16-17 Reflections

Wow. This school year was crazy, and it went so quickly! During the middle, I thought I wouldn’t make it out alive, but now that it’s over, all I can talk about is how “fast” it went.

I read a motivational post earlier this year that said something to the effect of, “why do we always judge ourselves based on what’s left on our to-do list, rather than what’s checked off?” MIC DROP! I’ve been trying to keep that close to my heart as the year went on, but it seems like the end of the year is just a long reflection on all the stuff we didn’t do this year!

That list could be the death of me. I actually CRINGE (and I am not exaggerating) when I think back about all the stuff I didn’t cover, teach well, or “check off” this year. My colleague and I even talked about spending time during our PLC next year sharing successes on a big Google Doc so we can remember the great things, especially during the hard times. What an amazing idea.

So, rather than showing you the list of thing I “didn’t cover,” I’m going to share my pluses and deltas from this year:

Pluses:

  • I was transparent about proficiency w/ my students this year and gave appropriate feedback to push them toward those goals.
  • Even though there were lots of downs and a limited number of ups, my students read a novel this year and did pretty well!
  • My students LOVED having pen pals this year, and while I was not the biggest fan, I’m trying to let student interest guide me in this way.
  • I was pretty good about following my motto from last year’s Camp Musicuentos: “I will not sacrifice the good on the alter of the perfect; when I find a resource that is good enough, I will stop looking.”
  • My students were using more verbs this year than ever before because I intentionally taught high frequency verbs at the beginning of the year.
  • My end-of-the-year strategy for pushing my students: “a one word answer is not acceptable for the second semester of French 1!”
  • My end-of-the-year strategy for student feedback: *me, pointing to score or feedback:* “tu es content?” If yes, I said “okay!” If no, I asked them to do it over.


Deltas:

  • I did not get through as many units as last year and I think I missed less days … I need to be more intentional in my planning so that we aren’t treading water because of me!
  • Interactive notebooks were a hit w/ students … when we kept up with them. I need to streamline these and use them more next year!
  • The LOGISTICS of pen pal letters … and then students telling me they “turned them in” when the physical copies were halfway around the world … next year there will be drafts and online submissions or I will pull my own hair out.
  • You know how you always feel like one skill falls to the wayside? This year it was listening! I need to be more intentional about listening activities for next year as well.
  • Due to my crazy number of classrooms this year, I didn’t keep up with stamp sheets or redos like I wanted to. Next year will ALREADY make this easier, I can tell.
  • I left at contract time a lot this year, which meant that grading was a slow and arduous process … but next year, I’ll have a place of my own at the end of the day, which should help with this problem.

 

I’m sure there are a million more (I have a whole Google Doc of “things to do next year”), but I will leave you with these, and with another wise thing that my colleague said to me:

“Did [whatever is bugging you] hinder your students this year?”

If, like me, the answer is no, than it’s probably not worth worrying about. After all, it is SUMMER — you can find me at the beach, or at least Instagramming about it.

#OneWord2017 – Intentional

It’s no secret that I had a rough 2016 – from beginning to end. I know that I’m not the only one, but it has inspired me to do another #oneword for the year – intentional. I love this #oneword because it speaks to both my personal and professional lives.

The definition of “intentional” is one of those weird ones that uses the word in its own definition, so I’ve broken it down to the root word, intend.

According to dictionary.com, intend means:
1. to have in mind as something to be done or brought about; plan:

We intend to leave in a month.

2. 
to design or mean for a particular purpose, use, recipient, etc.:
a fund intended for emergency use only.
What does this mean for my professional life?

In class:

This year, I want to structure activities for my students that are intentional. I want to know my end goal, and to create meaningful activities that push my students to reach that goal. Too often, I “fill space” with activities that might not have a communicative purpose, might not actually go with the unit at hand, or my tired brain used because I had nothing else.

Out of class:

My students know that I don’t give homework very often. I think this backfires, because when I assign it, they grumble more than normal. However, my choice options have seen great returns! I want to choose out-of-class activities that push my students toward a goal, that activate prior knowledge, or that hook them into the next activity.

Planning:

I plan a week at a time because I don’t know how to do it any other way. This year, I’d like to be intentional about planning a unit at a time – macro-planning at the start, and then micro-planning for at least two weeks at a time, even if those plans shift. I think this will help me to see where we’re headed and not fill my time with meaningless activities that don’t really help us toward a goal.

I cans:

I did so well at the beginning of the year when I planned I cans in tiny chunks, Sara-Elizabeth style. Instead of using the big, “I can say how I am,” I broke it down into “I can say if something is good or bad,” “I can say if someone is happy or sad,” etc. That worked much better than what I have been doing, “I can ask and answer questions about …” – yikes! I want to be intentional about scaffolding I cans for students to measure small progress toward bigger goals!

TL use:

In the first semester of this year, I was AWFUL at TL use. I forgot to just do it, and had some kind of hidden agenda. I need to be intentional about providing ways for both students and teacher to use the TL for a purpose, not just because I feel like I need to. I’ve changed my ideas about input this year (post to come, I hope?) and need to get myself back on track with input-related activities that intentionally help my students use the TL and again, push us towards new proficiency or other goals.

That’s all I’ve thought out for now, but I’m sure that this year, I’ll find out more uses for my #oneword.

I could go on and on and on about how the word intentional relates to my personal life, but I’ll just summarize that it includes building relationships, how I spend my down time, how I structure my days, and what work I take home from school and when.

Are you planning a #oneword to guide your year? I’ve love to hear about it!

“I can” goal stamps

Wow, am I sad that I won’t be at #ACTFL16 – it’s only Monday and I’m already seeing so many great tweets and plans to meet up … I’ll have to be there with you in spirit!

In other news, a lot of people have been asking to see my new document that includes I cans for my unit on family and homes. I can’t take all the credit – I’m always inspired by Megan and Kara’s stamp sheets, and I got a few of my I cans from Melanie and Kara’s work this summer at Camp Musicuentos!

Here’s a few Q and As about these new stamps.

So what are you doing now? Currently, I only stamp about half of the I cans in a unit – those that will require an assessment. Here’s an example of the one I planned on using for this unit before I had a change of mind!

So why are you changing what’s working now? I’ve wanted to do I cans like they do at Jefferson County Public Schools (credit again to Kara and Megan), but it’s always the logistics that get to me. But, I’ve decided that there’s nothing like combatting logistics by just implementing something to see how it goes, as evidenced by last year’s 90% TL experiment! I’ve really been working this year to say the “I can” every day, so that students can see what we’re doing and how it relates to the bigger picture, but I also want them to see them all the unit goals at once. Since I only stamp after assessments with my current stamp sheet, they don’t always see how the little I cans transition into the bigger ones.

How did you do it? So, after a little inspiration from Kara and Megan’s new Adios Textbook! site, I went for it. You guys already know that I’m a sucker for Piktochart, and it didn’t disappoint, again! I really took the time to write the I cans that I wanted, to put them in what I thought was a logical order, and to show students how they will progress, including bigger assessments.

How are you going to check each goal? To be honest, I don’t know. I think I’ll accept them as students can show me, but not during the middle of class. I’ll probably stamp them as I see kids complete them, whether that’s during the performance checks I try to do at the end of class, as kids participate during class time, and/or during some kind of stations, where I can check in with a few kids at a time as we go. I really need to get a self inking stamp so I can do it more spur-of-the-moment.

And what about grades? I’m going to be honest, I don’t know if I plan on grading them. I want kids to master each I can. I want them to see how each I can plays a bigger role in what we’re doing. I want there to be a reason that they complete them. I want them to want to show me what they can do. But I don’t know if grades are the motivator. And if so, do I grade each I can based on how well they did it? Or do I take it for “completion?” Since they need to show me each goal as they’re able to do it, can I set dates to enter them in the gradebook? Or should I really look at them all by the end of the unit, since they’ll be able to redo them as they need? I don’t have these answers. So I’ll update you as I decide!

What are the ACTFL proficiency levels for? I plan on helping kids to track their proficiency across all units, so I imagine that either I (or they? maybe both?) will circle the level that corresponds with their end-of-unit performance!

Anything else? I’m really nervous that I set these in stone, and now I have no room to deviate from that – that’s why there are blanks (thanks, Thomas Sauer, for the tip!) Also, what if the unit drags on and I want to skip a couple, or I realize that they’re not what I really wanted? I guess that will make me better for next year.

Well, if you’ve been with me this long, I should at least give you the full document, no? Here’s what I’ve got going for this unit, I’m honored to hear that inspired so many of you!

I always worry that I don’t vary the wording of these enough. As always, I welcome your feedback!

maison-i-cans