On their own path this week (02/27/16)

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My blog reading seems to be frozen just like this winter weather. I’m so ready for some spring weather. Spring: a time for renewal and for new ideas. And while the weather isn’t quite catching up with my physical desires for warmth, a season of regional spring conferences around the country allows us me connect and dream of warmer weather (or even better learning experiences for our students). I’ve enjoyed catching up with friends at SCOLT and NECTFL over the past two weeks, make some new connections and leaving each conference feeling warmth in my heart (and head). I’ll leave with you a couple of posts that caught my eye this week.

  • Assessing Proficiency and Providing Feedback

    I very much enjoy following a teacher’s growth through their blog posts and it seems that Spanish teacher Albert Fernandez has been doing a lot of processing in advance of his well-received SCOLT presentation as well as attending what was an outstanding conference this year. In his latest post, he takes us through his thinking/reflecting/reacting to information he gleaned about the role of proficiency in assessment and even more important what this critical information means for his teaching practice. “That’s why if we give them [students] the strategies and phrases to begin to talk to others on their own, we can foster more student-student interactions and get them to move beyond the novice level.”  Read Albert’s post –>

  • Reflections on my first Interpersonal Bootcamp

    “What do you mean I have to do interpersonal assessments with 187 students? I don’t have the time for that much assessment.” If I had a penny for every time I heard this from a teacher, I could work a little less. The logistics of implementing authentic performance assessments focused on the modes of communication can admittedly be very challenging, so I was excited to find Spanish teacher Maris Hawkins post on her attempt at an Interpersonal Bootcamp. Her reflections are so helpful and it makes me want to set up one of these bootcamps immediately.  Read Maris’ post –>

  • Pacman and Language Proficiency

    It’s no secret that I put considerable value in the understanding of proficiency as a key to making some key shifts in language teaching. Understanding proficiency as teachers though is not enough. Getting learners to understand it is just as important and will allow your students to have a very different kind of ownership in what is happening in class. Seeing teachers around the country embrace this type of communication is truly exciting and we are beginning to see more and more examples of bulletin boards that share this vision for language learning. Spanish teacher Jessica Pederson (aka Señora Upton) shared her unique  take on the “Path to Proficiency” in this great post on combining her two favorite passions: proficiency and the 80’s.  Read Jessica’s post –>

  • 12 Principles of Second Language Teaching

    With a title like that and having enjoyed many previous reflections from British educator, Steve Smith, I had to click on this blog post. And it starts off with a bang from Steve’s new book: “We could not possibly recommend a single overall method for second language teaching, but the growing body of research we now have points to certain provisional broad principles which might guide teachers.” It’s encouraging to see more and more leading voices in our field going down the path of principles over methods. ACTFL and  STARTALK just to name a couple. I’m not sure yet how I feel about all of the principles identified and of course the problem with principles (and titles that identify a finite number) often implies an equal level of importance among them, but certainly this is a good start and I can see how it could be used even as an organizing framework for additional work. I wonder what principles each of us would identify to justify our practices or better yet to inform our instructional choices.  Read Steve’s post –>

Thomas Sauer is the Director of Design and Communication for AdvanceLearning and an independent consultant. He previously held…

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