¡Yay for technology in the classroom!


Last night another Spanish teacher introduced me to Photopeach.com. I absolutely love this website, and already have a bunch of ideas for my DL FACTS and Spanish classroom.
When I got home, I decided to check it out and ended up making one using my pictures from Mexico. I am fascinated by all things indigenous so I used my indigenous dance pictures, along with some music that I danced to in Sangre Azteca and a beautiful poema about the indigenous connection to la naturaleza. http://photopeach.com/album/18n933d

In the future, I would like to have students summerize stories we have read via Photopeach.com. I will be working on another example using Polpol Wuj. I also think this would be a great way to start off the year or semester. The kids could put together a 10 picutre slideshow that show off their personality and interests. I love the fact that it forces the kids the look and both the smaller, and larger picture. Do all of my pictures fit the theme? Does the text relate to the picture and/or the music? Is my audience able to understand what I am trying to say? How does the music affect the mood of my slideshow?


Anyone know how I can embed the photopeach slideshow on this page so you don’t have to click on the link?

Moving & Conquering Verb Conjugation


So after nights and nights of no sleep and finding my front door wide open in the morning I have moved out! I am now living with another Spanish teacher from my school….I love it! It is so nice to feel comfortable in my own house, and actually have someone to talk to. We shoveled and played Just Dance all morning 🙂

Because of my messed up living situation, these last two weeks at school have been tough. Its hard to put up with 100 teenagers on 2 hours of sleep, but I made it! My relationship with me coordinating teacher has been getting stronger and I really enjoy working with her more and more everyday. At first I wasn’t sure how well we were going to get along, but she has been such a great resource in school and just in life. She helped me get out of my living situation and has put up with me on very little sleep haha. I am very grateful to be with her. I know I have mentioned this before, but I am also so pleased to be in the foreign language department and to share share an office with the social studies department. Our office is unique to the others in the school and I really feel like we are a family. They have taken such good care of me!

Now that I have full control of the Spanish class, I am trying to make it not so mundane. They do a lot of practice essays and practice tests, and about 90% of them are failing the practice tests, and the real test is in 2 months! I need to get them ready, and what they are doing now obviously isn’t working for them. On Friday I played Guerra de Verbos with them. You have 3 dice and have a pronoun, verb and tense column up on the board. Each one corresponds to a number on the dice.
1- Yo 1. Ser 1. Presente
2- Tu 2. Estar 2. Imperfecto
3- El 3. Tener 3. Preterito
4-Usted 4. Ir 4. Pluscuamperfecto
5-Nosotros 5.Comer 5. Presente Perfecto
6-Ellas 6. Ver 6. Futuro

I roll the di and then say the numbers in order that they land. Say I roll a 1, 2 and 3. They have to use the pronoun 1 from the first column, the 2 verb (estar) from the verb column, and the 3 tense(Preterito) from the tense column. So on their white boards they would write Estuve.
The kids had SO MUCH FUN with this! I was running around the room giving points, corrections and helpful feedback. I took something boring that they do everyday and made it fun; I tricked them into learning! I didn’t give them any rewards either. If I would have tried this with my Spanish 1 class from last year, they would have either not done it or thrown a fit because they weren’t given a rewards. My kids are internally motivated to do well and use Spanish successfully and I absolutely love that!

My ESL kids have been getting a little rowdy. I think I started out too nice with them, and now I’m having to reevaluate and almost start over again with them discipline wise. I still enjoy teaching them.

I am soooo excited about the project I just started with my FACTS class. They are reading Romeo and Juliet in English class, and in my class, they will be making Toon Dos to retell the story. I was scared they weren’t going to be creative, but they are proving me wrong!!! I have already seen some amazing prologues!!! The example I gave used the traditional story, but with a different theme, Jersey Shore. I wrote a Toon Doo called DJ Romeo and Guidette….the kids were laughing the whole time and were surprised with my “with-it-ness”. I have seen some kids doing Romeo & Juliet al estilo Mexicano and in space. They have to bilingual as well 😀

Oh yeah and it snowed a ton…..it’s still snowing

Gallons of Cheap Cologne and Body Odor


January 20, 2012

I’m excited to say that even though this started out as a rough week, things got a lot better and I am in a super positive mood.

First, I got a letter from the Fulbright commission and I have been recommended for an ETA grant in Brazil. That means that the US Department of education has approved my application and they have sent it off to Brazil. My fate is now in the hands of the Brazilian Dept. of education. The on horrible thing is that I might not find out until May if I get it or not.   😦  I hate waiting!!!

My Boren application is due in about two weeks….not too excited about that. I was very confident when I handed in my Fulbright application, but the Boren has been harder to write.

Last night was open house for 8th graders from the middle scho0l and all over the district. I was very surprised by how many families came! All of the teachers stayed and many of them put up booths. Luckily, I got to take part in several of the tables. (I am very proud of myself for jumping in and becoming so involved) I was at the Latino Leaders table, the Cheer table and the Dual Language room. I met a lot of new parents and even parents of my students who are planning on sending another child here. I seeing parents getting involved and helping their kids plan for their future. I had the opportunity to share some of my scholarship knowledge with them, and they seemed very grateful. Financial aid advisor might be another calling in my life. I am so sick of seeing students miss out on opportunities because they think it’s not possible or that no one is willing to help.

I love love love my cheer girls! They are the sweetest, funniest people in this school. They (their coach as well, she is moving) have mentioned that they would like it if I took over as head coach next year! If only! If I get the Fulbright, I will be leaving in March of 2013 and cannot sign a yearlong contract. But hopefully, they will need a long-term sub or maybe just hire me for 1st semester. I have heard through the grapevine that there will be some changes that will require more teachers. Hopefully I will benefit from this!

I just completed a PowerPoint lesson in my  FACTS class and most of the kids got into it. Since the idea is to teach computer skills and programs through context, I decided to have students research the topic “Being Healthy” and create a PowerPoint. I created some very simple (easy to follow) “how to create a PowerPoint” guide in English and Spanish. I will put them up when I figure out how to make links to Google Docs on here. (Mom if your reading this, feel free to use my how to use the computer guides 😀 haha jk. I love you!)

I think this lesson plan worked because it was based in real life context and many of the kids seemed interested in finding out ways they could stay healthy/be healthier. One of the slides had to be their favorite healthy recipe—they had a lot of fun with this—and as soon as everyone gets their PPTs turned in, I am going to combine all of the recipes and make a FACTS Healthy Cookbook. I will post that too as soon as we are done with the project!

Next week, I’m going to try some dual coding strategies with my ESL 1 class and we’ll see how they react to it. I know dual coding works and I love using it, but they are so used to just copying lists of vocabulary words. It might take them a couple days to get used to taking notes in pictures, but I think they will like and benefit more from it in the end.

Today I got asked for my tardy pass in the hallway…..


Not sure what to say about this week. There were great moments, and not so great moments.

I today got “talked to” for using Google Docs. Google Docs! Apparently it’s because they receive some type of grant that prohibits them from using Google website, and if they get caught they can lose funding. I understand their reasoning behind it (and liability concerns), but why oh why in the world are we blocking kids and teachers from these wonderful resources? I just found out about Google docs and their color coated calendar this last year, and I totally wish I would have known about it before!

So my AP Spanish students are great and have even come up with several nicknames for me. I started as Ms. O’ “what?”, then Ms. “O”, and now I’m Ms. OG (original gangster). I’m excited to do more with them; I want to bring back the Glamour of Grammar. I am excited to show them that there are other ways to learn grammar. I have some discovery lessons I’m planning to use once we start the subjunctive chapter. I am also looking for some songs that incorporate the imperative subjunctive.

End of the first week and still all smiles!


Friday, January 06, 2012

I just finished my first week of student teaching, and so far it has been great. I will be meeting my cooperating teacher on Monday, and she will be the last piece of my successful puzzle. I have talked with the cheerleading coach, and next Tuesday I am going to start “assistant coaching”. I also plan on helping out with the dance team, but since the coach does not work at the school. I will have to wait until Tuesday night at practice to speak with her.

I know this semester is only going to get harder as I transition from observer to fulltime teacher, but so far, I feel like it will be a breeze compared to what I experienced with other practicums. It has been a week, and I have not had one student ask for a pencil, and I have two freshman classes! There don’t seem to be any severe behavior problems either. Some kids have attitudes, but no one has been outright disrespectful to me yet. On the contrary, students have been so kind and welcoming. They all say high and good morning to me in the hallways and outside of school; during last semester’s practicum, the students would look down at the ground and try to walk in another direction. I’m not sure if it’s because I started here  on day one and at the other school I came in during the middle of the semester, or if it’s because of the cultural differences. Of the 100 or so students I have, only 1 of them is American (doesn’t associate with a Hispanic culture or family). I don’t know why, but I always seem to get along better/connect better with members of the Hispanic community. I am hoping to connect with the Latino Leaders club and hopefully take them to UNL for the symposium hosted by MASA.

Two of my classes are part of the dual language program (DL FACTS) and it is exciting to see how many freshmen are starting out on the right track and who are successful in both Spanish and English. I also think it’s great because once students in the ESL department leave the sheltered classes, they have the opportunity of being in the dual language program, and they continue receiving input in their native language (only the Hispanic students). I have a couple students in my ESL class who are from Myanmar (Thailand), and so far there are not a lot of clubs or programs that support their native language or culture.

Even though I have found the environment here to be quit enjoyable, there are a few things that I don;t really understadn yet. First, students have to pay to park in the parking lot…..when did this turn into UNL? Second, the teacher’s lounge reminds me of the little tiny room that fat guy from Office Space gets put in. International Languages and ESL share a room with the Social Studies Department, and there are no assigned desks, just random tables with computers for everyone to use. The computers are old and don’t even have Java or adobe installed. I guess I was spoiled last semester—their teacher’s lounge was AMAZING! There are also no supplies available to teachers. Last semester I had an endless stock room where I could take what I needed for class as well as store my own materials. Here there is nothing. If you need paper you have to go fill out a form in the office. I understand that this is being done to protect the school’s supplies, but it makes it hard for teacher’s to get what they need–especially in the case of an emergency.  The budget seems a lot more stretched here, but after teaching in Mexico for 6 months with no electricity I feel prepared to deal with all sorts of supplies issues.  Who knows, maybe it’s not as bad as I have heard. My fourth problem is the technology. Since I have been here, the tardy program has crashed every day, and we have lost internet 2 of the 4 days. I feel like I’m teaching in Mexico again. The computers are falling apart and about a third of them in my DL FACTS lab do not even turn on. Students do not have access to Prezi or WordReference.com…..are you kidding me? I understand blocking Facebook and Twitter, but most of them have that on their phones anyways. These kids are being sheltered from amazing online resources. As a teacher, I am also being limited with what I can do with them. Many computers don’t have Adobe or Java installed so I can’t use any site that needs them (almost every website) and personal laptops are banned in the school.  Even if I could bring my own computer, the internet is blocked. Also, many of my students still don’t have a login name and haven’t had one since last semester.

Yesterday, I did a presentation about myself in all of my classes and the students seemed to enjoy getting to know me, my AP Spanish classes especially. I showed them pictures of my family and told them all about the places I have traveled and why I decided to be a teacher. This also gave me the opportunity to share some of my scholarship knowledge with them. A lot of them seemed surprised that there were national scholarships available to them, and that it didn’t matter what college they go to. I talked a lot about the Gilman Scholarship and what is required of them during the application process. I also planted the Fulbright seed, and a lot of them got excited about having the opportunity to study abroad. I’m hoping to do something else with them so that they know how many opportunities for scholarships they have. Perhaps in my DL FACTS class I can have them make brochures for the FAFSA and the Gilman in English and Spanish. By doing this, they would be meeting one of the standards (the brochure program) and learning about something that will help them in the future.

Well that’s it for now! I enjoyed my first week of teaching and look forward to getting to know my students.


Grrrr snow and official teacher lanyard :)


So it decided to snow today…I was really hoping to make it through the semester without having to see that nasty white stuff, but who am I kidding, this is Nebraska. 

Today was my first Latino Leaders meeting and I am excited about working with them. Next month we are having tryouts for the Generacion N talent show and I get to be a judge! The show will be in March and they are giving away a scholarship, I think. The teacher in charge of this group will be leaving in a couple weeks to have her baby and hopefully I will get to take over. A few of my students are in the club. 

Yesterday was my first day with the cheerleaders. They hare HILARIOUS! I will start working with the dance team tomorrow. Of the 4 cheer and dance coaches, only one of them is a teacher at the school. The other ladies just come in after school once a week for practice. I’m glad I will be another adult they can depend on in the building. 

I got my keys and official teacher lanyard (15% off at New York & Company with a teacher’s i.d.) 

I’m taking over the ESL class next week; wish me luck! 


.:First Day:.


To start off, I want to explain a little bit about me and why I am writing this blog. In May of this year (2012) I will be graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Secondary Spanish Education. I will also receive an endorsement in ESL education. Before I can walk down the aisle to get my diploma, I have to finish my student teaching.

I was placed at a local High School and couldn’t he happier about my placement; so far I love this school! My cooperating teaching will be on maternity leave until next Monday so I have been with a permanent sub who used to work here. She is incredible, and I really wish she was staying. I have not met my cooperating teacher yet, but I hope we get along as well as the sub and I do.

My day consisted of an almost 2 hour long school tour and meeting a million teachers and administrators. This school is huge! I have almost mastered the 4th floor, but I get completely lost in the rest of the building.

Period 1- My first period class (at 7:40…..it’s going to take a while to get used to that) is a level 1 ESL class. I have kids from Mexico, El Salvador and Burma/Thailand; they are the sweetest things ever! Our class focuses on grammar, but they stay in this room for three periods and have reading and conversation classes. I am used to the way things work at Lincoln High, and it seems that this school moves the kids through the program a little quicker than in Lincoln, but form what I have heard, OPS has an extended program compared to other cities and states. If students start in August or the 1st quarter, they stay in the level 1 class, but if a student comes in during the second quarter or second semester, they go to a newcomer’s class. I think this is a great idea so that they aren’t forced into a class where they can’t understand anything; I feel like that would be detramental to their confidence. Half of the class is very talkative, and the other half is silent almost the entire time. I don’t know why, but I get very nervous in front of them, and even more so when they are staring at me in silence. I will need to work on that! It has been very hard to not speak in Spanish! I know it is not fair to the kids who speak Karen, and so far I have done a good job at speak in only English. The phrases that they all know perfectly are “no homework”, “free time” and “can I go to the bathroom” 🙂

Periods 2 & 3- Periods 2 and 3 are a DL FACTS class. This class is part of the Dual Language program and is only for freshman. Since my cooperating teacher isn’t here yet, I haven’t been able to get a good feel from what they do on a normal day. From what I have heard and seen on the syllabus, it looks like they will be practicing their typing skills in a program call Micro Type and learning how to use different computer programs through “life skills” based content. One example I saw was learning how to make a brochure; it was paired with a small business unit. They also work in a program called Achieve 3000. This program has students answer and question written by the teacher (brainstorming), read an article on the topic, and then they do a series of multiple choice questions and short answer questions.

Period 2 is a lot of fun and they have welcomed me into their classroom with open arms. There is, however, one boy in there who was being a little creepy and trying to flirt with me; I am going to keep my distance for these first couple of weeks and try to gain his respect. Period 3 has not been rude yet, but they seem very standoffish. I hope they warm up to me…..or just don’t give me problems.

Periods 5, 7 & 8- These periods are all AP Spanish. This class consists of kids who are native speakers and who are planning on taking the AP exam for college credit. Most fo them seem focused on school, and many of them are involved in clubs like Latino Leaders. I love love love period 5! They are the sweetest kids I have ever met! They welcomed me in and were blown away by the fact that I’m a gringa who speaks Spanish like a Mexican…I think my accent is going  to help me survive teaching upper level classes.