Quick update: I’m a middle school teacher now! I’m teaching 6th and 7th grade connections and 8th grade Spanish 1. I love the school (it’s a feeder to the high school I taught at for seven years), I love my principal, and I love my students! Every day is different and brings new challenges, but overall it’s been a great change for me.
On the blog: I’m getting lots of notifications about Google doc links not working. It seems that Google did a security update that invalidated all my previous share links. YAY! 😭 I’m trying to give access and update the links as I’m notified, but if you find one that doesn’t work let me know.
And here’s freebie since it’s been awhile: activities vocab sheet – label with Spanish, play the find it game, or project it on the board and play fly swatters.
I’m looking forward to presenting at the World Language Summit at North Cobb Christian School tomorrow! I will be sharing some ideas for creating speaking and listening activities for online and hybrid learning environments. Here my slides:
I love this song mostly because Gloria Martinez has a beautiful voice and I could listen to her sing all day long, but the gorgeous beaches in the video don’t hurt either! I did some frantic edits to my Spanish 2 preterite focused lyrics activity Wednesday morning to make a more Spanish 1-friendly activity, and I was pleasantly surprised that my students found the song easy to follow along with, and it even got a few five-star ratings.
FLAG is currently offering a fabulous free webinar series for World Language Teachers. I recently watched Marcy Webb’s session on Virtual and F2F engagement. You can watch the recording here, and check out upcoming webinars here.
My notes on the webinar:
Importance of vertical alignment, especially in this teaching environment – acknowledging that we can’t achieve the same results as in past years, meeting students where they are, and selecting curriculum and resources appropriate for the digital environment and skipping activities/topics that don’t translate well to virtual teaching
There was some discussion on cameras on/cameras off – I enjoyed hearing the host and presenter’s perspective, which was that cameras on aren’t necessary for engagement, and cameras off for student safety/comfort was acceptable, and even preferable for them. A lot of it stemmed from Zoom bombing issues/student on-camera mischief that the host experienced at her school, and I am grateful once again that my district is using Teams and that our students do not have any blanket of anonymity as to their behavior in video meetings.
Engagement in the digital environment is more than just interacting during synchronous meetings – it also includes submitting work, asynchronous communication (like Schoology messages), and students responding to our feedback.
Engagement stems from a positive relationship and trust in the teacher. We will need to work harder to build relationships with our DLs (distance learners). One easy way to make DLs feel seen/included is by greeting each DL by name as they join the meeting. Some of the small talk that we normally do about sports/extra curriculars may be harder to achieve with the DLs, but perhaps conducting interest inventories could give us some insights on what to say to DLs to make them feel seen. I also heard of a roll taking strategy another teacher at my school uses – a quick preference question during attendance, like “Coke or Pepsi?” “Turkey or ham?” – something quick and simple to give our DLs a chance to show their personality
Activities: switch things up with lots of different apps and websites or stick to a few oldies but goodies? I think we all have to find our own balance of novelty and familiarity that works for our us as teachers and for our students. I recently tried Whiteboard.fi (alternative for the individual whiteboard activities we do) and really liked it – I blogged about it here. I also checked out https://app.wizer.me/, which is a website for creating interactive worksheets. I decided Wizer wasn’t for me, at least not yet – my interactive worksheet needs are being met with Schoology quizzes and Kami for PDF annotation. The presenters also mentioned PearDeck, NearPod, GoFormative, Socrative, and JamBoard, which I may check out at some point in the future.
How do you know your distance learners are engaged? What are your best strategies for building relationships in the virtual classroom?
With Whiteboard.fi, students join with a code and get a blank screen to draw on, create text boxes, and insert shapes and images. You can see all your students’ boards simultaneously, updating in real time. There is also a feature where you can create text or images on your teacher whiteboard, and push it out to all your students. For more info on how to use Whiteboard.fi, check out this tutorial.
I created a room, invited my students to join, and pushed out a blank Bingo board to all their screens. A few students joined late, and I told them just to use the insert image feature to add their own blank Bingo boards. Since we are working on time vocab, I had them fill their own boards with times ending in :00, :15, and :30. When they were ready, I started calling out times, and they marked the spaces with the draw tool. To replay with the same board, students can just click undo until all their marks from the previous game are erased.
I really liked this activity for several reasons – it included all my students, and allowed me to do one of my favorite activities from pre-COVID times. Whiteboard.fi has a lot of safety features as well, like turning on a lobby and locking the room once all your students have joined. You can project students’ boards on your classroom whiteboard (and/or screenshare on your video call), show or hide student names, or just view their whiteboards on your monitor if you don’t trust students to keep things school-appropriate. I’ve also used this site as an end of class formative assessment, having students respond to questions or statements (ie, how do you respond to ¿Cómo estás? how do you respond to mucho gusto?), or given students drawing questions with our vocabulary words like lápiz, bolígrafo, cuaderno. I think this could also work for playing Pictionary, as well as a quick practice activity for grammar topics like verbs or adjective agreement.
This year has been a lot. In many ways, I feel like a first year teacher all over again, creating new materials and trying new teaching strategies. I’ve also found that the systems I previously used to keep myself organized with attendance, grades, and other administrative tasks are inadequate, and again, I’ve had to find new solutions. Here are a few strategies that I’m using to keep organized in COVID times.
The setting: Concurrently teaching students in the classroom and online via Teams, students submit work through Schoology
Attendance: I’ve never bothered to keep paper copies of attendance, but this year, I do. I print off rosters from Powerschool every two weeks. If a student is on Teams, I mark DL, and for classroom learners, I write down their seat numbers. I draw a box around missing students in case they show up tardy (the box is also great because it is easier for me to see when I enter attendance in Powerschool). By keeping it on paper, I have a record of who is actually showing up on Teams, and I also have documentation of who sat where on what date for contact tracing.
Agenda and Learning Targets: I post this as an assignment on Schoology, in a special folder called “Daily Agenda”. This is my default screen share for the beginning of Teams meetings. Sometimes I’ll attach handouts or link activities in the agenda. This helps keep my unit folders less cluttered.
Grading: I’m spending a lot of time chasing down student work. Here again, I use the roster print out from Powerschool. Schoology assignments are easy to sync to the gradebook, but often I am checking for work on many different websites, such as Flipgrid, Quizlet, and Señor Wooly. I use the roster to check off submissions or write down grades, and around once a week I send students individual Schoology messages with a list of missing assignments, which has been effective in getting students to complete assignments.
How have you adapted your organization strategies for teaching in COVID times?
Ms. Brown, I redid that assignment, will you change my grade?
Ms. Brown, I still have a zero in Powerschool for the quiz I made up last week.
Ms. Brown, I finally submitted the assignment that was due two weeks ago, can you grade it please?
Late work, make up work, re-done work: I may get a notification in Schoology, but that doesn’t mean I will remember to update it in PowerSchool. And I certainly can’t stop in the middle of class to update a grade, nor can I be counted on to remember by the time my planning period rolls around.
“Would you please fill out the grade change form?”
The grade change form puts the responsibility on the student to notify me of the issue, and sends me an email I can deal with on my planning period. It lives at the top of my Schoology page, so it is easily accessible to students. Between distance learners, classroom learners, and quarantined learners, I have a lot to keep up with, but the grade change form gives me an easy way to keep up with make up work, and makes one less thing to keep track of in my overworked brain.
I have been back to school for about two weeks now, teaching students live in the classroom and online concurrently. This unique setting is certainly stretching my skills this year, and pushing me to learn new technology skills (and this from an avowed technophile!). I recently showed students how to annotate a PDF using the Chrome extension Kami, which led to a student showing me an even easier way to annotate within Adobe Acrobat. So, when you just can’t find the editable Word file for that handout in your unit 1 binder, or when you want to use an awesome workbook page, scan it in, and let your distance learners fill it out digitally.
Method 1: Annotating a PDF with Kami
Skip to 0:30 for the good stuff. You can also use the shape and underline tools, which will probably turn out neater than freehanding.
I am on week three of digital learning/lesson planning. This week, my students will be working on some nuggets from Señor Wooly. I have assigned one nugget a day, paired with a question. The question gives me a chance to interact with them, gauge their reaction to the song, and also highlight some of the linguistic structures in the lyrics. Here’s what that looks like:
If you can’t see the images, here are the questions:
Spanish 1- Qué asco
“Qué asco” means how gross. What is the grossest food you see in the video? Upload your answer to the submission box.
Do you like any foods that other people think are gross? Upload your answer to the submission box! Personally, I really like kale, when it is prepared right! ¡Qué delicioso!
What normal/common foods make you say “¡Qué asco!”? Upload your answer to the submission box! Personally, I hate peas – ¡No me gustan nada los guisantes!
On Friday, they have a discussion post: The man and woman in ¡Qué asco! like a lot of gross foods. Change one of the lines of the song so that the food isn’t gross – change 1-2 words so that when you say “Me gusta”, it’s true!
In Spanish 2, they will be watching La confesión de Victor. Here are the questions I’ve given them:
In the song, Victor tells us, Yo era guapo pero ya no lo soy. – I was (used to be) handsome, but now I’m not. How have you changed since elementary, middle, or preschool? Rewrite the lyric, changing guapo to an adjective that describes how you used to be. Upload the new lyric (Yo era _______ pero ya no lo soy) to the submission box.
Victor tells us many things he can’t do without hair – sin pelo. What if we changed the line to sin escuela (without school?) Or, con corona? (with corona?) What would you say you can’t do? Upload your response to the submission box.Sin escuela, ya no puedo _________. (Without I school, I can’t ______ anymore).
Con corona, ya no puedo _________. (With corona, I can’t ______ anymore.)
La confesión de Víctor is just the second song in the Victor trilogy – the third video is called Feo. Go watch Feo on SenorWooly.com. Between Guapo, La confesión de Víctor, and Feo, which video is your favorite? Why? Upload your answer to the submission box.
One of the most challenging parts of quarantine teaching, is, for me, not interacting with my students. Students have always inspired and motivated my teaching, and it’s really hard to teach without seeing and talking to them every day! By adding a question to the nugget assignment, I get to see their response to the material, comment back on it, and get a bit of that student-teacher interaction we have been missing out on.
The school unit in Spanish 1 offers tons of opportunities for incorporating culture and making cultural comparisons. I made a playlist of videos around the topic of school that I’ve been using with my Spanish 1 students. Here’s some ideas for how you can use them:
Use as a warm up or closing activity. Watch and discuss what you see. Have students write down thoughts, or ask a guiding question before watching – what is simliar/what is different? What surprises you? What questions do you have?
Examine bias. This is a great cross-curricular connection. Who made this video? Why did they make it? Are they biased or neutral? Remind them that even if they spot bias, they can still learn something about life/school in that country.