Monday, April 30, 2012

50 Tips for Educating Boys of Color

Last week I attended the COSEBOC (The Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, gathering at NC Central University.  It was an amazing conference and a great opportunity to hear some of the experts in this field speak on this topic.

I heard a variety of keynote speakers, and also attended a number of breakout sessions.  Some of the presenters were Ron Walker of COSEBOC, N.Y. U. Professor Pedro Noguera (@PedroANoguera), and Mr. Sean Vann (Principal) and Mr. Michael Carruthers, (Instructor), from Frederick Douglass College Preparatory Academy for Young Men.  I was unable to find all of the names on the conference website.

During the conference I took notes on the tips that I thought would be helpful to teachers and schools. These tips are based off of the professional experiences and/or research of the speakers. My list came out longer than expected! I hope that some of the ideas below will help you to support the boys of color at your school.

50 Tips for Teaching Boys of Color

1.  Build strong relationships with these students.
2. Provide them with some one-on-one learning time.
3. Incorporate technology into teaching and learning.
4. Use PBL, or Project-Based Learning.
5. Maintain high expectations.
6. Expose them to peers who are excelling, and to other positive role models.
7. Give students time to talk about their goals.
8. Celebrate successes, big or small!
9. Try using commitment contracts.
10. Make school relevant to them.
11. Good school leadership is important.
12. Your curriculum needs to be strong.
13. Engage them!
14. Give them ownership of their learning.
15. Don’t confuse low skills with being unintelligent.
16. Help them to form a positive identity, and have pride in who they are.
17. Be mastery and outcome focused.
18. Have a tight accountability structure.
19. Have clear expectations.
20. Teach study skills and organization.
21. Meet students where they are.
22. Use individualized learning plans and/or differentiation.
23. Show students what excellent work looks like. Provide them models of other students’ work so that they understand the expectation.
24. The school and teachers need to be responsive to student needs. Teachers need to be able to answer the question, “What does it take to educate the students we serve?”
25. Two key qualities of successful schools are the emotional and physical safety of students.
26. Teach standards for college and career readiness.
27. Schools need to build partnerships with local universities and businesses.
28. Incorporate career readiness opportunities into your classes (students shadow people in the work force for fields they are interested in, field trips, internships, summer jobs with local businesses, etc.)
29. Have mentorship programs (with teachers, local university or college students, volunteers, older students with younger students, etc.). Mentors help boys to make a plan for their future, and get on them when they get off track. (Connect boys with mentors BEFORE they get into academic or behavioral trouble, not after.)
30. Educate students about their history and culture. Teachers need to be knowledgeable about black and Latino history and teach it in their classes.
31. Put boys of color in classes with experienced, and highly effective teachers with extensive knowledge of culturally proficient teaching. Good intentions are not enough, teachers need to be trained and know what they are doing when teaching these young men. (Boys of color are are 2-3 times more likely to have first, or second year teachers).
32. Watch for early warning signs for dropping out (ABCs: A-Attendance, B-Behavior, and C-Course Performance.)
33. Success can require a total change in school culture where all faculty and staff are working to help these boys be successful. Requires genuine teacher buy-in.
34. Offer technology help and support to parents.
35. Give students a voice at school (student council, debate team, written evaluations of all teachers, etc.)
36.  Boys of color failing has become normalized. We need to change this norm!
37. Look at the underlying causes of why boys are not succeeding, not just at the symptoms. We need to go deeper.
38. Understand the world through their eyes, and put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes their motivation is survival. They may be looking for a way to support themselves and/or their families.
39. Give boys a choice in literature (they are not necessarily going to like reading about stereotypically “male” topics).
40. Use discipline to build character and personal responsibility.
41. Use preventative as opposed to punitive strategies.
42. Teach students code switching (code of the streets vs. code of school and jobs). This is not about denying them their culture, but about empowering them.
43. Deliberately challenge stereotypes by exposing students to activities outside their normal experiences (chess club, etc.)
44. Give students leadership opportunities.
45. Make schools welcoming to minority parents.
46.  Commit to hire black and Latino males in professional roles.
47. Provide students with opportunities for community service.
48. Channel energy in a positive way (don’t crush it).
49. Teach boys to understand their emotional side, and how to deal with anger.
50. Believe in them!

Here is a video from last year's gathering:

Friday, April 27, 2012

French and Spanish Mother's Day Vocabulary and Activities!

Celebrate Mother's Day in your French or Spanish class! Help your students to make greetings cards for their mothers, or a special woman in their lives, in the target language. The documents include Mother's Day vocabulary words and expressions, a word search, a double puzzle, two paper greeting card templates, an option for an online greeting card activity, a mother's day writing activity, and a bingo board template. It also has a Mother's Day word cloud activity with Wordle, and an two acrostic poem templates that can be used as gifts for Mom! Feliz Dia de la Madre! Joyeuse Fete des Meres!

If you want to check out these products you can download some of the activities for FREE! 
Click below:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

French Class vs. Spanish Class Cinco de Mayo Soccer Game!

If you are looking for a fun activity to do with your students for Cinco de Mayo other than having a "fiesta" in your class, I have a great one for you that I used to do with my students at the middle school, and at the high school. I got this idea from another Spanish teacher in the district, and then expanded on it. Since Cinco de Mayo is celebrated because the Mexicans beat the French in the Battle of Puebla, have the French and Spanish classes at your school challenge each other to a soccer game as a way to "reenact" the battle! After this activity, your students will never forget why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated! Here are some tips for setting up the event:
  • Communicate with the PE teachers at your school in order to reserve a soccer field for the school day. Since Cinco de Mayo is on a Saturday this year, you could schedule the event for Friday, May 4th.
  • Ask students to wear their country colors on the day of the match. We asked our French students to wear blue, and our Spanish students to wear Red. Since one of our Spanish teachers was from Spain, she had a lot of her classes dress up in red and yellow, but normally you would use the Mexican colors of red, and green.
  • Remind your students to wear, or bring tennis shoes!
  • One year, we even ordered T-shirts for the event from a local t-shirt shop. They cost about $10, and the students loved them! I think we sold around 150 shirts. The photos are below of the "croissants" vs. the "tacos" T-shirts :) 
  • I also brought in red and blue hair spray, and face paints. Students put these on before the games to show their team spirit! (you may want to double check with your administration to make sure this is OK).
  • The Spanish teacher/s and French teacher/s need to communicate about their class schedules in order to set up a game schedule for the day. One teacher can email out the schedule to all the other teachers, or put hard copies of the schedules in their mailboxes.
  • Each class period that there is a French or Spanish class, there will be a soccer match. For example, 1st period Spanish plays against 1st period French, and so on.
  • If one period has two Spanish classes, and no French classes, then those two classes can still play each other.
  • If there are two Spanish classes, and only one French class that period, you may think about inviting some of the other language classes to participate in the event and join the French "army". You could have the two Spanish classes, vs. the French and German classes for example.
  • Teachers can help referee the game, or join the students in playing. (I always played!)
  • You may also want to teach your students some vocabulary and team cheers, chants, or songs in the target language before the event. Here is some French soccer vocabulary and here are some Spanish terms
  • If you have students who really don't want to play, then you can require them to be "cheerleaders" and use the target language. 
  • If you feel you need to assign points for participation, you can give students points for wearing the proper attire, participating in the game, and/or cheering. 
  • The next day, or at the end of the day on the announcements, you can announce the scores for the day. Students love to hear that their team won for that period, or overall for the day. I will have to warn you that many times the Spanish teams do win because they tend to have more students and more subs, but not always. However, in a way this is kind of good, because the Mexicans won the Battle of Puebla :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Vocabulary and Activities!

Celebrate 5 de mayo in your Spanish classes and teach your students about Mexican culture! This document contains 25 related vocabulary words and images, a student fill-in note sheet with just the images, a word search and word scramble to practice vocabulary, an online cultural reading and 12 comprehension questions in English, a bingo board template, links to four Cinco de mayo youtube videos, a template for a Cinco de mayo acrostic poem, 12 bulletin board images that you can laminate and cut out, and a food sign up sheet in case you decide to have a fiesta! Feliz 5 de mayo!

If you want to check out some of the activities download this FREEBIE! 

Here are the links to some video clips to use in your Spanish classes for Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April Instructional Technology Resource Update # 2

I have listed below the top instructional resources that I have come across in the last month. More new website links are posted on  I hope you will scroll through the resources and to pick out one or two new things that interest you to try during the end of this school year.  Please let me know of resources that you are interested in for May!

    Web 2.0 Tools:
    • Make your own Search Story video in minutes | Official Google Blog (via freetech4teachers) Looking for a fun way for your students to do a bibliography? "All you need to do is type in your Google searches, pick some music and — presto! — you've got your very own Search Story to share." Here is an example of a google search story that was a commercial during the super bowl Parisian Love.

    • Posterous Spaces (via freetech4teachers) "The easiest way to share safely online." Posterous can be used for student blogging. All you need to do is to create a private "space" for your class. The great thing about it is that students can post their blogs via their email accounts, or from any of their mobile devices.

      Introducing Posterous Spaces from Posterous on Vimeo.
    • You or your students can use this site to create fake texts for teaching and learning. You type in the text conversation between two people and turn it into a screenshot that can be posted on social networks, emailed, or turned into a direct link. You can type your text in any language. This tool is great for teaching World Language!
    • 37 Ways Teachers Should Use Pinterest If you haven't checked out Pinterest yet, it is a great educational resource. Teachers share their teaching ideas through "pins". 

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    French and Spanish Earth Day or Environmental Unit Vocabulary, Activities, and Video Clips!

    Looking to celebrate Earth Day in your French or Spanish class, or do you do an Environmental unit in your intermediate or advanced class? Try out these activities! These products includes more than 75 vocabulary words with clip art images, links to French or Spanish Earth Day/Environmental youtube videos, a vocabulary word search, four different writing activities for a variety of levels (I can... + infinitive, imperative tense, or subjunctive), "Twitter" writing activity, Earth Day blank bingo board, and a Blabberize student instruction sheet for an environmental speaking activity. You will find an activity that you can use in this product for all of the levels that you teach! This product is also a great way to incorporate the Common Core Teaching Standards since it teaches some academic science vocabulary.

    Here are some of the French Earth Day video clips that I found:

    Here are some Spanish Earth Day video clips:

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    April Instructional Technology Resource Update

    Hello fabulous teachers! I have listed below the top instructional resources that I have learned about recently. All new website links are also posted on  I hope you will scroll through the resources, and to pick out one or two new things to try out! I attended the NCTIES (NC Technology in Education Society) Conference in March, so I learned about a lot of the resources below from the presentations I attended!

    ZooBurst (via Tammy Worcester)
    "ZooBurst is a digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D pop-up books. Readers who have a webcam installed on their computer can also experience any ZooBurst book in Augmented Reality. As an educational tool, ZooBurst provides students with new ways in which they can tell stories, deliver presentations, write reports and express complex ideas."

    An example of a ZooBurst book in Spanish for practicing prepositions that I found online is below. There are so many things that you could do with this site in a World Language class! Here are some ideas for what students could make for assignments or teachers could make for teaching a lesson:
    • Children's books
    • Alphabet books
    • Number books
    • Color books
    • "How To" books to practice the imperative tense
    • Weather books
    • Vacation books (to practice the past tense)
    • Books on cultural topics.

    "Simply type the speech for each slide, instead of recording it, and HelloSlide automagically generates the audio. It gives more exposure to your presentations, making them searchable, editable, and available in 20 different languages."

    This is a great way to have your students practice their writing in the TL. I think that they will get a kick out of hearing it read by a native speaker when they have finished. It is an engaging alternative to PowerPoint for teacher lessons and student presentations!

    BlogBooker (via Richard Byrne)
    "BlogBooker produces a high-quality PDF Blog Book from all your blog's entries and comments.
    Archives can be generated from any blog running on WordPress, LiveJournal (and derivatives) or Blogger."

    If your students have a blog, they can turn all of their entries into a PDF book at the end of the year as a portfolio.As a teacher, you could turn your blog posts into a book as proof of reflection for your yearly teacher evaluation

    Tape-a-Talk Voice Recorder - Android Apps on Google Play (Via Richard Byrne)
    "Tape-a-Talk is a high quality voice recorder with many extra features."

    This app would be an awesome tool for students to use to practice speaking in the target language. They could do voice recordings, listen to themselves and see if they want to re-record, and send their recording to you.

    Audio Memos Free - The Voice Recorder
    "Audio Memos is a voice recorder for the iPhone and iPad. What you'll really like about Audio Memos, is that you can actually HEAR your recordings (try it and compare, you'll hear what we mean). It's also easy to use, with a simple and intuitive interface."

    This is the voice recorder app that I use on my iPhone and I really like it. It is similar to "Tape-a-Talk".

    PaceRecorder - Android Apps on Google Play (via Richard Byrne)
    "The PaceRecorder is a voice recorder equipped with a simple pace indicator. It requires 10 seconds of you speaking to register your pace. It will show different colors so you can understand your speaking pace:
    Blue=relaxed Green=balanced Red=excited"

    I have not tried out this App yet in French, or Spanish since I don't have an Android myself, but if it is measuring pace, I would think that it should work in any language. This would be a good tool for students that get nervous doing presentations in the TL. They could practice first using this App. It would also let them know if they were speaking too quickly or too slowly. (via Tammy Worchester)
    "AirPlay mirror your iPhone 4S, iPad 2, or iPad 3 to any Mac running OS X 10.6+, wirelessly!"

    This app is awesome! You can pull up items on your device to show on your computer screen, and walk around your classroom at the same time. Normally, I only post about free resources on my blog, but this one was so cool that I just had to share it anyways. Unfortunately this app is not free, but it might be worth the investment if you are going to use it everyday in your classroom, or for professional development presentations. There is a time-limited trial so that you can try reflection, or you can purchase it for $14.99.

    El Diablo y El Angel! Spanish Imperative Tense Posters and Activities

    Looking for a fun way to practice the imperative tense in your Spanish class? Your students will love making these Devil Vs. Angel posters! Students think about commands that an Angel would give them (good things), and commands that a Devil would give them (bad things), if they were sitting on their shoulders.

    This product includes a lesson plan/explanation of how to use the activities in the classroom, guides notes with a student and teacher version, student practice sheet for formal commands (usted and ustedes) with an answer key, Devil Vs. Angel Activity instructions/checklist for formal commands and one for informal commands, devil and angel images for posters, and a flashcard template for formal commands.

    French version coming soon!!!

    Here is part of a student poster:

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