Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Perfect Mid-Week Reset - A Mini-Weekend!

Ready for yoga class and enjoying the Oklahoma Fall sunshine.


Life of a high school teacher:

Mondays are hard. In class, it's like turning a rusty crank...students are tired and unmotivated, and not in the mood.

Tuesdays classes go a little better, but you expended a lot of energy yesterday getting that crank going, so Tuesdays aren't necessarily a rest and recoup day either.

Wednesdays require more energy, and you find yourself looking at the second half of the week going, wow, it's already been a long week and I still have 2.5 days to go.

Thursdays you're just glad tomorrow is Friday.

Friday you get a huge mood boost because in a few more hours, it's the weekend, and you can rest and recoup.

What we need, my friends, is a mini-weekend in the middle. On Wednesdays after school, to be exact.

I'm going to share my Mid-Week Reset Mini-Weekend Plan below, but yours might be totally different. I just want to encourage you to use this as inspiration if nothing else, and come up with your own little mini-weekend plan to beat stress, revitalize your mind and body, and create some joy right smack dab in the middle of the teaching week.

Well, it's Wednesday, hump day. I don't FEEL like bouncing around right after school, grinning like a fool, strutting around with my shoulders back. How do I jumpstart that "Unlimited power-Tony Robbins" state?


One Recent Wednesday I Nailed It - Here's How

I took very comfy, not-necessarily-attractive yoga clothes to work with me. As soon as my last class of the day left, I went to the faculty restroom to change. I was tired, a little irritated, and unmotivated, and it took me a lot longer than it should have, but I pressed on.

Ironically, a teacher came in to the bathroom, and it sounded like she was crying. A younger girl, and when I came out of the stall, I asked her if she was okay. Problems with students, she said ruefully.

I knew exactly how she felt. I've spent many an afternoon crying over this job and how painful and difficult it can be at times. Many more times than I care to admit, and I told her so.

I asked her her name, and we told each other what we taught. (I was new to NHS last fall and I hardly knew any of the staff, because our days are spent in our own classrooms attending to the wave after wave of students who come in and out.)

I left the building wishing there were some way I could wave a magic wand and make teaching a fun, easy job where students came to school eager to learn and show respect, and teachers could devote their energy to being creative and innovative in their instruction.

The warm sunshine outside was a relief to my senses, and I loaded up my things to drive to Grey Owl Coffee shop.

This isn't the Grey Owl. This is Uptown Espresso in Seattle, but the photo looks good here so I'm using it. :)

Change of Scenery + Creative Time

The Grey Owl was full of people drinking coffee and working on laptops, cool, quiet, and perfect. I ordered a jasmine green tea, sweetened it with a packet of stevia from my bag, and sat down to work on my novel (didn't know I wrote novels under a pen name, did you??? I just released the one at that link. ;-)) I only had 45 minutes before my colleague Erin's yoga class started back at NHS, so I set a timer on my phone for 30 and opened my laptop.

No time to waste means you'll get right to work and make every second count, so I jumped right in to 5th century Europe with my hero running through the woods escaping his own execution, wounded, thinking about his brother.

The light caffeine from the yummy tea plus 30 minutes spent on my favorite hobby was perfect for changing my state. I left the coffee shop feeling energized, productive, happy, and free.

Movement + Relaxing the Mind and Body

I know of no other workout besides yoga that has the effect of energizing you while relaxing and calming you at the same time. Between gentle stretches and strengthening poses, breathing, and focusing on being in the moment, all the cares of the day were long gone. I felt happy to be a part of the community--of teachers doing yoga together in the middle of the week, of 30-somethings (with some college students and older folks thrown in) working and talking quietly at the coffee shop, and of all the diverse people who call Norman, Oklahoma home.

I left smiling and feeling physically better than I had all day.

This isn't the easy dinner I describe below. This is a Roasted Broccoli Bowl, and it was the first food pic I could find to post here. :)

Easy Dinner + Winding Down

I threw some veggies in a steamer basket on the stove (a yam, some brussels sprouts, and later, some broccoli,) and made a pot of tri-color quinoa. I soaked in the tub for 20 minutes while those things cooked, then added the broccoli to the steamer basket for a final 10 minutes of steaming while the quinoa rested and got nice and fluffy. Had all that with a side of edamame and some raw walnuts, then sat with a hot tea watching YouTube until bedtime.

Read a good book until sleep, and woke up Thursday refreshed and ready to face the last two days before the weekend with renewed vigor.


Make Yourself a Plan

Your midweek mini-weekend needs to involve the following elements:

1. Some kind of movement or exercise. Go for a walk if the weather's okay; go to a yoga class or pull up a YouTube video and do it in your living room; hit the gym; do some kind of mind-clearing movement.

2. Something that you consider to be fun and creative, something that takes your mind completely off work for at least a half hour or more.

3. A healthy, non-weigh-you-down meal. Something delicious and veggie-centric. Oh and drink a liter of water right after your exercise, before you cook or go for take-out. And no excuses for crappy fast food--there are plenty of healthy fast food options these days. A few of my favorites--a salad bowl at Qdoba loaded with beans, veggies, and guac; a falafel and greek salad plate at Garbanzos or Zoe's; a box of salad goodies and cooked vegetables from Whole Foods' deli...or throw some delicious root vegetables and crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages) in a steamer basket like I did and go, "wow, steamed vegetables are actually delicious!" - and then do that more often, like at least twice a week. :)

4. No grading or parent communications via email or phone.

5. Go to bed on time, lights out, and rest up. No late-night TV or phone-distraction. :)

Here is wishing YOU a wonderful Wednesday!!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Spanish 1 Complete Lesson Plans on SALE this week!


SPOOKY OCTOBER 20% OFF SALE on the updated 2017 Spanish 1A bundles in my TPT store!

The first (bigger) half is regularly $75 ($60 sale price,) and the second half is regularly $50 ($40 sale price.) NOTE: this 20% off sale is only good from Oct 1 - Oct 4!

Link to the first bundle: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Jalen-Waltmans-Spanish-1A-2017-First-Day-Lesson-17-Bundle-4832865

Link to the second bundle: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Jalen-Waltmans-Spanish-1A-2017-Lesson-18-Lesson-30-Bundle-4835756

You guys, these lesson plans use the same crazy skits as my 2009 version, and are chock full of printables for handouts or screen display in your class. They have speaking prompts for easy level 1 conversation practice, improved quizzes and tests with keys, translation activities to go with every lesson that you can use as homework, to quiet down a rowdy class, or even as sub plans, writing prompts, and graphic organizers.

I spent an entire school year updating my 2009 stuff, so an unbelievable amount of evening/weekend work went into creating these plans. They are a STEAL for $75/$50, but with the 20% this week, you or a first-year Spanish teacher you know would get all of my latest and greatest level 1 first semester, complete lessons for $100 total ($60/$40.) So please share with anyone you know who might be in search of something that makes life easier


STOP LESSON PLANNING NOW - I DID IT ALL FOR YOU!!!

Just take the weekend off for once! ;-)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Spanish 1A (Expanded and Updated) 2017 BUNDLE on TPT!



Hi everyone! Well, after getting really bogged down trying to create an ebook (and a print book) with the umpteen jillion individual documents that are in my updated Spanish 1A 2017 files, I changed my mind (again) and decided to just go ahead and offer the lessons as a bundle instead. It's August and I'm just too busy to make ebooks and paperbacks right now (I'm sure you can relate...)

I was concerned about the stealing and plagiarism I have read about on TPT but after spending all my free time for two weeks struggling to combine and format these 400 or so documents into a single manuscript (it's VERY complicated in Word when you have columns, headers, footers, etc. for each individual document,) I realized, it's Labor Day weekend, I need a break, and honestly it's going to take me all weekend to finish this beast...IF I work on it several hours a day...and even then, it might not be done by bedtime Monday.

And then I just rebelled.

And then I said to myself, if somebody wants to steal all my stuff and spend all their free time for two or three weeks making an ebook out of it, MORE POWER TO THEM, because it's so much work that I just can't face it right now.

Okay, end of whining session. The first bundle (First Day - Lesson 17, the Midterm lesson, containing around 290 documents) should go live sometime tonight or Saturday. My plan is to bundle the second half sometime this weekend, and it will also be offered at a $15 overall discount, making the two of them together a $30 discount over purchasing each lesson individually.



Monday, August 26, 2019

Survival Skills for Teachers: Essential Items To Own, Wear, and Carry to School

Black jeans, grey t-shirt, and a cardigan. I like to keep it simple and comfortable.

Some of you probably have boundless energy and emotional stamina for all your classes. Others of us are past the age of 40 and need all the help we can get to make it to 3:00 pm Friday with a couple of nerves intact.

With that in mind, here is my list of must-haves for the Teaching Life... 

Essential Items to Own, Wear, and Carry to School:

1. Nice-looking athletic shoes with gel in the soles + supportive socks. If you teach standing up, your feet, ankles, and legs will thank you. Also, you can go walking at lunch if you manage to find the time and energy. (If you have plantar fasciitis tendencies, I recommend ASICS or New Balance.)

2. A backpack. Not a heavy bag you carry on your aching shoulder or a cross-body bag slung across your body. Those things pull your body out of alignment and cause shoulder and neck pain. Trust me on this.

3. Colored/nice jeans or comfortable casual pants. Preferably with stretch. You might be able to get away with leggings if you have long shirts and sweaters, and God knows leggings are the most comfortable attire known to man. (If you're a dude, best stick with jeans and khakis...But hey, no judgment. ;-))

4. Comfortable t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, and cardigans. Guys can do polos and belts and look really nice.

5. Bling (watch, earrings, bracelet, ring, etc.) to dress up the fact that you're basically wearing jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, and sweaters every day.

6. Water and healthy snacks. Things you can sneak-eat in class when your energy dips. I like raw nuts, electrolyte powder packets I can put in my water, edamame, raw zucchini sticks, and vegan sugar-free chocolate (Lily's brand usually.)

7. Escapism tools. (Earbuds, book to read, Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram on your phone, journal, tea, anything that helps you calm down and regroup when the day gets overwhelming. Find a place you can go in the school, like a quiet corner of the library or somebody's unused office or conference room, when you need a moment to yourself. If your school is like mine, students will come try to hang out with you when you're in your room without a class.)

8. Your entire-semester planner (pocket sized.) You will jot a couple of words/phrases that explain the main gist of what you're planning to do each day that week (or two, or three, or the whole month if you can manage it. It's okay to change this later, but it's a lifesaver when you can't think of what you're supposed to be doing the next day.)

9. A movie and video guide/quiz sitting out somewhere and ready for a sub when you call in "sick" in order to lesson plan the next 2-3 weeks out and assemble all the copies you need.

10. Liquid Kava Kava with a dropper that you can add to your water bottle when you feel stressed during, after, or before class. I like "Anxiety Soother" by Herb Pharm. (You can order it online at Walmart.com, I just noticed.) It takes the edge off almost immediately.

Bonus item #11 - supportive colleagues. Teachers are second to none when it comes to helping each other out of the pit of despair when times get tough. <3

What are YOUR essential items to take or wear to school? Comment below if you have suggestions for new teachers!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Lesson Plan Book Giveaway!!!!!

No more hauling these guys around in my car. :)

Hi everyone!

As most of you know, I have been transitioning my printed lesson plan book business to Amazon.com and Teachers Pay Teachers over the past year. I am no longer getting books printed myself and shipping them out of my house...due to growth in sales (yay!)

I have some remaining spiral-bound inventory that I am running a giveaway contest for on my Facebook Page. Up to 4 books per person will be given away on a first-come-first-served basis. You will only pay to have them shipped to your home or school. (I use FEDEX Ground...they are FAST...and it costs about $10 to ship 1 book in the continental US, $15 to ship two books, $20 to ship three books, and $25 to ship four.)

All the details are in the pinned post on my Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/waltmania/

Go there, meet my requirements, and let me know which book(s) you want! Go, go, go! No, wait...first glance at my current inventory:

3 Spanish 2A
3 Spanish 2B
1 Spanish 3A
5 Spanish 3B
1 Spanish 4A
4 Spanish 1B for middle school
1 English Version 1A
2 English Version 1B (one of them was misprinted double-sided. There is nothing wrong with it other than it looks really thin.)

Okay, now...go to my Facebook Page and get you some books!!!!
https://www.facebook.com/waltmania/

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Unit 1 for AP Spanish Language and Culture - La vida contemporánea


Guess what? Due to the consistent nagging by awesome AP teacher Stella D., I finally got around to packaging and uploading the first unit I use in my AP Spanish Language and Culture classes to my store in Teachers Pay Teachers!

If you are following my TPT store, you should get an email when the product goes "live" and is ready to purchase ($20.)

This is the first unit in my AP Spanish Language and Culture Class: La vida contemporánea, with a focus on the culture of Chile.

Included in this unit:
  • 12 "Tópicos del día" - culture topics with links to authentic resources to present and discuss in Spanish in class
  • Teacher Notes explaining what to do/say in class for each topic/link)
  • Authentic Readings taken from web articles, blog posts, etc. and simplified to use in class
  • Questions, activities, and worksheets to go with the Tópicos
  • Practices for the Free Response section of the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam (email, essay, conversation, and presentation)
  • Two debate topics for fun Debate Days in Spanish (I sometimes do this with a food activity, where students bring a dish from Chile to share)
Please share this post with any AP Spanish teachers you know who are looking for ideas for the "Vida contemporánea" theme!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Back To School Coupon Code on TPT!


August 6th and 7th are Teachers Pay Teachers' Back To School Days. Use the coupon code BTS19 sitewide to get up to 25% off...I think my store is that percentage off, anyway...and buy, buy, buy while the prices are hot!

Update on a Spanish 1A 2017 "bundle:" I have decided not to bundle all my 1A lessons on TPT into one huge bundle. I've researched the issue of copyright violation (people stealing and re-publishing your stuff) on TPT and I feel the best way for me to protect my income is to publish Spanish 1A 2017 as an ebook and print book on Amazon. That is planned for this month, hopefully by August 25th. In the meantime, if you are looking for killer Spanish 1 first semester lesson plans with individual Word docs you can download to your computer, that would be the lessons for sale in my TPT store right now. I think my new assistant and I only have 2 or 3 more lessons to upload to have all 30 of them available there. :)


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Homework for First Year Spanish Ideas


Looking for ideas for homework in your Spanish classes? Need grammar book recommendations? So does everyone else!

I recently received this email from a Spanish-teaching diva named Luisa:


Dear Jalen,

¡Saludos!  I successfully used Spanish 1A, 2009 version, to teach Spanish 1 to a small class of students this past school year.  The class only meets two days per week during the regular school year.  This coming year, I will teach Spanish 1 and Spanish 2.  We will use 1B for Spanish 2.

I have some questions.  Do you have a grammar book that you recommend?  Last year I took excerpts form some I have.  When we did the grammar lessons, I needed much class time to explain, and since we only have the two periods per week, this took away from your program.

  This also leads to my next question-what do you do for homework?  My students had some listening to complete four times a week.  Occasionally they had some grammar practice, but overall had little homework all year.  I’d like to assign them some useful homework.

Thank you!

Luisa K

Here's my response:

Hi Luisa! I like the grammar books I listed in this post:

As for homework, I wrote homework assignments out the wazoo over the past 8 years because I realized it fit really well with the expectations of the school and parents where I work, and I am now posting all my updated Spanish 1A lesson plans (including homework assignments and much more) on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here is a link to my store:

If you don't want to or can't buy my updated stuff on TPT, my recommendation for homework is easy grammar exercises that reinforce what they were learning recently, plus make the skits and/or readings into translation exercises (where they have to translate Spanish to English word for word in their own handwriting under the Spanish.) I shorten these reading-translations so they aren't overwhelming (usually) but they also make awesome quiet-down-and-work assignments in class when things get too rowdy for my nerves to handle any more. :-)

Hope this helps!

Friday, June 21, 2019

How To Catch New Students Up


I received the following question from awesome teacher and blog reader Hunter Bishop this past week, and since it's a common one, I decided to answer it for all who might be wondering about this issue.

Hunter wrote,

Hello Jalen! I had a question that I’ve been wanting to see your point of view on. What do you do when you have a student come into your class midway through the year when they have had no language instruction before? How do you “catch them up"?

My answer is simple. I just keep teaching.

Haha, okay, there is a little more to it than that, but not much more. I welcome them warmly, give them the semester's vocab list, make sure they know it's okay if they feel a little lost at first, and if there are assignments that they look worried about or do badly on, I make sure they know that when I grade them I'm taking into account the fact that they just joined my class. They aren't going to be "failing" before they've even had a chance to learn something.

[Note: if they've had absolutely zero language instruction, there is a point at which they need to wait until the next school year to start in Spanish 1, but each school will have its own rules about that.]

Look, if it seems like you should be doing more, like staying after school for an hour every day to work one-on-one with this kid, slap yourself upside the head and stop that crazy-talk. You have a LIFE and in my opinion, free after-school tutoring is just not your job, unless the school wants to pay you extra for it.

Now, some teachers live for that kind of extra, above and beyond, reaching-out-to-kids opportunity. If this is you, please ignore what I just said.

But if you're like me, and you need Me Time starting promptly at 3:15 in order to gather strength for another day of teaching, then do as I say and JUST KEEP TEACHING. The new kid will at some point catch him or herself up. It may take a few weeks, but eventually, without fail, I can't tell much if any difference between my "old" and "new" kids. I think the key is being flexible, positive, and including them in your warm, loving teaching environment without judgment or undue focus on what they don't know yet. Know what I mean?

I hope this helps! Happy Summer to everyone!

[Update on TPT uploads...they have been on pause while I'm enjoying my June, but I will resume creating new products for sale in a few weeks.]

My entire 1st semester of Spanish 1 lesson plans with masters ready to copy for your class!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Basic Signs for Spanish 1 Classroom Walls

Cheap, colorful, and useful. What more could I ask?

Hi everyone! I just uploaded a file containing all my basic Spanish 1+ printable signs for walls or bulletin boards to my TPT store. If you're new/just starting out and have nothing to decorate your room with, here's an inexpensive way to get some color on the walls as well as have useful vocab and phrases all around the room that pertain to Spanish 1 (and beyond.)

I'm offering the download for $1, so please let any financially challenged first-year Spanish teachers you know to run and get 'em. :)

These are my simple text-only Spanish signs that you can print on colored paper, tape together if desired (see the examples in the photo above where I taped together the months of the year as well as the Telling Time signs,) and then laminate to hang on your walls or bulletin boards.
I use and refer to these basic signs in all levels, and they are a must-have in my classroom.

List of signs included

(all are in Spanish, and all can be modified to suit your needs):

  1. Days of the Week
  2. Months of the Year
  3. What time is it? + the possible answers
  4. What time is...? + the possible answers
  5. Subject Pronouns
  6. Question Words
  7. Signs With Teacher's Name and Subject (you can modify these if your last name isn't Waltman :-))
  8. A "Costa Rica" sign and an "España" sign - these are the "countries" groups in my class, but modify to suit your needs
  9. "Objectives" signs for Spanish 1 and 2, to post on your whiteboard above your list of objectives for the day

I realize this is something for the BEGINNING of the year, not the end, but hey...just trying to get you guys ready for Fall...really, really early. :)

And don't forget to follow me on TPT to get notified when I upload new goodies. :-)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Updated and Expanded Spanish 1A 2017 Lessons Now Available for $5 each on TPT!

I should have named these "2018" updates because it took me well into 2018 to actually finish level 1.

Hi everyone! Well, I've been busy at work on my Teachers Pay Teachers store uploading my new, updated, expanded 2017 Spanish 1A lesson plans. I mean, it's only 2 years later, right?!? I wanted to publish these last year but I was (and still am) in the process of transitioning all my lesson plan books to Amazon rather than getting them printed myself, selling and shipping them out of my house, and that has been a huge project. I'm still not completely done with the transition. :(

Also, life just got a little CRAZY last year, but we won't get into that. I'm glad it's 2019.

What's New in the 2017/2018 Version?


The skits are still the same ones, but I modified/updated/standardized all the quizzes and tests to be more like the format I do in level 3. You know, after I learned so much about what I REALLY wanted a lesson to look like. The quizzes now follow exactly the same vocab as the vocab list from the lesson before, and include the grammar from that lesson as well. The tests are in exactly the same format and take all the same info from the quizzes, so you are literally reviewing for the test every single day.

These updates and expansions also include daily "Preguntas del día" conversation prompts (like my level 3 stuff) so that I could get my ones very accustomed to asking and answering basic questions in Spanish, from Lesson 1 - on. The Lesson 1 question (idea and vocab taken from the First Day skit) is, "¿Tú tocas la guitarra?" with the answer stems "Sí, toco la guitarra _______ (how?)" or "No, no toco la guitarra. Yo toco ____________ (instrument)." In class, I explain exactly what all that means, brainstorm possible ways to finish each of those answers, model asking and answering, put them in their groups of 3 or 4, and go! It's pretty fun to watch level 1s go to town talking to each other about whether they play the guitar or not. Ha.

I included lots of translation activities in case you'd like to supplement the lesson with some independent "quiet" work (yes, please!) so you can take a breather in class. I know some teachers don't like to use translations as practice, but I'm a huge fan of them, especially for loud, rowdy, unfocused classes. I simply circulate around the room helping people as they work, and I gather a lot of good information on who knows how much Spanish I've taught. Your choice if you want to allow use of online dictionaries as they work and/or partner them up to work on it together. (It's laborious to really sit there looking up every word in a story, so I do often allow the dictionary use because they will tend to go ahead and try to translate what they can without looking things up, but a dictionary keeps things moving along for people who get stuck occasionally. Just a side note.)

I also streamlined and beefed up all the readings (to make sure there WAS one for every lesson, an expanded version of the skit usually,) and moved the reading activity to being the first one right after the warm-up quiz. In my classes they are more focused on reading at that point in the class, plus, if they were absent the class before and missed the previous skit, this is a way of seeing those vocab words in context in the story and hopefully getting a start on acquiring at least most of them.

My 2017 vocab list has all the grammar topics more clearly and consistently defined and listed, plus I created homework assignments for each one. Those are all included in these lessons, and you can either assign them as homework or use them as worksheets in class. I still use the grammar resources I listed in this post, but I did make a few of my own grammar worksheets for level 1 that are included in these new updates as well.

What else???? That's all I can think of for now...you can also follow me on TPT to get notified as I continue uploading throughout this month and over the summer. I hope to have all of 1A up for sale and at least a start on 1B by Fall. There will also be an ebook and print Spanish 1A 2017 version for sale on Amazon soon.

Shoutout to Julia Sullivan who was asking me a few years ago if I were ever going to update my 2009 Spanish 1 lessons, to whom I replied, "No, because it's way too much work." :)


The Perfect Mid-Week Reset - A Mini-Weekend!

Ready for yoga class and enjoying the Oklahoma Fall sunshine. Life of a high school teacher : Mondays are hard. In class, it'...