Starting the Year

LOCAL TEACHER BOOSTS HOMEWORK LOAD IN BID FOR TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Local teacher Anne Dur has a plan. Last year she was a finalist for national teacher of the year and missed receiving that honor by just a few points. This year she is determined to get it. This year she thinks she knows what to do. Dur has upped the homework requirement in her French classes to what some might call an excessive amount of time. “Last year I missed it because the kids didn’t score high enough on the national exams. That’s not going to happen again this year. Non monsieur,” said Dur. Students and parents were shocked to [...]

COLORFUL SPANISH: VOCABULARY HELP FOR NEW TEACHERS

A Short Glossary of Insults and Off-Color Street Spanish. Find the whole list here Among some groups, I suppose this vocabulary could be considered high-frequency, but not in polite company. This material was originally published in Conversational Spanish, a textbook I wrote and used in my college classes for almost 20 years.  It is intended to inform adults. I have never taught my upper-level high school students units on cussing in Spanish, despite their ardent pleas over the years. Although I agree that it would be useful for them to be aware of some of the curse words in Spanish, I never [...]

YEARLONG READING PLANS FOR LEVELS 1 & 3

These are the reading assignments from the course syllabi in my level 1 and level 3 classes. Most of it is self-selected reading, even in level 1.Level 1 students can read on their own and read an amazing amount once they know the high frequency verbs. This plan really works for my students because it is self-differentiating. Every class we teach is a multi-level class, regardless of the course title... the students spread out all over the place in ability very quickly and allowing them to read what they want is the best i have found to accommodate those differences. [...]

SPECIAL PERSON QUIZ #2 RESULTS

These are the results of Special Person Quiz #2, the second full week of school. This week we interviewed just three students. Since the verb "tiene" (has) had been added there were many more opportunities for questions, answers, comments, clarifications and follow up than with the meager vocabulary student had last week. Students were to write at least 15 sentences with no notes, and I told them  not to hold themselves back. They were to "show what they know" and impress me by writing as many sentences based on what had been shared in class by the three interviewees. Students [...]

THE TAKEN SPEECH FOR TEACHERS

Here is a speech I long to give to my students at the beginning of the school year. Maybe this will be the year. (Most effective when read with Liam Neeson's voice.) "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are just looking for a grade, I can tell you I don’t have grades in mind. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for students that just want a grade. But if you let [...]

SPECIAL PERSON QUIZ #3 RESULTS

We just finished the fifth week of school. This year in my level one Spanish classes I am focusing on "Special Person" interviews. I am not teaching to an overt grammar syllabus. I have not done any units. I have not even told any stories yet. I am focusing on high frequency verbs. We have done a few songs and games, and students are doing free reading both in and outside of class, but the main focus is on personal interviews. The students are the curriculum. And, at least for now, it is working well. Class becomes compelling when it is about them. [...]