A letter to my Spanish students 3/31/20

Dear Students,

Confused by remote learning? Uncertain? Anxious? Worried? Stressed? Unclear what next week will bring? For many of us Churchill faculty, the answer to all these is yes. I am guessing that many of you are experiencing this as well. We are all in this together. Your faculty and schools have your back. Here are some ways to better navigate the weeks ahead as schools across the nation move instruction online.

What does this mean for you? Learning online can be challenging in general and especially if it is new to you, but there are positives and many strategies and resources to help you learn well online. Instructors will vary in how they approach “remote teaching,” our term for delivering classes over the web. For some of you, classes will not be limited to set times of the day or week. Many classes will change format so that you can access the lectures of materials more on your schedule. You may be stressed because not all your remote classes will be the same and you will have to navigate the differences. Teachers know that and like clarity and certainty too, so whether we meet at a fixed (synchronous) or flexible (asynchronous) time, your teachers will work to make sure meetings times, assignments, and expectations are clear. You will know exactly what happens when, just like in your face-to-courses. If you are unsure, contact your teacher immediately.

Classes may also change so that the format of tests and assignments varies. If your class would have had a lot of multiple-choice exams, it may have more discussion boards and short essay assignments that give you better (and less stressful) ways  interact with the material and show what you know. Going remote may also allow you even more interaction with your classmates. That’s because a course on a learning management system (LMS), such as Canvas or Google Classroom, has many technological bells and whistles to give you more ways to learn that an in-person lecture does.

There may be delays. While many of you have not taken online classes, many teachers have not taught online either. This makes remote learning even tougher. The good news is, I have taught online classes before!  Also, our commitment to your education is motivating us to hustle and get our courses online even if we have never taught online before. Even with very hard work, going online still takes time. What teachers are being asked to do on short notice is unique. Teaching remotely is a safety feature to reduce exposure; it is the easiest way to continue to educate without shutting down and delaying your graduation. Teaching remotely is not the same as teaching an online class. Remote teaching is an instant response to an emergent health crisis and is being set up quickly.  In contrast, online teaching involves the same planning, energy, and investment that goes into teaching in person, and both use evidence-based teaching. While we are using the many best practices for online teaching to guide your remote learning, be prepared for a lot of trial and error.

If you do not hear back from your instructor about an upcoming class or they have not responded to your email(s), be patient. Give your teachers some leeway. We are trying hard to get up to speed and just need some time. We want to do the best job for you that we can, and this is not easy right now. We’ll be cutting you some slack in adjusting to this situation as well.

How can you best prepare? GET TECHY. If you have never taken a class online before, take the time to get familiar with how it works. All schools are creating resources for you. Here are two great ones from Oregon State: Learning Online and Keep Learning. These will give you basic technology savviness—and some great tips for learning online as well. Tech savvy, after all, isn’t everything.

When courses are all online, a lot more of the responsibility is in YOUR HANDS. You have to make sure you find the time to log in for each of your courses. You now have readings, assignments, and discussions for multiple courses with no in-person time when the instructor will remind you of what is due when. PLAN WELL. Create a schedule for the next few weeks, blocking out when you will work on which class. Yes, this is a good thing to do in general, but now it becomes a critical need to stay sane and on top of it all.

One very important reminder: TAKE NOTES. While 98 percent of students take notes while in face-to-face classes, few take notes in online classes. If all your classes are online, you may think you have a lot of extra time or that you can take a break from note-taking. Bad idea. Even if your remote teaching instructor does not do synchronous lectures, take notes on the recorded lectures and your reading assignments. Notes keep you focused and help you learn.

ATTEND to your mental and physical health. By now you know to keep your distance, wash your hands often, and not touch your face, but social distancing is a poor choice of term. Keep physical distance but play UP your social ties. Talk to, text, and message your friends and family. Keep in touch. Reconnect. Social support is one of the biggest psychological predictors of health. If you need information or emotional support, prioritize getting it. Make special time for friends and ensure you get physical activity. This is also the time to sleep more. Eating well, sleeping more, and talking to friends are all factors that will make your body stronger at fending off infection and speed up your recovery if you do get sick.

REACH OUT if you need help. Key services from the district, such as Counseling and Mental Health Services are working to make sure they can deliver their services remotely as well. They can be your first stop for support as you navigate this new experience. These offices will have many things available, just in different formats.

I absolutely adore teaching in person, and I know many of you love going to a physical class and interacting with your classmates in real life. The energy that arises from the learning process is palpable. Teaching online can have a lot of that too. Many students do as well in well-designed online classes as they do in person—sometimes better. That is good to know. I have taught online and loved it. Students learned. It was still a hard transition the first time. And I had a lot of time to make it. Regular online teaching is not the same as remote teaching, but we both should be open to doing things in new ways. You can still learn well, but you’ll have to change your expectations.

The faculty and staff at Churchill know how stressful this can be for you. Do not hesitate to reach out to us. Together we will punch through this pandemic.


Sra. Alicia

Spring Update, March 28, 2020 – May We …

“May we have the wisdom to use our knowledge

To help, to heal, to calm fears.

May we use our Strengths

To remain physically isolated

But relationally connected.

May we be creative

Finding and exploring new healthy activities

That energize, calm, and balance our lives.

May we practice generosity

Not siloing ourselves emotionally

Nor hoarding physical items

But maintaining a spirit of help and abundance. 

May we devote time and presence

Through screens and social media

To those that may be feeling most alone.

May we practice gratitude daily

Naming what we are thankful for,

Say it, share it, sing it out each day.

Even in the midst of our difficulty, challenges, and burdens

May we be open to growth.

May we share our own resources

To those in financial, emotional, physical, or spiritual need.

May WE ask for help when WE need it.

May our medical and mental health community

Receive the resources they need to

Have fortitude during this time. 

May the system dreamers find new and creative ways to reach those most in need.

As we draw back toward home, family, tribe, and nation

May we be reminded, in our spirit, that all are relatives on this earth.

May we be reminded, in our hearts that no matter where this virus hits, It is not Them, but Us.”


Mark LoMurray, Founder of Sources of Strength




Something to know …

Just sayin’!

Take good care of yourself!  #stayhome  #flattenthecurve

Sra. Alicia

No Online Classes as of 3/19/20

May you live in interesting times …

It’s both a blessing and perhaps not to live in interesting times, right?  So, I write this on a sunny Thursday afternoon.  My Winter Term grades are posted up in Parent and Student Vue, I am drinking hot tea whilst looking out at the tons and tons and tons of weeds in my back yard, and I am hoping that, as the days unfold, we will all be able to find some peace and hear some positive updates from scientists, trained specialists, and from our conscientious leaders.  In the meantime, I, like you, am trying to err on the side of sensible caution, and to keep myself and my community healthy and supportive.  This, too, shall pass.  It’s just we all, planet wide, get to experience this new thing together.  So, with much respect and in the spirit of keeping a positive outlook, let’s all just … keep calm.


Why Learning Another Language Is So Important – article

Why learning another language can change your life

A second language can open up new doors.

By Eileen Abbott


  • Many successful people in history spoke multiple languages.
  • Other languages are crucial assets in business and diplomacy.
  • “There are so many benefits to language learning that go beyond the purely linguistic,” says one expert.

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is known for being a polyglot.

The famed scientist Nikola Tesla also electrified others by his fluency in several languages.

Multiple language skills helped actress Audrey Hepburn connect with others across the globe as a Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. She liked to say, “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

Learning a second language can help achieve that.

Bonjour! Hello! ¡Hola!…You’d have to learn an estimated 6,500 greetings to cover all the languages in today’s world (from the most widely spoken Chinese with a reported billion-plus speakers, to the rare, endangered languages reported by UNESCO spoken only by a handful of people.

But even if you know just one additional language other than your own, it’s a crucial asset, especially in today’s global economy; technology such as international video conferencing can bring overseas clients into your office. But experts say, can you really connect and close the deal if you can’t speak their language?

Nearly one in four U.S. employers surveyed acknowledged losing or being unable to pursue a business opportunity over the singular lack of foreign language skills,” according to a recent report by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. “Those unable to fill this need may find themselves falling behind in the global market,” states the group.

Connecting with others is why Virginia Commonwealth University’s director of the School of World Studies, Mark Wood, urges students to acquire a second language. “It opens the door to understanding and provides the sine-qua-non for establishing relations of mutual concern and collaboration,” he says. “Learning a second language is an expression of one’s commitment to the equality and humanity of others. In a world in which governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations conduct their affairs in diverse languages and cultures, the employment market is global, and migration from one region to another is increasingly the norm, the ability to communicate in more than one language is vital to empowering our students to do well in all aspects of 21st century life.”

University of Virginia graduate Mingi Lee, who speaks Korean, Spanish and English, agrees. “Professionally, knowing a second language allows me to communicate with people in order to prevent miscommunication and to allow people of different cultures to interact with each other cordially,” Lee says.

Perhaps a best example where people of many languages thrive together is at the vibrant Speak! located in Charlottesville, Va., near UVA. Founded by Christina Ball, who holds a doctorate in Italian from Yale University, this 15-year-old language and culture learning center offers customized language programs in 22 languages for personal and professional enrichment, as well as an online English program to support the communicative needs of international students and professionals working in the U.S. Ball tells Changing America a main reason she created Speak! was “to help build bridges between cultures and nurture empathy and understanding between individuals with different histories, perspectives and challenges.”

“Cultural awareness is more necessary now than ever, in a time when we need to build more bridges than walls, more empathy than hate,” she says.

Ball adds, “There are so many benefits to language learning that go beyond the purely linguistic. The ability to simply translate is not as important, when it comes to human relationships, as making an effort to understand another person’s language and culture. Even just learning how to greet people in a foreign country with the appropriate phrase, gesture, expression speaks volumes.”

Marc Hagen of Charlottesville, who speaks Dutch, agrees. “When you do this and have some knowledge of language of a country, you broaden your appreciation for that country, and in turn, the world. You are more easily accepted, and people are more open when you speak their language. It shows a level of interest and immediately, greater connection.”

Dawn Gaither, a former lawyer turned English language coach, has experienced this firsthand. “When I order an Aperol Spritz at a local cafe in Cannaregio in Italian, I want my server to think, ‘Oh she knows she’s in Italy; she knows we speak Italian here, and she took the time to learn about us and to be like us, so she is us!’ And when that moment happens, it’s a beautiful thing,” says Gaither.

“Professionally, learning another language means I’ve got loads of empathy for my students,” Gaither adds. “Learning a language while teaching a language puts you right there on the ground with your student. I love when my students breathe a sigh of relief when they discover that I’m a language learner, too.”

“A world filled with multi-language speakers is a much better world,” she believes.

Jessica Marroquín, a doctoral candidate at UVA, adds, “Foreign language learning is fundamental to the personal and professional development of global citizenship.” She was raised bilingual in Spanish and English. She was born in Ohio and grew up in Mexico, raised biculturally by an American mother and Mexican father.

“As a teacher of Spanish, I believe language is the path to building truly cross-cultural, deep, and meaningful relationships,” she adds. “Teaching a language means learning about and incorporating culture, history, society, politics and belief systems in our daily lives. Second language instruction does not, and should not, occur within a vacuum, but be embedded with both cultural curricula and skill-building.”

“Learning a new language is like adding a color, and a beautiful color to the spectrum of colors that exist in the universe,” says retired University of Virginia Professor of Phoniatrics Aliaa Khidr, who now teaches Arabic at Speak! Learning a new language, she believes, is “a door to a new culture and many new blessings.”

In addition, research studies have confirmed the benefits of learning a second language to improving brain development — no matter what age you start. It’s also especially helpful in boosting cognitive development in babies and young children.

The renowned scientist Nikola Tesla said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Although he may have been referring to physics, perhaps this can also apply to the good energy that may result when people connect through language; for Tesla, who is reported to have been fluent in eight languages, has also stated, “..we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them…. each of us is only part of a whole.” 

Published on Jan 09, 2020



Mid-Term Grades/Las Notas

Dear Parents and Students,

By the end of this weekend, I will have posted mid-term grades to ParentVue and StudentVue. These are mid-Term grades only!  If you and your student are not happy with what the grade is, please know that there are six weeks left to improve it.  Remember, my office hours for students are every day after school and by appointment.  Please read the Syllabus for details.

Estimados  Padres y Alumnos,

Por este domingo, el 2 de febrero, habré puesto las notas de mid-term en ParentVue y StudentVue! Éstas son no más las notas de mid-term, es decir que, si no estén contentos con la nota, quedan 6 semanas más para mejorarla.  Hay que recordar que mis horas de oficina son cada día después de la escuela, lunes a jueves, y viernes, los alumnos pueden hacer una cita conmigo.  También, favor de leer el Syllabus para más detalles.


Sra. Alicia

FlipGrid is here in Spanish 3!!



Spanish 3a students were introduced to FlipGrid, during their first week of class this week.  Students completed a “Video de Introducción”, in which they introduced themselves to their classmates and answered some basic questions.  When surveyed, students responded with positive comments, in general.  I want to thank everyone for being SUPER patient with each other, me, and the new technology!  We will be using it again throughout the term, in a variety of applications.  In general, I  am súper emocionada about my Spanish 3 students!  You all are working hard and supporting each other!  ¡Bien hecho!  We will be having a great term, I think!

¡Qué tengan un buen fin de!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

But seriously.  I DO enjoy the snow!  Be sure to check the blog for important class information, especially in our hybrid-like Spanish 3a course this coming Winter Term!

Hasta pronto!

Welcome Back! ¡Bienvenidos!

Hola!  Welcome Back to school!  Welcome to Churchill!  It’s SOOO lovely to have started the year withOUT all that smoke and heat from the last school years!  I am glad to be your teacher/your student’s teacher and hope that our school year together is a positive one.

PLEASE, PLEASE … if you feel lost or confused or anxious about the class in any way, come see me ASAP (as soon as possible) to get help!!  ¡Mi Clase es Su Clase!


Hi!  ¡Bienvenidos a Churchill y al nuevo año escolar!  ¡Estoy re-contenta de haber empezado en septiembre SIN el humo de los fuegos silvestres que hemos tenido el año anterior!  También estoy alegre de ser la maestra de su hijo o hija y espero que este año sea un año positivo.

POR FAVOR … si tu (el estudiante) tienes unas preguntas de algo, FAVOR DE preguntarme tpcsp (tan pronto como sea posible).  También, a los padres.  Si Uds. tienen preguntas, favor de preguntarme.  🙂

My class is your class!