Monday, September 2, 2013

Genius Hour 2013: First Semester

Each day, I'm getting closer to introducing Genius Hour to my class.  After much thought and input from coworkers, I feel like I've got a solid plan.  Obviously, things will be a little less flexible than this last summer as far as what material we need to cover (I need to demonstrate that I'm meeting standards for Spanish classes), but we have so many more opportunities to really go big with this project so I'm very excited!  Here's what I've got planned so far...

My new classroom!

Well, it's been a while since I last posted, and I have so much to write about! I'm officially one week into my teaching career.  I've been absolutely swamped between moving and getting started with my first year of teaching.  However, things are finally calming down to where I can start posting about what's going on :)

First things first - here's my new classroom!

Here's the front wall -  it has all the most important things for students to see.

  • Starting on the left, we have our class rules (LISTEN) so that I can point and refer to them whenever we need to.  
  • The giant white notepad next to it is for words that the class wants to use, but aren't necessarily "in bounds".  We write the words and their translations on the pad to bring them "in bounds".
  • Next is our vocabulary word wall.  I use this to hold/display curriculum vocabulary.  There's plenty of room to display our current words as well as hold all the other word sets we will cover.  Each word from each of our structures is written on a color-coded card for each chapter.  we'll put these on the board with magnets (the smiley face!) when we're using them in context and combine them with other words.
  • Above the whiteboard are the ACTFL proficiency standards in student-friendly language for the Novice and Intermediate levels.  There is a little green arrow for Spanish 1 and another one for Spanish 2 pointing to where I expect them to be at the end of each class. (I'm only teaching Spanish 1, but I discussed where to put the Spanish 2 arrow so students have a long-term idea of where they'll be by the end of these classes).
  • Below the board is the current Spanish alphabet with vocabulary words for each letter - great for inspiring some fun words during PQA and stories since we'll see them all year!
  • On the left-hand side of the board is the "CBC" board with the date (written out in Spanish with vocabulary cards for the day and month), Objectives, Agenda, Essential Question, and Homework.
  • To the right of the board are the question words as well as our props!

Here's another view of the front wall where you can see a few more items:
  • My desk area - I love it!
  • Above my desk are cards to remind students to tell me when to STOP (red), SLOW DOWN (yellow) and REPEAT (green).

Here's the right side of my classroom:
  • There are responses for students to use during PQA and Stories, etc, that are color-coded for the type of reaction they express (for example, under "Approval" is listed "¡Qué bien!")
  • I have a chart with the weather where the arrow can be rotated to point to the current weather.
  • I have two windows, though we keep the curtains closed in the morning to prevent glare.
  • The bookcase holds our library of books, including textbooks, Interactive Notebooks, and books for free-choice reading.

There are only a few things along the back of the room, but they take up the whole wall!
  • TPRS-friendly grammar posters - these have the endings that we'll most frequently use, but the important letters are colored in with black to draw attention to them (i.e. the "-mos" on all of the nosotros forms).  I also have a "subjects" poster with all of the Spanish words for "I", "you", "he", "she", etc.
  • Color words are above the computers.

Finally, the left-hand side of my classroom, with lots of fun things.
  • Map of the Spanish-speaking countries of the world - I love this map!  It's so cool and has a lot of interesting information.
  • Map of Mexico with illustrations of different areas.
  • Poster of all the country flags.
  • "How to tell time" poster.
  • "High Frequency Words" poster.
  • Emergency exit strategy
  • Bathroom/Tardy sign out/in.

Finally, you might have noticed there are labels everywhere!  All useful words to point to when I need to :)  My desks are also set up so that I can go throughout the room with ease as well as have a nice, large area in the center for acting!  I'm so excited about my room set up and my students seem to really like it.  So far so good, and I haven't had to assign seats yet!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quick Update

Ok, making a quick post to explain my lack of posting and responding - we've been in the middle of vacationing with family, moving, and getting started at my new school (which we can't get into until tomorrow, one week before students show up!), so things have been hectic!  I will be back to posting VERY soon, I promise!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Genius Hour - The Moment of Truth

Our Latino Culture Genius Hour projects are done and yesterday we presented our projects.  So, how did we do?  Here's the process we went through, how everything turned out, student projects, and my reflections on it all :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

20 Time in a Foreign Language Classroom

Now that I have a better idea of what I'm in for this fall when it comes to Genius Hour and 20 Time, I've started thinking about how I'm going to connect it to my curriculum.  There are two main areas that Genius Hour can (and should) be connected to in a Foreign Language class: culture and language.

NOTE: A special "thank you" to Denise Krebs and Señorita Barragan for helping me form and articulate my ideas for this post.

Genius Hour Week 3: Three Distinct Groups

Three distinct groups of students have emerged within my classroom and, though my program is a special one for students who might be considered "at risk", I imagine similar groups will emerge in any Genius Hour classroom: the "This is awesome!" group, the "Ok, I get it." group, and the "What is this?" group.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Genius Hour Week Two: 2 Struggles and 2 Successes

Last week I introduced Genius Hour to my students, and this week we spent the entire class period researching various ideas.  We had a lot of interesting experiences today - some shed light on some of the struggles my students may have and that I need to address and others confirmed how awesome this really is.  For week 2, I have two of each to share :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Genius Hour: Week 1

"How did you know that?"

"I Googled it."

The first student had asked a fairly complicated question out loud ("Do babies dream?"), and within a few seconds, the second student started telling her about the REM cycles of babies, something he knew nothing about just a few moments beforehand.  That's the beauty of Genius Hour.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Free download, and help a school in Costa Rica!

From Karen Rowan via the MoreTPRS Yahoo! Group:

I'm working with a fabulous expert-type woman to do interesting, creative things
that will ultimately support the school in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica that I'm
trying to create a donated income stream for.

Here's how it works.
1. Write a book really, really fast
2. Publish it as an E-book and make it free for 24 Hours
3. Ask my 2000 closest friends to download it in those 24 Hours and write a
quick 5 star review.
4. Sell it for .99 cents and donate 100% of the royalties to the school.

Step 3 puts it on Amazon's book list, and is more likely to be downloaded in
Step 4 more.

The most urgent project at the school I have been donating books to for 3 years
is that one of the walls was damaged in the recent earthquake and is crumbling. 
The next earthquake has the potential to crush my precious little readers.

So. I wrote the book. It's an itty-bitty book that should really be called,
"Isabela Light." (Real title, "El secreto de Isabela." It's a portion of the
Isabela story that is super-sheltered for brand new language learners. It has 47
total distinct words, and 18 of them are cognates. The total length is 223
words. You could use it with elementary students or with adults right away.

I can only make it free once, so I'm hoping the timing will be such that
students could even download for summer reading. You can share the link with

It's Midnight Pacific time Sunday (Monday 12:01am) and lasts for a world-wide 24
hours. So when it's midnight Monday in the last possible place on the planet,
it ends. Amazon is freaky that way.

Here's the link. I'll post again Sunday night begging for your assistance in
downloading and sharing. I really hope that this will be something you can log
into and use in your classroom's, too. Also... if you've always wanted to learn
Spanish OR if you're looking for materials for a super-short adult class, this
would probably work for you.\


Karen Rowan

P.S. If you want to see pictures of the school, they're on the Fluency Fast
Facebook page.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Latino Culture Curriculum and Lessons

I'm going to be creating and adding lesson plans and activities for my Latino Culture class over the summer, so I wanted a place to organize it all!  Feel free to dive into my Upward Bound classroom through my plans :)

*Starred dates are when no computer labs are available.

June 10

June 11

June 12

June 13*

June 14

June 17

June 18

June 19

Movie: Peloteros (Dom. Rep.)
June 20

Guest presenter: Diana (Argentina)

June 21
Genius Hour

June 24

What are Latino communities like? (religion, family education, religion, social norms, customs, and roles, clothing)
June 25*

Movie: The Devil's Miner (Bolivia)
June 26

Empanadas field trip
June 27

Genius Hour
June 28*

Guest Presenter
July 1

College Tour
July 2

College Tour
July 3

July 4

Independence  Day   
July 5
July 8

What does Latino art look like?  Who are some Latino artists? (fine art, dramatic art, architecture)
July 9*

Movie: Mad Hot Ballroom (Dom. Rep.)

July 10

Dance Class
July 11

Guest Presenter
July 12

Genius Hour
July 15

Movie: La Misma Luna (Mexico)
July 16*

Rafting Leave at 4:15
July 17

Humberto Q&A
July 18
Movie: Las mujeres de verdad tienen cuervas (USA)
July 19

 Genius Hour Presentations