Español for the Soul

A Spanish teacher's log of ideas, resources and plans

#NCCE2015 Not Your Mama’s Coconuts

It’s been an active several years of training, learning, teaching others and now we are here:  presenting at NCCE 2015!  In our short presentation, we will discuss the inclusion vs. integration of technology in the class; creation and collaboration in the classroom; and the impacts of these massive changes on the planning, teaching and learning.

My idea of classroom work flow and teacher work has evolved a bit.  Thankfully, a student help put together a new – less cluttered – graphic to represent what happens in a 1:1 mobile devices classroom.


Tomorrow we will give this presentation a whirl.  #NCCE2015  See you there, Portland!



1:1 iPads – Rules for the Road and Stewardship

I’ve been using my 1:1 iPads for about a year.  I have  single class set (35) that is shared among my 5 classes.  Each student has the responsibility to care for and manage a single iPad for their class period.  I have learned so much in the last year and teaching/learning is exciting again!  My students completely view the iPad as another tool in class.  It’s great!  That being said, I’m always learning new things and pushing this further.  While I intend to back up and post ideas from the last year, I have no idea when the time to post will hit me.  So I will do what I can.

This poster of our class iPad “User Rules” is the most requested shared posted among my district colleagues when I go to trainings or host iPad trainings. I thought it might be helpful for someone else.

iPad User Rules


This term I am awarding “iPad Stewardship” points in the grade book.  (An idea shared by a colleague.)  Quite simply the students are required to use, stow, clean, etc their iPads properly and they receive points.  Those who fail to put their iPads back in the right place (happens occasionally), etc can lose points from this pile of points already assigned/listed in the grade book.  I am working on the reminder poster and more info for publishing.

Living and learning – that’s for sure!

Work Flow in the iPad 1:1 classroom

As you might anticipate, a classroom with integrated 1:1 iPads significantly changes many aspects of the classroom environment and the teaching/learning process.  While the apps are the most interesting to find/try out and use (once you find the ones that work for you), what many of my colleagues (we have a iPad cohort/staff development group) who are integrating the iPads into our classrooms have learned is that the flow of work changes were not as anticipated.

A traditional classroom work flow may look something like this:

Traditional none 1:1 Classroom Work Flow

Traditional Classroom Work Flow

Granted, everyone’s classroom flows a bit differently.  Mostly depending upon philosophy or curricular area/age group of students.  This “flow” may also happen several times in one class period.  At least in foreign language, we typically have 3-5 “activities” or mini-lessons/movements throughout one class period or more.  Each time there is a transition, the different parts of this flow may take differing amounts of time.  Especially once students are familiar with a practice the “teacher does” part may be merely minimally stating the next expectation or writing the list of things to accomplish today and letting students get it done.

While some parts of the above statement are true for the 1:1 classroom (timing changes based on familiarity/practice, etc), the REAL work-flow changes are most noticeable when related to:

  1. teacher planning/lesson set-up
  2. Content distribution/delivery
  3. Student work levels
  4. Evaluation/Sharing

The iPad work almost immediately throws students in to the “deep end” of the swimming pool.  It requires them to apply knowledge, create demonstrations, collaborate and interact – NOT just consume.  We purposefully chose to work with iPads because of these properties.  By their very nature, Apps require interaction.  Students are not just surfing the web and taking notes.  We’ve noticed that our workflow is much more like this:


iPad Integrated Classroom Workflow -kchan2013

As teachers we find ourselves discussion the overarching goals of our activity MUCH more than we did previously.  We figure out our “plan of attacked” based upon the demonstration skills that we are seeking DAILY.  I know, I know….. “everyone is supposed to be doing this from the get-go”.  However, let’s be honest.  In the day and age of testing, we are often focused on the final product versus the daily scaffolded skill-building which lead there.  Determining which app best helps students demonstrate “x” skill has forced us to refocus our efforts on this differentiation and skill-building.  The apps we choose help kids progress at their own levels and immediately launches them into the higher order skills of creation, application and interaction.

Our work before hand:  content-delivery (don’t waste time talking!  Let them get working!) and during class (roving tech-assistant, support staff, questioner/validator of knowledge) has become more personalized.  We can readily see the work of each student as they progress and debate.  It’s so easy to stop and clarify or offer support/validation to small groups of students when they are working with their iPads.  It’s incredibly rewarding.

Students in our classes publish their work to the class blogs or our private YouTube channel.  Their work is shared via Flipboard with other members of class immediately.  They can post questions, interact and check out their own progress by viewing that of their peers.  They are much more motivated to work on developing their skills when their work is shared so publicly.  It’s been an amazing turn around for several students who were previous more likely to disengage or freak out that they “didn’t get it but everyone else around me does”.

Our work with students about publishing and evaluating has really taken a focus.  Since the students can create and make/do in so many different apps, we needed to find a way to COLLECT all of these great works.  (Nothing motivates a high school student faster than points in a grade book, after all.)  The blogs and the private YouTube channels are one way.  A shared class Dropbox folder is another.

When I first began planning for the arrival of the iPads, I had not considered all of the different sharing/publishing options.  I had no idea how to plan for that.  I spent more time planning the apps selection, interaction, “management” pieces, etc.  But now that I’m in the swing, I can see that my establishing a clear management practice with students has prevented a lot of what can go wrong to NOT go wrong in my class.  (Kids aren’t taking random selfies, etc)  And having a very clear delineated plan for work collection, publication and sharing has helped students view the iPads as the true classroom tool that they are rather than just a “toy” or “extra”.

I have many more thoughts about this but for now needed to get something written down.  You know how that goes…. 😀

When the teachers away, can the students still play?

So I am home this week.  My two-year old is very sick with the flu.  My husband is not able to take time off (or he risks job loss – not good!), so here I am.  Two little people at home – one sick, one stir-crazy older sister (4) and I’m here wondering what’s happening at school.

Since the iPads are new in my classroom, they are locked up and off-limits when I’m not there.  However, it’s *killing* me!  Because really:  what a GREAT way for students to still be interacting in the language while I’m out.  And with a shared Dropbox, I could have easily sent them lesson plans, practice guides, online quizzes (they have a vocab quiz tomorrow – and I could have done it online rather than pen/paper), etc.  Students would have had instantaneous results for their work.

But nope.

Everything is locked up out of fear that it will walk away.

If districts/schools/classes are to become more 1:1, than students will need access whether the teacher is on campus or not.

What does your school do?

What do you do?

I’m really considering asking my sub (who will be the same person tomorrow) if *he* is comfortable letting the students use the iPads for class tomorrow.  It will save photocopy expenses and save me a ton of grading time if they can take that quiz online.  HOWEVER, the nagging itch about if one of them walks away is still there……..    Guess I’m undecided!

Got any tips for me?


A new app – success for 2 classes

I have no premonitions that iPads will replace all pen/pencil activities in class.  After all, there *IS* something to be said about the collaborative enjoyment of games in class.

I don’t plan on becoming a paperless classroom… But some paper practices can easily be converted to the electronic format, now that the class set of iPads are here.

Each of my students has now created a WordPress blog.  I can have them work on theirs with an App in class (on a trial run with this week) or they can work from home (or finish from home) and I can read their work via RSS feed.  A colleague of mine does this weekly with her English students in our computer lab.   She (the instructor)  shared her blog set-up process with me so I didn’t have to start from scratch. Her basic guidelines for student blogs included:

  • Never use your last name
  • Never post a picture of yourself
  • Never name your school, town, etc
  • Don’t use your name etc as part of your URL

Her students are also required to use our school district email (gmail) so she can help them if they lose their password etc.

I used her list of rules but several students wanted to use their own gmail accounts.  I am okay with this.  As long as they use a gmail account because we will use google drive to share PDFs, videos, audio recordings etc.

In the set-up process, some of my delightful students chose not to READ every step (happens in high school, ya know) and now their URL contains part of their real name.  Some kids chose to delete this blog and others have kept it.  I think I will have their parents sign a release or something that it is okay with them if this happens.  Every family has different circumstances and internet safety parameters.  I don’t need to cross those just.

So, for the last few days I gave them a pre-test in the form of a blog post.  They are beginning a unit on clothing (Spanish2:  reflexive verbs, irregular preterite, direct & indirect object pronouns).  They took pictures of themselves, edit out their faces (off with their heads!), and began writing.

We used the app called of BlogPad Pro ($4.99).  Each student logged in to the blog via BlogPad Pro and began writing.  The format gave them immediate feedback (typos, spelling, etc) that actually forced some students to slow down and take note of what they were doing.   I have given this assignment before but have never had them take it so seriously.  It was fun to watch them jump in.

We had a few hurdles logging in to blogs throughout the day (all with WordPress) and a few kids didn’t realize that they had to not SAVED their work but that they also needed to PUBLISH it in order for it to be viewable online.

After getting a hang of all of that, the kids seem to think they are ready to rock-n-roll this electronic work submission.  To make it even more exciting, I set up my RSS feed to play via FlipBoard and they were super excited to read their work run on the projector screen like that.  It was fun to share their work out like that.

I posted a review of BlogPadPro in the US App Store and will write more about it in the future as the kids as getting a handle on using it.  However, let me just say this, I have NEVER before received such stellar customer service.  If it had not been for them, I have no idea how we (the school district IT Department and I) would have resolved our “too many login attempts” issue with  But with help from the App developers, we did.  Some many great things to say about BlogPad Pro… It deserves a post on its own.


Below is a picture of my students using the free app Dragon Dictation.  Oh! They were so frustrated trying to get it to type “what they said”. Cc in reality it WAS tricky but it was also typing exactly what it SOUNDED like they said in Spanish.

We only did this for s few minutes but I can see that this will be great from them to practice pronunciation with.  Definitely tricky but they did stop and focus on their language skills for the first time.  It was also much easier for I each student to get feedback quickly rather then me trying to talk with each kid and give feedback from 32+ students in 50 minutes.

At least the teacher isn’t the only one with a learning curve happening!

Until next time.

My iPads are here!

Using iCard Sort to check for understanding.

Using iCard Sort to check for understanding.

After what seems like MONTHS of waiting… oh wait, it *WAS* months of waiting! 😀  Our class set of iPads are here.  I gave the students a bit of time yesterday (about 20 minutes) to check out the apps, most of them spent 15+ minutes exploring Google Earth.  😀  But today we are off and running.  Students have helped me add a single gmail account for the iPads (now I have to go back and change the password to protect the online documentation/records for the emails being sent.  Ah yes, anticipation of the one student who will tempt fate with that.

Today we are reviewing multiple steps:  vocabulary, commands (positive tú), etc.  The iPads are making me rethink the necessary practice forms that we will have.  Typical dry erase board activities (individual) are easy to rewire for iPads, but the normally mundane task of practicing conjugations, patterns, repetitions, review, etc are something I am still working on.  And I don’t think the iPad is the answer for all practice in class, I want it to become a seamless tool.  For now, since they are new, however, the kids just want to get their hands on them! 😀

We are using the following apps today:

iCard Sort:  Set to x and y-axis.  Sorting based upon knowledge level and ease of use with vocabulary and verbs from current unit.  Whatever falls below the x-axis becomes the personalized study list for each student.  These lists are being hand-written into their study notes OR screenshots are sent via email.  In the future, these lists will be added to their Spanish blogs (beginning 2nd semester or in two weeks) or their personalized notebooks (iPad app).

Quizlet app:  review and practice vocab from unit.

Dropbox:  access PDF for in class work/homework:  next assignment (work ahead or email to self to finish at home)




iPads = I’m Pleased And Dismayed Suddenly

I’m excited – and freaking out.

I have been awarded a class set of iPads that will show up “sometime between now and Christmas”…. which  “may or may not” allow for teacher control/app installations & updates….. which “may or may not” have enough access points in my hall to actually function… which “may or may not” have specific apps installed for me… which “may or may not”….

You catch my drift.

Change is awesome.

No clue as to when/where/why/how truly does NOT help planning/organizing/classroom management ideas.

I’ve been reading everything I can get my hand’s on.  EVERYTHING.

I’m trying to figure out:

1.  Student portfolio/work submission ( google forms? student blogs/rss? WHAT?)

2.  App installation – and FUNDING!

3.  Organization – what/when/how for storage, cases, stylus, etc

4.  Planning – how do i plan for the implementation/innovation if I have no answers about when the basic thing will even be here or available?  This feels like planning for the onset of school without actually knowing which textbook series you have nor whether the books will arrive by the first week of school or the end of the first semester.  You know.  The planning thing.  That thing teachers tend to do A LOT OF (even if only in our minds late at night, or driving, etc) that people never see?  These are key moments to setting the stage/mood of anything in a classroom.  When the teacher is off… so is the lesson.

5.  Balance:  I don’t think technology is the panacea for what ails a classroom (or a lesson, or a student, or a teacher, etc).  HOWEVER, couple it effectively with other effective teaching techniques (differentiation, interaction, active-learning,  etc) does make a difference.

so many questions…

…so little time with two toddlers at home to invest in figuring it out until I know what I really have on my hands.  THIS is going to have to wait until then.  My brain is otherwise occupied at the moment with laundry.  Literally.

Some days it is GOOD to see things like this.


While I’ve been reading blogs for quite a while… and stumbled upon the reading of them quite by accident, to be honest…. I’m still not sure what role they can/do/will/won’t play in my classes. I can see the idea of community building, writing, responding, etc….however with 140+ students, I have no idea how to manage blogging with a community of this size.

Maybe a wiki fits a larger group?

bah. that’s what I’m hoping to figure out through the PLC.

I have a blog…but that doesn’t mean I blog about teaching. It’s actually really fun for me to blog about things OTHER than what I do with my 20 hours of life a day. That is why it is engaging for me.

I read about teaching, teacher blogs, ideas for teaching, etc and participate in listservs. reading blogs through the google reader has really saved me a TON of time as I am not checking sites nor feeling overwhelmed by the millions of emails I don’t have time to read on any given day/evening. Instead, I can log in to the reader and read what appeals to me or NOT. It’s lovely.

Learning to say NO and save my time for family is IMPORTANT for me. Teaching can be all consuming.

There are a few blogs I read about teaching/etc. Some of them are purely for entertainment (not necessarily for “teaching”). Those blogs are:

  • CoolCatTeacher (She has WAY more time than do I and her blog is a bit overwhelming – which is why I like to read her feed – less stuff to see when I read it!
  • Rate Your Students (Totally snarky…totally inappropriate…but somedays..totally WORTH the read!
  • Weblogg-Ed (Written by Will Richardson who wrote a book about blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc in the classroom)
  • A Teacher’s Education (Written by a “Ms. Chili” who posts “Grammar Wednesday” and various commentaries from her classroom. Makes me feel less isolated in the classroom sometimes when I read what is going on in her classroom.)
  • NetSquirrel – (Okay..not really a blog, but a great resource of online tutorials and ideas for teachers.)

Exploring Blogs

As I am exploring other teacher blogs and how teachers use blogs, I am realizing how must easier student feedback and tracking the when/where/why/what of all of the feedback will be.  I’m not sure I’m ready to understand how to manage a blogigng project with 140 kids… but I’m willing to work on it.

So far, I am thinking of having students register their own blogs and link back to one big one.  Maybe this means that I set students up in small groups or teams and those teams manage their own blog and responses.  I don’t currently use my teaching “blog” this way – but the potential for communication is great.

The one lingering question for me is:  If I write it, how do I get them to come and read it?

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: