One more year has ended! I can’t believe it’s already summer break for this teacher. As always, I like taking the time to reflect on my school year once I am done because many of my ideas and experiences are still fresh. Reflecting at the end of the school year is actually a good exercise for anyone to do, as you can go back to your reflection at the beginning of the new school year to remember what you want to keep, get rid of or implement. If you haven’t done so, I invite you to reflect. You will find it helpful next school year!
This is my 4th year using Comprehensible Input (CI). I teach grades K through 5 as one member of a team of three Spanish teachers. We all teach the same grades, and this allows for consistency and more contact time with our students. Our students currently have Spanish five times per seven-day cycle, although things might change a little since our administrator is working out a new schedule. Fingers crossed we will continue to see our students as often as we have so far.
As a team of three, we work hard to align our curriculum. But it really wasn’t until this year that we all agreed on establishing commons goals for our program, while still allowing space for individual creative expression and each of our special “rituals” in our curriculum and separate classrooms. For example, I tailored my own classes by teaching certain songs that I felt connected well with the curriculum, creating my own stories, and doing different movie talks, but I still worked toward the same goals as my colleagues. They also had their favorite songs, books, and games they taught to their students, and that was completely fine! We don’t need to align 100% on activities all the time, as long as we are all teaching towards the same proficiency goals, finding our own unique ways to reach those goals that play off our talents, interests, and passions (our TIPs).
What Am I Reflecting On This Year?
Reading Aloud and Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)
It was great to experience first-hand the benefits and power of reading aloud in class, and there was no student who didn’t look forward to that time. I read aloud to every class from K to 5th grade. I chose when reading aloud best fit, not reading aloud in every session. I also used it as a way to start the class and mix things up. It was challenging to have books for K-2 students. Luckily, at the beginning of the school year, my 4th and 5th graders made picture books that I added to my read aloud library. My 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders also had the pleasure of reading on their own during our FVR time two or three times in a cycle. I do have to say that the books by Spanish Cuentos were the most popular among my students.
This was a great way for my students to transition into my classroom using the TL (Target Language) right away. I used it with grades 2 through 5. With the younger students, I had used different greetings for them to practice as they entered the classroom. I feel that la frase de la semana would be too much for my younger students.
I used some jokes and other simple pictures as warm up activities with my 4th and 5th grade classes. I plan to extend this next year to include more cultural and social justice-related pictures relevant to the age groups I teach.
I used this strategy close to the end of the school year. The students were excited, but sadly we didn’t have the time to use the two characters in co-created stories. I didn’t really have the time to explore all the beauty behind the creation of “One Word Images” during the last three weeks of school and decided to go ahead and jump into the creation of some characters with my fifth graders. They were excited about the idea.
We got to create two characters and even created personalities for them, but we never put them into action in a story. I have to be honest that I used the OWI for about 8 minutes. Not sure if I would spend an entire class creating an image, but it definitely is something I really want to learn more to bring into action in my CI class. If you want to learn more about it, I suggest you watch Mike Peto in action!
I didn’t really have any classroom jobs this year but used helpers that I called “secretarios” whenever it was needed. However, I am interested in adding two jobs that Alina Filipescu mentions on her blog: (1) a poster holder, and (2) a student in charge of the stuffed animals’ basket. If you are a teacher using classroom jobs with your elementary students, please share in the comment box how you use this in your FLES classes.
Decorating With Purpose
It took me a while to give up the empty spaces on my wall. I am kind of a minimalist at heart, so my walls felt busy this school year. However, I completely understand that the signs are not there to decorate but to give my students quick access to high-frequency vocabulary, phrases, and communication. I plan to add more rejoinders to my word wall for the next school year!
What Am I Excited About?
PBL (Project-based Learning) Training: I took a three-day training since the school is heading in this direction. I got to work and expand on an existing project. I will share it on my blog soon! During this workshop, we had to present our projects to receive feedback from other elementary, middle, and high school colleagues. I got really valuable feedback from them, and I am very much looking forward to using this project in the fall.
Launching a Comprehensible Input Group in Austin: One of my colleagues and I created a CI group for the Austin area called “Keep Austin CI.” I am really looking forward to connecting with other colleagues and meeting up in the fall.
Presenting and Sharing My Passion for Teaching With Others: It has been a while since I last presented at a conference. I will be presenting at an online conference and hopefully a few other regional conferences next school year.
Continuing My Growth As a Teacher: It doesn’t matter how long you have been teaching, you will never stop learning from colleagues, students, and the community of teachers! I look forward to continuing to derive inspiration from many of you!
Publishing My First CI Book: I am currently working on my first CI story. I can’t wait to see it in paper, and, most importantly, getting the reactions from my students!
How was your school year? What are you looking forward to in the new school year? How are you recharging during the break? Remember to take care of yourself first!