AATSP Winter 2017-2018: Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica Chapter Ideas

Lindsay Dollinger, AATSP Buckeye Chapter President 2018

Having just inducted our school’s biggest incoming class of new inductees to the “Los Pioneros” Chapter of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, the time for planning a new year of opportunities for our Spanish students has begun. In the four short years of our charter, our school has created a society which values foreign language and encourages students to extend their language learning instead of choosing to stop after the minimum requirement for their chosen graduation track. I had many reasons I initially shared with our administration for approval of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (SHH). Primarily, I wanted to add more value to our department. Student members are able to apply for a junior travel award or a senior university scholarship (one per chapter) each year. In addition, our chapter is able to award service and academic awards to the top members of our organization. No other club or organization really offers these opportunities to our student body. In addition, the service opportunities and other fun bonding activities that the SHH would plan over the year would help encourage our members to continue on to higher levels of the language…and the plan has worked! Continue reading

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Making the Shift: Planning for Student Variability

Denise Broda,
Wooster City Schools
OFLA Scholarship Chair

One size does not fit all. Several years ago, I attended a workshop on differentiation at the OFLA Conference in Cleveland that was the catalyst for my paradigm shift on how I plan and what my classroom looks like. The presenter was Deborah Blaz, one of the pioneers and authorities on differentiation in the world language classroom, and I had my “ah-ha moment” during that evening. I was excited to try some of her activities with my students, so I purchased her book, gathered all the handouts and notes I took during the workshop, and began my journey into the world of planning for student choice.
Fast forward a few years. In Ohio, we have adopted new standards that focus on communicative and cultural proficiencies, we plan using backward design and authentic resources as much as possible, and we assess our students with performance assessments. This school year, I signed up for a professional development course on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that my district offered, and guess what? In a nutshell, UDL is backward design with lots of activities that offer students choices in how they learn, practice, and are assessed. Backward design? Thank you ACTFL, ODE, OFLA, and all other organizations for giving us a head start. Student variability, differentiation, and choice? Thank you OFLA and Deborah Blaz for the head start there, too.
I am in no way an expert on student choice, and just as I made mistakes adopting authentic resources and IPAs (“glossing,” for example), I have had some trial and error. But, I am seeing incredible results in my students’ engagement with the language and especially in their growth in all areas of communicative and cultural proficiency. Based on my journey, here are my observations / suggestions for anyone implementing student choice:
1. ALWAYS start with standards-based performance assessments. Whether you create your own with authentic resources (hoo-ray!), modify textbook assessments, or use the assessments that come with your textbook program, you need to know what the students will be able to do before you can plan their practice activities.
2. Provide students with I-Can Statements throughout the unit. My students have learned not to ask me for study guides or review packets anymore because they know that I let them know what they will be able to do at the beginning, throughout, and at the end of a unit. Those checklists help them understand the purpose behind the activities on their choice boards or choice lists.
3. Vary the activities based on the skill(s) and unit. For example, for a unit on food and ordering in a restaurant, I created a choice board for the vocabulary, a different choice board for writing and speaking practice, and another one for listening and reading. The activities ranged from writing on Padlet, creating a comic, doing EdPuzzles, creating collages, speaking on Flipgrid, reading authentic sources, and a lot of other very different choices.
4. Provide a combination of basic (easy) and stretch activities so that all of the students can practice without getting frustrated and giving up. Make sure that they all have to have some sort of challenge/stretch activities so that they stay engaged and improve, though.
5. Don’t be afraid to step back and give up some control. I still instruct and provide comprehensible input, but I also know that the students can remain in the target language the entire class period without me. That is to say, I am there to facilitate and help, but I do not have to be” running the show” every day.
6. Collect feedback. EdPuzzle provides data on the students’ performance that I can analyze and save to show administrators, and student feedback can be anything from polls to written reactions on whether the activities helped prepare them for their performance assessments. Of course, the best feedback is the way students score on their assessment rubrics.
One size does not fit all. Planning for student variability and giving them choices and ownership in how they learn and practice have made a big difference in my students’ engagement and performance. Thank you to everyone who lead the charge and paved the path!

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Addressing context with Hymes’s SPEAKING model

Marissa K. Wood

It is no doubt that role plays, conversation snippets, and dialogues in the foreign language classroom help to develop a learner’s communicative competence. Beyond the tier of Chomsky’s linguistic competence, students learn about appropriateness through practicing language in a staged scenario. Communicative competence is about “knowing not only the language code but also what to say to whom, and how to say it appropriately in any given situation. Further, it involves […] social and cultural knowledge” (Saville-Troike, 2003, p.18). Continue reading

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Reflections from ACTFL

Dina Marsala, OFLA Editor of Electronic Media
French Teacher, Avon Lake City Schools

This past November I had the opportunity to attend my first ACTFL Convention in Nashville. Visiting Nashville was a dream come true with the live bands, country music history and I even got to meet Elvis! The Convention itself had so many learning opportunities even for a seasoned teacher. Many of the sessions that I attended focused on proficiency. I’d love to share with you my experience and a few take-a-ways.

I was lucky to be able to attend a workshop given by Linda Egnatz, 2014 ACTFL Teacher of the Year. Her session was titled Proficiency as a Tool to Focus Curriculum, Instruction and Continue reading

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My Blended Learning Journey

By Debbie Varga

OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair

One of my 2018 classroom practice resolutions is to organize an effective blended learning environment for my students. Ever since our school went 1-1 last year, I have been trying to find a balance with technology and small group instruction. I have been using stations more often this year with my level 3 classes and have been a trying to find ways to ensure that the activities the students complete are not just busy work. If there are handouts, I have been reflecting on how to make them as tools towards acquisition. Continue reading

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Letter to my Novice Language Learners: I understand, and I feel for you. Don’t give up.

Becky Searls
Spanish Teacher, Upper Arlington School District

Wow. Today I remembered what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes. I’m writing from Otavalo, Ecuador, in South America, where I started Kichwa language lessons this week. Kichwa is a language spoken by indigenous (native) people here in the Andes mountains of Ecuador. In a couple of weeks, I’ll start all over again in the country next door, Peru, studying a similar, yet completely different language, spoken by the indigenous people there, called Quechua. Continue reading

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French Braiding for Language Class Success


Angela Gardner
Spanish Teacher
Ross Local Schools, Hamilton, OH

I’ll be forever indebted to my cooperating teacher for student teaching, Mrs. Virginia “Ginny” Gills. She taught me many important and valuable things that have served me well in my career as an educator. I hope every teacher has the opportunity to work with someone like her–a positive attitude towards the profession, caring towards her students and peers, strong pedagogical skill, and a generally cheery disposition. In case you weren’t blessed to work with someone like her, or are looking for something that could bolster your language program, I hope to share one of the many lessons that Ginny taught me that continues to resound in my classroom and impact my practices. Continue reading

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