My year in review: 10th grade heritage class – remote version!

Hi friends! I hope this post finds you healthy and rested after a few days off for the fall break. I’ve been feeling like I need to get a post out for you all, but it’s been a struggle (like everything in 2020). 

I’ve been feeling that terrible feeling that I always get near the end of the school year (which for me is soon since we are on full block, so I only have two more weeks with these students and our course will be over for the year). It’s that feeling like…I’m not doing enough, we didn’t do enough, I don’t know them as well as I’d like, I wish we’d done X, Y, Z, and on and on and on. This year it feels especially sharp because of all the weird challenges we’ve navigated together via Covid 19. I think it’s both important to reflect on some of the things I wish I’d done better, and also try to give myself some grace. The truth is, I’m really proud of my students and who they are and what they accomplished this semester. And I’m so thankful that they let me in a little bit to get to know them and share this very weird semester with them. Do I wish I had more time with them? Yes. Do I wish I’d done a million things differently? Also yes.

This semester I taught two sections of Spanish Literacy 4, mostly 10th graders with a few other grade level students sprinkled in. It’s a dual enrollment class, so students also get free college credit for SPA 211 (if you teach in the community college system) that will transfer to any of our state colleges (and many out of state colleges). This added a lot to my plate, especially in terms of getting students registered (many of whom are first-generation) and in terms of urgency of getting them registered by the timeline. I also felt a little less flexibility. Nevertheless, we persevered 🙂

I wanted to just summarize the key changes from my typical year to this year in one place. I have mentioned a few in my last post, but wanted to summarize a little more succinctly here. Hope this is helpful for you, friends!

Workshop Model / Structure of class period

Pre-covidThis year
Free readingRead 10 mins at beginning of class, I stamp a basic reading log (see this post).Read 10 minutes during live Google Meet, I share google form reading log in the chat at the end of the 10 minutes. I use the same form for the week, and then sort the spreadsheet by last name to give credit for reading at end of week.
Mini lessonStudents use real notebooks.
Students work with partners.
Students gather at front of room for a “huddle,” I write on chart paper. Students will practice the strategy with their partner in their notebook.
I use a document camera and share my screen for the mini lesson.Students write in a physical notebook during mini lesson.Students don’t have assigned partners.Students will practice the strategy on a shared google doc or google slides, or in their own google doc assignment (due at end of mini lesson – used for attendance).
Work timeStudents return to their desk and write (usually 2 pages) or read (usually 30 minutes and 3 post its).Students leave their cameras off but stay logged in to the google meet. They work (reading or writing) for 30 minutes and then fill out a google form about what they worked on and/or finished. They submit photos of their finished notebook pages for credit before the next class.
ConferencesI call up students one by one to see what they’ve finished, give feedback, and update their grades.I open a new google meet and call students from the big google meet to the small one. Together, I open their documents and we talk about what they have credit for and what they don’t, and make a plan to catch up if needed.
This is an example of a shared google doc students were asked to contribute to during a mini lesson on how author gives us hints about the character in their specific language about setting.

Order of units

Pre-Covid This year
1st QWriting – Personal NarrativeWriting – Personal Narrative
2nd QReading – Deep Study of CharacterWriting – Literary Essay
3rd QWriting – Literary EssayReading – Deep Study of Character
4th QWriting – Information Books / Youth ActivismX
The flow chart we made together after bend I of the literary essay unit, to guide our work in bend II.

Modification of units from previous years

Pre-covid (Click on link to see how I usually do it)This year
Writing – Personal NarrativeI started with the “10 things I want you to know” assignment.
I skipped a few sessions at the beginning of the unit about new strategies to think of ideas for narratives.
I skipped the on-demand final assessment.
We celebrated digitally – students recorded a flip grid reading their final piece, we shared them, and students had to read a few and leave feedback in a google form which I later emailed to students. I also shared the google doc with the published work with their parents and our school staff, as well as a google form for comments.
Writing – Literary EssayI skipped the classic short stories and went with some more interesting, identity-relevant pieces, including a chapter from Poet X, El Crossover, and the book Papi tiene una moto.
Instead of having them make a tool with the steps, we just made a flow chart together of all the steps we’d gone through to write our literary essays (see photo in this post).
I nearly skipped the second bend about theme analysis but I’m so glad I didn’t! It went really well. Oh, except it was hard to write a theme essay on one chapter of a book, so I offered an easy short story alternative (which normally I would use for the on-demand).
We relied heavily on the “beginning-middle-end” structure for both bends, and they rocked it.
I skipped the on-demand test at the end.
Reading – Deep Study of CharacterI saved this for last because we were hybrid for a little while, so I was able to introduce it in person and they kind of were able to get into the routine.
I did not purposely have students read the same book as other students, and it was totally fine.
We only ever read for 30 minutes during class, instead of 40 or 45, so I could honor the kids that were at home.
Instead of two small exams (one after each bend), I opted for one larger exam at the end of the whole thing (this is due to keeping continuity during our transition back to hybrid).
Last week of courseI plan to have the students make a short portfolio (google doc) linking to their three major writing pieces and a few things from the reading unit (probably their digital notebook and their exam), and answer a few reflection questions. I will share that assignment here when I have it.
I am also planning on shortening the final exam from the community college because it is quite long and repetitive (especially if your students are already fluent in Spanish). 

This is my first time teaching on the full block, and I have to admit, it was pretty glorious only having to focus on a few classes (for both me and for the students). It was fast and furious, and I can’t believe it’s nearly over – two more weeks! (Before you get jealous, part of that is because we have to finish when the community college grades are due, so we are out even earlier than the other HS students…that community college credit is a double edged sword!) 

But, it’s not often I get to post “a year in review” type ideas in November, so I’m hopeful some of these ideas might be helpful for you. Thank you for doing what you do, friends, especially in this very hard year. We’re in this together.


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