Why Not?

Need a fun activity this week for your students? Why not make a Kahoot for them to enjoy? Maybe have a Fun Friday? A Kahoot works for any subject, and it’s free for teachers. Teachers can even search topics to preview (always preview!) for their students. Kahoots can be played on laptops or phones, individually or in teams. Ghost Mode can be fun as a challenge round. Give Kahoot a try—you won’t be sorry!




I have been teaching languages for the last sixteen years, and I have seen and heard many weird comments during that time.  I have noticed that many people simply don’t appreciate the work I do.  To be honest, it makes me sad and a bit angry.

I have heard things like, “Speak English!” or “Why can’t everyone learn English?” too many times to count.  Think about it from my perspective if you can.  I am a professional paid to speak my second language—in this case Spanish.  I am paid to teach people as much as I can in the time allotted to me.  I have been trained extensively in the various methods to do just that, literally spending years staying current with research in my field.

When my students encounter me, I need to create the expectation of using the second language.  What that means is when I see students in town or anywhere else outside of my classroom, I like to speak to them in Spanish.  It activates what they already know and expands their minds to be able to learn even more.  They gain confidence when they are successful.

Sit back, be quiet and let me do what I’m trained to do.  It’s not my fault there is no official language for the United States.  It’s not my fault that students are required to take at least one year of Spanish to graduate.  It’s not my fault that it is harder for some students than others.  If you think about it, that could easily apply to math or science, etc.

What any teacher does is build background knowledge for life.  Our job is to combat ignorance.  A little support from the community would be nice.  Tolerance for other cultures wouldn’t hurt either.  You’re never too old to learn!

P. S.  To the community members who are always supportive, thank you so much!  You make the rough days easier.

American History Film Project!

The audience was wonderful.  They had some great questions for the presenters.

The audience was wonderful. They had some great questions for the presenters.

L-R Martha, Kim, John and Bonnie

L-R Martha, Kim, John and Bonnie

A student and I made a whirlwind trip from Nebraska to the Annandale (Virginia) area this weekend.  The purpose of our trip was to introduce student-made documentary-type films about our local community.  My student presented her film along with several other students from other states.  Our involvement started last year by a simple Google search!  I manage to “fall into” the most amazing experiences sometimes.  This was one of those experiences.

A year and a half ago, I was informed that I would not only be teaching my normal Spanish classes, but also 7th grade world history.  I take my job seriously, and it sounded like fun, so I spent a lot of time looking for resources.  I found the most amazing idea for a history project when I found Martha Barnes’ brainchild, American History Film Project.  I was intrigued, and we spent the school year emailing about projects.  Three of “my” kids participated making two short films.

Martha (I can call her that because she is now a friend!) has a true passion for history, and she encourages students (and adults) to be proud of their communities.  It’s a grassroots movement to give students a voice.  It’s quite empowering for them to see that others are interested in their communities when they share their films.

Martha’s brochure sums it up best: “Everyone needs to feel important as an individual, yet connected to something larger.  As students learn about and take pride in their local history, the American History Film Project helps them realize their importance as members of a community, while being connected to our nation.  When children across the country create a short film about the local history and share their films with children in other states, they become the teachers.  There is so much to learn from one another!”

Head on over to Facebook (link below) and give Martha’s page a “like.”  Share the link with your friends and family, and make plans to participate!  The American History Film Project is also searching for sponsors, so if you or someone you know can help, please get in touch with Martha!



Planting Seeds

I had a “Conversation” with my teen today. Capital C. After assuring her she was not in trouble, I asked some pointed questions. What’s the worst part about school? She had a ready answer—the “jacking around” is distracting and the comments some of the boys make are disgusting. Hmmmm. I then asked her what her idea of a good school day would look like and what classes she would be interested in taking. She is interested in French, astronomy, art and choir. I already knew she wanted to learn French, but the astronomy surprised me. After we had chatted a bit longer, I asked the most important question: would you like to be homeschooled again?

She smiled, then frowned. Her friend, Gen, gets to go to prom this year for the first time. She doesn’t want to miss that. I get it. Those two kids are practically joined at the hip! She surprised me by going back to the good parts of homeschooling. We’ve done it before. We could do it again.

I think if we did file as a homeschool, it would be misinterpreted by my colleagues and the community in general. It would be mistakenly perceived as a rejection of our local school. Let me say very clearly: our local school is GREAT, and the teachers and administrators are awesome people who sincerely care about the students. Do not doubt it! I haven’t taught in a better public school.

In our case, homeschooling would not be a rejection of the school; it would be a parental decision based on the needs of my child. It is an option any parent can choose. If we end up making that choice, I hope everyone will see it for what it is: a loving sacrifice a family makes for a child’s benefit.

The Chicken Chick

Fired Up in the Land of the Free

Yes, I am fired up today! I have some things to tell small-town America…things they might not want to read. Let me preface my remarks by stating very clearly: I love living in my small, rural town. It is a great place to raise my daughter, and we feel safe here. I appreciate all the kindness from the people in this Nebraska town. Thank you for accepting us.

This should come as no surprise to people who know me in this town, but I have to say it all anyway. I ask your indulgence. I am a Spanish teacher. I live and breathe the language. I was actually HIRED to speak Spanish and to teach it to your children and grandchildren. The reality is that when I see one of my students around town, I may actually speak to the student (gasp!) IN SPANISH. You should be proud when your student answers in Spanish–or even if the student gives an answer in English that shows he or she understood my comment! The absolute wrong thing to do is tell me to speak English because I’m in America. Why? Keep reading.

My job is to broaden my students’ horizons and to teach them the joy of speaking a second language. It allows the students to experience other cultures and think in different ways. I would also like to point out something you may not realize—the United States does not have an official language. The reality is that America is home to many cultures and languages. Your language is not the ONLY language. Your way, my friend, is not the ONLY way. Your beliefs are not the ONLY beliefs. My job is to help small-town students be ready to move from life in rural America (where people are mostly similar) to a global environment where speaking English and Spanish (or French, Chinese, etc.) could make the difference in dollars later.

If you are uncomfortable with my language skills, ask yourself why. What hidden issues do YOU have that make you feel that way? What prejudices do YOU have in your heart of hearts? Are you afraid you are the topic of discussion if you don’t understand the conversation? (I can assure you, that is usually not the case; it’s human nature to feel that way.)

A short while ago, some community members were upset that my students can recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. Why? Shouldn’t the focus really be on the honor and commitment of people to the flag no matter what language is used? I received a kind, supportive email from a veteran in our community who believes the language isn’t as important as the respect given to the flag. He is one of our nation’s heroes because he served the United States with honor and pride. Other community members might view me as unpatriotic because we say the Pledge in Spanish, but it’s not the case. My students willingly make cards for deployed servicemen and women, so your argument is not a valid one. My classes even have two adopted Spanish-speaking soldiers. Everything we do is somehow related to my subject matter whether it’s saying the Pledge or making cards to send. The sentiment is more important than the language. Do us all a favor and focus on the big picture. Understand that I care about your children, and I want them to learn as much as possible. I want them prepared for a bright future. Only education across the curriculum can do that. Trust me to DO MY JOB. After all, it’s why I was hired.

I think sometimes people just need something to complain about or they aren’t happy. My advice to those folks: pick a topic and go to it! It won’t keep me from doing my job anyway.

Old Glory

Old Glory

Cleanliness…yes, please!

Do you notice who does (or does not) wash hands in the bathroom? Somehow my girls in one of my classes ended up discussing hand washing while I was multitasking one day. The following dialogue (names changed to protect the guilty) is what I heard:

Susie: I don’t always wash my hands in the bath room.
Georgette: Me either. I don’t always “feel the vibe.”
Lorrie: I always do at home because I have this cool, foamy soap I love. But not here.

My multitasking screeched to a halt. This needed my full attention. RIGHT AWAY! The boys and I sat in shocked silence for a moment. Someone apparently noticed my curled top lip and read it correctly—I was a bit disgusted. I would have thought all my kids (especially the girls) would wash up. Wow. One girl explained that only her butt touches the “dirty” seat, and she touches nothing else because she’s careful.

I have been trained as a CNA, so I know the best way to prevent the spread of infection is HAND WASHING! You should wash your hands for as long as it takes you to sing the alphabet. Don’t touch the sink while you do it. Dry your hands well, and use a paper towel to open the door.

Evaluate this scene: You use the bath room and do not wash your hands. You then touch the door handle—where others who do not wash hands have also touched. You go to class and turn in a paper to your (beloved) teacher. Your dear teacher has been contaminated through not fault of her own! Oh, no!

This teacher now plans to spray any and all collected homework with Lysol and bathe in hand sanitizer. What about you?

War News

I have noticed a decrease in insults! It took a few detention sessions for three or four students, but I am slowly seeing a change. The kids called a foul on me a couple of times. This is why: One student called another a name. Before I could process the insult and react, the offended student shot an insult back, so they BOTH had detention. After-school detention gave us a few minutes to chat. I asked that the guys give me time to process before automatically shooting a remark back to the offending student. That way, at least one of them would be in the right. They agreed to try it my way, and it’s been a quiet week—yes, I know it’s only Tuesday! As you can tell, it’s the small things that make me the happiest.

UPDATE! The insults have slowed dramatically. I conclude that the students are getting the point. We have been able to play more games and have a little fun. Whew! I sure feel better.