Debbie McCorkle, Secondary Language Learning Committee Chair
What a year! Our profession has really seen a shake-up! New World Language Standards! New teacher evaluation system! For many, changes were, are and will be difficult. But, with a determined frame of mind, I decided to embrace the changes. What do you know? Because I embraced these changes, I transformed my classes, and I am reaping benefits in my French program. How you ask? Let me share.
Embrace. This year I embraced the new Ohio Standards for World Languages. I have been spending hours reworking curriculum maps, pacing charts, units and lesson plans. Professional Development? I have more certificates of attendance than I have ever had. I have educated myself on the Integrated Performance Assessement (IPA) process using ACTFL’s webinars and ACTFL’s “little green book”. Gingerly, I embraced the Ohio Teacher Evaluation (OTES) in particular the Student Learning Objectives section. With the leadership of Martha Pero and the model SLO that she rolled out for the World Language educators in Ohio, I see how I can create a classroom that can truly show student growth by measuring proficiencies in the three modes of communication. I have learned about Linguafolio and how to use it as a way for my students monitor and evaluate their learning, a very 21st century skill. Because I have embraced changed, I have transformed.
Tranform. With acceptance of all the new changes to our profession, I have become energized. I have been teaching French I-IV for 26 years and energy is becoming harder and harder to find! This year I have spent hours changing my maps, charts, units and lessons. Keeping what supports the new Ohio Standards and removing what doesn’t. Formative vs. Summative Assessments? I finally know the difference and so do my students. They know that vocabulary and verb conjugations are just part of the big picture. They understand that these smaller skills will allow them to learn the larger skill of buying a picnic lunch at a street market in Paris. I’ve had to get with the technology also. Using iPhones to record student work to upload to student portfolios has become an integral part of my teacher tool kit. My computer has been in constant use researching and connecting with experts in Ohio, especially Ryan Wertz and Paula Sondej, our World Language team at the Ohio Department of education, and across the United States and the world. The biggest transformation for me has been to make my classes less dependent on the textbook and the hunt for authentic materials has become my obsession. It is my hope that the Model Curriculum initiative being led by Ryan Wertz, Paula Sondej, Theresa Minnick and Teri Wiechart will aid me in my quest for lessons using authentic materials. All of this work paid off! My reward has been great.
Reap. I am reaping the benefits of the changes this year. This year 89 students requested to enroll in French I next year. My enrollment this year was 48 students. This year I hear French spoken everywhere in the halls, in the cafeteria, in the girl’s room. Teachers of other disciplines tell me that my students speak French to each other in their classrooms! So, while it has been a really rough year, I must say that it’s been worth it! I encourage all Ohio World Language teachers to embrace, transform and reap the benefits!