Tremendously Terrific Tips and Tricks Part 5: LIFE CHANGING HACKS!

HEYYY my friends!

So, today, I only have 20 minutes to write a LIFE changing blog! SO busy! However, I do have two things that I think really will be AWESOME for you, one of which I shared with one of my friends at school this year and she texted this morning and said “OMG the mute button on my computer is such a great hack!! You have made my life so much better….”

Finding your MUTE button

It sounds SO silly, however, it TRULY is SO helpful for transitions and management. I have music on in the background of my classroom. It is playing 100% of the time. I use PANDORA but I know some people prefer Spotify.

  • Stations I love:
    • Buena Vista radio
    • Shakira radio (for older students because of the lyrics of some of the songs)
    • Maná radio
    • Buena Vista radio
    • Julieta Venegas radio
    • Flamenco Guitar radio (for a music without words station)
    • Classical piano (for quiet work time)

Any time I have students writing or moving, I PLAY MUSIC. I don’t want there to be any time where students feel like they need to fill a “void” of silence by speaking. I am not saying that silence is not important. In fact, when you are delivering compelling, comprehensible input, there is GREAT power in long pauses and silence. Justin Slocom Bailey just wrote a phenomenal blog on just that! I do believe though, that if I ask students to stop whatever Brain Break they are doing and move back to their seats, ESPECIALLY if it is a BIG class, during that transition, I can “help” them with my expectation that they don’t speak in English as they walk if I can quick turn on the music for them to listen to as they move! (So many of my kids SING to the music as they move because inevitably one of our songs of the month is on or comes on as they are transitioning). Today, we did the Character Traits of a Language Learner and as they worked they listened to music. This again, prevented them from speaking in English to each other.

THE BEST WAY to do this quickly and easily is to locate the MUTE button on your computer so that you can have your music CONSTANTLY playing in the background and when you need to, you can just go from input, straight to saying in the TL “Class get up, grab a marker, and a piece of paper, and sit back down” as you push the MUTE button on your computer (which had been muting your music) so now it is on loud as the students move and transition. It is SO simple, yet SO important. I use the same mute button for my OWL inspired Brain Breaks or just silly quick ones like this:


The SECOND hack is how to QUICKLY find pictures to insert in your presentations for class that don’t have a background….. Look at the difference in the images below.

The text says “the dog thinks that the person is very funny”

ANY time I do a story retell or picture retell I like to illustrate it with pictures. I don’t actually ILLUSTRATE it though, because I am not artistic and I don’t have crazy amounts of time, but I can find quick images on Google. I prefer the image to the right because there is no “background” and it looks like it FITS in my presentation… Look at how I can take it a step further… SO easy….


Same presentation but now he is on a different background…. watch how easy this is…


  • You just go to Google
  • Search the image
  • Click on Tools
  • Click on Colors
  • Click on Transparent
  • and VIOLA!


Take it one step further?! Find a cool background first!


How awesome is that!? and it took less than 60 seconds!


I hope those quick tricks help ROCK your world!



La Maestra Loca



      1. Um, yep, read it this morning, implemented it today!!!!! Amazing! and I just posted a ‘Day 1’ blog, and referenced your music blog because it is GENIUS!

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