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Friday, October 17, 2014

Binders Galore 2

Time for post #2 about binders. This binder is now for my substitute teacher! This is the first year that I have a made a substitute binder. I've always though that it was a great idea but never created one until my administration told us we had to have one. I looked online (mainly pinterest and teacherspayteachers) for some examples before creating my own. Here are some of the examples I based mine off of: (this one I liked the best)

I've used it twice so far and I think it may have overwhelmed one sub but the other one loved having all the information organized for her. So I think I'll keep it at least a little while longer. (Sorry the pictures are sideways! When I open them up to rotate, they are right-side-up and I don't know how to rotate in this blog. If you know, please leave a comment and let me know how!) I put pictures of some of the pages but all of my sections are listed in the table of contents.

Cover of 3-ring binder

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Schedule/school map
3. Lesson Plans (not prepared ahead of time, only use this section if I know I'll be absent)
4. Emergency Lesson Plans (pre-planned lessons so if I suddenly get ill or have to leave, I don't have to worry about lesson plans because I already wrote them down!
5. Classroom Management
6. Class lists
7. Seating Charts (I need to be better about updating this.)
8. Emergency Procedures
                                                                                    9. Student Information (IEPs at a glance)
                                                                                   10. Notes for me!

Talks about what my job looks like, thanks the sub for coming, etc.

Classroom Management

 By grade level. What I do and what the school does. Also procedures for leaving the classroom.
Emergency Procedures
Notes for Me
A place for the sub to leave notes about what went well and what didn't, and who helped or distracted.

What do you do for your sub binder? Do you use one? Should I change anything about mine?

Friday, September 26, 2014


I've always taught my students ser and estar, but this is the first year I did it together. I also taught tener at the same time, pointing out the fact that although the verb means "to have" we use it like "to be" for age and "needs" (tener expressions). I introduced the concept (none of verbs were new to my 7th graders) and we practiced for about a week before the quiz. My students took the quiz and.... well let's just say that score is not going in the gradebook. I've never had a quiz go that poorly for so many people before so I reflected on how I taught the lesson and realized that this was one of the first times I didn't have a rhyme or song or actions to help my students remember. So, I went searching on the internet and found this. Because I teach tener with ser and estar, I added my own verse to the end. Here's the whole thing:

For how you feel or where you are, 
use the verb ESTAR.
For who you are or where you're from,
use SER, the other one.
For your age or what you "need,"
then use TENER, if you please!

After students wrote down the rhyme, we broke down the categories more specifically.
- Feel - temporary feeligns
- Where - location, location, location!
- Who - colors, adjectives, jobs
- From - where you grew up/were born
- Age - (self-explanatory)
- "Needs" - tener expressions like hunger, thirst, luck, hurry, etc...

They'll take another quiz next week. I hope it goes better!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Binders galore

I love binders! Know why? Because they make organization so easy. I have 2 binders that I use and my students have their own Spanish binder as well. Here's my first binder. Look for future posts to see my sub binder and my students' binders.

My Lesson Plan Binder

I am on a cart which means that my schedule changes every day. So I put my schedule on the outside of my LP binder since I take it everywhere anyway. That way, I don't show up to the wrong place at the wrong time. (It's only happened once in 2 years so that's not too bad!) Plus, I put my schedule in Spanish so that if I ever lose it, it comes back to me pretty quickly. The kids think it's cool too.

When I first started my lesson plan binder, I had like 8 different sections. I've narrowed it down to three now, but added two extra in case I feel like I'm missing anything. The three sections are weekly calendar, yearly calendar, and grades/class lists/IEPs.

My weekly calendar inclues my lesson plans and any special events during the week. I love to be color coded so the blue stands for days when I miss classes (and I include the reason so I remember). The pink helps me differentiate between my 8th hour classes because one is M/W/F and the other is T/Th. Anything highlighted in green is a staff meeting. I also write at the top of the day if there are any after school activities such as concerts or open houses. With my lesson plans (bullet points), I read over them at the end of the day and if something needs to get changed for next year, I leave myself a post-it note so it will pop out at me when I review my lesson plans.

The yearly calendar is something the deans at my school put out and it's amazing. Any school events (after-school, assembly, testing, etc.) that are already planned are written on a calendar and passed out. This is helpful to me for a quick at-a-glance or when I transfer the activities to my weekly plans.

The last section (and there is no picture, sorry) is my class lists/grades/IEP section. I print off class lists and write their Spanish names next to their English names to help me learn both. Then I also put their grades right on these papers. I like to hand write them first so I have a paper record before transfering them to the computer. Something new that I am going to add this year is IEPs. A fellow teacher in my school puts all the IEP at-a-glance for each class right behind the class list so it's all together. Instead of carrying around my SPED binder and my LP binder, now I just need one!

I hope this helps anyone looking to set up your own lesson plan binder! I prefer setting one up than getting a pre-made one because I can make it my own. My stuff isn't super cute but it is organized and color coded and that's what I like. Is there something that you include in your binder that's not in my that you find helpful? Let me know!

UPDATE (as of 9/21/14)
I added one more section to my teacher binder labeled "meeting notes." I stole this idea from a fellow co-worker because it's a great way to keep important information from any and all staff meetings in one place. At my school, I have a weekly meeting with my dean, an every-other-weekly meeting with the middle school staff, and an almost-every-other-weekly meeting with the whole school. While agendas are typically passed out at meetings, my new notes spot in my binder allows me to write down any pertinent information to me and jot down any questions I may need to follow up on in the future without needed to keep track of an agenda.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Another new year...!

How is it that as a first year teacher I had time to write a blog, but it's taken me 2 years and the start of my 4th year teaching to get back to it? Wow, time sure does fly! I hope to be better about posting this year. It's my third year at the same school so I feel like I'm finally getting my feet under me. In fact, my introduction lesson I have now taught over 40 times! This lesson is a great way for the students to get to know me, for me to learn how to say their names (without messing up!), and to review vocabulary.

On the first day of class, I always start out by saying hola/buenos dias/buenas tardes, depending on the time of day. After a few introductory things (such as my name, how often Spanish meets, and what they need to have on their desk (nothing! for today), I do the following activities for a 40-minute class.

Introduction powerpoint
I choose 3-5 pictures of myself and put them on separate slides. Then, I describe each picture in Spanish and the students have to guess what I'm saying. I change the complexity of my sentences depending on the level of Spanish that I am teaching.
For this picture I might say...
Esto es mi perro. Mi perro se llama Bo. Mi perro Bo es muy muy loco! Es blanco y cafe. (This is my dog. My dog's name is Bo. My dog Bo is really, really crazy! He's white and brown.)
For a higher group, I'll add in my details.
Esto es mi perro. Mi perro se llama Bo. Mi perro Bo es muy muy loco! Es blanco y tiene ojos y orejas cafes. Le gusta correr y jugar en el parque. Despues de correr, le gusta dormir en mi cama! Pero, es muy lindo, por eso no puedo decir no.(This is my dog. My dog's name is Bo. My dog Bo is really, really crazy! He's white and has brown eyes and ears. He likes to run and play in the park. After running, he likes to sleep in my bed! But, he's so cute, so I can't say no.)
No matter the level, I am always pointing to the picture and acting out verbs.

Name ball toss
Ball tosses are one of my favorite activities because it gets everybody talking. Plus, if you have someone new to the language, they can copy what the other people are saying. I start by asking how to say "what is your name" and "my name is" in the target language, and write the phrases on the board. I have the class repeat after me and make sure they know how to say it. Next, everybody stands up.
Then you can do the ball toss one of two ways:
1. The teacher throws the ball to a student and asks the question. The student answers, throws the ball back, and sits down. The teacher continues to throw to individual students until everyone has had a turn.
2. The teacher throws the ball to a student and asks the question. The student answers, then throws the ball to another student, and asks the question. After asking the question, the first student sits down. The second student gives an answer, and tosses to a new student.

Sometimes I'll do it both ways and challenge them to do #2 faster than we did #1.

Review game
For classes that have had at least one year of Spanish, I like to start the first day with a low-pressure review game to see how much they remember. I separate them into groups (people they are sitting by, no more than 5 in a group) and give each group a whiteboard and expo marker. (Paper and pen would work just fine.) I give a category, such as colores, and students have to work together to write down as many Spanish words in that category as possible. Spelling doesn't count and they can't use notes. I put a 2 minute timer on the board and when the timer is up, students go group by group and say one word on their list. If someone says a word on your list, you erase the word so there are no repeats. Continue the game for the rest of class.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

First week of a new school!

Week one at my new school is done! It was a whirlwind and just flew by. Teaching 4th-8th grade is very different than just 3rd-5th grade even though two of the grades are the same. My 4th graders are learning Spanish for the first time and it is so fun to watch them experiment with the language. On the other hand, my 8th graders are in their 5th year and I am their third teacher in three years. They're still trying to see who I am and what class is going to look like for them this year. So far so good, I think :) I was very nervous to start with the middle schoolers but they really are quite a lot of fun! Quick refresher... I see my 4th-6th graders twice a week of 40 minutes. I see my 7th and 8th graders every day for 40 minutes but only 9 weeks out of the year.

I started each class basically the same way... shake everyone's hand while they say their name (me llamo ___. - yes even the 4th graders did this!) We shared good news from the summer (required bit from Capturing Kinds Hearts... great program if you've never heard of it) then I showed a picture slideshow of myself and my family. I spoke about every picture in Spanish and then had the students translate (or guess for the 4th graders) what I said. Even the 4th graders picked up on almost everything I said. Then we did a ball toss and for the middle schoolers, we also played a quick review game. Day 1, done! Day 2 was all about picking out Spanish names (am I crazy for making myself learn twice as many names as I already have to?) and practicing asking/answering questions about names. Middle schoolers played another review game. Up next comes a quick communication unit with classroom commands and useful phrases for all grades but the vocabulary is different in each of the grade. I am reviewing the basic 4th grade vocab in every grade though to make sure everyone knows what I want them to know.

Many of the teachers in my school have children in the school and I am lucky enough to teach most of them (no pressure... right?) So far though, many of those parents have come up to me saying that their kids are really enjoying Spanish (yay!). That makes me feel good. Plus, my assistant principal and principal have both stopped in my class at least once and left with smiles on their faces. My principal even speaks Spanish! How awesome (and rare) is that?!?

I have so many ideas flowing through my mind about what I want to do and how that it is difficult to organize my thoughts right now. I will still be updating my blog regularly (though maybe not as regularly at first as I adjust to my new school) so be on the lookout for lesson ideas and my thoughts on the (Spanish) teaching profession!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The end of the beginning

It’s over. My first year of teaching is officially over. My first job is officially over. And it doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel like when I go to work tomorrow, I can go in an hour later because I don’t have to plan. I have curriculum meetings 8-3 this week and then that’s it. It’s surreal. I can’t believe it’s June! This year went by so fast. Every year since I can remember just keeps speeding up and now it feels like I’m just flying through life. Last year at this time I was substitute teaching, planning for a wedding and a honeymoon, and getting ready to move to a new city. This year, I am preparing to go to China in a week (yay family!), putting offers on houses, and getting ready for my new job (in an old city - the one where I grew up) where I’ll have my second, first-year of teaching. If the University of Michigan taught me anything, it’s that changes are good and exciting;they are just new opportunities to explore this world and myself in a different light. I am sad that this chapter of my life has ended but am looking forward to the future. Check back on this blog over the summer and next year as I continue to explore the wonderful world of education as a Spanish teacher. Have a great summer everyone!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More fire alarms

Update... (no I did not set up the fire alarm again). The fire alarm has gone off 3 or 4 more times since I set it off all by different people. It always goes off for the same reason; either something in the oven or burnt popcorn in a not-so-great microwave. I'm just proud of myself that I set it off when there were fewer kids in school (because it was after school) and it was a nice day. We've had to stand outside pretty long some days in the cold and wind while waiting for the firemen to give the okay the other times it has gone off.