Friday, November 22, 2019

ACTFL presentation

Thank you SO MUCH for coming to my presentation.  Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or success stories to share!  As promised, here is my presentation.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Picture talk

This summer, during a TPRS workshop I presented, I decided to try something different for me with a picture talk.  Usually I try to find a goofy picture (think Awkward Family Photos) and we talk about that.  This time, I chose a piece of art that I felt represented the structures my "students" (actually teachers) were working on: was, had, wanted.  So I found this painting by Edgar Degas.
The Absinthe Drinker

Here is the dialogue, in English, of how I used this painting.

Me (pointing to woman): Was there a man or a woman? Woman, right! There was a woman. Who was this woman? Sarah? Yes! The woman was Sarah. Was Sarah beautiful? Yes, she was beautiful. Was Sarah happy? No, Sarah was not happy. Sarah was sad. (Continue until students get bored talking about Sarah).

Next, we moved on to the man and followed a similar script of questions. It turns out, according to my students, that the man was the boyfriend of Sarah. Then, I asked Why Sarah is sad.  Because I had superstar language teachers as students, they were able to answer this question and decided that she was sad because she wanted a different boyfriend. Then we were able to talk about why Sarah didn't want the man as her boyfriend (he smokes and she hates that).

Last week, in a collaboration, another teacher in my school said that she wants to try to use picture talk more this year and I volunteered to do this picture talk for them.  During the picture talk with them, I had another epiphany (for me...superstar teachers are probably rolling their eyes at this point at how lame I am)! Our story followed a similar script, but in our story, the woman and the man were just fighting.  So, I said, "Yes, a week ago they were in their house..." and BOOM! a story evolved that could use actors and different locations outside of the café.  I will definitely do more of this in the future during picture talk.  I can't believe it took me so long to "get" parallel stories or Blaine's magic of talking about what happened outside of a story.

Anyway, we happened to have a former art history major in this collaboration group and she had insight into the painting.  It's called The Absinthe Drinker.  So we thought that it would be a great follow-up reading to type up the actual stories behind paintings as a follow-up activity.

Et voilà! Something new to try if you, like me, haven't quite "gotten" the full potential of picture talk.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Beginning of year 13...reflections on Week 1

Whew!  Back in the classroom and ready to rock and roll.  I had a great but busy summer taking kids to France, celebrating my 40th in Puerto Rico with my rockstar colleague Profe Deida, her hubby and my hubby (I now know the joys of reggaeton), attending and emceeing NTPRS, presenting a workshop in Minneapolis, and trying to keep my own kids entertained.

With all that, I didn't have a ton of time to really reflect on my teaching.  Nonetheless, I did make some changes this year.  Here's my list:

  • Room set-up: Last year I had students grab a chair of their choice and move it to their assigned seat.  This set-up and tear-down took way too much time and there were kids who picked the comfortable seats every day so that they could veg out.  This year, I moved the comfy chairs to a reading nook that is only used during FVR time and my "normal" chairs are always in a horseshoe.  Every hour, I take the notebooks for that hour and set them on the chairs so that there is a new seating chart every day.  I can't remember who I stole that idea from, but I read it in a blog, I'm sure.
    • So far, I think this is working very well.  I don't have to take so much time at the end of class having them "clean up" and the kids seem more engaged sitting in a more traditional chair.  Plus, the comfortable chairs in the reading nooks seem to get kids more excited about FVR time!
  • Better use of notebooks: last year I started with composition notebooks for each student, thinking that they would be able to easily keep everything in one place.  With a disorganized teacher, that became absolute mayhem as there were papers shoved everywhere.  So this year, I decided to follow my dear friend Elicia's techniques to create a better organized notebook.
    • So far, so much better!  Kids' things are on a specific page and it should be easy for them to find and use in the future.  
  • Starting with special person: I decided to mix special person with "regular" stories and units so that I can get started more quickly.  Last year and the years before, special person was taking until October to get through and the kids were getting bored with it.
    • I think this is working well, but we are only one week in so far, so I'll have to re-evaluate in a month or so.
How about you guys?  What did you change this year and how is it going?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Resources from Minneapolis workshop

I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to get this published.  I had an incredible time with you all!  Please never hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need anything.


Sample of powerpoint  Remember that TPRS Books sells a DVD with all the powerpoint stories you could ever want...

Follow Daniel's Facebook page: Waasabiik Ojibwemotaadiwin and youtube

Watch the deer video but only if you are okay with crying a little bit...

Saturday, July 13, 2019

More Than a Choice NTPRS presentation

This past week, I got to go to my NINTH NTPRS!!!  Hopefully I will have time soon to sit down and digest my thoughts for you.

In the meantime, Eric Richards, my friend and co-presenter at NTPRS, asked me to upload our presentation on using a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel on this blog.  So, here it is!  Please let me or Eric know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

End-of-year Review

I was encouraged to share what I've been doing this week by my dear friend Elicia Cardenas (, so here goes!

Our seniors last day was THREE school days ago and I still had FOURTEEN days with the rest of my students, who, like me, really want summer to start.  I thought about doing a new story with new structures, but I feel like some students could really use some extra repetition without trying to cram more structures into their spring-fevered brains.

I decided to go back to the first story we did this year and do a post-reading review "game" with each story: one story per day.  So, the first day, we did the Lucky Reading Game.  This game is a great low-stress way to play a game where everyone can get the right answer and still there is a winner.  It worked very well, reminding me of what structures I let fall away throughout the year.

Next day, the second story of the school year with Snowball/Paper Airplace reading.   I projected the story and then had them translate one sentence of the story into English on their paper.  Then, they threw them at me (this part made it feel like a game even though it really isn't), picked up a different paper, and wrote the sentence following the sentence written on the paper.  Repeat until it gets boring and then offer three bonus points (worth absolutely nothing) if they can make a basket into the recycle bin.

Today, we did Write, Draw, Pass with them writing a sentence from the third story in French, then drawing the next sentence, then writing the third sentence, and so on.  Tomorrow I will hand them out and they can "read" the story as we pass them around the room to laugh at the drawings.

I'm not sure what tomorrow's post-reading activity will be yet.  Any ideas for me?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


I have hesitated to share too many resources here because a lot of what I do has been borrowed/translated/stolen from others and I use pictures from the internet without siting my sources...  But I was encouraged to do so by my main teacher man Jeremy Jordan, who shares SO MUCH for free.  

So here goes.  I only ask four things:
  1. A lot of these were done in haste, as I have five preps and only one prep period.  So, if you see a typo or an error, please email me and let me know so that I can fix it!
  2. If you want to make changes for your class, just make a copy of the google document and go ahead!  I know my students pretty well, so there are probably some things that I share with my students that you would not feel comfortable sharing with your students.  For example, I show my kids Cyprien videos, even though he sometimes curses in French.
  3. Use anything all you want in your classes, but please don't sell anything and if you remember it came from me, a shout-out would be nice.
  4. If you see anything that came from you and want it sited, please let me know and I will be happy to add a HUGE shout-out for sharing.
  • Daily info for the beginning of class PowerPoint:  This is the best thing I added this year.  It gives me a great opportunity to use some high-frequency structures that don't always come up in a natural story-asking day.  It is a work in progress, as I usually add the slide the day before/morning of.
  • My daily PowerPoints so far: This is how I organize my life.  With 5 different classes, it's nice to have one place to go.  I'm not sure if the sharing is on for every source, so if you click on something that doesn't work, let me know.  Also, most of the things I do in French 4/5 were created by my colleagues Nicole and Caitlin (BIG SHOUT OUT!!!) and they may not want to share their work.
Hope somebody finds this helpful.  If not, oh well!  I got nothing to lose!