La Maestra Bilingue

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While I have more or less settled into my “non-teaching” life, the teacher in me still threatens to sneak out on occasion. This morning I woke up in the middle of a dream where I was spending my last day at the school teaching and I was questioning whether I was making the right decision. I do miss my students and the staff. I don’t miss the endless testing and piles of papers to be graded. I really enjoy working for myself and setting my own schedule. Granted, I sometimes don’t get as much done as I’d like to, but I also take time to enjoy life more. I might walk around the ranch for an hour before coming to work in my office or I might just take the laptop outside and work for awhile. Better yet, take a horse-riding break!

I haven’t forgotten my mission to provide resources for bilingual teachers. I have a ton of ideas that have been stewing in my brain for the last year. Some of them are almost ready to come out into the real world. I have a project I’m working on right now that should be available to the public within a month or so. I am really excited about it. I have found a way to create some of the apps that have been floating around in my head without paying an arm and a leg for the programming. They might be a little simpler, but I think they will still be good tools for teachers (and other language learners whether in a school setting or not). Hopefully as I get more experience, they will be a bit more complex and a few more bells and whistles. I’ll definitely keep you up-to-date….hopefully soon I’ll be posting an announcement of where to download my next project!


Twila Godinez Author Page.

Posted on: June 24, 2012

Most teachers are also book lovers. I enjoyed reading this post!

Two Different Girls

I found this cartoon on a blog the other day. Unfortunately, I can’t furnish attributes, so whoever came up with this drawing, well done. You must love books, too.  

I was offering tips and tricks to my new Kindle owner friend Jason, when I pulled mine out of its cover to look at the back. The cover doesn’t see the light much, and collecting autographs is a bit of a silly thing, in my opinion, but I got in the habit of asking speakers at The Amaz!ng Meeting to sign my Kindle, if I actually had one of their books on my device.

My first signature was Scott Sigler, which I obtained when he visited Houston a couple years ago during a book promotion. My second autograph was Eugenie C. Scott, who is director of the National Center for Science Education.

Other signatures I’ve obtained include

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Bilingual teachers have most of the same difficulties that all teachers share, yet they have more problems that other teachers do not have to face.  Probably the most difficult issue that exists is the lack of high quality resources that are readily available.  Textbook companies are getting much better at providing for the bilingual classes, but most teachers pull activities and lessons from a wide variety of resources.  Sometimes, it’s possible to do a quick translation of an activity and make it work, but more often than not, the translation takes quite a bit of preparation.  Even assuming that the translations are quick and easy, that still adds quite a burden to the bilingual teacher’s planning.  Another issue bilingual teachers face is creating a workable schedule.  They have the same amount of time each day that all other teachers have, yet they are expected to cover the same material, with the same rigor AND fit in a time for ESL.  In my experience, this created quite a juggling act between which lessons could be done in English to facilitate the language learning and not have the students have academic struggles.  One way that I helped fulfill the ESL requirements was to give most basic classroom instructions in English (put your books away, get out your folder, etc).  Even though that was mostly listening comprehension, it was still very simple to assess which students were understanding the instructions. As the year progressed, I gave more and more of the classroom instructions in English as well as including many of the “personal” conversations with the children.  This was not a very formal way to include language learning, but it was one way that I could make sure that the students were being constantly exposed.  I realize that this creates a bit of “code-switching”, but in my experience it didn’t seem to cause the children any issues.  Besides they loved it when I caught myself speaking in the “wrong” language.  I can’t count the times they reminded me, “English, miss, English”.  I’d just laugh and repeat everything in the other language.  Bilingual teachers are also faced with an extra dose of paperwork that has to be completed.  Every state and/or school district has its own requirements, so I can’t speak to all of the different requirements.  However, I know that in my case, I had to conduct several assessments in both languages and fill out several pages of paperwork for each child.  Perhaps the most frustrating situation is when no one recognizes the extra challenges these teachers face.  What difficulties do you face as a bilingual teacher that the other teachers don’t have to deal with?

My class has got it bad! They are not wanting to work and are much happier staring out the window. Recess is the highlight of the day. The worse part is I’m just as antsy to get outside! The countdown for the end of the year has begun. I’m ready to start my new venture. My app is almost ready to be sent to iTunes. I can’t wait to have some time to dedicate to my new projects! This spring fever is definitely contagious….watch out!

In February, I made a couple of decisions that are quite life-changing.  First, I decided to give my resignation to my full-time teaching position.  This is a big decision considering the economy right now, but thankfully our primary business is supporting us financially so I can take this leap of faith.  I love teaching and I love being thin the classroom, but I feel that it’s time to reach other teachers with what I have learned.  Part of this decision lead to this blog, my website (still under construction), and a bigger project…creating an app for the iPod/iPhone/iPad.

I teach 2nd grade bilingual students.  Last year, one of my coworkers and I were presented a grant that allowed us to purchase several iPods for our classroom.  These little devices have been a great learning tool.  After attending the TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) convention in February, I caught a small glimpse of the possibilities for this technology in the classroom.  As a bilingual teacher, I saw all the great things available in English and the huge lack of things in Spanish.   I decided that it was time to do something about that.

I did hours of Internet research and decided to give app development a shot.  It seems that the best way (considering I have no idea about the programming) was to outsource the programming work.  I found a wonderful programmer that has had infinite patience with this newbie and is quick to turn my ideas into a jumble of source code.  Late last week, I found a beautiful little beta version of my app in my inbox.

I’m not going to get into the details, and I’m not going to advertise my app (especially since I have the only working copy at this moment)…yet!  I will give more details including where to get my app (iTunes baby!) in the near future.  Right now, I just want to share my excitement!  A couple of weeks ago I had an idea….I set out to work and today during learning center time, I watched several of my students playing with MY app!  They were clapping when they passed a level, and threatening the iPad when they didn’t quite make it…it was priceless!

I don’t know if my app will be a huge best-seller (I can always hope, right?), but I know that my kids had fun playing it today.  They were having so much fun that they didn’t even realize that they were learning!

Today the committee that funded our grant for Ipod in our class came to visit. I enjoyed sharing the wonderful thing my students have been able to do with the iPods However, when discussing with my friend who wrote the grant with me, I realize that I am utilizing the iPods much more than she is. Why? I’m more technologically inclined and less afraid to try new things with the tools given to me. Some teachers have wonderful technology available to them, but they don’t have the time or desire to figure out how to implement them in their class. I wish I could transport myself into all those classrooms to help those teachers! I hope that through this blog and my website, I can develop some articles that will in a way bring a bit of what I have learned into the classroom. In the long run, the students are the ones who benefit and isn’t that what we all are shooting for?


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