I hope you are enjoying your winter break! These past two weeks, I have been taking part of the free PD online called DitchSummit put on by Matt Miller. He convened some awesome educators to talk about a variety of topics. Even though it is for all educators, there are some great takeaways for foreign language teachers in particular. I appreciate learning how others plan on applying these ideas to their own classes. Here are some of my favorite takeaways and ways to apply them to your classroom:
- The first presentation featured Tanya Avrith and Holly Clark. They mentioned having students log into Socrative, and they can post something upon entering the classroom. That would be a great way to start a weekend chat on Monday. It would give some students time to think about what they could discuss- and you can make sure that you honor all students by discussing what they wrote.
- In day two, Kim Strobel discussed the importance of happiness of teachers. I believe that this is essential for all teachers to hear. She also mentioned the importance of brain breaks. I have done a good job of incorporating more brain breaks in my level 1, but I don’t use them in level 5 as much. When I did, they really enjoyed it, so this session will be my push to incorporate even more.
- I mentioned in my past Brillante Viernes post that I really liked the website Retrieval Practice by Pooja Agarwal. One way to help target vocabulary stick more is that I plan on having students discuss older stories from time to time that we tell in class. That will continue to help them recall facts and any target vocabulary. I also like having students brainstorm as many words from different themes that they can remember then comparing their lists. I plan on doing this the first day back. This was reinforced by much of the studies that Pooja has researched. Finally, she mentioned that it is best for students to write down whatever they can remember after they have closed a book without using notes. I plan on incorporating this strategy with upcoming class novels.
- Eric Curts mentioned creating an Excel sheet to keep track of characters in novels. Again, this would be great to do in small groups with a Google Sheets, so they can collaborate together. I have also enjoyed exploring his blog- and I have already added on some of these Google Chrome extensions.
- Sarah Thomas was the next day- and she is SO awesome! She is also a DC Metro native, and I always see her at EdCamps! She discusses the importance of Twitter. I completely agree with all of her points, and you should listen to her talk- then join up!
- I liked Jon Corippo’s idea about putting up a picture and having students generate a list. Then, these are the words that they have to use in their writing. This minimizes teacher prep, and it stays novel for the students because you are using a different picture each time.
- I am intrigued by Michael Matera’s gamification of his classroom. I want to pick up his book to read more about mini games. However, I believe that games such as the grid game keep all students engaged because they never knock any team completely out. I want to continue to learn more about how to apply some of his ideas.
- Finally, I am excited to think more about genius hour (like Don Wettrick’s session) with my students this trimester. My Latin teacher friend did a similar project, and the outcome was incredible! I will write more out when I decide how I will flesh this out in my own class.
Now- you still have a chance to watch all of these videos and gather your own takeaways! But they are only around until December 31st! I suggest that you start watching now! If you have, share in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter your takeaways and how you want to apply these to the foreign language classroom.