I am coming back today from one of the best ACTFLs that I have attended. It isn’t because I didn’t get a lot of ideas before, but it is truly because I followed Thomas Sauer’s creating your conference path. As I further move into IPAs, I really wanted to get more information about how to continue to refine them. Laura Sexton noted how you start teaching with IPAs, but it takes a few years before you actually get it. Even though there are so many sessions that I wanted to see, this allowed me to focus and I feel that I have a better plan on where I am moving as a teacher instead of just a few cool ideas or tech tools to implement.
Also, I took the time to hang out with some of my langchat people. At the langchat hang out, we all said that there were some sessions that we really wanted to see. I mean Creative Language Class was presenting! But in the end, we all took the time to sit down and connect face to face (and virtually with our fave Wendy!) While it is valuable to hear from others, how many times do I get to really hang out, talk, and connect with some of these people who I have learned so much from on langchat. I also took some time to hang out at the unconference, learned how to use Snapchat and met a fellow Marylander! So as much as we are there for the sessions, we are also there to hang out with teachers because as Thomas stated “there is no other professional rush, then hanging out with teachers.” Since I have been addicted to my Twitter account this whole weekend, I will add #sotrue!
Without further ado, here are my takeaways from the first day. With Creative Language Class, I learned how to make simple changes to incorporate more culture into my lesson plans. They modified a can do statement of “I can name 10 colors” to “I can describe the uniforms of a World Cup game.” With my students, I am guilty of believing that because I use authentic resources, music and videos that I am showing them culture. While there is some truth in that, I could do so much more. In addition on videos, Megan and Kara add a little box for students to say the culture that they observed. They give them topics: food, clothes, education, government etc and students have to describe a piece of culture that they saw in the TL and give an opinion about it. This is such a small adjustment to a video assignment, but it would actually lead to more engagement and learning about the culture.
Also, they shared a way to get students talking. They give the students statements or tweets in the target language. Students can rate with 1 star for they do not agree, 2 stars for they sort of agree and 3 stars for they agree 100%. Then they can discuss with a partner which statements they agree on or do not agree on. I really love this because then students are focusing more on the speaking instead of writing. Here is my Storify for more quotes and slides from the presentation.
One of the next sessions that continued my path was with John Cadena on how to scaffold an authentic resource for multiple levels; however, it really should have been called when I realized that I needed to get so much more use out of my authentic resources and not find 20 for each unit. I loved so many pre-reading strategies that were mentioned. We discussed not using the whole authentic resource each time. You do not have to use the full video or article! (I mentioned Print Friendly again as my favorite was to edit Authentic Resources from web resources!) Also, he said one of my favorite takeaways how preloading information about an authentic resource isn’t cheating! That is what we need to do to be successful with our students.
The first idea was to take out the image from the article or a screenshot of the video that you will be showing. Students can write what they see, what they think will happen/the topic of the authentic resource and what they wonder. You can also show them the title of the resource to help their predictions. This will activate prior knowledge. Then, the first time through the authentic resource students will only be looking to verify their prediction. The next time through, students can answer questions about the text or video.
This also reminds me of my favorite activity from Nancy Doda. You give students true or false statements about the article, then students predict if the statement is true or false before even reading the article. When they read the article the first time, they confirm if their answer is correct. We did this as teachers, and it really increased our engagement. It didn’t really matter if your original answers were right or wrong because you really didn’t have any information to go on… but you really wanted to confirm your answers!
Finally, we learned about trailer sentences. You can cut out main sentences from the video or the article/infographic and show them to students. Then, students can fill in the vocabulary word that you are targeting into the trailer sentence. This helps students understand the main reading when they get to it, and many will recognize the sentence as well. Here is the Storify with more information from the session.
Whew! This was long! Hopefully it will help you solidify and understand some of my takeaways! Feel free to ask me to clarify or give some input as to how you do these things as well.