Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to beat the post-conference letdown

This past weekend, I went to the annual ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) conference in Philadelphia, PA. Not only was it my first time attending the conference, it was also my first time presenting to an audience of strangers. I've presented to my colleagues at school and at a very small local conference, but presenting at ACTFL was a totally different experience. I think I was a little star-struck. First of all, it was massive. I think there were around 7,000 foreign language educators in attendance. There were so many sessions to choose from (and so many of them led by people I know through my Twitter PLN) that it was a bit overwhelming. And I was really nervous about my presentation, which was a discussion of the impact of iPads on language learning. I worried that no one would come, or that the technology would fail me, or that people would heckle me. But soon I realized that, at a conference like that, you have a friendly audience. Unlike a faculty meeting or mandatory professional development, you have to want to go to ACTFL in order to go to ACTFL. The experience of being around 7,000 people who love teaching and learning language can be totally exhilarating... and then it's time to go back to school on Monday. Now what?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crowdsourcing: the 21st-century jigsaw

When you teach without a textbook, you spend a lot of time looking for good materials to share with your students. As I mentioned in my previous post about using news media in lesson plans, it can be exceedingly difficult--not to mention time-consuming--to compile level-appropriate and relevant resources that correspond with curricular themes and focus language structures. This is an area in which a class with 1:1 iPads, or really any handheld device with internet access, has a major advantage over a traditional class: you can just turn all that background work over to the students. I call this crowdsourcing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Relevance through media literacy

Superstorm Sandy blew through my state this week. Luckily, in my area there was relatively little damage and fewer power outages than during Winter Storm Alfred and Tropical Storm Irene last year. School was canceled for two days, and my original lesson plans had to be scrapped. I knew that when classes resumed on Halloween, my students would not be at all interested in the topics we'd been discussing for days: comparisons of American and Spanish governments (Spanish 4) and current global issues (AP Spanish 6). They'd be wanting to talk about either Halloween or Sandy. Or both. So? If the mountain will not come to Mohammed...