Meet the Authors

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My name is Megan Smith (just got married in July… Yeah!!) and this is my sixth year teaching Spanish in Louisville, Kentucky. I studied International Business and Spanish at Grand Valley State University in Michigan and am now finishing my master’s in Education at Northern Kentucky University. I really love my job and what I get to do in the classroom. I’m lucky to have a school who gives me freedom to try new things, a friend and mentor (Kara) who challenges me as a teacher, and other hardworking teachers who are willing to collaborate with me!  I am honored to have been the 2011 Kentucky New Teacher of the Year from the Kentucky World Language Association. In November 2013, Kara, Rachel, and I presented at ACTFL’s national conference in Orlando. How awesome!

And a big hello from me, Kara Parker! I’m the other collaborator on this blog. I’d say that I’ve been “around the block” when it comes to teaching. I’ve taught for 12 years total (6 at a private Catholic girls school, 2 at a large public school (with Megan), and now 4 years at an awesome alternative school). I have my National Board Certification in World Languages. <whew!> I’m excited to share on this site. :)

Hopefully you can take something from the ideas posted here to make your classroom better for your students and your workload a little lighter.

Here’s to sharing!

If you’d like to reach us, send us an e-card, or invite us to your school… Here’s an email both of us use! :)

creativelanguageclass@gmail.com

80 thoughts on “Meet the Authors

  1. sab33n says:

    Hi Megan, There are a ton of ideas here and I look forward to reading more!

    • johnstmm says:

      Thanks for checking things out! I’m excited for a chance to share ideas with new people and get some new inspiration too! Please feel free to share!

      • Alberto says:

        Your website made my snow day even better. I am new on the TCI world so I am on the trial and error stage. Some ideas that I used and worked surprisingly awesome are the NEVER EVER game as a way of checking for understanding and the already famous RUN-DICTATION in which students work in pairs and one goes out and reads a text and come backs in and the other partner has to write it. At the end, they need to sit together and figure out what the text is about, answer questions or translate.

        Write you around!

        • Tammy says:

          Alberto,
          Can you provide details about the two games you mentioned? OR what is your website (mentioned in Kara’s reply)?
          Gracious

  2. Kara says:

    Alberto, i just saw your site. Thanks for the ideas. Have you tried toondoo.com yet?? It’s fun!

  3. brooke says:

    Your site is amazing! I’m a brand new Middle School Spanish teacher (and by brand new I mean as of a week ago). I’m desperately looking for ideas online as I’m the only Spanish Teacher in the school and you’ve got some really creative ideas! I will be checking often and hopefully I’ll be successfully using lots of your ideas soon :) thank you!

    • Megan says:

      How exciting! It’s a lot of work at the beginning (ha it always is!) but teaching Spanish can be so much fun! Hope you can use lots of ideas! I’ll be posting more video resources soon. Good luck Brooke!

  4. Pam Davis says:

    Fantastic website! It’s so great to see all of the clever things you are up to in the classroom! I take my hat off to you! :) Congratulations!

  5. abi says:

    Thanx so much for this website! so many clever ideas that I look forward to using in my English class! Well done and keep up the good work!

  6. Laura says:

    This website is so awesome, and you are so creative! I was wondering where you all studied / went to college?

    • Megan says:

      I split my undergrad between Indiana Wesleyan University and Grand Valley State University, but I graduated with a International Business/Spanish degree. Now, I’m getting my master’s in education at Northern Kentucky University. I have had some great professors there that really know how to teach languages.

    • Kara says:

      I went to Indiana University for my undergrad and University of Louisville for my Master’s. Honestly, the ideas come from working with other teachers in my school and district. We have a great cohort that developed our curriculum and we still meet almost monthly to lesson plan together. Our district gives us Professional Development credit when we meet. the collaborative nature of our group is amazing. Megan and I talk almost daily even now that I’m at a different school.

  7. Megan says:

    Wow, I’m so glad I found your website. You are the teacher I want to be! I’m a first year teacher after 10 years off and oh my, have things changed! My quick question to you is this: do you use a book? I sort of feel that I need to use a book (the vocab and grammar, at least) so that the classes taught by different teachers are equal. Or do you think that doesn’t matter?

    • Kara says:

      Great question. We don’t use a book, but we have a curriculum to follow. https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=28f7c805d5a3213d&sc=documents&wa=wsignin1.0&sa=343767067&id=28F7C805D5A3213D%21154
      I agree that it’s important to have a curriculum and set of topics to follow especially when there are multiple teachers. I think it keeps the class fresh and exciting. Also it is important to be a team player.
      Just to give you something to think about: I teach at an alternative school where I get new students frequently from different schools. When they come to me, they each have a different background knowledge. At first this drove me crazy. Now that I focus on their proficiency level instead of grammar and vocabulary, I have peace and they are so relieved that they can be successful. So the question becomes what can you do with the language? Not, what do you know?
      Even if two teachers teach the same topics, the students will get something different. My level 2s are so happy when they get to build on previous knowledge (and take it to a new proficiency level) instead of starting at nothing.

      • Megan says:

        I hate to bother you, but I’m fascinated by your classrooms and curriculum!! Do you have the students take written exams or just complete the performance assessments? Next year I will be teaching all of the level 3 and 4s, but only 3 out of 5 of the Spanish I classes, so I feel this “use the book” pressure, which I’d rather not.

      • Kara says:

        The only tests I give are the performance assessments, that includes writing, reading, listening, or speaking. I don’t give all every unit. Normally I pick the two that fit the unit the best. My growth goal this year was to add a reading assessment to each unit to support our school’s growth plan. Then I choose a speaking or writing. This will be an upcoming post, but I only give 3 grades to each student each unit. About the “pressure”, I suggest that you do a combo: book-less but follow similar topics. The goal for level 3 is Intermediate Mid and that’s a tough one to get them too. Is this a goal for your department? Also I’ve found that level 3s want some grammar “sprinkles.” Just keep all this as an open conversation with your department. If they refuse, talk to your admins. *Do what is best for your students.*

  8. Megan says:

    Thank you so much for helping me! I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to change everything around! I don’t think that the other teachers will care too much about not following the book as long as I follow similar topics. I *do* think they will care if there are no exams. I think I’ll have to figure out how to turn performance assessments into “exams” with grades, because my kids are definitely not speaking enough Spanish the way things are right now!

  9. estudiafeliz says:

    Wow, your site is amazing! Felicidades! And thanks for sharing all your great ideas! I also teach Spanish (university level), and I love the idea of an online community of Spanish teachers sharing materials! I just started my own website in that spirit. I’m just starting out, but I have a lot of ideas! My site is http://www.estudiafeliz.wordpress.com if you’d like to check it out.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Kara and Megan–Hello! I really would like to email you both personally with some questions! I am not seeing your contact information? Maybe I am just so overwhelmed with the awesome job of your site! ;)

  11. Karyn Rimmer says:

    Megan and Kara,

    I have been exploring your blog for the past hour and I have found so many wonderful new ideas for my Spanish classroom! I can’t wait to use them next year! Our school year is about to wrap up, but I want to explore more and get more awesome ideas from you both! Great job and I am so excited! My kids will be very rejuvinated from the mundane lessons and homework assignments!

    Karyn

  12. Kathy says:

    Hola! Veo que utilizan ipads para enseñar. Sus estudiantes los tienen también o solo los profes? Me interesa saber que apps usan porque pronto mi departamento tendrá unos ipads que podemos usar (los profes nada más). Tienes unos apps favoritos??

    • Kara says:

      Sí! En general:
      Tourwrist, Scrappad, piccollage, Salsa Spanish, Pages/keynote, sock puppets, voice thread, WordPress, edmodo, Skype, y Yelp. You will love them!!

  13. Eres una bendición!!! Me encantan tus ideas… y voy a planificar para el otro año usando casi todas! Hace falta maestros que de verdad dan oportunidades en la clase para adquirir el idioma de una manera más natural… me da pena que hay muchos que no entiended que uno no aprende por simplemente el maestro hablando 99% del tiempo, sin juegos que trabajan la mente, sin todo tipo de actividades y que la diverción no es pecado en el mundo de educación!! Gracias otra vez!

    • Megan says:

      ¡Mil gracias por el comentario, Gabby! ¡Tienes razón! La parte me gusta más es “la diversión no es pecado en el mundo de educación!” :) ¡Estoy completamente de acuerdo!

  14. travelthayer says:

    You have done a great job of creating a helpful and very creative blog! I am teaching English in Korea and I find your blog to be very useful! I am nominating this blog for a Versatile Blogger Award! Keep it up!

  15. Megan says:

    Love love love this website! Im a 5th year Spanish teacher that teaches k-12! Thanks for all of the great ideas!

  16. Meg says:

    Found your blog today and am SO thankful! I am starting my 4th year of teaching high school Spanish in 2 weeks and am looking forward to a new school year. Can’t wait to put some of your great ideas to work!

  17. howdydudie says:

    Hi girls
    I’m teaching french in a difficult co-ed school in Sydney australia, 3:1 ratio boys to girls and if i don’t make my class interesting the boys send me bonkers!….You have saved me from hours of trying to find “actively engaged” stuff for boys education! I am so grateful…!
    Can i offer you a great site i stumbled on for teaching house/family? – Urbanbarn.com…I spent 3 lessons on this with my kids and i never heard a peep! Got them to use prepositions in it but can do anything you like…Helen

  18. Christine says:

    Chicas!
    Thank you so much for creating this blog and for updating often. I was a high school Spanish teacher for 10 years and last year my district shipped me to the Middle School (kicking and screaming!) My principal wanted me to “create a dynamic and communicative environment for them”. Did I mention I also didn’t have any planning time??? I had a miserable year. I have the same teaching assignment this year (also without the planning time), but I stumbled on your blog via Pinterest and I am actually feeling a little excited about this school year now that I have some tools in my arsenal. I love that your ideas are easy to do (nothing require oodles of time) and I believe that they will really have an impact on my students! Muchisimas gracias! –Christine

  19. Vanessa says:

    Hi!

    Do you have any ideas for what to do when many students in your class are missing? Many 8th graders in my school participate in a peer leadership program and are pulled out of class for the day every month or so. It leaves me with only half of my class (or less). I don’t like moving on or covering new material when so many students are out, but I also don’t want to just let them sit there and watch a Spanish DVD. Any suggestions?

    • Kara says:

      This is a great question that I’m still learning. This is my reality daily in an alternative school. I’ll post about this in depth later. Short answer: I keep teaching new material even if there’s only one student. It can be a day to read, find YouTube videos, practice speaking (fewer students makes this way easier) or work, play games, redo assessments, get feedback from you, on their real world homework.

  20. Sarah says:

    I just found your blog, and can you say GOLD MINE!? I’ve been teaching Spanish for 5-1/2 years now and this is so great for me to start shaking things up. Looking forward to reading more and trying new ideas!

  21. Vanessa says:

    Hi again,

    I like to let my students listen to music when they work on different projects. Any suggestions for good Spanish tunes that students would like? I figure I’ll wear out Danza Kuduro really soon ;) and I know my students are kind of bored by the more ‘traditional’ Latin music.

    Thanks! Your site is awesome.

    Vanessa

    • Megan says:

      My favorite question to answer… Check out “TuneIn radio.” it’s a great app that lets you hook on to radio stations from around the world. I love to hear the DJs and commercials in the TL too. I usually let them pick what country they want to hear from and they love it!

  22. Vanessa says:

    Hi,

    Wondering if you can give any advice on pre-assessments. We have to pre-assess our students now in order to show their progress and qualify ourselves as effective teachers. I’m not sure how to go about pre-assessing students on vocabulray and grammar that I have never taught them before. Do you do this? Any advice you can share would be great :)

    Vanessa

    • Kara says:

      I would just give the end of unit assessment at the beginning. The JCPS site has 2 versions of each assessment. Give a proficiency grade for both, and then compare the level. They probably will get “No measurable progress” or “Novice low” on the first one because they can’t do it.

  23. Vanessa says:

    I’m starting a unit on homes this week. Do you know where to find real estate listings in Spanish? I thought it would be helpful for the students to look at some authentic material like that in Spanish and see what they can understand. Thanks!

  24. Kristy says:

    Have you ever or could you write a blog or posts about becoming National Board certified? It’s something I’m considering but am having a hard time finding stories and experiences from world language teachers. Thanks!

  25. srciavaglia says:

    Hey girls – Do you have any good websites for my students to visit to help construct a vocabulary list for descriptions (hair type, eye color, and body type ….pelo rizado, gordo, flaco, ect.)? I have our chromebooks checked out for my classes tomorrow and want the kids to do their own searching to find the description vocabulary in context. Is there a shampoo company website in spanish or something? Thanks!!

    -Kyle

  26. Meghan Grimley says:

    Hi Ladies,

    Really love following your blog all the way from Ireland. I am a Spanish and Irish teacher here in Northern Ireland and get such inspiration from your blogs. I am currently thinking of ways i can embed an iPad into my lessons, any advice would be much appreciated! :-)

    • Megan says:

      A few apps that I use a lot are…
      Akinator, Pic Collage, Haiku Deck, Pow Strip Design, Animoto = I love having them create with the IPADS. It’s more challenging than a worksheet, they can’t copy, and it teaches them to USE the language! Good luck!

  27. Desea says:

    Check this video out! I think you’ll really like it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXynrsrTKbI

    • Megan says:

      You’re right! I loved that video! It made me see my own situation in a new way! “When the world gives us trash, we turn it into music!” – Love that!

      I even showed it to a band class!

      Gracias Desea!

  28. Emuladores says:

    buenas acabo de enterarme de tu blog y la verdad es que me parece excelente no sabia de mas personas interesadas en estos temas, aqui tienes un nuevo lector que seguira visitandote abitualmente.

  29. Hey there! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  30. very cool site! Lot’s of great ideas! Thanks from the UK! :)

  31. Sra. Cain says:

    So happy to have found this site! What a gem! This is just what I needed to shake things up for my kiddos over the next few months. I am lucky enough to teach middle school Spanish (this is my 4th year) and am all about TPRS, and so many of your ideas will work perfectly in my classroom! Thanks for collaborating and sharing your knowledge and ideas with the rest of us. I am in debt!

  32. Lisa Howard says:

    I just found your blog this morning via Pinterest and I have been obsessed with it all day!! I’ve already used some ideas today and shared everything with my colleagues. I’ve been teaching Italian in NJ for 12 years and I’m constantly looking for new & fun ideas. GRAZIE!

  33. Erin Turner says:

    Hi Megan and Kara! Just wanted to drop by and say thanks for all that you two share with us! I subscribe to your blog and love getting an inspirational pick-me-up after I’ve had a rough day. It’s obvious you two love teaching and your students are lucky to have you as their teachers. BTW – I graduated from the “other” Valley – SVSU :)

  34. cesar says:

    Hi! I am a Spanish teacher as well. I use a lot of songs with my students that i write myself. Check them out, they might also be helpful to you.

    Cesar

    https://soundcloud.com/cesarachinchilla

  35. Kim says:

    I just found out about your blog at the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. It looks great! I love the way you have set up your curriculum. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Señorita K says:

    Meagan, I absolutely love your blog! Great information! I am a middle school Spanish teacher and use music and beats (soecifically hip hop) to teach and reinforce vocab and grammar.

    I have a website: MagiaEscolar.com with free instructional resources.

    I used my mnemonics devices with urban and suburban populations and just released a CD: “Hook Them with the Beat!” on iTunes, Google Play, and CDbaby. You can preview/download my music at:

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Falbum%2Fhook-them-with-the-beat%21%2Fid646384135%3Fv0%3D9988%26ign-mpt%3Duo%253D1&h=uAQEGay4B&s=1

    or on:

    https://play.google.com/store/music/artist/Magia_Escolar_LLC?id=Akk6ln4otm3l5m4utkkmnmawzma&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImFydGlzdC1Ba2s2bG40b3RtM2w1bTR1dGtrbW5tYXd6bWEiXQ..

    or:
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/magiaescolarllc

    #SpanishTeachersRock

  37. Heather Bell says:

    First, I love your site!!! Thanks for sharing. I thought I remember seeing here the KWLA Proficiency rubric painted on the classroom wall… which I want to do for next year… but now I can’t find it. Was it on your site???

  38. Mika says:

    Hola chicas, excelente blog, yo soy de Venezuela viviendo en Texas, tengo un master en business y me había dedicado a mis chicos hasta ahora que me ofrecieron enseñar español a 2, 3 y 4 grado. Es un colegio católico y el director me dio campo libre para crear, organizar, material, etc. Los libros que el colegio ha estado usando no me gustan, que me recomiendan por donde empezar.
    Gracias
    Mika

  39. Anonymous says:

    Hi! Do you have an account on Teachers Pay Teachers? Maybe this is noted somewhere on the site but I didn’t look very thoroughly. :-) If you do, please let me know how to find you. I would definitely pay for some of the materials you talk about on this site!

  40. This is a great site. I love your creativity! I was writing an article on incorporating fun activities into the Spanish classroom (based on my own teaching in the 90s), and I came across your site. I hope you don’t mind that I included a link to your site in my article. Perhaps it will send more people your way. http://victorialynn.hubpages.com/hub/Fun-Activities-in-Spanish-Spanish-Class-Activities

  41. Jess says:

    My colleague and I are having troubles finding the best way to review what the students learned the previous year. We have tried where students take topics/themes and become the “expert” and re-teach to other students, but it just isn’t working out to be the best review because they aren’t covering the topic thoroughly enough for mastery by other students. Do you have a post about this or could we start some chatter about it? How do you review what was learned the previous year without having to completely re-teach all concepts covered?

    • Kara says:

      Jess, This has become a focus of mine this year. I have mixed classes, so I had to change things. Often the level 2 topics are brand new to them and they struggle to “quickly” pull old learning out when needed. So what I did was realign topics where I teach the same main themes (food, places, activities, descriptions, people) to both levels but culture is the focus. As the 2′s are learning, I’ve seen the old learning resurface quickly and they got the chance to BUILD on it. This has helped mine a lot. This means that you would need to redo the curriculum, but it has been worth it! Megan and I are preparing this information and how to implement it for a fall conference (KWLA) and will share then. Have you found anything else?

      • Jess says:

        That sounds like an amazing idea. I will have to look into that. What we ended up doing was turning the review more into stations. That is how we reviewed for semester exams. Each station focused on something different, whether it be listening, speaking, writing, reading or just a game for vocab recognition. I got some awesome feedback on this from the students and they actually helped me tweak the stations to make them even better. Also, I wanted to let you know that I have been using the Bienvenida that you all introduced and it, too, has been a great way to review concepts and use context to review vocabulary from the past. It was so amazing because then my final speaking activity of the semester was that they had to re-answer 4 of the many questions we had come up with for the Bienvenida. I loved the ease of organizing it, while at the same time seeing the students recall the answers.

        I will let you know if I come up with something else, but I must tell you that you have been a true inspiration to me. I have used so many of your ideas and they are a HUGE success with my students and for learning. Mil gracias! In fact, we just used infographs to introduce our health unit and the complex sentences the kids came up with blew me away! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! You ladies rock!

        • Kara says:

          Thank you for sharing this information! It’s great to hear about student success. I think the best thing you did was to get student input!

  42. Yves says:

    Great site! Great ideas! Great teacher!

  43. […] blog that I recently discovered and find interesting and helpful is The Creative Language Class. It contains useful tips for teaching languages in a fun way and includes videos, activity ideas, […]

  44. Maria Clara says:

    Hola Megan y Kara,

    Este es mi primer año como profesora de español y aunque conozco el idioma muy bien (soy colombiana), apenas estoy aprendiendo a enseñarlo. Es increíble encontrar otras personas que se dedican a lo mismo y sobre todo, que comparten ideas, actividades, etc. ¿Ustedes me pueden recomendar un libro de texto que me sirva de guía para mis clases? Enseño en un colegio católico pequeño en Massachusetts y mis alumnos son estudiantes de 7 y 8 grados. Este es el primer año que estudian español. De antemano les doy las gracias. Tengo algunas presentaciones en Power Point y otras actividades que he encontrado en internet y estaría encantada en compartirlas con ustedes. Por hoy y para terminar, les recomiendo este divertido video acerca del aprendizaje del español: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LjDe4sLER0‎

    • Kara says:

      Gracias Maria Clara! (BTW Clara es el nombre más bonito en mi opinión!) No uso un libro, pero el mejor que usaba es “Realidades”.
      Gracias por el video.

  45. […] are a few sites that I really enjoyed. This first one is perfect for language teachers. http://creativelanguageclass.wordpress.com/about/.  There are many great ideas and activities that incorporate technology in the classroom. I […]

  46. Angelia Ridgway says:

    Hi, Megan!
    I am about to introduce my students to your blog. I am a Spanish teacher and Professor of Methods of Teaching Modern Languages at University of Indianapolis. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your approaches. Know they will impact hundreds of students! AngieR

    • Megan says:

      Angie –

      Thank you so much for your comment! Helping teachers is the whole reason Kara and I started this! You just made my day! Let us know if you would like to collaborate sometime!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Much’isimas gracias por este blog! Felicidades! Es s’uper ‘util y pr’actico. Soy profesora de español y desde luego voy a usar muchas de estas ideas a partir de ahora. Estoy segura de que mis estudiantes lo van a agradecer. Gracias de nuevo.

  48. Jess says:

    Have you ever done a unit “lets hang out” with Spanish texting? I was thinking of adding this into my next unit but I was wondering if you had any ideas. BTW I also did do my new years class resolution of a qr scavenger hunt in Spanish. Thanks for the help with that!

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