Who am I?  Mother of three (two boys and a girl), 30 year teacher of Spanish, 15 year director of several handbell choirs, 4 year explorer of web 2.0 tools.  That pretty much sums up my world:  give me Spanish, music, tech and my children and I am happy.

My teaching career has been in both private and public school settings, ranging from 7th grade through seniors, and Exploratory Spanish through Spanish V.  Throughout all of those years my favorite level to teach remains Spanish III.  I am fortunate enough to have 4 sections of that level and one section of Spanish IV.  My current school is James M. Bennett High School in Salisbury, MD.

Not so important, but relevant to my life:  I love cats and intend to get two new kittens this summer.  I’m also the owner of a terribly behaved 14 year old catdog….. a beagle!

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Alvin Toffler

56 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi! I am starting as a Spanish teacher for Spanish 1, 2 and 3 tomorrow at a private high school. They have an outdated curriculum and they told me I can use anything I want. But I’m a bit lost on how to teach all these levels without anything to follow. Any tips, etc would be awesome! Your blog is full of great examples and ideas but I’m overwhelmed on where to start. Any ideas for these three levels on the first week of school to get me started?

    • Wow! Without knowing where you are and what resources are available to you, I simply don’t know how to begin to answer your question. I think I might begin with the curriculum that you have just as a starting reference. Have you taught before? Do you have guides from other districts available to you? Is there new teacher support? If you have specific questions, I’d be happy to try to help you.

      • Thank you! I currently have Expresate. I am two weeks into teaching and I am only using Levels 1 and 2. However, I only have the teacher’s manual and 1 book. So I am having the students write notes and I’m making overheads. Their previous curriculum is Ven Conmigo…I am interested in the new Realidades series though. I am the only Spanish teacher and have no experience. I’ve been searching for a calendar to map out what students should learn for each of these levels but I’m not sure! I suppose any guidance at this point would be amazing! 🙂

      • As soon as I am in school (not sure if we will go tomorrow or not due to flooding from Irene), I’ll look for our “must teach” guidelines for levels I and II for Expresate and e-mail them to you. After you have a chance to look at them, please feel free to ask me additional questions.

  2. I LOVE your site! With your energy, I assumed that you were a 20-something, perky blond Spanish teacher. As a 50-something, I’m happy to see that possibly the best site I’ve found on teaching Spanish is from a veteran teacher.

  3. ¡Mil gracias por compartir su sitio con el mundo! Estoy tan alegre de leer y explorar su información. Me ha ayudado mucho. Enseño español 2 en Wyoming y mis estudiantes les encantan aprender con música, pero me falta hacer una conexión más profundo con la música y mis lecciones. Mis estudiantes siempre quieren más música y con su lista podemos hacer actividades divertidas. ¡Nosotros le agradecemos mucho!

  4. Muchas gracias por compartir tus actividades. Siempre uso tu wiki, pero ayer y hoy no ha sido posible ver nada. Cuando voy a tu pagina solo esta el indice pero no estan las actividades.

  5. ¡Me encanta tu actividad de la pareja ideal con el presente de subjuntivo! Pienso usarla mañana con mi clase de Español 5 y voy a darles la actividad escrita como su evaluación final del presente de subjuntivo. Y sí, de acuerdo, ¡Zachary Jones es fenomenal!

  6. Hola! First of all I love you and your site!! It makes my world such a better place 🙂
    I am hoping to seek your advice. I am currently putting together a plan for an Exit Interview for my grade 11 Spanish class (intermediate) instead of a final exam. So I am wondering if you have any ideas/experience with this. Your thoughts are appreciate!

  7. ¡Hola! Me encantan todas sus ideas y la incorporación de música en sus lecciones. Estoy usando muchas de estas ideas en mi salón. ¿Ustedes en su escuela enseñan español para hispano-hablantes?

  8. Hello Sharon,
    I’m a Spanish teacher in Orange County, New York. I have been following your wonderful work through your website and Pinterest this past year. You’re an amazing teacher! Thank you for your generosity!

    I am currently teaching the subjunctive to my level 4 classes and browsed your site for some ideas. I came across a smartboard game called “Will the Winners Lose?” I just started using a smartboard this year and am not very proficient with it. I was wondering if you have instructions for playing this game. It looks very interesting and I would love to try it with my students. Any help that you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again.


  9. ¡Hola! I stumbled across this blog and I think it is great and also am extremely thankful to have found you. I wondered if you might be able to explain how you use the metas tus trabajos del futuro grid that you posted at the beginning of this month. I read what you said you do but I wondered how you use all the spaces in the grid. If you have a chance to respond I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much!


  10. Hola! Sharon you are the best mentor I could have ever had when I first started teaching 16 years ago. I strive to use technology like you do! Just thought I would say… “I found you!” 🙂
    Love ya!!!

    • Kim,it has been an honor and a privilege to watch you become such an awesome teacher! I only wish we could teach in the same school together…..someday! Thank you so much for the kind words….you know I think the world of you.

  11. Hola Sharon! I also teach Spanish III and IV and wanted to thank you for sharing so many activities. I have been teaching for 22 years and am constantly looking for new ways to inspire my students and also trying to keep up with technology (I just got a twitter account ). El mundo de birch is the first site I check every day! This year I see that your curriculum has changed. How can I access some of the activities that you did in the past ?? I am not sure how to find some of the articles, videos that you did last year or the year before. Gracias por la ayuda

  12. Hola! This website is such a wealth of information. I’m presenting at the Iowa World Language Association Conference regarding using music with beginning Spanish students. I would love to reference this site and your awesome data base to give people additional resources for finding appropriate songs for certain grammar/vocab/themes. Would you give your permission for me to reference your blog and database? If not, I understand. Gracias por considerarlo!

  13. Hello I taught your story about La ropa vocabulary today to my Spanish 2 students, I change it to the present tense because they will not learn the past until the last unit. It was a great success I even had a girl that sayer after the class to thank me for an amazing and fun class. I just wanted to share it with you and thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas and resources. I want to use more stories for this and other units. Do you have any more stories? Thank you for what you do!.


    • Thanks for the kind words, Carina. I’m glad that it worked for you. I have written stories for every unit this year. They are all located on the individual pages for the units on my wikispace. Let me know if you need further help.

  14. Hola, Sra Birch! In the spring of 2000, I was your student teacher 🙂 I really enjoyed learning from you. I taught high school Spanish in Texas for 7 years before starting a family. Three girls later, I am back in MD and tutoring privately. I am going to be checking out your blog often.

  15. Hi, I have recently discovered your blog and I absolutely love your posts! I am a teachers of 10 years myself working on an exciting project for teachers at the moment. I would really appreciate your feedback on our project, your knowledge and experience would be invaluable to us! I Could I send you a quick email and explain more what we do?

  16. Hola Sharon! I’d love to include a quote from you in a round-up post I’m doing for Spanish learners. I could not find your contact information, so if you’re interested in helping, please email me at blog@takelessons.com so we can chat! Thanks! 🙂

  17. Hey Sharon,
    I’ve been reading your blog and I think the content you post is brilliant.
    I’m a language enthusiast myself and along with some friends we’ve started a language app – VocApp. It is a flashcard mobile and website app that provides a number of innovative features, such as creating flashcards from a photo, creating flashcards with your voice, creating flashcards from a text (in just a few seconds you can make a set of words from your favourite song, e.g. vocapp.com/time-pink-floyd-traducida-flashcards-186818).
    I imagine that you must be very busy but if you were interested in testing our app (and possibly writing a short review of it if you want) I could grant you access to our language courses and paid options of our app, so that you can explore it thoroughly.
    Keep up the great work! I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.
    All the best,

      • Hello Sharon, thank you so much for responding. If you could please send me a message at camille@vocapp.com so that I have your e-mail address it would be fantastic. After getting your VocApp login I’ll be able to grant you access to the language courses you wish to explore.

  18. I don’t want to leave your site!!!! I’ve completed two years of teaching and I can’t tell you how often I stop by your blog to get ideas and borrow as many things as possible. I am so incredibly thankful for all your work and all you do! You are such an inspiration and I truly hope to someday be half as good as you are. Mil gracias! Desde Lancaster, PA.

  19. Love your immigration resources. First time teaching this to level 4’s. Used to 85 minute blocks.
    Could you give me a hint on how to do 40 minutes lessons (35 minutes really) with such a wealth of information. Vocabulary? A song in one period? Essential questions another? I feel a little lost.

    • Diane, thank you for the comment. My Spanish IV period is 50 minutes…really about 45. I NEVER spend an entire period on any one thing. The songs are usually worked on over the course of several periods. Same with the essential questions….over many periods. I rarely spend more than 10 minutes on any one thing. Does this help?

  20. I have been reading your blog and using some of your truly amazing resources for the past 2 years. I met with another teacher today who is trying to figure out how to make the switch to CI and I told her about you. I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for helping me to be a better teacher. Thank you for your kind, generous help to all Spanish teachers.

  21. I love your site! Thank you so much for sharing your insight and creativity. I currently teach Spanish III natives and was trying to come up with some essential questions to guide my unit planning. I would love to do a unit on Immigration and was wondering how you introduce and incorporate the essential question into your lessons?

  22. Thank you! You truly do inspirational work, not to mention you are teaching the world to work toward social justice through your students and this blog! I am amazed and inspired. Thank you again for sharing with all of us!

  23. I can’t thank you enough for helping me for the past two years. I would like to request the additional info/packets/downloads etc that you have for METAS Y SUEÑOS

  24. I love to read your blog, it has inspired me to do new things in my classroom.
    You mentioned that you have additional materials, information, etc for the METAS y SUEñOS Unit so I am wondering if you would please share them with me.
    Thank You for everything you post.

  25. Hola! I am a fellow Spanish teacher and absolutely love your blog, I came across an article you wrote about finding someone who had claimed your activities and ideas as their own, I am so sorry that happened to you! I wanted to say that I admire the work that you do and appreciate you putting your materials out for all of us to help inspire and motivate us to make our lessons more comprehensible, engaging and socially motivating. You truly are reaching your own students and students around the world by sharing, and don´t worry, over here you are receiving credit for your work too!

  26. p.s. On a side note, with the heavy topics we cover in teaching Spanish such as immigration, do you have any strategies you use to balance positivity, ourselves, and the reality of some of the sad situations we present to the students?

    • You are very, very correct. It sometimes becomes entirely too much. In the past, I took “break” days where we did something else….music, games, food, or something else light. This year, I found that it was exactly the right balance to do 4 days of “seriousness”, and devote Fridays to FVR and El Internado. I FINALLY took the plunge to use El Internado and it has been a HUGE success.

  27. I am very interested in your art unit. I was having trouble finding your files on your wiki. What grammar do you incorporate with these topics? I have a III/IVH combined class and I really want a full unit of study on ART!

  28. Hi! I found your blog recently in preparing to teach Bianca Nieves. Thank you for the great ideas and activities! In the post about setting the stage for the book you reference a SMART notebook file that you used to introduce the students to Spain and its culture. Would you be able to please send this file to me via email? If so, I would greatly appreciate being able to share it with my students! Thank you again for your awesome ideas and help!

  29. Buenas tardes, Sra. Birch…. I have enjoyed reading about you and your ideas/lessons…WOW after 30+ years how do you do it? I am in my 22nd year of teaching Spanish and I LOVE it, but I am exhausted which is why I find myself perusing Pinterest and Twitter much more often than not. Anyway, I am writing a new Spanish 4 curriculum this summer and I am wondering if you have a Scope and Sequence of what you teach? If so, do you mind sharing? Mil Gracias…xo

    • Hola! Thanks for your kind words! I often say I work harder now than I did in my first years….so you are not alone! Twitter is definitely a great way to find inspiration. My district has not funded curriculum development for more than 15 years, so what I do is very informal. But here is an outline:
      Term 1
      Opening with a current song with story and additional activities (about 4 days)
      La Llorona novel by Katie Baker (There are several posts about this on this blog and I have a pinterest page devoted to it, https://www.pinterest.com/sraslb/ )
      Term 2
      Dia de los muertos/art/Coco
      Frida novel by Kristy Placido
      Term 3
      Civil War in El Salvador
      Vida y Muerte en la MS 13 novel
      Term 4
      Hasta la Sepultura novel by Kristy Placido

      This year I am going to attempt to add a study of Guernica/Picasso, too

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