OFLA/CSCTFL (part 1)


It’s been a week since OFLA. I’ve been trying to process all the ‘gold nuggets’ I learned! Here’s a few of my favorites with brief summaries… (More so I can reference it when I accidentally misplace my stack of notes!)

***Grant Boulanger gave a wonderful presentation on engaging the novice learners, making your class a sanctuary and a space of JOY and success!

1. Make a space in your classroom for real/authentic communication. Focusing on the students live, personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations. 2. Simplify your life by narrowing your focus. Language is comprehensible when it’s understandable, interesting, and repetitive. For a few minutes in each class…worry only about language acquisition. I loved how Grant suggested striving for 8 minutes where only the TL is spoken.

We tried this in class the other day and it was a HUGE success! Without fail, someone would mess up around minute 6 or 7 so we would start the stop watch all over. Therefore, by time we accomplished the 8 minutes, it had really been more like 20-30 minutes in the TL. It also reduced behavioral problems and extra conversations because the students wanted to accomplish this!      

 3. Use your students as the content to drive the communication. Be attentive to them! Be in the moment with them! Is someone wearing a new Taylor Swift shirt? Ask about it! New hair? Go with it!

***How delightful is Carol Gaab? I loved her enthusiasm as she taught us about incorporating Higher Order Thinking in low level language. Some key points I took away from her session were: 1. Top 50 function/high frequency words = 60% of the spoken language! This means, less is more! We can shelter vocabulary but intentionally use high frequency words to increase proficiency. The use of cognates and visual cues will aid in comprehension as students acquire the language. 2. ¿Es Posible o Probable?….¿Por qué? Using these questions helps students make predictions and inferences. It allows them to answer, give their opinion, and not feel like they will be right or wrong.

***Two things I really want to learn more about and incorporate next year are proficiency based grading  and student portfolios. 

***50 shades of grades was a great session where Mercedes Koch and Ryan Rockaitis shared what has been working for them as they’ve made the switch to proficiency based grading.  You can check out the presentation here!  Some key changes they have incorporated in their classrooms during this transition are:                                                      1.Don’t lower grades for late work. When an assignment IS due, collect work individually. Everyone turns in something. “If you don’’t have the assignment, turn in a sheet of paper with your name, the date, the name of the assignment and the name and phone number of a parent or guardian. You could even have the student call their parent in class asking the to remind the to do their homework.  2. Don’t include student behaviors in grades. Would you go to a physician who got a good participation grade or one who was skilled? …good point. 3.Don’t give grades for formative assessment, group grades, academic dishonesty.                4. DO GRADE written, listening & speaking summative assessments! Such as a persuasive essay. But, before this give them many opportunities to practice, multiple revisions, structure to help plan essay, etc. If giving a speaking assessment, have students listen to their assessment after and write down what they said, and what changes should be made if any. What a great way for students to be part of the process! 5. DO allow students to retake assessments! Life is full of retakes! BUT to keep this manageable, students must “request to retest” (identify their struggles, show how they’re working to improve and acknowledge that regardless of the score, the new grade is the grade they will receive). 

***As we switch towards proficiency based grading, I think it’s important for students to “set goals, track their own progress, reflect on their progress, and give them a realistic idea of what they’ll be able to do”. I tried to create student portfolios this year, but they were hard to manage. Fortunately Lisa Sobb and Lucas Hoffman gave a great presentation on Tracking Student Progress Electronically Using Google!  When tracking students through google classroom or google docs, students can link video evidence, voice recordings, documents, etc. to demonstrate their ability to accomplish a variety of ‘CAN DO‘ tasks. Students can easily gather evidence, measure their growth and demonstrate their proficiency level. This is also a great way to track students through out their high school years even if they  have different teachers.

***All in all, it was so inspirational and validating to be reminded that comprehensible input is THE BEST WAY for students to acquire language and CI can look like many different things! (…we’ll save that for part 2)





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