Monday, July 15, 2013

Reflections & AATSP recap from 6/10 & 6/11 sessions

Sadly the AATSP 2013 Conference is now over. I am sitting in the lobby of my hotel enjoying a margarita and reflecting on the great sessions I attended, and maybe even better, the connections I made with other teachers. The conference was wonderful and challenging for me. I was not prepared for most of the presentations to be in Spanish, and all the great conversational Spanish. I have to admit, by the time the Spanish part of my brain kicked in, the conference was practically over.

My biggest complaint for the conference is not a complaint about the conference at all, but an admonishment to myself for being so lax this summer. How can I expect m students to practice over the summer, or at least do a little listening and reading over the summer if I am not doing the same? Yes, I am reading an Isabelle Allende novel in Spanish, but other than a little "Dora the Explorer" Spanish to m three year old twins, I hadn't spoken Spanish since the third week of May. This is something that needs to change. So, I am asking my Spanish speaking friends out there to help me. When you write, send me emails in Spanish. If you talk to me, make it be in Spanish. Sure, I may have to think a bit more before I speak, but wild that really be a bad thing? ;)

Now to the sessions.

I did take it easy on the 10th to gear up for my presentation. I had planned on the AP session, but sadly, I found that I was so exhausted, I just couldn't get there at 8am. I was pleased with how my presentation went and had many good questions from those in attendance. I also found that I was now known, not as the "flipping woman", but "that woman with the blog". Strange to think that my musings here are how people think of me. (I must be more careful about what I write!)

At the end of the day, I attended a session I was happy to find as a last minute edition to the program - STEM in the language classroom. This is something I was very excited about because with. The new Colorado teaching evaluation, I need to find ways to incorporate Math in my classroom. (Yes, it terrifies me!)  the session had a small but mighty audience and we were presented with lots of ideas for incorporating Science and technology in the class as well as some Math. As often happens in these sessions, my fellow attendees had some fantastic ideas as well. Here is a list of ideas and websites from the session:

  • Puzzle of the day - Math word problems translated (possibly taken directly for lower level may classes)
  • Temperature conversions- use in conjunction with weather and clothes. (Explaining temperature to a foreign exchange students with proper attire.)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar book - incorporate life cycle of butterfly
  • Magic school bus - I had forgotten about these, which are often very scientific in nature - not sure about this for high school, but elementary or middle could use this
  • Using current scientific happenings - volcanoes, floods, hurricanes, etc. in various countries
  • Planets with days of the week - planets are aligned with days
  • El Niño/La Niña - weather cycles which originate with Ecuadorian fisherman  
  • Correlation between space station and houses - different parts of the space station owned by different countries - The space station idea is really cool because it can also include time, clothes, body parts... Check out
  • Incorporating constellations and astrology in superstition unit with horoscopes, calendars, etc.
  • Globe Program which has resources for data reporting and experiments for things around the world. 
  • Nighttime lights of the world shows the world map as it is seen at night with lights. This map is a great way to talk about culture - why are there no lights in some places? Why are some lights highly concentrated? Which  countries have the most lights? How does electricity, or lack of it, effect the life of the people into those places? These are all great higher level thinking questions.
Basically, once I really started putting my mind to it, there are many ways to incorporate STEM in he language classroom the best point made was that we need to try to surprise our kids and help the. Think about some of the basic content on more unusual and fun ways. Why not teach body parts and clothes with an astronaut?

Flipping Spanish your way - Good presentation by Ruth Valle, a college and high school teacher from Tennessee. She highlighted many video tools such as Jing, as well as the iPad apps Show Me and Markup. 

I then attended the Bridging the Gap session about writing in the target language. much of the information, although obvious, is good to hear periodically. We must work with our students on HOW to write. Students need to be reminded to stay away from complicated techniques they use in English. we as teachers also need to remember that many of our students struggle with writing in English, so how can we expect them to excel in the target language? Two highlights from her presentation were 1) to always keep in mind what you want to convey and 2) how you want your audience to react. This is great advice for video creation to help keep on track and focused.

My favorite idea from this session was making reverse outlines. Although the presenters suggested this as a tool for learning how to create an effective outline, I was thinking that this could be a good technique for an interpretive activity. It would show if students can choose the main idea and supporting points from an article. It was also suggested that students should not be given any content to read which would take them longer than ten minutes. This would be difficult in 4 and AP, but I see the value in this for the lower levels because when authentic reading takes longer than that, the students tend to get frustrated and want to give up.

The last two sessions for the day were the most exciting for me. First, there was a session on Incorporating Proverbial Language. I loved the ideas for using proverbs to help teach vocabulary and grammar points. My favorite idea was to teach a few proverbs to the students and then have them write a story where the proverb was the moral to the story. This would really help me include more authentic language and culture in my Fairy Tale unit. I am thinking that I will teach two proverbs a week during that unit and then have students choose one when creating their own story. First, I will need to acquire a few more proverbs myself! (Here is a site with some good ones!) It was suggested that for teaching purposes, short and simple proverbs are used. Some of the longer ones get very difficult for students to remember and use correctly. In my AP class I think this would be very helpful for them on the exam where utilizing colloquial language where appropriate can help to boost scores.

The final session of the conference was my personal favorite - Interpreting Art in Spanish. This session brought me back to my college days where I spent many hours learning about art in the Prado Museum. I teach an art unit in Spanish IV, and this session was a good refresher for many of the terms and easy ways to explain art in Spanish. **On another note, in the depths of my basement this summer I also found my books from the Prado which are written in Spanish and will be a great resource for my students during the art unit. ** The presenter has a "museum day" where students dress and pose like various famous works of art for students to discuss similarities and differences to the real piece. This idea may be a great addition to my art unit and I may include this as a choice for the final assessment.

I enjoyed all the sessions, and wished I could have attended more sessions. I was sad that I was unable to attend the first day of the conference, but it is difficult to be away from home for too long with four children. If anyone else has thoughts on these sessions or others from the conference, please share them!

If you are looking for more information about flipping in the language class, check out the new book Flipping 2.0. Ordering information is available at the top of the blog on the right!