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Collaborate with me this spring in DC!

Spring Conferences in DC

I wanted to update you on a few conferences that I will be participating in this spring!  My first one will be EdCamp Metro DC in the KIPP-DC Shaw Campus.  If you have never been to an EdCamp, they are for everyone involved in education.  In addition, you decide the topics!  It is also free to attend.  I have been helping to put on EdCamp Metro DC for many years now.  I always take away a few good ideas to implement in my classes.  In addition, I get to network with many other teachers in the area.

The second is the Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Language Spring Immersion day.  I will be presenting on the tech tools for the proficiency classroom.  This is a longer presentation from what I presented about in NECTFL.  Hope you can attend one of these, and we can meet in real life!

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Summer Professional Development: 2017

Summer Professional Development 2017

Last year, I put together a list of professional development ideas for you to do over the summer.  I wanted to create a new list for you to consider attending- especially when I am on a conference high after NECTFL!

  • AATSP has their national conference this year in Chicago from July 6-9.  It is their 99th conference!  I attended this conference in DC, and I enjoyed it and learned a lot from the presenters.
  • NTPRS is back at San Antonio from July 17-21.  I went there many years ago and learned a lot especially from the elementary strand when I was teaching Lower School.  I went back when I was teaching Middle School and Upper School and also learned a ton of information.  You can read all of my notes to see what a valuable conference this was.  If you cannot make it to NTPRS, TPRS Books has workshops all around the country over the summer.
  • iFLT is in Denver from July 11-14.  This has always been on my list to attend.  Laura attended and posted a lot on her blog about this conference.
  • TELL Collab is also an awesome conference in Austin from July 24-26.  It is a participant driven conference.  Here are Amy’s notes on the conference!
  • We had Sara-Elizabeth visit our school, and we learned so much (and switched to more proficiency based teaching).  She has two BaseCamp Musicuentos: June 15-16 in Louisville, Kentucky and July 10-11 in Warwick, Rhode Island.  She will also offer the Brave Little Tailor July 31-August 1 in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • I learned about LILL  (Leadership Initiative for Language Learning) at the ACTFL conference this year, and many people gave it high marks.  It is June 27-29 in Skokie, IL which is close to Chicago.
  • CARLA institutes also have summer programs.  Some are held at the University of Minnesota, but they have some online as well, so you can complete them from any location.
  • AIM Language Learning has a 2.5 day Summer Institute for French, Spanish and Mandarin teachers that will be July 5-7, 2017 in Niagara area, Ontario, Canada.  It looks fascinating!
  • Connecticut Teaching for Proficiency Institute looks phenomenal with Thomas Sauer!  It will be held June 26-27 in Stonington, CT.

Also, there are a lot of amazing non foreign language related professional developments to attend.

  • ISTE (an instructional technology conference) is being held in San Antonio from June 25-28.  This is on my list of conferences that I really want to attend.  Many colleagues have been and enjoyed this conference.  One of my teacher friends posted about her experience last year at ISTE.
  • Also, if you are near Maine, you can go to a conference with Richard of Free Tech 4 Teachers about BYOD.  I learn so much from his blog that I am sure you would get a lot out of a face to face conference.
  • I was just looking at this awesome CUE Rockstar PD in California!  I would sign up today because it looks amazing, and it is in Vista where I had my first teaching job; however, we are on our family vacation that week.  If you sign up, let me know how it is!
  • I have been to an art teacher institute at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va.  I loved it and loved all of that extra time in the museum.  We even got to go behind the scenes and see where they store the art that isn’t on display.  Here are some other art institutes, but I would encourage you to check your local art museum.  The Smithsonian American Art museum has a teaching Humanities through the Arts institute. The NGA has a summer institute on Renaissance art.  Many teachers from my school attended the National Portrait Gallery‘s learning to look institute and learned a lot- one ended up becoming a docent!
  • EdCamps are free and held all throughout the year!  Last year, the department of education in Maryland hosted subject specific edcamps.  I loved the EdCamp Maryland WL, and I met a lot of local teachers which is also fun.
  • I loved Ditch Summit over the winter break.  Check out Matt Miller’s (Ditch That Textbook and former Spanish teacher) list of presentations at the end of his blog posts.  Some may be near you!
  • I just saw these workshops from the EdTech team.  They got really good reviews, and there are locations in many states.

What did I miss?  Message me, and I will add your PD to the list.

Posted in conference

NECTFL Recap Day 2


You can find the first part of my recap here.  Saturday started bright and early!

  • My first session was with ACTFL TOY Katrina Griffin.  She had some easy, quick ideas to incorporate into my classes.  After an interpretive reading activity, she has students create a headline, three summarizing facts, a slogan and a picture or two.  She also will ask questions and have students vote via legos.  I love this for novice learners!  Then she has students create their own infographic.  Infographics do not have to be flashy- you can have students draw their infographic!  Also, she mentioned doing see think wonder with a reading or topic.
  • I watched my colleagues Andrea Martin and Kate Ramella present on Spanish 4 and AP.  I really like that they have a separate cultural rubric when that is used.  They have also used Google Slides to have students collaborate on presentations.  Kate created a slide with each topic and a student’s name to fill out.  Also, I never seem to have the right programs to create a word cloud.  They recommended Tagul which allows you to rank words in importance to make those words bigger.
  • My last presentation on Saturday was by Lori Langer de Ramirez about the proficiency puzzle.  She always gives a lot of food for thought.  One thing that she emphasizes when switching to a proficiency is to constantly say “PROFICIENT” instead of fluent.  This helps administration and parents make the switch.  Also, she talked about the differences between the European model of levels and ours.  This chart helps explain it (especially if you have found something awesome on Pinterest and have NO clue if B2 is appropriate for your students).
  • On a side note, I saw some awesome tweets from others during this presentation!  Here are a few that were my favorites!  Do two truths and a lie about an infographic (and one I did today)!
  • If you don’t follow, Jim Ventosa on Twitter you should!  He has the best sketch notes!  In his notes, a presenter has students poll about an infographic concept then compare the in class poll to the results on the infographic.

Hope you can take something away to use in your class!  I can’t emphasize how wonderful of a weekend it was.

Posted in conference

NECTFL conference recap: day 1

NECTFL Day 1 recap

Whew!  NYC did not make it easy for me to get in and out of via plane this weekend.  I had two delayed flights, but luckily they were direct.  I also got to meet some awesome FL teachers, see some familiar faces and spend time with my family and one of my best friends from studying abroad.  I had not attended a regional conference before, and it was really manageable, and I learned a lot.  I highly recommend this conference!  Also, thank you thank you thank you to everyone who stopped by my table at the techlab!  I was so nervous at first at the thought of having 10 minutes, and I am not sure I took a breath during the first two sessions.  The other ones were better, so I appreciate your patience with me.

Without further babbling, here are some of my favorite ideas and links from NECTFL day one!

  • I started out learning about how to integrate more interpersonal communication with Glennysha Jorado-Moran and Sylvia Guensch.  One thing that they said that really resonated me was how accepting we are of how toddlers talk, but we expect much more accuracy from our students when they are really learning in some of the same ways as first language learners.  This really cemented to me a lot of my feelings about proficiency development.  They also emphasized how to constantly recycle the question words because many times communication fails when students do not understand these words.  Finally, a tweeter mentioned the charades app to help with circumlocution in addition to the heads up app and to practice interpersonal skills.
  • The next session had teachers from the Penn Charter School who made the switch from traditional textbook teaching to a proficiency based curriculum.  The presenters were David Brightbill and Sarah Aguilar-Francis.  They talked about the process when they switched from proficiency.  One of the things that they mentioned was how much we expect from level one when teachers switch from traditional grammar based tests to proficiency based tests.  In this case, I think they mean that we can expect students to get 100% when we teach traditionally.  They can conjugate/memorize all of the correct verbs or vocabulary.  However, we cannot expect this knowledge to transfer when we switch to proficiency.  Just because a student can fill out a verb conjugation chart doesn’t mean that they will always write perfectly or speak perfectly.  To me, this is really important for teachers to realize.  Finally, one of the awesome authentic resources they mentioned for the Spanish house unit is segundamano.
  • My last session of the day was about how to prevent students from relying on online translators by Amanda Robustelli-Price.  There were a lot of good ideas that I had not thought of initially.  One idea is to allow students to use Word Reference and give them a specific number of words that they can look up before an assignment.  I really like that this takes away the ambiguity from an assignment.  As a teacher, I can see students who use online translators excessively; however, students may not see that or realize that they are relying on a translator while their neighbor is only looking up 3-4 words per section.  When I make my expectations clearer, I can help my students improve.  I also like the idea of a pre-writing strategy called list group label.  Finally, many people (including the presenter!) noted that they will provide key words that you want students to use on a writing practice.  This is such an easy and obvious scaffold, but I didn’t think of it.  Yes, they have Quizlet or their vocabulary lists, but many times they will ignore Quizlet and use their go to reference… the online translator!  This will help them not automatically reference the translator.

Here is a picture from my session of presenting!

NECTFL techlab presentation

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ACTFL Takeaways Day 2

ACTFL Takeaways Day 2

On the second day, I started off bright and early listening to Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, Paul Jennerman and Lori Langer De Ramirez.  They talked about what started them on the path to proficiency and what kept them going.  Each talk was phenomenal!  Also, you can see Paul and Lori’s talks on Facebook Live at the Musicuentos Facebook.  Sara-Elizabeth talked about how at times we look at how to keep kids in a language class until the higher levels in foreign language, but how do we keep them wanting to learning and practicing the foreign language?  It is inspiring me to connect students with more Spanish-speakers.  Paul talked about how to help kids along their journey as well.  His favorite quote was that we need to allow students to show what they can do while still allowing them to steer back to what is comfortable for them.  Lori reinforced that we need to find the hook and joy for our students.  Here is my storify tweets from this session.

After this, I met up with the #langchat live tweet up!  As I said in the last post, it is so helpful to see everyone face to face and take some time to talk.  It was interesting to hear different class set ups, and Laura diligently tweeted out some of our live side notes!

My next session was Kicking Back with a Cool IPA.  This was an amazing session, and all of the girls who presented it were so much fun.  Some of my takeaways were to make sure that my IPA isn’t too narrow so students can excel.  I need to think of ways to allow students to go beyond my prompt.  Also they talked about how the IPA should let each kid shine.  Finally, they said that you cannot “cannonball” into an IPA- you cannot teach traditionally and assess with an IPA.  Some of their suggestions include using a daily reading.  Again, I really liked using the idea of asking shorter questions each day and stretching out the authentic resource.  They also suggested using two questions of the day.  I like that this shortens some of my speaking activities to make sure that students are speaking each day.  Here is my storify from this session with some slides, too!

At the end of the day, I hung out at an uncon!  I met a ton of great people, and finally got to see Kara Jacobs in person.  We explored how Noah Geisel uses Snapchat.  He does not actually interact with kids on Snapchat, but he has them use it as a quick photo editor.  He will have kids take a picture on it and write a caption in Spanish.  He will also have students use it as a video editor because they can only record 10 seconds.  If you have kids create a 3 snaps it is a 30 second video and, they will be limited to what you can create, and you don’t have to sit through edits and outtakes at the end of the video.  They can also download the snaps, so they do not have to send it to their friends.  You do not have to interact with your students at all via Snapchat to have them use it in class!  (Side note: My colleague also told me that Snapchat has a QR reader, so you could use it that way too!)

Thank you, thank you to everyone that I got to meet, listen to and be inspired by!  It was by far my favorite ACTFL that I attended!  (Also, I am so happy that it is only a two day work week… that was exhausting!)

Here I have created a list of all of the other blog posts about ACTFL, and I will update them as I see more!

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ACTFL Friday Recap

ACTFL Takeaways from Day 1

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.

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EdCamp Maryland World Languages 2016

Today I was fortunate to participate in EdCamp Maryland World Languages.  It was so nice to meet people who work right by you!  We were also fortunate to hear from Paul Sandrock at the beginning.  Here are some of my takeaways from the event:

  • Paul mentioned initially that we need to be aware that we are preparing students for the world and using the language; we are not preparing students to receive a PhD in linguistics.  That does not mean that we need to disregard everything that we have taught, but we need to refocus it.
  • Also, when we are starting a unit, it is easy to start listing everything, but it can be extremely hard to limit the list.  Be mindful of how many items your students actually need to know.
  • My first session was about tech tools.  Many of the tech tools I use including Quizlet Live, Kahoot, Seesaw and Zaption/EdPuzzle.  One teacher mentioned using EduSync which is an online teacher planner that integrates with Google Calendar.  If you are interested, sign up now!  They will not have a free version after August 1!
  • Also, one teacher recommended using Kahoot for Parent Night.  I thought that was such an interesting idea because parents sometimes wonder why students use technology in the classroom and how they use it.
  • My next topic was authentic resources.  Whereas many teachers try to find all of the authentic resources themselves, some teachers have students find their own authentic resources and write what they have learned for homework.  Many times a teacher may feel that it is too difficult for the students, but the students can really understand more than we think.
  • I mentioned that teachers should Google the images when looking for authentic resources to get resources for novices.
  • Also, we discussed how using authentic resources can increase anxiety even in higher levels.  One teacher suggested that students can start drawing what they understand.  This lowers their anxiety immediately.  She also starts with smaller groups of six kids when doing authentic resources to help each student.

It was a great day to network!  You can read through the notes, too.  For many people, it was their first EdCamp, and that is always exciting.  I encourage EVERYONE to participate that attends an EdCamp.  Each teacher there has something to add.  If you are someone who LOVES to participate, I encourage you to listen, too.  Make sure that everyone has a chance to equally share ideas.

Finally- a shout out- If you live close to New Jersey, I would encourage you to sign up for the EdCamp WL there!  I am sure that you will learn just as much as everyone did here.

Posted in conference

EdcampMetroDC reflections

Reflections from EdcampMetroDC
I am blessed to work with these awesome people for EdcampMetroDC

This Saturday, I spent a wonderful morning with educators at EdcampMetroDC.  We had a ton of first time edcampers, and that was awesome!  Each year, I take away a lot of information after each day.  This year, I learned a lot in the smackdown.  Here were some of my favorites:

  • I have been using Canva for my blog, but I know that some teachers haven’t.  It is great to create online graphics.  It is so easy to use!
  • The Educator’s Lab is here in DC.  They are having a TeacherHack PD day this summer on June 21st.  Many teachers have ideas but feel that they don’t have time to turn their ideas into a reality.  Educator’s Lab provides a day for teachers to bring their ideas into reality/fruition.  Plus they have consultants that can help you.  How awesome is that?!  If you are interested in attending, email me at marisdemosthenes AT, and I can email you a discount.
  • I can’t believe that I hadn’t heard of the Google Cultural Institute.  They have great views of art projects and wonders of the world.  You can also create your own collections.
  • If you use Google Apps for Education, have you heard of Hapara?  It is an instructional management system.
  • Finally, if you are like me and always have 20 tabs open, Chrome has an extension called One Tab that converts all of your tabs into a list. (Say what?!  I know!)

Finally, I want to thank Chip, Emily, Matt and Jess for facilitating the edcamp with me.  We all teach in different styles of schools, but I am reinvigorated by their energy and spirit.  Each day I know that we are working to be better educators, and I am honored to be in their presence.  Each year, we change things up- from the time of the day to the raffle, I really like how we can change the edcamps.  To read other reflections on the day, check out Margaret and Matt’s blogs.

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Sign up today for Edcamp MetroDC!

Edcamp MetroDC May 7th!

EdCamp MetroDC is back!  This year, it will be on May 7th and we will be at Capital City Public Charter School in DC.  Each year, I have taken away new ideas and information.  If you have never been to an edcamp, here is why you should go this year:

  • It is free, and there is free food!
  • You can decide what you want to talk about.  You can propose a session and meet up with like minded educators to discuss.
  • I have greatly expanded my professional circle.  This allowed me to network and meet many different people.  Plus, I would always love to meet you if you are reading my blog!
  • You also become part of a bigger group of educators throughout the world who participate in edcamps.

Can you join us this year?  Mark it on your calendars!  I can’t wait to see you there!