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,, 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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Observation done

So today I was finally observed in second period Spanish II class. All went well as far as I could tell. I did a lesson on Christmas and Hanukkah vocabulary, followed by some basic research of Hispanic Christmas traditions in various countries. I got my technology in with a Classcraft game, the Classflow whiteboard and the PowerTeach lesson plus the use of the Chromebooks. I am very relieved that it is over. Now let's hope the observer will be kind and not come up with some harsh criticism out of nowhere. Well, Thank the Lord the wait is over.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Anticipating my unannounced observation

So I've been waiting for my unannounced observation for a month now. I have literally been ready each day and each class that I teach. I wonder if the people at the state department have any idea what that's like. On the bright side I was told by a colleague that this evaluator told her he wants to be done by November 15. That leaves 8 more days for me to stress over this. A student asked me last week why I write all that stuff on the board every day and I told him that you get points for all those steps. You can be the best teacher in the world I told him, and yet unless you do that stuff you will get no points for it. We had the Navy recruiter in my class the other day and he told them about the raises in rank they get for good evaluations. I told them that as a teacher you get to keep your job if you get a good one. Sad but true. Tomorrow I have a test scheduled but I have Tuesday's assignment on the board and we will do it instead if the evaluator shows up. On the bright side, we will get an extra hour of sleep. Now that's something to look forward to, right?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gamifying my Language Classroom with Classcraft

I was happy to see that the EdTechReview published my article on Classcraft. It really do love teaching with Classcraft. What really makes me happy is when I see students go on there and play with their characters over Fall Break and train their pets. This has got to be a challenge since the game language is set to Spanish. Here is the article: Gamifying my Language Classroom with Classcraft. What I really loved is when @utkarshlokesh, the publisher, said he wished he had such a classroom. He said I should present that at their conference in India. Not really in the budget since I'm headed to Hong Kong in January to talk about Genius Hour.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's Fall Break

So we made it to Fall Break. What a fantastic school year so far. My classes are so wonderful that I actually dream about them and it's not nightmares... Last night I dreamt someone presented their fantastic genius hour project. It was some sort of airplane that had incredible lighting fixtures. Our projects are coming to an end on October 20, 2017, a culmination of hard work and some struggles with some of the groups. I must say, that only two groups from all of my classes presented a certain struggle and I never quite knew if they were really working or just chatting with each other. Last Friday we did the update presentations and one of those two did present their music app to us. The other group that presented the struggle apparently dissolved. Turns out, one of the students was suspended for several days and he was the one who supposedly had the project at his house. The second group member was not in school on Friday. So the third student decided to take it upon himself to just code a game on Scratch, a plan that seemed to be working out actually, as he was making good progress. I suppose they can just call their original project an epic failure.... I was fine with that though, since at least this students made a concerted effort to create something. Several of the presentations surprised me and I had to congratulate the students on their efforts. Meanwhile I have been keeping up with the projects' progress on my Google Slide presentation for the 10th 21CLHK Conference in January. Well, what is a teacher to do over Fall Break? I am still trying to figure it out. Nate kind of threw a wrench into outdoor plans for the next few days, but Friday seems to be a good day for a Smokey Mountain National Park visit. My unannounced observation is coming up and I'm trying to figure out how to be sure to include higher level thinking in each of my lessons for the near future. Fall Break, I'm ready for you.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Genius Hour is off to a good start

So we have been back to school for about five weeks. Classcraft is fully functioning and so much fun, a wonderful way to manage my classroom. This game actually minimizes any classroom disruptions as all of my students try to build their characters and attempt to progress to higher levels in the game. I love the daily random events and boss battles. On one of our in-service days I took the time to create 25 random events that have to do with Spanish and the Hispanic culture. Also, creating daily boss battles is a snap, and students really love them. I was determined to create a meaningful Genius Hour this semester so I took a lot of time to lay the groundwork for it before allowing the students to begin on their projects. It was a lot of fun to play with circuits, to take virtual reality tours and to create green screen pictures. Last Friday, my students finally had the opportunity to begin their project and I must say I was impressed. One of students actually coded a game on Scratch. I would have never believed it had I not seen him do it. He was so excited, had me play the game and told me what else he will try to add next time we have Genius Hour.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The 2017/2018 School Year Has Arrived

So teachers went back to school last Wednesday. The first day back was easy, no major meetings and such, just working in our rooms for the most part. Then Thursday was the dreaded county-wide day that actually only amounted to two hours of meetings at our school. It was so sad since I met up with my former colleagues. I really miss them so much. But what do you do? I really have gotten used to my current school and last year all went well. Since I live only 7 minutes away from there I was able to set up my classroom on little daily trips there for the past two weeks. So last week I basically only had to do little things, like put books under the desks, adjust the seating chart due to a few schedule changes, add all of my students to Classcraft, and attend a few meetings with the Spanish department. I also spent a considerable amount of time getting the Silhouette Portrait cutter to work along with the fabmakerstudio program for our Makerspace stuff next year. This proved to be pretty frustrating until I finally wrote down the steps one has to take to get it to work in order. So perhaps when I get back to school on Monday, this process will just work. I am still learning how to do circuits and the automotive teacher helped me to create one that lights a LED light. This was really cool. I believe I am getting the hang of that so I can actually explain this to the students. I am really hoping some will do a makerspace project for their genius hour project. On Monday we will have the last in-service day, then Tuesday we will pass out schedules. Regular schedule begins on Wednesday. May the learning adventure begin in my class. I'm ready.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dreaming about next school year

So the summer is now half way over. Tomorrow I am using my language skills to serve as an interpreter for Remote Area Medical, a new thing I have never tried before. I found a great video about finding your passion at Thinking about his method of finding my passion I discovered that mine is simply creating school stuff for my students. It's discovering new ways to reach and to motivate my students with things that interest them and bring them over to my side, allowing me to teach them the Spanish language with an open mind. My genius hour project ideas need to be further defined. I need to make sure that all of my students will actually work on their projects during the allowed class time and that all truly work on something worthwhile and valuable. This will be the challenge, and I am still searching. So upon further consideration, I am not ready for the next school year just yet. I will keep dreaming.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

My ISTE17 Takeaways and Other Matters

So last week I was at ISTE17. What an awesome experience it was! I got my 15 minutes of fame presenting my "Great Global Project Challenge" project there at the Global Education Day. It was indeed and unforgettable experience and I am so grateful to Lucy Gray for making it happen. I learned so much at ISTE that it's just hard to put in words right now. One thing is for sure, Genius Hour is a big deal and all three sessions were totally booked. So I know that doing the Genius Hour and giving the students a voice and choice is the right thing for me to do next school year. Coding, yes, I will get my students to try it with Scratch this year. Also, the SDG's Sustainable Development Goals are big and I will get my students involved in something that makes a real difference. Google Classroom is also big now and I am so glad I already created a classroom for each of my upcoming classes. Just today I discovered that you can make mobile green screens with pizza boxes. Who would have ever thought? Amazing. Well, summer has finally arrived for me. I'm ready for next school year with my new makerspace station sitting in my living room, reminding me of the new school year that will be upon us in a month or so.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Summer Time

So what's a teacher to do in the summer? The first few nights after school was over I had terrible school nightmares, but apparently that phase has now passed. My principal has posted the schedule for next year and I will have one section of Spanish I and the rest all Spanish II's. First thing I did was to clone the Spanish II syllabus and adjust it to Spanish I, changing the topics of course. My super cool friend Tony Vincent is keeping me busy trying out his suggestions for teachers. I already learned how to create personalized printed sticky notes for my students and now mastered Google Classroom. I set up classrooms for each of my classes for next year, with syllabus, a couple assignments, and all of the Quizlet vocabulary sets for all chapters I plan to cover with them on the Spanish I and II levels. I also created a Google Classroom for our Monroe County Teacher Summer Splash and added topics for each of the seven presenters to post their presentations and resources. This morning it occurred to me to create another Google Classroom, this one for our Global Collaborations with Athalo and Alexis. So now I will turn my focus to the Upward Bound German class coming up next Wednesday. Fortunately all is ready for them with pre- and post-tests, syllabus, project rubric, vocabulary lists, and group activity instruction handouts. Think my brain is running in overdrive? Perhaps, but I need to take advantage of this time of the year, when my brain is still on school. Ah, and the ISTE17 coming up, now that's another story for later.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Great Global Project Challenge Award

Last week I found out that our project "Why Should I Study a Foreign Language?" was selected as one of the grant winners. It came as a big surprise, but I am so happy about it. My co-project leaders Athalo and Alexis will be presenting it with me at the next Global Education Conference. This is so exciting. Last week was the most hectic all year, with a webinar, a Quizlet teacher PD, a videoconference with Athalo's school, Senior Awards night, and then graduation last night. But now it will be smooth sailing to the end of the school year with exams on Thursday and Friday. I am so proud of my 1st period class who has been my pilot Classcraft class and helped me learn to play this with my classes next school year. Next Monday I will give them each an award for their effort to participate and learn to play it after the senior left.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Global Day of Design- May 2, 2017

Summary of our Global Day of Design Activities We had our Global Day of Design in Spanish II and III classes. We began the morning by creating colorful key chains in 1st period class. One of my students had a lot of experience with this and taught the others in the class. The results were great and all were able to come up with nice products. Then in 2nd period class we created friendship bracelets. One of the students, a Cuban girl, taught the others in the class including myself how to create the bracelets. This proved to be a lot harder than the key chains because you had to use 6 strands instead of just two. We also created Cuban sandwiches in that class and had Cuban coffee, delicious.Finally we concluded the Global Day of Design in 4th period class and created Origami objects. My students made hearts, umbrellas and flowers. All in all it was a fun day and greatly enjoyed by all. Ruth Valle

Friday, April 28, 2017

I am a Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator

Today was the last day for our seniors. It began with a Sequoyah High School tradition: The Senior Drive Through. It was very upbeat and so much fun. I just loved these seniors. Well, the rest of the day was wide open, so I did a bunch of courses on Microsoft Education and made Certified Microsoft Educator. This is so cool. I guess this is what it means to be addicted to teacher PD's.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Another school year is coming to an end

So this week is the last week for our seniors. It's so sad. I can honestly say that. I was transferred to this high school after 15 years at another school in the county, but it was good. Due to their policy to give Spanish mainly to upperclassmen it was a lot easier on me. Seniors are so much more mature overall. So let's take an inventory of what I accomplished with them this year: 1. I made Apple Teacher certification. 2. I went to the Dominican Republic to visit my teacher friend Alexis there at his school. 3. We established the José Martí Spanish Honor Society. 4. I established a great blog on with student activities. 5. I presented our Cuba project at the Global Education Conference. 6. My students placed 1st and 2nd at the Roane State Academic Festival with their creative video entries and one of them presented at the Student Technology Conference. 7. I participated in the Great Global Project Challenge with my classes. 8. I co-presented a series of eight teacher PD's on Saturday mornings on a variety of topics mainly having to do with technology in the classroom. 9. I am currently team captain of the Great Chiefs for Walk Across Tennessee, though we are currently in third place :(. 10. I am registered to go to ISTE2017 in June, a wonderful conference where I will no doubt be star struck from all of the ed tech celebrities there. 11. I will be teaching German for Upward Bound this summer, my native language. 12. I am currently teaching an online Spanish class for South College and have an intensive one scheduled for this summer. Well, not bad all things considering. What's on for next year? I really want to get into teaching with badges. So I am taking an ISTE webinar to learn more about it. Also, of course, ISTE17 will produce a ton of new ideas that I can take back to the classroom. I am in contact with CO people about offering the Apple Teacher program for our district, though the enthusiasm for that seems to be mild at this point. So we shall see. Update: The Apple Teacher Program is actually being well received here and interest is growing.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter Weekend- I needed this

As the school year is slowly winding down we have a nice three-day break for Easter, not a moment too soon. The last few day's have been exhausting, with my seniors thinking the school year is over. I am going to get into the last chapter for them of the year, technology vocabulary for my Spanish II classes and travel vocabulary for Spanish III. On Monday, the newspaper photographer will come in to take the photo of all of our Roane State Academic Festival winners. This will be a very proud moment for us. Still to come this school year, EOC's, awards night, graduation, the Dogwood 5K, my South College online class, and finish our Walk Across Tennessee. The last day for seniors will be April 28th, very soon. What an exhausting two weeks ahead, not counting my German Meetup next Thursday and the Dinner PLC on Friday...Wow, a lot to get through. Meanwhile I made Apple Teacher certification, made me proud.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Global Project Challenge Complete: Why Should I study a Foreign Language?

We finished our Global Project Challenge last week: Why Should I Study a Foreign Language? The results are on our website, We had 28 international schools respond to our survey and supply answers to why they study languages. They also listed favorite language learning websites and apps that were compiled on our website. It's very interesting how the reasons for language study are quite similar across the globe. I am very excited about the language websites and apps to explore with my classes. Spring Break is almost upon us, one more day....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Great Genius Hour Results

On Friday my students presented their genius hour projects. I was amazed at the results. Many of the students are quite artistic and I was wondering why they did not register to enter their art at the Roane State Academic Festival. I would definitely say that this program was a success in my classes. The students thoroughly enjoyed presenting their products. We do have a few stragglers who will present on Monday, so we will see what happens with that. I am totally looking forward to ISTE 2107 for inspiration for the next school year. Also, there is the possibility of teaching German for Upward Bound this summer. I found a great YouTube based class I could use for that. We will see. On a personal note, one of my good friends decided to move to town and I am so excited to be able to share experiences with her as she settles in here. The predicted snow did not materialize here. So this afternoon I will be able to get out to Walk Across Tennessee.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Great Student-led Conference

I loved the Student Technology Conference yesterday. One of my students presented "Rapture: Our Underwater Future" about his project proposing such a habitat for our future. I was highly impressed with his presentation as well as the follow-up questions that were posed by the participants. This presentation really made them think about such a possibility. None of them brushed it off as being unrealistic, which was interesting to me. Great conference put on by students!!!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Global Student Technology Conference Participation

This week we found out that one of my student's proposal was accepted for inclusion at the Global Student Technology Conference this coming Saturday. This confererence is completely student run and modeled after the Globel Education Conference. My student's project is about an under the ocean habitat that he could create in the event that life on Earth is no longer feasible. He researched ways to make life sustainable under the sea and even laid down ground rules for behavior in his proposed habitat. This project is his Genius Hour Project in Spanish II classes that I am doing with my classes this semester. We had him do a practice run today to see how long it would be and what sorts of questions the audience may have. My class was pretty shocked by the whole idea, but it's an idea worth exploring in the future.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chromebooks in the Spanish Classroom for Native Speaker Rotations

This has been the longest week and it's only Thursday. I wrote an article about my Spanish III class' use of Chromebooks for native speaker rotations: Also, on Tuesday I was evaluated in that class. I will get my results this afternoon; hopefully they will be good. One thing I can say is that they were talking more Spanish during those 70 minutes than ever. I have had that class only since January, so I feel that we are certainly on the right track as far as speaking abilities are concerned. The native speaker rotations are working fabulously. But we will see what the observer thought is this. So, today we are doing Genius Hour. I had the students give short updates this morning and I am very excited about what they are doing. So many ideas: an art gallery, a coffee shop, a Mexican fast food place, a goat breeding operation, various websites that sell items, trips to Spanish-speaking countries, fishing tours, under the ocean habitats, dresses and furniture designed based on Hispanic themes and much more. Each student in my classes is doing a different project that is based on personal interest as long as it has to do with the Spanish language and culture. Next week we will set the project deadlines. Updates to come later. Update: Evaluation results were wonderful. The observer really appreciated my efforts to include the native speakers in my lesson the way I do with the rotations.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A five-day weekend

We came back from a four-day weekend yesterday, just to be sent home for a five-day one due to illness in the school system with numerous teachers also being affected. My first reaction was disappointment because my evaluation was supposed to happen today in fourth period. Now is it scheduled for Valentine's Day. I suppose it will be ok anyway. It's just very difficult to keep the momentum going when you are out this much. We practiced a little bit for it and now actually have a chance to practice some more on Monday. It's mainly a matter of practicing the routine. I especially love our native speaker group rotations, where students speak to three Hispanics in Spanish about the assigned topic, in this case sports. I am also going to catch up on grading my online South College course today. Lesson plans? I can just use this week's plans, so I believe we do not make out new ones. What to do over the long weekend? I will think about it and let you know.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

End of 30 days of blogging challenge

I just found out that today is the end of the 30 days of blogging challenge posted by A.J. Juliani. I was surprised as I had completely forgotten when we started the challenge. A lot has happened in one month since I began with my new students in January. Blogging is a great activity to reflect on what is going well and what needs changing in our professional lives. For the most part it has been a great experience. There was only one day last month that I would rather have not experienced the way it happened, but that's not bad in the great scheme of things. Today I gave my first chapter test and it was very typical. There were some 100's, a lot of down the middle and a few failures. I still need to re-teach the whole subject-verb agreement deal until they finally get this. I am not quite sure if they actually didn't know the conjugations or if they still do not understand how it works in Spanish. But I will find out. Monday will be subject-verb agreement day. Update: There will be no school until Tuesday due to sickness. I guess I will get a four-day mini vacation. How nice! Buncee rocks. I took their webinar yesterday.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keeping them Guessing with Varying Presentation Tools

I am happy to report that the EdTech Review just published my second article this year, actually this month. I was inspired over the weekend and wrote about presentation tools. I try to vary my way of presenting material to my students because invariably they get tired of the same types of presentations. Also, I love it when the students use some of the newer presentation tools on the Internet rather than creating simple PowerPoints. On another topic, my Spanish III students enjoyed a collaboration with a college class in the Dominican Republic yesterday. We communicated via the WhatsApp app and sent audio messages back and forth providing feedback concerning each other's pronunciation. My students enjoyed this tremendously and we are following up on a few more voice messages in class this afternoon. After that, we will review the present subjunctive for the chapter test on Friday. Hopefully, they will come through and perform excellently as expected.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


I went to sign my contract for my Fall Semester Spanish 1020 at our local college last night, but to my chagrin they now pay by the student if one has less than seven students in a class. I had only two enrolled, so this amounted to only $500.00, which I obviously declined. It's so depressing to think what they are doing this to the adjunct instructors there, who obviously must make a living from the money they make there and at other colleges. In fact, I find this to be a cruel policy. I worked there for eight years and had plenty of classes with under seven students and was never paid by the student. This is a disappointment, but Thank God I have my high school full-time Spanish job as well as my adjunct classes at South College in Knoxville, who will give me two classes next quarter. One will be online and the other one on site. I really did not see this coming, but life is full of surprises I suppose. On the bright side, I love my high school classes and especially the Genius Hour Project we do each Friday. The students are such an inspiration to me as they work on their project ideas, building businesses and acting on their creativity. In fact, it makes me think about building an online tutoring service website. I will need to work on how to get this started, but it definitely has potential. Let's just roll with the punches as they say.

Friday, January 27, 2017

TGIF- a long week

This has been the busiest week so far this semester. I gave my Spanish II students a quiz every day of the week. We still need to take two more quizzes before taking the chapter test. My most successful activity this week was actually the daily native speaker group activity. My Spanish III students now rotate daily through three stations headed by native speakers who talk to them about different topics, such as famous sites in their home countries, popular foods they like, and sports activities. This has really worked well and the students have steadily gained more confidence each day. They feel proud that they can now understand what the native speakers are saying and really attempt to ask them questions related to the assigned topics. In addition, we have been doing a "news flash" or noticia de la última hora in Spanish III class as the "hook" question. As we work on the subjunctive mood, these two daily components plus the genius hour project have made my Spanish III class extremely enjoyable to teach this semester.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Article in the EdTech Review

I am happy to report that my article, "Providing a Bigger Purpose with a Genius Project" was published this morning in the EdTech Review, a publication that originates out of India. I had not sent them any articles since last year, so this is perhaps a new beginning of sorts for me. This week has been hard work, quizzes every day and grammar lessons with the Spanish II classes. I am trying new approaches in Spanish III class to make it more and more conversational. We now have the Noticia del día in place, where students begin each class with a news flash of some sort. We then have a group activity, led by native speakers who question the students on different topics each day. The students had very positive reactions to this and I can't wait to see how this works out today.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Teacher PD today

Today we will have another teacher PD in our series of professional development we are offering at the local middle school. This one will cover a review of the Excel program. Yesterday we had another genius hour and I was amazed at the level of commitment my students are showing. They worked so peacefully on their projects that I was able to create an article for the EdTech Review during my last period of the day. I am having my English teacher friend look it over before submitting it, but it basically covers the genius hour project idea in the classroom. Last night we had a nail biter basketball game. Our team lost after a very tough fight. It was sad. The star players are in my Spanish III class and I am so proud of their efforts. Not only are they great players but they actually try to learn Spanish in my class. What else could a teacher ask for? Next week we will get into testing with quizzes every day, and the week after that I will be giving my first chapter test to my students this semester. Hopefully, they will test well and all of our effort will have paid off.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Give the students credit for their bright ideas

Today I was amazed by my students' ideas in their daily reflections once again. I absolutely love it that they take responsibility for their own learning and share their bright ideas with me. Today a student told me that we should look at learning as a computer with temporary and permanent memory and that for obvious reasons we should try to commit the new vocabulary words to long term memory by really trying to learn the pronunciation. In my first period class, we did the usual after group practice of the vocabulary words on Quizlet and played the match and Quizlet live games. This was a lot of fun and enjoyed by all. But, in second period the class decided to have the students pronounce the words individually and I put a native speaker in front of the class. Interestingly, she didn't accept anything instead of perfection and some students ended up having to pronounce the words numerous times. This actually took up the entire class period, but toward the end the students' pronunciation had improved dramatically as had their confidence in their speaking abilities. Quite amazing actually. In their reflections they expressed this as well and most said they wanted to do this again next time. Of course this will have to hold until next week, since tomorrow is our designated Genius Hour, during which the students work on their extended Spanish projects. Power to the students!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

An ordinary Wednesday

So, the 39 day blogging challenge continues. I was able to form the Academic Festival teams to create a Spanish video with the theme of "Social Media." The Spanish II class participants came up with some good ideas concerning bullying possibly. The Spanish III class has not discussed this yet but I am sure it will come out great. They are very creative. I sent out the survey forms for my Great Global Project Challenge, "Why Should I Study a Foreign Language?" but unfortunately I only received three back so far from the 23 registered participants. I do hope I will get them to complete the forms before the end of the week, though this will probably not happen. My classes are getting more into the work now that we are back from snow days and MLK day. Today I am getting more positive responses for the reflection component of the lesson. So I think we should settle in before too long. Hopefully, there will not be a bunch of snow days to throw us off course again. Did I just say that?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Friday, the 13th- may the geniuses be revealed

Friday, the 13th was an awesome day in my classes. We had the first official Genius Hour in all four of my classes. A lot of the students were able to identify a Genius Hour Project they would like to pursue and presented their proposals to the class. A few were rejected and need a little refinement, but most students have a fairly good idea of what they want to do with this. Some ideas that will be explored are Hispanic art- drawing a famous Hispanic basketball player (I have no idea who that is), creating original canvases inspired by Hispanic art that will be displayed on my classroom walls; fashion- designing a dress based on Spanish fashion trends; designing a pullout table and offering it on a bilingual website; exploring the idea of making the ocean floors habitable with a bilingual report; opening a coffee shop that serves Hispanic coffees and treats; expanding an existing Mexican business to include tamales and buñuelos; watching telenovelas and creating a pilot episode for a new one; creating a game that includes a Mayan village; creating a furniture line that is based on Hispanic themes; researching what it would take for a small Cuban child to make it to the baseball leagues in the US; creating an action plan to be able to play soccer for Barcelona; creating a mission trip to a Hispanic country; creating a travel plan/package to visit a Hispanic country; creating a website that offers boat tours in Puerto Rico; creating a green screen photography studio that would allow one to take pictures on location in Hispanic countries; creating a life-size sculpture of a mythical creature that is famous in the Hispanic culture; and more that I do not recall off the top of my head. Some of the students' presentation topics gave me goosebumps, I was so impressed. One student in Spanish III class said she would love it if we had Genius Hour in all of the classes on a rotating basis so you would have one every single day. I just loved that comment. Well, we have a three day weekend due to MLK, which made is easier to get the lesson plans in already on Friday for next week. On another note, we will be participating in the Roane State Academic Festival after all. It is being held during Spring Break, but they have a creative video category so I was told by the teacher who organized the trip last year that we will be participating with videos. The theme is social media. We will see what can be done with that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why is 2017 a great year to study Spanish?

Today we were finally back at school and I used the Transparent Language presentation Why 2017 is a great year to learn a language with my Spanish II students. I love this presentation as it gives students wonderful reasons for learning languages this year. They add empathy, tolerance, communication, global citizenship, entrepreneurship and more reasons that most would have never considered. My students were able to write marvelous short essays with the topic, "Why is 2017 a great year to study Spanish?" Had I not discussed this presentation they would have said it fulfills graduation requirements and possibly will help them in their future career. I can't wait to get out my survey to the schools around the world for our Great Global Project Challenge on "Why Should I study a Foreign Language?" I am just waiting on approval of our survey form from one of the collaborators. Spanish III class viewed the "Lo mejor de lo mejor" presentation I discussed on yesterday's blog. They were fascinated that some people apparently eat gold. We also registered all of the class members on the new blog and posted a few items in response to the presentation and concerning Genius Hour. When classes were over today, I felt very at ease and happy with them this semester. They are well behaved and highly motivated. What else could a Spanish teacher wish for?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Still not back at school- another snow day

We are on another snow day. So what's a teacher to do? Make out lessons on Blendspace. I spent quite some time this morning making out a grammar lesson for my Spanish III students. This is my Spanish Subjunctive Lesson. I love Blendspace because it is so user friendly. I tried out a Sway lesson, but was discouraged quickly. I may try again later, but for now I have my grammar lesson ready. The question is when will I even get to the subjunctive though, since we have been out for two days now. Tomorrow we will do the pre-test, then on Thursday the vocabulary section and on Friday is Genius Hour. Consequently, it will be Monday or Tuesday when we do this lesson. I posted it on our Facebook group for anyone who wants to get ahead with his/her notes from the PowerPoint. We will see if anyone takes me up on that because they are equally bored staying at home as I am right now.

Monday, January 9, 2017

What to do on a snow day

We are having a snow day today due to icy roads all over our very hilly county. The school buses can't handle these conditions without putting the children in danger. So the question is now what to do on a snow day. Fortunately I live in town so I personally have been able to get out without a problem. Once the temperatures climb above freezing I will probably check to see if the car wash is open to get the grime off my car and also go to the grocery store for a few items. When I heard about the school closing yesterday I was actually sad about it. The semester had begun so well last week and this feels like a break in the momentum. But this is how it goes here every January I suppose. I did make new connection on Edmodo, Ms. Christina de Haro from Spain who has a great blog at I will be using her PowerPoint "Lo mejor de lo mejor" with my Spanish III class this week, probably tomorrow if we have time after the pre-test. It features some of the most extraordinarily priced restaurant dishes in the world. Apparently, some people enjoy eating gold, which dates back 5000 years. I love her video of the dining experience at the most expensive restaurant in the world. It includes a virtual reality experience out of this world. This should lead to a great classroom discussion in Spanish III class. What else to do today? Well, I have been waiting for Alexis Radney and Atholo Carrao to get back to me on our "Why Study a Foreign Language" collaboration survey form. We do need to get the forms out to the participating teachers very soon. I could watch another Indian movie on Netflix, though the one I watched last night had a terrible plot. One thing I can say about Indian movies is that they never seem to have a good ending, but rather leave you completely horrified at the end. Watching the news? I probably will be watching CNN but their repetitive programs get old soon. So what can a teacher do? Probably more school work. I will keep you posted. The 30 day blog challenge continues.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

It's a wonderful life

The snow did finally materialize last night and we have a nice covering, though it doesn't seem like a lot. Around here it can get dangerous with just an inch like that because there could be icing under the snow. Teenagers have been coming out all night to spin in the snow in the middle school parking lot which is visible from my house. They must not sleep at night. School was reassuring yesterday. I was so glad to see that the students are excited about their Genius Hour project in the Spanish III class. Several of the Spanish II students in last period came prepared with laptops and bright ideas even if they could not work of anything since we were dismissed early due to the impending snow situation. I was glad to see my last period class come in very calmly and not as chatty as on the first day. This was mainly due to the absence of a couple of students. One of them dropped the class and the other one transferred to another class period where he will probably share his joyous attitude. So, I have a very upbeat feeling about this semester. I already finished creating my lesson plans on Friday morning for next week, allowing me to sit here very calmly about my life. I must say, all of the planning for school last week really paid off for a peaceful and organized return to school. So, what can I work on this weekend? I was thinking that I need to come up with a way to display the "epic failures" somewhere in my classroom. Each Friday we will post sticky notes with things we tried that didn't work out on there as the Genius Hour progresses. Yes, it's a wonderful life at Sequoyah High School.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Snow day- of sorts

Today was the second day of school, but not much went on. We had a two hour impending snow delay and went home shortly after the beginning of the last class period. On the bright side, my Spanish III class met and we did generate some great Genius Hour ideas. The new Chromebooks work great and pick up the WIFI in my room without any problem. Ideas concerning the Genius Project were beginning a baking business, opening a Honduran restaurant, creating original art based on Hispanic themes, creating a charger that won't break (not sure how this relates to Spanish), a green screen photography studio that features Spanish themed backgrounds, and creating an app that translates what people say during a video conference. I was quite impressed with the ideas and can't wait to continue this next Friday during the next Genius Hour session.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

First Day With Students

Today I met my Spanish II students for the first time. Most of the Spanish III students were in my class last semester. The first two classes were very quiet and reserved. I was pleasantly surprised about that. Then Spanish III class great as expected, very excited about the Genius Hour project that is to come. Last period of the day was chatty; what do you know? But all of the classes actually did the activities assigned: syllabus/genius hour discussion, New Years Activity, ACTFL "Can do" assessment and their index card introduction. Tomorrow we will start school two hours late due to impending snow. This means my first two classes will not meet at all and will miss the first Genius Hour. But they can do this next Friday. I am very excited about Genius Hour and can't wait to see what they come up with. Game design seems to be big, but we will see.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In-service Day

Today is our in-service day and we had a county-wide motivational speaker, Christian Moore. The speaker was very inspiring and I feel as though what he said will help me when reacting to situations in the classroom concerning behavior issues. Unfortunately, the morning did not start well when a lady teacher almost crashed her car into mine in the college parking lot (the meeting was held at Hiwassee College) and then yelled at me that it was my fault, that I was parked in the driveway. Hey, it was pitch dark outside and I had no idea I was not in a parking spot. Well, I moved the car up under the trees in the front row and tried to calm my nerves. Tomorrow is the first day back for the students. I am over prepared with seating charts, syllabus, pre-test, New Year's activity, and Genius Project proposal. Hopefully, these students will share my excitement about life!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This is day 2 of the 30 days of blogging challenge. Yesterday I actually thought that today would be our first day back with an in-service. This now means that I turned in lesson plans for three days this week instead of the two that we will actually be teaching. Oh well, I guess the administrators are used to such faux pas by now. I was excited this morning to see that Lucy Gray had sent the presenter certificates for the Global Education Conference, which I promptly printed, laminated and uploaded on the TNCompass site for PDP points. Well, I have so much planned for this week that it will be virtually impossible to get to all of it without making the students think I have completely lost it. I do not know how long to take on the March Madness handout for Genius hour. I guess we will play that one by ear. I have the syllabus, the genius hour, the Great Global Project Challenge, the pre-test, and the ACTFL "Can do" assessments planned. Oh let's not forget the Three Kings Day Blendspace lesson and the New Years Activity. Much of that will definitely have to spill over to next week.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year New Classses

Wow, we are in 2017 and I have all new classes coming in on Thursday since we are on block schedule. I am so glad that I have spent some time to get ready for the new classes over the winter break. So, I will have 4 classes, three of which are Spanish II and one class of Spanish III students. I am very happy that my project was approved and I will receive my new chromebooks later this week hopefully. These will definitely come in handy when we begin our journey with Genius Hour. I also put in for another project, a 360 degree camera which would be so wonderful to use once genius hour gets into full swing. This Friday we will do the March Madness handout to see what sort of project my students want to develop. Also, I am involved in the Great Global Project Challenge with "Why Should I Study a Foreign Language?" and we have 15 schools from 10 different countries participating so far. I can't wait to tell my students about this project and have them begin collecting the data and create the project website. Wednesday is the first day back for teachers. I am very hopeful for this term and can't wait to get back to work.