REFLECTING ON THE SCHOOL YEAR

REFLECTING ON THE SCHOOL YEAR

I have made it a tradition to end each school year with a post reflecting on the year. It’s become a way for me to keep track of my progress as an Elementary Spanish teacher. I have been teaching for 20 years, and every year I find myself ditching things that didn’t work, adapting old things, and incorporating new ideas. I have discovered that I always like to try new things each year. This was my second year teaching in Austin. I am no longer the only Spanish teacher at the elementary level, as I was in the schools where I taught in Boston. I am extremely happy that I have two new compañeras that I get to learn from everyday. Given that this was my second year at this school, it felt better than last year. I spent last year getting to know my new school and the community. I also came to a school where part of the curriculum had already been created. Things were in many ways easier this year, and I feel that I was able to find my voice and share more ideas with my fellow teachers to bring new things into our curriculum. (Wow! I can’t believe how serious my post sounds! Believe me! I am not that seria!)

Teaching in the Target Language

My goal is to stay at 90% to 95% in the target language. There are days when I am able to stay in the target language 100%, but there are days when I feel that using that 10% of English (that I like to say I keep in my pocket) for classroom management, making sure every student understands, and making connections with my students is totally fine. My students clearly know that I am from Colombia, and I am immigrant, so I also want them to know that I am bilingual, and since I am teaching them a language, I want to be a multi-dimensional role model for them.

Classroom Management

Let’ be honest! We all have those days when kids are all over the place! This year I made a poster with more simple rules. I used that poster as reference all the time, and I noticed that having the poster close allowed me to be more consistent and make sure the class was a safe learning space for everyone. I can’t take credit for the simple rules. One of my colleagues shared them, and since I love designing resources, I turned them into a poster for my classes. I placed the poster in front of the room, and I could refer to it when it was needed.

Reward Systems

I have had years that I haven’t use a system and years where I have used different reward systems. For example, los billetes, la clase/la maestra points from Whole Brain Teaching, Secret Student, and, this year, Class Dojo, but for some reason this felt tiring to me so I decided not to use the points in the middle of the school year, and I can say that it was a relief. I felt that I was wasting time when children were trading their points for prizes and sometimes it felt that some of them were willing to work hard and follow directions just for the points. I also asked my students to vote, and many of them voted for not having points because it was stressful for some of them. At this point I don’t plan on using any point system next school year. I will focus more on using Responsive Classroom since I have been trained in it, and it was used widely in the previous schools where I taught.  I will also use the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) program we use in my current school.

Brain Breaks

I am a brain break fanatic and I used a lot of them this school year. Some of my students wrote in their feedback that they feel that I need to use even more, so I plan to look for new ones this summer to add to my repertoire. Yoga worked great with my kindergarten and first grade students. I am looking forward to incorporating more mindfulness in the Spanish class since the school has a strong program too.

Culture

This is something I still need to work more on. Of course, because I am from Colombia I love teaching and sharing my culture with my students. We have included in our curriculum to share facts about two countries per month, but I still feel that we need to study this more deeply. Goal for next year!

Communication With Parents

In all the years I have been teaching, I can say that this year was by far the one I have communicated the least with parents. We are a team of three, and it wasn’t easy sometimes to coordinate to send newsletters. We have had conversations about using Seesaw more to communicate with parents. So far, I have used it as an assessment tool, but not as much I as I need too. Working on this next year!

What Am I Excited About Next Year?

It will be my third year teaching in Austin, so I know the students, the community and the curriculum! I am excited about being able to finally add my own voice and identity to the curriculum. I am excited to continue learning more about CI and TPRS, and I will also be writing stories!  I also look forward to attending some conferences and maybe presenting again! And most important, really using the summer to recharge!

How was your school year? What goals do you have for next school year?

Enjoy the summer!

Spanish Summer Resources to Share With Families

Spanish Summer Resources to Share With Families

Every year before the school year is over, I like creating a list with resources for students to continue practicing their Spanish during the summer. My list normally includes free online resources, information about cultural venues and events in the city where the school is located, YouTube channels, a list of songs we learned in class this year, and suggested books and resources for parents to find in their local library. Putting the list together requires a little bit of time, but I always feel like it will be worth my time an enrich the learning for my students that I’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the course of the year. Click here to see a sample of the list.

These are some of the resources I have added to my summer newsletter for 2018:

Grades K-3
All Levels
Resources in Your Library

Many public libraries have these resources, families don’t need to purchase them.

YouTube Channels
TV Shows

Find your child’s favorite TV show in Spanish.  If you have access to Netflix, find a show that your child is already familiar with and change the audio to Spanish.

World Cup Soccer

Here is another great way to enjoy language this summer – by watching the games in Spanish! 

I hope you find all these resources helpful to create your own list. Even if your school year has already ended, you can still put the list together and share it with families. If you have any other resources that you know of and would like me to add to the list, please share in the comments.

Have an awesome summer!

Carolina

Spanish Poems to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Spanish Poems to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Every April is celebrated in the United States “National Poetry Month,” and I couldn’t let April go by without sharing some of my favorite poems in Spanish. The poems are a goldmine in the Spanish literature. Since I teach in a FLES program, I only share portions of  the poems because some words are not easy for elementary aged students in a FLES program to understand.  I’ve included poems by Juan Ramón Jimenez (Spain), Federico García Lorca (Spain), Gloria Fuertes García (Spain),  and Amado Nervo (México). Download them all here!

 

 

 

Happy National Poetry Month!
Carolina
Free Professional Development  for World Language Teachers

Free Professional Development for World Language Teachers

Let’s be honest! Paying for professional development from a teacher salary is not an easy thing. Many school districts also have limited budgets to pay for outside professional development. I remember a time when I really wanted to attend a weekend conference in the same state of the school where I taught, and I had to put my name in a hat along with seven other Spanish teachers to choose to winners to go to the conference. I remember being sad because I didn’t have the opportunity to attend. Going to a conference or a training also give you the opportunity to meet other colleagues face to face, and as I refer to it,  “sharing the same air with people who like to do the same you do.” 

Nowadays, there are endless possibilities for free professional development online. The teaching community is one of those communities where individuals really like to find ways to give back and offering opportunities for others to have access to professional development at no cost is one of them. Planning your summer? Here are some options for you!

 

Online Course

The University of Texas at Austin has a complete course called “Foreign Language Teaching Methods.” It has different modules for teachers to get training in the different aspects of language teaching.

Podcasts

Twitter Chats

#EarlyLang hosted by NNELL
Have an awesome professional development from the comfort of your own couch!
Carolina
Earth Day Resources for Elementary Spanish Class

Earth Day Resources for Elementary Spanish Class

Earth Day is around the corner and what a great opportunity to connect it to Spanish. Here are a few resources I have found, and I think are great for elementary school.

Songs


Visit Rockalingua to download the free resources that go along with this video.

 

Short Clip

 

 

Online Games

Online Free Spanish has tons of great activities to celebrate Earth Day in Spanish class, from coloring pages, matching games to word search puzzles. Yes, they are online! No need to print!

Google Earth

Google Earth is one of my favorite resources to use for taking virtual trips in class. How about visiting some protected areas in Spanish speaking countries? I highly recommend you visit the Cocora Valley and Tayrona National Park in Colombia.

 

 

Nature Calendar

As many of you know, I am all about Colombia, after all I was born and raised there. Download this awesome calendar by the Ministerio del Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible in Colombia. The calendar has information about important eco-hightlights in the country.
Have a fun Día de la Tierra celebration!
Carolina

 

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