Monday, June 13, 2022

Highlights of the 2021 - 2022 School Year

 This academic year had it's ups and downs, and we made it to the end! Time to celebrate all that we've worked hard to accomplish! The highlights are in chronological order (from September until the end of the year. 

1. Student Interviews

At the start of the school year I was so excited to be back in the building with students! Even though teaching 9 months pregnant was hard, I loved getting to know students as we conducted "student interviews". It was fun to talk about families, pets, places to travel, and fears in Spanish. 

2. Locura de marzo

I was excited to return knowing that we would be completing Locura de marzo together! This is always one of my favorite units, and I felt the same this year even though no me gusto the winning song. It was so close on some of the votes! 

3. Class Characters & Individual Characters

This year we had the opportunity to create class characters and have student artists draw them as we were creating them! Each class had a unique and special character that had quite the interesting story. Then we leveled up and had students create their own characters. Each class voted for the best character created by a student (pictured below)!

4. Special Events in World History Class

In World History we had a fun finish as we had a Mr. Patrick Campbell from GASP-PGH come speak to the class about Pittsburgh Air Quality (this tied into our China Unit as we compared the causes and effects of pollution in China to our lives in Pittsburgh). 

First period also had a special "chopstick competitions" where JC, using unconventional (but effective) methods, was able to win the race!

5. Growth in Speaking Skills

The final (and greatest) highlight of this year is how many Spanish students improved their speaking skills! We played the Question & Answer game a few times to practice answering questions in Spanish about our class stories and the Locura de marzo, and it was great to hear students say complex sentences from their head! (Using notes was OK too!) For 7th and 8th graders I checked their speaking individually with volleyball translations of our class story and so many students had strong pronunciation and understanding of the story! It was so nice to hear students speak after a year online and being out on leave. 

I'm so excited to build on the growth we accomplished this year! Have a great summer!

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

A Fresh Start For the Head and the Heart

It's been a year of transitions! At the start of the year we transitioned back into in-person learning, and as we were getting in the swing of things I had a baby and was out for awhile. Now I'm ready to return and finish the year strong. 

David my son (in his "monobobsled" because we were watching the Winter Olympics), Mike my husband, myself and the newest family member Evelyn.

For seventh grade Individuals and Societies classes we are going to continue with the unit on India, learning about Hinduism, Buddhism and the caste system. 

For all Spanish classes we will be participating in our annual Locura de marzo, a music competition built in a similar way as NCAA's March Madness. All Spanish students at Obama will be voting on these songs to select the school favorite! You can get a sneak peak of the songs in the video below or listen to all of them on this Spotify playlist.

One thing I love about my job is that I'm a student's Spanish teacher for a few consecutive years (and sometimes even across subjects). This has alleviated at least one challenge of the pandemic because I get to develop a relationship and leverage the strengths of my students. I also know what I taught them in previous years, and they know my classroom expectations. I wanted to write up a few reminders that will carry over from last year (and probably continue next year as well). 

  • Schoology will be updated with folders for each week. 
    • There is a Week at a glance document that will contain important information about goals for each lesson, links to assignments, directions for missed/make up work and due dates. This should be the place students and parents go to answer questions like What did I miss? and I'm going to be out what do I need to do? 
    • In Home Access Center (HAC), in the description of the assignment, I will reference the folder on Schoology where the work/directions can be found. 
  • In general, work for the previous week will be due the following Monday. For example, work assigned the week of March 7th - 11th needs to be turned in by 7:30am Monday March 14th. (This gives students time to get it to me during homeroom.) 
  • Please review the Welcome Letter posted in Schoology for information about grade categories and the late work policy.
While I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with my family, my passion is teaching, and I'm excited to return to the classroom and work with my students. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Highlights of the 2020-2021 school year

Even through a wild year of remote learning, when I look back at all we accomplished this year I'm so proud of the effort and growth I've seen from students. Here are the top 5 highlights of this year in our middle school Spanish classes.

7th grade playing Humans vs. Zombies

5. Games 

We had so much fun playing vocabulary games on Quizlet, Blooket, Kahoot and Gimkit. The most requested version of games was the Among Us version of Gimkit. I personally enjoyed when students played against me in Boss Battle on Gimkit, and I remember some really intense games of The Floor is Lava on Gimkit. The strategy aspect of many of these games added an additional layer of fun to review games. It was enjoyable to hear students in the class (or off mute at home) having fun and commenting like we were playing video games together!

4. Music

This year we had TWO music competitions, one in the fall (Locotubre) and one in the spring (Locura de Marzo). Similar to the NCAA March Madness basketball competition, we have a bracket of a variety of songs in Spanish. Students previewed the songs and completed their own bracket before the competition. Then each day we voted between two songs, and one song advanced to the next roun, until there was a champion! 

You can listen to all the Locotubre songs here, and all the Locura de Marzo songs here. If you love Just Dance or Zumba, check out some of the dance videos from Locotubre here!

These music competitions are a great way to practice listening to different accents and musical genres, as well as learn about culture through authentic music videos. 

Locura de Marzo 2021 Final Bracket

Locotubre Bracket Final

3. Class Characters / OWIs (One Word Images)

This year we imagined creative, complex characters in Spanish from scratch. The creativity of students made these so fun to make! We had a huge box of rice win rap battles against Gozilla, a mean pot of soup that wants to share their soup but couldn't because of Covid, and a non-binary ice cream cone that is always tired. 

6th grade characters

7th grade characters

8th grade characters

This activity was a great way to review high frequency vocabulary and practice describing people!

2. Growth in Checkpoint Assessments

Each quarter I assessed students' reading, listening, speaking and writing growth. I was so impressed this quarter with how much growth I've seen over the year! Students were able to understand so much of a familiar (and more complex) text this quarter. For the speaking assessment in quarter 4, students recorded themselves describing a character and used a variety of vocabulary and grammatical structures with improved pronunciation and fluency! 

Students received personal feedback via email with a specific comment on what they did well and what they can focus on improving next year. 

The biggest growth was in our writing assessments, where students DOUBLED how much they were able to write in Spanish in 5 minutes from quarter 1 to quarter 4! 

1. We wrote books! 

My biggest highlight of the school year is that we wrote a 50-page book all in Spanish! Each week we discussed a topic (like what food or activities we liked, how we were as younger children, or how we would describe ourselves) and each class worte a summary of our conversation in Spanish. Throughout the year we wrote more complex sentences and increased our variety of vocabuly. See the work from quarter one herequarter two herequarter 3 here and quarter 4 here. We also used them for review activities on Quizlet

Through a generous grant from Obama's PTSA I was able to print 14 books of our writings that will be the basis for our classroom library we'll use next year. You can check out the master copy below.

We did it!

This year brought many challenges but as you can see our classes achieved something truly special that we can all be proud of!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

How We Learn a Language

Hello! At the beginning of the school year I like to talk a little about why we do what we do in our Spanish classes. This year I've made video explanations and included them in this blog post so it can easily be shared with parents and reviewed at any time. 

In this class, students don't learn about the language. Students will acquire the language naturally through input.  The videos below will go into detail about what I mean by this. I've broken the presentation into short videos (between 2-4 minutes) to chunk the information. I've also included a reflection question after each video to help you process the ideas of the video.

In This Class We Learn to Speak From the Heart
Reflect: What does it mean to "speak from the heart"?

What is "Input" and Why Is It Important?
Reflect: How do people develop the ability to speak a language?

The Right Kind of Input to Speak From the Heart
Reflect: What skill(s) did you develop through practicing?

The World Needs People That Speak From the Heart
Reflect: Given that our planet faces many serious problems, why is it important to be able to connect with people around the world?

I hope the videos above give you an idea of the WHY and HOW of our Spanish class. I also wan students and families to know that language learners will understand much more than they will be able to produce, and that's OK! The image below is a nice visual representation of this idea.

I'm excited to start another year! Feel free to reach out with any questions! 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Highlights of the 2019 - 2020 School Year!

What. A. Year.

This year I started teaching middle school students Spanish at an International Baccalaureate school. In early March I was so darn proud of how much my students had learned and grown. My sixth graders were reading a multi-chapter novel in Spanish and doing a great job! My 7th and 8th graders were having conversations about food, family, school, and more! These students were understanding and producing more in Spanish than high school students I've taught!  And then school closed for the year. 

I want to take a moment to highlight a few of the great moments of the year I was able to capture through photos and video.


I told lots of stories, and then we played lots of games working with the vocabulary and grammar of these stories. 
6th graders placing parts of a story in the correct order

7th graders playing BOOM game based on a story

6th graders playing Quizlet Live Relay

We had FUN

We drew, we watched music videos from Spanish speaking artists, and we danced!

A great example comparing Victor and "el otro hombre" 
6th graders drawing what they want to be when they grow up

7th graders dancing to Just Dance videos! 

7th graders trying to find differences between Señor Wooly videos.

Our Locura de Marzo Bracket!

6th graders dancing to Tooty Ta en español
6th graders dancing during a Gimkit review game

This isn't the ending I wanted for the year, but this isn't the end anyway. 

I'm very grateful that I will get to teach the current 6th and 7th graders as they move up to 7th and 8th grade. Whatever the future of school will be, I'm looking forward to continuing our learning. As the ad below says, we are never too far down to come back

I wish everyone a safe, healthy summer break!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Highlights of the 2018 - 2019 School Year!

It was a great year! Below are the Top 5 Spanish class highlights as well as 5 more great moments with the 2021 students. 

At the end of the year I give anonymous survey to students for feedback on what went well/what could to be improved. Below is a word cloud of what students enjoyed the most!

Have a great August break!

Friday, August 25, 2017

August Break 2017

I hope everyone had a great break! I really enjoy traveling over breaks. (In April I went to Colorado, December I went to Mexico, and last August I went to Canada and a bike trip with my mom) This break was spent mostly in Pittsburgh resting, going to Sandcastle and biking.

I did return to my hometown Jefferson City Missouri to experience the solar eclipse. We saw totality!
The path of totality going through Missouri. My hometown is also the state capitol.

A total solar eclipse! I took this with my phone and the glasses.

The "Bordner Point"

I'm looking forward to a new school year and sharing in learning with students!