Magic in Maine (TCI Maine 2017) Day 1

Skip and Beth Crosby have to be two of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. I was so excited to be invited to Maine and at the PERFECT time of year!


As promised, here is a recap of the presentations that I did. I will not delete the presentations. You can still access them with the links I gave you on Thursday and Friday. These notes are just so that if you missed anything because I was making you move so much, you can look back here and find what you need.

Thank you to Amy, Jenn, Diana, and Lesley who really looked after me throughout the conference, making sure I was eating, drinking water, drinking coffee, and staying sane (which really is an impossible task to undertake)

Elementary Workshop

The first presentation was all about CI in an elementary classroom. The questions were varied because we had so many different levels of expertise and experience in the room!

  • We addressed rules first that it is never a bad idea to take time (even mid way through the year) to re-vamp your rules if you feel that you need to make them stronger. My rules are simple and all encompassing. 1. Respect 2. TL 3. Listen with your eyes and your ears
  • We also talked about how I don’t mind taking time to speak English to establish norms, rituals and expectations at the beginning of the year because I am setting it up so I won’t ever have to do that again. You can read about the first week of school here. 
  • We also talked about my final rule which is on another poster. Don’t be a whiner.
  • Routines are essential. If you greet students at the door the first few classes. Do it EVERY class. If you want them to high five you when they walk in, do that every single class. Kids NEED routines
  • Having a rock solid transition is possibly the most important tool. Mine is “hola hola”  “coca cola”
  • We touched briefly on Brain Breaks
  • Expectations for me are essential and there are two that are super important
    • ONE: We are ALL friends in class
      • To reinforce that idea, I don’t care about where the kids sit or who they are next to because they will ultimately be constantly moving because of Brain breaks or because of my “no-seating-chart” separation system that I use to make sure that best friends aren’t always having side conversations or that kids who may cause drama aren’t sitting side by side either. Here is that blog. 
        • Remember, if they don’t end up how you like you can still make adjustments and have kids trade seats. What is important is that you don’t separate the friends first or last… You should move a few sets of kids and they should be in the middle. (Just like in our demo)
    • TWO: ultimately, it is ELEMENTARY Spanish!!! Don’t forget that you don’t get to see your kids very often. You can’t expect for them to become confident communicators in the language after just one year of Spanish at only 30 minutes per week! DO what you can with the time and remember that most importantly you need to raise kiddos who are EXCITED and happy to be in your room and that LOVE when you can stay in the TL the time that they are there!
  • Magic
    • We discussed briefly how important it is to integrate magic into your lessons…. I’ll talk about it more later. It all starts with the power of the white lie though.
  • FUN
    • If you aren’t having fun, they certainly aren’t… Here is a great book to read…. TEACH like a PIRATE
  • Positivity
    • Everything I do in my classroom comes from a place of positivity and praise
      • GIVE lots of high-fives
      • Applausos
        • Seal
        • library
        • snaps
        • golf
        • theatre
        • etc.
  • All of this creates a system of Classroom managment
    • If you have troubles using your voice, consider getting a microphone. I know several teachers that use them in their classroom
    • Here is a blog on how to use your voice as inflection more in the classroom
  • Relationships
    • You should strive to know everything about your kids. the more you know about them the more that they believe you care, and the more they will care about YOU and your class.
  • Persona
    • Consider creating a persona for yourself. Obviously mine is my petite coat and dress… Yours can be anything you want it to be, but remember my pre-K student story! It MATTERS to them! 🙂
  • Next we talked about various CI strategies in the Elementary classroom.
    • All the World’s a Stage (I think it was created by Jason Fritz) is wonderful for avoiding the problem of EVERYONE in elementary school wanting to be the “actor”
      • Blair has videos of her classes doing it. I am not sure if she has posted them on her blog or not but I will ask her to at least blog about how she sets it up in elementary more.
      • Remember, it is very important to have rock solid transitions and rock solid managment before attempting this one! 🙂
    • We modeled Movie Talk (introduced to the CI world by Michele Whaley) using this one which is one of my favorites!
      • The single most important thing to remember is that you should pause it A TON and that you can fit absolutely ANY language into ANY movie talk. You don’t have to pick a video based on the “structures” you are trying to fit into it!
      • Here is a blog on my movie talk rules
    • PQA is the EASIEST way to learn EVERYTHING about your kids and show them you care!!!!
      • You do not have to take a “day” to PQA…. integrate it into everything.
        • Remember, during the movie talk I asked people what their favorite icecream was when we saw him eating an icecream. That is important
    • You can Picture Talk almost anything
      • Picture Talk is just like a Movie Talk but you only talk about one image. If you use ONE image for all of your classes it can cut down GREATLY on prep and planning. In some classes you may only talk about it for 5 minutes and in others you may use the entire class.
      • This is a link to the photos of children surrounded by their favorite things
      • Don’t forget you can also integrate Google Maps into this!
    • With Story-telling, my greatest irritation is the bickering…
      • Don’t forget about the Story cubes I talked about or the chart paper (and you should totally roll yourself up like a burrito…. it is so fun…….
    • Culture should ALWAYS be done in the target language! Don’t forget!!!! Just shelter shelter shelter your language and go slow and use LOTS of pictures!


I encourage you to PLEASE Google Brain Breaks! There are THOUSANDS of them out there! Teaching that session to 180 of you was CRAZY but so fun! Thanks for being such good sports and having so much fun with me!

Here is a link to my YouTube where you can see loads of videos of Brain Breaks. Here is a link to a page of all the blogs I’ve written on Brain Breaks! Here is a link to some of Blair’s adaptations of my Brain Breaks for French Teachers.

I had SO much fun with y’all!

Magic in the Elementary CI classroom (and really in EVERY classroom)

This was the first time I have ever presented this and I LOVED it…. It might be my new favorite next to presenting on Brain Breaks!

  • One of my favorite moments was when we found out it was Maureen’s birthday at the beginning of the session.
    • If this happens in your classroom you can and should take time to do exactly what I did! Make it MAGICAL for that student!!!! I wrote her name up on the board, we all screamed happy birthday! When I looked up at the board I noticed that by chance the position of her name looked like the Unicorn was peeing it out! HAHA! Go with all of these “magical moments!” Be a pretzel!
  • We talked about the importance of treating your classroom like your stage… Be the expert in the room and don’t be afraid to be silly and OUTRAGEOUS! This book is fantastic and it talks about integrating theatre techniques into our classrooms I think MY biggest take away is that if you are more crazy than the kids, they have no reason to try and “outshine” you and act out.
  • I talked more about Teach like a Pirate (link in previous section of the blog)
    • Teach every class like your students are PAYING to be there. Not their parents. Them. They choose to spend their money on YOUR class.
  • Carlos and Penelope
    • I am SO glad y’all educated me on where Puffins are from…. It is no wonder the kids look at me wierd when I tell them where I found that egg
      • I forgot to tell you that Carlos and Penelope believe they are siblings…. like blood siblings… it is VERY interesting.
    • Use puppets and marionettes! Kids respond to them! (even high schoolers, yea, it may be because they think your psycho but still!)
    • If you can get a puppet with some sort of “teeth” he can eat the stories you create in class and your kids can sequence them!
      • Remember, there are tricks to making them
        • Tell them it isn’t in the right order when it is…
        • Tell them there is one problem but you’re not going to tell them where.
        • Tell them afterwards to circle all the verbs and underline the subjects then re-write with new subjects…. etc.
      • Create something really MEMORABLE! (like Carlos and Penelope)
  • Again, use your voice for inflection and to create anticipation during magical moments
  • Unicorn Pee is magical!!! Here is the video of me using it… I know there are others on my YouTube!
    • Remember, if your kids are being obnoxious and not reading. Start by adding more pee
    • Don’t forget my Unicorn Poop Factory in Argentina… it is such an easy White Lie and you can solidify it (pardon the pun) with Google Maps
    • Anne Sophie who teaches French in NJ says that her class mascot (each class has a different mascot) is the one with the power in the pee! How great is THAT idea?!?!?
  • Giphy is an amazing resource… don’t forget not to use the site IN FRONT of your kids… (takes away magic and there are some wildly inappropriate giphs on there
  • The Magic Box
  • Google Maps
    • I’ve mentioned it lots in this blog! My kids LOVE it!
      • Don’t forget to pretend like you KNOW people who appear in the street views…. Make up stories about their lives. It is so fun!
  • Magic Wand
    • Don’t forget how fun it is to have a magical wand and use it to change the slides or to stop and start the video for movie talk (all the while it is just a clicker in your pocket!)
  • Tooth Fairy is my homegirl….
    • Don’t forget about how easy and fun it is to email parents!!!!!
    • Ratoncito Perez is an EASY culture piece to integrate!
  • I am famous…. and don’t you forget it
  • Peeking
    • Don’t forget about your special “class” you took in “college” to become a teacher which trained you on how to spot a “peeker!!!!” It is important that we stay unified in this POWERFUL white lie
  • Elf on the Shelf
    • So fun, but only use it if you feel that you are in a school whose culture will accept it and where students actually CELEBRATE Christmas and have Elf on the Shelf
      • Easy way to find out is email the parents
        • Which is a good idea anyways to have them warn their kids if you DO use pictures or anything to not spoil it
  • Use photos of the STUDENTS to review interesting PQA. It is incredibly engaging and they can’t believe their eyes when they see their face pop up in your class presentation!


I am on my flight to Mexico, friends! I am going to post this blog and start working on DAY 2!

Gracias for your support and love in Maine! I had so much fun learning and sharing with y’all!


La Maestra Loca




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