Friday, October 11, 2013

Great Blogs = Great Ideas

There are so many people with so many great ideas on the web, but the challenge can be to find them. As a follow-up to my article on blogging for the CCFLT newsletter, I wanted to share some of my favorite blogs, not just for World Language, but for Technology and Education in general. The people that write these blogs are full of passion and great ideas and quite often have solutions and ideas to problems that I am facing in the classroom. I encourage you all to check them out.

The Creative Language Class - The teachers that write on these blogs are fantastic. They are full of great, real-world ideas for Spanish class, especially Spanish I. They also share some of their great assessment tools and rubrics.

Flipping with Kirch - Yes, this is a Math teacher's blog. She has so many great ideas and has inspired many of the philosophies that I employ in my flipped class. It is definitely worth checking out.

Calico Spanish - This blog is full of great ideas for the classroom and collaboration. They also house the archives for the #fliplang chat on Twitter which is another valuable resource.

Center for Applied Second Language Studies - The title says it all. This blog is full of great resources for all language teachers. There are writing prompts, conversation starters, and much more!

Free Technology for Teachers - Need I say more? Free and technology...some of my favorite words in English!

Kleinspiration - This teacher is at the lower levels and has great ideas that apply for all Foreign Language teachers. She also sponsors giveaways from time to time.

Sra. Spanglish Rides Again - This blog is from a fantastic Spanish teacher that uses PBL in class and has loads of other creative ideas for her classroom. Don't miss this one!

Hopefully this gives you a good place to start when following blogs. It is so easy to follow and well worth the while. If you know of other great resources, please share them. If you are starting your blogging journey, share that too! I love finding new resources.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blogs: Powerful Reflection and Sharing Tools

This is a copy of an article that I wrote for the CCFLT October Newsletter:

Three years ago, when I began flipping my Spanish classroom, I also began another project – a blog. With a new classroom format, new students and all of the craziness that comes with the beginning of the school year, I realized that if I was going to keep track of my successes and failures in the classroom, I needed to start documenting them right away. I love my paper and pencil as much as anyone, but I wanted an electronic method to keep track not just of what was going on in my classroom, but online resources I found along the way.

With very little knowledge about actual blogging, I jumped right in. I looked at a few other blogs for some ideas on the basics and set up a blog website. My writing was for my own reflection and documentation of my classroom when I began, so I just wrote without regard to anything else. I did not write on any set schedule, I wrote when I had something I wanted to get out and had the time. Frequently, while writing about the day-to-day of my classroom, solutions and ideas would reveal themselves. Blogging has also allowed me to vent my frustrations from the classroom in a productive way.

After a couple of months, something surprising happened. I received a comment on one of my posts! I was shocked. Someone was actually reading what I was writing? Now of course I knew that what I wrote was on the Internet, but honestly did not think that anyone would find what I had to say interesting enough to be bothered reading, let alone making a comment. With newly found purpose, I began to write more regularly and share my blog on websites and with other teachers. I write and share about sessions I attend at conferences such as CCFLT, ACTFL, AATSP and others so that teachers that are not fortunate enough to attend these great events can gain some insight into all of the great ideas shared at these events. As a result, not only do I have an archive of my day-to-day classroom and conference notes, I have a huge cadre of teachers that have helped me and/or been helped by what I have written.

So now I issue the challenge to you, my fellow CCFLT members. Start a blog! Keep track of your ideas, successes and challenges, not because we have been mandated to reflect, but because we want to. We all want to continue to improve as teachers, and taking the time to share our classroom stories is a great way to do that. You will be surprised how helpful it can be, and I am sure when you start receiving comments and realizing that people from around the world have read your blog, it will empower you as it has empowered me.

Where to begin:

  1. Choose a platform – I use Blogger which is a Google product, but WordPress is also another very popular platform. I am sure there are many others as well, but these are very user friendly. 
  2. Set up an website for your blog – It doesn´t have to be anything fancy, but it should be something easy to remember and share. Look at other blogs for inspiration and ideas. Start writing – Just write that first blog post. Write about what is going on in your classroom or what you are planning. Just dive in and get started. 
  3. Share your blog – We all learn so much from one another. Take your time to share what you are doing and what you have learned. Share on Edmodo, Edutopia, and other websites as well as in person.
  4. Read and follow other blogs – Once your blog is up and running, you will see how easy it is to follow other blogs. Read and keep up with what other teachers are doing. Don´t be afraid to reference their blogs in your posts. 

Reflection on what we as teachers do in our classroom is very important. Utilizing technology to help keep your reflections documented and organized is almost a necessity today with all of the demands of the classroom. A blog is a great tool not only for your reflections, but to share them with others. Please feel free to check out my blog at and send me a link to your new blog. I can´t wait to start sharing and learning with you!