Professional Development


Connect when you connect

Holly Haputa, OFLA Professional Development Chair
Spanish Teacher, Avon Lake High School

If you are like me, you are actively using Quizlet, Kahoot, Gimkit, and a host of other websites that turn review and practice into a game for your students.  I love watching the engagement, the excitement, the teamwork, and the discussion all of these sites create for students. Last year, as I discovered by logging in myself, the competition and focus go to a whole new level.   Continue reading

Posted in Executive News, Fall 2019, Uncategorized



We Need to Educate Our Representatives

Angela Gardner, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair

The summer of 2019 found us faced with legislation that proposed to allow coding to replace language learning for credit in school districts where languages are a requirement for graduation. This legislation came to us in HB 166, the financial budget for Ohio for FY 2020-2021, which encompasses many tax and other issues.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Beginning Teachers


Trial and error bring SUCCESS!

Megan Brady, OFLA Beginning Teacher Chair
Spanish Teacher, Marlington Local Schools

As a smaller district in Northeast Ohio, we have a small migrant population who is in our district for approximately the first 6 weeks and the last 6 weeks of the school year. With minimal ELL support, I have tried to brainstorm ways of reaching this group of underrepresented kids and helping them the best we can. Last year, I linked my Spanish Honor Society kids with this group and created a mentor group called Amistad.

The year didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned it, but what year does? Here’s what I learned: with this population of kids, you never know who you’re going to get. I had such a range from really excellent students, who were truly bilingual in both languages, to a 17-year-old being treated as a freshman due to his very limited English, and all the spaces in between. My Spanish Honor Society kids also ranged a little bit, mostly in comfort levels. Some of the kids were fine with putting themselves out there and speaking to them in Spanish, and others were more timid and would try everything in English before finally throwing in a few Spanish words to use a sort of Spanglish. However, by the end of the year, we had some pretty strong friendships, and even swapped social media information, so that I would hear all about our migrant students throughout the year, even though they were scattered across the US.

Luckily, I had the support of my administration and the guidance office. We have our lunch periods split up, so a full period is split with half lunch and half study hall. I used these lunch periods to reach the kids.  The guidance counselors allowed me to send a list of migrant and Spanish Honors Society students so that they were placed in my room opposite their lunch (some ended up eating lunch there as well). The first week we did some get-to-know-you activities to help bring everyone together and to feel more at ease. We asked what questions they had, helped them find classes, and talked about the teachers they had and what they can expect from them. It was really interesting to discover how some of our teachers don’t understand how culturally different/difficult seemingly “easy” things, such are creating flashcards, actually are. The science teacher says you need to create flashcards for each chapter by Friday. To the kid who has been here all their lives, this seems pretty straightforward. To a semi-fluent English learner, this is not exactly clear. Therefore, one day we helped a few students get notecards, taught them to cut them in half or fourths to get more bang for their buck, and showed them how to make flashcards.  We also added to the flashcards to make sure they were actually useful to those students with limited English. Other activities included just being a voice for them. For example, when teachers would give them homework that requires online access at home, we would ask the teachers to print the assignment or give them extra time, help the students learn to print it themselves, show them where to get that printed paper, and even how to submit online assignments or attach things to emails. We helped two seniors with applying to college, teaching them about FAFSA and its process, find scholarships, and just talk about what it would look like for them to attend in general. I am so excited to say that one of our girls got a free ride and is attending the University of Michigan this year! The excitement in her email to me saying she was accepted and received the free tuition was one of my proudest teacher moments. Other things we discussed, that I didn’t realize were even a necessity, were explaining they need to hurry to their next class and bring books with them because they only have 4 minutes between bells, how to open lockers, how the lunch line works, and what is included in lunch and what is extra. 

While we did have some hurdles to overcome, overall, this group was quite successful and I’ve had students asking if they can be a part of it for next year.  If you are interested in creating a peer mentor group with ELL students, or even just new students, I highly recommend you take the plunge and get your kids involved. It’s a great activity for your Honor Societies or even just Language clubs or start your own group! I’m happy to help you with logistics, etc if you need a sounding board ( Best of luck for a great school year!

Posted in Committee News, Fall 2019, Uncategorized

Early Language Learning

Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 10.12.31 AM.pngHAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAMP OFLA!

2019 Camp OFLA Recap and Looking Ahead

Samantha Bremner, OFLA Early Language Learning Chair

This year, Camp OFLA celebrated its 15th year!

The theme was “Crayons” highlighting colors, emotions, traveling, and writing postcards. It was based on the story “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt. Continue reading

Posted in Committee News, Fall 2019, Uncategorized



Scholarships Available

Julie Frye, OFLA Scholarship Chair
French Teacher, Lexington High School

I don’t know what your school schedule is, but my students received their first grade cards on Friday, 4 October. It just doesn’t seem possible that we can mark a whole grading period off the calendar already!

And speaking of the passage of time, I want to make sure you are aware of the 2019-2020 deadlines for OFLA scholarship opportunities and recognitions. Take time now to familiarize yourself with the nomination and application process. The pertinent details and forms can be found at Continue reading

Posted in Committee News, Fall 2019, Uncategorized

Secondary Language Learning


Maureen Gerber, OFLA Secondary Learning Chair
French Teacher, Perrysburg High School

For so many of us, the past narrative is a struggle to teach. I remember years of making my own stories and dutifully making blanks for the students to fill in where they chose between passé composé, imparfait, and later, plus-que-parfait. And generally, these worksheets were a disaster for us all.  Quelle horreur!

One day many many years ago, everything changed for me in one fell swoop. I went to a conference where a veteran teacher boiled down the passé composé and the imparfait to two general questions: What happened? (Action) and What were the circumstances? (Description) “It was that simple,” he said.

And truly, that is all it is. So consider: Continue reading

Posted in Committee News, Fall 2019, Uncategorized

Technology Integration


Make IPAs Work for You!

Jill Gomez and Leah Henson, Miami University Regionals, Senior Lecturers

Our introduction to integrated performance assessments (IPAs) began in 2009 with a familiarization workshop at the annual American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Annual Convention and World Language Expo. In our journey since then, we’ve moved through three primary phases:

    • using a shortened IPA format with text resources as practice before chapter exams 
    • creating blended exams that included IPA components with traditional formats
    • creating five-part IPAs as end-of-unit assessments

While five-part IPAs for every unit might sound overwhelming, know that we transitioned gradually as we gained experience and confidence!  In addition to the 2009 familiarization workshop, we have had multiple opportunities to learn about IPAs and to see how others implement them in their classes.  We attended numerous sessions on IPAs at the OFLA, Central States, and ACTFL conferences. In 2013, ACTFL offered a series of three webinars (Improving Language Learners’ Performance through Integrated Assessments) presented by Dr. Bonnie Adair-Hauck and Dr. Frank Troyan. In 2014, Dr. Troyan presented an all-day IPA workshop for faculty in Miami University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese.   The same year, we adopted the learning outcomes produced as a result of the Foreign Language Initiative

The combination of our experience with IPAs and the Foreign Language Initiative learning outcomes led us to pilot five-part IPAs for the 2016-2017 academic year in our SPN 201 and 202 (intermediate level) courses. The learning outcomes include five areas: interpersonal communication, interpretive listening/viewing, interpretive reading, presentational speaking, and presentational writing. Because those modes of communication aligned so closely with IPAs, we decided to pilot five-assessment IPAs in place of the blended exams we had been using.  

How do our IPAs differ from those you might see in ACTFL’s Implementing Integrated Performance Assessment book?  First, our IPAs include five assessments, one for each of the learning outcome areas, instead of three (one for each mode).  For the interpretive tasks, we often do not include all questions on the ACTFL IPA template. Our IPAs are sometimes integrative instead of fully integrated; for example, while the activities are combined in a real-word way, students don’t need the information from an interpretive listening/viewing to be able to complete the interpretive reading. Second, our IPAs do not occur over three separate days with feedback days in between.  Instead, our students complete IPA-like activities with regular feedback all throughout the unit, working on the skills they need to interpret, present, and communicate in the language. At the end of each unit, students complete an assessment for each of the five outcome areas, typically over 1.5 class days and often with a presentational or interpersonal assessment completed outside of class (recorded through the learning management system). We adopted this approach since most of our classes meet two days per week for 80 minutes; the three days of assessment plus three days of feedback approach would not work with our scheduling. Last, we have modified the ACTFL IPA rubrics to allow for weighting categories by points. For example, at the novice level, we weight key word recognition and main idea detection more heavily than at the intermediate level.

What have students said about this new format?  We piloted the five-assessment IPAs at the intermediate level in 2016-2017, revised them for 2017-2018, and implemented them at the novice level for 2018-2019.  On our end-of-semester anonymous course evaluations, students have had overwhelmingly positive comments when asked about IPAs as assessments as shown here:  

    • They’re effective because it questions a broad range of the language.
    • I feel like the things I practice and study are things that will actually help me speak the language and understand it better, especially if I was in a Spanish country, rather than simply regurgitate this vocab/ grammar.
    • There are multiple sections on the assessments so if you do bad or mess up one section you won’t automatically fail.
    • … helpful for the various styles of learning among students, as well as the various test-taking strengths.
    • … allows students to grow in multiple areas of language study.
    • … take the pressure off of doing perfectly in a new language. I know that I stink at speaking Spanish, but I can write better.
    • … allows me to show that I understand in multiple ways and gives me more confidence in my overall Spanish speaking capability.
    • … focus on the practical use of Spanish instead of memorizing for a test.

Overall, we have been pleased with this approach to assessment,  and our goals now move to creating multiple IPAs for each unit and to transition the online course formats (currently using the blended approach) to the five-assessment IPAs.


Posted in Committee News, Fall 2019, Technology