Category Archives: Curriculum

Make classwork homework! (and make class time more effective)


How to use class time more effectively is something I always ponder.  I try to find new ways to compact information and give bursts of instruction in order to make the face time with our students more productive.  Class time is precious, so we have to ask, “What is it important for students to complete in class, and which are the things they can reasonably complete at home?” was my inspiration for this blog.

Can a lecture or direct instruction be done at home, and the practice and application be done in class?  Why not?  Doesn’t it make more sense to use the class time more effectively?  In math class, this would look like a video lecture at home, and practice problems done in class where the teacher is available to help. 

But what would this look like for the foreign language class?  If you are covering a grammar point, have the students watch a video, powerepoint or prezi at home. You can differentiate instruction this way because students can watch it on their own time, without distractions, as quickly or slowly as they would like, using a template or a self-generated graphic organizer.  You can even have them post on a discussion board asking questions, giving answers and sharing thoughts that would facilitate the learning. Students that were more advanced could learn by teaching others, and more reluctant learners would be more willing to participate in a less stressful and intimidating setting.  By flipping the work, class time could be devoted to what is most important and what should actually be assessed, the students using the language.

Here’s an example: I assigned these videos for homework with an accompanying blog discussion or a notes template or graphic organizer:

The next day, I provided cut up sentences as the activation activity, in which students had to match the verb ending with the stem but also have the sentence make sense. (This can be done as a whole class activity with colored paper in fron tof the class, or at desks in small groups.) 

The processing activity was a speaking activity in which they asked each other questions.  What would you do if you were…..???  They were given the prompts ahead of time to read and formulate answers.  Then they were each assigned one question to ask each student.  In a speed dating style activity, they asked and answered a question.

As a closing activity, they could, in groups of four, tell their classmates what they learned about other students in these hypothetical scenarios. Or this could be the start of a writing assignment, and the closing could be the beginning of a brainstorm to prepare.


My Vision for Secondary Curriculum Development


Gettin’ Wiggy With It


To direct all of the content that I teach, I use the standards, student interests, and my personal passions.  To direct my classroom activities, I use thematic unit planning à la Grant Wiggins.  A backward design means that effective classroom activities are developed only after goals are established and assessments are designed.  This allows students to ascertain true understanding, by completing an authentic performance task.

What this looks like in the practical sense:

The overarching theme is technology.  The goal is to establish how technology has changed their lives.  The assessment is to create a tutorial Youtube video in the target language to explain how to use a certain technology and explain the purpose.  From there I set my smaller goals and generate smaller milestone assessments that will contribute to building toward the final goal.  Students will need to see and use various tutorials and websites explaining the use and functioning of many different technologies to acquire vocabulary.  In order to be a able to interpret the sites, I will have to teach certain basic vocabulary for the computer, internet and cellphone.  All this is scaffolded in order to prepare them with all of the tools they will need to create their tutorial.  Each daily activity builds upon the previous day working to continually increase proficiency.

By the time they reach the summative assessment, they have all the tools they need to succeed because their teacher has been gettin’ Wiggy with it.