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Reflections from NECTFL: Part I- This Week

reflections from nectfl part i

This was my favorite NECTFL ever!  Granted I have only been to one other one before- but it was still my favorite!  I was able to connect with many more language teachers than before, Michelle Walpole was pretty much my conference buddy (and I could count on her to know where to go if I hadn’t had a chance to decide yet) and I learned so much. (Check out Michelle’s take aways!)  Part of this was due to my decision to attend a workshop.  I am not sure why I have held out for so long, but really, I believe that a workshop is one of the few ways to change your teaching practices.  Many of the sessions gave me great ideas to incorporate this week or this year, but Rebecca and Catherine’s workshop really gave me a lot of food for thought.  I was tweeting so much that I cannot summarize my takeaways in one post (or two for that matter!)  I will break it down into- ideas that I want to implement this week, ideas to implement this year and food for thought for following years.  If you want some quick ideas for this week, I loved:

  • Rebecca Blouwolff mentioned including sorting tasks as pre authentic resource material.  She said that students typically don’t know category words and this can help them- and help them with circumlocution.  Samara mentioned something similar and a nice extension activity.  After students sort their words into categories, then they can write their categories on the board all around your room.  Students then get up and re-categorize the words.  I love the activity around this simple idea.
  • I also learned a lot of new techniques to help scaffold interpersonal conversations.  Rebecca shared a list of interpersonal conversation starters during her presentation.  Katrina Griffin also mentioned how she provides these for students during interpersonal conversations.  This would help both before and during an interpersonal conversation.
  • Katrina also mentioned an activity that she does before the interpersonal conversation which was a silent debate.  Students (or the teacher) can think of a question ahead of time and students write their thoughts down and pass them back and forth.  They can use the interpersonal conversation starters as a list to help them.  Then, students feel more prepared for interpersonal conversations.
  • Another fun tip that Anna Burkett mentioned was to search for any term that you want to find first in Word Reference and check out the terms in different countries.  Then when you are searching for an infographic use that specific term to broaden your search to different countries.  BAM!  Such a small change, but it is impactful!
  • Another easy authentic resource suggestion that Katrina gave was to give students an authentic resource and have them think of a color, image and symbol to represent the article.  She has mentioned this before (and I think I blogged about it before!) but I was glad to hear it again and want to try to implement it.
  • A fellow Marylander Jim Ventosa presented on ScribbleStories.  While I have done a version of them before with Kara Jacobs and songs, he added a few new steps that I liked!  After he has the drawings on the board, he will have a student or two come up and he will narrate the story again.  That student has to point to what he is talking about in the drawing.  Then, he will start to retell the story but pause to have students fill in details.  Finally, he will have the students retell the story based on the drawings.  He also showed me how to just change my drawings by including eyebrows- so now I am pretty much like Picasso… during his cubism phase…
  • Finally, while I am going to delve into my colleague’s presentation more- one of the easier ideas to implement with any picture is to zoom in on three different sections of a painting.  Break students up into two groups and each group looks at and describes their picture.  Then after that, they will describe their section and look at the third section as a whole class.  I love this way to focus on details and will try it soon with Calaca Alegre.

Whew!  Ok- so those are my immediate takeaways!  What were yours?  Stay tuned for Part II and III!

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