Saturday, December 13, 2014

ACTFL '14 Report

I attended the annual ACTFL Convention a few weeks ago, so I thought I would write up a short report of what went on. This time it was in San Antonio, and it was my 2nd ACTFL, after having attended the convention in Orlando in 2013.

The Upsides
  • The keynote speaker for the General Assembly was Annie Griffiths, one of the first woman photographers for National Geographic. When I heard that she was going to be the keynote speaker, I was a bit disappointed, as I had never heard of her before, and last year's speaker was the dynamic Tony Wagner, who spoke on the need for innovation and creativity. But wow, was I wrong about Annie Griffiths! She spoke of her travels throughout the world, documenting it through pictures. The entire audience was absolutely captivated by both what she had to say and the messages delivered through her pictures. Although the below video is not Annie's ACTFL speech, much of it contains what she spoke about.
  • I was very focused and only attended those sessions which were on Comprehensible Input (thanks to TPRS Publishing for creating a list of CI sessions before the convention), and there were a number of them! Although there were many Latin sessions offered at ACTFL, nothing really caught my eye as something which would further me as a Latin teacher. In fact, because I had not attended any of the Latin sessions at ACTFL, there were many Latin teachers whom I knew that did not even know I was there until the ACL reception on Saturday evening!  
  • Getting to interact with many CI teachers whom I follow on Twitter or had met at NTPRS. I will admit that I was rather starstruck seeing them! 
  • The American Classical League/National Latin Exam sponsored a reception at the San Antonio Museum of Art on Saturday evening. The museum houses a wonderful collection of ancient/classical art, so a very apt place to hold a classical reception. I had a very enjoyable time, seeing many of my colleagues whom i only see at the ACL Summer Institute!
The Downsides: 
  • Now if you have never attended an ACTFL Convention, let me say this: it is absolutely MAMMOTH! There are over 4,500 language teachers in attendance - I am more accustomed to the 250 Latin teachers at an ACL Summer Institute or even 500 language teachers at a FLAG conference, so it is very easy to feel lost at ACTFL. The exhibition hall of materials itself is HUGE!
  • There are around 50 sessions going on every hour, so trying to narrow down choices can be overwhelming (thanks to the ACTFL app which helped filter out sessions by language, keywords, etc).
  • Because the sessions were 50-60 minutes long, I felt like presenters were trying to cover WAY too much in that amount of time, so I was bombarded with a lot of information all at once. Luckily, many of the presenters posted their materials online, so I can sift through them at my own pace. I wish that ACTFL would offer 90-minute sessions, because many of the sessions which I attended would make great longer sessions.
  • Three sessions on Comprehensible Input were scheduled at the same time on late Friday afternoon.
  • Earlier in the week, I had gotten a cold, and flying on a plane to San Antonio did not help out. Throw in a kind of balmy, humid weather and a full day of the convention, so by Friday night, I was not feeling well at all. I had to cancel out on a Cena Latina (to which I was really looking forward since I have not done any real conversational Latin since Rusticatio this summer), and ended up going to bed really early that evening.
Next year's ACTFL will be held in San Diego, CA, so consider attending!

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