25 February 2016

#SCOLT16 New Levels, No Limits

SCOLT halfway made up for missing ACTFL this year. I got to bask in the presence of various PLN amigos, new and old, and I got an infusion of good old-fashioned professional enthusiasm.

Here are some highlights of my first ever SCOLT experience.

Day 1 of #SCOLT16

I caught up with grad school amigos, met @Mr_Fernie (before his presentation took the internet by storm), stole more PBL ideas, did some session hopping, grilled @tmsaue1, finally figured out movie talks, and then found more ways to bring the Real World to my classroom.

The types of projects laid out "Project-Based Learning for Novice Mid-High Middle School" were not exactly what I'd call PBL, since Sra. Bronstein herself said they were done at home and "add-on" assignments. Also the topics were less authentic than I had hoped for. However, there were some clear points on why we need PBL:
  • tapping into kids' natural egocentrism
  • planning for movement
  • breaking down big tasks into small steps with plenty of feedback and revision time
The Hot Seat was the next big revelation for me, and not just because grilling Herr Sauer is a fun role reversal. I've got some ideas to actually work on helping my local colleagues transition to proficiency-based instruction:

  • don't explain what proficiency-based learning is about--have students and parents explain
  • start with building proficiency-based assessments--agreeing where you want students to end up
  • start with a few volunteer teachers to pilot the shift--even if they're "the wrong ones"
  • start with Level I instead of pulling a Common Core and switching everything at once
  • you can't worry about "cheating" students who don't get proficiency-based during the transition
Now MovieTalks were basically what I expected them to be, but it was worth sitting down and seeing real live (well, recorded) examples and getting walked through the process and questions answered. Prepping a movie talk is pretty similar to the process for prepping a TPRS-style story, except instead of spending your brain cells figuring out how to get kiddos to giggle, you might spend time googling around for the perfect video for your kiddos.

Some tips to remember:

  • The only thing that REALLY matters when selecting a clip is finding one that captures your kids. The video is not the input--just the excuse for you to provide some around a theme.
  • Limit yourself to about four focus structures max for a one-day movie talk--allow for ample recycling.
  • Script the questions that will go along with the video, just like you would for storyasking.
  • Build in prediction questions to engage the brains.
  • MovieTalk activities need not lead to another assessment, but consider waiting for the next day for a writing/speaking assessment about the video.
  • MovieTalks should be another way to make kids feel like they're getting away with something (even though they're using the TL._

Day 2 of # SCOLT 16

I rocked out with FLANC amigos to música urbana, presented with #langchat amiga @kltharri, prepared to take my district by storm with TELL techniques, "cut up" with various teachers of the year, and work on loving feedback with @lovemysummer.

But first, our presentation.

Karen and I presented on how to stick to using the target language with novices, from finding authentic texts to using essential verbs to creating comprehensible input stories.

We also test drove our own hashtag, #novL2too, for a presentation back channel and offered treats for tweets, mostly to grow our own PLN, but also to keep people engaged and let them experiment and share. Check out what our audience came up with!

(PS you can really blow your audience's mind by having a few tweets scheduled to roll out throughout with Tweetdeck.)

You can see more than our beautiful #langchat shirts and slides if you click "View as  slideshow."

Here's how the rest of the day went:

I had hoped to discover new artists in the Música Urbana session, but it was mostly a chance to enjoy familiar music with amigos. PS I totally would  have included videos of @JenniferSolisJ singing, but apparently Storify believes in autoplay. It was a bit much. And I did discover Joey Montana from Panama and Jaliil Lopez.

In Don't Just TELL Me, Show Me! I got a firmer grasp on what exactly I was supposed to do with TELL documents and how to start (and got to see @profepj3, if only on video). So here's my plan

  • Start with checks for understanding (possibly starting with the model classroom visit I've arranged with a few local colleagues next month).
  • Collect testimony--or special guest appearances--from my students (and maybe parents--especially now that they can see students' Seesaws?)
  • Set up a monthly meeting with colleagues to go through STARtalk modules one at a time (special thanks to @SraLewisEspanol and @SenoraDominguez for that brainwave! Gotta love turn and talk time!)
Perhaps providing a bunch of punchy teachers with scissors after fabulous international truck lunches was not the most prudent maneuver, but we sure did Know when to fold 'em--after a few attempts. The foldables themselves weren't that revolutionary: mostly quick little flaps with question-and-answer type setups. But a few of the activities struck my fancy:
  • Students create their own bingo boards with activities on them. They then take turns with a partner inviting each other to do different activities (speed friending, anyone?) and try to get their partner to accept four in a row (the foldable was just different ways to say yes/no).
  • Create a trifold with three flaps on the top, three flaps on the bottom and set up a scenario with questions on top, answers, then responses (like my interpersonal playbook but EASIER!)
  • Context tic-tac-toe: students create sentences using a specified concept (possessive adjectives, preterite tense, what have you) but leave that word out in each sentence. Then they TRADE, and whoever can fill in 3 right first wins!
  • Presentation foldable: just 16 squares to track each presenter's name and a compliment (not unlike a suggestion from the PBL session--and just in time for Inspiration Celebrations to end the self-improvement unit!)
And finally, the presentation I had been waiting for: Fortifying with Feedback from my amiga and sometime roomie @lovemysummer. She'd tried to break her feedback form down for me before, but I think I was finally able to process the separate parts and how I can combine them with my beloved AAPPL rubrics (stay tuned). Still, grades were due Monday, and I kept thinking how un-Howard-Stern-like I was being in my feedback. I've vowed to do better on next week's IPAs. 

So there you have it: half my ACTFL tradeoff accounted for. The other half I'll make up for in a few weeks at CSCTFL in Ohio!

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