Friday, August 31, 2018

LangFest in Montreal

Last week I went to LangFest in Montreal. This was certainly an exciting experience for me as a language teacher. It was good to share one's doubts and limitations in the journey of language acquisition. I met some famous language experts there who really changed my outlook on language learning. We need to stop trying to be so perfect. With my considerable knowledge of Spanish I never really had to face that. But now that I am doing French I see my limitations daily and realize how far a journey I am still having to go before feeling comfortable. There are questions that come up I cannot answer in the spur of the moment. What is a language teacher to do? Send them to Google Translate? The best strategy is to learn, learn, learn on my part by watching incessant Netflix movies. This surely worked for me for learning Spanish in the past. Well, one month into my French and German classes I do have a very happy feeling about this school year. Three of the four classes are a pure joy to deal with, one still needs a bit of a behavior adjustment which I will deal with next week. I did realize that I will not have any problems teaching German, my native language, though I haven't spoken it very much in the last 40 years. It's still in my head, not to worry.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Back home from El Camino de Santiago

I hiked El Camino de Santiago earlier in June. Lifechanger. I would highly recommend it to anyone who needs a little bit of a challenge and time to clear their heads from school clutter. What a fun and awesome experience it was. My friend and colleague Nancy and I decided to combine the Camino with the 100th Annual AATSP Conference in Salamanca, making this a three week trip in Spain. I will always cherish the wonderful people we met on the way, a mixture of nations and ages, a United Nations of sorts. I got to use all four of my languages many times in casual and often deeper conversations over the course of the 118 K we covered there. An occasional extra challenge, such as having to cross crazy high bridges as well as one on bolders made it even more interesting. I was surprised at how many Spanish school groups we met up with, and equally surprised that we were able to keep pace with them from one rest stop to another at one point. The varying Spanish landscapes we enjoyed crossing were astounding. At the highest point of the hike, a Roman village, we were invited by a catholic American group to join them to go up to the top and were able to only with their kind assistance. Had we not shown up there at this exact point in time we would have never seen the village and walked right past it. I will never forget the enthralling feeling when entering Santiago de Compostela and posing at the beautiful sign entering the city. What an awesome experience.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

School's out for the summer

So I am no longer a Spanish teacher at my school. I had a lot of fun messing with people telling them this yesterday. I was assigned to teach French and German next school year and it's such a wonderful shot in the arm to plan for that. I already am filling my new Google Classrooms with all sorts of good resources for next year and wrote up brand new syllabi. After so many years of Spanish, 27 more or less, there I have to retrieve the French and German out of my brain. It's great mental exercise. Luckily I am headed to Montreal in late August to boost my French a bit at the LangFest, which undoubtedly will be a blast. All packed for Spain to hike El Camino de Santiago and to attend the 100th AATSP in Salamanca, all I can do now it to relax a litte. Tomorrow I will spend some time with my awesome grandson. Let's see if he's up for a game of checkers.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

On this beautiful Mother's Day I thought I should reflect on the last stretch of school this year. After all, we are mothers to many of our students. We actually have more consistent contact with our students than their natural parents a lot of times, sad or strange as that may sound. Students reach out to us in a variety of ways. Sometimes they just blurt out their needs, and often their calls for help could manifest themselves in terms or odd or inappropriate behaviors. I am always keenly aware of such calls for help with my students. Earlier this semester one of my students was apparently abandoned by his mother who went off to Arizona for several days, stranding him in town with no particular place to stay at, nor with food or clothing for that matter. I was happy that our guidance department was able to assist in this case upon my gentle suggestions for help. So school is once again coming to an end this year. I have one week plus two days remaining- 32 years of teaching, with 17 in my county. I need a break from this and I will get just that with our upcoming hike of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the French Way as they call it. This morning I actually packed most of the stuff just to see if it would fit in my carry on and backpack. I think I will be fine, just have to figure out what to wear for the AATSP conference that follows the hike. One of my daughters suggested to get a plain black skirt with four different tops. That could work. Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Last Day for Seniors (before exams)

Today was the last day for seniors, well, they still have to take semester exams. So another year is done. This was my 32nd year of high school teaching. This was a learning experience for me as much as for the students as I shared with my students many different new teaching strategies and tools for language learning. It's funny, I really never do the same thing from one year to the next. My students recorded videos on Flipgrid a few days ago to give the new classes advice on how to succeed in Spanish class. They practically all recommended they get a new phone since they will be doing so much work on apps. We did use apps for Classcraft, Metaverse, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, GooseChase and a few more. But I told them you never know what I will come up with next school year. After attending the AATSP conference in Salamanca, Spain this summer there's no telling what I will do. Teaching is such an exciting and ever evolving profession. It's truly incredible if you think about it. What a time to be a teacher! I really liked the station system we tried on Cinco de Mayo and the Hotel chapter. It was so much fun to have the groups come up to me and check into the Valle Youth Hostel. The one on one conversations helped a lot. And the students loved the rotations since they got to move around and do a variety of different tasks. So I will definitely do stations at least once every chapter. We will also keep playing Classcraft as it is the best classroom management system imaginable. And Gimkit, best game out there to motivate students to learn vocabulary, will stay with us. Of course, Google Classroom is the best way to keep it all together. So I will definitely keep using it with my upcoming classes. Other than that, I am wide open to new and better things in the world of language education. Bring it on!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The End in Sight

So we are entering the last real week of school for seniors next week. I will miss them a lot as we did have a very good school year. I am especially proud of our coninuing search for new tools to make our lessons interesting for the students. The are convinced now that I am totally obsessed with Flipgrid, Metaverse and especially Google Classroom. Honestly, those are my favorites right now. But how quickly they forget that we played boss battles on Classcraft every day for months! Well, when the rest of the flipgrid videos come in I will see what really made the most impact on them this year. My latest discovery, Gimkit, has been a hit for the past couple of weeks. I wrote an article about them last Sunday. Here is the link for it. I love that site, and to think that a junior in high school created it is just astounding. So what to do next week for the final senior week? Well, Monday we will finish the poster projects and present them to the class. Tuesday is an in-service day. Wednesday we will play some more Gimkit and StudyStack games to review for the semester exams. Thursday we will do Cinco de May stations, and Friday is Field Day along with a little food day in my classes. So then it's pretty much over and another year in the bag. This has been a good one, no doubt. Oh, today I did a 5K and came in 7th in my age group, not too bad, right?

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.