I am excited for class tomorrow because I have a PLAN.  I have been writing a story to use that meshes well with comprehensible input.  I have thrown in some of the Sweet 16 vocabulary that my students already know along with some solid descriptions of our characters…I am ready!

Students will be drawing and coloring…yep, coloring!  Hay un hombre delgado y bajo.  Lleva pantalones negros….

New Books, New Plan

I was working in my classroom today, looking at my new Spanish novels and checking the new scope and sequence.  I have big plans, so I hope I can get this all pulled together. I cannot be the only teacher with this dream.  We, meaning teachers in my ESU (Educational Service Unit), are making a concerted effort to increase fluency using comprehensible input.

We all start a new school year with high hopes, but sometimes we get discouraged before Christmas. Let’s make a pact not to give up too soon this time.  Fluency is too important, even if we have trouble convincing parents and students of this.  I am lucky that I have the freedom to do what I know is right based on research.  Many teachers are not so lucky, so I do feel blessed.

I promise not to give up this year, no matter how challenging it gets.  My students deserve my best efforts, and I want them to experience that feeling of satisfaction that comes from learning more than they thought they could.


This school year has been different from last year in various ways.  The main thing I have changed is my way of teaching.  I threw out my book and have been concentrating on giving students tons of comprehensible input.  They were a bit scared at first—and so was I, to be honest.  They didn’t know what to expect without a book.

I am feeling much less apprehensive as I practice using a lot more Spanish in class.  I explained the goal to the students (90% or more in Spanish) because it shouldn’t be a secret.  I have had students share their feelings about comprehensible input lately.

One student said speaking Spanish is “becoming second nature” to her.  Another told me he thinks we are meeting the goal of 90% Spanish in class.  He also shared that he is understanding almost everything!  I of course, am thrilled that my students are learning and happy.

I can’t wait to see how much the students learn (and retain) by the end of the year!  Every positive comment from them encourages me more.  For more information about comprehensible input, visit Martina Bex.




For all of those people who don’t know how teachers roll, let me give you a bit of insight.  After the initial rejoicing at the end of the school year, many of us use our vacation time to attend workshops or take classes to improve our practice.  Those workshops may last one or two days, depending on the topic, but the thinking process lasts a lot longer.  Putting all of the learning and thinking together to create classroom activities takes even more of our vacation time.

That’s been my experience, especially after the Martina Bex Comprehensible Input workshop last week in Lincoln.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  I spent this week rehashing and rereading the handouts she provided for us.  Now I’m almost ready to start choosing vocabulary to use in my own stories.  Then comes the actual writing process.  I’m sure I’ll have a few false starts, but the results will be worth the time.

For more information about Martina Bex, visit her at


Long Days

I taught Spanish all day yesterday, then left in a hurry to feed and water horses and make my way (slowly and painfully) to Lincoln.  It’s a drive of about five hours, but trips take me longer because I don’t “drive like an idiot.”  I generally obey the speed limit and try to go easy on my poor car.

A drive like that gave me plenty of time to think.  Not always a good thing.  My main fuel on the drive was coffee, so you can imagine I was in need of a rest stop or two along the way.  I (briefly) considered stopping at a rest area, but I’ve seen too many episodes of Criminal Minds for that!

I made the necessary stops for fuel (for me and my car) and arrived (later than I had hoped) at the hotel.  All this in the name of continuing education.  The whole trip was for a final face-to-face meeting for the UNL Foreign Language Assessment class I have been taking this semester.

The class was full of great information, and I can use the units I created to improve instruction, so it was well worth the work.  It was also an awesome experience to collaborate with like-minded professionals.  Making contacts is the key to exchanging information and improving instruction.  We all spent a long day collaborating and sharing.  The meeting was over by 2:15, and I was fortunate enough to have been able to follow Brenda to get back on the interstate.  (I say “fortunate” because I can get misplaced in a paper bag.  Brenda was staying at the hotel as well, so I made it to the meeting because of her.)

For some reason, I didn’t sleep very well last night, but I was glad I was mentally alert enough to make it home at a reasonable hour.  It sure feels good to be home again.


Hard at Work

I’m still in my jammies even though it’s a bit after lunch.  That may not be your idea of hard at work, but I had a full day of webinars on my schedule.  They started at eight this morning and run almost all day.  Webinars are a wonderful idea for busy people.  Especially antisocial, busy people like me.

Today’s focus is how to maximize Google for teaching.  I do a lot with Google already, but there’s always more to learn.  The best thing about these classes—they are free!  If I want to purchase a membership, I can even print a certificate for each webinar I attend.  So far, I’ve just signed up with the free option, but it might be worth upgrading later.




Today was a very productive day for my Spanish 2 students. Their assignment was to be able to discuss their favorite actors or actresses in Spanish (of course) and ask questions or comment on their classmates’ statements. They were expected to look up any necessary vocabulary, ask me for help as needed and speak in the target language.

I have to say that they exceeded my expectations. One class went to the local coffee shop, ordered their drinks and started talking. I asked questions and made comments as well, so they had to think on their feet and keep up! A few students were really hesitant at first. Normal under the circumstances, right? After all, this ole, mean teacher was demanding something scary from them! They had to move out of their comfort zone. YEA!!!!!

Both classes were interacting so quickly that I could barely register who was speaking to add checks by the names! They made me proud.

Bright Spot in My Day!

I teach an exploratory language class with students in seventh and eighth grades. Originally it was an exploratory Spanish class. Instead of boring myself with Spanish only (since I teach the same material to three or four groups), I asked the principal and the students if it would be cool to let the students vote on the languages we study for the nine weeks I have them.

The first language chosen was French. American Sign Language, German, Portuguese and Navajo were next on the list. To be honest, Navajo caught me by surprise. I am forgetting one language, but I’m sure it will come to me by morning! Spanish, of course, is going to be the last language we investigate. Most of the students already know a few words of it from last year and classes in elementary school. It will be fresh in their minds for next year (I hope!) when they begin Spanish at the high school level. This class is shaping up to be fun.

I have a video lined up for ASL already. The song is now stuck in my head along with some signs!

One student commented that he really liked the fact that I want to have some fun! LOL He went on to suggest that we prepare and eat (of course) a food related to each culture. Hmmm. I like that a lot! My mind instantly jumped to crepes….with Nutella, whipped cream and maybe some fruit. This kid was on a roll. He also happily recalled the baklava a teacher friend made for them (at my request) last year when we studied ancient Greece. At least he has one good memory from history class! I’ll try to give them some new ones with languages.

UPDATE: I forgot Russian!