Update

I am still having issues with my site! Please bare with me as I try to get them fixed. Somehow, I keep losing blog posts! They are only saving temporarily and I have no way of getting them back without redoing them. I hope to have the site operational soon. Thanks for your patience and support!

QR Codes in the Classroom

This week, I tested out one of my new products in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store! My students used their phones to scan QR Codes and participate in a Cartoon Character Scavenger Hunt. To complete the activity, the students had to scan the code. Each code linked to a description of one of the cartoon characters. We completed the activity in the cafeteria so the students could spread out. Ideally, the pictures are posted in separate parts of the school and the students really have to search for the pictures. Overall, the activity went well. It was the first opportunity for them to use technology in the classroom. It was a great way to teach them procedures on proper technology use as well as practice their Spanish.


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To Flip or Not To Flip?

After a year as a Curriculum Coach, I have decided to return to the classroom. I miss the students. I miss the feeling of accomplishment. I miss creating lesson plans and developing activities. I just miss teaching! The thing is, however, I am not only returning to the classroom in a new district but a new state!!! Because of this, I am not totally sure if I will flip my classroom next year.

I first flipped my classroom during the 2012-2013 classroom and there were several benefits as well as several things I was looking forward to changing before I took my current position. My biggest concern is that I am not familiar with the school and am unsure as to what means of technology or buy-in I will have. I also don’t know if all teachers in the department are required to follow the same (exact) lesson plan. I am concerned that the parents and administration may not be opened to this methodology.

I have visited a school in the district in which the principal is trying to provide his entire staff with professional development on flipped classroom (would be an easier decision if I was at the school); so, I know that the district staff would be on board. However, I have to make sure that I am following the expectations of my immediate supervisor.

So…here I am contemplating…thinking…pondering…debating…do I flip my classroom next year? Maybe I will just take a year to get my feet wet and then proceed to go out on a limb…decisions, decisions. I guess I could just spend the first semester with a traditional classroom (easing in aspects of the flipped classroom) and flip during the second semester (new classes, new students, new beginning). Hopefully I can decide soon because I have lessons to plan…

Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind

I recently attended a professional development session with Eric Jensen, the author of Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind and other books about brain-based learning and teaching. Although I had skimmed the book Teaching with Poverty in Mind, I was prepared for a long day! When I walked in and saw the tables filled, I immediately sent my husband a text saying that I did not know if I was staying after lunch. I was already and exhausted…I preferred to stay in bed and allow my body time to heal. During the first five minutes of the presentation, my mind was changed completely. I immediately got a cup of coffee and water when I got the first chance and prepared to stay for the long haul. And boy am I glad I did!

Not only was the information that Mr. Jensen presented was relevant for my current setting, it also made me think of my personal experience growing up in poverty. I sat there and thought “Now I  understand why I was so angry”, and “Man, am I glad I had great teachers”.  While I know my teachers contributed to my success, the presentation made it even more evident that I was very fortunate to have teachers that taught the students in the class instead of their circumstances.

Mr. Jensen’s extensive research is centered around how the brain learns and students in poverty. He presented several success stories from the schools he researched for his books. He also shared strategies to overcome many of the obstacles that teachers face with students in high poverty schools. If you haven’t had a chance to see him speak, you are missing out! I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and pondered on whether or not I should return to the classroom.

I will post more details about the workshop at a later date. To learn more about Eric Jensen, visit http://www.jensenlearning.com.

Long time, no blog!

Long time, no blog!!! I have been busy working in my new capacity and have not had much time to blog! Teachers return next week so it will be a couple of more weeks before I am active again. I still have several things that need to move from my previous sites and tons of resources that I have to upload. Whew! It does not seem as if there is enough time in the day to get it done but I love the challenge. I will try to update at least once every 2 weeks for now…adding resources (especially to my technology and differentiated instruction pages). I hope you all can be patient while I aim to bring you read to use activities and resources for your classes.

New Job

When I started this site about a month ago, it was to share my adventures in the classroom. With a lot of praying and deliberating, I have been offered and have take a job as a middle school curriculum coach. Although this is my career of choice, I am very nervous and apprehensive about the change. I have been at my current position since June 2004 and have built many relationships with teachers, parents, and students. While it may be difficult to leave it all behind, I could not pass up an opportunity to help teachers in a district that is ready to change. All in all, the direction of the site will change but much of the content will remain the same. Stay tuned for my new journey!

Summer Reading

973513_10152831095730268_1027920826_nI took a trip this weekend to Barnes & Noble and decided to pick up a few books to add to my summer reading list. As a prepare for next year, I needed something that will add a new perspective on strategies, activities, and lesson plan ideas that are already in my repertoire. I will begin with “Advancing Differentiation” because it was the first book that caught my eye and I LOVE reading about differentiation strategies. As a read, I will share with you my thoughts and reflections. Stay tuned!!!

Flipping the Classroom & FAQ

flipped-classroom1When I tell people that I am implementing the flipped classroom model, the first thing most of them want to know is how much prep time is involved. Initially, there is A LOT of prep time involved. You have to create and/or search for videos for the content you want to present to the students. This is more difficult when you are trying to flip more than one class at the same time. The number of units/concepts you have will dictate how many videos you have to create from the onset. You also have to determine what other activities you want to integrate. If you are using PBL (Project Based Learning) in conjunction with the flipped model, you have to establish guidelines and create rubrics while creating your videos. For many, this process is extremely overwhelming.

My suggestion, for teachers who teach more than one subject area, is to try flipping just one unit and see how it works. Really take the time to reflect after the unit so that all subsequent units are more effective. My downfall has been flipping four classes at the same time and having these classes during the same class period! I had to have 4 units prepared at the same time for each class! This became overwhelming and my upper level classes were not as prepared or engaging as my level 1 class. As a result, flipping has not been as effective for those classes. For Spanish 2-4, it was almost counterproductive! Needless to say, my summer will be spent reflecting, re-organizing, and creating…not much different from my previous summers!

Finally, do not feel intimidated by the flipped model. There are many videos available that can be used if you are not comfortable with the video-making process. Most importantly, use activities and projects that you already integrate instead of re-inventing the wheel. This cuts down on time you will need to create supplemental assignments.

If you have any additional questions, please email me at ktlorenzo@aplausos.us.

 

 

The Home Stretch

I am nearing the end of my my first year flipping and I am contemplating on changes I want to make during the upcoming year. I know the first thing I will do this summer will be to record my lessons with me in the video (following the FIZZ model from NC State). I currently use voice-over PowerPoint presentations that I have used for years. This has worked for the most part. However, I want to include more examples to give the students more opportunities to hear pronunciations since I am no longer giving direct instruction.

Another change I anticipate is the organization of the unit activities. I am not completely sure how I want to do this…I don’t even have any ideas on how I want to present the activities. I do know that there were parts that were not as effective as I would have liked for them to be. I will closely look at this aspect as well as restructuring the pacing/curriculum guide.

Each semester presents a new learning opportunity for me and I will continue to capitalize throughout the year. Nothing is ever etched in stone!!! I am a firm believer that if it isn’t working, I need re-evaluate and change what needs to be changed. Hopefully, next year will be more productive and students will be more engaged.

Reading Groups/Literature Circles

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One of the things I love to do in class is to use reading groups or literature circles. This is especially effective if you have groups of students at different readiness levels. I group students and assign novels or stories based on their abilities and have them translate, answer questions, and analyze what they read. It is okay that not every group is reading the same thing. The most important thing is that the reading challenges the students and is manageable at the same time (+1).

When students are assigned their groups, the first assignment is for them to read and/or translate. I usually assign two chapters at a time. After reading each section, they create a circle map summarizing what they have read.

Other activities include: cover page, one-pagers, story pyramid, paragraphs (summaries), etc. At the end of the unit, the students combine all work into a literature portfolio and turn it in. By the end of the selection, students have tremendously improved their reading comprehension in Spanish.