Area of Improvement

Day 3: Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

“Teachers help students work in teams and develop leadership qualities.” 

  • teach importance of cooperation & collaboration
  • organize learning teams 
  • help students define roles, strengthen social ties, improve communication & collaborative skills, & develop leadership qualities
  • encourage students to create & manage learning teams
  • foster development of student leadership & teamwork skills

I really want to get into the idea of learning teams and strong collaboration skills. Many high school students loathe group projects – knowing that not everyone is going to do his/her part, all of the work is going to fall on one person, lack of collaboration and leadership skills, etc. I want to turn this around! I want to coach students to be successful leaders and collaborators. Working with people is one of the hardest and realest parts of adult life.

I think the keyword for me in this will be to coach students. I don’t plan to explicitly teach any of these skills, rather coach them through collaborative learning experiences.


New Technology: Schoology

Day 2: Write about 1 piece of technology that you would like to try to incorporate this year into your curriculum.

I spent ALL summer researching the learning management systems out there – from Google Classroom to Edmodo to Schoology and so on. Eventually I reached a decision and I am incorporating Schoology LMS this year in my attempt at a (mostly) paperless learning experience. It is working very well so far. Essentially, we use Schoology for all turn-in assignments do unless it is a writing assessment. We use the technology on a regular basis for bell ringers, quick quizzes, research projects, discussion boards, feedback surveys…you name it! Here’s how we feel about it so far – 

Student Reactions:

Generally speaking, they LOVE it! Here’s why:

  • They only need ONE thing for class: a device
  • They are so used to texting & social media-ing that typing a response to an assignment via Schoology doesn’t feel like school work
  • Cell phones are still a taboo in many classrooms, so being TOLD to use their phones in class is COOL
  • They don’t have to keep up with A N Y T H I N G in those messy, jam-packed bookbags & lockers

My Reaction:

I love it more than students do. Here’s why:

  • There’s not a never-ending pile of papers on my desk, under my desk, in an undetermined location waiting to be graded
  • It takes me about 10 minutes to grade an assignment (with open-ended questions) for an entire class of 25 students
  • It collects & aggregates data for me – I can easily see what we need to work on
  • Students DON’T lose their phones – they lose papers…
  • It keeps me ORGANIZED – I have folders (bell ringers, classwork, assessments, etc.) and they aren’t growing legs and wandering off anytime soon (like my paper folders used to)
  • Students literally walk into my classroom, take out their phones immediately, & start working on the bell ringer – the first task they are asked to do is take out their phones, why wouldn’t they do it?!

What We’ve Learned so far:

  • Technology requires p a t i e n c e, but it’s worth it at the end of the day
  • Ms. Johnson isn’t a magical Wi-Fi fairy who can resolve internet connection issues

What new tech tool are you using in your classroom this year? How’s it working? If you’re not sure, ask students – they’ll tell you!

New (School) Year Resolutions

This marks day one *I’m a few days late – oh well* of my 30 day blog challenge put on by Te@ch Thought – what a great idea! For details, click here! As educators, I feel like there’s no such thing as TOO much reflection – so here goes working toward being a more reflective teacher! I feel like this is a great time to start reflecting as we are in week 6 (year round calendar) and I have some time with my students under my belt!

New (School) Year Resolutions

1. Positive Parent E-mails (see my previous blog post #SmileOnSunday for details) – I plan to send at least 5 to 8 positive parent e-mails per week.

2. Grade Less – I believe that we cannot make things that are important mandatory. I do not believe that attaching a grade to assignment is motivation for students to try their best. That being said, I plan to make grades less important and make learning most important this year! Yes, there will be proficiency-based grades for assessments…but forget homework grades and using grades as an incentive. Truth is, a lot of students are no longer motivated by the grade. They’re motivated by what motivates them and that does not look the same from one student to the next!

3. Present at a Conference – I LOVE teaching! What could be more fun than teaching my own peers about something awesome I do in my classroom? I really hope to attend and present at a foreign language conference this year.

4. Read to my Students – One of my college professors read us a novel in an education class and it was my FAVORITE!! I am doing this already with my Spanish 1 students – we have kindergarten day once a week where I read them a chapter from Brandon Brown quiere un perro. They LOVE it. My goal is to keep doing this even after we finish Brandon Brown.

5. Pen Pals – I am trying it with Spanish 3 first since there are only 14 of them! We are using for this project. We do not have pals yet – so I will reflect on this when we get going! 

I love reading my colleagues’ #reflectiveteacher blogs! What a great challenge. Thanks @teachthought!



It’s always nice to start the week with a SMILE! 🙂 One of my goals this year is to increase [POSITIVE] parent contact. I don’t remember sending a single positive parent e-mail last year and after 2 Sundays of positive parent e-mails, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner! 

Goal: Send 5 to 8 positive parent e-mails per week (out of almost 70 students)

How I do it: 

1) Organize parent contact info

I have a spreadsheet with all of my students’ contact information organized by class that they submit at the beginning of the year via Google forms. I import all parent e-mail addresses into my Gmail contacts and name them “Dana Johnson (Morgan)” — Dana is the parent, Morgan is the student (so I don’t have to remember parents’ names).

2) Keep record of e-mails sent

On the same spreadsheet, I highlight the student’s name after sending a positive parent e-mail. This will allow me to contact ALL parents with a positive note about their child!

3) Start with the tough ones

Start with the kids you’ll probably have to send a negative message to eventually. The one who won’t complete assignments on time or is always late to class. Start with those kids first. They [their parents] are the ones who need it the most!


I [expected] the appreciative, surprised response from parents. It becomes 100% more obvious (and sad) how many positive e-mails are NOT sent home when you actually send one! It really just starts things off on the right foot with parents.

I [did not expect] so much positive, uplifting, and encouraging feedback about my Spanish class! Kindness earns kindness.

I sincerely love my kids. What better way to show my love than tell their parents (who don’t hear it enough) how awesome their [teenage] kids are! 

Testimonial: Here are some of the responses I’ve gotten so far…I give all credit for positive feedback to #TPRS, #iFLT14, Martina Bex whose lessons I use, Katya who taught me to speak Russian, Laurie Clarcq who coached me, and Bethanie, Kristy & Carrie who make me laugh and encourage me…and all my other tweeps & followers out there who taught me everything I know!



I encourage you to send your first round of positive e-mails after your first week of school! Share your results! I’d love to hear how it goes!


This is me starting my blog adventure! To hold myself accountable, I’m publishing a to-do list for my first few blog posts! I hope someone somewhere finds the information I post here useful someday! Mostly I just steal awesome ideas from other blogs, put my own twist on it, & voila – I’m awesome because my PLN is awesome!


– Paperless

– Deskless

– FAQs

– TPRS & CI adventures (first 2 weeks – what I’ve learned)

– Organized chaos (formerly known as classroom management)

I’m SO excited to start blogging! If it weren’t for the AMAZING blogs I follow, I would be a really crappy teacher…so here’s me giving back my 2 cents to the wonderful world of FL teaching!