05 January 2014

Top 13 from 2013

I feel like I progressed a lot as an educator in 2013, especially in the fields of Project-Based Learning and sticking to the target language. I'm also still basking in the support from colleagues around the world, both online and at my first ACTFL convention.

If I were really smart, I would have planned a retrospective for New Year's Day like CoLeeSensei--or planned installments leading up to the new year like SECottrell! But here we are at New Semester's Eve, for my school at least, so I figure a look back at last year is not entirely inappropriate.
13. I Need to Know
This is one of my earlier attempts at marrying PBL goals and teaching in the target language. I know it's not only possible but necessary, and while the methods I planned out in this post to get those two crazy lovebirds together have not exactly become part of my planning routine, they did help lay the groundwork.

12. Managing Student Blogs: Tricks and Tools
Here's one of those Sra. Spanglish posts that applies to both English and Spanish. The English teacher in me loves a journal, and the technophile in me loves a paperless assignment (that I can access anywhere without amassing unsightly piles in every corner of my existence). Unfortunately, Google Reader has since closed its doors, but I'm learning to make do with Feedly.

11. Make a Soundboard with Glogster
I continue to dream of a day when there is website that lets you create a page with little soundboard buttons that let you record a different snippet when you click each one. In the meantime, there's Glogster and its infinitely customizable multimedia platform.

10. PBL while Tied to the Textbook (#ACTFL13)
The truth is, I didn't have teaching PBL in the TL 100% figured out when I proposed my presentation for November's ACTFL convention. The whole truth? I probably never will. But one of the big issues that I've managed to dodge thus far is textbooks and district mandates. So I attempted to figure out some workarounds.

9. Empowering Novices for Independent Inquiry
I'm convinced that establishing the right routines and scaffolding can make Genius Hour accessible even to novices. I think one of our most important jobs as educators, and specifically as language educators, is to teach metacognition and plain old troubleshooting. What do you do when you don't know what to do? Where do you start when you have no clue? (I should write a song.) We're building lifelong learners if we can just help them answer those questions.

8. La Vida Universitaria
I liked this project. I think I'm going to do it again now that I'm getting a new crop of seniors. I've got to work on the framing of the project and the audience to address--heck, might even end up as a letter of inquiry to a school of their choice with some chats with real live college students in other countries along the way if I can arrange it.

7. Pen Pals PBL: Found an International Fan club
This project, it was a mess. It was great working with my colleague in Argentina again, and I think the kids still came up with some pretty cool stuff, but, alas, technology and time were not on our side.

6. Daily Chorus Bellringer
When a student I know has been struggling both personally and academically tells me she came to school today just to see what our new song would be, I know I've hit on something. I love doing this because it gets TL earworms burrowed into their brains while promoting fluency in reading, listening, and speaking.

5. I Am a Novice: Genius Hour Experiment, part 1
I'm still a novice in Portuguese, but my experiment is ongoing. It's been eye-opening, especially when it comes to interpretive listening and translator usage. I look at what I really do as an experienced language learner to start at the bottom and work my way up.

4. Establish PBL Vocabulary in the TL (#ACTFL13)
Once again, I was looking for ways to lay the foundations for a good PBL project without slipping into English. It just so happens that Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers presented at my district's Teaching and Learning Conference and gave me an idea. It was a hit, and I hope to make a routine of it this coming semester.

3. Ser vs Estar: Target Language Mini-Lesson
I whipped this up for a community college job interview, now that I have my MA. I thought it was a bang-up lesson, totally TL, though I should have counted on technology access more than whiteboard access...Spoiler alert: I didn't get the job. (North Carolina legislative craziness aside, though, I'm in the best place I could be.)

2. Driving Questions for Novice Spanish (#ACTFL13)
One of the FAQs I squeezed out of my #LangCamp compatriots was basically can PBL even be done in the TL with novices? Once again, I'm going to go with "Yes, if..." I'm still working on HOW it can be done, but a big part of that is choosing DQs that fit your clientele AND their language level.

1. PBL Tips for TL Teaching (#ACTFL13)
With almost as many hits as #2-#5 combined and more than any whole month prior to 2013, this post probably represents the biggest leap for me as a PBL/TL teacher. These are a lot of the strategies that have helped get me closer to the 90% mark.


If I were a smoking woman, I'd have to get me out a Virginia Slim: I've come a long way, baby! Now let's see how much further we can get in 2014!

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