Friday, January 27, 2012

Interactive Display: Make your wall or bulletin board a discussion board

So this year as I prepared to put up my usual decorations in my classroom (about which I was unusually ecstatic, but that's another story), I had a sudden, simple inspiration.

In my second year teaching, desperately jealous of the festive, fun rooms my Spanish-teaching friends got to set up for their students, I went into school a week early and began creating.  I created inspirational posters in Latin, Latin question posters to help me teach class in a conversational way, and large cutout versions of the main characters from our textbook (if you are frustrated now because you think you can't draw well enough to do this sort of thing on your own--that's what projectors are for!  I traced every image).

Since that year, every year, I have glued or taped these characters to my wall as a traditional start to my school year.  And every year I try to arrange them in interesting ways, to spark discussion among my students (a popular discussion centers annually around whether the mother is having an affair with the cook!).

This year, as I was hanging them and deciding how best to cause soap-operatic speculation, I realized that I have been sitting on an inspirational gold-mine for many years and never realized it.  My students love to comment on these images.  Why not have them do it in writing?  In a very direct way?

Using only the latest in technology, I quickly grabbed everything I needed and set to work.  Before long, there was also a pad of post-it notes taped to the wall beside my little Roman family.

Characters from the textbook--covered in Latin comments!
I proudly introduced this innovation to my students on the first day of school.  They looked terrified.  They didn't know how to write in Latin yet, so this seemed very much beyond them.  I decided to wait and remind them later.

Around two weeks later, I mentioned the board again.  By this point they had a working vocabulary of over 40 words, so it was no longer a scary prospect, and I had made class a safe place to experiment with language.  No one moved at first, but by the end of the week, I had three post-it-notes safely stuck to various characters.

As the month progressed, I got new notes pretty regularly, and students liked to read the new notes that showed up there between classes.  The notes got progressively more intricate and used better grammar, but I still really enjoy the earliest notes best.

Some early notes inflicting violence with the only violent words they know how to use:
eat and cook.  Oh, and explode.  Because who doesn't need that word in his or her daily life?
Next year, I will be doing this again.  But I think I will rotate the wall more often; interest fell away after about a month.

I can't wait to see what my new students will write and think, in Latin, outside of class proper, voluntarily.
Sometimes I think I've created a monster.  But it's a Latin-loving monster, so I enjoy it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Textbook No Longer: How Apple's Digital Textbook Revolution isn't so Revolutionary

What Apple Did Create

I should start by being fair.  Apple did not claim this would be a textbook revolution.  They didn't claim they were going to make something completely new that would make textbooks seem obsolete.  I just hoped for it. 

When Apple announced it would be hosting an educational "event" in NYC about a week and a half ago, the blogosphere started buzzing.  The consensus seemed to be that Apple would be moving into the textbook industry, mostly due to this quote from Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs:
His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple. “The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” he said. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”
Ideas about what Apple could do to textbooks were flung around for about a week.  Fears and hopes for future textbook design were expressed in about equal parts; I followed the news and hoped for the best. 

Finally, last Thursday, Apple unveiled its creation: Digital Textbooks.  Of course, they are not just simple pdf or epub versions of existing textbooks, which would be ludicrous.  They will embed video and some interactive animations.  They will be "beautiful" and more engaging.  For a great summary of the new features, Gizmodo offers this article that lists them with screenshots.

The problem that I believe comes up for many of us who were waiting for this announcement (I spent my lunch period Thursday trying to find pertinent information and/or a video version of the annoucement) is that, really, finally, the iBook 2 is still just a textbook.  It is still text around pictures--albeit beautiful, digital pictures instead of grainy, printed ones--or accompanied by video (not a new idea, just become more convenient).  It is still a flat, informative piece of literature, one you can highlight (already an option on many ebooks with the right app) and write notes on.  It's not new.  It's not special.  It's just digital.

I had hoped, because iBook 2 requires an iPad to use it (also making it prohibitively expensive, but that's a separate issue that is expanded upon here), it would move outside the limitations of a traditional text.  I want, as suggested by Audrey Watters in her post over the iBook 2 and Apple's announcement, a deconstructed textbook.  I want the ability to create social interfaces for my classes.  I want to be able to interlink my own created activities with the "text" the students are reading without having to create a separate textbook of my own (especially one that will be owned by Apple forever afterward).

Quite simply, I want a totally new classroom resource.  I want to reinvent the way students experience classroom information.  I want a learning center.

What I Would Create (if I had money and resources)

I know it's easy to say that I'm disappointed in Apple's offerings.  It might even be the cool thing to do right now, so that might make it easy for you to dismiss my assessment.  My problem with this whole situation arises, however, from the very simple fact that I have been talking about what I would love to see in textbook changes for a while now, and the earliest, easiest incarnation of that was to add video and interactive animations.  I expect more out of Apple.  This is their job.

So I decided to throw out some of the ideas I've been bouncing off my husband.  Excuse the rambling order--I haven't really sat down and organized a true treatise on my digital textbook dream yet.

Let's start with the basics of "deconstructed" textbooks.  How many of you have ever just sat down with a textbook for pleasure reading, as a child or as an adult?  Textbooks are not engaging.  I can read a historical book over the Rubicon's importance as a boundary to the Romans and enjoy it, but put the same information into the dry impersonal tone a textbook uses and I feel my eyes glaze over and my attention wander.  And I'm a teacher.  I live education. 

Even with shiny pictures and video, the text is still there, boring and ignored.

Instead of textbook text, I would like to see a selection of articles over each topic.  The articles already exist, it's just a matter of compiling them and making them available.  Articles are written to engage audiences so they will buy more magazines, newspapers, etc.; textbooks are made for captive audiences that have no choice.  Imagine if students didn't groan (even internally) every time a teacher asks them to open their textbooks.

I would like, for each topic, to have video options, image options, activity options.  I want to be able to choose articles, videos, images, etc. and to be able to drag and drop my choices into a program that makes them available to my students.

I want the option for real-time updates so my articles are always up-to-date and sensitive to new issues.

If I were to go with my biggest wish regarding this, I would like a system to filter news stories (written articles and videos) into relevant topics so I can grab them and use them to make my classes more relevant.

Lastly, with this system, I would love a calendar that lets me schedule article availability and helps refer students to the focus of the day.  I want interactivity between my own iPad (or tablet, or whatever, and yes, the teachers better have them too) and my students'.  Which leads to the next topic on my textbook wishlist.

There is a lot I would like to see in terms of interconnectivity.  Starting with teacher-student connectivity.  As mentioned above, I want to be able to choose content, then drag and drop it into a space that is then accessible to my students.  I want to be able to host class discussions and to send and receive class assignments. 

More interestingly, I would like to see the ability to create groups within my classes.  If I choose five students and put them in a "circle," for lack of a better term, they now can work on something that I have assigned to them, communicate via tablets, have a shared article that all of them can highlight and annotate (and they can see each other's highlights and annotations).  They will be able to interact in person, in my classroom, of course, but they can also interact when they are at home and stay easily within the bounds of the assignment.

From this point, it is only a step further to integrate the ability to record student voices and have those recordings available to me.  It would be easy for world language teachers to assign language-lab types of activities with that sort of arrangement.  Even if you are not a world language teacher, you could set up a circle of students and let them communicate in relative privacy via headsets. 

Final Ramblings

Overall, I am glad the textbook is getting an overhaul.  My only problem is I feel that it has been a very literal, close-minded overhaul.  I am fully aware that an approach like the one I suggest would require a completely new paradigm, a shift away from individual textbooks and toward a central informational source.  I envision this as a whole package, with a grading, testing, and quizzing system included.  I have so many more ideas concerning a project like this.

What I'd really like to see is your thoughts.  Comment below, and perhaps our collective wisdom can fall into the ear of someone who can make this a reality.  All of the required technology already exists.

WAYK - Keeping things low key

Today, I experimented in my Latin II and III classes with a game called Where Are Your Keys. I won't lay out the whole game (Evan Gardner does a much better job of it than I), but it uses a game mentality and basic hand signs to learn a language (or any task). It uses a series of methods or techniques to acquire skills and isn't limited to one way of doing things. From my experience, I've seen it work really well in small group settings. Now, I'm not writing this post to suggest a way to play, but rather the experience my students and I had with this game and what that can mean for other educators. So... here we go...

I'll be honest, I was hesitant about this game's ability to be applied in a classroom of 20, 30, or more students. How could I turn a game, that in my view, worked best in small groups and make it apply to a whole class of students? Would the students find it useful, or just silly? And, my biggest worry, would I remember the signs I had just learned to demonstrate the new vocabulary?

I began with my first class of the day, a small Latin II class, and told them we were going to play a game. Immediately I was bombarded with questions like, "do we get to pick the teams?", "do we get a prize?", and (my personal favourite) "How do you win?" They were vocally disappointed when I said the game was all inclusive, non competitive, and no, there were no prizes, we were in this together... And so we went.

We started with four pictures of things they knew how to say in Latin. This immediately set the tone and let them know that I wasn't going to leave them totally in the dark. I demonstrated the hand symbols and asked everyone to move in together. We played each round in a simple "copy cat" form before branching out to doing it together/call and response. I spent the majority of our time with this on technique, using the same four pictures. After each successful round, we applauded ourselves, "Hey! We did it!".

In the other 3 classes that participated, the response was much the same. Excitement at the thought of a game, resentment at the thought of no prize, and happiness and pride when it came down to actually doing it. The kids laughed with each other, even though they weren't sitting near the people they usually did, and one student remarked, "Now, we're like a family". Overall, the game was enjoyable and all the kids wanted to play again.

I think the game is great, especially for vocabulary acquisition, and there are some specific reasons I would, and will, use it again.

  1. It allowed students to go at their own pace - One of the things WAYK stresses is a check for fullness. There is a simple gesture that allows students to let you know when they are "full". I allowed them to sit to the side and watch. They could jump back in whenever they wanted. It was important to stress, however, that students not feel ashamed when they are full and that it was okay, even recommended, that they take breaks where necessary. It is my opinion, that competitiveness is pushed way too much in schools and students often feel like they have to keep going, even if they are taking on more than they can manage. This is an easy way to let students have a break, take a minute, sit back, relax, and then join the learning again when they are ready
  2. It is easy for students to pick up on - Often, I watch students struggle and struggle and then give up on complicated topics, structures, and even vocabulary. I saw that they were so enthralled in the repetition, the motions, and the game, that they didn't notice when things got a little more difficult. Things went much more smoothly this way.
  3. Students felt comfortable and were better able to participate - Through the repetition and the ease of the signals, students relaxed and let the Latin flow. They forget about "looking cool" and how bad their days were and had some fun. I only did the basics, but it would be easy to introduce some more "complicated" constructions without them realising... One of those, "look at you go" moments!
  4. They are coming back for more - Even after one session, I had students come back after class and tell me that they not only enjoyed the game, but retained things from it on the first go. The real test will be the next time we play, and I am excited to see the results.
Having thought about this for a day (I started this post Friday evening), there are a few things that I think are most important about this game and what it does. It takes away a lot of the stress I think students walk into a foreign language classroom with. Students can let go of what happened earlier in the day/in a previous class and concentrate on something fun. The combination of speaking, listening, and simply hand motions lets students forget the outside and concentrate on the moment. It takes away the stress of foreign concepts that students often struggle over and lets them learn it through simple techniques.

 For the teacher, it is very involved in the moment. You are the leader. It can be tiring, but it is a lot of fun, for both you and them and I am all for fun! I plan to make some more regular posts about this as I experiment with it and take note of my students' reactions. I welcome any questions, suggestions, or criticisms as I want nothing more than to make this work the best way I can. 

Here are some links to the Where Are Your Keys website to give you some more information. Check out the techniques map or their videos. I am looking forward to doing more and posting more about it and I hope you enjoy it too.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is Texting Really the Enemy?

This most definitely is not the first blog you've read about texting.  It most definitely won't be the last.  For most teachers I know, texting is an annoying phenomenon that distracts students and keeps them from learning, doing homework, studying, etc.  There are complaints that students are no longer good at concentrating because they are used to focusing on many different things for short periods of time.  This may be true.

It also might be true that there is simply a new dynamic world that we are missing out on.  A world that is full of constant engagement with others.  A world in which, thanks to smart phones and wifi, all kinds of information is constantly accessible.  My school has done something unique, at least in my experience, by letting students text and use their phones in the hallways between classes and allowing teachers to choose to what degree students are allowed to use them in the classroom.  This has caused me to reassess my own opinion of cell phones.  I grew up without cellphones.  We made fun of the first student in our school to carry a cellphone ("He can't stand to be away from his mommy!").  Texting was definitely not part of my coming of age and it wasn't even part of my adulthood until very recently, so it has taken me a while to accept the idea that texting, instead of distracting students from my class, could and should be a part of my class.  Luckily, the technological world has not been waiting for my approval.  There are several programs that utilize texting for education.  Audrey Watters, professional blogger and writer for Hack Education, writes about programs for classroom texting here and here.

After spending years fighting against texting and taking phones from students, I have come to the realization that I'd rather utilize phones for education.  I think that's where everyone will be heading, and with some great programs out there (I know I've just started finding the resources) for texting in class, I am not at all upset by that opinion.  I have already started using Remind 101, which allows me to schedule text message and email reminders for quizzes and tests.  I am looking at more programs right now, which I am sure to write about.

I'm writing now, not to recommend a specific program, but to encourage those of you who have doubts to consider texting, not as an enemy to education, but as a tool.  If we use it in class, it's no longer something the students are "getting away with;" instead, we take ownership over the activity and make it a requirement. Best case scenario, we end up with students who feel engaged and view us as adults who get them.  Worst case scenario, texting stops being cool.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Finding what works: The delicate balance between students and teachers

It wasn't too long ago that I was a student. I remember taking a class, taking the teacher as the ultimate authority, and, at the end of the class, being presented with a long survey asking me my opinions on things like "first day impressions" and "how the teacher presented information"... In more than one case, one of the following occurred:

  • I was exhausted from finals and was uninterested in filling out something else that required me to fill in small bubbles or write some sort of essay
  • I was scared. The teacher presented him/herself as the end all, be all and I knew I'd have that teacher again. What was the point of saying what didn't work if I knew that either the teacher wouldn't change or that (s)he would target students next time for their thoughts.
  • I honestly couldn't remember. Some questions on these surveys ask for students to remember things from the first day of school. I was so nervous about a new class, so excited about new material, or so attentive and concerned about the material, that I could not remember what my first impression was. 
  • I felt like I had no useful information. At one of the schools I attended, we couldn't access final grade information without logging in and either taking a final survey or signing a statement saying we weren't going to. If the class was uninteresting to me/required, I usually didn't feel like my opinions were legitimate. If the class wasn't too hard or easy, I didn't feel like I could provide anything useful. All that being said, I resented being presented with this formal survey that I had to do something with before being done with a class.
Acknowledging all of these points to myself, I decided to be different in my classroom. This has progressed over two years to become a few things. At first, I gave an end of the year survey, but I changed the questions to be more generalised and give students an opportunity to express things that they wanted to express. I got a few responses, but mostly blank papers. I changed to give a survey every month or so asking about what was working, what wasn't working, what they could change, and what I could change. I found that I got a few more responses, and of those most were very specific and helpful, but still I felt like students were telling me what they thought I wanted to hear. 

At the beginning of this school year, I sat down and re-watched some videos from Education Scotland. One of the videos that I'd originally skipped was on something called a suggestion box. I took one of my daughter's shoe boxes and covered it in some nifty wrapping paper and wrote "Suggestion Box" on it. It sits on the corner of my desk closest to the students. It is something they pass every day on their way in and on their way out. Here is what I told them:

"This is a suggestion box. Instead of surveys at the end of the year, I will be using this throughout the year. Please, please, PLEASE, use it! You can write me a note, at any time, about anything, and slip it in here. No one will know but you and me. If you put your name on it, then I will write a response and give it to you next class. If you don't, it will be an anonymous suggestion. All I ask is that you be specific and make it appropriate."

I still sometimes do a quick survey of the students. I limit these to brand new activities. I usually ask students to put their heads down and raise their hands if something applies to them. This is also a quick way to see who understands something and who doesn't. Here is what I've discovered about the suggestion box:

  • Students feel like they can say what is really on their minds. More often than not, I get positive feedback about activities they loved and why they loved them
  • Students feel like they can say what they want, when they want. There isn't the pressure to respond and students are given the option not to, without making it known that they don't want to. 
  • Students feel like their privacy is being respected. Instead of being handed a paper and being forced to hand it back in, students can write something down on a sheet of notebook paper, or a sticky note, etc. and slip it in privately, on their way out or in to class. 99% of the time no one notices, not even me.
  • students appreciate being responded to, when they write their name down. At first, students were surprised that I'd actually responded to them. I got lots of "Oh! I didn't know you'd actually do it! Thanks!" Many times, my responses gives them an opportunity to ask a question they'd been scared to ask or gives them a reason to ask to talk to me about something. This helps both of us, teacher and student, make class better.
  • Some students take advantage of the "anonymous" option in a unhelpful way. Every once in a while, I get a "today sucked" message. These kinds of messages don't work, because it doesn't tell me what needs to change. 
  • Students forget the box is there. I give a reminder about twice through the semester. Many students say things like "oh ya...." and then the suggestions start pouring in again. 
  • I may forget to check and miss someone's note... but the students will never forget to "yell" at me the next day :)
All in all,  I think it is a good way to go about it. It takes the pressure off of them in many ways and it gives them some control. It also establishes a balance between me and my students. I am the teacher and I have the ultimate control, but it is based on what they give me. They know I'm listening to what they have to say and that I will always take their suggestions seriously, even if I end up not following it. I always offer to provide explanations for why we do what we do. Students appreciate that. Using the suggestion box has been a great aid in my classroom, mostly in the way that it has changed my relationship with my students.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Learning about Learning Centers

I'm experimenting in my class.  Again.  I've experimented on my poor students since that fateful first day when I sat uncomfortably on a teacher's stool and stared awkwardly at my class for a full fifteen minutes because I had no realistic idea what 90 minutes meant in actual teaching time.  Even on that first day I had experimented: I had not taught my students the way I had been taught; we started the first day of school with stick figures decorating the marker board (newly installed--the room still smelled like chalk!) and talking about "reading" Latin instead of "memorizing" it.  Then I ran out of steam and sat on a stool, and stared at my students and they stared at me, and I figured I needed to come up with something more and better.

My newest experiment is actually nothing new in terms of the holistic teaching world.  I had heard of learning centers here and there and even met a Latin teacher who uses them in her class a few years ago, which was really interesting, but so foreign that I had no idea how I could do such a thing in my own classroom.  It wasn't until two years ago when I was teaching at a small private school in Tulsa, which ranges from pre-k to 12th grade, that I became genuinely positive that I need learning centers in my own class.  I was exposed to some great teaching at that school and surrounded by people who were passionate about the school and its children. I was given the unique chance to talk in detail to teachers who had learning centers, to find out the research and philosophy behind them, and to see them in action.

That was two years ago.  Why did it take me so long to start experimenting?  Those teachers were elementary school teachers and I teach 7th-12th graders.  Figuring out how to create a similar environment in my own class without making my students feel "babied" was and is a huge concern.

There were other concerns, among them how to create flow between the tables, how much work will it be to create activities for each table, what kind of activities are conducive to that setting, etc.  Some of my concerns have been resolved, others are still works in progress, as is the technique itself.

I have used learning centers in my room around five times now, and I find positive and negative points to it.


  • There is room flow.  I have arranged things so my students end up with a different group of people at every table so they don't get to stay just in their "safe" crowds.  
  • There is movement.  I personally cannot concentrate without pacing or moving at least a little, and I am never surprised to find that students feel the same way.
  • We can do several activities at once.  Sometimes I want to approach a concept from a certain number of angles, but doing those activities as a class is difficult, because they start to feel repetitive and often are small-group activities, which means I'd have to organize my students into those groups anyway.  In this setting, they're in groups and they are moving around, so those concerns diminish.
  • I can get closer to one-on-one learning.  If I set a certain table aside to be one that I use to talk to my students about a new concept face-to-face, I'm now explaining to five students at a time instead of 30.  That can make an explanation that might take 20-30 minutes only take 5 and offer students the chance to ask detailed questions in a less threatening environment.


  • It seems chaotic on the surface.  This is not so much a concern for me, because I understand that sometimes things that seem chaotic have organization to them.  That said, some people face administration who judges a loud classroom to be a bad one before looking for the method to the madness.
  • I have trouble balancing the different learning stations.  I am so new to this, and there's not a lot out there for me to easily reference, that my activities are not evenly matched in terms of time.  There is always one or two tables finished very quickly, around two that are in the middle, and two that take much longer than all the others.  This does not create the smooth transition I want for my classroom.
  • I have no idea how to approach grading it.  Currently I'm giving completion grades, which works for most of my students.  But that seems like it's cheapening the point of the arrangement, which is, for me, mostly experiential.  I have students doing activities I think will make Latin easier for them to understand, or ones that cause them to reread stories for more detail.  Giving a grade seems to make it more about the work and less about the learning.
  • Some students are not taking it seriously.  This is only around five students, all in the same class, probably influencing each other.  But it's the only reason I'm even considering what to do about grading it--it was the only way I could get them to take it seriously.  
I have a lot to learn about this concept, but I like it, and most of the feedback from students has been positive.  Those who are very dependent on their friends for support are less happy with it, but that is a smaller minority than I thought it would be going in, probably because they are changing company every 10 minutes or so (so if they don't like someone, they'll sit with someone else soon after).  

Will this latest experiment be successful?  I don't know yet, but I will let you know.  For me, at the moment, the positive is outweighing the negative, so I'll continue to try it out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Getting to know the Pomegranate Girls: Miriam

I feel like my blogging experience has been much like my teaching: new, growing, and fascinating. I've been a teacher for two years (will be two and a half in May), and a blogger for 4-5 months. I am constantly amazed by both my blogging and teaching experiences and by all the new things I learn each day.

I am a firm believer that any student can learn a language and, more specifically, any student can learn Latin. The issue is not that the student must find a way to to fit Latin, but that I, the teacher, must work with the student to find a way to make the material accessible to them. Much like Rachel, I thrive in technology. I love combining pictures, video, PowerPoint, etc. to make the learning experience as accessible by as many people as possible.

I have spent many years hearing, and believing, that Latin is a certain way and must remain that way. I no longer subscribe to this belief. One of the first things I tell my students when they make the "ewww" face at such an idea as spoken Latin is this: "The Romans most certainly did not walk around chiseling out conversations on tablets or writing on scrolls. They spoke the Latin... They LIVED the Latin. Feel the Latin. Trust the Latin. BE THE LATIN!" Okay sure, it is a bit cheesy and no teenager in their right mind would ever admit to smiling at my goofiness, but they do and they do... feel the Latin that is... and that... is what it is all about :)

I am a bit behind Rachel in the public speaking area. I have presented at local and state student conferences and I am due to present at my first regional conference for teachers this Spring. Even though I am just beginning my journey, I am finding myself frustrated at just how little there is for me as a Latin teacher who speaks the language. The first thing I was told by my instructors, mentors, and administrators was "don't reinvent the wheel", but if the wheel is missing pieces... maybe it needs some work.

My goal in this project, much like Rachel's, is to start to provide some of what I seek, materials that teachers can use to reach as many students as possible. I hope that others find this blog and what Rachel and I have to share useful (you can see some of my work at my website: and that others start to join us and share their ideas.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Getting to Know the Pomegranate Girls: Rachel

I am very new to blogging. I was there for the ubiquitous advent of the internet and spent my downtime during college studying HTML (because html is fun. no, really!) but blogging is just something I haven't tried. I've just started following blogs and learning the power of blogs--not as a social diary, which I originally thought blogs were, but as a learning tool. As I build my own list of blogs which I follow and from which I gain amazing insight and tips that I can use in my own classes, I begin to feel the wish, or need, or whatnot, to try to offer something similar to other teachers and posterity.

I have been teaching for nine years--at least, I'll be finishing my ninth year this May (unless another snowstorm this year decides differently). I love teaching, and my goal is always the most learning for the most students at the best quality I can provide. This of course means my nine years have been spent reading research and attending professional development and creating my own materials which I share online for anyone else who can find them useful. I found early in my career that there just aren't enough materials for Latin teachers. I want technology. I want pictures. I want everything the modern language teachers have. Luckily (or not, if you ask my oft-neglected family) I have grown up with the belief that if you don't like something, you should do something about it. Every year I redesign my approach based on what I've read, discussed, or trained in (only if it seems like it would really and truly improve my classes), and that almost always means I have to create my own materials. It also means that I started presenting at conferences early on, because there just wasn't enough Latin-based professional development at my disposal to make me happy.

What I'm hoping to do here is really just to offer the guidance that I so often seek. Miriam and I have similar directions in our classrooms and, I think, we are both relatively creative teachers. I always believe in sharing what I have created (I have a website here: and a youtube channel here: but I am usually pretty overwhelmed by school and family needs, so my updates are irregular at best. Having a blog, especially one shared with another person, is an exciting way to force me to regularly look at my classes and see if I can offer insight to others.

I am excited by this new venture and feel like the New Year is the perfect time to begin a new blog.