My Blended Learning Journey

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

Posted in Uncategorized, Winter 2018 | Leave a comment


Ryan Wertz, Kathy Shelton and Paula Sondej,

World Language Consultants, Ohio Department of Education

Ohio Seal of Biliteracy
In our last Around the State article, we provided you with some important, initial information about Ohio’s new Seal of Biliteracy Program. Be sure to check out the Autumn 2017 issue of The Cardinal if you are still in need of a basic tutorial.

Since that that article was published, we have rolled out a dedicated Seal of Biliteracy webpage that has the basic information you will need to implement a program locally in your school or district. Included among the resources are the following items: Continue reading

Posted in Around the State, Uncategorized, Winter 2018 | Leave a comment

Three Suggestions for the Beginning Teacher (and to all of us)

Nicole Hanlon

OFLA Beginning Teachers Chair

Woo hoo! You’ve made it! You’re halfway through your first year (or another year, if you aren’t a first-year teacher)! The end may not really be in sight, but you have at least the first semester under your belt. As we enter January and back-to-school, it’s the time as a society that we get a fresh start and embark on making those resolutions for the year to come.

While resolutions can feel daunting or unattainable, here are three suggestions for the beginning teacher: Continue reading

Posted in Committee News, Uncategorized, Winter 2018 | Leave a comment


Shasha Gibbs, OFLA Technology Integration Committee Chair
Medina High School

The Technology Integration Committee is conducting a half-day workshop titled “Using Technology to Assess the Three Modes of Communication” at the upcoming OFLA Conference. If you are looking for more engaging ways to assess students’ Interpersonal, Interpretive and Presentational skills, this workshop is the one for you. During the three-hour workshop, our Committee members will show you how to use technology effectively in your classroom to assess the three modes of communication and send you home with a variety of tools that you can use in your classroom on Monday! Continue reading

Posted in Committee News, Technology, Uncategorized, Winter 2018 | Leave a comment

Making the Shift: Planning for Student Variability

Denise Broda, OFLA Scholarship Chair
Wooster City Schools

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!

Posted in Uncategorized, Winter 2018 | Leave a comment

SB 216 – Will It Hurt or Help the Teaching Profession?

Barbara A. Sposet, Ph.D., Teacher Education & Licensure Committee

Baldwin Wallace University

In early October, Ohio Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) introduced Senate Bill 216 called the “Public School Deregulation Act.” The bill has many provisions recommended by school district superintendents in Northwest Ohio. The primary intent of the bill is to create more “flexibility” in Ohio law for school superintendents regarding teacher licensure and classroom assignments, qualifications for educational aide permits, substitutes and continuing contracts (tenure) for non-teaching employees. Currently the Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, Uncategorized, Winter 2018 | Leave a comment

Senegal Connection: Authentic Language Use in Real-Life Context

Kerry Parker, Secondary Language Learning Chair
French Teacher, Edison High School

As world language teachers, one of the challenges we face is to bring a sense of authenticity into learning. It is a challenge all teachers face – how does learning apply to what lies beyond the classroom? And, if we are teaching communicatively, what resources do we have to make the authentic part of learning more than just food days and songs?
I have been teaching French for twenty years (has it really been that long?) and I have struggled throughout my career with the task of finding native French speakers that can engage with my students. Over the years, I have been grateful for the many ideas flowing through the OFLA conference networking, our county resource centers, social media and WVIZ. As always, I am trying new projects with native speakers in my classes. For the next two years, my classes are partnered with a community in Senegal, specifically their elementary school. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized, Winter 2018 | Leave a comment