A Place for Proficiency

See my new site at A Place for Proficiency


Great youtube video – Los origines de MS-13 – The origins of MS-13

Even before beginning the novel or reading the prologue of the novel, which explains the origins of the gang, the class and I went through this documentary from Univision.

Great video to accompany prologue of Vida y Muerte

This video touches on all the points that the prologue does:

  • the civil war in El Salvador
  • the number of displaced refugees and where they fled to (LA)
  • the different gangs in LA, the problems the Salvodoraneans dealt with
  • how the gang first formed and why
  • mass deportations back to El Salvador and the how the gang expanded influence

Great visuals and stats supplement the all Spanish narration.  A good place to use movie talk and start discussions on essential questions.




Vida y muerte en la mara salvatrucha link list

I am teaching the TPRS novel Vida y muerte en la mara salvatrucha by Fluency Matters for the second time.

I am extremely grateful to other bloggers who have shared ideas and content related to the book.

As others have, I started the novel with a 2 week unit on the civil war in El Salvador:

  • Great resources and ideas for organization from Kristy Placido

Here are some links I have found useful for the book:

Top Resources: The Mexican Revolution

In considering how to teach the history of the Mexican Revolution I started here:

1. PBS Learning Media (search “The Storm that Swept Mexico)

  • Revolutionary Women
  • Revolutionary Leaders
  • Revolutionary Art

2.  The University of New Mexico (unit outline, plans, resources)

3.  UTEP Center for History Teaching and Learning

Assessment and Planning in Foreign Language

Tons has been written on the subject.  Here I am, to sum it up for myself again:


Assessment is meant to measure our progress towards a goal.  In order to determine which assessment to use we must think backwards and start with our goals.

The Ohio Department of Education has many great resources for planning and assessment, start with Backwards Design!

As such, one must ask:  what do our pupils need to know?

In planning, first, think about the big picture, then determine your tools for assessment that go along with those big-picture goals.  Break overarching goals into objectives later to help build your activities.

When developing assessments, keep the following in mind (according to Baldwin, Keating, and Bachman, Teaching In Secondary Schools, Pearson 2006):

  • The interest of the student is paramount (do they understand why they are being assessed, are they reflecting on learning
  • Assessment is meant to improve teaching and learning
  • Assessment must allow for critical inquiry through writing, debate, and discussion
  • Assessment must be fair
  • The consequences of assessment determine validity – any assessment procedure which does not contribute to teaching and learning and does not promote inquiry or critical thinking should not be used.
  • The teacher is the most important agent of assessment and should be transparent in its process and product, constantly enhancing measures of understanding for students.
  • Formative assessments to assess factual info, concepts, discrete skills necessary to build understanding
  • Summative assessment involves analysis, synthesis, or evaluation of info in order to make judgments, form opinions, explain concepts

Once the assessments have been selected, one can move onto planning daily activities and exercises that will be measured by your tests, quizzes, etc.




Bloc on

Over the next half year or so I will here relate, to those that are listening, my foray into the world of code.

About a month ago I signed up for Bloc’s part-time web developer program.  Today I chose a mentor for the program.  I have paid my first installment of the tuition and will begin next Monday.

Why Bloc, you ask?  Well:

First, the price is reasonable if you are considering the variety of options that exist for coding boot camps that are solely online.  Prices range from 6 to 12,000, depending on the school.

Although Bloc does not have independently verified statistics on hiring and employment rates of graduate, they do have a plethora of positive stories from graduates.

Bloc does offer a job guarantee with full refund if you do not get a job offer after 6 months of graduation.  That being said, you must document all jobs you apply to if you hope to get a refund.  But, if you are really committed and use the career services and tap your mentor for help there is no excise.

In the end, the camp is what you make of it.


Student Discipline

Here is what I wrote on a recent job application.

My philosophy on Student Discipline:

Classroom management skills are critical to effective instruction. As such, a teacher needs to be competent in a number of skills that aid in student discipline. A teacher must establish routines and norms in the classroom that create an atmosphere of clear expectations. At the same time, students must be treated in an equitable fashion that makes them feel comfortable and respected. Creating trust in the classroom not only means knowing the students in the class but planning activities that are tailored to their abilities and interests. A teacher’s efficacy in the classroom often depends on the ability to discipline students.

From the first time that students enter a classroom they make judgments about their surroundings and the classroom in front of them. If a classroom is not set up for success in terms of organization and appearance students will assume a certain level of control on their own. Because of this, it is the teacher’s job to establish routines and procedures from the outset. These norms help establish expectations for the classroom and provide students with a structured environment which they crave. Students must be trained and practice these routines so they know what to expect.

Expectations and rules ensure that students are treated equally and consistently. Having rules posted in the classroom is important as the teacher can reference the rules as students learn and memorize them. In this way the teacher can address problems by referencing the rules and norms. By referring to the rules and having students know them the teacher can make students assume responsibility for their actions. Consequences must also be posted in the classroom and enforced consistently. All efforts must be made to avoid dehumanizing students in order maintain mutual respect.

When students trust a teacher and are aware of the rules and procedures of the classroom they are more likely to respect the teacher and cooperate. Students must also know that the teacher cares about them. Because of this student discipline extends beyond the classroom. A teacher can display an interest in their students by incorporating their interests into lesson plans, and also by attending extracurricular activities. Outside the class, contact with parents and guardians on a regular basis will also help maintain student discipline.

The art of teaching cannot do without good student discipline and classroom management. One of the main purposes of education is to grow our students as learners. Yet, we must also grow them as people and citizens. In order to do so each classroom must use a system that everyone is familiar with and agrees to participate in. in the end, the way that educators relate to and control their pupils in school can determine the relative success or failure of these objectives.