Season 3, Episode 7: Promoting equity in the classroom with Kia London

IMG_8281Welcome to Inspired Proficiency and thank you for joining us for episode 7 of season 3. As always, please tweet any takeaways and inspirations to #inspiredproficiency.

Download the episode here: or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts here or find it wherever you listen to podcasts!

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Congrats to Caitlin Frantz for winning the last episode giveaway from A.C. Quintero!

This awesome podcast will be coming back in the fall for a fourth season and Wayside Publishing is going to be the presenting sponsor. Want to be a sponsor for the next season of Inspired Proficiency or know a company that might be interested? Email Ashley at Contributions can also be made by listeners via If you have an idea for a topic for season 4 be sure to tweet Ashley on Twitter @profeashley.

On this episode Ashley chats with Kia London. The variety segment offers a few game ideas to add fun at this time of the school year when energy levels from all of us might be low. Ashley is also offering her workshops in Tyngsboro, MA this summer and details are on her website here.


Kia London teaches middle school Spanish to grades 6-8 (Novice level) in Northwest Suburb of Chicago, IL. In the past she has also taught high school Spanish grades 9-12 as well as elementary learners. In her free time she is also writing related to faith and encouragement in people’s lives.

On her Twitter header there is a picture of a motto that says “Learning Language is a Journey” and she tells us more about why she feels that way. Learning a language involves learning about culture and as you’re learning it never stops. She’s always reading and looking for new things to give the kids to help them continue on their journey as she continues on hers. She talks about leaving your comfort zone and following those steps to move towards learning more and more. This learning does not occur overnight. She is modeling this with herself so that her students can see her journey goes along with their journey.

Her current sixth graders take Spanish in an exploratory format to see if they are interested in continuing Spanish. Seventh and eighth graders stay in the class as a two year commitment. She currently works on using comprehensible input (CI) and using interactive learning and stories to push them at the next level. She likes to use a lot of group work in her classes and encourages students to be discussing what they’re learning in Spanish in those groups.

Incorporating Student Interest into Our Classes

  • We want to establish relationships with students so it becomes important to build those.
    • Students have to want to be in the room in order to learn the content.
    • She starts the year with a survey about cultural heritage, interests, other languages you speak, learning, styles, etc… She revisits those surveys to drive student interest by putting whatever she can from those surveys into the lesson plans.
      • We have the power and ability to use these personal facts to drive the skills we need to build.

Student Culture in the Classroom

  • A diverse group of students lends itself to incorporating students’ cultures into school topics.
    • She uses the example of a student who went to Poland during a vacation and then she could build this whole lesson and discussion around asking students what this student said about Poland all in Spanish.
  • Kia also mentioned talking about Black History Month and giving students that opportunity to share they know what that is in the target language and it allows students to feel seen if that is their culture when time is taken to talk about it.

Equity in the Classroom

  • #equity is part of Kia’s Twitter Bio
  • She wants their to be equal opportunity and fairness in the classroom.
  • There are places in the country where not every student has the same opportunity and it can be based on geography or income but she does not want that to be a reason students learn differently.
  • She learned this lesson one of her first years of teaching because the students in her room felt it was not important to learn about other cultures or fairness because it did not apply to them or their country. She wanted to show the that it did happen where they were from and reached out for help in her administration to help her students see how in different places different things can occur than where they live. She found her entry point by using the historical significance of the African Diaspora to show how dispersed people can become in areas.
  • She tries to help her students become enlightened with topics so there is equity within the classroom.
  • Specifically for students of color she believes that educators should make sure that students see themselves within the curriculum. She recommends showing famous and important people in the target culture as an entry point for students of all cultures. Use their pictures with adjectives or in picture talk. Make sure all students from all backgrounds are represented.
  • Beyond pictures there are movies, music, pop culture, and many other ways to find an entry point into the target culture through the lens of making sure all students are represented.
  • To help meet students where they’re at and reach THAT student who needs to be reached, go back to the relationship. Find a way to check in with that kid and get to know them to build that relationship and try to find some common ground.

Variety Segment:

Here are some fun game ideas to help continue to build community within the classroom and lower that affective filter while using language in an authentic way. Ashley is always happy to share these games but it’s so much more fun to share them in person so considering heading to a workshop she’s running this summer.

  1. Sword Fighting
    1. For fun, pool noodles, rules especially no hitting the head
    2. They have an area to stay in and they have to get points by hitting each other’s knees.
    3. Play brain break style or bracket/tournament style.
    4. Use the Target Language to talk about each round!
      1. Who won?
      2. Who was more aggressive?
      3. How many points?
  2. Switch places and pool noodles.
    1. Imagine we’re standing facing each other with pool noodles.
    2. Then switch places and pool noodles without touching the floor and they earn points.
    3. Then they back up further apart and keep going
  3. Improv
    1. Pile of pool noodles in the class.
    2. Teacher calls out random thing for students to make and they have to work together in the TL and create it with the noodles and their bodies.
    3. Houses? Helicopter? Boat? Very exciting and imaginative!
  4. Hockey Game
    1. Created goals and played 3 on 3.
    2. Pool noodles were hockey sticks and used ball pit balls to try and score goals.
    3. Fun as tournament style so all can play and the game is cheered for in TL and can be narrated in TL. They forget they’re speaking the TL when they become so focused on the activity.
  5. Triangle Tag
    1. Groups of 4, 3 hold hands and form a triangle.
    2. 1 in the group of 3 is the mouse and the 4th player is the cat. The triangle has to move around and protect the mouse from the cat who wants to tag the cat.
    3. Needs some space to move around. Helpful to get the energy pumping early in the morning or with a low energy class.
  6. Capture the Flag
    1. Spend a good chunk of class discussing the rules and explaining the game in the TL.
    2. The last part of class is spent playing and they have heard the language they need to use from earlier in class.
    3. Great to use what happened in games to also use for discussion.
    4. Talking about it beforehand and doing the work in class leads to a reward with the actual game at the end.
  7. Kickball and other PE games can be used the same way as Capture the Flag, Knockout, Horse, etc…
  8. School Wide Scavenger Hunt
    1. Google form to all the teachers in the school of who is interested in helping out
    2. Create the SH from those ideas and input from teachers
      1. Get their nails painted by a teacher
      2. Observe another teacher tattoo and describe it
      3. Which picture is being described in so and so’s office?
    3. Groups of 4 let loose in the school to interact and look for the items
    4. Spies throughout the school are listening for English and email the teacher who is using English
    5. Lot of planning but a great community builder within the whole school and great promotion of Spanish in the REAL world

Resources and links mentioned on the show:


Kia London on Twitter @MaestraLondon

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  • Tina Hargaden and CI Liftoff
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  • World Language Classroom
  • Puentes books from A.C. Quintero & Jennifer Degenhardt

1 thought on “Season 3, Episode 7: Promoting equity in the classroom with Kia London

  1. Pingback: Beyond Black History Month in Spanish Class: Steps to Greater Equity - Secondary Spanish Space

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