iFLT17: Day 2 and 3

 Day 2:

My heart is seriously  OVERFLOWING with gratitude. Today was AWESOME. My littles were really tired when they walked into my room but they still did great. 3 hours with these babies is a LOOOONG time! It is hard for adults!!! WOW! I am grateful for gracious and wonderful teachers who watched and still had lots to compliment and share in observations. THROUGHOUT this blog, when you see something blue and underlined, it is a link to a video, website, or previous blog! Click on it! 🙂IMG_7509.JPG

During my debrief, I asked people to comment on different things that they noticed throughout the lab that I did to keep myself comprehensible. These are the things they brought up and my reflections/responses to them. :

  • 1,2,3 counting wait time gives ALL students time to process questions and answer all together. It builds community and lowers the affective filter.
  • Personalization- “you show each student that you KNOW and CARE about THEM as an individual.” It is so important to know your students and praise them individually
  • You make eye contact with each and every student. YES! SO IMPORTANT! Teach to the eyes!
  • “I love your management system, by the end of today, the class was managing itself” – I attribute all of that to my CARE and respect for students and my PRAISE and positivity, and finally my Point system. 
  • “You were already speaking in the past tense day two and all you did to remind students of that was throw your hand behind your shoulder and they said ‘past'” I don’t have to do that after the first two weeks. They know when I am speaking in the past. It rocks!
  • “The kid with the fidget spinner was so  funny and you handled it so well” Yes, it is important to recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge what the kiddos are in to and then that makes it easier to tell them to put the thing away!
  • Nicknames & Positivity- Again, the more “personalized” I can make my student’s experience, the more buy in they give me and the stronger our classroom community becomes.
Brain Break time!

QUESTIONS/NOTES after debrief and after presentation in the afternoon:

  • I double checked, the presentation is now up on Event Mobi
  • Where do you find high interest images for Picture Talk?? GOOGLE! I Google everything. I also rely on the bookmark/save feature on Facebook. I can store lots of gems away there!
  • How did you make the moving pictures on your PPT? I use Google Slides, and I use Giphy. The images create HUGE engagement, and so often create windows for quick brain bursts (kids stand and make a face like the character in the giphy or move like the person in the giphy)
  • Where do you get your music? I have Pandora playing CONSTANTLY in the background of my classroom. That way, I can quickly push the volume button if I need to transition the kids, that way they aren’t tempted to speak in English. Then I can just hit mute again when we are finished transitioning.
  • Mike Peto has a great blog and he (in my opinion) is one of the expert CI teachers out there for LITERACY! 🙂
  • Blair Richards has an amazing blog for Elementary CI teachers. She teaches in Louisiana with me!
My babies….. 🙂 I miss them already!
  • Where do we read more about how you use story cubes? Here is a link to my blog!
  • How do you “train” them to circumlocute? Teachers should be ALWAYS modeling circumlocution. I have a CIRCUMLOCUTION poster in my room. I point to it every day. I take away my “¿cómo se dice?” poster after the first 8 weeks of Spanish class. The results are AMAZING!
  • Can you tell me more about what Non-Targeted input looks like in your room? Here is a blog!
  • How do you use your point system? Here is a blog!
  • What do you do with the points afterwards!? Here is a blog!
  • What if you have a student who continues to misbehave? Great question, I believe I spoke with you after my session and clarified. I will write a blog on this and my process of “refocus forms”. I used only 3 all year but they were absolutely needed.
FULL HOUSE! YAY! #lamaestraloca

Day 3:

First, here are the comments and observations from my learning lab:

  • I like that many of your brain breaks incorporate the TPR for the structures that have emerged in your class.
  • I like that you have kids (even day 2) hearing/recognizing/pointing out when you are speaking in the past tense.
  • Your kids, after just a few hours with you are using “dijiste” (you said) confidently without looking at your word wall… (That is because they’ve heard it a gajillion times in context) 😉
  • Your class is SO personalized. You do so much PQA.
  • You have so many Brain Breaks and transition so smoothly straight back into input. I like that your Brain Breaks aren’t long and they aren’t in English.
    • Don’t forget, even though I have 1000 ideas for Brain Breaks, I keep a list up on my wall because it is challenging for me to think of one off the top of my head and it is important to keep everything novel for your students.
  • I like that you referenced your small words poster. You didn’t always do it though, but sometimes you would for extra clarification or to slow down more and it was really effective.
  • I liked that when your marker (magical unicorn pee marker) was touching words the students read and then when it wasn’t they didn’t read.
  • I liked how you handled one of your students when he had a meltdown. You sent your kids seemlessly into a brain break that they could do themselves so that you could talk with him and make sure he was ok and get him back on track. (I think it is essential to have lots of student led Brain Breaks in your routines for just this sort of thing. I didn’t have to worry about everyone else and none of them broke into English, they just did what they had to while I handled what I needed to)
  • I love that you exposed your kids to geography using Google Maps as you looked up where all of the kids were from in the pictures for your picture talk.
  • I liked that even when students weren’t peeking when you asked them to close their eyes, you said that they were to stall and have more time. (Yes! The power of the white lie!!!)
  • You are so smart! When a kid said something distracting in English (“the floor is lava”) rather than getting upset with him and being punative, you screamed and hopped up on a chair, and then told him that was ‘SO fun’! and explained that you didn’t want it to happen again until break time or after class. He was glowing with pride and happiness but understood it shouldn’t happen again. (YAAAASSS! J)
  • I loved that your whole class was READING!!! Even your student whose mom told you that he couldn’t read (in English)! (YES! Developing their literacy in the TL immediately is just as important as the verbal input they are getting!)


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Remember that one time we attacked Señor Wooly?

QUESTIONS/NOTES after debrief and after presentation in the afternoon (or questions on Sticky notes!):


  • “What do you do with the points?” Have a fiesta!
  • “Can you explain more about your point system? I love it!” Me too! Here is a blog!
  • “Tell me more about OWL” Here is a blog about how OWL looks in my classroom!
  • “What do you do the first week of school?” This is an ENORMOUS question. I am working on a blog about this now. HOWEVER, you should know it loooks MUCH the same as this week with these kiddos did. LOTS of building community, setting high expectations, establishing rituals and routines. I promise to have a blog written about all of this soon!
How precious were these two!?
  • “Do you use the SAME movie talk for class the next year, if it was awesome!?” Hmmm, great question. I have before, and I have found that most students had forgotten about most of the Movie but honestly, I tend to just use new ones. There are thousands of great videos just waiting to be “movie talked” out there!
  • “I love your movie talk rules! Do you have them in a blog!?” Yes! Here you go!
  • “What are some of your favorite Pandora Stations?” I really like Flamenco Guitar (when I don’t want words) Caraluna and Jarabe de Palo. J These are all stations that tend to have more school appropriate songs, and they have music that is easy to move and dance to since so many of my transitions require movement!
  • “What do you do with the kids that seem to be really quiet and not following?” I had a few quiet students in my learning lab this year. However, since I was doing lots of non-verbal comprehension checks throughout class, I knew they were all with me. There was one little girl who struggled more. She spent the majority of the first day of class (the one where I didn’t have adult observers) huddled in the fetal position in the doorway very scared. I think that if I had a little more time with her, I could easily get her back on board with class. Remember, student output is not necessarily an indicator of their level of comprehension and acquisition. I have students go over a year not speaking, and I know they are understanding and acquiring and when they DO finally choose to speak their Spanish is AMAZING! 🙂
Here’s to THIS woman who kept me alive this week! 🙂 YAY Tess! Gracias!
  • “How do you deal with one student who wants attention by making unwelcoming noises? (one student was meowing a lot, were you ignorning him on purpose? I am highly distracted by such behavior)” I honestly think this depends on your classroom, and the individual student. For example, with the student you are talking about, Yes, I chose to ignore him. I knew if I were to give myself points, he would see that as punitive and he would shut down. I knew that if I ignored the problem it would go away, and it did. It took ten minutes, but it did go away. If it is a sound that one student makes and then another repeats and then another, rather than just ignoring it OR being punitive, take that opportunity to be a pretzel and turn it into a mandatory 30 second brain break, and afterwards, NO MORE of that sound during class. I try to stay positive, and definitely try and have a grasp on what student is making the sound so I can decide what the best management approach to take with him/her.
  • “How do you introduce your rules? How do you explain your RESPECT rule?” I am VERY blunt and real with my students. ALL ages. I explain that I am their teacher and I demand and expect their Respect because I am the expert in the room. I am an educator and I am the expert in the language. I explain to them they have to respect themselves because some of them will acquire very quickly and produce very quickly and others won’t. Finally I explain that they have to respect everyone else in the classroom and that disrespect of any kind will NOT be tolerated. I explain that we are a community and we are acquiring as a community, and the only way we will succeed is if there is an atmosphere of respect 100% of the time.
So fun to see these two again! Portland and then Denver! What an AMAZING summer! DeAna I love you and Wendi your first year is going to be AMAZING!!!


  • “How can you go deskless when you share a classroom with a teacher who REALLY likes desks?” WOW! Great question! Could you convince your admin/that teacher to get rolling/stackable tables instead? Then your students can put them away and set them up at the beginning and end of every class. I did this before and although it took us a couple of weeks to get it down, we had it down to a 1minute 30 second artful transition! It was magic. If that isn’t possible, could you have it so that the desks are all in a big arc? For her/his class the students sit behind the desk and for yours they move the chairs to the “front” of the desk and face you, OR if the chairs are attached, could you have students sit on TOP of their desks?
  • “Are your theatre games on your blog?” I have some of them on my YouTube channel. I will continue to upload more throughout this year.
  • “Do you ask a story in the present/past or both? I saw you wrote it in the past” Great question! I do both. At the beginning of the year, Spanish 1, I tend to tell it in the present and then the next day re-tell in the past and read it in the past. Point is, kids are ready for natural, organic language right away, and you don’t have to wait for the second year to introduce the past tense.
  • “More activities for Pre-K and K? What do you start with?” I only taught 2 years of littles. Erica Pepelinski has a great blog and so does Blair Richards. I will tell you that I did LOTS of TPR, lots of songs, TONS of PQA and non-stop recycling. We moved all the time. I also LOVED movie talk with littles! (Just incorporate lots of Brain Breaks!)
  • “What do you do with your Mannequin Challenge video after the Brain Break?” the possibilities are endless. My plan was to use it for a Movie Talk the next day (normally I pull it out a few months later). We didn’t get to it though! You can use Selfie Brain Breaks for Picture Talk later in the year!


OH MY GOSH! Stephen Krashen attended my 1.5 hour presentation on Cutting Corners and Simple Shortcuts! Can you EVEN!? GAHHHH! What an honor.

Ok! There you have it! It was a phenomenal week and another VERY successful iFLT! I am grateful to Carol, Pat, and Teri, as always! It was so wonderful to hug all of my favorite people and to meet so many new amazing, passionate educators! Yay!

Until next time,



La Maestra Loca

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Selfie Brain Break… with YES! Stephen Krashen! WAHOOO!!!





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