Calls for contributions to One Day in HLT, Nov 13th, 2019

As heritage language teachers, we know that we are lacking in professional development and yearn to connect with other heritage teachers. One way to do that is to share out what we’re all doing in our classrooms.

In September of 2018, I asked for heritage language teachers to share what they were doing in their classrooms on October 3rd. Whatever they were doing, I wanted it. Many of you will recall that it is a spin-off on the “A Day In The Life Of” picture book series, which is where my idea of choosing one specific day came from. Over a dozen HL teachers from across the country submitted one Powerpoint slide that included a description of class that day with some sort of visual. Many HL teachers reported that it was helpful to see what other teachers were doing in their classrooms on that day.

Well, by popular demand, we’re doing a rerun of this! But this time, I wanted to capture a different time of the year, so this time the date will be Wednesday, November 13, 2019.

Would you like to participate? If you teach a heritage language class at any level, please do! Here is what you will do.

  • Send me a (1) brief summary, like a short paragraph, and (2) a visual of whatever you do in your heritage lang classroom on Wednesday, November 13th.
  • You can send it ahead of time, or send me a sum-up after you’re done teaching on that day.  Send to ccashman@chiarts.org no later than Sunday night, November 17th.
  • You could put it on a Powerpoint slide like below in the sample pictures, or just send me the info in the body of an email and/or an attached photo or video (or YouTube link), and I can organize it.
  • You can include as much ID information as you feel comfortable with, knowing that it could be shared with a wide audience. See sample pictures below, or last year’s “One Day in HLT” compilation here

* EXAMPLES*

One of the most common questions is, “I’m on a block schedule. What if I don’t teach a heritage class on that day?” Do it the next day, or the day before. The one thing I ask is that you don’t pick something from another day that you think is more awesome or more kick-butt than whatever you’re doing on the 13th. Let’s be real with each other and let us know what you’re doing on that day. If you’re giving a test, give us a taste of what your test is – without compromising the integrity of the content of your course.

As it was last year, I will compile everyone’s visual into a blog entry and then share it back out with the wider HLT community on ACTFL, heritage teaching Facebook groups, and Twitter. For now, no fancy videos or big production – it will be something easy to read and view during your prep period for some mid-day inspiration.

HL teachers across the country are looking forward to seeing what you do in your heritage class on Wednesday, November 13th! Can’t wait to get submissions in my inbox later next month.

A multi-year plan to measure how our students progress towards proficiency

In order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you’re at.  

In our department recently, we decided to find out to what extent our scope and sequence is moving students towards higher proficiency.  

Next fall, the Spanish 1 teachers will be selecting seven promising students about two weeks into the school year for an OPI / proficiency study.  We said “seven” at our meeting on Thursday, but I think I’m going to come back later and suggest ten. I will do OPI’s with the selected students at the beginning of September, and then again in May during each year that they study Spanish.  

Span 1Sept OPI

May OPI
Span 2
Sept OPI

May OPI
Span 3
Sept OPI

May OPI
Span 4 or AP Span
Sept OPI

May OPI

I will also be looking to do this with my heritage students.  It’s trickier, because they are more varied in terms of their entrance proficiency levels, but that also makes it all the more worthwhile.  Are my heritage classes moving students forward with their language proficiency – or as Kim Potowski suggests, linguistic development? Will Intermediate students sneak into the Advanced range? Will Advanced-Low students become Advanced-Mid, over 2-3 years?

SNS 1
Sept OPI

May OPI
SNS 2
Sept OPI

May OPI
AP Span
Sept OPI

May OPI

Here are some questions we are attempting to answer.

  • We would like to determine the extent to which our curriculum is (or is not) advancing students upwards along the proficiency spectrum.  What’s the temperature of our curriculum as it currently stands? How do “strong” students, the ones who are invested in their learning and do the work we give, end up doing with what we teach?  
  • Are there certain courses in which language growth seems to slow down?  We have started questioning if the classes after Span 1 (especially year 3 and higher) are focusing on content that is too advanced and thus slows down progress. We should be able to hear a qualitative difference from September to May, in any proficiency-oriented class.  Will we?
  • Will the students themselves, and perhaps their classmates who look on, be more motivated to acquire language by seeing themselves and/or their classmates advance in proficiency from one year to the next?  
  • We suspect that the results we hear will lead us to hear what our students are not able to do and examine where our curriculum might be falling short.  This school year, we already started to implement some changes in Spanish 3 based on our understanding of proficiency. For example, we tossed out an environmental unit and replaced it with a unit of stockpiled Scholastic magazines.  What else should we do?

We are looking forward to learning about our students, about our curriculum, and about  proficiency in the classroom as we embark on this in a few months. Fortunately, our school offers a school-wide 60-minute lunch break, so it’ll be easy to get them all in in half hour slots, still leaving me enough time to eat.  

My intention is to keep recording our findings and our realizations on my blog here, so stay tuned over the next few… years.

Have any thoughts about this?  How about a name for this project?  If you have any ideas, let me hear them!