Comprehensible Input

Fall tends to be a time of reflection for me. You would think it would be summer, being a teacher and all, but fall is my favorite season and is when I feel the most “me”, so to speak.

My favorite things about fall:

  1. Cool weather (although this year it is STILL in the 80s everyday – weird, Kentucky!)
  2. Hoodies and sweatshirts and jeans
  3. Leaves and general natural beauty (I drive through several farms on my way to work and it is gorgeous!)
  4. Great food – potato soup, grill outs, etc.
  5. Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Mochas without sweating to death
  6. Football!
  7. Lazy Saturday mornings
  8. A renewed sense of enthusiasm
  9. HARRY POTTER WEEKENDS! Although, when DON’T we celebrate Harry Potter?
  10. Anticipation of three major holidays (Okay, so Christmas isn’t a part of fall, but I start anticipating it in the fall and planning/prepping)
  11. The return of the school year and finally starting to feel settled in with my new kiddos
  12. And a NEW favorite this year: a three-week long fall break.

Yep, you read that last one right. My new (old? since I student taught there) school district starts on August 1st and makes up for the early start with three weeks off in October. It’s like the holy grail of school schedules. Just when I’m feeling overwhelmed and having a hard time accomplishing all of my goals (due to lack of time), I get three weeks off. It’s amazing.

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This is an awful picture of my classroom (especially since I had everything disorganized from painting) but it shows the fun new colors!

I spent the first week of my break at school, of course, but with MUCH less pressure. I helped some kids get caught up (Total aside: we do this awesome thing called EXCEL, which is like summer school but instead of waiting until the end of the year, we catch our kids up at the end of every quarter and try to give them the tools to succeed in the remaining quarters. Doesn’t this make SO much sense???) and I painted most of my giant classroom. I now have a deep plum front wall and bright, light blue other walls. I also grabbed everything I need to work from home over the next two weeks. Sure, I’ll still go in a few days, but I can sleep in a bit and I’m already feeling much more relaxed.

This year, I’m working my TAIL off. I’m teaching K-12 French, which has been a dream of mine for quite some time. It’s a ton of work, though. To my knowledge, I’m running the only elementary French program in our state (the other one listed is now a Spanish program). That means resource availability is scarce and I don’t really have many people to plan with. I did meet several Spanish elementary teachers at a conference this fall which was awesome and helped me get a better idea of what a good program looks like, but the big issue is this: everything I “knew” about teaching languages has changed. In three short years.

Sure, everything has been changing for awhile, but I wasn’t connected to people who knew and/or cared about the transition. I had no idea how comprehensible input was going to change my teaching. But now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. Now that I’ve experienced the research in action, I can’t possibly go back.

Comprehensible input, or TPR/TPRS teaching, is all about natural-style language acquisition, sped up for the classroom. There is so much research to accompany this style of teaching, but the big point is that I’m changing everything about how I teach. And you know what? Before I even fully committed to it, it started working. You see, I kind of made the change at the beginning of this year based on my experience as a third grade teacher last year, which showed me a lot more about how to be an effective teacher. The kids have responded amazingly. I’m continually impressed with how much MORE they can do and produce than my former, traditionally-taught students. And they aren’t even on a full CI program!

The downside is that I have a lot of work to do. But, I had a lot of work to do regardless, so it is really learning more about being a better teacher and doing different work than I had originally imagined.

Still, even with working a ton, I’m sleeping in, seeing my family more, taking naps, drinking wine, hanging out on Facebook and Pinterest, and getting things settled for the rest of the year so I will be less stressed for the rest of the year, and that is completely priceless.

I LOVE MY JOB.

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La Classe de français: Multi-level Management

Not going to lie, I’m a tiny bit apprehensive about my new transition to teaching every student K-8. Not because I can’t do it, and not because I won’t rock it (oh, I will!) but because switching management styles throughout the day to use what works best at different age levels is, well, daunting. Luckily, I’ve taught 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade before, so that covers a large portion of my bases. I feel really comfortable with 3-12.

But what about those K-2ers? I feel fairly comfortable with them, and if I ever went back to K-5 teaching, those are the grades I’d prefer, but I realized my management needed a tune-up. So I trolled Pinterest (when am I NOT trolling Pinterest lol???) and came across this nifty site as a pin. I immediately lifted about, oh, four of the ideas and adjusted them for my own classes, then promptly bought and assembled all the necessary pieces.IMG_1299

 Let’s go from right to left. Mostly because I want to spread out the pictures in my post, haha. First up is Pastilles de pouvoir, which stems from Holly’s Power Pellets. These were easy to use because I don’t have to adapt them at all! I just hand out Skittles to kids who are following directions or doing the right thing. I got the container from Dollar Tree and it just fit a 42 ounce bag of Skittles. I love the spout lid on top for easy access and pouring without spreading too many germs.

Next is Solution d’intelligence, which Holly called Smart Spray. Littles are very superstitious and any kind of good superstition can only work for them! I like that I might be able to take away some of their apprehension about the language and any difficulties they perceive with the use of this bottle of glitter and water spray. I purchased the supplies at Dollar Tree, but I wish I would’ve found a bottle that was shaped differently because the label I made has all kinds of wrinkles from the Mod Podge, and alas, I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist for it not to bug me.

The last one pictured are Cailloux heureux, or Happy Rocks that Holly found on Kindergals. I have to adapt this a bit because it is made as an accumulating reward for a whole class, and I have 12 classes just from K-3 each week. That’s a bit much to keep track of for rewards. Anyone have suggestions for these? With the 2nd and 3rd graders, I can pass them out to hold onto in class when they do something kind or helpful (and maybe send them with the kids since they are so cheap!), but I worry that K’s and 1st graders will stick them somewhere or try to swallow them. Any suggestions? But they are super cute, n’est-ce pas?

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I got the bucket from Party City for $1 and the flat glass rocks from Dollar Tree. Add some Sharpie faces and voilà!

The other tool I made (partially) is Pépites de silence, or Silent Sprinkles for encouraging students to quiet down in certain situations (you tape the openings with clear tape so it sounds like sprinkles without the mess – genius idea, Holly!). I mixed the rice and glitter in a bag, but I could not find a darn large shaker anywhere! I seriously looked at four different stores. And then, in the pasta aisle at Wal-Mart, I had an epiphany: I can use a Parmesan cheese shaker! Sadly, we don’t eat that kind of Parmesan cheese, but my dad saves those containers for his garage and he put one aside for me. Once I pick it up and Mod Podge the label on, I’ll update this post with a picture.

BONUS! (I feel like Oprah yelling on her show about presents!)

Are you a French teacher? Do you WANT these labels? Great, download them here and enjoy them!

Do you have any other amazing tools for managing classes among multiple grade levels? I’d love to hear them!

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Turnback Tuesday: Elementary Pictures

I’m back! Well, I probably won’t be regularly back for another week or so, but I finished my last final tonight so grad school is officially off my plate, and to celebrate I’m posting a school-themed Turnback Tuesday to celebrate my first day teaching third grade tomorrow!

Yes, I am dorky enough to have my third grade picture on my classroom website. The kids think it is really fun! Without further ado, here are some of my elementary school pictures:

Kindergarten
First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade

Notice any big changes over the years? I love my hilariously dorky glasses in fifth grade! Thank goodness for contacts 😉

Happy Schoolmas!

Oops, I forgot my H54F post this past Friday. I’ll just make this week’s post extra awesome 🙂

It’s that time of year: teachers forget about the problems of yesteryear while enjoying their vacations and start preparing for those adorable faces that will soon be stepping into their classrooms. It’s also our favorite time of the year for another reason — school supplies!

There is very little that can top the look, feel, and smell ofday brand new supplies for teachers. It’s our crack. It completely washes away the feelings of impending 60-70 hour work weeks and learning a whole new set of faces and behaviors.

This year (God willing that I get a job), I’m borrowing a few ideas from the awesome Mrs. K and Pinterest. Check out some of my goodies!

one – Here’s what I got for each student: a “working folder”, a math & science journal, a writing journal, and a mini notebook to keep in their pencil box to jot down ideas when they come to them or are suggested. Each item except the idea book is numbered with the student number, with 16 being shown above (sorry that it’s hard to read – these were cell phone pics on Instagram). I just printed some name badge labels and stuck them right on the front of everything.

two – This is the inside of the working folder. The left is labeled “Please finish” and the right is labeled “Ready to be turned in” to help remind students of any work that needs completing. Also, if they finish with something early but I’m not collecting it yet or we’re in a situation where they shouldn’t be out of their seats, they can move things to the right side until they get a chance to turn them in. I learned early on from Mrs. K that they’ll constantly need reminding of what should go in their purple folders! I like that they only have one folder so they have less chance of losing things or putting things in the wrong folder.

three – How did I get my composition books cut in half? At home, with a miter saw. Please note – the edges won’t be perfect because they’ll fan slightly at the cut edge, but they are still great to use and hardly noticeable. Notice that after some trial and error, I placed the edges where they would be cut by the blade first and clamped both sides down. And as tedious as it is, only cut one book at a time, otherwise they will really fray on the edges.

Overall, I spent $1.04 per student for all of these materials including the labels, which is super cheap, and I’ll know that whether I end up at a low poverty or high poverty school, I have all the essentials I need for each of my students!

I die!

Yes, I die happily right now! Why?

I’ve been lusting over a Silhouette cameo for awhile, and it’s one of the strategic purchases that I’m working into our budget sometime in the next six months or so. But it just got $60 closer when I found out that they do educator discounts!

Go to their education website and submit a copy of your teaching license to qualify (I had a copy on my computer from my recent applications to school districts). Magically, everything in their store is discounted at least 20% — even their download cards! It also comes with free shipping to save even more cash. If you have ever priced these machines (or their rival, Cricut), you know that they NEVER go on sale, so this is a huge deal! I can’t wait to get mine and start using it in the classroom!