#edublogsclub Advice for New Teachers

In my myriad of roles at work, I get to work with new teachers often. When I saw this topic I thought what a great opportunity!  Here’s my best new teacher ideas.

  1. Plan.  As I work with more and more teachers I am absolutely astounded at the number of teachers who don’t have a thoughtful lesson plan.  It’s not ok.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  It’s amazing how a little thought will have effects on any number of classroom issues.
  2. Use your textbook.  Throwing out that textbook is quite sexy right now.  Sure it might seem like all the cool kids are ditching their textbook, but right now, as a new teacher- hold onto that book.  Get your bearings first.  When I was at the CLTA Summer Seminar I saw someone had a sticky on their computer that something like, “Use the textbook and supplement the f%^k out of it.”  Try that.
  3. Two Hour Limit.  When I did my student teaching my master teacher told me that she tried never to work more than two hours extra per day.  This has always stuck in my head as a personal check.  It is easy to spend hours after school getting ready and planning, but balance is key to being healthy.
  4. Find a role model.  On any campus there’s a variety of characters.  Look at who they are and why.  Who has the respect of the leaders?  How are the leaders moving the campus and students forward?  Are there bullies who push everyone into accepting their ideas?  Who are the grumpy grouchy grumblers?  Who do you want to be?
  5. Remember our impact.  Every day we have the ability to impact a child positively or negatively.  It’s easy to get caught up in all of the things we have to do.  It’s worth remembering that we are in the business of people and students are people.  Kindness and fairness go a long way towards creating a lasting impact.

Resources for Accents

I updated what I give my students so they can learn how to do the accents because the amount of time in college class I am willing to devote to this is 0.  (Note: For younger learners, I believe it’s important to devote as much time as you need to teach students how to do the accents.)  My students have all types of devices so this covers everything.

I’ve made a one page webpage guide for students or teachers.

And I’ve made a printable slide deck with the key codes.  There are four per page so the kiddos can tape to their device.  And one full page for the Chromebook for my college students.  Note: The PC laptop without 10 key codes in the slide deck- I got this to work on one computer, but not another and I don’t have a PC without 10 key to figure out why, so I recommend if your students have that to advise them to use the Character Map.  I’ve left them in the slide just because I wanted to and in case it was useful for someone.


I always ask students to practice and here’s my practice sheet.


Week in Review and a Bonus Flipgrid Self-Reflection!

This past week Kicked. My. Butt.  Nevertheless, it was quite a productive little week.


Because I don’t know how to stop giving myself more work, my massive effort to visit every teacher in his/her classroom to find out how I can help them integrate technology thoughtfully kicked off and I visited 20 teachers. #tired.  I began to have feelings again for my iPad.


I am lucky enough to be considered part of the CAMP (Computer and Media Pathway – a CTE/CPA Distinguished Academy) Team and Tuesday we spent the day team building with students as a disguised method for teaching these kids about college.  It’s called the Ropes to College and is an model example of why academies and pathways are good for kids.

I also submitted my workshops (2) and interest sessions (2) for the CLTA Conference “The Quest for Proficiency” in Ontario in March.    You’ll be there right?  Right?


Full-fledged, 100% fell back in love with my iPad.  I was giddy.  I was so crazy in love that I bought my iPad a stand so it can take it’s rightful place on my desk.

I also took 19 seconds of a different video and turned it into another fifteen minute activity, using Google Forms.  Why had I never done this before??  Instant data!  Click on the image to see the slide show.  (Is it still a slide show if there’s only one slide?)  And click here to see the accompanying form.   (You’ll be asked to make a copy.)  My next step is to add these little video gems into EdPuzzle.


And then we talked about the data which was a great way to practice numbers.  Because there’s never not a good time to throw in a little number practice.

I also played around with Flipgrid, pretty much having the same experience as Colleen at Language Sensei. Except, today when I was listening to the responses,  I had what I hope is going to be a brilliant idea: I think it will be more effective if they listen to their responses for the things that I heard over and over again.  Instead of me giving feedback, they could hear it themselves and hopefully correct it.  Jo Boaler said that your synapses fire when you realize you’ve made a mistake and when you correct it, so I’m hoping this will cause some synapses to fire twice which will in turn have some effect the next time they talk.

Today I made a Google sheet, which I’ll pass out in Classroom so they each have a copy and here’s the brilliant part, I used a formula so if a student answers “Non” to any of the things they should be listening for a message pops up telling them to re-record!  At least I got the formula to work on the first try making me feel like my formula skills are improving.  Click on the image to see the form.  You’ll have to make a copy to see the down arrow (and my fancy formula skills.)


Confirmation that the House voted to restore funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.  This is a good thing.

At my Technology Leaders meeting the meeting leader said he wants to do a book study of The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and he was so excited about the idea that I’m going to participate just because he was so enthusiastic about it.


Continued classroom visits with my love, iPad and catch up day for everything I haven’t been able to get to including starting the catalogue of the performance based assessments the World Language teachers will be giving in a couple of weeks.

Despite being beat up by the week, I can’t complain because I have the best job(s) in the world!

#edublogsclub Professional Development Wishes

Great and Timely PD

I’m straight off of two days of professional development for Instructional Coaches with Ann Hoffman.  She’s amazing and got me thinking about a ton of stuff which I’m not going to talk about right now because the ideas are just swirling too fast in my head to make any sense of just yet.  It was highly engaging.  This was countered by my dad, who was preparing for his own two-day workshop by going on a Pinterest binge of terrible meeting memes that he sent to me all. day. long.

PD Wishes

In one of our partner activities my partners and I were talking about professional development and what we “wished” it looked like.  Here’s what I wished PD could be like:

  1.  Mandatory.  The teacher who thinks they don’t need to improve or doesn’t need to learn anything new baffles me.  The Patriots won the 2017 Superbowl.  Did they just say, “Nah, I’m good” and then act annoyed and put out when the coach started to talk about improvement?  Probably not.
  2. Relevant.  I’ve been to some pretty crappy professional development.  Making it relevant means knowing what the teachers’ immediate needs are and meeting those.
  3. More Frequent.  Last year because of the fires, we had a day where students didn’t have to go to school, but we did.  In my district we have two teacher-only days during the school year and one of those is the last day of the year.  This fire day when everyone was at school was amazing.  Teacher were everywhere.  Meeting.  Getting Stuff Done.  Learning from each other.  I can not see how more of that would negatively impact students.
  4. Followed-Up.  Training is useless if there’s no follow up.  Did it work?  What needs to be tweaked?  What’s the next step?  This is so often left out because of time.  This doesn’t have to be painful or another meeting.  It could be just an intentional conversation, “Hey how’d that go?”
  5. Impactful.  Whatever the training, the student impact should be clear.

Quickly Make a Quizlet Diagram

Work smarter not harder

Quizlet has a feature that they call “diagram.”  It’s pretty darn cool.  You upload a photo and then place dots on it and student identify the dots.  The implications for language learners to practice identifying vocabulary are clear.  Here I am using it not so much as a “diagram,” but as practice for vocabulary for a story.  But I am also going to use my diagram for a speaking activity and possibly some Bingo because who doesn’t love a game of Bingo?

I’ve got enough stuff to do besides giving myself more work, so here’s a “hack” you can use to make it go faster.

For this hack, I’m assuming that you are also teaching this vocabulary somewhere and that this likely involves a slide deck or Powerpoint.  I like when I can reuse something multiple times in multiple ways because it feels like time well spent making whatever I needed to make.  Did you know you can download individual slides as a jpg?  That you can then load into Quizlet saving you hours of time?  You can!

Make a slide

We’re going to import lots of images using the Explore tool and I like everything nice and neat so I first made a table.  The pictures won’t actually go in the table, but it will keep them nice and neat.  Choose the number of rows and columns.

Use the Explore Tool

If you are not already using the Explore Tool in Google Slides to find your images you are doing too much work.  Click on Tools>Explore Tool and search for what you need.  Click on “Images” to get a wonderful selection.  The search button isn’t like regular Google search so if you want a cartoon search something like: writing cartoon, or writing png.  That will help narrow it down to cartoons.  Click the plus sign to insert into your slide. Repeat.

Bonus:  My slide is actually a speaking activity to be done with partners.  I’ll show you what I did in my workflow.

Download Your Slide and Upload to Quizlet

You need a file for your Quizlet, so click on File>Download and choose .jpg.  Then upload that to Quizlet and add your dots et voilà, you’ve quickly made a diagram out of another activity.  #multitasking


Last week I published a workflow of my slides and it seemed well received.  (Nobody threw virtual tomatoes, anyways.)  So here’s another which shows how I also made this into a speaking activity.

Link to the Interactive Slide itself.


#edublogsclub Be the Expert

Mad Skills

One of the prompts for this topic is “Tell a story about the most positive experience you’ve had as an expert in your subject matter.”

I’m not going to tell any of the stories about my actual professional experiences that were positive, but more when I had an adjacent positive experience.

In 2003-2004 I did a Fulbright Teaching Exchange.  I swapped jobs and houses with a French teacher.  I lived in her house in Strasbourg, France and she lived in mine.  I taught English at her high school and she taught French in mine.  In October of that year I met another American on a Fulbright scholarship who was studying Chemistry at the university with French chemists.

These Chemists became my Bestest Buddies in all of Strasbourg, France.  When I talked about my job as a language teacher aux USA, they mostly just made fun of me in the way that only Bestest Buddies can. “You tell stories?  We should go to her class and tell stories!”  A good great time was had by all.

When we came back aux USA, the American went to San Diego to work on his Ph.D. and one of the French chemists came to do a post-doc at UC San Diego.  When I could make it down to San Diego we were once again Two Americans and One French Guy.   One day the French chemist was telling us a story about how he had missed his plane because he had been locked in an elevator.  Only he didn’t use the word missed.  He kept saying, “I lost my plane.”  It seemed a strange mistake to make to me, since I couldn’t come up with a context in which the French verb rater would mean lost, but language acquisition is a strange thing.  I didn’t even think about it and I kept saying back, “Oh you missed your plane?  I can’t believe you missed your plane because of the elevator.  I’ve never missed a plane.”

My non-language teacher Bestest Buddy, though, sat in the front of the car repeating loudly and sarcastically in only the way Bestest Buddies can, “You lost the plane?  Lost?  Really lost?”

I thought my recasting was for naught because eventually the conversation degenerated into something else, but later on my French chemist told me, “You’re easy to talk to because you just say the right way back.” It’s not easy to do what we do and it meant a lot that something that came so naturally to me had been actually been noticed and appreciated.

I responded to him, “See- you guys think all I do is tell silly stories, but I’ve got some mad skills.”