic resources, readers for learners, units with targeted structures, units without targeted structures, units that reinforce a grammar point, units with music… You get it. If we can make the input comprehensible for our students, we are using CI.

Using a variety of input and not being trapped within the one or none map in the textbook helps us become Waze for our students. When the pieces aren’t fitting for them or they hit a road bump, we can come at the topic from another way. If they aren’t strong on a certain structure, we can put it on the back burner and return to it later when they’ve had some time to simmer in the language.

Often the route one group of students takes to acquiring language is completely different than the route of the class that follows them. Paying close attention to the cues coming from that internal GPS we have can help them stay on the path to becoming lifelong language learners.

Cure the Winter Blues

Warm up your winter with the unit the doctor ordered! Medicina o cura. From the free reading on essential oils to the backward designed unit that provides exposure to the subjunctive in context and some basic medical information for students going into the healthcare field.

We started with the Unit Hook today in class! Meet “Francine”, “Karen”, and “Marshell” (And the back up egg that got broken on the way to school… Her name is Mala suerte)

Shop the sale tomorrow (Feb 4) and Wednesday! Use the code FEBSALE to get 25% off!

Make Planning a Piece of Cake!

Whether you’re new to Somewhere to Share materials or an old friend, I hope that this February’s sale will help get you excited about planning for the rest of the year!

Everything is on sale! From my CI packed Rutina diaria unit to the best selling Mar de plástico and Comer para vivir! Each unit is designed with the end in mind using Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design as a foundation.

Help your students gain proficiency as they learn about real world issues and their role in the solution!

SDG Super Duper Bundle

Rutina diaria

Comer para vivir

Mar de plástico

Basura cero

Energía renovable

Medicina o cura

Viaja conmigo

El agua es vida

Educarse para superarse

Letting Joy Rule the Climate

Christmas break has given me some much needed time to relax! I can’t travel over my holiday breaks because when I get down time, I need it to be real DOWN time. I wear pajamas all day, I read a lot, I drink a TON of coffee…

Now that I feel recharged, my mind is moving toward the new year and my goals in the new year. I always like to have that “one word” to help me not over-do. With this on my mind, one of the points in my preacher’s sermon on Sunday really jumped out. He was talking about how we will not (in fact, can not) always be happy… but that we can have a spirit of joy.

In his sermon, he shared an analogy with us. Happiness is like a thermometer. It changes. It moves up and down. We can (and will) at times be very comfortable or very uncomfortable!

Happiness is just a thermometer. This can even change minute by minute throughout the day!

Joy is different. If we are really joyful in what we do, even in times when happiness is lacking, we will be able to go to work and truly feel like we are where we are supposed to be. Joy is like the thermostat. It sets the comfortable temp and helps maintain your comfort zone!

Joy helps set a constant temp that keeps us within our comfort zone.

I am not going to be happy every minute at work. I am a real human. My students are real humans. I will get frustrated. They will get frustrated. But if I can let joy set the climate in my classroom, I won’t dwell on the hard times. If I let joy set the climate in my classroom, I will celebrate the great things they CAN do instead of looking for ways they don’t measure up. Heck, if I can let joy set the climate in my classroom, that joy will trickle out to my home and my social interactions!

Happy new decade to you! I hope that this decade brings you much success and many wonderful memories both with your students and with your family. Travel a ton, eat delicious things, get lots of rest, and set your thermostat for a joyful new year!

BUNDLE UP FOR THE WINTER WITH SOMEWHERE TO SHARE ON TPT

We are headed into the coldest and darkest months of the year. This is the time of year when I try to lean on my favorite units to help keep me excited to be in the classroom even when it’s cold outside! As TPT hosts the Cyber Monday (and TUESDAY) sale this year, I hope you will find things that help you power through the winter… at the best prices of the year! Bundle Up for even bigger savings!

Looking for music to put a little pep in your step? Try this musical magic bundle. Read more here.

Looking for quick and easy sub plans or blizzard bag activities? Try this cultural corner bundle!

Need movie talks? These Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3/4/AP bundles may be just what you need!

Need some games to keep their blood pumping when the room gets cold? Try this review game bundle!

There is NO better time that now to get a full semester of content built around the sustainable development goals than during the sale! Try the Sustainable Development Goal Super Duper Bundle!

Not ready to Bundle Up? Here are three recommendations for individual lessons.

No matter the age of your students, I can’t recommend this Lily and the Snowman movie talk enough. It is part of the level 1 bundle but is very easy to adapt to use with upper levels!

If you’ve tried Mar de plástico (or even if you haven’t), I recommend trying Basura cero. This engaging unit encourages students to examine the amount of waste they produce and challenges them to reduce their footprint!

Need new songs of the week? These new two were huge hits with my Spanish 2-4 students! Invencible by ChocQuibTown and Vas a quedarte by Aitana.

As we roll into a new year, I hope that Somewhere to Share can make your planning a little easier. I thank you so much for supporting my passion for content based in sustainability!

Keep up with contests and new products by following @somewhere.2.share on Instagram and on TPT and by liking Somewhere to Share page on Facebook!

READING CLUB

My VERY first product on Teachers Pay Teachers was Reading Club. I had been working with a Spanish 3 class and my comprehension-based reader, La hija del sastre. I created a free product upload that contained the survey that I gave the students to group them, suggested follow-up activities, and and welcome notes that lay out the rules of the group.

It had been quite a while since I had updated the document and the process has morphed in my classroom over the years. As I made the document look nicer, I wanted to make the document more useful to teachers who were using other readers and even those doing literature circles.

Check out the new product to find a sample choice novel grouping sheet, a choice novel daily report sheet, a whole-class novel grouping survey and welcome to the group letters, and several follow up activities to accompany the study!

For lots of additional ways to follow up your daily reading check out these items in my store:

Reading Follow-ups in Spanish/English for any language

Reading Follow-ups in French

More Reading Follow-ups in Spanish/English for any language

More Reading Follow-ups in French

Discussion Thursday (Any Language)

Yellow Brick Road Retell

Impact

As a first year teacher in 1994, I struggled: my language skills were still new and still very much intermediate, I had no formal training in second language acquisition, and the only planning I knew how to do was to move from page to page in the textbook as I covered new material. First year teaching is kind of like a reality show… you just hope you are still standing at the end and don’t get voted off the island.

The problem began when, in year two, I took out the same plan book and copied the lessons I’d done the year before into the new cells. If it had only been 2 years, that would have been less of a failure but I went on like this for 6 years.

My first principal was an easy evaluator. When you had your very first evaluation, you received a needs improvement, the second and third were good and at the end of your second year, when it was time to give you tenure, you received an excellent. And excellent you stayed… Until he retired.

When the new principal came in 1998, he was full of big ideas. By the time he evaluated me in 2000, I was a 7th year teacher. I mean… I was a pro, right? I had SO MUCH EXPERIENCE NOW. I went in for my post evaluation conference expecting the usual “great job, you’re so excellent”. That’s not what I got.

Mr. Fritchtnicht said: “You’re not bad… but… Have you ever considered trying some new things in the classroom? There are a lot of language teachers who are using pod seating, using centers, engaging the students with methods like TPRS… The textbook doesn’t have to be your only tool.”

No 5 star rating for me!

Internally I said: “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, MR. HOTSHOT NEW PRINCIPAL??? I AM AN EXPERIENCED LANGUAGE TEACHER.” Externally, I said: “The things I do in my classroom are the things that I was trained to do in college. They are effective.”

But the problem was, they weren’t. Not at all. I had 80 Spanish 1 students, 55 Spanish 2 students, and 4 Spanish 3 students. Kids were not engaged, did not see value in language study, and were gaining zero proficiency. But I was not growth minded. Rather than deal with the reality of what he saw in my room, I ran away. I took another job and tried to bury my head in the sand.

The funny thing is, Mr. Fritchtnicht’s evaluation was like the grain of sand in an oyster. The more I tried to soothe myself by saying he didn’t know what he was talking about, the more I tried these new tricks in the classroom.

In 2005, when I did not pass the National Board process I was forced to really reflect on where things were going wrong. It was a turning point for me. I started teaching kids over content and teaching for mastery over teaching for coverage. That little grain of sand stopped being irritating because it was turning into the pearl of a language program bursting at the seams!

Irritation can make us produce beautiful things!

It is HARD to hear critical feedback. It is hard to grow when you’re comfortable in a rut. I tried to run away but the truth always finds you! Honestly, I’m so glad it did. I am SO happy in my classroom today. I’m completely free to teach the students I have in front of me.

Yesterday, for the first time in 19 years, I saw Mr. Fritchtnicht. I was attending a local conference and saw his name on the presenter list. He’s a superintendent now. I went to his session and told him that for the last few years, his ears had probably been burning as I told the story of his evaluation and my eventual transformation. I was so glad to have the opportunity to thank him for challenging me.

It’s probably evaluation time in your district too. Just know that the things that sting can sometimes be the very thing you needed to hear… even if you aren’t ready to hear it at the time.

Jeff, if you happen to see this, thank you for your impact.

ACTFL is One Month Away

ACTFL is such a rush. There are so many people. The exhibit hall is so huge. There are more sessions than you could go to in a year of PD hours. It is a bucket list conference for sure. Are you going? Is it your first time? Are you on the fence?

This year the ACTFL site is our nation’s capital! If you’ve been thinking of going and just haven’t made the final arrangements, it’s time! So many things in DC are free, you can get a ton of great PD and slip in some visits to national monuments in your free time!

I’m presenting a whopping FIVE TIMES this year!

On Thursday, I am presenting an ACTFL full day pre-conference workshop on how to find all the input! Teaching with 90% TL is the goal but we have to have a whole arsenal of input based weapons to make that happen! From sustainable development goals to reading to short films and music, we’ll dig out the language from all kinds of resources!

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On Friday morning, I am presenting with Jim Wooldridge. A couple of years ago we did a series of video tutorials about how to teach with a graphic novel. In this workshop we’ll be deepening that discussion and sharing the best practices as you bring this powerful medium to your class reading!

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On Friday afternoon, I am presenting on assessment! There are so many ways to assess in a world language classroom!

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On Saturday morning, I am presenting with Jim again. This time we want to share how to cook up powerful learning with senorwooly.com and the input packed ‘nugget’ curriculum!

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On Saturday afternoon, I am presenting with Kristy Placido and Carol Gaab about the powerful acquisition students experience through Fluency Matters readers! We want to help you dive deep into planning for proficiency! Come take the plunge with us!

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Mine are just a handful of the sessions you can attend at ACTFL in DC. If you haven’t signed up yet, visit actfl.org and do it today! Pre-conference workshops are $185 through 10/30 and $210 after!

Hope to see you there! It is DEFINITELY somewhere to share.