Takeaways from Teacher of the Year Nicole Naditz

When you go to a conference, in a particular session the new idea you bring back to your classroom isn’t always the main point of the presentation. Nicole Naditz, at ACTFL 2015 in her session Learning As I Go, was hoping for just that. It was her wish, and this is how she introduced it, that each person in the session would find some unique point to inspire them. Indeed the two ideas I took away from her session were not the main concepts she was presenting.

In passing Nicole mentioned that she has a student greet the class every day. She credited the idea to a colleague. The reason why she brought this up was because she was showing us an online tool to gather student work. She showed us a video of a student who greeted the class with something like, “Bonjour, Classe. Je m’appelle Susan. Aujourd’hui, c’est le 22 novembre. Il fait un peu frais.” It was immediately apparent to me that of course students should do this type of introduction at the beginning of class instead of the teacher, cycling through students one by one each day. I also liked that the teacher with a phone had taken a quick video and dropped it into the electronic portfolio of that student.

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The second idea that was appealing to me was the idea to have students have time for free reading once a week. Free reading is a concept that is borrowed from the elementary classroom. Nicole encouraged us to pick a day, say Thursday, and every Thursday students would know to start class by choosing a book from the class library and spend 7 to 10 minutes reading. The students would then respond to their reading with a prompt from a menu of 7 to 10 options. Each week they would use a different prompt and at the end of a couple months the teacher collects the work.

I attended three different session where Nicole spoke and it was obvious why she was named teacher of the year.

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