Class Activities, Grad School

Blog update/Linked Resources

Hello and happy summer! I wanted to write a short post to share a few projects I’ve been working on for a class I’m taking.

I’m taking a visual media course for my specialist degree in instructional technology, and we are publishing all of our projects on a blog. Here is the link:

I have enjoyed learning more about photography and design and creating some beautiful projects, as well as reflecting about how I can adapt these strategies to use with my students. Feel free to use my preterite/imperfect poster (project 4) or re-designed possessive adjective slides (project 5) with your students.

I started this blog in 2014 when I changed schools and, probably for the only time in my teaching career, experienced a huge reduction in my workload; I went from teaching six classes to five, from one planning period to two, and from 2-3 preps to one for a whole year! The next year, 2015-2016, we changed to a block schedule, I went back to one planning period and two preps, and started grad school. I’ve been in school ever since, beginning my gifted endorsement as soon as I finished my master’s degree and now beginning my specialist degree, and I just haven’t had the time or energy to blog like I did back in 2014. My blog posts will likely continue to be sporadic for the foreseeable future, but I hope that I will be able to share more grad school projects like this one in the coming months.

Grad School

10 Tips for Differentiating Instruction for Gifted Students

This post brought to you by my course on Methods and Materials for Teaching the Gifted at Northwest Georgia RESA! Hi Michelle!

Today I have a video I’ve created with ten tips for differentiating for gifted students in your world language class, whether it be in a separate section for honors students or for those highly talented students (or native speakers) sitting in your regular courses.

Side note: What app or program do you use to make videos? I used PocketVideo and it was AWFUL!

  1. Start with clear learning goals, and keep those in mind as you design alternate activities.
  2. Use pre-assessments and formative assessments to determine which students need more challenging tasks.
  3. Be flexible – having students working on several different tasks in one room is a big paradigm shift for teachers.
  4. Focus on higher levels of Blooms – more apply, analyze, evaluate, and create, less understand and remember.
  5. Four areas to differentiate: First, content – what students are learning, or how deep they go into a theme.
  6. Second: product – how students demonstrate their learning.
  7. Third: process – how material is presented, what questions are asked, what activities students complete – gifted students need practice in making informed, logical, and appropriate uses of information rather than practice in simply acquiring it.
  8. Fourth: learning environment – gifted students thrive in a  learner-centered classroom that is interactive, focused on student interests, and where the teacher is the coach, not the final authority.
  9. Vary grouping – sometimes heterogeneous, sometimes homogeneous.
  10. Promote independence – encourage self-reflection, learning from mistakes, and collaborative learning.

As I currently teach all regular classes (no honors), my focus this year is on improving instruction for my gifted students who have ended up in the regular class for whatever reason. My goal for next semester is to implement more tiered instruction based on formative assessment (assign students to groups with tasks of varying depth/difficulty), compact curriculum and provide learning contracts where needed (i.e., for a native speaker – we agree student will do xyz alternate activities in lieu of the regular practice and assessment), and to use a choice board (students pick from several different activities, all which relate to the same learning goal; gifted students can be pushed toward more challenging tasks, or complete a choice board as an alternative to regular instruction) at least once in each level I teach. What are your differentiation goals for this year?


  • Rimm, Sylvia B., et al. Education of the gifted and talented. Pearson, 2018.
  • Maker, C. June., and Shirley W. Schiever. Curriculum development and teaching strategies for gifted learners. PRO-ED, 2010.
  • Winebrenner, Susan, and Pamela Espeland. Teaching gifted kids in the regular classroom: strategies and techniques every teacher can use to meet the academic needs of the gifted and talented. Free Spirit Pub., 2008.


Grad School, Sp 1 Unit 2: Who am I?

What I’m Learning in Grad School: CI Demo

This past weekend I began my first class for my master’s degree in Spanish Education through Auburn University. The first item on the weekend agenda was a CI demo in German! The presenter, Andrea Wilkinson, was excellent. I was reminded of so many little tid-bits about teaching in the TL just by watching and learning from her. When she first started talking I was totally confused, but pretty soon I was answering questions in German! Here’s the board with her visual aids. Each time she introduced a new word, she wrote it in German under the person it corresponded to – no English!2015-08-14 19.22.36

The topic was physical descriptions. She would present a new word, and then start asking questions. Who is pretty, Cindy or Helga? Is Cindy pretty? Is Cindy young? Is Helga young?  Every time she asked a question, she had us raise our hand and called on someone. When you answered a question, she handed you a Euro.  As soon as I saw the girl next to me get the first Euro, my attention spiked – I wanted the Euros so bad! My hand started going in the air and before I knew it I was answering her questions in German!

2015-08-14 21.00.59

The timing of this demo was quite serendipitous as I started my descriptions unit in Spanish 1 the following Monday. Having spent the whole weekend in Alabama I didn’t have time to print and laminate Euros or hunt through magazines to find the perfect visual aids, but I made it work. I have a PowerPoint with pictures of people for descriptions, but I wanted to do it like Andrea did in her demo, with all the pictures visible at once – that way, I could write all the vocab on the board and maximize potential for questioning and comparisons. So, instead of starting with my usual pictures, I started talking from this Quién es Quién image, cropping off the edges to make the image more manageable.

quien es quien

I wanted to track participation, but I didn’t have Euros to hand out. I kept the hand-raising and calling on someone strategy (if they called out the answer I just ignored them and called on someone anyway – they learned quickly to stop calling out), and wrote each student’s name on the board as they answered questions, and added checks as they continued to participate. Yesterday and today I switched and just wrote a check in the gradebook each time I called on a student. I’ve been really pleased with this for a number of reasons. One, my kids are eager to participate! Secondly, they don’t mind me circling so much because they want to get credit for their participation. I’m reminded to ask more questions and keep repeating so they all have an opportunity to answer. The gradebook is working fine for now, but I’d like to try the Euro strategy sometime because it was just so fun to feel rewarded every time you answered. Another option for tracking participation would be making a big chart on laminated poster board with all my students’ names and making the check marks there – that way, they would be able to see how many checks they have and audit me if I mess up.

One more tip I learned from Andrea was asking tag questions: You ask a question with the question word, like, Who has brown hair?, but add a choice at the end – María o Anita? The advantage of tag questions is that they are hearing the question word, but the choice at the end makes it easier to answer. It’s also a great strategy for differentiation – start with an open-ended question, and then add the tag at the end if kids aren’t sure how to answer. I was amazed at the hands that went up when I switched from Who and What questions to tag and either/or questions – I realized that students were listening hard, and were just waiting for the right question to raise their hand.

Grad School

What I’m Learning in Grad School

From my homework reading tonight:

“In immersion and other programs in which the emphasis is on acquisition through language use rather than on the conscious learning of rules of usage, the predictive power of aptitude measures is even less than in traditional classroom programs (Krashen 1981). Learner attitude, in contrast, takes on increased significance. In natural L2 environments it is learner attitude rather than aptitude that is related to both the amount and the nature of L2 interaction…when measured in terms of communicative language use both inside and outside the classroom, attitude is probably the single most important predictor of learner achievement.”

I think I’d like to post a version of this somewhere in my classroom – your aptitude doesn’t matter – success in language learning is far more dependent on your attitude.


Savignon, S. (1997) Testing. In J. Lee & B. Vanpatten (Eds.) Communicative competence: Theory and classroom practice. (pp. 209-246). New York: McGraw-Hill.