First week reflections 2016

Wow. This year has been amazing and I’ve only been in the classroom for 7 school days!

I wanted to reflect on the pluses and deltas of my first week, as some of you are starting your school year soon, and as a place for me to share what’s going well for me!

Pluses:

Saying the I can statement every day!
Last year, I gleaned some wisdom from Thomas Sauer: it’s okay to plan the 90% TL we use, but it’s also really important to plan the 10% L1 use. While, I’ll admit, my class is not currently 90% TL, I’ve been using the first few minutes to go over the I can each day, and a check up or formative performance assessment each day for students to tell me how they feel about each I can. I think it’s had a really positive effect for my students – they can tell that they’re learning, and they get excited to give me a “I can” rating on their “thumb-ometer” (from a thumbs down to a thumbs up and anywhere in between! I stole this from a friend of mine who teaches middle school – thanks, Jess!) You could also use “fist to five” but I find that the variations on the thumb-ometer are more discrete to share, and tell me more than the difference between 4 and 5.

Saving a reflection space in my planner
Maybe you’ve heard that I prefer paper planning to online planning. I love technology, I am a millennial, and so much of my life is tied to the internet, but planning is NOT, or I scramble each morning to remember what I planned for each day. I have a Plum Paper Planner for the second year and I LOVE it – since I’m teaching 1 prep this year, I saved two boxes for a reflection of the lesson. I give the pluses, minuses, and obvious changes for next year. I love this short reflection each day!

Brain Breaks!
Gosh, I love the brain breaks I’ve been stealing from around the internet. Most of them come from Sara-Elizabeth, but Martina has a great list as well! It’s really nice to reset in the middle of the class before moving on to the next input stage. On a feedback form today, one of my students said he loved the brain breaks because it “relieves him” from one activity to another. Since that’s the point, I am glad that they see it that way.

Primacy/recency
My (short) teaching career has always started with bell ringers. Kids come in, sit down, and start whatever activity I have … orrrrrrrr they try to play games on their MacBook/iPad and tell me that they’ve done the work “in their head.” Since I start the class, there’s no wrangling kids who are trying to play “Slither,” pushing kids to finish quickly, or wondering what to do when 10 kids have finished and 15 haven’t. I will say that I started off terrified of starting the class with input, and I still get a little nervous, but it’s been going really well. I’m excited to expand input with songs and readings soon!
For a breakdown of what I’ve been doing:
(Say I can = no more than 1-2 minutes!) –> input activity –> processing activity –> administrative activity, if necessary –> brain break –> input #2 –> interactive activity/formative PBA

All of my classrooms
If you didn’t know, I teach in 4 buildings this year. I love all of my classrooms, not because of the furniture, infrastructure, or space, but because that’s where my students and I interact. I’m not shy about picking a favorite classroom, though. I have the amazing opportunity to teach in one of the model classrooms at the high school this year and I love every single thing about it. It really starts my day off on an exciting note. (The picture on the blog title is also one of my classrooms; I love it too!)

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Friday feedback
Last year I stole the idea from Allison (who stole from CLC, I think!) to get feedback from students on Fridays … but I never actually got around to implementing it. Such is life! I did it today for the first time, and I loved it. It gave me insight – not just to the popularity of activities (I can usually judge that by the excitement level) but also by the reason why, which is so important. These were two of my favorite examples from today:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 4.32.28 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 4.32.55 PM

I could give a million more “pluses,” but I will save you the excessive exclamation points (or maybe not?)

Deltas:

Last class
My last class of the day is 15 students. This makes me simultaneously jump for joy and weep. I love the class size, but maaaaaaaaaaan, do we get through everything about 10 minutes faster than my other classes! I’m trying to use my own daily reflection to really make sure that we have the best lesson possible, but I’ve gotta figure out how to have equitable activities in this one!

TL use
I still don’t know how to hit the ground running with starting the year well. You might think that I have it all figured out because of the wild popularity of my 90% TL post last year, but I don’t. I’m still getting my bearings on that, but hope to switch my own TL use to 90% next week.

I guess another delta is that I don’t have more deltas! Whoops. I’m sure I’ll think of some along the way – nothing I do is perfect!

I’d love to hear about what’s working in your class so far this year!

Let’s talk about proficiency!

Man, oh man, this is going to be a great year. I’m 4 days in and I can already tell!

This year, I’m focusing on proficiency, and I am running with it. In the first few days, I wanted to make sure that we covered it. I was asked to blog about it – it’s mostly a combination of other people’s ideas, but here it is!

First, one of my back to school stations was the crepe sheet. Students read it in a station, and we talked it over in a small group. After they read it, they needed to describe their favorite movie as a novice low (~5-6 words) and write it on a post-it note. You can have them write the movie name on the back (just make sure it doesn’t peek through!) They read their description to their group, who tried to guess their movie. Then they posted on the wall for other groups to try to guess. I think this activity is especially important because it shows them that even with a few words, they can convey meaning and get an idea across!

The next day, I had students skim the sheet to get an idea of the levels, and followed the basic protocol of this post by Kara at Creative Language Class. I went through the basics of each level, grouped students, and had them describe school at various proficiency levels. I had each group decide what proficiency level their description was and why! I checked in with each group to make sure they were on the right track.
Then, each group shared their description, and all other groups conferred for 15 seconds to decide what level they thought the description was, and why. We talked a few of them out as a class. Then, they told their group what proficiency level they want to be be the end of the year.

After this activity, I asked students to describe what proficiency was. This turned out decent results, but I think in the future, I’ll have them give another analogy like I did last year. I’ll give them the starter “proficiency is like _____ because _____.” I got some great examples last year, and I think it would have helped this year’s students as well.

Once all my students have their school supplies (interactive notebooks this year), we’ll use the goal-setting proficiency path (second one on the page) from Shelby County. I’m not sure how Shelby County use the page, but I plan on having my students circle their goal for the year, and color in the star for each level they hit along the way.

After that, we’ll bring it up as necessary, especially when talking about moving from level to level, and I plan on having them chart their progress towards proficiency throughout the year!

What are you doing this year to talk proficiency with your students?

First week plans 2016

As I sit down after my first two days of school, I find myself wondering how it got here so darn FAST. I feel like it was June yesterday … anyone else? I also planned on sharing my first week plans long before it was actually the week that I started. Such is life, I suppose!

I go into this post on my first plans, thinking about how the research says that you end up being a mix of the 5 people you spend time with the most. I can totally see that I am a mix of all of my favorite world language teachers/bloggers, so I really cannot credit a lot of these ideas as my own.

As a note, I’m only teaching level 1 this year, so these plans are for them!

Thursday, August 18th: (French music ALWAYS playing in the background)

  • Students come in, I greet each person at the door. I will assign seating for this first day; I think it’s important to give students this kind of structure on day one.
  • I think what Sara-Elizabeth posted about the first day story – letting kids see what they can understand on day one is SO CRUCIAL. I’m starting off with this this year. I plan on kids writing a few things they understood on a sticky and posting it for everyone to see.
  • I plan on doing my first days administrative stations from last year. This year’s stations include: syllabus hunt, student info sheets, crepe talk with questions, choosing French names/making namecards, and getting to know each other. As a high school with three feeder middle schools, I think it’s so important to get kids talking to each other as soon as possible. As for French names, I will direct students to listen to the names of their choice on Hear Names – have you heard of it? It’s names pronounced by a native speaker of the language, and I’m in LOVE. That way, I don’t have to pronounce every name, or worry that I’m doing it wrong (am I the only one who feels that way?!)

Friday, August 19th

  • I anticipate that we’ll only have time for 1-2 stations the first day, so I plan on finishing the other 3 today.

Monday, August 22nd

  • Today I’m planning an intro to me. I want the kids to have a second chance (or first, if they missed the first day) to get the comprehension feeling. I’ll have them fill out a quick formative assessments: 3 things I did that helped them understand, 2 things they understood about me, 1 question that they still have.
  • Then, we’ll introduce ourselves around the room, and say something that we like!
  • I plan on getting into proficiency again this day, reviewing the levels and having kids describe school like this. We’ll set our own language goals on the proficiency path, too!

Tuesday, August 23rd

  • Today we’ll start again with names and likes, and I’ll try to make sure everyone gets to know other people’s names (I think this is so important!) I’ll go around, adding in the “il/elle s’appelle” distinction, and giving several options to keep kids on their toes!
  • I’ll probably give a little processing time where kids listen to a few audio samples. At this stage, I imagine it will be something like, “true or false: this person gave their name.”
  • Since this is the second day, I’ll have students tell their name to a few partners and ask “et toi?” as a performance assessment at the end!

Wednesday, August 24th-Friday, August 26th 

  • In Ohio, we do a version of student growth measures that require us to do a pre-test and give the same test as a post-test to measure growth. I’ll be giving my pre-test these days, and I’ve allotted 3 since I need to do a listening, reading, writing, and speaking section. I expect that most of my students will leave the listening, reading, and writing sections blank, but I do need to interview each student individually, even if they can’t respond. This is always such an awkward down-time for students, but I don’t want to cut the speaking portion to make it less awkward at the beginning of the year.
  • While I’m finishing interviews, I plan on doing an activity with cognates, again à la Creative Language Class!

There you go, my first week and a half of class. The fun stuff starts after this!

My new infographic syllabus!

If you’ve been following along with me on twitter, you might know that I was lamenting over not having a classroom to decorate this year. And, I mean, my last classroom was pretty adorable, if I may say so myself. I LOVE the color teal (or aqua, or turquoise) and I love patterns, so I went with that theme for my room at my first school.

So, this year, with no room to decorate (okay, one of my rooms has some decoration, but it’s still up from last year!) I had to go all out on my syllabus. If you saw my sneak peek  on twitter, you’ll know that my syllabus also embraces teal and pattern. I like it much better than my school-color themed choice from last year. (PS, both years I used Piktochart‘s free version to create them – for me, Piktochart is easy to use, easy to get used to, fun to use, and their staff has been wonderful to work with!)

Last year, I had a few syllabus issues:

I realized, too late, that even with my ThingLink tags, my syllabus did not give all the information that I wanted it to. I had to make a second, text-based page with additional info. Not my favorite course of action, as I worked so hard to make the visuals great.

The second issue was for parents. While I made the parents sign the bottom of the syllabus, they never saw the additional links that I added! I want to be as transparent with students and parents as possible, so I knew I needed to fix that. I didn’t want to rely on students to share that additional information (including necessary materials, what the heck proficiency is, and ways to follow me on social media.)

This year, I decide to make the graphics work better for me, to break up the text into sections, and instead of just being there to, well, be an “infographic.” I really love the result! I sacrificed some visual simplicity for it to be exactly what I needed, but I might also have reduced the need for extra links!

Okay, okay, enough typing and onto what you came for!

Here is page 1 of my syllabus:
syllabus-2016-2017 (5)

and here is page 2:

syllabus-2016-2017-pg-2 (4)

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share them with me in the comments or on twitter.

PS: I’ve been asked by a lot of people if they can have an editable version of this sucker. Man, oh man, do I wish it was editable. I’m currently trying to decide if it’s feasible to make an editable version; stayed tuned!

My infographic syllabus!

I know that it’s the beginning of the summer (though July is right around the corner!) and that I should be “relaxing,” but with my new school, moving later this summer, and iFLT in mid-July, I’ve got to get some of the ground work for my classes laid now!

That being said, I jumped on the bandwagon and made an infographic syllabus! Technically, I made an infographic syllabus last year, but I included waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much text on it to have its full appeal. I basically took paragraphs and put them on a colorful background. This is only half of it – it wouldn’t fit on one sheet of paper on its own! It was an okay first attempt:

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Just look at all that text!

Anyway, this year I got a lot of my inspiration from Laura’s interactive infographic syllabus. I’m excited about this because this year, my students will actually be able to interact with the syllabus, as each student will have their own device for use in class.

I made my syllabus with piktochart, a service that lets you create your own infographics, and has a few free templates for you if you’re not an amazing designer. I use the free service, because that works for me, but I do like the look and features of their paid services as well. I will eventually be going the same route as Laura and using ThingLink to make my syllabus interactive, but there’s a few things I’m hoping to solidify before I go through the work to make my first draft interactive, like “will I have a classroom next year?”

I’m excited to share my syllabus with you, and look out a little later in the summer for my interactive version, which I can’t wait to (make and) share with you as well.

This year, I used the same template as last year, updated the colors from my favorites to my new school’s colors, and ditched a lot of the text. Eventually, when I make it interactive, I will have links to the ACTFL proficiency levels, my twitter and instagram teacher accounts, a description for my class materials, and a link to take students to a rubric for the standards-based grading that I will do. There will probably be a few other links than that, but those are the keys I would like to include.

French 1 Syllabus (2)

You should be able to click the image to get a bigger picture. You can also view my syllabus here

What do you think? What is difficult for you to see or understand? Is there something that you think that I should add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!