mega888 Blog – Page 5 – Path 2 Proficiency

Proficiency Has Made Me A Better Teacher

Listen to understand, not to respond.

When I heard those words two years ago, they really resonated with me. The context was teaching toward proficiency, but really, I think they’re good advice for life in general.

Listen to understand, not to respond.

Since 2014, in teaching toward the goal of student proficiency, I have become a better teacher. Obviously a better teacher of language and SLA, but really, I have become a better teacher of people. I’ll say that again: proficiency has made me a better teacher of people.

In learning the rubrics and indicators, I’ve had to really hone my ability to analyze my students’ language development (or lack thereof, sometimes). What is the difference, really, between novice low and novice mid? Novice high and intermediate low? And then, how do I articulate that to a student? i.e. “You can level-up your language here by ______,” in student-friendly language that’s measurable and attainable. Whew – it’s a lot to think about! And then to lesson plan around being able to actually have time to have those conversations while not tearing your hair out and/or wondering what the other 35+ are doing? Ha! Sorcery, I tell you, sorcery.

That listening, however, is critical. We (who teach Spanish) listen for “del” versus “de el”, “al” versus “a el”, “la casa de Josie” versus “Josie’s casa”, or “quiero llevo” versus “quiero llevar” all to determine what kind of input they need more of, less of, wayyyy more of, and so on. When we listen that way, it forces us to focus on what they CAN do and ARE doing NOW, rather than what they are not doing – that is critical. Proficiency focuses on the positive, not the negative; the additive, not the subtractive; what they can produce, in addition to what they can interpret. The question becomes, are we doing that when our students talk to us not in their L2, just casually, before or after class, venting or celebrating, complaining or observing, are we listening that acutely?

Because of this, I have found over the past three years that I have become a better listener, to their Spanish and their English. Statements that before may have annoyed me, or angered me, or upset me, no longer really do, because I’m listening to understand where they’re coming from, what they’re really saying, not just my perception of what they’re saying based on my current mood, lens, and idea of who I think they are, all of which can skew unfairly. Suddenly, I found myself leaning in more this year, and saying things like, “Really? Now, what makes you say that?” after a student says something politically charged or makes an assumption/generalization that may not be accurate or fair, necessarily. We as teachers sometimes forget students are only X number of years old; listening to just the surface of what they’re saying can cause us to feel negatively sometimes and therefore not really hear them. Many times they bounce ideas off of us because they respect us, or our opinion, or both, they just don’t know how to word it. I am a very animated person, and have a great rapport with my students – but this means that as a very young teacher, I would often have sarcastic remarks, or eye rolls, because I was being silly with them. As the Sizers wisely wrote, “the students are watching” – lest we think for a moment that they aren’t taking that all in and that our responses aren’t powerful, always, because they are, for better or for worse (we get to choose). In retrospect, I’m realizing I was sending mixed messages – reflecting on how much I cared for them and truly loved teaching them, but then sometimes snapping at them or dryly putting down something they said in the name of humor. We were comfortable with each other, and therefore I thought they got that as part of my personality. The truth is, I wasn’t being a very good listener, to them or to myself, and proficiency has changed all that.

Just when we’re ready to react sometimes, it’s important to pause, but it’s also important to listen to our students, not just hear them, but also listen, and decipher what they’re really saying, like we would their L2. We have figured out how to teach them the implicit intricacies of language, let’s make sure we allow them to teach us the implicit intricacies of themselves.

Creating Order Out of Chaos: Crafting Appropriate Lessons Within a Thematic Unit

What can the biblical creation story teach us about unit and lesson planning? A lot! The Book of Genesis explains that God began with “tohu va’vohu” (sometimes translated from the Hebrew as “unformed and void”) and then differentiated the world into heaven and earth. From there, the Divine went on to separate light from darkness, water from dry land, and so on.

Three years ago, when I began to transition from a textbook-based curriculum to thematic units designed for proficiency in my French 8 course, I quickly found myself mired in what’s known in modern French as le tohu-bohu, or disorder and confusion. Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is NOT my happy place!

I spent weeks and weeks over summer vacation hashing out the bare bones of my units, and every night of the school year trying to figure out how to break down those unit plans into daily lessons. As a mere mortal, I did not know how to separate light from darkness, nor water from dry land. I would get lost trying to figure out, for example, what exactly Day 23 of a 35-day unit should look like. Or Day 13. Or Day 33. How was I to take my beautiful unit template and create a logical, well-paced series of lessons that would make the unit flow smoothly for my students? At times, it was disheartening to realize that my carefully crafted templates were not quite the roadmap for daily instruction that I needed. I had put so much work into my unit planning but in a sense, that was just the tip of the iceberg – I still needed to plan 180 days of instruction to enact those units. This task occupied me fully for two years as I transformed my first course, leaving behind the textbook and relying fully on authentic resources and assessment by mode for the first time.

Luckily, I spent a week last summer at the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association’s Proficiency Academy, where Thomas Sauer shared yet another template for unit-planning (I’d already experimented with the ACTFL template by Clementi & Terrill and Helena Curtain’s template, experiences that you can read about here). Sauer’s template breaks down objectives into smaller and smaller segments so that teacher and students can really see how daily learning objectives (what he calls performance indicators) build to meet unit objectives. While this method front-loads a lot more thinking into the unit template, it all pays off when it comes time to plan individual lessons. After Proficiency Academy last summer, I decided to use Sauer’s template and see how it panned out. I chose to write my curriculum for French 7 based on thematic units I adopted from a variety of sources including Shelby County Schools, Arlington (MA) Public Schools & Laura Terrill’s wiki. Feeling inspired and somewhat intimidated – how had I managed to choose an even-MORE-demanding unit writing process?! – I spent the rest of the summer rewriting my French 7 curriculum.

When late September hit, and I’d run out of daily lessons written over the summer, I found those trusty unit templates were very helpful in helping me create order out of chaos. Throughout the year, when found myself deep in le tohu-bohu, I’d go back to my unit template and remind myself where I was in the process and where I was headed. This narrowed my task considerably and lowered my stress immeasurably.

If you are planning to write or rewrite a unit this summer, I humbly suggest the following:

Build your unit upon an existing unit.

When I went through this process for the first time with French 8, I took my Discovering French textbook’s four big topics and paired each with an AP theme and a multitude of authentic resources. The second time around for French 7, I took the work of Shelby County Schools and based my units on theirs (plus one bonus unit from Laura Terrill’s wiki). I found it much less intimidating to tweak an existing unit than create something from scratch, and I never had to stare at a blank page!

Use your unit template to break plans down to the lesson level.

Thomas Sauer’s Learning Shifts template allows me to break my unit into unit performance objectives; smaller, mode-specific performance indicators; and even smaller daily learning targets. When it came time to plan the next day’s lesson, I looked at the performance indicator and came up with a daily learning target that fits within it. This felt more manageable to me. For example, I wasn’t trying to get students to be able to “say what makes them unique” but only “recognize physical descriptions in a short video.”

Schedule breaks for yourself throughout the year.

Teaching a new curriculum was all-consuming, at least for me. I found it helpful to wrap up my big units well before term’s end and then work on a movie or short story for a week or two with students while I finished grading assessments and geared up behind the scenes for the next new unit’s début.

Know that you are teaching a draft.

This is painful for us perfectionists, but the first year with a new curriculum is pretty messy. Use those moments of tohu-bohu to write ample notes to yourself for next year, annotate your unit templates, rewrite your vocabulary lists, or do whatever else will remind you what didn’t work this time. Those edits and notes will ensure you give your students a better and more productive experience in Year 2.

Find a great lesson template and stick to it.

It took two years of teaching thematic units, during which I spent months filming my lessons for National Board Certification, to realize that my lesson-planning skills needed improvement. Learning about brain-based learning and the primacy-recency effect from Greg Duncan and Thomas Sauer helped me see the importance of opening every lesson with key input, saving paperwork for downtime, and incorporating brain breaks daily. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably a template junkie like I am, so check out Amy Lenord’s lesson planning template here and another here from the Musicuentos site by Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell.

For all of you who plan to rewrite a unit this summer, I wish you much strength and patience. May you fight through the inherent disorder and confusion of this process to create a rich learning experience for your students and you!

Proficiency and Parents

We’re all about the proficiency path at our school. I’ve got the levels posted in my classroom: the ice cream cone graphic in elementary and signs with level descriptors in middle school. We’re using can-do statements in every unit, assessing with IPAs, learning language in context.  My alumni students leave with a language immersion trip under their belts and are well on their way to the state seal of biliteracy.  Our admin supports attendance in language classes for all students in our school, and made sure there were funds to send me to the OPI training and workshops with Helena Curtain and Laura Terrill to create a proficiency focused curriculum.   I’m really fortunate to have my school community on this path. But this spring, I was reminded of one stakeholder who may not have gotten the road map to understand where we’re going: the parents.

This spring, I was reminded that the parents’ language class experiences still color their perceptions about their child’s learning.  The idea of there being a right and wrong answer, of memorizing grammar points and being tested on them, is still very prevalent.  This can be a source of anxiety and worry for them.

At our parent-teacher conferences this spring, I met with a family who had concerns about their child’s involvement in Spanish class–could they participate if they struggle in other academic areas?  What if their child couldn’t ‘keep pace’ with other students’ ability to memorize vocabulary, grammar? Firstly, I assured them that I think long term–fortunately in elementary, we have a long sequence to work with.  I envision what the 14 year old might be able to do with Spanish, even when they’re only 6 or 7. Importantly, there’s a range of what these 14 year old graduates may be able to do–most of my students leave somewhere in the novice-high to intermediate-low range(there are some that fall outside of that). What I look for is progress over time–within a unit, a year, and over multiple years.   I talked a little bit about what each level looks like, and how the children are assessed(on what they can understand, do). Finally, by explaining the focus on acquisition, and how there are multiple forms of input and participation, the temperature of the meeting was lowered significantly.  The family was relieved.  So was I.

This conference brought to mind, again, the usefulness of being able to explain the work we do, and the opportunity to do so.  What if I did a better job front loading that kind of information for our parents, bringing them along the journey with us? I’m starting to reflect on the year as a whole and set goals for next year…guess what’s going on the list.

Let your students lead the way

At this point of the year, I am able to let students take even more control in level 2.  They are starting to become more confident in their abilities, and they know what I expect of them when we complete activities.  Now, it is time for them to take the reins!  Some of my favorite technology tools that I use to help support and navigate students can also be used for them to discuss their own learning.

One of my favorite tools for interpretive listening is EdPuzzle.  In EdPuzzle, the teacher adds their own video or a video from YouTube to the platform.  Then the teacher inserts questions or notes about the video.  As students are listening to the video, the video stops and EdPuzzle asks the question.  If it is a multiple choice question, they can receive direct feedback.  With open-ended questions, the teacher can go back and add the feedback.  This platform is perfect for novices.  The teacher can provide support via notes and can draw attention to the specific area where the question is located.  In addition, the student can replay the section that as many times as they like.  This helps differentiate the video for each student.

However, did you know that you could assign a student project in EdPuzzle?  Instead of “creating” a video, you can create a student project.  To start the project, I gave students a choice of three different videos to annotate.  You could try to allow students find their own video, but since it takes me a long time to find a suitable video, it would take students an extra long time to do so.  You could also consider letting them choose a picture from a YouTube channel that you decide for even more choice.  For example, I enjoy Paco Nadal’s travel videos.  He featured a good video on a market in Colombia which would be perfect for a food unit.  For more food videos, you could look at cocinemosjuntos channel.  Once the students decide on their video, they can put it into their EdPuzzle project.  The students put one of the videos into their project, and they can add notes, questions or audio notes.  Instead of me deciding what they should know, the students told me exactly what they understood.

Many teachers use Kahoot or Quizizz to review topics in class.  Both websites allow teachers to put in multiple choice questions about any topic in Spanish.  You can also insert pictures or videos and ask questions about them.  Another big plus for these programs is that you can find other questions or games that other teachers have made.  These games both require teachers to insert the questions and really only require students to answer the multiple choice questions.

If you are a fan of the online games Kahoot or Quizizz, your class will enjoy Triventy to allow the activity to be more student-centered!  With Triventy, you can create an open game, and students can log in to add multiple choice questions.  When you create a game, you select “invite” students.  This will produce a link that students can follow to add questions.  All students can collaborate on the Triventy quiz at the same time.  They can even add poll questions for the class.  You still have the ability to edit the questions on your end.  Once they are done, you start the new game and students join the game with a code- just like a traditional Kahoot/Quizizz game.  To use this in class, you could have students read or listen to a selection.  Once they have done this, students could create their own questions: key vocabulary, true or false questions about the content, purpose of the selection, audience etc.  Students love seeing their own questions pop up, and I enjoy seeing their clever answers.

Finally, I also enjoy using Seesaw which is an online learning journal.  As students write throughout the year, I have them add their writing to their online journal.  Each week in my class, I give students a variety of topics to write about; however, they are always free to write about whatever topic they like.  This helps students develop personalized vocabulary.  Some of my favorite topics include: what sport would you play in the Olympics, plans for a snow day, invent a new food and describe what makes you happy.  Many times when journaling, students will look up important words such as the instrument that they play to use that in their writing.  Then they remember those words as well because they are important to them.  Students can also personalize their Seesaw journal by adding a picture if they choose.  Once they publish it to Seesaw, I approve it before it is added to their class feed.  In the class feed, other students can read and comment on it, and I can comment on it as well.  This can give their writing an audience.  Not only can students talk about a topic that they choose in the target language, I can learn more about each student when I read it.

This point of the year is the perfect time to let students really prove what they have learned from you.  It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you wish you had more time to teach them a variety of topics; however, it is also easy to forget everything they have learned this year.  Give students the opportunity to present and share what they understand, and I know that they will impress you.

The Power of Pause

Three seconds.

Research has shown that giving students at least three seconds of think time after asking a question increases results in a number of ways. Yet, with time constraints and our students’ waning attention spans, we are continually pressured to crank out questions and answers, call on a variety of students, make sure everyone feels good, bada bing, bada boom, ready to move on.

How long do teachers, on average, wait? ≤ 1.5 seconds. I just asked my husband a series of six questions, easy and personalized ones about his life that he could answer quickly, and only waited 1.5 seconds between before cranking out the next one. He answered the first rapid fire, hesitated on the second, then stopped washing dishes and slow-turned to look at me like, “Really?” as I continued over his hesitation with the next four. Granted, they were back-to-back, but I highly recommend you try it – once he missed a beat, he got frustrated at my impatience, and students do, too. High-flying students see it as a motivating challenge (remember, like us, they aren’t normal) and the rest/majority see it as an impossibility, even if they can respond; they already see that they won’t be given time to have their own unique thought process, so why bother and be embarrassed?

Plus, other content areas have right and wrong answers. Language doesn’t necessarily have that luxury, especially when the teaching is proficiency-based. Because student answers are largely individualized and analytical (even if the response is one-word, how complex was the question/input?), there needs to be some extra think time. There weren’t fifteen minutes to work on a fixed set of problems for the answers to be 3x + 2, 15, 9y, etc. Especially when the input is complex and/or an #authres, the answer is going to need some time to process, and we must allot students said time. Last year, I started timing myself out loud in class before I’d accept any responses, and it was amazing 1. how fast I had been expecting them to respond before, and 2. how much the students benefited. They thought it was corny for me to be so teacher nerdy, but when I stopped counting aloud, I could still see them waiting patiently at least three seconds. (It’s also a good time to give students a heads up that you’re coming to them: “OK, Ansley, coming to you for #1, and Derek, #s 2 and 3, yes? Cool.”)

Should you catch a student off-guard and they need a second to gather themselves, it’s a great time to do a think-aloud: “Take your time, Johnny, and I see that you’re referencing your notes sheet from Tuesday, excellent use of resources – remember, guys, everything is at your fingertips if you’ve been taking care of business, make sure you’re acquainted with the activities we’ve done and the various resources that can help fuel your responses here.” (I just timed myself saying all that out loud the way I would in my classroom, and it took me 17 seconds, which is an additional 17 seconds for Johnny to get his situation together so that his response empowers, not demeans him, plus he got some praise in there too, for persisting and being prepared with the appropriate materials.)

Confession: This did not start coming naturally to me until I made it a habit, about five or six years into teaching, which was probably a maturity issue. Even so, I don’t mind admitting that I must still keep myself in check sometimes. If I say, “Take your time,” I make sure to mean it. Nothing says ‘teacher gotcha’ like a snarky, “Take your time, we’ll wait,” simply because Johnny wasn’t prepared to answer the ambush question. Even if we mean to be genuine, an uncomfortable context and impatient (even if it’s well-meaning) tone can communicate that formative questioning assessments are a trap and that the teacher thinks Johnny is inadequate, neither of which is true (or appropriate).

So, we know that 3+ seconds is helpful cognitively; what else is it good for? Management. It is late April, folks, and teachers (if you’re me) are working to stay afloat, am I right?

Oftentimes, especially with technology in the hands of students (that you may not be familiar with), the Power of Pause can be a moment-altering adjustment. I, for example, react quickly in my classroom. I respond quickly, I have excellent hearing, and my vision (especially for mischief) is pretty darn keen. So, I have to really keep myself in check when it comes to 1. commenting before I know the whole situation, and 2. making sure I know what the heck it is I’m seeing/hearing. And, odds are, at least once a week or so, I find myself totally wrong and I am really glad I kept my mouth shut. Example, you’re in the middle of a warmup that references #authres, namely food products in Colombia. This explanation in the L2 is a pre-cursor to a food commercial MovieTalk and authentic reading. You are SO PUMPED UP — when suddenly, that darn Johnny is at it again, staring at his cell phone while you are outputting blood, sweat, and tears into this input. (OK, exaggeration, but doesn’t it feel that way sometimes?!) Your options here:
1. Stop, make it a huge deal, immediately saying something along the lines of, “Seriously? SERIOUSLY? We’re doing all this, and you’re there on your phone?”
2. Stop talking and look at Johnny, waiting until he sees you, awkwardly. 
3. Make a mental note of it and use your proxemics to wander over and double-check what his screen is doing. 

If you’re me, and this is last week, you REALLY WANT TO DO #1, like, deep in your soul want to, because HOLY COW, it’s April, and we’re working our butts off for engagement. #2, by the way, isn’t a bad option, but I use it if, and only if, Johnny has been previously re-directed in a kind way. Because everybody is allowed to be a human person – however, if the unwanted behavior is still happening after a warning and a re-direction, then it’s starting to skirt into defiance and/or there’s more at play here. Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, (did I mention thankfully?) I made a mental note (and kept my face from getting red, as that stuff really ticks me off) and moseyed over near Johnny. Holy cow, am I glad I fought my inner-teacher self and ignored the instinct toward #1 or #2, because it turns out Johnny was looking up the products I was referencing as they came up and following them on social media to read their posts and #authres images. Had I reacted more quickly, I would have looked like a huge jerk to the rest of the class, because Johnny would’ve likely explained himself as I’m talking, “But I was just!” and he’d have been justified in doing so.

WHEW. Dodged that bullet. I would like to say that that’s my usual reaction, but, it’s probably 50/50, and definitely something I work on every day. When we have good relationships with our students, and we’re quick-responders, that can be really tough, because we get comfortable and emotions get involved. Johnny is one of my top students, and it infringed on my value system that he of all people would not be hanging on my every word, but that isn’t fair. He was doing exactly what I would put on paper that the exemplar student does, yet in the moment, I didn’t see it that way. Ah yes, the power of pause.

It’s easy to rush through these last weeks, and class periods, and moments, but I think now, more than ever, is when we need to pause: before soliciting responses, before reacting, and before deciding. All of them are fair game for a decent pause and a deep breath. That pause may stop us from using the L2 too quickly, discounting thought processes, or even hurting a student’s feelings, it’s all context. Regardless, don’t be afraid to pause, asses what’s really going on, how you actually feel about it, and move on in a more mindful, intentional way. 


Before, what the teacher sees.
After, what was really going on (consulting the vocabulary that I made available electronically for that purpose).

Peer editing writing stations

One of my biggest challenges as a teacher is to relinquish the floor. I am not proud of it, but being aware of it has helped me find ways to cope with the allure of being the sage on stage. As I work with language learners who are increasingly proficient, I’ve realized they need more opportunities for authentic production, with opportunities for reflection and self-correction. In a very real way, this is a #humblebrag, since our students get so linguistically advanced because I am lucky to be part of an incredible team of linguists/teachers who get them going early. By the time they get to me, they are NOT in the mood to do a family tree, tell me about their daily routine, or discuss their childhood while illustrating correct usage of imperfect vs. preterite. What’s a simple profe to do? Turn them into the teachers! That’s what!

I teach a class of intermediate high to advanced-mid language learners, who have been loved and supported through their monosyllabic stages all the way to their complex multi-clause sentences in the subjunctive mood -pluscuamperfecto. Often, one of the biggest challenges I have is to find a meaningful balance to develop all areas of language. Of course, it is not realistic to isolate one skill; I want to get the most buck for my money. One approach I have used in order to get the most bang for my lesson planning struggles is to design tasks that can touch on as many of the Cs as possible simultaneously. Enter the peer editing approach with stations.This approach can be adapted to several types of learner and levels in the continuum of language acquisition. If anyone is playing the TELL Project bingo, this idea touches on LE1, LE4, LE5, and LE7. If you are very competitive, you get extra points by noticing that it also touches on C2, PF1, PF3, PF5, and a sprinkle of PF2.

Peer editing is a technique to enable students to be the experts while also exposing them to what well-written work can look like and feel like. It is in these opportunities to peer edit each other they start recognizing errors and patterns that they were not seeing in their own work. They take turns in each station, as the one giving or receiving advice. In this way, they develop a heightened sense of empathy and responsibility, in other words, keep it kind, and honest. An easy way to support their roles as editors and listeners is to adapt this wonderful idea from Elena Giudice, published here as well: Clashing the personalities in the target language.

Setting up these stations, getting ready for the roles, preparing them with rubrics, and sharing goals with my students allows them to take a peek behind the curtains and see what teaching or mentoring feels like. So often they think we are these beings who do nothing else but exist in the classroom. This approach builds more understanding of what it takes to be a teacher and to say difficult things to people we care about.

Creating the right conditions naturally puts the teacher in the role of project manager or director of an improv troupe in the classroom. You (and me) are now still holding on to the role of leader in the learning experience, yet you are now invisible, or, if your ego is not ready to feel invisible, consider yourself omnipresent 😉

This is what the stations in my classrooms look like:

This is one of many options.
  1. Reading out loud, work on pronunciation.
  2. The mechanics of writing: transitional words, accurate grammar, vocabulary choice (editing)
  3. Discuss, audience, purpose of piece, register, tone, etc (Revising)
  4. Work on sources, citing, avoid accidental plagiarism, work on format (APA, MLA, etc)
  5. Individually record your reflection of the process and what you got from each station, as well as in general, from this process.

In organizing the classroom into working stations, you can concentrate on different skills of language development. For your own planning and their understanding, find time to distinguish revising (better writing) from editing (accurate writing). Depending on your goals and students’ needs, you can concentrate on only a few of these stations at once or all of them. The number of students you have will determine the level of differentiation you can achieve. Fortunately, you can elicit all sorts of data for diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments.  Let’s look at one station as an example:

  • The final station: there, a student records their narration reflecting on the feedback from several stations. You can follow with your own recorded feedback on pronunciation, message, accuracy, variety of language, intonation, etc.
  • Using the data from this same station, you can have students listen to their own recording a week (or longer) after they recorded it, and re-record it, having had time to ponder on the experience, build on the actual feedback they got, or polish their pronunciation.
  • Still working with the data from this station, you can have them listen to other classmates and leave a message responding to them.

This experience gives them an idea of how to improve their future performance and determine their steps forward. They are now in charge of their learning. Who did that? You did! Which means you are very much in charge, yet not at the forefront of the classroom experience. You might even get to sit down for a period longer than 5 minutes. Enjoy that cup of coffee your poured yourself a few hours ago. Routinely using these stations removes the “front” of the classroom, where you can tend to gravitate, helping you use your role to strengthen your students’ voices while sparing your own vocal cords.

I used to think that the teacher had to lecture, correct, and lead every conversation. It is how I learned, and it worked for me…But now I understand that for a teacher to lead, we don’t have to be that obvious as long as we are deliberate. Preparing the task, working on the rubrics and sharing them with students, explaining their roles as editors and what type of feedback to give in each station, demonstrating what are good listening skills and reflective practices can take time, but you are equipping them with life skills, not just syntax. Though the use of these stations takes time for everyone to get comfortable with, it is worth it. It took even longer for me to accept that my role was to encourage them to continue working in the target language and clarify the occasional question, but mainly “to do nothing” while they work. Once you get over what you think a teacher should be doing, and create the conditions for learning, you find that there is nothing wrong with relinquishing the floor… and if you are concerned with you not doing enough, do not worry, those rubrics are not going to grade themselves!

Carolina Seiden, P.hD., is a passionate linguist, curious teacher, and adoring beagle mom. She is perpetually flawed and fortunate to have forgiving friends and colleagues. Currently, she is working as a language teacher and support staff for teachers’ use of technology in learning.


Stepping Stones to Interpretive Reading

When I started to teach towards proficiency, I knew what the end product was, but I was not always clear how to get there.  What would I do each day in class?  However, once I started asking students more and more proficiency questions on my assessments, I would start to notice the gaps in their learning and understanding that needed to be filled.  I realized that for interpretive reading, my students missed some key literacy skills.  Many times, they would overlook basic text structures that would allow them to understand the text or their description of the theme was vague.  Luckily, I combined some of my previous activities and I stole borrowed some ideas from our sixth grade English teacher!  These ideas can really support novices as they interpret a variety of authentic texts.

One of my favorite pre-reading strategies is having students brainstorm all of the words they can think of in the target language around one topic.  Ever since I have read John Medina’s Brain Rules, I like to have students brainstorm and recycle vocabulary as much as I can to help students remember it.  I allow students to take one minute to write down as many words as they can remember on a given topic then we spend a minute or two sharing out words from their list.  This activity also gives students confidence to participate in class, and many students raise their hand to participate to share their words.

In class, I have also turned this into a game by pairing students to brainstorm a list of words around a theme.  Then, pairs share their list while other students cross out similar words.  The class sees which group has the longest list of original words that has not been mentioned by other groups.

Then, I focused on the actual reading.  I noticed early on that students would ignore big clues to the theme and topics of a reading such as a picture or a heading.  Then they had trouble interpreting the article. To alleviate this, when students first see an assigned reading, they can complete a “scavenger hunt” by finding text features such as captions, bold or italicized words, and subheadings.  I have posted paper around the room, and students could add their findings to the list in a graffiti style activity.  This also allows me to differentiate the text for all students and also allows me to make a big deal about features that many classmates had not noticed.

After students looked at the structure of the whole reading, I ask them specific questions about the content of the article or reading.  I like to ask open-ended questions, but occasionally I will ask a true or false statement.  I also like to turn this part into a game.  My favorite game is this quick review game where students can win a variety of points for answering each question.  Another fun way to spice up these questions is to play Two Truths and a Lie with statements about the text.  I learned this at NECTFL from Michael Bogdan.

In addition to looking at specific facts about the text, students have to look at the text as a whole.  Another part of an interpretive reading is identifying the main idea.  Many of my students were vague about the theme and struggled to truly identify the theme.  In order to help them become more specific, students can identify three words in the target language that support the main idea.  With these three words, they can write a sentence that identifies the main idea.  With these three words, students can explore the full text, and this can also help them add any supporting details to their summary.

In IPA tasks, students identify keywords.  Another idea from our English teacher was to have students  focus on a new word or two that they found in the reading.  This activity can help them develop their vocabulary.  They can find a word from the text that they do not know, and explain why this word is important to the main idea.  Again, students could share this graffiti style around the room.

Another big change when I started implementing interpretive reading assessments was how to teach students to identify the purpose of the article.  For beginning students, the teacher can introduce three purposes of the author: to entertain, to persuade or to inform.  This will provide students a start for identifying an audience.  They can start elaborating on a purpose beyond this list as students work with more readings.

For post-reading activities, I like to think about how students would use an article like this in the L1.  When I shared a travel article, I wanted to know where students would want to visit from the article.  They can compare and contrast the information with their own life.  It is always interesting for me to hear about the sleep habits of my students.  Once students brainstorm this, they can share their thoughts with a partner.  In addition, it is interesting for students to come up with more questions that they have to research.

As I start incorporating more interpretive reading activities, it is important to break up these activities over a few days.  Using the same article is important, so students can continue to work with the text and benefit from understanding all of the significant parts.  I am sure as you start to give your students more interpretive tasks, you will find more gaps to fill.  Don’t forget to look down the hallway to a fellow English teacher!

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My Path to Proficiency: A Travel Journal

The thing about embarking down the Path to Proficiency is that there isn’t just one single path you have to take.  When I first began my journey towards proficiency, I found myself often looking to others further along the trek than me and asking them for directions. I knew that I couldn’t implement everything I was hearing and learning about in my conversations with more experienced teachers… so, where should I begin?  What do I have to master first?  “Just give me the Secret Proficiency Roadmap already, and I swear I’ll follow it exactly!”

Imagine my dismay when I discovered that the Secret Roadmap didn’t exist.  Naturally, this makes perfect sense: every educator’s path is going to be different, based on their past experiences and learning, where they’re teaching and who they’re teaching with, and what their natural strengths and weaknesses are.  Nevertheless, I keenly remember the frustration at feeling totally lost several times during those first few years — and I’ve seen other new travelers struggle with it, too.  So while I can’t tell anyone else what course their route will ultimately  take, I can certainly share the story of my peaks and valleys on the Path to Proficiency to now.

Year 1: Gassing Up

My journey began when my district coordinator invited me to attend a talk by Greg Duncan on proficiency and its implications for our teaching.  At this point, I was 6 years into my career, and frankly,  I was entertaining thoughts that it was time for me to move on and find my “real” profession.  Greg’s talk ended up being the light that brought me into a whole new world of teaching, however, and that summer, I went through a 4-day “crash course” in proficiency, intent on changing my ways for next school year.

That first year, I made three critical, but very manageable changes to my instruction:

  • I threw out my discrete item tests, and replaced them with performance based assessments (presentational speaking and writing, and interpersonal speaking).
  • I developed a rubric to assess those PBAs.  (I started the year with a 3-2-1 rubric assessing 4 different categories; by the second semester, I had to adapt it to a 4-3-2-1 format, since my students were already showing gains beyond what I had anticipated.)
  • Instead of handing out the list of vocab at the start of each unit and “going over it” (How do you say “car”? “Kuruma”.  Repeat after me.  “Kuruma”. Now, how do you say bus?), I started introducing vocabulary by presenting it in sentences in the Target Language.

I also began to very slowly take a look at my curriculum and make some smarter choices with it.  I was still walking hand-in-hand with the textbook — but I started to see if I couldn’t move some things around.  (That very last chapter in the Level 1 book on hobbies and interests?  Maybe that should get moved up to 1st Semester.  And we don’t cover physical traits until Level 2… but that sounds like it could logically go with the family chapter in Level 1.)  Also, since I’m a singleton and teach all levels of Japanese at my school, I was encouraged by my district coordinator to only pursue changes in my Level 1 classes that first year.  That was unquestionably the right call, and I am very thankful to have had that support.

There were plenty of road hazards that first year, too.  I didn’t even know what the term “input” meant back then, and you couldn’t truthfully call what I was doing proficiency.  The time that had been taken up doing workbook activities (the crux of my “instruction” in the old days) was now filled with what boiled down to rote memorization — we’d practice the same conversation prompt three or four times a week, and constantly do presentational writing activities with the aim of “practicing” for the PBA at the end of the unit.  Still, we all have to start somewhere, and nobody died from me not being an expert that first year.  My students made more progress than ever, and I felt energized in the classroom in a way I never had before.  Even now as I chuckle in disbelief at how poor some of my instruction was back then, I’m still immensely proud of the gains I made that year.

Year 2: Heading Down the Highway

The tone of this year was really set when I was introduced to (actually, forced to sign up for) Twitter during a summer training.  Anyone reading this blog understands the power of Twitter and the internet to connect us with our educator community and improve our practice; suffice it to say I tell others that signing up for Twitter was the single best thing I ever did for my teaching.

Among the “Travel Highlights” of that second year:

  • I began participating in #langchat, and reading other teachers’ blogs.  This exponentially increased my awareness of best practice.
  • I started to learn about Input, and began incorporating some select authentic resources into my instruction.
  • The ups-and-downs of using #AuthRes that year also led me to an increased understanding of the nature and need for Comprehensibility.
  • After being introduced to IPAs the summer before, I discovered ACTFL’s “Implementing Integrated Performance Assessment”.  It helped me to recast my performance rubrics in a way that addressed increases in Proficiency level over time, as well as gave me a model for assessing Interpretive mode.
  • I began making some larger-scale adaptations to my curriculum.  Most significantly, the “Morning Routine” chapter in Level 1 morphed into the theme of “Class Trip to Tokyo”.  I still managed to teach and honor the vocabulary and language patterns that were written into my curriculum, but within a theme that better engaged me and my students and allowed us to make connections to a much broader range of topics.

In spite of really starting to feel like I had control of the wheel, I managed to hit several potholes as well:

  • I knew I was really starting to get into proficiency, but I had no clue where I needed to direct my professional learning next.  It often felt that year like I was sailing friendly waters, but totally lost at sea without a map, just hoping that I’d stumble upon the next “island” of good instructional practice.
  • I started to have real problems as the chapters in my textbook (especially in my Level 2 course) did not contain the themes or language necessary to support the proficiency benchmark set by my district.
  • As I began moving further away from the textbook, my kanji (Chinese character) instruction suffered terribly, creating a big gap in my students’ interpretive reading abilities.
  • I was often “seduced” by good output that year: when 3 or 4 students would produce a quality piece of writing, I’d think “Wow! I’m doing such a good job of getting (ALL) my students to Intermediate Low in Level 2!”

Year 3: Nails in My Tires

The previous year had been characterized by enormous growth, both for myself and my students.  I entered Year 3, not really sure where my professional learning would take me, but confident that I would continue to skyrocket in progress. But by the end of the first week of school, I could already tell that this year would be different.  Among my new batch of students were kids who were needier — emotionally, socially, academically — than any I’d had before, and I felt totally unequipped to address those needs.  My whole year felt like a constant tug-of-war between my heart and my head: do I spend class time building students up and making them feel valued as people, or focus my energy on delivering sound Target Language instruction to them?  I know that’s not supposed to be an either/or proposition, but the honest truth is that it felt like it was.

My growth an educator took place underneath the surface that year, because the needs of my students, more apparent than ever, set me on a year-long process to find solutions:

  • I realized that literacy was a huge issue for my students, and I began researching what I could do about it.  David Jahner from College Board recommended I start with reading Kylene Beers, and it proved to be excellent advice.
  • I woke up to the fact that the language performance of my Top 5% did not represent the proficiency of all my students.  Realizing that my students’ proficiency level overall was much lower than I had initially judged brought me to not just plan for input, but focus on it.
  • I began working on daily learning targets, and understanding that it was not sufficient to say “We’re working on X this week.”  Again, this was a slow and laborious process, and I wasn’t able to really judge my progress until I took time to reflect after the year had ended.
  • I started playing around with some really significant transformations in the units I was teaching.  I also started to look to the AP Themes (the Japanese AP Course doesn’t yet make use of them, so doing so was new to me) and Essential Questions to help me reflect on the validity of my units.

I ended that year feeling rather deflated, but also with a new clarity of vision.  I was able to identify the weaknesses in my instruction and seek help to improve them.  I no longer needed to ask others “What do I need to work on next?”, because I was capable of identifying the answers to that question on my own.  It was a year of frustrations and challenges that undoubtedly led me to better teaching practice — after all, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Year 4: On the Road Again

Over the summer, I braced myself for another difficult start to the school year; imagine my delight when I discovered this year’s class of new students was among the most academically talented I’d had in years.  (Of course, I started using significantly more high-yield strategies from Day 1 , so perhaps some of the increased achievement was due to the fact that I was just plain teaching better than I had before.)

This year wasn’t characterized by making major changes in my instruction, but rather, implementing smaller tweaks that had significant impacts.  Among the things I focused on this year were:

  • Incorporating more Total Participation Techniques and global checks for understanding
  • Making regular use of literacy strategies, and specifically working on inferencing skills to help students deal with unfamiliar language
  • Looking at authentic resources not merely as something to read/watch, but as source texts to help shape the direction and sequence of my units
  • Critically examining and discussing Culture (the increased use of and attention to authentic resources really made this possible)
  • Reducing the emphasis on presentational mode, and redirecting the time previously spent there to more quality Input
  • Writing purposeful daily learning targets, and using them to frame every lesson.  I’ll be totally honest: I can’t say that I’ve observed how writing and sharing my daily learning targets with students has had an impact on their achievement.  (The research seems to say it does, so I’ll take that one on faith.)  What I’m 100% sure of, however, is that writing and sharing Daily Learning Targets holds ME accountable to plan small, impactful daily lesson sequences that prove my students can do something new in L2 today that they couldn’t do yesterday.  That makes it absolutely worth doing.

Year 5: Looking Ahead

Is it really possible to start planning ahead for next year? I have no way of knowing what new learning this summer will bring, or what kind of students I’ll have next August.  But as I consider the next steps in my Path to Proficiency, I’m able to look back with pride at what I’ve accomplished so far, and look forward with happy expectancy at the areas I’ve got room to work on:

  • Even on the best of days, I’m far from reaching that coveted goal of 90% Target Language usage.  It’s not so much that I genuinely feel compelled to hit that target, but rather, that I’ve gone a long time without examining my instructional practice and looking for those places where I’m allowing myself to be lazy or not taking the time to plan carefully enough to stay in L2.  
  • My Level 1 classes have a lively and robust environment that makes room for well-supported and scaffolded conversational interactions.  But in each subsequent level, I prioritize the interpersonal mode less and less, even as students are working towards pushing their proficiency ever further.  I need to take a hard look at my unit themes and objectives, and consider how I can make more space for interpersonal communication — the heart of why most people want to learn another language.
  • I feel good about the job I do getting my Novices to Intermediate… and considerably less good about how I’m doing once I get them there.  A variety of factors are at play here: my Level 3 and 4 classes are stacked together; the students in those classes tend to start the year with a much wider range of Proficiency levels; I teach Levels 3 and 4 on an “A Year, B Year” curriculum, so I have 50% fewer opportunities to teach those units than the ones in the Novice courses.  Undoubtedly, my goal is to have students leave my program as far into the Intermediate range as possible, so improving in this area is a must.
  • Even though I feel good about having reduced the amount of attention I devote to presentational mode, the fact that I use it primarily to assess students’ learning seems problematic.  People naturally want to learn a language so that they can communicate with others — and in presentational mode, that means having an authentic audience that is genuinely interested in receiving their message.  If I am the only person my students communicate with in Japanese, what motivation do they have to push their proficiency forward beyond earning a good grade in class?

These are heady issues, and I don’t think any of them can be solved with a simple fix.  However, I know that I’m not the only one tackling them, either.  My ongoing journey down the Path to Proficiency has taught me many lessons, but none are as evident as this: our tribe of World Language educators embraces growth and collaboration.  I am not alone on this journey, and as long as I continue down the Path, I will have many dear friends and colleagues seeking and sharing answers with me.

Enough is as good as a feast.

Yes.  I’ll admit it.  I’m a nerd. A big one. I’ll own it.  Grammar really gets me going.  Word origin, homophones, rhetorical devices and literary analysis excite me.  Old AP fill-ins were a challenging game I played against myself.  The Académie Française has nothing on me! (You French teachers know what I mean!)

I won’t ask for a show of hands (no need to embarrass anyone) but I would hazard a guess that many of you are like me.  We love words and how they sound and all their subtle definition and connotation. We can spot a grammar error a mile away.  So it’s no wonder that sometimes the path to proficiency causes me to break out into a sweat when I realize the language functions needed for this unit don’t incorporate all the rules of say, the imperfect subjunctive.  In my enthusiasm, I want to teach (torture?) my students with all of the tiny grammar rules of every single one.  Because they’ll love it as much as I do—right?


Anyone who’s been teaching any amount of time knows that the majority of kids out there could care less about the past participle agreement with preceding direct objects or the present progressive.  And honestly, how often in everyday interactions do we need to know those million rules to effectively communicate—even at a high proficiency?  If I’m honest, very few.

And then … it happened …

I was looking at the scope and sequence for third year and it says “I can express impersonal phrases using the subjunctive mood.”  How is that proficiency?  So I thought, I’ll change it to “I can give advice.”  That’s pretty real-world, right?  I mean, aren’t we always telling other people what they should do?  That way, I can incorporate all those impersonal phrases about what one needs to do and what is good to do.  We had just celebrated Mardi Gras and learned a bit about Louisiana.  This was perfect—they could give me advice about what to do there.  I planned it all out.  It was beautiful.  It took about a week and a half to practice and assess.

And then I had a bit of melt down.  I looked at the scope and sequence again; at all the other rules of subjunctive that are listed there and thought “There’s no way I can do this proficiency lesson with every rule!  I don’t have 10 weeks to devote to this!  I still have all this other stuff to cover!  And this is just the 3rd quarter document!  We still have to get through the 4th quarter!”  I will confess, I was on the ledge.  I was stressing out and fearing I was going to have to revert back to my old ways and grammar books and rules.  And then, my colleague walked into my room.  As I started to share my dilemma and concerns, that’s when it happened. I had a major epiphany:

It’s ok to only teach part of a concept!

Yes.  That’s what I said.  It’s OK to only teach part of something—the part we will use most often.  What?  Not every single rule? Not every little exception to every single rule?  Wait a minute.  I’m starting to hyperventilate thinking that my students won’t know every little rule?  But then, did they really know them before?  Or did they memorize them for a test and fill in blanks and promptly forget them and never actually use them?  Oh yeah.  That’s what they did. Why do I need to bombard them with all these structures, out of context?  I’ve given them the main phrases and relevant, realistic reasons to use them.    That’s one of the main reasons were on this path to proficiency, isn’t it?  To make language study more relevant and applicable.  And to that end, I had a second epiphany:

It’s ok not to master everything about everything! 

Whoa!!! Hold it right there.  You mean I don’t have to drill and kill all those tiny grammar rules?  It was as if a giant boulder was lifted off my shoulders.  I felt so liberated.  This approach to planning is so much more fun, not to mention useful, to both me and the students.

Of course, the old grammar nerd inside me wants them to know those rules, but the reality was that before they could recite the rules but they couldn’t DO anything with them.  They applied them haphazardly, if at all.  Now, by teaching the grammar as functional language and within a realistic, real-world context, the students naturally apply the correct mood–even subjunctive— when needed.  That’s right.  My students are using subjunctive as if it’s no big deal! I feel like breaking into the Hallelujah chorus!

By focusing on a performance task and the language necessary to accomplish it, I was able to narrow my focus to just the right amount of input to move my students to the next step.  No more.  No less.  Enough is definitely as good as a feast!


Get in the Game: Let’s Talk About Stations

Hello, and Happy Spring! I just got back from the SCOLT conference for the 2nd time ever, and this time I got to present!  So this post, fair warning, is going to be partly about my process of submitting and doing a presentation, and the other part about the actual stations presentation as it happened.  If you hang with me, I promise there will be something here you can use.  Also, I HIGHLY SUGGEST that you submit a presentation to your local state organization, or if that freaks you out, offer to present something at a department meeting or something like that.  We don’t have enough PD in the world that’s practical and done by teachers about what’s really working (or not working) in our classrooms.  Every one of you out there reading this has some type of success in your classroom that should be showcased, and some insight to share…please share it with us!  I mean, seriously…this is me at the presentation, basically hanging out with a bunch of teachers and talking about what I do in my classroom. What’s more fun than that?

Ok, so the first step is the conference proposal part (which I always do on the exact deadline day…not much has changed since high school for me).  If it had been me in my normal brain, I would have said “Ok, Rhodes, you’ve presented a very successful session this year at FLANC and FLANC Spring Fling about content and culture, so submit that to SCOLT…” Nope.  This girl in her crazy brain said “Submit a proposal about stations…I know you’ve never talked to anyone about it in public, but eh, you love them…what have you got to lose?”

So my big, brilliant idea was to talk for a bit in the session, and then have everyone actually run through a rotation of actual stations activities.  I figured if we had tables set up or something, we could actually play the different games or see the activities in action.  Did you see the 2 big potential issues in that last sentence?  Yeah…tables AND games and activities…yeah…nope…didn’t think about it as an issue.  I was too psyched about the idea of it, so…I clicked SUBMIT, and off it went.

I got the acceptance of my proposal, and was SOOOO EXCITED!  Then as the time drew nearer to actually going to the conference, I realized that I actually had to write the presentation, and the idea of that started to freak me out a bit.  I know I operate from a very visual place, and the best way I could think of was to start searching my phone for pics of my classroom during stations or activities, and I just starting chunking those pics into Google Slides.

Then I wandered around my classroom, my office, and my garage at home, and picked out a sampling of toys, games, and props that I would use as each of the stations.  With a box full of stuff in my arms, I realized that the contents of that box were going to have to fit in my suitcase to go to Orlando…ugh. This is what the table at my hotel room looked like once I unpacked my suitcase.

It was at this point where I decided I needed to decide the purpose of the session in terms of I Can statements, so I went back and wrote those.  Not a great backward design model, but it’s my process…So, with my I Can statements, and a box of stuff I was now going to have to fit into a suitcase, I started on the presentation.

  • I can understand (and explain to a colleague in my building) how stations can be used to increase personalization, differentiation, and conversation in my classroom.
  • I can recall the logistical dos and don’ts of stations as I plan, so that my station support learning, not chaos.
  • I can keep in mind the types of content activities that should go into each station in order to maximize learning.

Overcoming FEAR through Logistics

I know that the most important reason that teachers don’t do stations is FEAR.  There’s so much fear surrounding having all the kids doing different activities and moving around a classroom.  What if they all mutiny and run away?  What if they destroy my stations?  What if they don’t actual move to the next when they’re supposed to?  What if total chaos erupts everywhere and I have to call security and they judge me (or don’t even come…)?  What if they’re all speaking English instead of the target language and nothing actually gets done?  I get it.  I’ve been there.

In thinking about that, what I decided might be helpful was a breakdown of “Logistics Dos & Don’ts” in the presentation to help any teacher who wanted to try Stations.  Hopefully, this will help you not make the mistakes I did as I was learning how to do Stations in my own classroom.  In the actual presentation I’ve linked at the bottom you can see a more detailed explanation of each logistical piece.

Fair warning, even the best intentions run into bumps in the process.  Sometimes you just forget something simple, and it messes everything up.  Don’t panic!  Laugh it off, fix it, and move forward.  Your class knows you’re a well-intentioned human.  Trust me, I created a whole round of stations (um…this year) and forgot completely to number them and make a route, and the whole class stood up when they were supposed to and tried to move to the next station, but there was no “next”…I had 20 children milling about while I had to run around direct them to their new spots.

One thing I never mentioned in the logistics is that if you have a really big class, for example, 32+ kids, don’t make 8+ individual stations for them because they’ll never get to that many and the times would be so short that it wouldn’t be worth doing.  Instead, make 4 stations and set them up in 2 separate circuits.  That way, half your kids run the “pink” circuit and do stations 1-4, and the other half of your kids run the “green” circuit and do stations 1-4, but they never mix.  I use colored paper when I can get it, so it’s really clear which is which, but you can also scribble a design with a marker around the edges of the station title, and it works the same way.  If you do it like that, they have time to do the 4 stations and the reflection station at the end and no one is stressed….bonus, you don’t have to make 8 different tasks!

Get in the Game

When I plan my stations, I try to dedicate 1 station to conversational, OPI-style speaking, where I just talk to them and adjust the conversation as I need to.  It’s the most important station, really, because I get to assess each student’s interpersonal ability in a low-stress environment.  How often in a regular class do you get to spend 10 minutes in target-language conversation with 4 or 5 kids?  Never, right?  If you’re running 2 circuits, use one of your native speakers as the “expert” in the circuit you aren’t in.  Obviously, they can’t assess their classmates, but they can at least keep the conversation going.  You’d be amazed at how hard your native speakers will work when they’re the experts, and equally how patient they are with their classmates.

Back to my presentation: it was laid out on chairs, in little semi-circles, with the activity in the middle.  I made nine makeshift stations, and everyone around and played with the activities.  Huge thank you to my amazing friend, Laura Sexton (@SraSpanglish) for helping me with furniture moving and layout of all the things.  The whole thing would have been a disaster without her.  My original idea of having everyone visit every station didn’t really work because we ran out of time, but we talked through a bunch of activities and then everyone took pictures afterwards.


The most important thing to say about the activities in a stations circuit is that they should all have an I Can statement that makes them purposeful, and be communicative and fun.  A worksheet at a station makes for a more brainless activity, so they can speak English and fill in Spanish at the same time, and it’s really not that fun.  That’s not what we want.  We want the kids using the language while they’re working in every station. For one thing, that’s the point of what we do, but for another, it really cuts down the English side-conversation if they have activities that require them to think and speak and create in the target language. There are soooo many options when it comes to tasks in Stations.  You can use something you were going to do as a whole-class activity and use it in a station instead, or you can use a game you already own and write a target language task that can accompany it.  I do that a lot.

My Stations Resources 

I know this was kind of a gloss over the logistics and the activities that you can do in stations, but that’s just because I’m leaving you with 2 important links that I hope will be super helpful to you as you implement stations in your own classroom.

Let’s TALK About Stations Is the whole presentation I did at SCOLT, and each slide has detailed and step by step information on the Dos & Don’ts of setting up stations in your own classroom.  It also has explanations of a variety of possible activities that you can do. This link will take you to my personal website that has a longer and more complete explanation of how to run stations, including a few downloads of an answer sheet and grouping cards.

If you have more questions, I’m always here!  Hope this helps, and please have fun!