Aha! Moments from IFLT 2022

Aha! Moments from IFLT 2022

I am so grateful to have returned to an in-person training conference. IFLT 2022 in Saline, Michigan gave us all an opportunity to get refreshed and ready for a fantastic 2022-23 school year. Over the past 6 years, IFLT has implemented a trifecta training model where teachers observe other teachers using acquisition driven instruction strategies (ADI) to elementary, middle or high school students and then complete a 13+ hour cohort training that embeds practice or “coaching” each day. This year I encouraged my team’s awesome participants in our Intermediate Low Cohort to identify “Aha!” learning moments during all of their time at the conference. In fact, I also implemented this strategy last year in my high school Spanish classes and I really like how it made my students reflect on their own realizations and learning. So, since I have been requiring this of so many, I have held myself to this same expectation. Here are some of my “Aha!” moments from the amazing teachers, coaches/trainers, teacher participants, and students from this week.

For more information on why to use Aha! moments in the classroom, check out this post: https://www.lessonplanet.com/article/health/aha-moments-celebrate-them 

My IFLT 2022 “Aha!” moments:

Middle School Spanish Observation Lab with Skip Crosby 


-I have now been studying Spanish for 30 years (wow that was an amazing number to calculate) and I have never seen this done. In Spanish we don’t have the word “do or does” in questions like we do in English questions, so every time Skip pointed to the upside down question mark (¿), he made his students say the word Do or Does. Wow, that was an incredible and brilliant way to get students to use the Do/Does word while checking for comprehension and to learn that the word is just embedded in the question itself.

-Skip’s artistry as a teacher allowed him to use the language structures: want, need, has/have using different types of candy and stickers. With both, he was able to describe colors, sizes, the names of each, and even different tastes and flavors for the candies.

-I love how Skip had every single student doing a “word job” meaning when he said “Who” is Spanish, a student said a form of who in English. Other students had signs that they would hold up at different times during the lesson also. These are strategies I often forget to use in class but are ones that not only help students focus but also help everyone in the class comprehend.  

Mandarin Chinese Observation Lab with Haiyun Lu

ZEN Aha!

-One key aspect I want teachers to leave with from my workshops is having a better sense of who they are as a teacher because we all look different and will provide Comprehensible Input and target language in a different way. Seeing Haiyun is the opposite of how I am as a teacher. She was so calm and zen that it was so wonderful to watch and was a great reminder for me that I too can scale back a bit as a teacher. She also very intentionally included mindfulness moments to help reset her students and help their learning during the lesson I observed.

-Her class started with a song in Chinese using a projected video that showed the lyrics in Chinese and meaning in English while students entered the class. So often, I will begin class with songs but I do not project the lyrics and/or English. I loved this idea and think that it will help students comprehend the language in a better way than just listening to the song upon walking in class. 

Intermediate Spanish Observation Lab with Marta Ruiz Yedinak


-Marta’s intermediate Spanish class was a master class in design and execution. One activity I loved was how she made all of her intermediate Spanish students stand-up and participate in an interactive story-retell with movements and gestures, sounds, and props as she retold a more non-fiction type context about volcanoes. This was a great Aha! moment because this would not typically be an activity I would do with my intermediate Spanish students who are juniors, but the activity works so well and would help get juniors out of their seats and moving more in class.

Session: Write & Discuss with Sprinkles on Top with Caitlin McKinney


-Exposing our students to different text types is important (Especially if you’re preparing them for an AP or IB exam where they will see and have to complete different styles of writing). Using a Write and Discuss format with students allows you to write with your students using any text type. Her presentation was also a good reminder that when you’re writing with students using the Write and Discuss model you can  use the transition and sequence words you would like them to use and learn. 

For more information about Write and Discuss check out this post from Anne Marie Chase who also provides other resources: https://senorachase.com/2019/01/03/write-discuss/  

Session: Date Talk: Bring Culture to Class One Bite at a Time with Bess Hayles


-Bess Hayles has a genius idea – start class each day by writing up a few sentences in target language using a cultural situation/event, person from target culture who was born or died on the day, or anything in history.  

-More amazing was this idea about how to find this information: Google the date in the target language and WIKIPEDIA in the target language has an entry about this day in history! Amazing!!! Scroll through, get inspired, and write some quick comprehensible sentences about the information and perhaps find a quick video clip to accompany it and voila you have culture and perhaps an authentic video clip to use in class for the first 5 minutes of the day. 

Session:  Musical Brain Breaks that Front Load Vocabulary with Amy Marshall


-There was so much talent and energy coming out of Amy Marshall as she was sharing with us her own songs in Spanish that she uses with her students to front load vocabulary. We all know the power of music and how it really does help one remember something forever (think of the songs you know from childhood just from being a passenger in the car). So Amy used children’s songs to help her students remember Spanish words that really do help in building description in any context. Amy Marshall’s YouTube channel has many of her songs there and there are many there that I plan to use in the future. 

Playlist of Songs Amy Marshall teaches: ​​https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB-R-b5R5jFkPHxgbYRzCakIPa5O71MgM   

Spanish Preposition Song with Amy Marshall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIBhlEjf6As

Amy Marshall’s Youtube Channel (once you start watching her amazing videos you will not stop and frankly, you will learn so much): https://www.youtube.com/c/Dmsspanish

Session: Beyond Flashcards: Using Online Tools for Real Proficiency with Kristy Placido


-I am an avid user of Quizlet but mostly for the flashcard type studying for my students. I will say Kristy Placido always pushes me to do better, and in this session, she opened my eyes to using Diagrams on Quizlet. When using a Diagram, you select different areas of a picture and, for example, you can write descriptions about that area you selected. Creating sets using a Diagram works really well for Quizlet Live play in the classroom but in a different way than just flashcards because students must really read and understand the context based on the picture.  She did examples using a piece of art and a storyboard. I’m so happy to learn about this and can see using this all of the time in my classroom for adding much more critical thinking and depth of knowledge questions during games like Quizlet Live.

-A Geography connection that was brought to our attention is  https://worldle.teuteuf.fr/  which requires students to guess a country based on its shape. Once students make a guess, the program provides information about the distance from the last guess, cardinal directions from the last guess, and the percentage of correctness of the guess and the real answer. The magic is that all of that information can be explained in target language to students as they try to guess the country again. This is a quick activity and one I can’t wait to try because I try to incorporate maps and geography as much as possible in all of my classes.

Truthfully, I learned so much more at IFLT 2022 and I’m so appreciative of the learning community that I have that works to make me a better teacher every time we get together, collaborate, and share. These were just some of my Aha! Moments and I hope that you choose to use Aha! moments with your students one day too.  Last year, I even created a bulletin board dedicated to Aha! moments and “I wonder” statements about Spanish that my students had. 

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