Who to see @ACTFL 2016

ACTFL 2016, the national conference on language teaching, is taking place in Boston this weekend. It is an opportunity to hear about current trends in language education. Last year when I attended the conference in San Diego, it took a lot of time on Twitter to prioritize which presenters’ sessions to attend. I took interest in the teachers who were active on #langchat, the ones who were making comments that showed the merit of their practice. In addition, I relied on the list of ACTFL Teachers of the Year as they are all excellent professionals.

In case you don’t have the time to do your own research, I want to share with you a handful of excellent presenters that you can catch this year.

  • Catherine Ousselin is a Digital Literacy Coach and French teacher. She has attended MaFLA in the past, so maybe you have already heard her speak. She is a leader in the area of technology. When the site Photo de Classe came online recently, its merits were obvious to French teachers and so I am intrigued to find out how Catherine uses it. Photo de Classe: Connecting Origins, Family and Identity Using Global Units. Friday 11am-12pm
  • Amy Lenord is a Spanish teacher and is the #langchat moderator. Here she will be addressing whether or not vocabulary lists hold us back. Liberation from the Lists: Vocabulary Instruction without Limits. Friday 3:45-4:45pm
  • Nicole Naditz is a French teacher and was ACTFL teacher of the year in 2015. I blogged about her tips after ACTFL 2015 and can’t wait to hear what she has to say about Interpersonal communication for novice students. Breaking Through: Building Up to Spontaneous Communication from Year 1. Friday 3:45-4:45pm
  • Noah Geisel is a Spanish teacher and was ACTFL teacher of the year in 2013. The description of the sessions states that, “Mobile Storytelling… facilitates reciprocal communication with authentic audiences” I will get out of bed early Saturday morning and leave my husband with the kids to find out what “authentic audiences” means. When Digital isn’t Enough: The Magic of Mobile Storytelling. Saturday 8-9am
  • Sara-E. Cottrell is the Spanish teacher who is responsible for Musicuentos.com. Here she is addressing a very timely subject for me and my colleagues, how to use a text book. Textbook as Aid: Adapt, Incorporate and Ditch. Saturday 5:15-6:15pm


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.


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.