There are many things that I often shy away from at conferences, and the keynote is one of them. I am not sure why, maybe it is because they are often done at the luncheon.....maybe because I have been to some that I really didn't enjoy, and felt trapped for the entire presentation.
That being said, I was so glad that I attended the keynote today. The speaker was Yo Azama, who is ACTFL's teacher of the year. He came across immediately as warm, funny and charming, and drew me in immediately. He discussed how the culture of the world reaches our students, and when I really stopped and thought about it, gave me pause. He showed some great graphics and stats....only 30% of US citizens have a passport, and half of those use them to go to Canada or Mexico. I am not sure where he got his stats, but they were a bit frightening.
That led to the focus of his keynote, which was that we, as language teachers are our students window to the world. Totally makes sense, why didn't I think about it that way? I am realizing how important it is that I really focus on the culture in every aspect of what I am doing, not just give lip service to it. Culture needs to be incorporated into all aspects of the classroom, and I am already inspired to do that.
He also shared a great video that his students created to introduce their school to a foreign exchange student. Since I am always on the lookout for great projects, this really struck me as something that my new Sp. I class can do, and with some tweaking I can see this being my final exam project. Students can analyze some videos about schools in the target language, do some interpersonal with each other to find out what kind of information should be on the video, or reviews of the video, and the video itself will obviously be the presentational portion of the assessment.
Overall, I decided that I would love to have a long conversation with Yo Azama and pick his brain for implementation ideas and another other gems. So, if you get the chance to see him speak as he travels around the country during his time as ACTFL Teacher of the Year, don't hesitate..GO!!