Saturday, October 8, 2016

I've got plans for you...

So...what happened?

It's impressive! I had all of these dreams about writing weekly and becoming amazing at blogging, and then boom! I got pregnant and now it's been almost 3 years, yikes!

 It's funny how people still pin this blog or I look back and wonder how I can make it work again. It really made think about how once you put in the hard work for something it doesn't just disappear. So yes, I had a son in 2014 and he is for sure giving me a run for my money now that he's a toddler! It is amazing to watch him grow and learn though. My teacher mind is completely over joyed when I realize that he can count with one-to-one correspondence.

Professionally, my life has changed quite a bit as well. Our program was moved to another site this year because in a couple of years we will be the first all dual language school in the district. Talk about being proud- but that just makes my heart happy! I am still teaching 1st grade although I have a new partner. My previous one retired...lucky gal! She does however still come back and help  me on Thursdays. The last year has been kind of crazy with me having the realization that teaching is so much more and can go beyond our own classrooms. I received an award last May and that opened up so many doors for me. I just recently found out that I am in the Top 5 in the state and could potentially be the Teacher of the Year for the state. Now, if you know me you'll know that I hate getting attention and being "praised" in front of people. My highly sensitive self has a really hard time taking in all of that energy. And I typically would never even write about that. But, this is kind of what kick-started the whole idea of blogging again. I was sitting in the middle of my interview (over Fall Break) and I just sort of thought "why don't I blog more? Why haven't I updated my TPT store? What is holding me back from going in all the way?"

So, bare with me as I try to navigate all of this and figure out what my next step is. Even if I don't win the whole thing I still have this amazing opportunity to represent our state and become an advocate for what I'm passionate about. Which obviously, is language acquisition and programs that help our community and students see what an incredible asset language learning can be. I also would like to start a network of Spanish teachers that teach in a Dual Language or Spanish Immersion program. I've met so many wonderful people in the past 3 years through conferences and other gatherings, that I wish I could've referred them here so that we could continue our conversations. My goal is to post about once a month about something "big" happening in my classroom that deals with the language piece. Please share this with colleagues and friends who might want to be part of this journey with me!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Anchor Charts

    We have one week before fall break....what?!?!? It has seriously been crazy around here! The weather is finally nice and we no longer have heat advisory days in AZ, what a relief! My reading block has been going so well this year and I must give most of that credit to my decision to use the Daily 5 and CAFE. Seriously, if you are debating whether or not to implement it in your classroom, just go for it! My English partner and I have introduce all of the Daily 5 activities and although it is not perfect, I feel so good when I just stand and look around the room and all of my students are engaged and focused on making themselves better readers. I will do another post later on on what I do for each Daily 5 component in more detail.
      I also had my first observation, which even though I feel extremely comfortable with our assistant principal being in my room, it's always a little nerve racking! In our school we are using the Marzano iobservations tool for everything. I took a big risk and decided to do a close reading activity with my 1st graders...completely in Spanish! It paid off because they did awesome and I felt like the past two months that I've spent building the foundation were all worth it. 
       Which brings me to this post...anchor charts! I honestly wish we had bigger rooms so that I could use anchor charts for almost everything and leave them up as long as possible. The big dilemma I have is that with two groups I can never truly create an anchor chart with the class unless I make two of them, which is so time consuming and I do not have the wall space! So, when I introduce a new CAFE strategy I create the charts with these awesome large post its and simply take those down with the other group, or I add to the chart with my second group. At the beginning my students were really struggling with checking for understanding, but as soon as we used the large post its and practiced together with a read aloud- it all made sense to them. So, I've been crazy about anchor charts because they are actually using them!

This is for checking for understanding (who and what):

This one is for using our schema:

 This one I made because for my PGP (professional growth plan) I decided to challenge myself and we're going to be really focusing on Hypothesizing during our learning (but I wanted to sort of introduce it little by little)

I laminated this one so that when we did our close reading and I wrote down the different types of questions and provided sentence stems for them to use.

I also created one for making inferences but I spaced it and didn't take a picture of it. I did however make this because for my observation we did our very first round of close reading!
 Since they have down what visualizing, checking for comprehension and making and inferences I knew that it was time to tie it all together with a close read.

 This is the passage we used (I wrote it using the vocabulary from our Spanish curriculum) and although it was tough- we got through it. On the left column they write the evidence from the text that answers a "tougher" question (that's how I explained it). Then on the right column they write/draw their schema that helps them answer that tough question. Then they can make an inference, I connected it to the math and explained it as
evidence from the text + schema =  inference
 The question I asked for the first passage was: Why is it a lot of work going to the market?
I am so excited to keep this up for the rest of the year and continue to use it. Here is the passage that we used the following week during our close reading. 

This next week will be full of assessments and meetings and assemblies and oh yes... a dance party! My favorite! The best thing is that I am not stressed about these assessments I have to give because we have built our stamina during the Daily 5 and they are working so independently it's actually kind of scary. Oh, some more good news: we will be getting iPads for our classroom next week! (More to come on that)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Common Core, CAFE, Daily 5...tying it all together

I have to say, it is only the end of week 3 and we have gotten so much done already! I finally finished all of my assessments (thank goodness for bilingual coaches who can help out!) which is usually the hardest part this time of the year. But, it is all done *sigh*

I have been working very hard all summer trying to figure out how in the world I'm going to fit it all in this year. We adopted the Santillana "Descubre el español" curriculum and although I absolutely love it, it has been quite a challenge to decide what's "most" important. Not only do we have that, but we also follow Harcourt Trophies and now Common Core. Last year I started the Daily  5 and CAFE because that was the only way I could mesh everything together without going crazy!

So, this summer my Spanish teammate and I got together and came up with a curriculum map that organizes everything into weekly chunks of what those "most" important lessons are. Although it was a TON of work it was so worth it since we don't have the energy or time to figure out all that stuff around this time of the year. Our district is also following the Marzano evaluation model (which means learning goals and learning scales!) and I have fallen in love with teaching this way. We have transformed the reading common core standards into our learning goals- and we have used the Harcourt and Santillana as the resources to teach the learning goals. I was a bit nervous at first, but after this week I am so excited to see how much my students get out of it! (I'll have to do a separate post on learning goals and learning scales). Anyway, our first goal was working on visualizing while we read- which fits perfect with the CAFE strategy and this is what we did:

1. First we used this template and we worked on it together while I read a story and we discussed what "visualizing" means and we went over the learning scale (what a "3" is etc). The kids then stapled this paper into their reading notebook. **when you preview the documents in google doc. they look a little weird- but once you download them the font in Word will look like it's supposed to**

2. A few days later they practiced their "visualizing" strategy and they had to draw a picture based on the sentences on this paper. One of them drew a bird for the first box. Um, Señora Plata is not a bird :/ I put a learning scale "grade" on their paper and we discussed why they got a 2 vs. a 3 or a 4. They then stapled this paper into their notebook. Click here to download.


3. Finally, after much practice orally they took a little assessment. I read 3 sentences about a little story from our Spanish curriculum and they had to draw the pictures that went along with it. I graded it using the learning scale and then they stapled it in their notebook. A lot of my students even wrote sentences! Click here to download.

I'm using this organizer to document their learning goals.(don't mind the "5's": everybody makes mistakes, even teachers! My kids just crossed them out)  I print the learning goal on labels and then they write the date and circle what number they received on that specific time. I seriously thought it was going to be a complete disaster. Not only was it the 3rd week of school, but I am teaching entirely in Spanish (some kids are brand new to the program) and they are only little first graders. But, wow. I am so impressed with how well they did. This makes me incredibly excited for this year! Click here to download.

So, these have been sort of my "mini-lessons". We've been practicing the Daily 5 in between. A huge difference is that my English counterpart is doing the Daily 5 as well (she started it later in the year last year) and that has been so helpful. I've covered Read to Self and Writing, and she has done Read to Self and Read with Someone. The introduction lessons take less time now because they're practicing it in both rooms :) I will have to do a post on the Daily 5 later on as well.  Next week we are moving to Checking for Understanding (quien y que) and it will flow perfectly when I introduce Read with Someone!  

We are only required to use 6 learning scales this year, but I find it so much easier to teach when I use them for everything! We'll see how the rest of the year goes, happy teaching!

How do you keep track of student progress? Are any of you out there using the Marzano model for your teacher evaluations, and if so how is it working out?

Friday, August 9, 2013

     Oh my goodness, I am exhausted after week 1! It is Friday evening and all I can think is, how am I going to get back into the routine again? The first week went very well and I am so excited to really start teaching. However, I forget that my students coming in this year are not the same ones that left me last year, crazy how that always happens. At least they somewhat understand what I'm saying! I didn't lose my voice this year from having to say "sientate por favor" a million times to the same kid, so that always helps ;)

   Anyway, a lot of people always ask me what I do to keep my classroom so organized with the two classes and it all comes down to this first week. I have been teaching nothing but routines and how to put things away and all of that fun first week stuff. I teach my students to switch things out (like flipping the name mats, their 'check-in' names, etc) for the other class. I sound a lot like a drill sergeant, especially since I have quite a few kids who can't understand me very well yet, but it pays off big time.

   Aside from teaching routines like crazy I started the Daily 5 and it went extremely well! I am so excited to have a better feel for this second time around because I kind of remember what to look out for and what to expect. I did the good fit books shoe lesson and it was such a hit. My afternoon class was literally rolling on the ground with laughter when I put my husband's fancy shoes on. We even went "book shopping" on Thursday and Friday and almost all of my kids have their "good fit" books in their bins. I think I'm going to have to go to another public library to check out even more books since I have about 50 students this year :o I am having a hard time building stamina with my afternoon class- they are just so chatty! I think we got up to 3 minutes *sigh* I keep reminding myself that it will be so worth it in a couple of weeks. The best part about doing the Daily 5 this year is that my team and even the K and 2nd grade teams have joined in me in this adventure! It is so exciting to talk about our progress and celebrate after just one week. I will be introducing Writing next week- we'll see how that goes!

    This is a little activity that I do on the first week to display some work on our hallway boards. I show the kids a power point about myself with a ton of pictures of my family, pets, friends etc. Then they write/draw about themselves using these sentence frames: "Yo tengo ____", "Mi familia es ____", "A mi me gusta  ______", "A mi no me gusta _____". They love seeing the power point and learning more about my life. For some reason they always confuse my husband's name with one of our dog's name, which I get a huge kick out of. You can get a copy of the student sheet here.

   I hope your first week back has gone well and that you are as excited as I am for this new school year!!! Here are more pictures of my classroom, let me know if you have any questions!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Blog Debut

It's the weekend before the 5th year of my teaching career begins and I am finally starting a blog. I've been debating this decision for quite a while now, mostly because I'm not sure if anyone will even be interested in what I have to say. But after spending endless hours on Dual Language blogs this summer I decided, why not? Now that I've taught in a DL classroom for a few years I would love to build a community  and share with others what I've learned and continue to learn.

The past 4 years have a been a whirlwind of tears, laughter and non-stop nights of caring and love for my students. There were many days when I beat myself up for this decision to become a teacher. But at the end of whatever day it was I always felt the same- this was the best decision I ever made. Now, thinking back on the "dual language" part of teaching and I still get butterflies in my tummy. Completely cheesy, I know. But if you are crazy about language acquisition then you get me. This is my third year teaching in a dual language setting and let me tell you, teaching has never been this hard. The payout of course comes at the end of the year when I hear my little first graders talking completely in Spanish- but it takes quite a while and a lot of hard work to get there. Don't get me wrong- I believe that teaching in general is very difficult, but teaching students completely in Spanish has had its own challenges.

Back to reason behind this blog... I love reading other blogs. I'm guilty of staying up way too late on school nights because I've found someone who is living the same life I am and who truly understands my day to day living. I love reading about those dreaded first years of teaching and how difficult they are- because like many others out there I also have overcome them and I'm that much better for it. But what I love the most is reading about these teachers' lives and their never ending need to grow and learn. I started the Daily 5 and CAFE last year in my Dual Language 1st grade class and that was what lead me to many of these blogs. It was refreshing to read about other people experiencing the same difficulties and to see how they solved their problems. That is why, as nervous as I am to take this journey, I want to share with others my day to day teaching life.

 I always remember people sharing with me in college that most teachers stop teaching within their first 5 years of teaching. That time frame seemed so far away, and yet here I am starting my 5th year on Monday. Eekk! (no daily 5 reference intended) I cannot wait to see what this year brings and how I will be challenged. The anxiety has already begun but after meeting my little ones this past Thursday I got that "bring it on" feeling again. This part of the year is what I love the most- the part when you dream about all of the good things to come. People say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...ok,ok getting sidetracked now.

Welcome to Señora Plata's classroom!
This of course is the "before" look. My blank canvas. 
One view of the finished product.
A view of the couch.
Cute sign for meet the teacher night. 

I will take more pictures tomorrow (because of course I will need to go in on a Sunday to make sure everything is ready for Monday). Thanks for reading!