Magic in Maine (TCI Maine 2017) Day 2

First of all, look how cute this video turned out that I made for my kid’s sub plan on Friday… It’s not too often teachers offer to help each other write sub plans…. Amy, Carol, Omar, and John are good sports.

I finally got to see Carol’s session in Hebrew. I found myself squealing with excitement in the back. There is NOTHING better you can do for yourself and your teaching than to attend a CI class in a language you don’t know. It reminds you just HOW slow you need to go and just how rigorous it is to listen to another language, even when it is compelling and comprehensible! (Side note: I am now in Mexico at a conference and met a Hebrew speaker. I immediately started sprinting in place and told him “ratz” then I continued to say Batman rotzah lenashek (sp??) Catwoman. He died laughing… I asked him if he understood me and he said “Ken”!!!! HOORAYYYYYYYY!!!!! #CIWorks #CIRocks

My first session was on classroom management.

We talked about the importance of flow “the optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where a person is fully immersed in what he is doing.” Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi

I believe there are many different components that BUILD flow. I use my point system for example, and someone pointed out that the points is more extrinsic motivation, however it is one of the pieces of my classroom that students love the most and drives them to be eager to come every day and have fun in my class. It is one piece of what builds student’s intrinsic motivation.

Rules are first and foremost really important.


I always use the same rules whether I am teaching Elementary, Middle School, or High school. I think that is really important to have simple but ALL encompassing rules. It makes it harder for students to have an excuse or say they didn’t understand the rule. Here is the blog that will take you to what my first week of school looks like and it talks about how I establish those rules in elementary – high school.  

Next I introduced you to my Rubric and syllabus. You can find them both here. The rubric is editable. I have students self assess more at the beginning of the year and later in the year, they self assess once every couple of weeks. The purpose of the high frequency at the beginning is so that we can calibrate and make sure that we are agreeing on how they are performing in class. Also, so they can see that I really am assessing them on the rubric every day. (I only input a participation grade once or twice per week). Some of you asked the question about “how do we assess if we aren’t allowed to assess participation at our school”. You HAVE to assess participation. You just need to rephrase it and have a dialogue with your admin about what “participation” means in a language classroom. It is interpersonal and interpretive communication. Those are 2 of the three modes of language we have. There is no doubt in my mind that it should make up at LEAST 60% of their over all grade in my class. Maybe MORE in elementary.

You should still have them self assess in elementary. Just use emojis with for students to self-assess and they can circle the emoji that best describes how they did, AS you explain each “category” you want them to assess.

Going deskless is the best way to maximize the benefit of MOVEMENT in your classroom. It also minimizes distractions and student’s eagerness to lay/tap on the table. There is also no place to hide a cell-phone if you get rid of tables. Remember, TPRS- Deskless Classroom is a GREAT FB group for support in going deskless.

Routines are great. I have a Dicho of the Week that sometimes acts as our Password to come into class. Bryce Hedstrom is the master of this.  Whatever routines you build, use them and use them frequently.

I shared my “story” with you of why I became a teacher. It is really important that you remember WHY you became a teacher. Find your passion again and teach EVERY day with that passion. I keep a domino on my desk to constantly remind me, even on the hard days, that what we do is SO important and our kids need us. You never know what an incredible difference you might be making in your kid’s lives.

Being eager and enthusiastic is clearly my expertise. I am the exact same way in my classroom with my kids. I am eager and excited and enthusiastic about EVERYTHING we do every single day. If I am bored, my kids are bored. It goes back again to Teach Like a Pirate and the book’s idea that we need to be teaching every class as if students themselves have bought a ticket to come that day.

It is so important to manage your class with positivity. For many of our students, they are dealing with so much ugly and are going through such turmoil outside of school that we don’t want to create more negativity in their lives while they are with us. The more positivity we can show them and praise that we can give them the better.

Voice is one of the most powerful tools in your “teacher toolbox”. If your voice isn’t very strong or you lose it easily, getting a microphone might be just what you need. I use inflection in my voice to help run my classroom and keep students on their toes.

The greatest secret to my management system is the relationships I form with my students. Since I integrate PQA (personalized questions and answers) into every lesson, I am constantly learning information about my kids. One of you asked how I keep track of it. I don’t. There is no way to keep track of all of that information. What you are doing though is showing students you care about them because you want to get to know them. I make an effort to find connections with my students when they tell me information about themselves. Often times, these connections come up later in different classes and the kids are chuffed to bits that I remember. I have lunch with my kids and learn about what they like and do in their free time. This doesn’t mean I am talking to them all class but I am a fly on the wall when they are talking to their friends and I can integrate these interests in during class at a later time.  I also attend sports events and theatre performances. These are so important for showing students that I support them and love them OUTSIDE of my classroom walls too! I often sit with my students and chat with them (ALWAYS 100% in Spanish) which is another benefit! More input for them!

Parker Waters took this photo of me chatting with my students in the stands at a Football game

Transitions are an important piece to establish ASAP in your classroom. I spoke about these more in my blog yesterday.

Remember, if you are more OUTRAGEOUS than your kids, they won’t have time to be acting up in your class.

Finally, here are links to the three blogs I’ve written about the point systems. What is it? What you do with the points after (parties)? What can you do to make it novel!?

Sunset in Portland

Next I had my session on Output in the CI classroom. I have done this presentation a few times now and it continues to be VERY well attended. People have a lot of questions about where output fits in in a comprehensible INPUT classroom. I think the biggest thing to remember is that you are the only person who knows YOUR classroom and your students. Every CI teacher is different. Every school is different. Every class is different. Every student is different. Here is a link to my blog on using OWL strategies in the classroom.

The biggest thing to remember is all of the output Brain Breaks I showed you are using language that the students have already acquired and students are all talking at the same time. You can access lots of the Output videos of my classroom on my YouTube channel.

I had such a wonderful time in Maine. Thank you all for being such good hosts. Please keep in touch and subscribe to my blog for more ideas. I try and blog AT LEAST once per week! 🙂

I hope to come back again soon. A final thank you to Beth and Skip for having me and to BRUCE for housing Amy and me in Portland on Friday night!

Until next time,



La Maestra Loca

Reunited with my work wifey and work hubby




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