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!


Returning and Crushing

I’ve been absent from the blogging for a bit because I was in a déluge of work:  organizing with our local host committee for the CLTA Quest for Proficiency Conference in Ontario, CA (you were there, right?), preparing my four sessions for the conference, starting the new semester including a class that now has the the same number of students as the minimum requirement for using the plural form, writing of the WASC document (those of you in California will know the inflection I used on that word), and caring for, and preparing for an army of turkey babies to hatch.

tired bitmoji I'm pooped

I’ve got a lot of ideas to blog about in the next few months, but I thought I’d return today with my some people I have a professional crush on.

Eric Curts@ericcurts Eric Curts has the most amazing technology and Google resources and ideas.  Every time he posts something I feel like exclaiming, “What?! I didn’t even know I wanted to be able to do that!” They are mostly all applicable to World Languages and all are simple and thoughtful.   www.controlaltachieve.com

Atul Gawande@atulgawande One of the presentations I did at the Quest for Proficiency was on checklists inspired by Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto.  I loved the book, but I decided I had a full crush after I watched his Ted talk on checklists for the 50th time.

Jason Fritze and Alina Filipescu- Teachers in the CI community and southern California know Jason and Alina.  I’ve heard their names for years, since we travel in adjacent World Language groups,  but it wasn’t until I helped with the technology in Alina Filipescu’s presentation at the conference that we actually met.  Then, I got to go back and see part of their presentation and I just loved their energy.  I don’t believe it would possible for someone to have left that session not inspired.

With everything slowing down, I’m looking forward to being able to blog about some of the projects I’ve been working on.

À bientôt!

Looking Back at 2017 and Forward to 2018

So far my 2018 has not started off fantastic.  I either food poisoned myself New Year’s Eve or had a stomach flu.  Either way, I’m on the mend today and ready to do some reflection.

My Blog

2017 was my first full year of my Language Makerspace blog.  I had over 50 posts, which I can’t even believe I managed and I participated in the #edublogsclub, which sent a prompt a week.  I enjoyed having the prompts of different topics, I wouldn’t have thought about like this listicle of my favorite tools.

Most Popular Post

By far my most popular post was 18 Mix and Match Activities to Talk about the Weekend.  It got shared and shared and continues to be the most viewed.  It has taken me by surprise how many people have seen it.

It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times…in After School

Since 2009 I have coordinated our 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.  In a way, it’s my baby.  I started our program and have seen it grow and grow.  This year was a tough year for  21st CCLC- in March President Trump wanted to eliminate funding for it entirely.  Luckily this fall Congress secured our funding, but it was a rough few months of worrying.  I blogged about my feelings in May.


This was a big year of firsts for me.

I made my first Tech Byte video series which involved making my first real YouTube Channel.   They are short videos that I sent first to my school and now to the entire district.

I was asked to present at the World Language Project/CLTA Summer Seminar in Santa Barbara.

I started using Flipgrid.  Please don’t ask me why I didn’t before.  There’s no reason for it because it is so simple and elegant and just basically fantastic. 

For the first time , I presented at ACTFL on my ideas about Ditching the Powerpoint for Interactive Slides.

I did my first ever interactive Google Forms presentation without Internet.  It went better than you would imagine for an interactive presentation on an Internet tool without Internet.

I went directly from one conference to another because…why not.

A goat in a coat placed a spell on me and I cleaned out my file cabinets.

I surveyed my class at the end of the semester and found out that they actually liked (gasp) the textbook and used it more than I expected; permanently ending my perpetual debate with myself about getting rid of it.

I got a PC.  This was a practical decision because I realized that as I was doing trainings, people would ask me questions about the PC and I didn’t necessarily have the answer.  It worked out well because MacBook Pro had to go back to be fixed because the space bar stopped working.  I named my PC “iPCPro” because I’m funny.  I’m committed to working on iPCPro exclusively until the college starts in February and I have to use accents again.  Because I can not.  For the life of me.  Figure out. How to make typing with accents as easy as it is on the Mac.  So far I like that I can sign in with my face.  I like that when I need to move the window of my goat to a separate screen it snaps to that screen size automatically.  And I’m excited to use OneNote which I have heard great things about.


Generally, I fail a lot at after school.  This year was no different.  I failed at successfully implementing our social media accounts.  This is in part based on my lack of interest in general in social media.  It was also because it’s just not that simple to snap a picture of students having fun and then to post it.  You have to go to the computer and check if anyone in the picture is approved for posting.  We have 2200 students.   I tried to get students to take the pictures for me, but then they would identify the students in the pictures as “Brittney, I think” which was not so helpful in checking in the system.  So I stopped because I couldn’t manage it.

I failed at getting my #actfl17 post posted before the end of the year.

I failed at getting to every teacher’s classroom in the first quarter to talk to them about if I might be able to help them with technology integration.  I visited about half of the teachers and it was worthwhile.  Next year, I’ll try to get to 75% of everyone.

I also failed at giving feedback to my students every week based on their Flipgrids.  I have a plan for that though next semester.  It is all loosely coming together in my mind, but I’ve got big plans.  Huge!

Ideas for 2018

I’ve always got lots of ideas.  Here’s my main ones for part of my job:

Improved goal setting activities for students involving powerful Google Sheets magic.

Hosting a 15 minute Tech Tool in my classroom once a week.

Spending ten minutes in each after school program at least once a week.  (That seems easy, but it’s not, there’s a lot going on in after school.)

Professionally, I am excited to continual to grow and learn from all of the great professionals I have met virtually and in person.  I am looking forward to a 2018 and all of the new possibilities and opportunities that may come-  Happy New Year!


Conference-ganza 2017

This week has been crazy for me.  I started off in Apple Valley, then went to Pasadena for the CETPA conference, then from there directly to Nashville for ACTFL.  I’m tired of walking around with a backpack.  I’m also sick of looking at my computer.


CETPA is the California Education Technologist Professional Association.  This is the third year I’ve gone and it is one of my favorite conferences.  First, the entire tech department is there.  The data guy. The blinky lights and switches guy.  The guy who makes the decisions about the data and blinky lights and switches.  And  then me and Jed, the teachers.  (When I say guy, I literally mean guy.  There’s never a line in the women’s bathroom at CETPA.)  It’s nice because I get to interact with all of the cogs of technology that have an impact on instruction.  In one of the sessions, I learned about new updates to the SIS (student information system- where you keep your grades) that will have huge impact for our CTE Pathways and how they pull data for interventions.  I also went to a session given by lawyers about the rules and regulations regarding drone use on campus which impacts instruction for the teachers who want to use drones.  I learned more about 508 ADA website compliance for schools’ website.  I even coded with Swift Playground app on the iPad.  Or, I learned how to show the elementary after school teachers in my district how to use Swift Playground with their students because I HEART STEM for KEN DAVIS. (He’s our ASES Coordinator- and only for him would I go to an elementary coding session.)

CETPA isn’t a conference where my creative side gets fed, but it’s information that helps me better serve teachers as my school and therefore very valuable.


I left the lawyers and regulations and coding and flew to Nashville.

On the plane I read George Couros’ The Innovator’s Mindset.  I only had this in my bag to read because the guy who leads the Technology Leader’s Network in the Inland Empire wanted to do a book study and he was so enthusiastic about it, I decided that no matter what I’d get that book read just for him.  I read it on the plane.  The whole thing.  Because it was that good.  George Couros said to ask yourself if you’d want to be a student in your classroom.  Well, I took one look at my lesson for next week and decided I didn’t even want to be the teacher in that classroom.

More on that later….


ACTFL, oh, my goodness, ACTFL.

Everyone is so creative!  I went to some great sessions on culture, reading, and engagement.  I’ll have more information about those in a later post.

I presented on Saturday and I was nervous- even though I had presented on Ditching the Powerpoint at the CLTA conference.  I didn’t know if people would come or if they would be interested.  But they came, and kept coming and filled up the room and then sat on the floor in every available space!! And stayed!  Everyone had such positive comments.  I had a handout- which I’m putting here, but it was just to get people to the website I made with resources.  If you came to my session thank you!  And if you didn’t here’s the link to my website with resources.  

And now I am ready to ditch my backpack for a week!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Actfl Handout

Summer Reflections

Whew- I’m so glad summer is over.  As I’ve said many times the last few weeks, “I can’t wait to school to start, so I can get a day off.”  No, really, this was the busiest summer ever and I had to take an unintended break from blogging and caring in July as I was too busy getting ready for parent technology meetings and a three day summer bridge program with 150 Freshman that includes a BreakoutEdu box to “save” our kidnapped mascot from our rivals which nearly had me in tears.  I was tired.

But this summer was great!  I got to go to ISTE in San Antonio and volunteer at the Google Booth and got a preview of the new Google Forms options.  Then in July I co-presented the technology strand at the World Language Project Summer Seminar in Santa Barbara.  It was five days of non-stop and exciting commitment to quality language instruction.  I was inspired every day by the general session speakers and the participants in our strand.  I’ve got a ton of new ideas and ideas to be improved that I can’t wait to share.

Here’s to a happy, safe, and balanced 2017-2018 school year!