Digital Notebook Picture Talks & Back to School Reflections

Goodness, I feel like I have so much to catch you up on!

I just wrapped up Day 3 of Hybrid Teaching and I’m feeling pretty good about it (today!). I was so nervous to go back to school, nervous about getting sick, nervous about the mask situation, nervous about starting over. I mean, this is my 15th year teaching, I’ve got 14 years of habits to break overnight because of some awful virus.  Like how on earth could I NOT high five my Little Darlings?! No handshakes at the door?! How do I whisper to a student with a mask on from 6 feet away?! How do they hear me?! How do I hear them???  HOW DO I LEARN THEIR NAME WHEN I CAN’T EVEN SEE THEIR FACES?! And on and on and on.  I’ve lost a lot of sleep lately. A LOT.

I am relived to report that we’ve made it through 3 days. I went in with *really* low expectations…and the thing about having low expectations, you’re almost always pleasantly surprised. Students are so happy to be back in school and they’re doing a great job following our safety guidelines. My admin reported today during a surprise mask audit that of the 400 students they observed, 100% were wearing their masks and only 2 of them were wearing them incorrectly (with their little narices exposed). The distancing has been hard in the hallways and at breaks, but kids are being compliant and moving apart when reminded. This may be the honeymoon period, and it might not last long….but I have to say, we’re off to a great start!

The reason I tell you all this, is if you’re dreading going back to school, maybe this might make you feel a tiny bit better. I was D-R-E-A-D-I-N-G it and now that we’re almost in a grove, it’s good to be back in the classroom. I forgot how much I love teaching real humans ( and not a screen!) Even in a mask! This might not be as bad as you’re imaging.

Wearing a mask all day sucks. There’s no way around it…but we’re doing it. And thankfully my administration is encouraging us to take students outside for mask breaks. I’ve got a new student job, to announce “¡Es la hora, Señora!” halfway through each block period. I’ve got MASK BREAK written into my lesson plan and something for us to do outside, waaaay spread out, masks off, in Spanish. In Spanish 4 it was Free Reading (I’ll write another post called “Free Reading in the time of Covid”) and Spanish 1 was TPR…and it was the first time I’ve seen their cute little faces uncovered.

I also gotta tell you, I am LOVE, LOVE, LOVING my Fancy Little Microphone. (Which was sold out, but will be back in stock on Sept 1!) I’m finding that since I don’t have to talk as loud, I am conserving my breath, which is a lifesaver (literally!) with the mask on. I forgot to put it on first thing this morning and I was feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath, doing my usual loud teacher voice.

Another plus is the tiny classes… half the class is home each day, so my biggest class is 14 students in my classroom. Thank you, Jesus, our at home kiddos can be synchronous OR  asynchronous, per the teacher’s discretion.  I’m planning on loading them up with input in person and then they’ll “do extension activities” (reading, mostly!) at home on their digital day. I know some of you Rock Stars are teaching in person and online at the same time, and I can only marvel at your awesomeness. How do you do it?! There is a special place in heaven for you!

Today I showed my Little Darlings my personalized Digital Notebook cover  (they’ll decorate their own tomorrow during their “Digital Day”) and of course, because our goal is to give them lots and lots of Comprehensible Input, even during a pandemic, I used it as an opportunity to introduce myself to them.  (I adapted my Digital Notebook using this FREE  Slides Mania Template!)

Here’s what it looked like in Spanish 4 this morning. Generally in Spanish 4 I’m talking a little faster and using a wider range of vocab…but our jobs are to meet our kids where they are. They’ve been out of school for 5 months…their Spanish is shaky and their confidence is even shakier! Let’s meet them exactly where they are, regardless of the level.


And here’s the Spanish 1 version. They’ve had about 30 minutes of Spanish on Monday prior to this video…essentially we’re starting at ZERO. There’s a precious moment when one of my students realized that she babysits my nice. Love my small town!


Then we did a quick little Lightning Fast Listening Quiz and called it a day 🙂 And all things considered, I’ll chalk it up as a good day.

Yeah, it’s weird teaching tiny classes, and not seeing their faces, and knowing I’ll only teach them in person 14 more times ALL SEMESTER,  and that’s if EVERYTHING goes perfectly and no one gets sick and we don’t close down again. But… we can do it because we can do hard things. No matter what your school situation looks like this year, you’ve got this. You can do hard things!

This was shared on Facebook and I couldn’t track down the original creator…but I really love it! I printed it out and framed it on my desk.  Maybe you need to hear it too!


  1. Thank you so much, this is just what I needed to read right now! I am going back teaching at school all my groups in a few days (and no masks at the moment here in The Netherlands, mixed feelings about it) and considering using digital notebooks. I am so glad that things are looking better in a few days and loved how you shared your feelings and moments teaching these days. ¡Muchas gracias y ánimo!


  2. Sorry I wanted to ask you, sorry to bother you, what do you use to record your classes, your iphone? thank you El miércoles, 19 de agosto de 2020 11:15:40 p. m. CDT, Loading up my little darlings with Comprehensible Input escribió: #yiv4538824042 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4538824042 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4538824042 a.yiv4538824042primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4538824042 a.yiv4538824042primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4538824042 a.yiv4538824042primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4538824042 a.yiv4538824042primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E !important;color:#fff !important;}#yiv4538824042 | Señora Chase posted: “Goodness, I feel like I have so much to catch you up on!I just wrapped up Day 3 of Hybrid Teaching and I’m feeling pretty good about it (today!). I was so nervous to go back to school, nervous about getting sick, nervous about the mask situation, nervou” | |


    • Oh good!! That was my intention with the post. I was so worried about all the things that would be different, but there are so many more things that we’ve always done that we can do, pandemic or not!

      And the biggest benefit- I think kids have this new appreciation for school. Absence made the heart grow fonder!!


  3. My daughters are urging me to start using Chiques, Elles, Amigues, etc in support of students who use non-binary subject pronouns. I’m not sure yet, but I do have a transgender student, and want to start being thoughtful about her. How have you handled this? Or do you know about what other teachers are doing?



    • Hey Ben, Thanks for your comment… I have been thinking about it all day long. Here’s what I would do- I would just talk to the kids as a whole in the regular, standard amigos/Chicos/ estudiantes. I would talk to the transgender student privately, explain that in Spanish we either use the masculine or feminine endings for adjectives, and ask the student which they would prefer, and go with that. I’d also ask the student if they’d like you to ask the class to talk to her using her preferred ending, or if she’d prefer you not mention it to the other students. I don’t know if that’s the right answer… But that’s my answer.


  4. Would you be willing to share your “Mascarilla, Qué Bonita” sign that’s hanging on your board? It’s super cute! 🙂


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