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 http://go-goals.org/. 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.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

Here's another new year upon us. I do so hope this one will be a good one. I try to think good thoughts and maintain a hopeful attitude about the upcoming year. My Christmas tree will still be up for a few more days, until the next weekend. Back to school is upon us on Wednesday as we are going through some kind of arctic blast here in Tennessee. I am seriously wondering what to wear on Wednesday. I will probably be bundling up as we will be in the teens. I just found a great handout to attach to my syllabi from spanishplayground.net that explains 10 things Spanish teachers want parents to know. There are many people who seem to think that students ought to speak fluent Spanish upon the completion of the second year of Spanish. Their handout is really fantastic as it brings this thinking down to reality. I am so glad I found this on Twitter. So, my New Year's resolutions for my classroom are: 1. Stick to the target language, 2. Don't be so serious; laugh more again, 3. Be very careful how to share successes at school; no bragging. I believe those three resolutions will definitely work for me this second semester. You live and learn as a teacher. It's a never ending process. Well, unless you are like my former teachers in Germany who seemed to never change their lesson plans over the many years that they taught. But then we are not in Germany.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Coming to an End

There goes another year, 2017. Tomorrow is December 31st, 2017. People make a lot of New Year's resolutions, something I never actually subscribed to in the past. What I usually do is to write up an elaborate financial plan to get my budget better under control and to save more money for retirement. So I will definitely get back on Dave Ramsey's budget app "Every Dollar." It's great and really helps to get a clear overview of your entire situation. Retirement is on the horizon for me, so it is time to get serious. On the bright side I am not in any sort of debt as so many Americans are these days. I just need to tackle the remaining mortgage on my house, a mere $44,000. So yes, I will keep working on my money situation. And then there is work. I love being a teacher at my school. It's so amazing when you are on break and just think about it, rather than actually showing up there and teaching. This last semester went fairly smoothly. I only had one problem with a student whom I supposedly offended, though I am not quite sure what he claimed I said since nothing ever came of his rant in this office. Well, that's not bad, Oh and there was a day one of my colleagues became irate because she thought I was micromanaging her. Honestly I was not, I apologized profusely to her. It was simply a time I was super excited about what I was doing with my students and wanted to share it with whoever was willing to hear this. Lesson learned, don't ever do that again. Spill your excitement on Twitter rather than at school. Seriously. I did have a fantastic 31 student Spanish I class that did happily anything I asked them to do in terms of innovative teaching strategies. These students did the genius hour project, Plickers, Kahoot, Quizlet.live, Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Quizalize, Jenga competitions, Repollo balls, and whatever else I can't even think about right now. They were so amazing. I told them on the last day of classes how grateful I was for them. Some of those students will be back for Spanish II next semester so the excitement continues then. I am truly looking forward to second semester at my school. Three weeks from today I will be presenting at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong. It will be about Genius Hour. I do hope all will go well and my computer will not freeze on me as it did the last time I presented there. Let's hope for the best. So, on to my plans and goals for 2018.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Exam Time

Today is the first of two exams days. I had to give three tests so far, all went very well with the exception of one student who obviously did not bother to study and failed it miserably. It's too bad because this will actually fail her, and she will need to take the class over again. They are now just letting seniors take Spanish at my school and if you fail Spanish I first semester you are up the creek without a paddle. Well, after doing my grading I was actually very industrious and cleaned out the humongous stack of accumulated paperwork, ran off my entire gradebook, ran off the rosters for the new classes beginning in January, uploaded all of the new students onto Classcraft, and updated and ran off the new Spanish II syllabus. Yes, that was sort of a run on sentence I guess. I apparently have 74 students in 4 Spanish II classes. Hey, one prep, never had that before. To top it off, no observations next semester, just a couple of walk through ones. So I am kind of excited about next semester. Ready for Christmas? Not by a long shot! My heater went out last night and this will be expensive to fix.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

It's a time for Thankgiving

So Thanksgiving is this week. I am so grateful for a bunch of stuff, not least of all that it's a two-day week here with no night classes the entire week. I am so grateful my students are excited about learning this semester. We did so much over the course of the past few months. The genius hour project was a success. Funny thought came to me yesterday when the Times best inventions were featured on the news. Several of those were actually ideas that we had discussed in my class last year. The idea of an airless tire, the sideways elevator and more were all things we dreamt up. The GEC conference went great as well. I was so relaxed and able to speak naturally, which was the best part of it I believe. This was my 4th time participating and I was well familiar with their BlackBoard platform. I really should have taken the time to volunteer. So that is on the agenda for next year. Speaking of a project for next semester, I am really interested in the UN SDGs in Action and want to excite my classes about participating. So far there is very limited interest in my Spanish I class for it, but this is not a problem. I will present it to the new Spanish II classes and perhaps I can get each of my classes to work on a different goal. Alexis Radney from the Dominican Republic already expressed interest in collaborating as well. So I am definitely grateful for him. Another thing to be grateful for is the teacher PD series. They have been steadily well attended. None had to be cancelled for lack of interest, which is great. I am grateful to get to go to Hong Kong in January for the 21st Century Learning Conference again. So happy my daughter and son-in-law will be joining me there. So it has been a good semester. Many new strategies were put in place, and yes, I'm super grateful for a good evaluation last week.