Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spring Break Update

So it's Thursday of our Spring Break and I thought I would post an update. Last Saturday I had a lady come over to do some spring cleaning for me to get the break started nice and fresh in the house. It took her 7 hours to just do the kitchen if that's an indication of the status of my house. She rearranged everything in there and washed everything. I was thrilled to put it mildly. After 10 hours it was time to quit, so she will need to come back some time to do the bedrooms. I was a little inspired by this and did organize my bedroom somewhat. We did get a lot of miles in for Walk Across Tennessee. Yesterday was the highlight of the week I guess with a walk around the Indian Boundary twice. That was clearly stretching it for me as today I find myself exhausted. But with the Camino de Santiago hike coming up in June, I must get out and get used to the higher miles. Three to four is fine, but anything longer and my back doesn't like it much. So we will probably take lots of breaks there unless I can build up my miles. School work, well to me it's not actually work, I just love doing stuff for my classes. It's truly fun for me to create stuff for my students. Upon request from the tech guy I had to re-do my Google Classroom with the new school gmail account and I can honestly say that this was a blast. Since Friday of last week I have posted three Quizlet sets, a StudyStack set, a Flippity random name picker wheel for each class, two Metaverse quizzes disguised as augmented reality experiences, a few videos with questions and a host of other items for my students for the next chapter and the last one we will cover in my Spanish II classes. I also managed to go by the finance department to see about the retirement policy and my status as of now. Turns out I should work three more years to qualify for free insurance, so I am guessing that's what I will do then. They caught a small error where I was jipped two months one year and fixed that for me, so it was good I went in to check this out. Also, I was tired of going by random rumors about the retirement policy in my county. So all is well. Oh, let me not forget my Easter activity. I stuffed plastic Easter eggs with Spanish sentences from the next vocabulary section and Hershey's kisses for Monday. Students will choose an egg, then translate the sentence and read it to the class in Spanish and English. They then stuff the eggs again for the next class. Two of the eggs actually have no sentence and instead have two kisses in them as a surprise. This should go well. Ok, so what else can a teacher do on Spring Break? Let's see, I need to go to establish an account at a new bank since mine just merged with another bank and will shut down the local branch, booo.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Spring Break

We finally made it to Spring Break. I was a hectic Friday, but we did it. So now the question is what to do for Spring Break. I have no plans except for my Monday night class. The rest of the week is wide open. When we return to school it will be April. Seems like this year is already coming to an end. We had a wonderful teacher PD the other day which was actually appreciated by the participants. We gave them some great ideas on how to teach their standards having more fun, specifically with some innovative game ideas. I used these myself in my classes yesterday and all went great in 1st and 2nd periods. Then in 3rd, they got tired of this and the last 10-15 minutes were a struggle. I was so exhausted by 5th that we only did one game. I guess the students need a break just like we teachers do. So I will try to re-charge over the break and then finish the year strong. At least that is the plan. Tomorrow is the final day of my Dave Ramsey financial peace university class. I am proud to say that I was able to save a couple of 1000 Dollars and pay off a couple of $1000 on my car during the nine week course. This is definitely progress, that much closer to being able to retire from teaching. Estimated date of retirement is December 4, 2019, unless I feel so super excited about teaching still at that time. You never know, especially with the upcoming German class.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Identity Crisis on the Horizen

So this week brought a few surprises for me. I have taught nothing but Spanish for the past 28 some years except for a little Upward Bound class of German last summer. On Thursday, my guidance counselor emailed me asking if I would be interested in teaching a French class. I couldn't believe it. After all of those years. How? Why? I immediately responded with a resounding "yes" and added that I am also certified to teach German, by the way. Next thing I know they are putting on social media that sophomores and juniors could sign up in guidance. By Friday morning we had enough for a German class and about 12 for the French. I am certain their list has grown since then. They told me that German is definitely on, and French could also be offered as long as the Spanish numbers allow for it. Pretty sure they do actually. I am so happy that my department head supports this and even had her students create wonderfully beautiful posters to post in the halls. I just love her. Interestly enough, many of those on the German list had already taken Spanish from me. So the German or French class will be their 2nd foreign language. We are really moving up in the world if all of this comes together. Well life as a teacher, you never know what comes next. May the new adventure begin. Oh, and last night's Spanish Honor Society Initiation Ceremony was out of this world as well.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Spring is Near- why is it so cold?

It's almost Spring time, though really cold here this week in East Tennessee. I love our chapter 4 in Así se dice, El restaurante. I have a fantastic StudyStack, Quizlet set, Boss Battle, and a Padlet to get students to order food at a Spanish-speaking restaurant. We tried out some of that today and it was really enjoyable. Hopefully, they will be familiar enough with the words by Tuesday and Wednesday of next week when the observers for accreditation come to visit. I am kind of excited to show off what we can do actually. I am planning on doing the PowerTeach lesson on the board, the Padlet to have students post their favorite foods and restaurants in Spanish, then play a few StudyStack games followed by an imaginary restaurant scene where one student plays the role of the waiter/waitress and students order off a Mexican Restaurant menu in Spanish. I am looking forward to finishing the school year strong. Just a couple more months with my seniors. Their last day is May 11. I will truly miss this group.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

UN Sustainable Development Goals Game

This morning I found a great game that teaches students about the SDGs. This is found at I ran it off for my students to play next week, maybe on Friday, we will see. On Monday my students in first period will present their ideas to a group of students in the Dominican Republic. This will be the first time for that group to do a Google Hangouts talk and I do hope they will be assertive as they present their group's ideas. I did have a problem with one student not buying into his group's ideas yesterday, so I will probably allow him to do his own project. Had a bad school nightmare last night. I was a roaming teacher with a class of 45 students who were out of control while I was being observed. Well, it was only a nightmare so all is good.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Flu Hit East Tennessee

So what do you do on a flu day? Update your blog. Upon returning from Hong Kong I was promptly greeted with a walk-through observation in 5th period class. We had just finished making a cafecito and finished drinking it as my teachers' aides were still in the hall, cleaning the expresso pot. Well all turned out well and they assisted the groups with their assignments. I just found out on Friday I will be presenting at the 100th Annual AATSP Conference in Salamanca. I am going to present on using Classcraft: “Turn Your Class into a Cultural Adventure: Creating Random Events, Boss Battles and Quests with Classcraft.” This is so exciting!! I haven't been to Spain in many years, not since I was a teenager actually. While volunteering for RAM I booked a hotel room there on my down time. So now of course I will need to spend the next few weeks actually creating the presentation, a challenging task, but doable. There is a long way to the end of the semester. If only we were actually at school. It seems that since we came back after Christmas we had one great week of school and then it all fell to pieces with ice and the flu. The forecast seems to be ok for the next 15 days and perhaps we can actually get back into the swing of things. Friday I had only about 2/3 of every class there and we did have a fabulous time dreaming on what to do with the SDGs. This morning I woke up around 8:30 AM and remembered that I still have to teach my night class. I had completely forgotten about them I guess and got up to grade all of their quizzes and MySpanishLabs work as well as the work from the online class. This, in between washing dishes and talking a shower. Wow, it's only 11:16 AM and I am all done, woohoo. Great flu day so far.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

What I learned in Hong Kong

This was my third time at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong and I must say that is was as expected, just fabulous. I enjoy being around teachers who are excited about teaching and who love trying new ideas with their students rather than complaining about how terrible their students are and how unfair everything is. My greatest take away would be to limit cell phone use rather drastically and to have the students spend an increased amount of time on problem solving and communicating constructively with each other on a common goal. AR and VR are big, but only if you have the students being the ones who create the experiences rather than some pre-created items on apps. I loved presenting my Genius Hour project to the teachers and they had many good questions for me at the end. My next conference will be the AATSP in Salamanca, Spain. That will be the most extraordinary place for a conference. I encourage all of the teachers to participate in at least one conference per year in order to learn and progress in our profession. You simply should not teach the same lessons year in and year out.