The ACTFL National Convention – land of 8,000 educators and world language superstars. It is a convention that never disappoints, and this year was no different. Last year, I attended #ACTFL18 with my mom and my 2 month old (because when Paul Sandrock asks you to present at the Assembly of Delegates, you can’t say no!). This year, I attended 16 weeks pregnant! Seems like I’m forever destined to bring my family to ACTFL 🙂
ACTFL Assembly of Advocates
Hats off to Howie Berman, Executive Director of ACTFL, for turning the annual Assembly of Delegates to the Assembly of Advocates. We spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with staff from our Minnesota Senators and Representatives. What a privilege it was to advocate for vital world language policy, like the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, which supports vital indigenous immersion programs across the US, including several in Minnesota (we found out this week that the bill has 20 new sponsors due to our day of advocacy!).
Sessions that Inspired
I briefly joined this session by Laura Sexton and Sara-Elisabeth Cottrell. Going to admit that this was a session I purposefully attended to challenge my current practices or beliefs, as I am working to find that perfect spot between enough comprehensible input and output via integrated performance assessments in each communicative mode. I really enjoyed constant re-enforcement of Project Based Language Learning (More inquiry! More challenge! Authenticity or bust!) and Teaching with Comprehensible Input (More input! More comfort! Comprehension or bust!), and the added dating game aspect sure made it fun! But truly, they did a fabulous job of showing we don’t need to be only PBLL or TCI, we can (and perhaps should) do both!
As someone who’s always seeking to find ways to incorporate social justice into my curriculum, Rachel Tillotson’s session was just what I needed! Rachel brilliantly scaffolds the same social justice themes in multiple levels. Take her unit theme of Who has more influence on social structures/cultures? Men vs. women, which she applies to all levels using Can-Do statements that address cultural products, practices, and perspectives. She uses SHORT reading excerpts with with highly scaffolded interpretive strategies. Students of all levels debate this topic using a simple brainstorm sheet. Pictures are used to spark comparisons as students consider feminism then versus now. My favorite is the slide in which she shares how to connect the input with appropriate output at each level.
Sarah Strauss, a fellow Minnesotan, has so seamlessly embedded the Intercultural Development Inventory, or IDI, with ACTFL standards, ACTFL-produced performance rubrics (found in the ACTFL book Implementing Integrated Performance Assessments), and shows how she uses the ACTFL Interpretive IPA template to evaluate students’ intercultural competence.
She also has her students role-play each level of the IDI model (your partner thinks Day of the Dead is like Halloween. Discuss the two celebrations and move your partner through the IDI phases until they reach the Adaptation stage). To do this, she provides her students target language structures of what this would sound like at each of the IDI phrases. This is clearly done with students in upper levels, but I am already thinking of how this could work at lower levels. I just love how students can use this type of role play to purposefully engage in the interpersonal mode to clearly show understanding of how to progress towards cultural competency. Sarah shared how her students now will listen to their peers talking in English outside of Spanish class and they will be able to identify the IDI level of cultural competency their peers are at based on the discussion! As I consider HOW we can teach students cultural competency using the target language, Sarah has really provided a communicatively purposeful model that can be replicated in multiple languages and levels.
Mind the Gap! Teacher Moves for Making the Most of Guided Instruction
I always try to catch a few of my favorite nationally-recognized presenters at ACTFL, so I couldn’t resist popping in to Leslie Grahn’s session. And as always, she is a WEALTH of information, ideas, and strategies. Her session really focused on the ways we can provide structured supports to guide learners to independence. Some of my favorite slides showed how we can teach students in the target language to express an opinion AND support it with evidence, or ideas on how to set-up a whole lesson that guides students from input to output. She even provided everyone with a Response Menu bookmark we can keep on hand to refer to when lesson planning! You can view more fabulous ideas and resources at Leslie’s website – her Guided Instruction page has numerous examples from her ACTFL presentation.
I wasn’t able to catch Bethanie Drew’s and Karen Barkauskas-Goering’s session because we presented at the same time, but I am loving their slides! I am so inspired by how they took a cultural practice – Lucha Libre – and embedded it into an entire novice and intermediate unit, complete with authentic resources, interpersonal and presentational tasks, and the ACTFL-produced interpretive template. Seriously, this is a unit of my DREAMS. I’m excited to “lucha-fy” my own novice unit on identity with many of their ideas and texts!
One last session I wasn’t able to attend, but it’s one that’s dear to my heart, is Kristin Davin’s and Charlotte Hancock’s session on The Seal of Biliteracy: Lessons from Minnesota. We were so thrilled to have Kristin come to Minnesota last year to conduct this important research! As the co-lead of the Bilingual Seal program in my district, her work provides me direction in how to better advertise the Seal and its benefits to our students, as well as continue to promote how a proficiency-based language program helps prepare students to earn a Bilingual Seal.
That’s a wrap for #ACTFL19! Thank you ACTFL and the numerous presenters and exhibitors for a fabulous conference – I returned refreshed (4 nights of uninterrupted sleep for this mama!) and inspired!