Summer Progress Report Number 1

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It’s the second week of summer (really only the second?!) and I have been so busy! Between graduations, grad parties, family events, and just plain summer I feel like it’s just started and like I’ve been out of school for a month already. But at the end of the year, I set a few goals for myself. Here’s how it’s going so far, with some reflection:

Goal one was rest. I am definitely having big success here. 🙂 Sleeping in, playing with my dog, catching up on my favorite TV shows, it’s been great.

Goal two was vacation. Well, it’s a long story, but my trip to Spain is now looking like a long shot. A couple other alternatives have come up, so I’m still crossing my fingers, but honestly, I just keep thinking that if I don’t go on vacation, then I just have more time to plan for the fall. Am I committed to this profession or what?

Goal three was lots of reading! When I first discovered that language teachers blog in Spring ’14, I read every word that Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell and Sharon Birch had written. Since then, I have subscribed to dozens of blogs and followed hundreds of people, organizations, bands, newspapers, and more on Twitter. I’ve been involved in #langchat (although my goal for next year is to make it to MORE!) and my list of resources just keeps growing! This year, I’ve gotten lots of wonderful ideas and inspiration from the blogs I’ve followed, and I’ve dug through all of Allison’s posts so far (talk about great ideas!). My inbox is still full of posts that I want to revisit and digest further, but first, there were two more people whose blogs I wanted to really dive into.

First was Wendy’s En français, SVP!. Over the last few months, I’ve been seeing a lot of me in everything Wendy wrote – except that she seems to know me much better than I do. Some of her insights made me smack myself in the forehead and go, “Why didn’t I realize that!?” So the first thing I did this summer was start from the beginning of her blog. I founds lots of great resources and many wonderful ideas. Thanks for everything you’ve written and for being so willing to share, Wendy!

Next was Laura’s PBL in the TL. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole on this blog about a dozen times over the last couple of months – usually at times when I didn’t have the time to do so. I eventually made a deal with myself to read nothing on this blog until I could read it all. There is so much here and I kept feeling like I needed more context! So that’s where I am now (February 2014, to be exact). This has been excellent for me. I have gotten to see, over the course of one week, the evolution of one of the teachers whom I greatly admire. The best part is the honesty on this blog. She admits her struggles, reflects on her problems, and grows. It has fast-forwarded me to a realization that I’ve been working toward for a little while – it’s ok to not be ready to try every awesome idea right now.

As I’ve read through this blog, I’ve taken some great ideas and made notes to myself to implement them. I’ve stolen some awesome resources as well. There have also been places where I’ve said to myself, “That’s awesome, but I’m not ready for that yet,” or, “I’m not sure how that looks for me yet; I’ll keep thinking about it.” I’m realizing that it’s not all about either “Ooh, I want to do that!” or “No, that’s not for me.” There’s a gray area. There are places where I can say – maybe next year, or the year after that. It’s extremely encouraging and liberating. And again, thank you, Laura, for everything that you have written – you are an absolute inspiration!

Another goal for this year was to decide on a TV series for my students. I had started watching Hasta el fin del mundo with them on Hulu, and I considered continuing that this year. Some of my students were really into it and I thought it was pretty good. It’s a Mexican telenovela from 2014-2015 based on an Argentine telenovela called Dulce amor. Ultimately, I decided that El internado would probably resonate a little more with my students, being a teen drama after all, and the sheer amount of resources already out there (kindly compiled by Allison Wienhold) was pretty attractive. I don’t have my DVDs yet, but I’m excited to break them out when they arrive!

If you don’t have the opportunity to buy El Internado (I ended up paying a little more to buy it from Amazon.es because that seemed a little more legit to me than the eBay offerings, and it definitely has subtitles), I’d definitely recommend Hasta el fin del mundo, it’s about a Mexican race car driver who takes a job as a chauffeur for the (single, young, wealthy, female) CEO of a  chocolate company. And, best of all, it’s FREE on Hulu, no HuluPlus account required! My 4s wanted to watch a telenovela the last couple of weeks of school, so this is what we did. It’s available with subtitles on Hulu, so it was a great choice.

And, as a total bonus, I have already created brand new syllabi for all my classes! Thanks again to Laura Sexton for the inspiration here! They were were done with a combination of Piktochart and Thinglink, and I put Spanish 3 and 4 together, since I’ll have both levels in the same period this fall:
Spanish 1
Spanish 2
Spanish 3/4

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