Friday, March 17, 2017

How do you make a language lab when you don't have one?

by Walter Parenteau license
I cut my baby teacher teeth in a language lab. It was a really nice setup in a public high school: 30 computers hooked up to a Sony lab system, with a full-time lab assistant to help you. A language lab has at least three modes that mimic language modes: interpretive (listening, viewing, or reading), interpersonal (speaking or writing) and presentational (speaking, most likely, in the lab). You can beam out audio or video files to all the students, pair students up for conversations, and record students' interactions. Frankly, it was awesome. But then I started teaching in independent schools that did not have labs. What then? How do you mimic the setup of a lab without a lab?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

3 resolutions for the new school year


Ahhh, the end of August: the nights are getting cooler, the mornings are a little bit darker, and Labor Day is looming. Summer is almost over and school is about to begin! Obviously, every teacher mourns the end of summer, and I'm no different. But actually, this is one of my favorite things about teaching -- every September is a clean slate, a fresh start. I'm not one to make resolutions in January but I love to make them in September. Here are this year's three.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

5 takeaways from #nectfl16

by Anthony Quintano via Flickr license

Last week I went to the NECTFL (Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Conferences in New York City. It was excellent! In addition to being back in Manhattan -- which was wonderful, despite the Arctic temperatures -- all of the sessions I attended were very good. The conference's theme was intercultural competence, and almost all of the sessions I attended addressed that topic. Here are my 5 takeaways from the conference.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

5 ways to use your Verba card set

Verba, from The Pericles Group
Do you have a Verba set yet? If you're unfamiliar with the game, you can read my previous post about it here. Playing Verba according to the rules is loads of fun, but you can also use those cool playing cards in many other ways as well. Here are 5 ways that your novice-, intermediate- and advanced-level learners can make the most of that Verba card set.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why Evernote is the best lesson/unit planning tool ever

By User:ZyMOS [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

I've written about Evernote as a lesson planning tool on this blog before, but now that I'm going on five years as a complete Evernote convert, I thought I'd celebrate that anniversary by discussing how I've been using some of its tools and apps to step up my unit planning game.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sprucing up the syllabus

original by Steven Depolo via Flickr license
The first day of school can be so rough on kids. Too often we teachers spend all day doing administrivia--syllabus reading, folder organization, seat assignments, tech setups--which is why, for years, I've spread out those tasks over the first couple of weeks. I cringe when I think about my first day as a baby teacher -- I read the syllabus aloud to every class for 5 periods! It was a four-page document full of text! How terrible is that? Thankfully that was ages ago, and I've learned from my mistakes. But one thing seemed not to have changed since then: that four-page, text-heavy syllabus, full of rules and procedures and explanations. It was time for the syllabus to get a makeover.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Communicating classroom culture with infographics

by Aaron "tango" Tang via Flickr license
I like simplicity, especially when it comes to class rules. As a high school teacher that meets with multiple classes a day, sometimes in multiple rooms, I need my classroom expectations to be clear, simple and fair. In the past, I've written my rules on a Word document, distributed copies, and taped a copy on the classroom door. BORING! This year, I've chosen a web tool to help me clearly communicate my four "rules" for a positive classroom culture to my students. See my rules and the hip infographic after the jump...