Saturday, March 25, 2017

Movie Talk - Changing Batteries

Here is a Movie Talk which Bob Patrick and I did this week in our Latin 1 classes. I have known about this particular movie short for a long time but debated on whether or not to ever use it, because it is SO SAD! However, Katya Paukova always says that the best movie shorts are those which will engage students emotionally, so I finally decided to use this one. Two of my target words were sick and doctor, and the only other movie short which I could find involving these words was one about the Berenstein Bears going to the doctor's office. For high school students, I thought that they would not like it, so I decided to hit them with an emotionally-packed Movie Talk!

This particular movie short is called Changing Batteries. Be prepared to have a few tears shed during this Movie Talk!

English script

Latin script

  1. On the day after I formally did this Movie Talk, as a warm up I re-showed the movie short and narrated it again in Latin this time without pausing. In one of the periods, an administrator came to do my formal observation, and she was very impressed, because of the fact that a) I was narrating this short movie in Latin and that students were understanding it (if she had come the day before, she would have seen an actual Movie Talk and its process) and b) the movie short was so good - she even reacted emotionally to it!
  2. Pay attention to the date July 5, 2011 in the very beginning of the movie short, because it will help explain how much time passes later on. I originally thought that this movie short took place over a few days, but my students pointed out the calendar to me while viewing this. 
  3. After viewing this, a few of my classes told me that I am never allowed to show this again to them, because it was so sad. For the record, these are the same classes which told me that I could never show Bear Story again too.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

You Are Where You Are When It Comes to CI

It is finally the end of conference season for me. In the past seven weeks, I have attended four different state/regional conferences, delivered eight presentations related to Comprehensible Input, and co-facilitated a full-day CI in-service for a world language department at a high school in my district. 

As much as I truly enjoy presenting on CI, there is a part of me at times which feels like a complete fraud when speaking on the topic. I feel like my knowledge of CI is very surfacy, i.e., if you wish to have a high-level discussion on second language acquisition (SLA), I am NOT the person with whom to talk, because I possess an intermediate level of knowledge on the topic (in my defense, though, SLA research does not interest me at all, because much of it goes over my head - is there a way someone could create some embedded readings of SLA research?). I wish I were one who could naturally wield NON-targeted comprehensible input in my classroom so that i+1 would naturally occur. I wish that I were better at implementing PQA (Personalized Questions and Answers) in a compelling and natural way, because I absolutely stink at it. I wish that I were better at making language much more compelling with CI for students, because I can tell that they are getting burned out and bored with it.   

Maybe you are like me in that whatever manner/extent you are implementing Comprehensible Input, you are not where you would like to be. Here is what I have learned in my 3 1/2 years of CI usage: When it comes to CI implementation, you are where you are with it, and that is perfectly okay. Understanding CI does not happen overnight, and learning how to facilitate it in your classroom definitely takes time. It is a constant series of taking two steps forward with CI but then taking one-two steps of retreating back into what you know and were doing before, because CI feels uncomfortable. 

The goal, however, is to continue moving forward by learning more about Comprehensible Input. Here are some suggestions:
  1. Attend a weeklong CI conference like IFLT or NTPRS. Although one can certainly definitely learn about CI through attending individual sessions at state/regional world language conferences, there is something about attending a conference which is completely devoted to CI that one cannot learn elsewhere. I remember how much my mind expanded in CI knowledge/practice from attending my first NTPRS in 2014. Being in a supportive, yet more importantly, immersive CI environment was essential to my CI growth. I point to that first NTPRS conference as where my I truly established my CI roots and grew. I will be at IFLT this summer as a coach, so I hope to see many of you there. 
  2. Find digital resources, such as blogs and social media groups. Believe me, there are A LOT out there - so many that it can seem overwhelming. If you look at the sidebar of this blog, you will find a list of blogs which I try to follow. There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to CI, but as my life is Facebook-free, I do not know which ones are out there. On Twitter (my sole use of social media), use the hashtags #tci, #tprs, #ntprs17, or #iflt17 to find current tweets related to CI. 
  3. Find other CI teachers either in your area or online with whom you can dialogue and collaborate. Do not undergo this journey alone.
Yes, I am not at all where I would like to be in my CI implementation, but gosh, I am so much further along in both my CI understanding and facilitation than where I was three years ago. I really do feel like I possess a strong foundation of CI after these 3 1/2 years. In other words, I am exactly where I need to be when it comes to CI. This self-realization is what will allow me to grow.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Technology in a CI Classroom, Part 2

This is part of an ongoing series on CI and Technology and is taken from my presentation Technology in a CI Classroom: How to Go Beyond Kahoot.

Now that I have my Ed.S degree in Instructional Technology, one would think that I am implementing technology all of the time. You would be surprised to find out that I do not. It is not because I do not want to, but more because most of the technology out there focuses so much on incomprehensible input, forced output, or low levels of critical thinking. In addition, my school is a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) school, so among students, there is an incredible disparity in the technological capability of the devices which students have due to rapid change in technology. Though my school does have numerous computer labs and wireless carts for teachers to use, these on-site resources cannot keep up with the demand. This does not mean, however, that i do not want to implement technology! I wish to very much, because there is technology which can complement the CI classroom, but I feel greatly limited by my students' access to available technology. This is the time where I wish that my school were a 1:1 school.

One of the main issues in instructional technology is that teachers are implementing technology at a VERY low level of critical thinking, and I would argue that 90% of teachers are completely unaware that they are doing this. When it comes to technology, most classrooms are still very teacher-centered. Much technology usage focuses on online quizzes/homework/assessment preparation sites such as Quia, Quizizz, Kahoot, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with these websites per se, but this is very low-level usage in terms of critical thinking.

I can honestly say that this is how I implemented technology in the past before I began my degree in Instructional Technology. I had a teacher website on Weebly which housed everything students would need, had students create PowerPoints for presentations, implemented Dropbox for student homework, and was one of the first teachers at my school to have a Promethean Board. I loved using remotes during assessments, because I got instant results on how students did. In other words, technology actually made my life somewhat easier as a teacher, and I am sure that students were engaged to a degree because of the technology. One would say that I was a leader in technology implementation. At the same time though, I was not raising students' critical thinking levels any through the use of technology. 

When implementing technology in the classroom, teachers should be aware of the SAMR (Substitute, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model. The SAMR model is very much like Bloom's Taxonomy in that the higher the level on the model, the higher the critical thinking involved, with the highest level being the creation of new meaning. 

The lowest level on the SAMR model is Substitution, where one could actually do the same exact task without technology, but technology has made it either easier or more engaging. Most classroom technology implementation is at this level. The next level is Augmentation, which involves some degree of functional improvement but is still BASIC SUBSTITUTION. The task itself has not changed but some features of technology are incorporated. Modification is the 3rd level, where the outcome of the task is still the same, but the product has been enhanced and has changed due to technology. The highest level is Redefinition, where the new meaning has been created, and the outcome is INCONCEIVABLE without the use of technology.

Here are some examples of technology usage as viewed through the SAMR model:

Google Docs
  1. Substitution: using Google Docs to write a paper.
  2. Augmentation: using collaboration function of Google Docs for feedback.
  3. Modification: Google Docs paper is rewritten using collaborative comments.
  4. Redefinition: Modified Google Docs paper now becomes a multimedia presentation.
Reading a text
  1. Substitution: reading texts online or using a device such as Kindle, iPad.
  2. Augmentation: using online dictionaries, informational videos, etc. which have been linked to online text.
  3. Modification: annotating digital texts with comments for sharing.
  4. Redefinition: creating an interactive document or blog for public discussion, comments, and dialogue.
Delivering a presentation
  1. Substitution: using PowerPoint/Prezi/Google Slides to make a presentation.
  2. Augmentation: creating a product which uses embedded hyperlinks.
  3. Modification: creating a screencast of the presentation for online viewing.
  4. Redefinition: Nearpod presentation.
Now let me say that it is perfectly okay to implement technology at the Substitution level. The problem, however, is when we remain there and do not facilitate technology beyond this. When we stay at the Substitution level though, technology becomes more about entertainment than about true engagement and creation of new meaning. To quote something which I wrote in an earlier blog post:
When focusing on technology as either substitution or entertainment and not as a tool for creating and engaging students in higher order thinking, then the novelty of that technology will wear off very quickly. Students will want to move onto the next new piece of technology for amusement. And why should they not, since this is how the teacher has modeled technology usage for them?
So how does one reconcile the SAMR model with Comprehensible Input methodology? The two are not mutually exclusive of each other, and one can implement the two together. However, it takes knowledge and understanding of both for it to work. This has been my quest lately, as I explore various instructional technologies. I will address this in a later post. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Writing from Novice Learners

This semester, I have been doing a number of free writes in my Latin 1 classes. Though I still implement timed writes (which to me is usually attempting to re-tell a story in the target language which we have been going over in class), I have also been giving opportunities for students to write whatever they want in Latin based on input.

As writing is an output activity, it is important that we bathe students in input to such a degree that output is a natural overflow of that input. This is why I like implementing timed writes - after going over a story 6-7 different ways over 3-4 days, all of that input from that story has somewhere to go as output. Free writes, however, are different. To me, free writes are exactly that: students have the chance to create and to write freely whatever they want in the target language and are not spitting back a story. I usually give them a prompt of some kind and then let them write for X amount of time.

Having students do free writes has been a very interesting experience so far, and I am learning SO much about language acquisition theory in the process, especially for novice learners.

  1. As not every student acquires language at the same rate, I have to accept that students "will be all over the spectrum" when it comes to output. There are students whose extent of writing output is being able to re-combine a seen list of vocabulary to create sentences, while others are able to create and to fashion sentences on their own. Guess what? Each of those examples is perfectly fine. The important thing to remember is that every individual student is exactly at the point where he/she is at; I cannot force students to progress at my pace. My sole job is to continue to immerse my students in understandable messages to aid them along their individual output continuum.
  2. Output is going to be MESSY!! Messy to me, that is. To the student, however, most likely they are completely unaware of their errors, which is fine, because that is where they are at in their language acquisition. I love the following cartoon:
  3. I am surprised at the number of students who are writing compound sentences on their own. In many ways, I do not think that they realize that this is actually "complex," because they are constantly hearing and reading compound sentences in the target language. In many ways, they cannot help but write compound sentences due to vast amount of input examples.
Some examples of free-write activities