Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Top 5 of 2019

The semester is coming to a close, and winter break is on the horizon. Therefore, it is that time of the year for me to list my top-5 most-viewed blog posts for 2019:
  1. Cartoon Olympics
  2. Storyjumper
  3. Lucky Reading Game
  4. The Card Game
  5. Invisibles Listening Activity
Thanks to all of you who read this blog - I appreciate that you feel that I have something to say! I began this blog in December 2013, and now six years and 294 blog posts (wow!!) later, your support is what motivates me to continue blogging on a weekly basis. Here's to 2020!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Highlight Reel or Highlight Real?

Meredith White has written a similar blog post a few years ago - it is a great read!

A few years ago, a number of Latin teachers from all over the country and I were talking over dinner about observing other Latin teachers in the classroom. On the one hand, we all agreed how important and beneficial it was for us to see other teachers in action, to see what they were doing in their classrooms, and to learn from them. At the same time, I vividly recall one teacher saying, "I loved being able to observe __________, but what I really want to see is how he handles a disruptive class or students who do not want to be there. Or even better, I want to see what he does when a lesson just flat out bombs. That is what is going in my classroom. THAT is what I need to see."

There is so much truth in what that teacher said. As teachers, we want to show off and to display our best when observed. Whenever teachers come to observe me, I know that I want them to see my classes where I am at my best. I also know that I enjoy sharing classroom triumphs and academic strategies with which I have had success and where I saw both language acquisition and high student engagement occurring. On social media, there is a plethora of posts by teachers, detailing their student victories and what is working in their classes. However, what we need to realize is that as inspirational as these social media posts can be, these are just teacher highlight reels. Much like sports newscasts which only spotlight the highlights of a game, these snippets do not represent the bigger picture as a whole.

Highlight reels can be both encouraging and motivating, but they can also have the opposite effect if a person gets into a "compare and despair" mentality about one's ability as a teacher. What we need is more highlight reals. We need to be more honest about our daily struggles and about those times where we feel like we are falling short. I think that a major issue is that we wish to hit home runs every day in the classroom, when in reality, we are lucky if we get a single when at bat. My district world language coordinator always reminds us that teaching is a marathon, not a sprint, and that our victories are not always immediate.

I hope that my blog posts do not make it appear that every day is a day of student language acquisition and of tremendous student classroom engagement in my classes. This year, I have been blessed to have five classes of students who for the most part enjoy both me and the class, and I have had very little discipline issues. However, I also realize that this is an anomaly, because over the past years, I have always had 1-2 classes where it has been a daily struggle with particular students. I employed classroom management strategies, tried to make connections with them, and loved them by faith but to no visible avail, and I feel like these students held both me and the class hostage. I even have written a blog post a few years ago about the times when I feel like a failure as a Latin teacher.

At the same time, I know that I am not alone and that I am not the only teacher whose actual highlight reals are a far cry from his sporadic highlight reels. In her blog post, I love how Meredith White says that too often we compare others' highlight reels to our own blooper reels and as a result, we harp on ourselves for being bad teachers.

I hope that we as teachers can feel more open and safe to share our highlight reals with each other and that these reals in turn can help encourage others , knowing that everyone still deals with struggles in teaching.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Crossword Puzzle Train Relay

Here is another great post-reading, collaborative activity which I found on Cindy Hitz's blog. It involves crossword puzzles and is completed/competed in a relay kind of way. This activity involves a story which you have been reviewing with students and needs to be one which students know well in the target language. 

Here are directions for the activity from Cindy's blog.

Example of one which I did with students - this is based on a Movie Talk called The Wishgranter.

1) Crossword Puzzle

2) Crossword Puzzle Clues
  1. This activity took about 12-15 minutes, as the opening rounds lasted about 30 seconds each, with the rounds lasting around 45 seconds by the end, since more time was needed due to less clues available. 
  2. Because this is essentially a cloze sentence activity, students need to know the reading very well in the target language, since they are filling in the blank with the correct word.
  3. Because this is a crossword puzzle, correct spelling is important. If students needed help with correct spelling, they could ask me. I would not tell them the correct answer for a clue but only the correct spelling of a word.
  4. Students whose turn it was to take a break during each round enjoyed it! 
  5. I allowed students who only had the clues to write in the answer to one of the clues listed on their sheets in order to give them something to do. 
  6. Students enjoyed the "choice" aspect and that they could choose any clue to answer (at least in the beginning rounds).
  7.  I did not think that this activity would become competitive among students, but I had some students really get into it.
As always, thanks, Cindy for your great ideas!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

There is No One Type of CI Teacher

The ACTFL Convention has ended, and although I did not attend this year, my Twitter account can tell you what happened, as it blew up with Tweets from so many teachers who were there. When attending a conference like ACTFL or an IFLT or NTPRS, on the one hand, it is easy to feel motivated by all of the presentations and teachers. On the other hand, it is also easy for one to walk away feeling defeated, because "Gosh, I stink as a teacher, because I am not like X person in the classroom."

Quite honestly, it is very easy for me to get into that way of thinking. There are so many teachers out there whom I admire for all that they are doing for students in their classrooms and are achieving with them, and then I get into a "compare and despair" mindset where I think, "Gosh, I'm lucky if I can get my students to tell me their name in Latin." But then I remind myself: I am not that person - I am me. That person is not in front of my students - I am. And because of that, my students deserve to have me and who I am, not me trying to be someone else. Yes, all of that does sound a bit hackneyed and like an over-reaching platitude, but there is such truth in that.

There are CI teachers out there whom I think are SO effective in the classroom, but I also know that their teaching style reflects their individual personalities. I absolutely love the energy which Jason Fritze and Annabelle Williamson exhibit in their classrooms, but if I were to do that, gosh, I would have nothing left after 30 minutes. There are things which work perfectly well in my classroom, because it is me up front teaching, and there are things which have absolutely BOMBED in my class, because it is me up front teaching. In other words, the only person whom I can be as a teacher is myself. 

There is no one single type of CI teacher. There are those who are full of energy and run around their classroom acting everything out with their students. I know CI teachers who are incredibly laid back, implement a non-targeted language approach, and let students dictate the direction and scope of the class based on their spontaneous interests. I also know CI teachers who are ALL about structure and organization in their approach to teaching, facilitate a targeted language approach, and have everything planned out. I know that there are CI teachers who are implementing a hybrid, CI/textbook curriculum in their classrooms But the thing is that I know that all of these teachers are 100% effective in their facilitation of a CI classroom. 

The task then is to find your own voice as a CI teacher and to become comfortable with it. Yes, be motivated and encouraged by other teachers, but do not strive to be them. Finding your own voice as a regular teacher takes time, let alone as a CI teacher. It takes time becoming comfortable in your own skin in front of students. I look back at my early years of teaching, and I am so embarrassed at how I was as a 3rd-year teacher. At the same time, I have to admit, relatively speaking among 3rd-year teachers, I did a pretty good job. And as dear Rose Williams has said to me, "And your students loved you still in spite of all that." Such true words.

So continue to learn about CI and what that looks like in a classroom. As you do and as you progress as a teacher, you'll grow into it. As a result, there you will find your CI voice. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


This is one of my all-time favorite CI activities, but quite honestly, it is one which I have forgotten about until now!  It is a Rassias method which I learned from Nancy Llewellyn at Rusticatio, and at every Rusticatio which I have attended, I have always looked forward to when Nancy demonstrates a micrologue, because I get to experience it from a student's perspective. Essentially, a micrologue is telling a "mini" story in the target language through the use of pictures, with the idea that by the very end of the activity, everyone to a degree can "retell" the story. A micrologue is all about REPETITIONS, as the story is retold about 7-8 times, but different tasks accompany the retells to preserve the novelty.

  1. Write a very short story in the target language (6-7 sentences) or a series of 6-7 short sentences, using known vocabulary and grammar. The telling of the story should take no longer than a minute. It can be from a known story.
  2. Illustrate each sentence either on your classroom board OR draw a series of pictures for projecting using a computer projector
  3. Write the story as a document to be projected later.
  1. Pick one student to sit up at the front of the class.
  2. Explain to the rest of the class that you as the teacher are going to tell a story and that you only want them to listen.
  3. Explain the same to the student sitting up at front.
  4. Tell the story to the class slowly, using the pictures for each sentence.
  5. After telling the story, explain to the class that you are going to tell the story again 2-3 times but that they are now to write it down the story in Latin as you read it.
  6. Explain to the student sitting up front that he/she is to listen only.
  7. Read the story again 2-3 times, using the pictures for each sentence. The class will write down the story in the target language, while the student continues to listen only.
  8. Now repeat the story again, one sentence at a time, but ask the student, “Nonne….?”. Student will respond, “Ita/certe/sic, …..” and will repeat the entire sentence back to you.
Teacher: nonne Marcus et Paulus in via ambulabant?
Student: ita, Marcus et Paulus in via ambulabant.
Teacher: nonne subito Marcus canem ferocem conspexit?
Student:  ita, subito Marcus canem ferocem conspexit.

Teacher: Surely Marcus and Paul were walking in the street?
Student: Yes, Marcus and Paul were walking in the street.
Teacher: Surely, suddenly Marcus caught sight of a ferocious dog?
Student: Yes, suddenly Marcus caught sight of a ferocious dog.

    9. Now project the written story onto a screen, using the overhead projector or computer 
  10. Explain to the student that he/she is going to read the story aloud to the class. Explain 
        to the class that they can now correct any of their own writing/spelling errors at this                time.
  11. Have the student read the story aloud twice.
  12. Now using the original set of pictures, ask the student to tell you the story verbatim.

Example of Nancy Llewellyn doing a micrologue in Latin

Post Activity
Ask the class comprehension questions in Latin about the story, or ask another student to tell you the story verbatim. As a class, translate the story aloud to establish meaning. Do a timed write with the pictures

  1. For a micrologue truly to work, a few things need to occur
    • the story itself needs to be around 6-7 sentences, i.e. it needs to be short!
    • telling the story itself should take no longer than a minute. That is key; if it becomes to long, then it can become overwhelming to the student up front. 
    • the story needs to be 100% comprehensible and to use only known vocabulary/language structures.

     2. Switching tasks between the retell keeps the rest of the class engaged during the        
     3. Depending on the level of the story and the class's familiarity with the 
         vocabulary/language structures, I sometimes leave out the part where I ask the 
         student, "Nonne..." and the student responds back with the sentence, because this is 
         where I start to lose engagement from the class.

I myself have been the one up front who had to retell the story in Latin. A few Rusticationes ago, I was "volunteered" to be the "student". Even though I was 100% familiar with what to expect, it was a different experience being up front as opposed to being in the audience, but as the story was completely comprehensible to me due to the vocabulary, pictures and gestures, I felt at ease. By the 3rd retell, I was pretty familiar with the story and by 5th retell, I was ready to tell it on my own (even though 2 more retells still remained). When I retold the story finally, it seemed so easy, and I pointed to the pictures exactly and incorporated the gestures just like Nancy had done.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Struggling as a Student

As part of my doctoral studies, it is necessary for me to take research classes, both qualitative and quantitative. Because I will have to write a dissertation in a few years, I am required to take these courses. I wish that I could say that I am enjoying these classes - the truth is that I am not. Maybe "enjoy" is a too strong of a word. I can say that I am definitely learning much on the topics, but wow, I am finding these courses so overwhelming at times. Having to wrap my mind around conceptual frameworks, research designs, research methodologies, validity, ethical concerns, leptokurtic vs. platykurtic designs, correlation vs. causal, t-samples, 2-tailed, box charts - oh my gosh, this becomes WAY TOO MUCH to wrap my "pragmatic-based, theoretical framework" mind around (Identifying my conceptual framework is about as far as I can apply my understanding of academic research at the moment, so I guess I should be happy for little victories here). 

I know that most students do not automatically understand this material right away, and I know that my professors all struggled too when they first learned about research. I also know that there are those out there who LOVE conducting, reading, and writing about research and can lose themselves in the material because they are enjoying it so much. I can honestly say that this is NOT me. I am SO sick of reading academic research articles, but I will say that the more that I do read articles, the more I am able to identify aspects of the academic research process (Again, I suppose that I should celebrate this as a small victory, but I am not doing cartwheels just yet).

Let me tell you personally: the affective filter is REAL!! Not that I feel panicky or anxious when dealing with my research classes, but I will also say that there is a degree of stress hovering over my head whenever I have do any work related to these courses. 

It is important for us as teachers to struggle, to feel anxiety, and to not comprehend a subject like our very own students in our world language classroom. The reason is because most likely, when we were students, we did NOT experience this at all. Most likely, as a result, we became language teachers, because language came easy to us. Because of this, it is easy to project this onto our own students - if learning a language came easy to us, then it should be easy for them. The flipside is a belief then that if students are not performing well in a language class, then it is their fault or that they are not "language material" students. I love how Bill Van Patten says, "If all students were like language teachers, then they would be teachers of language, and they're not. We're the weirdos." I also have taught enough years to realize that there is only so much which I can do as a teacher to enable students to acquire material and to pass my class - students must also take some ownership. However, as a teacher, I need to do everything which I can do on my part.

Another area to consider in realizing that most students are not like us is that as 4%ers, we are internally-motivated and possess enough meta skills to drive us to continue through difficult material. Better put, although we may eventually give up on difficult material, that particular stopping point is MUCH further along on the spectrum than the majority of students. We need to accept that most students will give up when presented with difficult material (honestly, there have been so many times that I have shut down in my research classes), so the challenge for us is how to make this material more salient. I am not saying that we have to dumb down material, but rather we must learn how to make our material more understandable and malleable, in addition to lowering students' affective filter. A major way to do this is to SLOW DOWN with the material and to be realistic with an instructional timeline. When we realize that after 4 years that students will only be at the Intermediate level of language proficiency, that actually gives us teachers a realistic view of language instruction and expectations. As Mr. Rogers puts it, "I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex."

One of the best learning experience in my life has been taking a Fluency Fast Mandarin class with Linda Li. I wish I could say that it was because I picked up the Mandarin language so quickly and was the star student. Far from it. In the beginning of the class, I struggled with the language, because:
  • it was not a Romance language based on Latin, so I could not make connections
  • it was a tonal language not based on an English alphabet, so even when the words were written in English letters, the words did not match the sounds which I was hearing. 
But, I will say that it was because of Linda Li's caring, patient attitude and her implementation of Comprehensible Input that made me want to continue so that eventually, everything just kind of "clicked" - I cannot tell you when that happened or how it happened, but suddenly, the sounds of the Mandarin language began to have meaning.

I only have a few more weeks left in my graduate school semester, and although I am looking forward to the end of my quantitative research class, unfortunately, I have to take an even more advanced quantitative research class next semester. I am hoping that time away from having to think about research during Winter Recess will help reset my mind for my new research class in the spring.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Entering my Last Third

I am finishing up my 21st year of full-time teaching (prior to this, I taught part-time at a private school). In many ways, I find that astonishing, because it does not feel like I have taught for that long - so many of those years have blended together. But then I realize that I was at my former school for 17 years and am now finishing up my 4th year at my current school. Then throw in the fact that I have taught over 1,800 students during that time (although I usually teach around 150 students/year, many of those are repeats year after year, so probably 90 new students/year?) - that number still blows my mind!

I plan to retire in about 10-12 years, so the fact that I am now entering into the last third of my teaching career is incredibly significant to me as a Latin teacher. In ancient Rome, the office of a Vestal Virgin was a prestigious position for a woman as these priestesses of the goddess Vesta were considered religious guardians of the city. Those who were chosen began between the ages of 6-10 and served for 30 years, remaining as virgins during their time of service. The thirty years of a Vestal Virgin were very regimented:
  • the first ten years - were trained in their duties by elder Vestal Virgins
  • the middle ten years - served their duties as Vestal Virgins
  • the final ten years - trained newly chosen Vestal Virgins in their duties
As I look ahead to my final 10-12 years of full-time teaching, I must ask myself, "What can I do to help train/mentor new teachers in their early years of teaching, especially those who are interested in CI? What is it that I know now after 20 years of teaching that I can pass along to help novice teachers? What can I pass along which I have learned from those who are part of my CI family tree?"

I suppose in many ways that I am already doing this through this blog, but I still blog thinking that only 12 people read this. Although I am a doctoral student in instructional technology, I only use Twitter for professional reasons (and I am only on that 2-3 times a week), so I am not hip to what is going on in Facebook groups (and that is a personal choice) or in other social media forums.

Here are some ways in which I hope to help mentor novice teachers/newcomers, especially those wanting to learn more about CI:
  • I have signed up to be a Latin teacher Mentor as part of the American Classical League Mentorship program.
  • I wish to seek out and to partner with potential 1st-time/novice presenters to deliver presentations at conferences to give them experience and exposure.
  • I wish to be more available and approachable at conferences. When I attend conferences, I realize that I usually stick with my own group of friends and rarely branch out and spend time with those whom I do not know. For an ACL Summer Institute or an IFLT, I am seriously considering organizing nightly "A Meal with Five Strangers," where if newcomers to conferences do not know anyone or do not have anyone to eat with, they can join me and other newcomers to go out for a meal - the fact that no one really knows each other and that we are all strangers but are interested in meeting each other over a meal is what actually lowers the affective filter and social anxiety of it all. Many universities have events something like this but a lot more formal. When I was a student at UCLA, the alumni association had an event called "Dinner for Twelve Strangers," and I loved attending this event every!
  • I wish to be more available for observations by those who are interested in CI. Last month, we had four Latin teachers from three different schools come observe us at Parkview HS on the same day. I actually do like being observed, because it gives me a chance to show what I am doing in my classroom.
Those of you who are also in your last third, I challenge you too to take up the mantle!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Running Dictation with Categories

This is a take on a regular running dictation which I learned from Miriam Patrick. This is a great post-reading activity involving characters from a reading or sentences involving categories. It still has the basics of a running dictation where a runner will run to a list of sentences in the target language, memorize what is written, and then dictate what is said to a writer. This twist, however, has the writer put the sentence now in a particular category.

Pre-Class Directions
  1. On a document, create a number of categories, such as characters in a reading or other natural categories. 4-5 categories are a good amount.
  2. Write short sentences in the target language for each category. 4-5 sentences for each category are a good amount.
  3. Scatter the sentences on a document so that all of the sentences are not grouped by category.
  1. Put up the sentences along a wall in a random order either in the room or outside of the classroom. You can post copies of the document. I recommended making one copy of the sentences, cutting the sentences into strips, and taping them to an outside wall.
  2. Pair up students.
  3. Each team will need a writing surface and a writing utensil.
  4. Give each team a copy of the category document.
  5. Explain that one person will sit with sentences and the other person will run to ONE of the sentences. It is not necessary for them to run to the sentences in order but rather to run to just one of the them.
  6. The person who runs will look at the sentence, memorize it, run back to the partner, and dictate the sentence in the target language.
  7. Both members will then determine into which category that sentence that goes, and the writer will write that sentence under that category heading.
  8. Then, the two will switch roles - the writer will now become the runner, and the runner will then become the writer.
  9. Explain that they may NOT use their phones to take a picture! They again can only look at one sentence at a time.

Non est defessus
Exclamat “Narra fabulam mihi”
Ludit (is playing) cum amicis in silva
Habitat in parva insula
Iecit rete in mare
Vidit aliquid in mari
Putavit arcam esse navem
Est defessa, sed narrat fabulam
Non vult narrare fabulam
Vult matrem narrare fabulam
Est monstrum
Est in Labyrintho
Habet caput tauri
Est in arca
Est cum parvo infante in arca
Invenit feminam in arca
Vendit pisces
Accepit nummum
Vult caedere Minotaurum
Non vult auxilio esse (to help) patri
  1. This is a quick post-reading activity and takes about 10 minutes.
  2. I love the higher-level thinking that goes on in this activity. Instead of just parroting back sentences, students are using the sentences for a reason (a "task" perhaps), which is putting the sentences into categories.
  3. This is also a higher-level thinking activity, because runners and writers need to communicate to each other which sentences they already have.
  4. The sentences need to be short, since runners are dictating them for a purpose. It frustrates students to have long sentences where they have to keep running back to the sentence.
  5. The sentences need to be comprehensible, since the both the runner and writer need to understand the message communicated.
  6. I love the multiple layers of input which is going on - the runner reading the sentence and then dictating it to the writer, who is listening and writing it down.
  7. I like cutting up the strips and posting them all over the walls outside the classroom, because students are moving all over the place and really start to read each sentence as the activity progresses to determine if their team already has that sentence.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Why You Should Present at Conferences

It is conference season, and the call for session proposals is currently going out for many conferences. As stated in an earlier blog post, I have returned to presenting again. Having had time away from presenting, I now find my mind racing with many different ideas as potential topics. So as the call for session proposals goes out, I challenge you to consider submitting one yourself. 

Right away, I am certain that I raised the affective filter and brought on social anxiety for some of you with that statement. When I have challenged teachers to consider presenting at conferences before, the first response is usually, "But I do not know what I would present. I have nothing to say - I am not (insert name of a presenter whom you admire)." 

My response is this. Simply put: You have a voice and do have something to say. 

At the same time, I do understand the hesitancy among people to present, because deciding on presentation topic can be difficult, let alone filling 60-90 minutes on that topic. Here are some suggestions about topics:
  • What do you see yourself doing well in your classroom? 
  • Is there a particular "epiphany" which you have had on a pedagogical topic which you wish to share? Those presentations which are most personal to the presenter are difficult to dispute, since they are based on personal experience.
  • Look for gaps in conference presentation topics. Is there a topic which you feel has not been addressed but should be? However, do not pigeon-hole yourself into such a specific topic that it isolates the majority of your audience, unless you are targeting a specific audience.
  • The best presentations are those which are constructivist in nature where participants themselves can experience the subject matter hands-on in order to create their own meaning. Think of your own students - how effective is a pure 60-minute lecture in their acquisition of material? Just because you are using a PowerPoint does not make a presentation constructivist in nature. 
  • Consider presenting topics which are applicable to all languages and levels of instruction. Although I am a Latin teacher, I learn so much from presentations done by other world language teachers. 
  • Avoid presentation topic gluts. If you are tired of the same old presentation topics of conferences, then do not submit one of the same topic, because most likely, so is everyone else. Rather, put your own spin on the topic or address it from a different angle. 
And now let me address those of you who are more experienced conference presenters: consider partnering with someone who has never presented before. There are many benefits of doing this:
  1. It introduces "new faces" to the world of conference presentations. Although I enjoy attending presentations of seasoned presenters, I also want to see a diversity of presenters represented. Also, as much as I enjoy presenting, people need to see other faces and to hear other voices besides mine.
  2. There are so many potential presenters out there with so much to say and to share who just need that little push or invitation to present. You can be that catalyst for them.
  3. It provides a safe space for novice presenters, who can rely on you to help guide them through the process of writing up a session proposal and how to design a presentation.
  4. It helps lower the affective filter of first-time presenters, because they are not responsible for 100% of the presentation. They are only responsible for their portion.
  5. Tag-teaming a presentation is just plain fun!
I hope to see many new faces presenting at conferences!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Charlala DrawRoom - Picture/Sentence Match

Just recently, I learned about Charlala, a "conversational language platform" according to the website. I have not investigated much on the website outside of the DrawRoom function, but I really like what I see. Unfortunately, the DrawRoom function is still in Beta testing, so there are a number of drawbacks and limitations, but gosh, it really does have a lot of potential. The creator of Charlala is a world language teacher, and the DrawRoom has so many CI possibilities!

In this post, I am going to focus on the Game Mode of DrawRoom and how to use it as a post-reading activity. 

The example in the above video demonstrates the Game Mode using individual vocabulary words, but I used it with 9 sentences from a reading - I think that 7-9 sentences are a good amount (see drawbacks for why).

  1. Students really got into this activity! It was fun trying to interpret others' drawings and match them with the correct sentence.
  2. Because I was only focusing on 9 sentences, a number of students drew the same sentences so that allowed for lots of repetitions of pictures shown.
  3. Students REALLY wanted their pictures to be displayed and guessed. That kept many students engaged. 
  4. A number of my sentences involved close reading, so students had to choose carefully.
  5. I stressed to students that they include ALL drawable aspects of their sentence, since many sentences were similar but certain aspects in the sentence made them distinct.
Drawbacks (NOTE - the Draw Room function is still in Beta testing)
  1. Although students can draw their pictures on their smartphones, it works much better with a tablet. A number of students found the smartphone screen to be too small.
  2. Due to the formatting of the sentence choices, there is not enough screen space on a smartphone for more than 9 sentences, and if sentences are too long, they can be difficult to see.
  3. The leaderboard only shows 4 names. For a class of 30, students do not know where they have placed overall.
  4. There is no way for you as the teacher to preview the pictures prior to posting them, so if a student draws an inappropriate picture, you cannot delete it nor will you know until it is projected. I also had some students misdraw the sentence, i.e., what a student drew was incorrect. Unfortunately, I did not know until the picture was projected.
  5. Students enter in their names, so students can enter in "naughty nicknames" - much like Kahoot before, you as the teacher cannot delete any names until they are submitted. I would like to be able to enter in students' names prior to playing the game (I know that this is a student privacy information situation though).

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Three Sentence True/False

Here is a great no-prep, post-reading activity which I got from Cindy Hitz's blog - if you are not reading her blog, it is a treasure trove of great CI insights and activities! I have been devouring it and have found so many practical CI application there. 

The activity is very simple - two true sentences and one false sentence from a reading. Here is a link to her directions for this activity.

  1. This truly is a no-prep activity - the only material which you need is a passage/reading which you have been reviewing.
  2. I gave 45 seconds for each group to find the false sentence. This gave students a sense of urgency (which was not necessary since most found the false sentence in about 20 seconds) but also kept the activity moving along.
  3. I divided the reading into three sections - students had to pick one sentence from each section. I did this so that students had to use the entire passage instead of just writing down the first three sentences of the passage. This also made students look through/be familiar with the entire passage in determining the false sentence.
  4. Although I partnered students, I had a few smaller classes which would have resulted in lesser rotations of sentences and would have made the activity end much more quickly. To remedy this, I myself added 3-4 lists of true/false sentences and lettered them. For these classes, I kept the lists of sentences, and one group would pass its sentences to me, and in turn, I would pass one of mine to the next group. It is important, however, that you keep track of the order of your own sentences so you know which sentences to pass on next.
  5. Due to having an odd number of students in a few of my classes, I did have groups of three. I found that this was too big - pair works better if possible.
  6. This does get in lots of repetitions of sentences. As students got more exposure to the true/false sentences, it became very obvious to them which sentences were false.
  7. I liked that this activity involved close reading, because many students wrote some subtle changes for their false sentences. 
  8. I loved that all I had to do was facilitate this activity. This gave me an opportunity to walk around to see how students were doing.
So if you need a break from "being on" in the classroom or suddenly are in need of an activity at the last minute, consider this one! As always, thanks, Cindy!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Alternate PingPong/Volleyball Reading

Here is an alternate way to do a ping-pong/volleyball reading with your students. I learned this from Alina Filipescu many years ago at IFLT, but I had forgotten about it until now. It still implements the basic concept of a ping-pong/volleyball reading, but it goes a lot faster, thus you can get in more repetitions.

This still involves a partner read/translation, but the difference now is that there is no longer the "read the sentence in the target language" part. 

  1. Give students a reading with which they are familiar.
  2. Partner up students.
  3. Student A translates the first sentence into English.
  4. Student B translates the next sentence into English.
  5. Student A translates the next sentence into English...and so on.
  1. I like how much more quickly this goes than a traditional ping-pong/volleyball reading. Students seem to like this better too for that aspect.
  2. The downside is that in taking away the "read the sentence in the target language" part, there is little processing time for the partner to translate the sentence into English. As a result, this needs to be a story with which students are familiar or a story which can be read easily.
  3. This alternate way adds some novelty and variety in doing a ping-pong/volleyball reading.
  4. Because students get through a reading much more quickly than the traditional style, they also re-read it more, thus getting in more repetitions of understandable messages.
  5. This can still be done in Read Dating, Airplane Reading, or traditional ping-pong reading situation. The changing of partners after 1-2 minutes adds much movement to the reading activity.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Presenting Again

This summer, I started presenting at conferences again. While for some of you, that may not seem like a big deal or something which is blogworthy, but I actually took about 18 months off from presenting and attending conferences. For all of 2018 and the first half of 2019, I did not do anything conference-related (you can read about it here). In a nutshell, after a whirlwind of conferences and of presenting in 2017, I was so burned out that I needed time away from professional development and kept a low profile (outside of my blog) as a result.

This summer's ACL Summer Institute marked my return to presenting again. On behalf of SALVI, I co-delivered a presentation called "Putting Latin in the Ears of Your Students (When You Don't Know How to)," which I enjoyed doing, but I also felt completely rusty being up in front of adults. I also felt nervous, which I rarely do before presentations. Most times, if I am nervous, it concerns logistics - do I have the right dongles/attachment cables for the projector, what is my presentation space like, is audience seating conducive for my presentation, etc - but this time, I was actually nervous about presenting itself and being in front of adults. The presentation was well-received, and although I felt good about it, I did not feel like I was on my A-game at all. 

Cut to IFLT a month later, where I gave a presentation "I'm Sick of Kahoot: Using Technology for the Delivery of Comprehensible Input." This time, I felt completely on! Maybe because since I am currently a doctoral student in Instructional Technology, the topic was one with which I was very familiar. Maybe because I got my presentation feet wet again at ACL, I got the kinks and jitters out there. For all I know, the IFLT audience may not have gotten a single thing out of my presentation, but I know that I myself definitely felt good about it afterwards. Two weeks later, I delivered the same presentation at my district's world language pre-planning inservice, and once again, I enjoyed myself.  

Taking those 18 months off from attending conferences and presenting was a much-needed break from that kind of professional development. That time off has given me a lot of perspective:
  • During those 18 months, I did not miss attending conferences or presenting. This shows me that I truly needed time away from that type of professional development. When my colleagues were attending conferences, I was perfectly happy sitting on my couch eating pizza while watching reruns of Laverne and Shirley. That is not to say that I gave up professional development completely - it just took place in a different medium, e.g., blogs, Twitter, face-to-face discussions, and collaboration.
  • At the same time, now that I have taken a break, I am enjoying attending conferences and presenting. It is actually a very nice feeling.
  • It is easy for me to feel that I need to present. The reality is honestly, I don't need to. The world will go on (and has been) if I do not present.
  • It is easy to get burned out with attending conferences and presenting if it is something which one likes to do. I truly enjoy presenting and sharing ideas with others at conferences, so it is easy for me to go overboard with it and want to present all the time. I feel completely comfortable in front of an audience, so in the moment, I enjoy it, but I also see how addictive it can be for me. 
  • I am going to be a lot more selective in which conferences I attend and present. I have learned that it is all about boundaries for me. Attending IFLT is a no-brainer for me - I am definitely attending IFLT each summer, since I always get so much out of this conference. When it comes to state, regional, and national conferences, however, I need to be selective in order to guard against experiencing burnout again.
So I hope to see you at a conference!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Multiple Story "Put the Sentences in Order"

Once again, this is a post-reading activity which I learned from Annabelle Williamson (LaMaestraLoca) at IFLT this summer. It is actually an incredibly easy and quick activity to create (outside of cutting lots of sentence strips) and to facilitate. It will involve at least three different readings, with which your students are very familiar.

Pre-class directions
  1. Pick at least three different readings with which your students are familiar and you wish to review.
  2. Type up at least 15 sentences in the target language in a list for each reading in a large font. These sentences need to be in order of that particular reading. Do not number the sentences. You will also need to space each sentence.
  3. Cut each of the sentences into strips (one sentence per strip). 
  4. Type the titles of the readings and cut into strips.  
  5. Mix all of the strips together.
  6. You will need to repeat this as many times for groups of three, e.g., if you have 30 students, you will have 10 piles of identical strips.
Class directions
  1. Divide the class into groups of three.
  2. Give a pile of strips to each group.
  3. Tell the class that there are three stories' worth of sentences in the pile. Their task is to separate the sentences according to the reading and then to arrange those sentences in order of the story.
  4. When a group is finished, review its sentences to determine if it got the order correct. 
  1. This is a higher-order thinking activity, because it not only involves students knowing which sentence strip goes with which story but then to put those sentence strips in order - both of these when written in the target language.
  2. This is a quick 10-minute activity but a fun one to watch.
  3. Students are receiving repetitions of familiar understandable messages in this activity.
  4. I love seeing how the students work collaboratively on this activity. First, they separated the strips by story, and then each student took one of the stories to put into order. 
  5. I was surprised at how much students remembered from the earlier stories, even though it had been a month since we did the first story.
  6. If different stories have similar vocabulary, all the better, since this now requires to read each sentence strip closely to determine from which story the strip comes. I had two stories involving monsters, so students had to do close reading to determine of which story the sentence strip was a part.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Latin Lesson Plan for Prologue of "Perseus et Rex Malus"

This year in Latin 3, we have started the school year by beginning to read Andrew Olympi's novella Perseus et Malus Rex. Here is my lesson plan for the prologue - this also contains a lesson plan for how I previewed vocabulary and prepared students to be able to read the prologue - it is with Andrew's full permission that I post the entire prologue here on my blog:

Previewing Vocabulary for the Prologue 
Day 1
  1. Movie Talk - Monstrum in Armario
    • Target words - In lecto, aliquid, magnos sonos facit, defessus, in armario, tempus est, obdormire, timet
    • Movie Talk script
    • Movie Talk worksheet (students fill this out during the Movie Talk)
Day 2

Day 3
Day 4
Day 5