Letter from the President

Retooling for 2023 and Beyond

Mark W. Himmelein, OFLA President 2022-2023
Professor of German, University of Mount Union

With the holidays and an all too short break behind us, like many of you, I too, am already several weeks into a new semester and doing my best to cope with the new realities of teaching in the post-pandemic classroom.  Perhaps you, too, have been asking yourself the same types of questions about what makes for effective student learning, classroom management, creating meaningful assignments, and motivating students as we deal with the consequences of the virtual instruction that was thrust upon us. Oh, and let’s not forget the most significant question of all – How do I cope with all of these changes?  Of course, any competent language educator adjusts and modifies instructions routinely, but now it seems as if many of our old ‘tricks’ are just not as effective as they used to be. In talking with colleagues from across several disciplines at my university, virtually all agreed that the way my students learn today has changed dramatically from what was the case in the very recent past.  At the post-secondary level, we are seeing the first full wave of students whose high school education was largely online or at least very significantly altered by the pandemic’s restrictions.  I am confident that similar observations are just as true at the pre-collegiate level as well.  

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2023 Board Election – Meet the Candidates!

Kaleigh Baker, OFLA President-Elect
Spanish Teacher, Butler High School

Several months ago I wrote about WHY you should consider joining OFLA and it was so nice to see so much interest from educators throughout the state! After working with the OFLA Nominations Committee, I am pleased to present the members that will be running for Board positions in the upcoming election.

Here is a link to a Canva created document detailing who is running for what position, and a brief biography and vision statement they submitted. Please take the time to read about each of the members and cast your vote at the end of February.  You will receive details for voting via email. These positions will begin the 2023-2024 school year.

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Scholarship Raffle at the CSCTFL/OFLA Conference

Come win some great prizes while helping your colleagues!

Megan Brady, OFLA Executive Vice President 
Spanish Teacher, Northwest High School

Do you remember your first few years of teaching? Maybe you were a rockstar from the get go, or maybe you were like most of us who struggled with classroom management, who had ambitious goals but a lack of time, who were trying to differentiate to reach all students, while  keeping up with all of the extras. Whether you are there now or it is a distant memory, we would love for you to help us to provide scholarships to future professional development events that would benefit pre-service teachers, new teachers, and more experienced teachers. Don’t worry, we’re not just asking you to fork over money; we’re asking you to take a few minutes between sessions at our joint CSCTFL/OFLA conference next month to look at all of our amazing raffle baskets! We’ve got some great contenders this year. As of January 19th, we have 15 baskets ready to go with more trickling in each day. 

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Sawubona! – The Importance of Names and How Not to Be Mr. Garvey

Milton Alan Turner, OFLA Editor of Electronic Media
French and Spanish Teacher, Saint Ignatius High School

Comedian Keegan-Michael Key created the character of substitute teacher, Mr. Garvey, who constantly mispronounces every student’s name. To make matters even worse, he is completely oblivious to his mistakes and gets belligerent with students when they do not respond to being called by the incorrect name. Mr. Garvey is entirely unaware that his inability to connect and communicate with students is entirely his own doing. Obviously, we as effective educators never want to be like Keegan-Michael Key’s character.

Interpersonal communication is one of the main focuses of a world language classroom and is the act of talking with someone else. Interpersonal communication requires listening to one another, negotiating and interpreting meaning, and arriving at a mutual understanding. Successful interpersonal communication often involves building trust.

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Ideas for Reclaiming Your Personal Time

Beth Hanlon, OFLA Executive Recorder and Editor of The Cardinal
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin High School

Many years ago, I was in an interview to become a big sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters in my county.  The social worker was asking me a variety of questions so that she could appropriately match me with a little sister with similar interests.  She asked me “What activities do you like to do?”  I paused, and finally said “I like to create lesson plans.”  She stared back at me, smiled gently, and replied, “Is there anything else?  I need something better suited to match you with a teenager.”

As I think about that moment now, it makes me smile and laugh and I can not believe I said that.  If you asked me that question now, I would tell you I like to read, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, drink coffee, travel, and spend time with my animals and husband.  However, I really think that response shows how much I allowed my teaching job to consume my life and identity.  

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What My Spanish 3 Students are Doing Right Now

Escena Musical

Lisa Howie, OFLA Executive Treasurer 
Spanish Teacher, Smithville High School

My Spanish 3 students are finishing and presenting Prezis about Spanish musicians/artists right now. I wish I could take the credit for creating the format, but I can’t. Years ago I was doing an online course about integrating technology into the classroom and I found a webquest already created that I could use. The author gave me permission to use it and years later, when he removed it, he allowed me to continue using the materials. While I can’t share those exact materials, I can give you an idea so you can adapt it to your situation.

The students pick their partners. I have a hat with slips of paper with current/important Spanish artists from all genres. Every few years I redo the list to keep it current. They pick their subject randomly and begin researching. I give them a few weeks, a little time in class, and choices of when to present.

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Ask Not What OFLA Can Do for You…

Ask what you can do for OFLA!  

Maria Herman, OFLA Membership Chair
German Teacher, Maumee City Schools

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the quote from John F. Kennedy that is paraphrased above, but are you aware that OFLA is run entirely by volunteers?  That’s right!  Many people think that OFLA has paid staff members.  However, everyone who works with OFLA to support other world language teachers is also a world language teacher, just like you!  

We are all here to help you be the best world language teacher you can be.  However, as teachers, we all know how much time all these tasks take.  If you feel like the OFLA volunteers feel – that helping others to become better world language teachers is an important mission – then join us!  You can serve on the membership committee, or you can help with early childhood, technology, or professional development committees – just about anything.  If you can think of it and are good at it, you can help with it!  Volunteering to help others can be a truly rewarding experience.  

If you’d like to help out with any of these committees, please come attend the joint OFLA/CSCTFL conference and ask how you can help support us all as world language teachers!

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Fostering Global Curiosity

Topic Expansions to Get Kids Thinking About the World Around Them

Lauren Racela, OFLA Technology Integration Committee Chair
French Teacher, Milford High School

In many cases, the world language classroom may be used as an opportunity for students to discover other cultures for the very first time. This is such an exciting experience, especially in school environments that are quite homogenous or environments where students may only rarely encounter non-native English speakers. World language classrooms are a place for students to discover other people, countries, cultures, languages, and ways of life while also seeing how similar we all are. This is a magical phenomenon that many of us value as world language teachers. 

But where else can we take this global curiosity? I firmly believe that it’s our job not only to provide linguistic input but also to demonstrate to our students what it’s like to be a member of multiple language communities. This involves communicating perspectives that integrate with the target language. These perspectives can spark our students’ curiosity about the world around them, and those are moments when our world language classes can truly shine!

Here are a few extension projects that can be used to foster curiosity within students. They align with topics you may already teach in your classroom, and they can be adjusted to fit a variety of levels’ needs. 

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Differentiation with the Grid Method in the World Languages Classroom

Marcia Davis, OFLA Secondary Language Learning Chair
Assistant Principal/Former Spanish Teacher, World Language Middle School, Columbus City Schools

Meeting learners’ needs can be challenging, to say the least. Differentiating instruction is one way to help meet those challenges. According to Carol Ann Tomlinson, differentiation can be by content, process, or product.

Differentiation by content does not mean that students are presented with different knowledge, understanding or skills, but that how students access that information can look different. It can look like students working independently or with a partner to read a novel in the target language, watching a video in the target language, or the teacher providing scaffolding to students in stations.

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Spotlight on New Teachers: Abby Arace

Nicole Hanlon, OFLA Beginning Teachers Chair
French Teacher, Buckeye Valley High School

The OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee is working hard to connect with new teachers and to support them in becoming excellent, innovative, resourceful, and long-lasting world language teachers. Our goal is to provide a network of resources, strategies, and tools for new teachers. We want new teachers to know they are not alone and that OFLA is here to help them. To this end, we will interview new teachers throughout the year and highlight them in The Cardinal. Abby Arace is a French teacher at Wilmington High School in Wilmington, Ohio. This is her fourth year teaching French.

  1. What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

My favorite thing about being a teacher is forming relationships with my students.  Since I’m the only French teacher at my school, I get to have the same students year after year, and watching my kids grow as French students and people is so exciting and rewarding.

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