Season 5, Episode 5: Big Experiences for our Learners with Glenda DeHoyos

Welcome to Inspired Proficiency and thank you for joining us for episode 5 of season 5. As always, please tweet any takeaways and inspirations to #inspiredproficiency. Don’t forget that Ashley and her podcasts are also on Facebook in the group “Inspired Proficiency Teacher Collaboration” with lots of great ideas for the classroom.

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

Today’s episode:

This episode was recorded during the distance learning period during the closures of COVID-19. Ashley begins the episode talking about how her school is focusing their distance learning and hopes that you can get some ideas from their work. 

  1. Students complete no more than 2.5 hours of work per day. Usually works out to no more than one hour a week of a subject.
  2. Students are assessed as pass/fail.
  3. All work is shared at the beginning of the week so they can see it all right away but it’s paced out for the week. This offers great flexibility for the families who need to share resources.
  4. Strengthen skills and recycle content, no new material.
  5. Teachers have office hours but no required live classes. They can offer option live classes, record them, and add them to Google Classroom after for all students to see who couldn’t make the time.


Ashley is proud of her administration for being very thoughtful in what they have provided. It’s not homeschooling per say but it’s something for the students during this crisis that is also supportive and adaptable for families in all situations. It’s also engaging but not overwhelming. Ashley advocates for you to be the voice for your students and yourself. If your administration is demanding too much or too much of students, speak up and let them know that it’s not what is best for students. Advocate, advocate, advocate. Abnormal times mean different expectations for all.


Ashley has modified her expectations for her students. They cannot grow in proficiency the same way they did in the classroom for hours of target language comprehensible input.  That’s OK! She does hope they don’t regress too much and keep a little part of the language brain alive and ready for the next time to go back to school. She’s including a lot of videos with input, vocabulary, non complicated topics, not a lot at the level above where they are.

Ashley’s slideshows from Weeks 1 and 2 of Distance Learning.

This season’s podcast!

Ashley did an amazing job organizing this season and pre-recording a bunch of interviews (so says Emily the show note writer) but now they are not as relevant as they would have been without a school closure. Ashley has some big decisions to make. Does she do new panels? Does she stick with the original plan? There are five more episodes after this one. She wants to blend the old with the new related to distance learning. Email or tweet her what you think! or @profeashley on Twitter. What do you want to hear about? What do you want to talk about?

Today’s Interview:

Today’s guest is Glenda De Hoyos and they discuss her ACTFL presentation of Big Experiences for Little Learners, but her information is applicable to ALL learners. It was recorded pre-COVID but it also applies to some aspects of distance learning. Glenda is a super fan of the podcast and is so excited to be on today! Glenda is from Puerto Rico and teaches Spanish in Virginia in levels preschool to grade 2 in a preschool to grade 8 school. In Puerto Rico she taught English in second grade and was also the school librarian for 2 years.  Her school is closed now for COVID and they will be doing online learning until the end of the school year. 

Glenda mentioned a book that she recently read and like a lot relating to grief and how a lot of us are feeling during these COVID closure times. It’s called Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb.  We are all grieving this unprecedented time and we really need to come to terms with what’s happening and start accepting what is.

Big Experiences

  • Slideshow from ACTFL 2019
  • Glenda had trouble at first finding target resources for students of such a young age when it came to world language.
  • Frustrated with her lack of resources, she challenged herself to tell others what is working for her and it helped her build relationships with others to share materials.
  • A lot of people have the opinion that 3, 4, and 5 year olds are not that big of a deal when it comes to learning BUT it is a big learning experience when you are 3, 4, and 5.
  • Glenda also wanted to share what she loves about teaching and one of those things that kept coming up was the word JOY. So she brainstormed a lot of more words and what kind of experiences she wants to offer in her classroom and what’s already going on. She wanted to share her passion for helping students to love learning.
  • The goal is not always proficiency in the language you teach, it’s how we can spark interest in something, anything, to help students find the joy in learning.
  • Why are we spending so much time looking for the PERFECT resources, when we are ALREADY the perfect resource for our students.
    • Plan play purposefully
    • Relevant repetitions and routines
    • Ignite imagination
    • More music and more movement
    • Age appropriate resources
    • Reliable relationships result in risk taking 
    • Yes to technology
  • Plan play purposefully (for proficiency) 
    • She recommends this book Let the Children Play
    • Collaborate with their other teachers to see what games they already know how to play so you can stay in the target language to explain directions and relate it back to how they normally play somewhere else
    • Young children love repetition and playing games over and over
    • Keep it simple and reuse it and recycle it
    • She recommends listening to an old episode about minimalism
    • Play that game with different levels of vocabulary but with all of your grades that you teach
  • Relevant repetitions and routines
    • Repetition is not always engaging, need to find a new way to maintain interest and novelty
    • This repetition always needs to be relevant and necessary. 
    • Don’t have them repeat what they already know, make it meaningful
    • Repeating patterns, like in mathematics or poetry, make the vocabulary into a pattern for young learners who love patterns and incorporate other this mathematical skill
    • Can be good for more sophisticated rhymes to help with pronunciation
    • Routines are necessary to focus important instructional time in the classroom
    • Routines also help stay in the target language for students to know what their expectations are
  • Ignite imagination
    • Using a story with pictures or screenshots, print them out and tape them to popsicle sticks for puppets while telling the story
    • Help the kids use their imagination with stuffed animals or pictures from books
    • Kids feel more able to take a risk if they are using their imagination
  • More music and more movement
    • Music in itself is its own language that connects us all
    • Key element in learning because of the movement and the language and engagement with memorization
    • Greatest Hits Music in the Early Language Classroom Presentation
      • Songs and videos need to be age appropriate
      • You need to check them from beginning to end in case there’s something inappropriate for kids
      • We need to recognize that all students won’t like the song like you do or some students have sensory processing issues that need to be respected
      • Use it to enjoy it, don’t force the kids to do things they don’t want to
      • Make your enthusiasm as contagious as you can
      • Great for routines and transitions
      • Brain breaks!!!!!!!!
      • Opposite of brain breaks, use it to calm and focus them
      • Great to have a toolkit of songs for all scenarios in the classroom
      • Playlists to share from her Youtube channel
    • Many students will need to sing a whole song to find the right word
    • Teachers can model singing to help students realize they already know the answer to something, its just in a song somewhere 
  • Age appropriate resources
    • Level and age appropriate is SO important
    • Target your audience correctly so you don’t lose them
  • Reliable relationships result in risk taking 
    • You need to build trust so they can try to take a risk safely
    • If they don’t feel safe, they will be UNABLE to take risks with language
    • Positive experiences to build trust
  • Yes to technology
    • Yes to anything that WORKS FOR YOU!!!!!!
    • So many amazing people are sharing now and it is overwhelming so don’t be afraid to focus on just what YOU need
      • The free ideas ARE NOT a to do list for you
      • Also, don’t compare yourself to anyone else
    • It is our responsibility to use it in a positive way to see technology with a purpose
      • It can be a negative detractor sometimes


Game Segment with Sarah Breckley:

Story Bingo

  • Keeps kids engaged when listening
  • Works to check comprehension
  • Start with a story, Youtube video, song, cultural event, etc…. Any kind of story
  • Generate a list of words from the story in the target language or with pictures or English
  • Select a mix of words that can be seen or heard when teacher talks
    • Pre printed blank boards or tables and students write as many words on their own board from the list and then their boards are all unique
    • and type all the words in the box and generate and make a board yourself
    • There’s another option called, and potentially other websites as well
  • Cover every word they hear with your bingo pieces, Sarah uses uncooked lima beans
  • Student yells bingo and shares their covered boxes
  • Great way to review what you’re doing. After you’ve verified a bingo you can pause and go over all the items from the student’s winning board and keeps giving them more repetition and you can dive deeper with those winning vocabulary words on the board
  • Ashley has her kids create skits so she could do this with bingo boards while kids listen to the skits
  • Could also do with music from the classroom


If you try this TWEET ABOUT IT with #inspiredproficiency on Twitter. We want to know how it went! 


Calm Segment with Julie Speno:

Mindfulness, Breathing

  • Invite students to close their eyes
  • Ask them to start visualizing something that you narrate
  • You could work with a lot of vocabulary or keep it simple
  • Narrate something peaceful
    • Start simple
    • Picture the sky
    • It’s blue
    • Soft clouds
    • A cloud is in the shape of a bird
    • The bird is soft
    • The bird flies
    • The bird is crossing the sky
    • Etc…… 
  • Some ideas are calming for large groups of people, not everyone, but many
  • Connecting with nature is a calming scene for many people
  • You could also all look outside, go outside, or look at images of what you want to focus on, especially to start and ALSO helps if you’re using newer vocabulary in the target language
    • Like brain gym and yoga
    • Infinity loop on a piece of paper 
      • You trace with your finger 
      • One side you breathe in and one side you breathe out
    • They have breathing stations in the cafeteria with sand timers so kids can self select calming down and turn the sand timer over and do the breathing loop for 2 minutes
    • You can do this in target language in your classrooms
    • Julie made similar mats in Spanish for her classroom
    • Kids will do this in class when they need to calm down one their own or teacher can send them there when they need to be calm
    • Julie’s mat’s from her TPT store


Has your classroom been calmer from these tips, then TWEET ABOUT IT with #inspiredproficiency on Twitter. We want to know how it went so others can learn as well! 


Inspired Trivia:

Visit Wayside Publishing to answer the trivia questions and enter the prize drawing! Winners announced on Twitter.


Resources and links mentioned on the show:



  • Glenda de Hoyos on Instagram @ilearn_iteach
  • Sarah Breckley on Twitter @SarahBreckley and her blog
  • Julie Speno on Twitter @MundoDePepita and her blog


Season sponsorship brought to you by:


Episode sponsors:

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