On Leaving the Family


Today was the last day of school.  It was also my last day at my current school/my first full-time teaching position.  We have a saying at my school that we are the Mustang family.  As with any family, there are times I’d like to strangle some of them.

There are also moments like today when a junior girl came in to my cleaned-up, emptied out, desks stacked against the wall room and said, “I wanted to thank you.  I was working on a scholarship last night and I wrote about you because you are the person that got me interested in Spanish.  Before you, I didn’t really like it.  You made me really enjoy it and want to learn.  I’m going to miss you.”  It’s moments like that that make leaving my “family” so difficult.  It’s moments like that that remind me why I entered this crazy profession.

It’s also the freshman boy with a spotty behavior record and a less than stable home that writes a note on his final saying, “I’ll miss you.  You’re a great teacher.  Thank you for believing in me.”

It’s also the superintendent that stands at the end of the buffet line at the annual end-of-year luncheon filling iced tea cups and handing them out.  I don’t know any other supers that do that.

It’s the colleagues that organize a surprise going away party for you the night before school gets out.

It’s laughing with your fellow penthouse (3rd floor of a 100 year old building) residents as we try to stay sane, dress up like ninja turtles and share coffee Fridays after pay day.

It’s realizing that being part of a family, however crazy we may be, is something pretty special.

Thank you to all my family,

Maestra McH.


“Best Idea Ever” English version


Embedded Reading

Here is the English version.  Thanks again Tana Krohn for sharing your work and your ideas!  (look for her ideas after the readings!)

English #1:

There is a man. His name is Sir Newton. Sir Newton is under a tree. An apple falls on his head. Sir Newton studies the apple. He studies more apples. He has an idea.

Sir Newton makes pies with the apples. He wants to sell the pies. No one wants the pies. Sir Newton is sad.

There is a bird. The bird poops on Sir Newton. Sir Newton has another idea!

English #2:

In a town there is a man. His name is Sir Newton. Sir Newton is under a tree. He is under a tree when an apple falls on his head. Sir Newton looks at the apple. He looks at the tree. He looks at the apple. He looks at the tree. He…

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Convo Circles: A Student Favorite


I posted awhile back about doing conversation circles ala Amy Lenord (@alenord).  This week, at the request of the students, we had our 3rd or 4th conversation circle day.  Since starting this, students love them and stay in TL 99% of the time!  When students saw “Convo Circle” on the agenda, they were excited!

This time we talked about graduation, summer, looking  back on this year and what they hope for next year.  I had about 10 students this time which was a nice size.  I gave them about 10 minutes to come up with questions they wanted to ask then we circled up and started talking.  My students love to “fight” with each other and disagree or refute points.   It’s pretty funny and all in good fun.  (Last time we had a 5 minute argument about onions which involved every student in class!)  The next day, one of my track kids who was gone for the circle was mad she missed it!

The more we do, the better students get at extending phrases or getting brave and jumping into the conversation more.  I’ve also seen improvement in their phrasing as their speech becomes more fluid and less halting as they think of what to say.  This has been a really great activity and I’m thankful to Amy for sharing it!

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH

Smore, FotoBabble & a Party


My Spanish 3 kiddos have been working through a unit about parties and the structure Ojalá que + subjunctive.  As an assessment I decided to take a page from Sharon Birch’s (@sraslb) blog and have a party.  This assessment had three pieces:

1) Create an invite to a party

2) Leave a voicemail RSVPing to a party

3) Attend a party

Students used smore.com to create an invite to a party.  The students had a great time customizing the invites, some even adding pictures of classmates or celebrities who would be attending.  It was quick, easy and free.  Students created a free account using their school email account and sent me their invites via email which made grading a snap.  On the downside, smore seems to send a lot of emails so I need to find the box that says “Don’t send me stuff” and make sure that gets clicked!

I was introduced to FotoBabble at the NETA conference recently.  It’s a free app or website that allows you to take a picture, you can even edit it a bit, then record audio to go with it.  I had the students take a picture of themselves then record their RSVP.  I created a free account and all students posted under that same account.  You can email the photos which is what I had them do but then I realized that since they were all on the same account, I could access them all in one place online even though students used different iPods to create them!  Snazzy!  We used the app on iPods and I had a few issues with the fotobabbles not uploading to the network in some cases.  I’m not sure what the cause of this was but I think if we used the website, we could avoid this issue altogether.  I’ll be using this app in the future for sure.

The Party
This is where Sharon Birch was a huge inspiration.  After students had done invites and RSVPs, we had a party.  Each student was a famous movie or TV star at a party and others had to find out who they were without asking their name or a title of one of their works.  I used Sharon Birch’s sheet she had posted on her website without much alteration to it.  We did one day of practice so students could get the hang of it then the next day we had our actual party.  I had intended to get fun food but forgot so we settled for M&Ms I always have on hand!  I didn’t have students dress up this year but in the future think it would be fun to have them dress up in “ropa elegante”.  I had music playing (Spanish of course) in the background throughout and students had a lot of fun talking and guessing who was who.  As Sharon says in her post about this, I’d love to say everyone was in TL the whole time but that’s not the case.  However, a lot of students did stay in TL and with prompting returned to it.  They are still surprised by the fact that they can communicate and understand each other in a language other than English.

All in all I’m happy with how this lesson turned out.  I’ll do a little tweaking to it in the future I’m sure but will repeat it.  Head on over the Materials page to see my project rubric for the invite and rsvp.

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH.

An Invite (Shrunk so I could copy it)

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 7.39.05 AM


Screenshot of a finished fotobabble

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#NETA13: New Sites I’m Excited to Explore


For the past two days I’ve been at Nebraska Educational Technology Association’s (NETA) 2013 conference.  I’ve seen some great stuff to try!  Here’s a quick list of what I found.

I am most excited about this site.  If you’re familiar with Socrative or Nearpod, it’s as if the two got together and created Infuse.  It’s very much like Socrative in that you can create quizzes or ask questions on the fly.  It’s like Nearpod in that it offers the ever popular drawing feature.  Infuse offers the following types of questions: T/F, MC, Sort/Order, Likert Scale, Drawing and free text.  Another cool feature which I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse is that it will translate questions automatically between English-Spanish-German-French-Chinese-Russian and I’m not sure what else.  I’ve only done a few test questions but the translation seems to be accurate.  You can set up classes so you know exactly who answered what.  It looks very promising as a classroom tool.

I haven’t played with this one yet but basically it lets you make step by step instructions.  It reminded me a lot of SlideShare based on it’s looks.  You can import all kinds of media and easily pull from YouTube, Google search, any website, etc.  Might be good for helping students understand processes, review info or introduce new concepts.  Looked pretty easy to use.

I love me some Google forms but hate making them.  I don’t find the creation process to be very user friendly.  Welcome to wufoo.  Besides being fun to say, it’s super easy to drop and drag a form into creation.  I haven’t experimented much with this but am excited about exploring it.

Is a site with tons of flyer templates.  Could be handy for posters for school events or clubs.

If you got here via Twitter you know how important it is to be able to shorten URLs.  Well, what if you could give someone a list of shortened URLs to look at?  Now you can.  You can enter multiple URLs into fur.ly and it will create one short link that takes the clickers to the first URL you shortened and gives them a yellow scroll bar at the top to go through all the sites you entered, via one URL.

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 2.38.17 PM

There were a lot of cool apps that I was introduced to as well.  As I try them out, I’ll post if they are good tools.  I hope the sites above help in some way!

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH

Gossip in the classroom: Practicing IOPs


I strongly dislike trying to teach direct object pronouns (DOPS) and indirect object pronouns (IOPS).  I know there are some that will argue that we don’t even need to “teach” them, just let natural learning take over and students will figure it out.  I agree that after awhile you (people in general) will sort it out and figure out what that “le” or “lo” means.  I still like to take some time to present them and introduce them to students so when they see them they don’t get stumped by them.

For IOPS, specifically le, I did a short activity involving gossip.  I set this activity up by telling students that I thought I could trust them but I was obviously wrong.  I said that I told one of them something in confidence and that person turned around and told someone else and just like always the information spread one person at a time until everyone knew.  I introduced this with a lot of drama and the students actually thought I was upset with them and that this had really happened.  It was fun to see them looking around at everyone since they all thought they were the one person that didn’t know what was going on!  They soon caught on that it wasn’t true but rather a set up.  I gave each student a slip of paper that said “Yo le dije a ___________”.  The students had to go around and ask “¿A quién le dijiste?” then give their answer.  After students had talked to everyone in class they reconstructed the chain of who told who my “secret”.

The kids had a great time and got so much repetition with “le” and “dije” and “dijiste” (an unknown verb at the beginning of this activity).  It went really well and the students had a blast and used Spanish the whole time.  As an added benefit, I had a fun making the kids sweat for a minute or two! 🙂

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH

Lingtlanguage and Oral Assessments


This week I did an oral vocabulary quiz with my Spanish 3 students about movies.  I used the website Lingt Language to administer the quiz.  It consisted of 7 questions in Spanish that I recorded ahead of time.  The students click on a speech bubble and hear the question.  They can listen as many times as they want.  Then they click the other speech bubble and it records their answer that they say.  They can delete their answers and re-record if they make a mistake.  At the bottom they click submit and enter their name.  This then gives me their name and all their recorded answers on my homepage.


I was looking for something to use my class iPod touches with for this assessment but didn’t come up with anything on time so I went with Lingt because I’d used it in the past for other types of assessments.  The downfall is that it requires Flash so can’t be used with iPods or iPads.  It was SO QUICK to make and easy to listen and grade the assessments.

If you want to see what my assessment was like, click here then click on Spanish 3 and Vamos al cine.  Feel free to test stuff out.  Just don’t submit your answers.  🙂

Lingt Language is free but limits how many assignments you can upload to classes I think.  That’s changed a bit since the last time I used it so I need to read up on how it works again.  If you’ve got questions as to how to make this assessment, let me know and I’ll try to upload a how-to video.  It’s pretty intuitive once you mess around a bit.

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH.