23 November 2016

#ACTFL16 Tidbits

I came to ACTFL 2016 with a conference path set for Everything Interpersonal, having had various students freeze up, blank out, and even two start crying during the interpersonal part of the most recent IPA--in spite of low-stress strategies that worked the last two IPAs--just hours before I boarded the plane to Boston.

Perhaps it is the curse of the hyper-connected educator, but I did not walk away from this conference in a haze of hope and renewed vigor to take on teaching.

I suspect it's because I get cool ideas from the coolest people all the time, so I don't have to wait for November for my brain to be full like I used to. I kind of exist in a perpetual state of mind half-blown every time Amy Lenord or Wendy Farabaugh or Annabelle Allen--not to mention the dozens of other pedagogical geniuses on my blog roll and the #langchat feed--adds a new post.

I've developed a tolerance for brilliance, I think.

And yet I'm generally still able to walk away from each session I attend with something I can use in my class. So here are a few tidbits I picked up from a few cool people who shared at this year's convention.

Given my conference path, you'd better believe I was front and center (well, side) for this former ToY's spontaneous session. Three things I want to try that might help my kiddos just feel more ready before assessment time:

  • Conversation Carousel, or ask-ask-trade
    I've used questions on cards before, but something as simple as using answers on the back to cue their partners is a valuable skill. Also instead of writing extra questions on the card, switching cards with someone else is a way to practice asking more questions without having to come up with them all yourself!
  • Cootie Catcher Questions
    A sense of play could surely lighten things up for my kiddos, and what better way than bringing back the origami fortune teller of our youth--just with Spanish questions?
  • Class Greeter QuestionsMy kids already can't leave my room without looking me in the eye and saying adiós--like they physically can't anymore. How much of a stretch would it be to add an entry question and set up a rotation of askers?

I confess I mostly go to PBL sessions for networking and finding My People (which, mission accomplished in this one). But it was also cool just to see how simple starting to plan a unit really could be with this organizer:

Also, I've used Mixbook for creating children's books in the past, but did you know Storybird has a fundraiser form letter? Could be a good tie in with our school supply project!

Mostly this session gave me some ideas on how to scaffold reflection. I think requiring regular video blogs where students NOT reading what they're saying is specifically part of the grade could help kiddos get more comfy being on the spot. I also like the idea of not grading the first version of the vlog and providing mini-lessons on problem patterns I observed, then grading the redo. Even if actual changes are tiny the second time around, it's more low-stakes practice before the big moment.

(UNcon by Sr. Anderson)

Sr. Geisel helping me see Snapchat as a video editing tool instead of social media just made SO MUCH SENSE. Really low-stakes, familiar and fun context to get kids talking without fear! (Plus I had super fun snapping buddies!)

Everyone knows I love an infograph, and surveys have been some of my more successful speaking opportunities this semester, so  why not follow up with graphs with titles that actually reflect CONCLUSIONS students can draw from the surveys! Sentence titles for the infographs can also promote moving up ye olde proficiency scale!

AND how cute and easy would it be to let people respond to survey questions with Legos, upload a picture of Lego bar graphs to Seesaw and just title them there? Could be a great first day fun station activity before kids CAN respond in sentences to just have some Solo cups with target language questions where kiddos can plop in a colored lego to represent their response--with cognate-rich questions, even "silent period" kiddos could engage!

Face time with your PLN is always a great takeaway too

Now, tidbits weren't all I got from ACTFL this year, and in fact I got some burning questions answered with some thorough and engaging demonstrations in three other sessions I attended. I do have a little cogitating to do about those sessions and how they can keep my kids from bursting into tears when we talk, but check out this Storify of some #ACTFL16 highlight tweets to get a preview of what I'm pondering and a few more more tidbits from all of my sessions.

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