failing to fantastic

What One Teacher Did When He Realized His Kids Weren’t Learning

When he started teaching, high school Spanish teacher, Matt Miller had a dirty secret: His students couldn't speak Spanish. He didn't want anyone to know. But he came to a breaking point. Learn what Matt did in a fit of frustration and the incredible results his students achieved.

Matt says teachers shouldn't mindlessly run through the curriculum but should have a method. His method includes less textbook and other types of resources.

Matt tells his secret for getting students really engaged and excited about Spanish or any second language. We also discuss Kristy Cooper‘s mixed methods study, Eliciting Engagement in the High School Classroom, and how these principles explain why Matt seems to engage students so much.

Who is Matt Miller?

Matt Miller@jmattmiller  is a Spanish teacher at Turkey Run High School. He has infused technology and innovative teaching methods in his classes for more than 10 years. Matt is a Google Certified Teacher, PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator and Bammy! Awards nominee. He writes at the Ditch That Textbook blog about using technology and creative ideas in teaching. Pick up Matt's book Ditch that Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom or listen to his show Hooked!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Cynthia Alvarado March 25, 2016 - 1:10 pm

I think language learning is the first place where you should ditch the text book. A book will never teach anyone to speak. The Grammar Translation method was official discredited long ago. We have so many opportunities for students to actually communicate with native speakers, using technology as the tool.

Matt Cornwall April 5, 2016 - 11:20 pm

Facinating Stuff. As A preservice teacher, I am very interested in how to keep my students interested. I remember as a student I had a hard time maintaining my interest in a foreign language. I wish that my teacher had followed some of this advice


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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere