Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Enter to win one of two $50 TPT Gift Cards

Why not enter another Raffle to win one of two $50 Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards? Teachers need all of the help they can get this time of year - hopefully this gift card will help you out.

Buena suerte!

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Happy Teaching!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How to survive the end of the school year (in one piece)

I think this is always the most difficult time of the school year - the home stretch between April vacation and summer vacation. At the high school level, that time is riddled with AP exams, and every teacher is scrambling to finish the curriculum for the year. Below are a few tips for making this challenging time of year productive and meaningful for students and teachers.

1. Prioritize your curriculum. For reasons unknown (and known!), we always struggle to teach everything that we need to teach by the end of the year. Therefore, it's essential to prioritize your curriculum. What do your students absolutely need to master before moving onto the next level of the language? Speak with teachers in your department, both horizontally and vertically, to determine what should be taught and what could be left out. For me, it is important that I begin teaching my Spanish 2 students the preterite tense. I slightly rearranged the order of my curriculum so that my students will have at least 6 weeks to practice the regular preterite tense before advancing to Spanish 3 next year. 

2. Refocus your students with yoga. This might sound ridiculous, but my high school students love to do yoga every once in a while. I limit the moves to the tree pose. When I see that students are either too tired and not responsive or overly energetic and all over the place, I calmly state that we are going to "find our trees." I got a few eye rolls at the start of the year when I first did this, but you would be amazed at how many students enjoy it now. All students participate - even the most athletic of the 15-year old boys who you would not imagine doing yoga in a thousand years. I usually have the students "find their trees" (or cacti :) ) and hold it for one minute while being silent. This exercise really does seem to refocus the group and bring their positive attention back to learning Spanish. I recommend trying it out in your class! Check out the brief Youtube video if you want to see how to do a tree pose properly.

3. Keep students engaged with technology. I have always been a big advocate for Plickers as a formative assessment tool, but I recently discovered Quizlet Live. Each student needs a device in order to play Quizlet live, and the classroom needs a projector (either a Smartboard or another screen). As the teacher, you log onto your Quizlet page and select a set of flashcards with which you want to work. Then, you choose the option "Quizlet Live" and students enter the code on their devices. Once all students enter the code, Quizlet creates groups of students within the classroom and students must move to sit with their group members. When the game begins, students in each group are given a multiple choice question and each group member has four distinct answers to choose from. If there are three people in the group, then the entire group will look at 12 total options. Only one student has the correct
option in front of them on their device, so students must work together to determine who has the correct option. As teams answer questions correctly, the projector shows each team's progress. Whichever team answers 12 questions correctly in a row wins that round. You can play as many rounds as you want. This is great for practicing new vocabulary or grammar. Above is an image of the projector screen. When your Quizlet flashcards are in Spanish, the team names actually convert to Spanish which is a neat feature! Even my sleepiest of students love this game and you'll be surprised to see how engaged each student is!

So there you have it - three tips to make the end of the school year bearable for teachers and students alike. Good luck - we can do this :)

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Happy teaching!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

$80 in TPT Gift Cards!

It's time for another TPT Gift Card give-away! This time there are 2 $40 gift cards up for grabs. This is perfect for purchasing some high quality products from TPT as the second semester starts up. 

To enter the give-away, please visit the following link. You have to simply "Follow" each of the participating sellers on their TPT store site. 
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Thanks for your support, and good luck!

Happy teaching!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

'Tis the season for peppermint mochas, holiday music, and shopping! We want to help YOU out - enter below for your chance to win one of THREE TpT gift cards ($50, $20, or $10). Holiday shopping just became that much sweeter!

Please become a follower of my blog and my TpT store in order to enter! More information is found below in the link. 


Enter to win one of THREE TpT gift cards!

Happy teaching! (and shopping)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Parent Teacher Conferences

I started teaching in a new district this year, and to my surprise, they have parent teacher conferences every fall. I had only known these to be an elementary school event, so I was surprised and excited to try them out at the high school level! Everyone told me to print the student grade report and use that as a basis for my conversation with parents regarding student progress in my Spanish class. However, I wanted to do something more than that. 

In the weeks leading up to parent teacher conferences I did print the student grade reports. I highlighted assignments and grades of concern and wrote notes. The averages for the breakdown of the grade categories (homework, participation, assessments) were also highlighted. This information was the starting point for me figuring out what to discuss with parents. 

In addition to the highlighted grade report, I wanted to create a quick handout where I outlined things that the student does well in my Spanish class, things that can be improved, and which goals the students should have moving forward. In addition, I provided a list of the useful websites for our class as well as my contact information. I emphasized the times that I was available for extra help, too. I have this form available for free here: Student Reflection Form for Parent Teacher Conferences

I completed that form for the ~20 students for whom I had conferences scheduled but realized it was a great opportunity to encourage student reflection as well. Therefore, the morning of the parent teacher conferences, I asked all of my students to complete the form as a reflection of their own progress during the first quarter. Students completed the form without seeing what I had written about them. I collected their reflections, photocopied those for which I had conferences, and scanned all of them so I had them on file. 

Next, I compiled a packet of information for each of the parents with whom I had a conference. The packet included: 
- the grade report with highlighted areas of concern
- the student reflection form that I completed
- the student reflection form that the student completed
- the Lend an EAR to Student Success Handout

I began each 10 minute conference with a quick summary of student performance based on the highlighted grade report. I pointed out the assignments on which the student did well as well as assignments that could have been revisited (I allow quiz retakes under certain parameters in my class). 

Next, I showed parents the student reflection form that I had filled out alongside the reflection form the student had filled out. We compared the two and discussed any discrepancies in perceptions of student progress. For example, if I felt that Johnny struggled with completing homework but Johnny said that completing homework was his strength, we discussed that point more closely. Having the highlighted grade report was a nice resource to use at this point in order to look at the actual grade percentages. 

I ended the conversation with a reminder of the Lend an EAR to Student Success Handout that I had handed out during Open House earlier in the year. The handout has a few general tips with a snazzy acronym to support parents in helping their student succeed in the classroom. The handout is available for FREE on my TPT store so check it out!

Overall, I received very positive feedback from the parents about the conferences. In particular, they loved comparing the student reflection form that I had completed with the one their student completed. A few even said how clever the idea was! I am fortunate to work in a district where the parents are extremely supportive, and they truly appreciated the packet of helpful information I handed out. 

Do you have any ideas for carrying out successful parent teacher conferences? Comment below!

Happy teaching!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"Lend an Ear" to Student Success! Increase Parent Engagement with this Flyer

September. The start of the new school year. Another group of students, another set of classes, and another OPEN HOUSE!

Parent involvement cannot be overlooked as a key component of student success in class. However, at the middle and high school levels, sometimes parents and guardians may feel intimidated by the content material. Personally, if my mom wasn't a math major, I don't know how I would have survived all of those pre-calculus homework assignments! Regardless, parents should understand that they do not need to know the content material in order to engage in open conversation with their students about class. This conversation is a way of staying involved with their student's classes. 

As this year's Open House approached, I wanted to create a clever acronym for a flyer to give to parents. After a few sleepless nights, I came up with this:

"Lend an EAR to student success!"

The EAR stands for the following:
Encourage your student to...
Ask your student...
Remind your student...

Encourage your student... understand the value of learning the class content! For my Spanish classes, I think it is so important to learn Spanish. My students and I complete meaningful activities in class that demonstrate the value of learning Spanish, but if my students can hear this at home as well, that would be even better. speak with the teacher if they want extra help and support. Encouraging students to reach out to the teacher for extra help is so important. Teaching your student to advocate is an important part of life. ask the teacher if there is an issue with grades, etc., in class. We can fix the grades - sometimes we input the wrong grade for the wrong student and need a gentle reminder to fix them!

Ask your student...'s class going? Sometimes this simple question can bring to light any positive or negative things happening in class. 

...what vocabulary (or grammar or other content) are you learning right now? How might you use this in the real world?

Remind your student to...
...regularly check the teacher's website! Personally, I put all of my class information, homework, activities, hand-outs - you name it! - on my classroom website. Students can clarify any questions that they have or re-download any misplaced worksheets. for upcoming assessments. This is an obvious one!

...complete the homework. We assign homework for a reason (hopefully). It's great review for an upcoming assessment or great practice.

...check the online grades to make sure all assignments are in and there are no errors.

...practice the content with helpful websites.

The back of the flyer contains additional information that is important for parents and guardians to know like classroom routines, classroom participation, grading practices, and more. 

Parents loved receiving this flyer at this year's Open House. They chuckled at the clever acronym and enjoyed the concise information. 

Download a FREE version of this flyer that you can edit for your classroom here: 
"Lend an Ear" Family Engagement Flyer

Thanks for reading, and if you have other great ways to empower parents and guardians in your classroom, please comment below and share!

Happy teaching, and good luck with the start of another school year!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Back to School - Spanish Teacher eBook 2016!

Our beautiful new cat, Tia! She's 15 months old.

Wow - I have had a crazy year! In the past month my fiance and I have gotten engaged, we adopted a cat named Tia, and I got a new job teaching at the high school in the town where I live! I am very excited for the great things to come. We are planning an August 2017 wedding, and there's lots to do until then!

To end the summer on a high note, some of the best Spanish teachers on TeachersPayTeachers collaborated on an awesome eBook that is full of FREEBIES, great tips for the new year, and recommended products. The new school year would be incomplete without it. Check it out here!

Within the eBook you can download a wide range of freebies like flashcards, "All About Me" activities, games and more!

My contribution t
o the book is my "Figure Out: -AR Present Tense Verbs" freebie where students teach themselves how to conjugate regular -AR verbs. This is an interactive alternative to simply lecturing about a new verb tense. My next blog post will talk more about my Figure Out series!

Happy teaching!

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth -