13 July 2016

#CampMusicuentos Takeaways

Between the #LangCamp book study of Keys to Planning for Learning and local curriculum redesign projects, this summer is about instructional overhaul for me.

Thank goodness I had Camp Musicuentos to help make that overhaul worthwhile!

The Musicuentos blog has been integral to my development as a language educator. Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell's insights have really made what I do make sense. I have had the opportunity to present with Sra. Cottrell--and our amiga/tweep Bethanie Drew--on student choice before, and Sra. Drew and I have gotten to edcamp and hang out at FLANC together.

But never before have I gotten to sit side by side with these amigas who have meant so much to my own development and just do.

That's mostly what Camp Musicuentos represents for me: sharing and doing. Just being around other educators who GET IT--or even who want to get it--is one of life's great joys for me. TELLcollab was my first experience being swathed in great language education, but Camp Musicuentos takes that atmosphere and puts it to work!

Day 1 we explored the need for basing our classes on actual, purposeful communication in all things--but also what communication really means at different stages of linguistic development. Sra. Cottrell emphasized, too, that it's communication for ALL, not just the best and the brightest or our fellow language geeks, and that everyone CAN interact with authentic texts if A) they're the right texts and B) we help focus attention where its needed--something Sra. Drew reminded us to do with compassion.

Day 2 we started working backward. We knew what we wanted students to end up being able to do, so we had to focus on breaking down what it took to end up there. One of the most useful patterns we discussed was moving from comprehensible input to scaffolded responses (yes/no to multiple choice) to spontaneous active output. We discussed the necessity for narrowing down the list of what we want every student to do automatically and then how we can build in engaging experiences that make it possible. And then we had pupusas!

Day 3 we got into a little brain research and how to create effective learning episodes. We tried some novice target language activities in Russian (linguacafe was a hit!) and discussed strategies for successful storytelling. And then, we WORKED. My local colleague and I got a solid unit overview to sell our district on the do-ability of a proficiency focus--posts forthcoming!

If you ever get a chance to revamp your curriculum with Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell or Bethanie Drew--or both!--you should definitely jump on it. These ladies have the research and the experience to make language learning work, for you AND your students.

We all have great ideas waiting to be put to work, and these ladies help lay the foundation to make sure that work lasts!

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