4/19 This Week in AI

Well, here is everything I did with AI this week.  (Give or take a few days.)  And I’ve added a new rating scale for my happiness after the AI Interaction.

Wrote a welding resumé: This was a demonstration for another training.  I’m not into Welding.  I don’t even have a welder.  9/10

Wrote a letter of recommendation for a colleague. In the prompt I put the name as Teacher and I asked it to give me no more than 3 paragraphs.  (I find that Chat GPT often has really long sentences.)  This recommendation was even easier because the colleague gave me their resume and I copy and pasted in what they had done.  The result?  Pretty darn good.  In Google Docs I used “Find and Replace” to replace Teacher with the teacher’s name and changed a few words.  It sounded remarkably like what I would have wanted to write all on my own.  Next time: I will specify what pronouns to use because I had to go back and change those.  9/10

Some Google Sheets Formulas: ChatGPT and I had to spend some time apart after this interaction, so it could think about its actions. 1/10

Wrote a bio myself for a conference submission proposal:  The bio was too jovial and glowing for my taste, but I pulled bits and pieces to complete the assignment. 5/10

Email suggestions: I was tired, so I asked for some ideas.  I didn’t copy paste the email verbatim, but it at least got me started 5/10

ChatGPT was mean to me in French:  I was, once again, trying to get it to have a Novice level conversation with me and I was chastised by the chat bot.  1/10 – still not ready for students, yet.

AI Training Image: I’m working on a presentation and I wanted an image of AI Training.  In my head it looked like a bunch of robots in the gym working out, only some of them listening to podcasts and others watching TV and still others reading articles.  Dall•E and I worked through several iterations and we came up with some I liked.  But like why are these guys all running on the treadmill backwards?

robots in a gym working out

Lingoteach.ai: OMG.  I will be writing about this more later.  15/10

This Week in AI

I’m going to start a new post where every week I recap everything I did in AI.

This week is actually the last two weeks because we were on vacation one week.

This Week in My AI

Super Secret Project

I spent a LOT of time on a super secret project I can’t tell you about yet.

Google Sheets Formulas

Gone are the days where I racked my brain to set up (complicated) Google Sheets formulas.  Now, I ask my AI Friends for the formula.  When you ask AI for a cell formula, tell the AI what you want to do and give it the cell references and it will return a formula that is ready to go.  I find it also helpful that the AI tells me what each part is doing.  I am not a Google Sheets Ninja, but I do know slightly more than my peers and I appreciate the explanation.

Fowl Art

I have to preface this with the fact that at my house we have a lot of chickens and turkeys (more than 10 less than Foster Farms). At Christmas I used Dall•E to create fowl themed art based on famous works of art for a permanent installation in our guest bathroom. I call it the Masters of the Fowl World. I also used AI to create the little information cards that went next to the art work. Dall•E and I created about 10 pieces for my Masters of the Fowl World.  

However, I had a specific idea of what I wanted to hang over the toilet, but at the time Dall•E and I were unable to make my thoughts into acceptable art. (Not just any AI Generated piece of artwork is worthy of being exhibited in the Masters of the Fowl World.)   This week I tried again and Dall•E and I had to go back and forth.

Chat with Dall•E 3/19/2024

Finally, I went back to another one we had made and here is the final piece of artwork in the Master of the Fowl World Exhibit.  I’m funny.

AI generated image of an egg on a regal pillow in a frame, above a toilet.

Tomorrow, at daybreak

There’s a poem by Victor Hugo that I used to teach in my French III/IV/AP class called “Demain dès l’aube.”  It describes a pilgrimage that a man (Hugo) takes to visit his daughter’s grave. It’s quite comprehensible for that level with just a few introductory activities.

Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l’or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j’arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.

Victor Hugo

One of the aspects of the poem I loved the most was this beautiful feeling that, while Hugo and his daughter had long ago passed, each time that I read the poem with my students he was taking that trip again and by doing that I/we were honoring both of their memories. 

My sister, Amber, died on October 8, 2022 – a casualty of the opioid epidemic.  Having become addicted to pain killers she had been homeless for over eight years and was, at the time, living in a shelter.  Her heart, damaged from years of abuse, finally stopped.  She had just turned 45.

Before addiction took over, my sister was my best friend.  We could not have been more opposite.  She once told my dad, “We have some questions about why we are so different.” While my sister was in high school, I did her Spanish homework and when she got to community college I did her French homework for her too. (I didn’t mind conjugating verbs and she hated it.)  Terrified of flying, she didn’t travel and when I did my teaching exchange in France, she called me one day and told me to “stop f-ing around and come home.”  She never understood why I had to go.

My sister was funnier than me, bolder than me and ten times more outgoing.  

Amber hated the morning, so no need to leave at daybreak.

Silence would not be tolerated, so I will listen to gangster rap.

When I arrive, instead of flowers, I will put on Tommy Boy to watch with her.

And then I’ll read her a book, just to annoy her.

Me and my sister.

Demain dès l’aube

Day 1:  


Give vocabulary in your favorite way.  I use pictures and gestures for these words.

Word Catégorie sort.

Give the students the words from the poem in no particular order and ask them to sort them into categories.  There needs to be at least two words per category and the name of the category can be in English.  For example: Nature words, or words that start “s”, or adjectives or places.  

Day 2:  

Fast Dictée

A fast dictation is where you read too fast for students to get every word.  The dictation for this is basically the poem.  One morning a man leaves at dawn to go visit his daughter’s tomb.  Because it is said too fast, students end up with holes in their dictation.  In groups they have to figure out which words are missing.  They’ll use the complete dictation to do 

Numbered Heads Together, but Standing Up

I don’t know what this activity is called.  One member from each group goes to the front with their dictation in hand and you ask questions.  They can look at the paper until they raise their hand with the answer, then they can’t look any more.

Day 3:

Brief introduction to Victor Hugo

Read/listen to the poem. As students listen, have them highlight words that have to do with nature, the body, sadness.

Illustrate the poem.

And sometimes I would have the student write their own versions, with a trek/important task that they had to do.

Overly complicated

I have many fine qualities. I also have many faults. Here are the main ones:

  1. I tend to make things over complicated.
  2. I think I can make anything I see on Pinterest myself and as a result…
  3. At any one time there are 2000 ideas in my brain I want to accomplish which result in …
  4. Me completing only a fraction of anything.

I had this great idea of redesigning my blog. I had this idea in my head of what it would look like and I started.

Only, it was taking so much time that I wasn’t doing the thing that I wanted to do which was post. After almost a year of procrastinating and messing around- I decided to go back to the way it was so I could spend my time doing what I wanted to do…posting.

So I’m back. Simpler. Less complicated.

I should write that down somewhere…..

Discovering YouTube

Confession 1:  I’ve been watching a lot of the YouTube.  

Confession 2:  It’s because I had no idea that you could learn basically everything on there.  Like, I used to only go on YouTube to find videos for French class and it was a major ah-ha moment to realize that there’s all kinds of other stuff on there.  I really had no idea that there were so many people talking about so many interesting things.  Now I fall asleep listening to the YouTube.

My top videos I like to watch are:

  • My Baby Panda – If you don’t know, I am only a tiny bit obsessed with the baby panda Xiao Qi Ji at the National Smithsonian Zoo.  This is my number one favorite video to watch and to talk about. I just repeated again today how I would like to be a panda mom because basically, based on the live feed,  you eat and play all day long and this seems ideal.
  • Craft room tours.
  • Anything Lori Holt, because she is a damn genius.  (Did I make my sewing room look like hers?  Did I spend one entire week cutting up my scraps like her?  Did I buy all of her books?  Yes, yes and yes.)
  • Chicken Coop Tours
  • Videos about iPad apps.
  • Productivity videos.

It’s this last category that has me blogging again.  I started watching this guy named Ali Abdaal, who has about two billion different videos about being productive and in one of them he said to break things down into small bits and little by little you end up completing a task.  I mean, I know this.  But it really hit home with the blogging.  Previously I felt like I had to sit down and do it all in one sitting and never had the time.  So, I decided every night before I shut down the computer I would write two or three sentences on a blog post.  And in a two week time I’ve written two blog posts!  This one and one other.  I’m no mathematician, but that is like a two billion percent improvement!

I am #winning.

My goal is to slowly update the content I have here and post some of the ideas and activities I’ve been working on lately! I can do it!


Is this a post???

It is!  I’ve set for myself a goal of posting once a week.  


2019 was hard.

2020 was harder.

Lots of room for improvement here at the Language Makerspace Blog.

On the day that everything started to get shut down in my county in California last March 12, I was scheduled to give the keynote speech at the Inland Empire Expanded Learning Symposium.  It is an annual symposium for expanded learning (after school) professionals.  Many of whom are young.  Many of whom are not college graduates.  Many of whom have not had one education class.  But all of whom are dedicated to improving the lives of students in expanded learning.

The topic of my speech was the Power of You and it was, in a nutshell, about school.  About how important school is in a society.  About how school transfers, creates and instills culture.  About how important the institution of school is in our society and how lucky we are to get to shape and inform a generation.

In hindsight, what a silly speech.  I could not even give the same speech now.  To anyone who might not have believed in the important role that schools play in our society, 2020 knocked that nonsense out of their head.

We’re in this crazy eduland.  Where it seems like every week we are re-inventing school.  I try to remind the teachers I’m working with that there were hundreds of years before us in which our for-educators dealt with small changes over time and were able to perfect school.  We, however, have been asked to re-invent school more than once in the last 9 months.  It’s for sure overwhelming.  

But then I think about my favorite English word.  My favorite word for its meaning.

My favorite word in English is … kids.  I just love how full this word is- dripping with meaning.  It’s a 360 degree, nuanced word applicable to so many contexts for which the dictionary definition “a young person or child” does no justice to how we actually use it.

Take for example:

“My kids”

I don’t have children of my own, but I say this all the time referring to my students.  I call them kids whether they are 5 or 55.  For me it’s a synonym for student.

What I love most, is that when my friends who have their own actual children say my kids  and I have to clarify with them, your students or your children?

I love that in everyday speech we use the same word for our family as we do for our students.  

Because they are our kids. 

And school is essential.

2018 Reflections

I saw this #myfives on Twitter and I thought what better than for my first post in five months and my first post of 2019 to be about my top five moments of 2018.  These are not all successes and not in any order.


WASC is a lot of work.  

Grant Renewal

Nothing like in the middle of your WASC visit finding out your grant renewal is due in six weeks.  And not like there’s any pressure writing a grant. Do a good job and your school gets 1.5 million dollars.  Don’t do a good job and your school doesn’t get 1.5 million dollars and 2200 students don’t have access to after school programs.  #nopressure


Because of the above two, I pretty much failed at my regular day job duties every day for the first semester.  And this was not the “fail until you don’t” or “fail forward” type of failing. This was flat out just not getting it done.  Not meeting the standard. Lots of room for growth. For the first six weeks of school it was, “Sure, after WASC.” Then it was “Sure, after the grant gets written.”  I messed a bunch of stuff up. I didn’t get a bunch of stuff done. But you know what? Everything was fine. I think. I think everything was fine, but since I was #failing most days I can’t really be sure.  But, I made it to January, so I am considering that #winning.

Mountain Biking

Technically I did no mountain biking in 2018, but the work I did in 2018 with my Peloton app and Weight Watchers led to me being able to mountain bike for the first time in seven and half years.  This was a sport that I did daily before I had my back surgery and which I was willing to give up to be able to walk again without pain. But now that I can mountain bike again…I can’t even explain.  It’s like meeting an old friend. I am so happy.


Later in 2018 I decided I should try to get smarter by listening to podcasts.  I’m not sure I’m getting smarter, but I am getting a lot of ideas and enjoying it.  One of my favorites is Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend in which Conan O’Brien, whom I love, talks to different comics.  I think what I like most is they discuss the craft of being a comic.  Being a comic is much like being a teacher and a recent trip to the Comedy Store in Los Angeles only drove home that point home for me,  In the latest episode, Dana Carvey talks about all of the work that goes into “a bit” and he says if he does his job right everyone thinks that he is just up there having a good time.  I immediately thought of teaching. If I do my job right, it’s seamless. It makes sense. It’s fluid and has a logical sequence. It’s satisfying to hear that someone as successful as Dana Carvey validate that making it look easy is hard work.

Look at me!  I wanted to post this by the end of January and I have.  #winning!

Getting Back to School

This is just a quick post to prove to myself that I can do a post in 15 minutes.  It’s my goal to be able to post more (or at all!), so I’m hoping if I can just set aside 15 minutes every once in a while, I can make something happen here.

I thought last summer was busy, but this summer was busier.  There was work all summer (WASC, 3 day summer bridge program, after school.)  I went to three conferences (ISTE, Visible Learning and California World Language Summer Seminar in Santa Barbara.)  My dog decided to go full on afraid of going outside.  It’s just been busy.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to for this next semester.

Pear Deck– I’m going full on Pear Deck with my college class.  I’m excited.  There’s some things that I will have to figure out.  Like my videos that I have auto play and auto stop won’t do that, but I think I’m smart enough I can figure out a way to make it work.  I am excited to use the Takeaways to have students do something with information they gained in class and I think mostly, with World Language, I’ll be collecting evidence of what they do in class.  I’m excited.

Explore the World with Google – I’ll be doing an hour and half Explore the World with Google mini-workshop for the Inland Empire Foreign Language Association on September 18.  It’s going to be soooooo fun!  You should come.

Family- While fixing my hair last week, I had a brainstorm idea for updating my family unit at the end of the semester.  I’m excited about changing that up.

That’s all.  I hope everyone has a wonderful and impactful 2018-2019!


Interpretive Reading Choose Your Own

I’ve been slowly re-vamping my units to include more interpretive reading and I’ve been using Google Forms for the reading.  This is a Choose Your Own reading activity that asks students to choose an animal to adopt as part of a bigger Adopt an Animal mini-unit.  Here’s the great cool part: it has different choices based on their answers, so that there are basically four different possibilities for reading.

Here’s how to do it.

Go to section

To make the choose your own, you have students go to a different “section” in the form based on their answer.  That process is simple enough, but it is helpful to plan out your sections ahead of time.  First, I plan, then I make sections with those titles, and lastly I add questions.  Here’s my planning document for this form:

Pro-tip:  Have an end page where everyone does the same thing at the end.  It’s just helpful for setting up the form to have everyone dumped back to a common destination.  In this form, the students all get dumped back to a page where they write about why they chose the animal they chose.

So for my reading, first students say whether they want a dog or a cat.  Then based on that they go to a different page.

I do not know much about cats because cats make me go to the ER and have breathing treatments and weeks of prednisone, so I had to ask some people about what kind of traits cat lovers look for when I was building my form.   Also, I told students if they didn’t like cats or dogs to pretend they did.  Maybe I’ll update it for other animals and maybe I’ll just continue to tell them to pretend.

There is a third dog; it is just not in the picture.

Once they choose a characteristic, students have three animals with those characteristics to choose from.  I added those by taking a screen shot and then inserting the image.

And then lastly, students tell why.


You can try out my Adopt an Animal Choose Your Own yourself by clicking here.

To learn more about how to set up this type of form you can watch this video.  (Not about reading, but a survey for after school.  It’s the same idea.)

Making the Internet Smaller

It’s been, once again, crazy busy, so I’m going to get out a quick post here, because I just haven’t had time to finish any of the longer ones.

I did a session at the CLTA Quest for Proficiency in March called “Search Faster and Smarter for #authres.” I highlighted a super underused feature in Google called the Custom Search Engine.  Here’s how it works- basically you create your own search engine page that looks like a regular Google Search page, but, and here’s the brilliant part: it searches only the pages you have pre-selected.

The Why

A lot of times you might want students to go out and search for things on the Internet, but the Internet is a big place and so you as a teacher can still give them the practice of search and making judgements about which pages to look at, while at the same time restricting the amount of extraneous incomprehensible nonsense they might have to wade through in order to accomplish a task.

Here’s a quick video that walks your through how to do this.

If you didn’t make it to the CLTA Quest for Proficiency – here’s the link to the slide show.  (The only thing it’s missing is that we did all of the searching about the Tour de France because it is the greatest sport in the world and the only reason to get out of bed in July. 🙂 )