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!