Does Your Teaching Need a Micro-adjustment?

I have read a lot of posts lately about making big changes to curriculum, classroom management, teaching style, and more. I have written about some of the big changes I've made to my teaching over the last three years. Big changes can be good - especially if they involve moving from a traditional grammar-based program to a brain-based, comprehensible input program.
Today, however, I received a huge benefit from a micro-adjustment and it got me thinking... what if what you need isn't a huge overhaul or serious change? What if the thing that will make an enormous difference in your classroom/life is just a teeny-tiny, little, micro-adjustment?

First, I need to give you a little background story...
We are vacationing with our horses in Tennessee. You guys! If you haven't visited the foothills and mountains of Tennessee on horseback, you need to add it to your bucket list! This place is gorgeous. And if you compare the weather to Southern Indiana, it's downright divine.


Reflections of 2018: Most Positive Change and Least Effective Activity

In continuing with my reflections of 2018, I felt it was important to share my most effective change to my teaching as well as my least effective activity.

I had a lot of positives this semester!  I have had the same students for three and four years in a row, something that won't likely happen in the future, and they have reached levels of understanding and use of Spanish that I never dreamed possible in this amount of time. We have gotten completely "off track" in multiple classes but stayed in Spanish... (who really won this one? The students who controlled the conversation or me for keeping them 100% in Spanish????) I met and was mentored by my intellectual idol, Dr. Stephen Krashen!!!!! A dream come true!  I successfully presented at CI Midwest and at Indiana's annual conference, IFLTA. And I strengthened bonds with friends Leslie Phillips and Christy Lade in the process.Did I mention that I met Dr. Krashen????
[I also had a few failures that you can read about

Reflections of 2018: Final Exams

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how I was going to assess my students for final exams. Today, I want to reflect on what was good (or even great!) and what I can make better next time.

First of all, let me share my own personal beliefs about finals: They should not penalize students.They should reflect what students can do (proficiency), not test discreet knowledge about a topic (especially grammar).Most students should be able to finish the exam with time to spare. And, most importantly:
I have 120 students. I consider this to be a very manageable number of kids - the classes are just big enough that there is always someone willing to speak, but yet they aren't so big that I fight the classroom management battle. (For an in-depth look at how I survived almost twice that may students last year, read this!) I also don't want to spend a single minute of my break grading. I want to be done by the time I leave the…

Reflections of 2018: It's Not ALWAYS a Walk in the Park!

I am so passionate about using CI in my classroom. I have seen amazing results and I know that I know that I KNOW it is the way to acquire a second language. I want to share my results far and wide. To that end, it would seem that it's important to share my successes. However, I'm a bit more realistic than that... some days, well, let's just say......

Life never is. Social media has made "keeping up with the Jones'" a thing of art! Perfection abounds everywhere. We all need a good dose of reality and to realize that practicing our craft and reflecting on our failures are important to continued success. Honestly, teaching is like everything else: good days, bad days, incredible successes, and sometimes, epic failures. To that end, just so you know that not everything is a bed of roses in Señora Jota Jota's classroom, I'm going to share a few of my failures from just this semester.
There are actually quite a few. Especially for one semester!
1. I had an…

Final Exams CI Style

Every semester since beginning my teaching with Comprehensible Input journey, I have pondered what and how to assess my students' proficiency. I know that asking specific grammar details or vocabulary translations defeats the purpose of what I'm trying to do... but how do you come up with a good exam that:

doesn't set all your students up to fail and yet is still rigorous, provides assessment for all four skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking), anddoesn't take hours and hours to grade? Number 3 is crucial for me this year as every class I teach is a dual credit class through USI and ALL my students are taking finals. That's a lot of sections of finals to grade!

In the past I have used a variety of assessment ideas from Mike Peto and others. I have pulled key vocab out of stories, Movie Talks, Picture Talks, and more and created a new story that students had to answer comprehension questions about. I have also created a speaking prompt where students can…

Reader's Theatre!!

There are so many benefits to acting in the L2 classroom. Student actors can build muscle memory, mirror neurons are activated when students watch the teacher or other students act. classroom community is enhanced, empathy and compassion for others is created, and so much more!

If you are new to CI/TPRS methods of teaching, this is a skill you should add early to your toolbox. I am a firm believer that you should work on one skill at a time while you are transitioning from a more traditional, textbook-driven classroom. If you are like me, and have changed your curriculum foundation to be novels, then Reader's Theatre is an essential skill for you to master! I first learned of Reader's Theatre from Carol Gaab of Fluency Matters, Karen Rowan of Fluency Fast,Darcy Pippins, andMike Coxon of TPRS Books. I have no idea who to credit for the original idea, but I do know that these four have done a LOT to promote this skill (and many others!).

This is what Reader's Theatre looks li…

IFLTA 2018!!!!

The Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association Annual Conference was this past weekend and it was such a breath of fresh air with lots of new ideas!

Dr. Stephen Krashen was our keynote.

And, as I try to follow his theories as closely as I can in my classroom, I was hoping for a selfie. My students and children all know about his work and that it is the driving force behind what we do in class. Well, not only did I get that selfie, but I had the honor of eating lunch with him on the first day. I was sitting with friends I made at CI Midwest a few weeks ago and he ambled over to join us. 

There are several Teaching with Comprehensible Input (TCI) groups that meet in Indiana: One in the northern part of the state, one in Indy, and one near Evansville(Click the links to join us on Facebook!). We were very well represented at IFLTA this year so there was a wide variety of comprehensible input-based sessions.

I was incredibly honored to have Dr. Krashen not only attend my session, but al…