Creating Community

by lclarcq on August 24th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Classroom Management, Engagement, Relationships, Starting The Year

Creating community is more than a series of activities…..it is a commitment to finding ways for students to support each other.  That is not always easy!  Supporting and encouraging others is not a part of every community that we teach and live in.  It isn’t always a part of our family history, nor the dynamic of our students’ home lives.  

Like everything else we do, it requires patience and a constant series of safe opportunities for student to be a part of.  Once students begin to experience what being part of a community really means, they begin to buy in and often lead the way…..but that can take some time.

My first period class (so far!) seems to be a group that is willing to step up, so I asked them to start something this morning that blossomed throughout the day.   It was the day of our first quiz.  (I try to give some sort of assessment each Thursday because it helps me to plan for the next week.)    The first period group was a little nervous, but no surprise, they felt good about their answers.  

Today’s quiz was really more about teaching them the logistics of taking a test/quiz in a deskless classroom, and to build their confidence about quizzes in the weeks to come.  After the quiz was over, I asked them to share their thoughts about how it went.  They were relieved that it wasn’t too difficult and some of them admitted that they had been pretty worried about it.

So….

I asked them to write “Good luck!” to the next class on the whiteboards that we keep under the chairs to write on.    When the next period came in, each student had a note saying ‘GOOD LUCK!” on the white board under his/her seat.   At first, they were puzzled.  Why did they wish me good luck?  Who wrote it?  Do they know me?  But after a few moments, they began to share their messages with the students nearby and several took pictures to save and send.  

Then they erased the messages and took their own quiz.   Towards the end of the period, a student asked, “Aren’t we going to make Good Luck boards too?”  Of course we were, but I was waiting to see if they would ask…..and they did!!

The last period of the day wrote “Good morning” on their boards and emphatically informed me that next Wednesday they needed to write “Good luck” for the 1st period class to see Thursday morning.

Just a quick, easy, safe way to build community….and yes…I took a quick look at each board before they left the room…..just to be sure all of the messages/drawings were appropriate. :0)  It is middle school after all!

Check out the pictures below! (I wish the one of all 31 of them had turned out!)

with love,

Laurie

Chair Guy For The Win!!

by lclarcq on August 22nd, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Classroom Management, Engagement, Starting The Year, Tough Students

Note:  For the next two weeks, the Hearts For Teaching Blog posts will appear here on this site.  I will move them over when the Hearts For Teaching Blog is up and running well again!! (probably Sept. 1st)

I’m really focusing on my “hard to win” students these first few days.  The sooner I can get them on board, the sooner they start making progress.  Once that happens, there is no stopping them.  It’s getting them started that is the challenge!

Right now, these students fall into two categories (mostly): a. students who have been asked to repeat a level and b. students who have had more success with being obnoxious and funny than with classwork.

Some of my sweetest moments this week have come from these kids…..so I wanted to share my “chair guy” story with you.   Chair Guy started Day #1 by being the loudest, smart-mouthed and most vocal kid in Spanish 2…..and of course, all in English.  On the second day of class a new student entered just as we were about to start the first activity.   All of the chairs were full.  The student looked around for a seat, and in a split second it was obvious that no chairs were readily available.  

“Sucks to be you!”, yells out Chair Guy.  The entire class looks at him, and then at me.  Chair Guy isn’t even aware that he has said/done anything questionable.   I go over to my desk and picked up a Wildcat Way (the school’s recognition rewards that can be turned in for prizes etc.)

“Hmmmm”, I say to Chair Guy, slowly waving the Wildcat Way, “I think you meant to say–I’ll find you a chair.”   

Chair Guy looks at me for a second, puzzled, and then he gets it.   He stands up, goes to the corner of the room, picks up a chair from a few that are stacked in a corner.  “Where would you like to sit?, “he asks the girl, “I’ll put it anywhere you would like.”   She points, he puts the chair down, and I hand him the Wildcat Way with a thank you.

Not 10 seconds later ANOTHER student enters the room.  Chair Guy is on his feet in a second.  “WELCOME!!, ” he yells, “I’ll get you a seat!  Where would you like to sit?”  The student gets a personally-chosen seat and Chair Guy gets another Wildcat Way.

Now, the next day, a student comes in late.  Chair Guy jumps up and says, “Welcome!  There’s a chair for you over there!”  No kidding.  I don’t know who is happier, me or Chair Guy!!  

On the way out he says to me, “You know, I’ve never gotten any of these before.  It’s easier than I thought to do the right thing.”  

Welcome to the class Chair Guy!!!!  So glad he’s here.

with love,

Laurie

Spanish is Easy!

by lclarcq on August 20th, 2017

filed under Uncategorized

I am SO excited to be teaching Level 1 again this year!  The classes are mostly 6th graders with a few 7th and 8th graders here and there.  Last year I jumped in with this level on November 1st…..almost 14 weeks in….so to be here from Day 1 is fantastic!!

I decided to try to convince them that Spanish was going to be easy….on Day #2.

On Day #1 I had used the phrases:

Hay un problema.

Se llama.

Hay ____ estudiantes en la clase.

So they didn’t have much to start with.   Now….let me say up front that I didn’t expect them to acquire anything from this exercise…..I just wanted them to experience success!

Me:  Your job is to respond to me when I speak Spanish to you.  If you do not understand what I said, please stomp your feet until I hear you and stop to explain so that you understand.  (I blab in Spanish until they stop me)  Excelente!  What English word do you hear in “Excelente”?

Students: Excellent!

Me:  Excelente!  If you DO understand me, just say Ohhhhhh.    Me llamo la Maestra Clarcq (we had done this yesterday.)  

Students:  Ohhhhh.
Me:  Gracias.  

I ask a student to set the timer on his phone for 10 minutes.

Me:  Clase, (I point to poster hay-there is or there are) un marcador (marker). 

Some students stomp.  I write “marcador” on the board.

Me”  What word do you see/hear in English when I say MARCADOR?

Some students respond; Marker

Me:  Clase, Hay un marcador.

Students:  Ohhhhh.

Me:  El marcador es importante.  

(If a class stomped, we stopped, I wrote it and gave the meaning.  If not, we went on)

I wrote usa (uses) and dibuja (draws) on the board.

Me:  La Maestra usa el marcador.      Students:  Ohhhh.

Me.  La Maestra dibuja con el marcador.     (if students stomp I stop and explain)
I drew a “lovely” stick figure of a person on the board.

Me:  La Maestra es talentosa.   Students stomp.  I explain talentosa/talented.

Me:  I’m going to ask you a question in Spanish.  You can give me your honest opinion.  ¿Es la Maestra MUY talentosa (I stretch my hands out wide) or UN POCO talentosa?  (I make the “little gesture with my fingers))  
I restated the sentence depending on the class answer.

Me:  Es obvio.      Students stomp.  I provide the meaning (It’s obvious.)

Me:  Clase, who thinks that they could draw a better person than I did?  

Hands of course go up and I pick one student to come up to the board and draw a person.  (I quietly asked them to do it fairly quickly)

While the student was drawing…..

Me:  Clase, hay )point to poster again) un artists famoso en la clase.   Students stomp and I write artist famoso (famous artist) on the board.

Me:  Se llama Mercedes (or what the student’s name is!)
Each time I am making sure that students “ooh” or stamp after my statements.

Me:  Mercedes usa el marcador.  Mercedes dibuja con el marcador.  Mercedes dibuja una persona con el marcador.   Mercedes es famosa a Eich Middle School. Es famosa en Roseville.   Es famosa en California.  Clase, Mercedes es MUY (with gesture) famosa.

By this time the artist was finished and we had the artist sign his or her work….to the sound of much applause (Es obvio!)   

About this time the timer also went off….if not…it was close and I could simply go back and repeat sentences until it did.

Now………..

I told the students this:

I am going to write down what we just talked about on the board.  While I am writing it in Spanish, I want you to share with a partner what it means in English.  

(Please forgive any errors because the period was ending quickly!)

Here is a sample!

Then, I read it in Spanish, sentence by sentence, and they said the English.  Talk about excitement!!  

Many of them took a picture to share at home and several asked me to text it to their parents, which made me smile.

I reminded them that they hadn’t acquired it yet, so they should not be surprised if they don’t remember it all.    But…..that Spanish was going to be this easy!!!

I started without asking many questions, or “circling.”  That is a skill we work on together and we will start next week.  But just for today, I wanted them to know that by 

a. listening well

b. responding when they understand

c.  showing me when they don’t

that Spanish will be easy!!!!

with love,

Laurie

Day #2: Winning Them Over One By One!

by lclarcq on August 20th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Classroom Management, Relationships, Starting Class, Starting The Year, Uncategorized

So, on Day #2 the students walk in and sit down.  Four out of six classes totally forgot about the names in the back of the room until the bell rang….and then….someone said, “Oh!  Our cards!”.   But once everyone remembered, all went well.

Ok….not all.

My first and third period classes looked something like this as they brought up their cards:

Student in the front of the line hands me the card.   I smile, and say, brightly, BUENOS DIAS!.  The student looks at the floor and trudges back to his or her seat.   This repeated itself 31 times!!!!!!!!   

Once everyone had gone through the process, I looked at the class and said, “Clase, hay un problema.”  And then explained in English that having your heart broken 31 times in a row is no way to start the day.

So…..they all got up again….I greeted them with a smile, a HIGH FIVE and a BUENOS DIAS!.   In the first period class, right about the middle of the line, one boy deliberately “missed” the high five.  (Ay!)  So, when everyone was done I invited him up front.  He gladly came (if not I would have gone over to stand next to him.)   I explained to the class in Spanish (these are level 2 students) that everyone gave me a high five except for “Alberto.’  Why?  Because Alberto and I had a very special handshake that was way more complicated than a high five and he was going to teach it to them right now.  

“Albert” whispered to me, “I don’t know what to do.”  I whispered back, ‘Just miss my high five and then we’ll do a fist bump.”  So “Albert” demonstrated the more complicated and special high five and I asked 3 or 4 other students if they wanted to try it.  There was about 25 hands in the air so I let them do it with a neighbor and then we went on.  “Albert” got the message, and so did the rest of them.  

:o)

with love,

Laurie

Day #1 The Magic Attendance Poster!!

by lclarcq on August 20th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Starting Class

By the time some of you read this it will be really old news….but here goes!!

Day 1 of Year 35 completed!!!

As you saw by my earlier post….my classroom is bare bones right now.

I have added the following:

1. Posters of the Super Seven in the past/present from Scott Benedict at Teach For June.

2. A calendar with the days of the week, months of the year.

3. Posters with colors.

4. Two Sr. Wooly posters (Billy La Bufanda, Soy Guapo and Puedo Ir al Baño)

5. A world map.

Not much really!!!!

Except for this:

If you look closely, you will see cards behind each card:

It is my magic attendance poster!!!

Confession #1: I am HORRIBLE at taking and reporting attendance.

So, on Thursday, I taught all of the kids to grab their name from the poster in the back of the room as they come in and bring it up to the front and hand it to me. (If their name is NOT there then they bring me a blank card and I know to check the roster for schedule changes etc.)

This way I get to connect with every kid on their way in the room!!! (If their name is NOT there then they bring me a blank card and I know to check the roster for schedule changes etc.)

The first day, I asked students their names.  They could a) just show me the card.  b) say their name or c. Say Me llama and their name.  (Right away I could show them that they will respond in a way that is comfortable for them!) This way I didn’t have to try to figure out the pronunciation of names and I asked if they had a nickname that they preferred.   I also asked them if I had spelled it correctly.  It was quick, personal, and easy!!

It is very easy to see who is not here because each class roster uses a different color marker. Before I submit attendance, I can see if any names are left on the board in a flash!!

Confession #2: I messed it up 4/6 times on Thursday!! I forgot to hit “Submit”. So THAT was the first Student Job assigned on Friday. Friday I didn’t miss it once!! And….check out the next post for the Day #2 story!!

Other benefits: I now have the cards for each student in my hand. I can use those for “random cold-calling” for games etc. I can have a student put them back (in the back of the pile each period) or do it myself later in the day.

PS You will see numbers on the bottom of the cards. They stand for Spanish 1 or 2, the period of the day, and a count of how many students in the class. Just little helpful things for me.

This was a great way to start things off!

with love,
Laurie

The Heart of the Matter

by lclarcq on August 12th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Classroom Management, Curriculum and Planning, Starting The Year

I’ve been thinking….

What’s the one thing I really need to communicate to my students? The thing that everything else stands on and revolves around. The thing I can always go back to whether I am planning, evaluating, reacting or even treading water.

My students are important to me.

More important than the curriculum, the grading system, the behavior point system, the school’s reputation, the department’s success record, than anything else I can think of in the educational venue.

Because of that, my classes are important to me.

Each student is part of a class. Each class has its own chemistry and behaviors that not only affect the students in it, but also is created by the students in it.

So I put a great deal of importance on how we interact in each class.

I want to set up each class so that it is clear what we are doing, and why.

What are we doing?
We are interacting, using the Spanish language whenever possible, so that we can know and understand the world better, starting with each other.

Why?
Language acquisition happens when the language is comprehensible, the message has value, and the people involved know that they matter.

Oh wait. That isn’t in the right order.

I want my students to know that they matter, that the world they live in matters, and that we can use more than one language to explore and appreciate those things.

And I only have a few precious minutes every day to do that.

with love,
Laurie

The Classroom of My Dreams

by lclarcq on August 11th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Curriculum and Planning, Starting The Year, Uncategorized

doesn’t exist.

Sigh.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamt of working in the perfect room. I’ve seen them on Pinterest. They must exist somewhere. But the truth is, they don’t exist in my world.

Perhaps your world is different. Perhaps you have unlimited time and unlimited funding. Perhaps you have no other distractions. Perhaps.

Or….your world is much like mine. The ideas all exist….in my head. The potential exists….in another reality. The desire exists…..every year.

But the reality does not.

What does?

This:

That’s my classroom right now. It might be my classroom for the next few days actually. (and classes start on Thursday!!)

Clearly there is a lot to do. In the past I would have been committed to all-nighters (or nearly) full of drawing, cutting, decorating and hanging. I would have done nearly anything to make sure that my students walked into a “classroom paradise.”

But almost a decade ago I gave that up.

I didn’t really have a choice at the time. You know, building construction, Xerox breakdown, no paycheck for July and August, two sons to get ready for school, moving to a new house, etc. etc. etc.

A few students asked me, “Where’s all your stuff?”. But not many. In fact, a few students actually told me that they liked the new “quiet” look. That was eye-opening.

And we started the year. And as things were needed, we made them and we put them up. The kids made most of the posters and decorations and they really preferred it that way. I still have dreams of the prepared and laminated loveliness of my early days. I’d love to have a gorgeous little Pinterest page-worthy environment.

But this way I get a few extra perks:

I don’t have to live up to my First Day decorating prowess.
I have more money in my bank account.
I have students who love to hang out in the room and create materials and decorations.
The students, their needs, and their work has become the focus of the classroom.

and I can still spend hours day-dreaming on Pinterest if I want to. 🙂
with love,
Laurie

Administrative Track-NTPRS17

by lclarcq on July 17th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, For Administrators, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment, Personalizing Instruction, Questioning Techniques

Welcome to NTPRS17 in San Antonio, Texas!! This post has been created for administrators and will contain the documents and information shared with you on Monday, July 17, 2017.

First, the Danielson Rubric Adaptation:

danielson-rubric-adaptationPDF

Then, informal observation sheets

Observation sheet for Personalization, Setting Classroom Expectations/Protocols
Observations_ – Google Docs

Observation for Informal Assessment:
ObservationsB

Skilled Questioning (i.e. Circling) Explanations and Examples:
CirclingStrategies

Here is Bryce Hedstrom’s outstanding Observation Checklist:
http://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Checklist-for-Observing-a-FL-Classroom.pdf

And now, the type of assessment sheets that you will see teachers using with students:

Possible Assessment Activities for the Comprehensible Input Classroom:
PossibleAssessmentsBySkill

Thank you for being part of our week at NTPRS! You are incredibly valuable to us, to your teachers, your students and your communities!!

with love,
Laurie

Being The Space

by lclarcq on March 10th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Classroom Management, Musings, Not So Good Days

It’s a tough week here. It is the end of the trimester and sadly, even middle school students feel the stress. We are also two weeks into an eight-week stretch without a break. With 10 more students per class than I’m accustomed to, I’ve also learned that I’m absorbing more stress from them as well. Sometimes I feel as if I am in the room in the center of a house fire when the room is full. And it is about to ex/implode at any moment.

That’s not what kids deserve. And frankly, I’ve feel like I’m not what the kids deserve this week either. But I’m what they have. So I’ve been looking for a way to stay calm.

I have tried to see myself as a tennis racket this week. Weird I know, but bear with me.

The tennis racket doesn’t get to sit still during a practice or a game. Even when the other player is dealing with the ball….the racket is poised and just slightly in motion…ready to return the play.

I realized that I did not have to be the entire racket…and that I could chose, at any, or every moment, which part of the racket I could be.

Professionally, and personally, I often have to be the strings. I have to catch the boll. I have to return the ball so that the players can hit it back to me.

But this week…..I’m trying to be the spaces between the strings. The spaces don’t have to do anything. They just have to be there. They let everything go by. They let the racket move and the strings do the work when necessary.

So when the tension heated up and the ‘little things” felt like they would explode into big things I kept saying to myself…”I’m the space. I’m the space. I’m the space.” (If you couldn’t tell, I am a big fan of mantras!!)

It helped me so much. There is a time to be the strings….but it was a good week to be the space. I hope it helped the kids as much as it helped me.

with love,
Laurie

Please Can We Finish This Next Week?!!

by lclarcq on February 17th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Encouragment, Good Days, Output, Writing i

I never thought I would hear that about WRITING from my 6th graders!!! For the last 10 minutes of each class (yes..on a FRIDAY even!) I had each student start writing a story…their first story of their own. It was very structured and I was worried they might balk at it….but they were so happy doing it!!

First we reviewed parts of a story (characters, setting, conflict, resolution…there are more but that is all we can handle right now!) in English ( 2 minutes tops)

Then we brainstormed, out loud, in Spanish, what we could say about Brandon Brown as the lead character in the book we are reading. I did not write anything on the board. I told them that they then had five minutes to write between 3 and 5 sentences about a character of their own making. It could be a person or an animal or an object THAT THEY KNEW HOW TO SAY IN SPANISH.

By keeping the time short, and the amount of information limited, I had just enough to time to get around the room once and help anyone who was stuck. I then went to the board, wrote the phrases and said, “This is the language I am seeing you use: (I did this in Spanish but not everyone reading this speaks Spanish so…) There is____ His/her name is______ S/he lives in_______ S/he is_________ S/he has___________ S/he likes _____________ If you would like to add any more information about the character I will give you one more minute.”

This was the time when I introduced, and didn’t give in on, using only language that we have used in class. I felt that I had to start that way immediately, in order to establish that as a skill and build on it.

Step 2: I wrote the phrases One day, One night, One afternoon on the board and asked students to help me think of others we knew how to say (One morning, One week, One month, One year) Then I added On Monday (brainstormed other days), and In January (brainstormed other months).
I gave them 2 minutes to pick a time/date when the story was taking place. They could use one phrase (One day) or a combination (One day in June) and write that on their papers.

Step 3: I wrote the phrase _________is in/at school. Then they brainstormed other places they could say (only two or three!) I gave them permission to also use proper names of cities, countries, stores, etc. And one minute to write where the character is at the start of the story.

Step 4: Turn to a partner and read what you have so far out loud. Check to see what s/he understands. (THEY LOVED THIS PART!)

Step 5: Write the sentence: ________________ has a problem. In every class, students asked if they could also write. He has a big problem. or It is an important problem. etc.. Permission granted!! Why? We know how to say it!

Step 6: I write _____ wants something. and ________ needs something. I ask them to pick one and write the sentence. Then they write the sentence and fill replace the word “something” with what the character wants….and of course, it has to be something they know how to say in Spanish. _____ wants________ and ________ needs____________. (I love that RIGHT AWAY they are learning to use the word “something””

And that is pretty much as far as we got. It took less than 10 minutes, even with classes of 30 +. Because they were ready. Because we had waited. Because now they had language they could use.

All three classes groaned when it was time to go because they hadn’t been able to finish!

I am so looking forward to next week! (I don’t remember saying that very often in February!)

with love,
Laurie