I'm done for the year!!! And what a year it was - it was both awesome and challenging. I kept and refined certain things while I let others drop to the wayside (sometimes on purpose and other times unintentionally and with regret.)
90% TL - It didn't always happen but for the most part I met my 90% goals. It's become a habit and with some classes it was even 100% TL most days. I had several little "policemen" in kindergarten and in 3rd grade whose favorite phrase was ¡No inglés! Only my new students seemed to freak out - the other kids are so used to it. My heart burst one day when a brand new student complained about not being able to understand and another student said, "It gets a LOT easier and we always do fun stuff in here."
It's not hard to pinpoint the times I didn't use enough TL - rowdy 5th grade classes at the end of the day when I was tired and they were tired. And specifically the entire month of February when I suffer from SAD. My Classdojo contest did seem to motivate students but it lost steam after awhile. I think next year I will wait and implement it when me and the kids need it the most. A shorter contest in the dead of winter should add enough excitement and motivation to get us through that tough spot.
Spiraling - I can't stress enough how important this has become in my classroom. The more they see the different structures in different contexts the more comfortable they will be using them. I used to teach things in isolation and then move on but this last year I have seen so much more growth from students when they are constantly seeing/hearing/using things over and over. Next year I want to continue to build on that prior knowledge even when introducing new material.
Assessments - It was still a struggle. I did do more assessments this year but I don't know that they were very meaningful. I'm still trying to find a way to do this in a way that benefits the students' learning (i.e. I can give good feedback) but doesn't become unmanageable for me. With 600+ students it's not an easy task. Although I've had some great conversations lately with awesome teachers about how to handle so MANY students - A colleague talked about si se puede sheets that she would have kids bubble in when she heard them using the TL - love this because it makes the kids do the hard work of finding their name and recording data. Another colleague put the target questions for the year up on the board and did a pre&post test at the beginning and end of the year. I love the idea of having that focus up where both me and the kids see what we're working towards. He said the kids loved seeing their progress from the beginning to the end of the year and only 1 major summative assessment at the end of the year would be totally manageable.
Communicating with families- I did send more "stuff" home this year - speaking rubrics & assessments, stamp pages, & coloring pages with links to the videos we were watching in class. My goal next year is a newsletter every 2 months with vocabulary, links to videos, & game ideas to play at home. Already this summer I have created a template and written the first few editions (that way in the craziness of the start of the year it's already done and just needs to be printed & copied.)
Now I'm ready for summer break. I plan on resting, planning for next year, and spending 5 weeks in Spain shopping, studying, and playing tourist. What are your summer plans?
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Have you just learned that next year you won't have a room? You have to fit all of your papers, props, technology, and other teaching materials on a cart? After you have a good cry (and possibly a large drink) it's time to look at the positive side. Being on a cart is a great opportunity to show off and advocate for your program.
Don't get me wrong - I loved having a room this year but I'm just as grateful that I spent the first two years at my school on a cart. Here's why...
Teachers all over the building could SEE and HEAR what I was doing with students in Spanish class. If they chose to stay in their room during Spanish class they got first-hand knowledge of what was going on in my program.
They told me things like, "Wow! The kids are learning so much more Spanish this year." (Not true - but the previous Spanish teacher had a room so they never heard the kids speaking Spanish.)
They told their students, "I just love hearing you guys speak Spanish! I wish I had had Spanish when I was your age."
They emailed my principal and wrote things like, "I just want to let you know that Ms. K is doing a super job."
And it wasn't just teachers who were more aware - parent volunteers working in the rooms also got first-hand experience with their child's Spanish class. (And parents that volunteer are also the ones that serve on SBDM committees, PTA, and email the principal & superintendent when their child's language program is on the chopping block.)
All that exposure and all I had to do was my regular teaching gig. There are other ways to get similar exposure - I sent my administration videos and pictures of what we were doing in Spanish class. This year I invited teachers and administrators to certain lessons (the ones with food) and my goal next year is to send home a regular newsletter to parents and families but being on a cart is its own special advocacy.
Are there challenges to teaching off a cart? Oh yes! But are there some special benefits too? MOST DEFINITELY. So mourn your room (if you were lucky to have one to start with) but then buck up and realize what a great opportunity to show off your program to teachers and parents teaching off a cart will be. #ThatsHowIRoll