December 18th, 2015

We’ve continued our science writing project as well as extending our geometry knowledge with triangle classification. / Hemos seguido con el proyecto de ciencias y la escritura mientras aprender más de la geometría con la clasificación de triángulos.

We also had an exciting experiment about adaptations in which each group had a different mutation: one leg, blindness, shorter arms, or no hands! The mission was to find, store, and eat food with the given adaptation. It was much harder than we thought it would be! / También tuvimos un experimento emocionante sobre las adaptaciones en el cual que cada grupo tenía una mutación diferente: solo usar una pierna, estar ciego, usar medios brazos, y manos discapacitadas! La misión era encontrar, almacenar, y comer la comida aun por la mutación. ¡Fue mucho más difícil de lo que esperamos!

And then of course, the Christmas sugar high!! A student brought in a decorated Christmas tree for the classroom, and everyone enjoyed a great last day! Stay safe and READ!!! See you all next year!! / Y claro, ¡la explosión de energía que viene del azúcar navideño! Un estudiante nos regaló un arbolito de Navidad para decorar el salón, y todos disfrutamos un día muy bueno! ¡Que estén seguros durante las vacaciones y QUE LEAN!!! ¡Nos vemos el próximo año!

Student-Created Classroom Expectations

Today we worked hard on coming up with our expectations for one another in 4th grade. I figured I could stand up at the front of the room and yada-yada-yada about what I expect, or I could let students write down their thoughts about what they expected in our classroom environment. Here’s some students’ ideas that I found interesting/funny/thoughtful:

And the last photo here is our final list. We will revise it tomorrow to create our classroom expectations contract.

Classroom 2012-2013

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Here it is!! I finally remembered to take pictures : ). Today was our first day of school, and students oo-ed and ah-ed about the SmartBoard (Okay, so I oo-ed and ah-ed as well : )). After meeting my students today, I am even more excited about this school year! More stories and ideas to come!

Class Pass Story Strategy

Alright, teachers, here’s a post for you. (I know, sorry, it’s been a while since I posted teachery thoughts. You know, summer break and all. : ))

Okay, so each student has his own paper to start his own story. Students sit in a circle (either a circle of smaller students or, if you really have a lot of time, in larger groups (if your school gives you more time for creativity, please let me know. I want to come teach there!) um yes, that was a parentheses inside a parentheses).

Anyway, the teacher might give a writing prompt as a place to start. Students write for 2 or 3 minutes and then pass their writing on to the next student. For example, Shelley wrote this:

**Tip: If reading the pictures is difficult, click on the image for a zoomed-in view.

As students passed the papers around the circle, Shelley handed her story to Blanca, and Shelley got a new story to continue adding to. Blanca read what Shelley had written and then continued writing:

Blanca passed the story on to Maria, and after she read what both Shelley and Blanca had written, she added her two cents:

Today we were only seated as groups of 4, so the fourth student had the pressure of finding a conclusion to this wacky tale. So the final student (who shall remain nameless at this time… see if you can guess) wrapped it up with:


This was an activity from our Metodologías Bilingües class. It’s a great team-building strategy as students laugh together as they read their final stories. You might also use it as a first draft activity before demonstrating revision techniques for clarifying your writing.

And yes, you guessed correctly. The last writer was yours truly. : )

A Get-Out-of-Debt-FAST Plan

Inspired by Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps to follow to get out of debt, I have officially begun what he calls the ”Debt Snowball.” Basically, the idea is to put as much $$ as possible toward your debt, while keeping yourself on a very tight budget with nearly every other area of your spending (okay, so every area… I was trying to make it sound a bit softer, ha). So here’s a system that is working for me:

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As you can see, I have a lot of small envelopes that fit inside the large envelope. Each envelope is labeled with what the $$ is for, and when the $$ is gone, I can’t spend any more until the next paycheck. It is extremely helpful to have money I can actually touch instead of just swiping my debit card everywhere I go. Yeah, I tried the ”debit card budget,” but let’s be honest, it’s just a tad too easy to lose track and/or too easy to make excuses.

Total Undergraduate Debt: $13,000

Total Graduate Debt: $14,000

Projected Debt Payoff Date: December 2013

Setting goals and sticking to it: Priceless

Mini Painting Project

I have recently loved thrifting for already-painted canvases. There´s all kind of potential when you imagine just how you might add your own concoction but let some of the details from the original painting still show through.

Thanks for Sarah Mikan for donating these mini-canvases to my creative stockpile : ).

Also thanks to Irma Duran for humoring my artistic whims and joining me for this painting experiment.

Grad School: Top Ten

(Please keep in mind these satirical ratings are generated from the writer’s experience and are in no way binding to all graduate students.)

Top Ten Reasons Grad School = Living the Higher Education Dream

10. You get to write papers to your heart’s content… like this morning, I wrote 3 papers: a reflection regarding 8 hours of class yesterday, a response concerning the longest article ever written by man loaded with teacher jargon and acronyms, as well as a 7-page journal article critique about using Spanish-English cognates embedded within context clue instruction. (Did you have to re-read that last part? Yeah, sorry, that was a hint of teacher jargon.)

9. Make new friends! The bonding is only beginning as a headache sets in on Monday and the syllabus clearly states that by Friday (yes, 5 days from today) you will have completed a 10 page research paper, will have memorized a list of 200 acronyms (so you are one step closer to a fluency certificate in nerdy teacher language), and will have given three 10 minute presentations embellished with extensive Power Points (don’t forget the visuals and custom animations). Bonding continues as you daily cheer each other on and persevere together.

8. More student loans!! Hurray!

7. Become a better teacher and be loaded with ideas for the coming school year. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited about some of the new visions I have for the 2012-2013 school year.

6. Thankful for professors who care directly about your PD and indirectly about your students. (Oops, allow me to translate: PD = Professional Development… those darn acronyms are sneaking into my every day speaking and writing skills…)

5. Resources – articles galore, education current news, websites, blogs… I feel more than updated about any possible bilingual education issue. Many thanks Education Week, NABE (translation: National Association for Bilingual Educators), and  IAMME (acronym for the Illinois Association for Multilingual Multicultural Education). And I am forever endebted to the ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) database for all my researching needs.

4. Using verbs like concerningregardingembellished, and generated, as already used in this blog post. Writing constant research papers seems to be forcing my written vocabulary choice to grow exponentially (as well as my brain cells, lol). Does using more Tier 2 words make me a nerd? (Tier 2 being teacher-speak for words beyond the basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS), but not yet approaching the cognitive academic language proficiency (CALPs) vocabulary. Um, yes, if I said that to you in person, I probably would have used the acronyms instead of the word-by-word phrases. Let me push my glasses up my nose; they seem to be slipping.)

3. Speaking of growing brain cells, mental workouts are another pro. I can’t help but compare the grad-school-required-mental-production with a kettlebells class I go to. (Not sure what kettlebells are? Check this out.) Summary: Think about a ball-shaped weight with a big handle. You swing the weight in every which direction while maintaining control with your core muscles… It never fails that I can hardly go up/down the stairs the next day — physically or mentally, lol.

2. Don’t forget that raise when I turn in a copy of my degree. Oh yes, keep your eye on the $$ goals. #1 goal now and after grad school is to pay off school debt ASAP! (oh shoot, one more acronym thrown your way… hopefully you already are familiar with that one ; )).

1. The privilege of continuing a life of learning. It most definitely is a privilege, and I’m certainly not taking it for granted!

***Follow-up on #8: Dripping with sarcasm.

***Follow-up on #4: You’re right, I don’t wear glasses. Not yet anyway. And when I do, I might just need a nerdy pair to suit this post’s nerdy confessions.