Sunday, December 1, 2013

ACTFL 2013 : Reflections & Notes

Hello, all!

This year, I had the good fortune of representing the state of South Carolina at the annual conference of the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages in Orlando, Florida. Many thanks go out to the administration at Hammond School where I teach and the South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers' Association (@SCFLTA) for supporting me so that I could bring back what I learned over the course of those three and a half days of learning, sharing, and connecting. Merci mille fois!

Before I share a report on my learning experience, I must share with you how wonderful it was to be there the year that Toni Theisen was president of the association. I might be a little biased since I consider her to be my top teacher mentor, but I think everyone in attendance would agree that she truly modeled what it is to be a great educator and leader.  Not only did she use some of the latest technology in her opening welcome at the general assembly, but she put the focus on the learner in more ways than one.

It was so impressive to see Toni welcome her special guest -- one of her former students who is now a French teacher -- and serve as the moderator, along with her former student, during the panel discussion with current high school students from Florida. We could really see how the 2013 theme, "New Spaces, New Realities: Learning Any Time, Any Place," weaved in to all that Toni did as the lead learner!  Click here to read an article about the impact she has on her local community of learners : French teacher from Loveland to head national education group's convention

If you attended ACTFL 2013, I don't need to tell you how fantastic it was to learn from world language educators from around the world (A special shout-out to @JoeDale who came to present from the Isle of Wight!) and to (re)connect with educators in this face-to-face setting. Unfortunately, it just wasn't possible to attend all of the sessions I added to my schedule in the conference app, including some that were led by valued members of my PLN, so I hope other attendees in my network will be sharing resources on Twitter, as well.  
Here are some links and my notes from the 3.5 days in Orlando. Hope this information is useful to you! 
Assembly of Delegates:
Advocacy & Effectiveness
Topics discussed: Common Core, independent learners, can-do statements, IPAs,
World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (5 Cs are still there. )
ACTFL now has some curriculum design, IPA & raising global children books for purchase.
State Showcase:
-NC --->   There are performance tasks & extended response tasks by standard & proficiency level on the site.
-OH ---> They use LinguaFolio I-Can statements. 
For their student learning objective resources:
They have an OFLA Camp & students come & work as counselors. Great advocacy method!
-U.S. Global Heat Map: - See how globally competent your state is today. Powerful advocacy tool.
-Legislative & Advocacy Showcase:
-Massachusetts FLA Advocacy Strategies: Create/maintain an advocacy booth at the state language conference. (Good idea!)

Clementi and Terrill : designing units
-Don't drill and kill. That's not communicative (or inspiring.)
-Themes and essential questions.
Novice: What is family? Intermediate: What is friendship? Advanced: What is the global importance of relationships?
-Interculturality - Every lesson should be making students think about their relationships and its implications in the world around us.
-Sample standards-based IPA
1)Listen to and follow directions from one place to another. (Interpretive)
2)Read info on a site about Poitiers in order to identify what makes it special. Give reasons for the items on your list. (Interpretive)
3)Watch a vid about Futuroscope in poitiers and list what you can do there. (Interpretive)
4) Now choose three places to visit and give reasons. (Presentational)
5)Choose three things to do and discuss with your classmate. (Interpersonal)

Example on culture -- discuss old buildings and fact that they preserve historical places in France.
Be thoughtful and purposeful about all that we want our students to do.
Have students publish their work -- connections and lifelong learning.

Common Core:
Balance of Informational & Literary texts
Close reading of increasingly complex texts
Use of evidence-based arguments (Look at an athletes schedule & decide if s/he has a balanced lifestyle.)
Interaction with multiple print, auditory, and visual sources
Easy to go to the anchor standards to include CC standards
Do not look at grade level standards for this. (Say to admin who wants you to do grade level CC standards--> I didn't know you are planning to start an immersion program in kindergarten. (Still a lag, though, bc they won't have had the 4 yrs of language at home.))
Reading and writing ccss are ok because they show the overall goals. 
Hurry slowly! --> performance-based units with blended learning allow us to unpack the tools and give students time to really practice the skills and learn the concepts.
Top 10 Language Functions:
Express feelings and emotions
Tell or retell stories
Describe people, places, things
Ask and respond to questions
Express preferences, opinions, hopes and dreams
Maintain a conversation in person or virtually
Summarizing authentic oral text
Interpreting authentic written  text
Presenting info orally
Presenting info in writing
Interculturality - Are these 3 areas showing up in class? Add them to the unit plans.
Self (S)
Community (C)
World (W)
Interpretive Reading
Diane DeNoon - WL Coordinator, Kansas,
Text complexity:
Read and reread (close reading)
Select passages that require some cultural background ( for deep understanding)
Multiple sources info
Graphs and charts that ADD content
Process through conversation, not Q&A
Scaffold reading tasks with groups, pairs, individual
Emphasis on reading independently at high levels

Keys to Planning for Learning: Linking Curriculum to Performance
Laura Terrill - 

Global Themes:
Exploring Place & Time

Sample EQ for  Novice High: How do ppl here and in the French-speaking world describe a balanced lifestyle?

To describe proficiency levels of world language students:
Novice = parrot(repeating...)
Intermediate = survivor
Advanced = storyteller

Speaking a language is a skill; it takes time.

Presentation Mode Tasks:
"For publication" - present and publish or share with another French class
"On Demand" - come in and brainstorm and reflect and/ or compare and then submit.
 Homework, Grading, & Feedback
Lisa Lilley -
Looping students and parents in to proficiency 
Greg Duncan and Kerrie Neu <--- resources for helping parents understand proficiency goals.
I attended other powerful sessions on topics like student voice, state showcases, and more, but I mostly tweeted the key takeaways from those with the hashtag #actfl13. I encourage you to go back and read the thread if you haven't already done so.  

Now I shall end this post with a photo of some dear members of my PLN who gathered together on the final evening of the conference. The relationships we form make events like this one so much more special, so here's to all of the wonderful educators who share so much with me!

Please feel free to continue the discussion in the comments section of this post. I would love to hear from you! 


  1. This is so helpful, Christy! MERCI!
    I already shared part with my colleagues as we are struggling with a school looking at essential standards and wondering how we fit in, etc. Tu comprends!

    Just getting my feet wet reading Tweets from you and others and eager to learn more.

    merci mille fois.
    ~~Stacy, Iowa @MadameDobe

    1. Thanks, Stacy! Je comprends! Great to have you in my PLN!

  2. Tremendous resource! Reblogged at: