Quote Lover

Here is what Oprah Winfrey posted to Facebook today.

Look at that!  Look at those numbers!  So many people were uplifted and inspired by quotes today because of one person!  So great, right?  Words!  They make a difference and thus affect our actions or state of mind.

I’ve always been a quote lover.  Throughout both high school and college, I carried blank journal books around with me so that I could write in any thing I read that was meaningful in any way to me.  I also wrote in anything that anyone said to me that I felt had meaning or that I simply wanted to remember.  I have so many of those books.  I never really knew why I did it.  It was just “a thing I did”.  Today I keep my quotes/poems/sayings I enjoy in my notes on my iPad.  I read and refer back to them whenever I need or want to.

One of the most meaningful things to me that Oprah said constantly on her show was, “When you know better, you do better.”  I think Maya Angelou said that to her.  So simple, so true.  I miss her show.

I am including my favorite poem/long quote that my favorite Spanish teacher, Señorita Knudson (I wish I could find her!) gave to me at the end of my sophomore year of high school.  I give it to my students now when they graduate after their nine long years in my class.  It is also listed in the “About me” section of this blog.  I think it sums up who I am.

Bits and pieces, bits and pieces.
People. People important to you, People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and move on. There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why you ever came into contact with them. There are people who leave you, and you breathe a sigh of remorse and wonder why they had to go and leave such a gaping hole. Children leave parents, friends leave friends. Acquaintances move on. People change homes. People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on. You think of the many people who have moved in and out of your hazy memory. You look at those present and wonder. I believe it is all part of a master plan. We move people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who have ever touched your life. You are more because of them, and would be less if they had not touched you. Pray that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder, and never question and never regret.  
Bit’s and pieces, bits and pieces.


Sing like nobody’s listening!

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
William W. Purkey

I have a long commute to work each morning.  LONG.  I usually listen to audio books so that I can “enjoy” being in my car as long as I am in my car in the mornings.

This week I have been driving to work in the most elated state possible.  I don’t know why I’ve been so happy driving to work each morning this week.  It could be for many reasons…I have been excited about what I am going to teach each day, I am excited to see a beautiful friend of mine who is coming to visit this weekend from Utah, it has been sunny and chilly outside each morning and so beautiful, I have been proud of myself for exercising each morning before school or because I have been listening to all kinds of music blaring through my speakers while I sing at the top of my lungs and dance like no one is watching me.  I think that might be why!  Here are my songs of choice so far this week:

Lady Gaga-Edge of Glory

Lady Gaga-Born This Way

Martin Solveig & Dragonette – Hello

JLo-On the Floor

It has been so fun dancing and singing on my way to work! Music can make such a difference in how I feel. If I can start my day bopping around like no one is watching and belting out a tune, I’ve noticed how great I feel.

I’ve been doing the same thing with my 7th and 8th graders each day. We sing and dance to at least two songs in Spanish as we start each class, and what a difference it has made in their demeanor and mine! I have to choose songs they like of course (which is difficult at times because there isn’t much that they “like”…middles schoolers)  :), and they are more focused, engaged and involved in class. I’ve found some fantastic songs to share with them and easy share the lyrics with this awesome app called jotnot pro.  It is like a teeny scanner on my phone that work with evernote, email, google docs and more!
Every Friday is Dance Friday in my classroom now and it starts our mornings off great!  Music.  SO simple.  SO great.  Seriously, try it.  Find the songs you love and, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
William W. Purkey


Skype connects us again!

My 8th graders and I called Taylor Schrang today via Skype.  She is a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.  My classroom was packed with all 24 of my 8th graders (that is a FULL HOUSE for my small school) and we chatted with her for about 30 minutes.  It was such a great experience for me and for my 8th graders as well.  Middle School students pretty much don’t “like” anything about school nor learning/work, but I think this Skype call was a winner in their books and in mine.

I was so proud of them today.  Many of them came up with some really great questions to ask her, and the majority of them were actually listening and interested in the conversation!  This is just the best way for them to learn about the people and culture in these Spanish-speaking countries that we learn about.  What we read in books and research online is very valuable of course, but since I can’t travel with them to Paraguay, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Argentina etc….this is the next best thing!  It was such a valuable learning experience for all parties involved.

Here is the video if you want to check us out!
Taylor has so graciously offered to chat with us more throughout the school year so we can continue to learn about Paraguay and the work she is doing there!

Señor Wooly!

This website and music has done wonders for me and for my middle school students!  Oh my goodness!  James Wooldridge is a Middle School Spanish Teacher in Evanston, IL.  Someone suggested a couple years ago that I really needed to buy his music.  IT IS SO GREAT!  I wish I had bought it sooner.  It is right up my 6th-8th grader’s alley!  The humor, the beat of the music, everything!  They love it, I love it and they get to learn something at the same time.

I have NINE years with my students and by 8th grade it is hard to come up with things that they still enjoy and that I still enjoy doing with them.  Sometimes they are sick of me and I am sick of them.  It is just the truth.  So I keep trying and changing things so that they can have a good enjoyable Spanish class and so can I.

What I’ve realized about myself as a teacher is that I am happy when my students are happy…especially my 8th graders.  They are the hardest to please and even though I don’t have to, I really do try to please them and make them happy each day WHILE they learn Spanish.

If you are a Middle School or High School Spanish Teacher YOU NEED this music and you need to pay the $19.99 it costs to join the site.


you are being watched!

SO I purchased this microphone called The Blue Snow Ball because a presenter at a conference about movie-making suggested it.  I use it when I record what we did in class on our Smart Board or when I film my students doing simple things and want to drown out background noise.  It is good for Skyping too in a noisy room.  Here are some posts on my school blog to check out to see what I mean….




But here is the really funny part… I have it plugged in to my computer on a daily basis just in case we decide quickly to film what we are doing.  We do that some times if some one is absent, they can watch class on line, or if we just feel the need to show off what we know that day!

When ever it is plugged in, a red light lights up on the front.  You can see it here:


So my students actually think that they are being watched or recorded every moment that they red light is on.  They are well-behaved kids any way, but it is so funny to hear them whisper things like, “Isn’t this illegal?”  “Can she be recording us right now?”  “Why is that thing watching us?”  I’ve never said any thing to them about the red light. Some of them just talk to it.  When they pass it, they say things to it because they think I am recording and will post to blog.  It is hilarious.  None of them have ever asked me about it, so I am going to allow them to be ignorant and stay in the blissful realm of them behaving because they think they are being recorded.  They even show off a bit some times.  Love the Blue Snow Ball Mic for many reasons!


Paraguay-Peace Corps

I REEEEEEEALLY want to turn my Spanish class into a service project oriented Spanish class.  It is my dream.  I teach Kindergarten to 8th grade.  My students have ME as their teacher for NINE years and I want to impart a bit more on them than just the Spanish language and bits about the different cultures.  I want to be able to teach my students about the real world as best I can and burst their bubbles about how fortunate we are to live where we do.  I want to help them want to help others.

I never like to teach my students about a Spanish-speaking culture unless I have been there to visit and experienced the culture myself or if I have a contact or friend in a specific culture.  But I have taught them about most of the countries that I have visited thus far so I decided that Paraguay might be a good place to start if I want to really help them see how different other people’s lives can be.  So I was just google-ing tonight for a place to start.  A place to find some kid-friendly information about Paraguay.  When I searched, “Spanish Teacher + service project for kids” I found these websites from the Peace Corps.  The first is to have a speaker come to speak at your school about their experience http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/educators/ and the second is what I value most at this point.  It is a link to Peace Corps Journal entries (that link you to personal blogs) of volunteers living in Paraguay right now.  http://peacecorpsjournals.com/?Journal&journal_id=7309

So I should be in bed now because I get up at 4:45 each day!  But I have been reading these wonderful volunteer’s blogs and commenting on each hoping that someone will respond and want to connect to me and my students via Skype or email so that we can REALLY learn about Paraguay!