Where does one begin? I came to ACTFL with a list of questions to begin to answer (I am not quite so foolish as to think that one conference will be the definitive answer to my questions). Among my questions:
Following the keynote I had an opportunity to connect with some amazing people, Meriwynn Mansori of the VIF Learning Center, Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell of Musicuentos greatness, Heather Witten, flipped class guru and the amazing Donna Clementi. It was so exciting to sit with like-minded educators and hear their ideas, thoughts, constructive critiques. But the day was just beginning... Here's a quick summary of the sessions that I attended with just a bit of reflection:
Assessment should be a part of the daily instruction. The questions shift from, how many points did you earn to, did you meet the expectations? Rubrics are not teacher-driven, but rather include space for students to interact with their own learning. There is a metacognitive piece involved in student self-reflection that enables them to become deeper, more authentic learners. I am so excited that we language teachers are moving in this direction. What do grades really mean? My personal view is that if I want my students to know that I believe in their abilities I need to situate myself beside them and cheer them on. Standards-based grading is one way to make that shift.
Elementary Spanish - From Flex to Proficiency in 30 minutes/day
This presentation was more narrative in nature as it shared how one school is moving towards greater proficiency expectations for their students as a result of increased daily Spanish instruction. The presenters shared some amazing videos of actual student language production after only a couple of months in school. This school is only in their second year, but it seems that they are already seeing some great results. I am so hopeful that there is more to come in the elementary program at my school, and I am grateful to the folks at The Blake School for sharing their experiences.
The TELL Project
At the last minute I decided to attend one more session, and it was a definite highlight to the day! The Tell Project is putting out some of the most high quality, FREE and empowering professional development tools for language teachers. I can not praise highly enough the quality and the mission and vision behind this amazing project and the amazing people who are part of it.
Shannon Norquist, teacher of Spanish and Dance at Barrington Christian Academy, mother of 3 lovelies, wife to an artist, modern dancer, daughter to the King.