Last Day of School Free Printable. Three Little Monkeys Studio.
May 22, 2013. Accessed June 27, 2013.

What a bittersweet night! Last Thursday’s #langchat was the last of the school year, and yet there were so many great ideas and wonderful collaborations among the participants. As a perfect end to the school year, the topic was very reflective and hopeful. Teachers shared their innermost thoughts about what they did right in their world language classrooms this year, and how they will do things differently next year.

25 Things I Will Do Next Year In My World Language Classroom

1. QR Codes. Many teachers talked about the virtues of using QR codes in the world language classroom, including disseminating information to parents, language scavenger hunts and quick class updates. @profesorM said, “Used QR codes as shortcut to webpages for Spanish restaurants and virtual trips.” @klafrench agreed, saying, “Seems to be an easier way to get info to students. Cool scavenger hunt ideas.” @SECottrell said, “I’ve used QR codes to get info to parents as well – like links to books/music to buy on Amazon.”

2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Although some school districts frown upon using devices in the classroom, many of the #langchat world language teachers want to incorporate phones, mp3 players and handheld games into the classroom. This helps students connect their love of technology with language learning, which can be very motivational.

3. Seating Chart. @klafrench said, “This year was our first year of iPad 1:1. I will do a lot differently next year, starting with a new seating plan!” Although an increase in technology use is one reason to change the seating chart, there are many other reasons that are just as important. This gives returning students a fresh start to the new year, and allows them to make new connections. It is also good for the teacher. A new classroom configuration can literally give you a new perspective on your class!

4. Using Technology for Communication Assessment. This is one area that many #langchat teachers thought was important. Internet accessibility makes communication assessment easy. The only problem is which forum to use? Some of the world language teachers shared their favorites with the group.

  • @SECottrell said, “We like Audacity, use it for the AP too. Have it installed on all the computer lab laptops.”
  • @senornoble said, “Have you tried Vocaroo? Good recorder. Simple. Web based. #langchat”
  • @klafrench said, “@I like Evernote for picture vocab used with Evernote Peek.”
  • @placido said, “I am hoping to bring Evernote into use by my students (I already love it!) and use more Edmodo!”
  • @SraSpanglish said, “I like VoiceThread for logging artifacts for later reflection, also presentational rehearsal.”
  • @Bilinguish said, “Favorite new speaking evaluation idea: Students send you voicemails from home via GoogleVoice – they practice; you use classtime other ways.”
  • @klafrench: I saw a great tutorial at PD about how to use Voki and I am going to try to use that with pronunciation this year.”

5. Emphasize Writing. Some teachers are making a conscious effort to make writing a larger part of their world language classroom model. @msfrenchteach said, “New goal for 13-14: find ways to make writing more present. …and at higher levels. Bof!”

6. More Music. Students love music and using more of it is an easy way to motivate them to stick with the world language course. @placido shared her secret: “Songs are a KEY part of my classes! Love music! Very motivational! I just select music I think kids will LOVE. They loved “yo te voy a amar” by Boyz 2 men – lots of vocab from a song they knew in English.”

7. Better Feedback. @SECottrell said, “Me too! I need to give students a lot of specific information on how to get where they want to go! @trescolumnae said, “I agree – one discovery this year for me: just how many Ss wanted really directive guidance from me In fact, many teachers responded that students are requesting more personal direction on how to become more fluent in their world language. @placido gave a great book recommendation for just this thing: “I am reading the book Role Reversal by Mark Barnes right now…has some good methods for giving feedback.”

8. Holding Students Accountable for Technology Misuse. Some teachers who are in BYOD classrooms or Ipad classrooms mentioned their desire to hold students accountable for how they use the school equipment and Internet. @msfrenchteach said, “Another thing I’ll do differently: more parental contact regarding repeat iPad misuse. :-/” @klafrench said, “Amen sister! Holding students more accountable for their iPad use is one of my goals!”

9. Student Samples. Having samples of student work is a great goal for next year. Some teachers suggested including samples with the rubrics for an assignment, while other simply want to have them on hand to show students what particular projects should look like. @CoLeeSense said, “For me it’s all about the ‘set up’ of expectations and the debriefing – not as much about the ‘rubric’.”

10. Real World Scenarios. @YasmineAllen: Favorite activities this year involved real world scenarios — boarding a plane, ordering food in a restaurant.” These kinds of hands-on learning experiences stay with students long after they have gone home, often beyond their school years. These are also great ways to prepare for standardized tests and travel to foreign countries.

11. Self-Reflection. @SraSpanglish said, “I like doing “I cans” as a form of self-reflection, and will require evidence for EACH this year I think.” While using the I-Can statements as a self-reflection tool is just one way of meeting this goal, self-reflection as a concept is very helpful. Often students will know where their own weaknesses are in a language and can use that knowledge to improve throughout the school year.

12. Storytelling. @klafrench said, “I am going to do more storytelling and more reading. #Langchat” @SECottrell suggested a helpful tool: “StoryKit is another free app that lets you add voice/text to photos/drawings & compile a book.”

13. Student Choice Assignments. Almost everyone wanted to incorporate this into next year’s plan. Students love being able to have freedom to choose how they show their knowledge and it provides a fun experience for the teacher as well. @degroote44 said, “That is something I have tried and like it a lot! Lets students pick on areas they struggle with or need extra practice.” @placido also gave an excellent example of a “choice board” for a novel.

14. SSR. @placido said, “@SraSpanglish @placido @SECottrell I want to REcommit to more SSR too! #langchat” @SECottrell said, “@placido @SraSpanglish great! I want to refine my list and remove the easier ones (my students are too advanced for them) #langchat” @SraSpanglish said, “@placido My kidd really liked the picture books and cookbooks–and the Bible–in SSR! #langchat” @placido said, “@SraSpanglish I have some auto repair manuals that are hot items too! #langchat”

15. Read Teach Like a Pirate. This was one of the highlighted books from last week’s #langchat, and has struck a chord with many of the world language teachers on the forum. So many teachers were touting its excellence at preparing teachers for the upcoming school year that one #langchat member suggested an entire evening devoted to it. @garnet_hillman said, “With so many reading or planning to read Teach Like a Pirate…chat topic for next year???”

Other Great Ideas for Next Year:

16. Surveying Instead of Reading. @SECottrell said, “Another change b/c of lower proficiency: surveying Ciudad de las Bestias for plot rather than reading through.”

17. Word Mats Instead of Word Walls. @klafrench said, “@msfrenchteach #langchat I know a colleague who uses “placemats” instead of word walls for each unit with helpful vocab, very cool!”

18. Scavenger Hunts. @profesorM said, “We have a cart with 27 ipads. Did scav hunts with school obj #langchat” Picture Projects.

19. De-Emphasize Grammar Mistakes. @SraWitten said, “Grammar correction is easy- pushing kids to increase fluency is hard!”

20. Use Rubrics. @placido said, “I use a rubric, I am loving @martinabex’s proficiency rubrics!!” @trescolumnae said, “Rubrics are more for students than for teachers, and are a scaffolding tool.”

21. Total Immersion. @msfrenchteach said, “I will continue to use the French-only speaking system that I’ve had in place for the past two years. Essentially, I take note of times the ss and MOI speak English.When I reach 10, I bake brownies. Ss write lovely letter.”

22. Class Blog. @brianfahey61 said, “I elect a few students 2 write collaborative notes for the day and then they upload them to our class site.”

23. Better Assessment. @SenoraGeroux I want to use the ACTFL proficiency scale next year a la @MartinaBex.” @klafrench said, “I’d like to do more with self-assessment for students on objectives and match that with their performance rubrics.”

24. Use Technology with Purpose. @klafrench said, “Just finished my first year w/iPads too and am re-evaluating as well. Less apps and more focused.” @SECottrell said, “I have to be able to see a bigger point to using a tech tool rather that it’s just a cool tech tool.”

25. Station Learning. @cadamsf1 said, “I used stations but I call them centers and they are wonderful! I never used them past level 3 though hmmm a though.” @trescolumnae said, “Stations and centers do work well in upper level classes if they’re not too small.”

#Langcamp Reminder: Sunday June 30th at 2pm CST

@SraSpanglish reminded us of the first #langcamp session starting this Sunday. She said, “If improving evaluation techniques is 1 of your goals, join us for a #LangCamp Skype Sunday 14:00 CST #langchat”

Thank You!

We’d like to give a big thanks to our moderators, @msfrenchteach @SECottrell and @CoLeeSensei for co-moderating tonight’s and giving us great direction for reflection. There were many excellent ideas for ways to improve your world language classroom, and you can find all of them in our online archive.

Thank you for being a part of the #langchat community by reading the summaries. If you would like to become more involved, share your ideas with us! Even though we won’t be back online until next school year, we are always trying to find out how to talk about what is most important in your world language classroom.

Additional Resources

LangCamp Wiki
I like being bilingual because…
AATF Technology Commission Tech Blog
Make your own infograph syllabus!
Language Teacher Chatboards
iOS Apps for World Language education
Station Centers

All i need.... by hoshi7, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  hoshi7 

Most of the #langchat teachers are anticipating the end of the school year, although sad that next week (June 20th) will be the last #langchat until the end of August. What better way to relax into summer break than with a good book talk?

On Thursday’s chat, we discussed some great professional development books that teachers are planning to read this summer. Although some of them are specific to a certain language, many of them are perfect ways to get excited about teaching next year, even if you aren’t a world language teacher!

20 Great Reads for World Language Teachers

Languages and Children (Helena Curtain and Carol Ann Dahlberg) – With a focus on communicative language teaching as it reflects cognitive and second language acquisition theory, this classic in the field provides a wealth of strategies and activities ready to use in the K-8 foreign language classroom.

Fluency Through TPR Storytelling (Contee Seely and Blaine Ray) – The definitive treatment of TPR Storytelling by the originator and by a longtime TPR teacher/author. Language acquisition expert Stephen Krashen says, TPR Storytelling is much better than anything else out there. (@CoLeeSensei)

To Sell is Human (Daniel H. Pink) – The author reveals the new ABCs of moving others (it’s no longer “Always Be Closing”), explains why extraverts don’t make the best salespeople, and shows how giving people an “off-ramp” for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

Lesson Study: Step By Step (Jacqueline Hurd and Catherine Lewis) – Lesson Study empowers teachers to seek out answers from one another, from outside specialists and research, and from careful study of students during lessons that incorporate teachers’ collective knowledge.

Why Don’t Students Like School? (Daniel T. Willingham) – This book will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn. It reveals-the importance of story, emotion, memory, context, and routine in building knowledge and creating lasting learning experiences.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Daniel H. Pink) – This book claims that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere (Will Richardson) – This book provides an in-depth look at how connected educators are beginning to change their classroom practice.

Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator (Dave Burgess) – This book offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help you to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (Alfie Kohn) – This book reveals how a set of misconceptions about learning and a misguided focus on competitiveness has left our kids with less free time, and our families with more conflict

Fires in the Middle School Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from Middle Schoolers (Kathleen Cushman and Laura Rogers) – In this book, middle school students in grades 5 through 8 across the country and from diverse ethnic backgrounds offer insights on what it takes to make classrooms more effective and how to forge stronger relationships between young adolescents and adults.

Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessing and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom (Rick Wormeli) – This book offers the latest research and common sense thinking that teachers and administrators seek when it comes to assessment and grading in differentiated classes.

Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (Doug Lemov and Norman Atkins) – Teach Like a Champion offers effective teaching techniques to help teachers, especially those in their first few years, become champions in the classroom

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World (Tony Wagner) – This book is a timely, provocative, and inspiring manifesto that will change how we look at our schools and workplaces, and provide us with a road map for creating the change makers of tomorrow.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (John Medina) – In each chapter, the author describes a brain rule – what scientists know for sure about how our brains work – and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Carol Dweck) – World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset.

I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High (Tony Danza) – I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is television, screen and stage star Tony Danza’s absorbing account of a year spent teaching tenth-grade English at Northeast High — Philadelphia’s largest high school with 3600 students.

How to Grade for Learning (Ken B. O’ Connor) – This new edition of the bestseller demonstrates how to improve grading practices by linking grades with standards and establishing policies that better reflect student achievement.

Teaching with Love & Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom (Jim Fay and David Funk) – Jim Fay and David Funk’s truly positive approach and time-tested ideas and strategies will empower teachers to effectively manage classroom dynamics while bringing the joy back to teaching.

The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules For Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child (Ron Clark) – These positive rules will help teachers have better relationships with their students, promote success in their classrooms and avoid burnout.

The Passionate Teacher: A Practical Guide (Robert L. Fried) – The Passionate Teacher draws on the voices, stories, and success of teachers in urban, suburban, and rural classrooms to provide a guide to becoming, and remaining, a passionate teacher despite day-to-day obstacles.

More Stellar Books for World Language Teachers

The Story of French (Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow)
The Story of Spanish (Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow)
Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14 (Chip Wood)
Japanese the Japanese Don’t Know (Takayuki Tomita)
Captain Calzoncillos (Dav Pilkey)
Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School (Andy Hargreaves and Micahel Fullan)
Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. (Daniel Coyle)
Untangling the Web (Steve Dumbo and Adam Bellow)
How to Talk So Kids Can Learn (Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish)
Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs (Cathy Vatterott)
Making Communicative Language Teaching Happen (James F. Lee and Bill VanPatten)
Teaching With Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It. (Eric Jensen)
Instructor’s Notebook: How to Apply TPR for Best Results (Ramiro Garcia)

4 Ways to Avoid #langchat Withdrawals this Summer

#LangRead. With all of the great book ideas, @tmsaue1 suggested that some of the #langchat participants get together over the summer to discuss professional development books that they were reading. œdifferent folks could read different books and share their reactions, thoughts, and summaries.” A lot of teachers supported the idea and began to build the #langread document on the #langcamp common folder right away!

#AIMLang. Some teachers mentioned the desire to have an AIM focused #langchat group. Within moments, @AudreyMisiano announced, œ#aimlang’s first chat…a historic event!!!! June 25, 8PM.”

#langcamp. #langcamp is also still on for this summer and is a great way to avoid boredom. This will provide a way for world languages teachers to get together and do some professional development, work on common units and get to know each other better. With all of these great “extra-curricular activities to choose from, world language teachers are reeling from all the opportunities. @CoLeeSensei said, “OMG! #langchat begat #langcamp and now….#langread!”

Conferencing. Finally, a number of teachers also suggested participating in person-to-person language chats through conferencing. @msfrenchteach suggested participating in an AP Institute, while @justinfrieman recommended a Kagan workshop and AATF. @mmeloveland said, “iFLT conference for sure! Also, TeachforJune has webinars.”

Thank You!

We’d like to give a big thanks to our moderators, @CoLeeSensei and @msfrenchteach, who helped us share our book ideas for the summer. There were so many great books that we might have missed some. You can find a full transcript of the conversation in our online archive.

Thank you for being a part of langchat by reading the summaries. If you would like to become more involved in #langchat, feel free to share your ideas with us! We are always open to ways of thinking about world language teaching.

Additional Resources

Why the Accelerative Integrated Methodology (AIM) works
Untangling the Web Interactive eBook
Top 50 Linguistics Blogs
For the Language Nerd
De-Grade Your Classroom and Create Mastery Learning with Narrative Feedback

Thursday, June 21, 2007 by KimManleyOrt, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  KimManleyOrt 

For world language teachers, summer is the lazy time of year when we relax from all the pressures and stress of preparing lessons and trying out new teaching technologies.

Actually, that’s completely wrong.

For most world language teachers, summer becomes a hub of activity as teachers become familiar with new methods of teaching world language, collaborate with other teachers, and develop their language skills. This Thursday’s #langchat revolved around the ways that participants will be using their summers to prepare world language curriculum for next year. What were some of the most popular ideas for creating/updating curriculum? Online resource curation and personalized texts.

Collaborating with Other World Language Teachers: #LangCamp & Conferences

One of the first topics that came up was the goal of many world language teachers to collaborate with others through the #langcamp medium. Some of the active #langchat members mentioned this idea last week, and interest has begun to spread. @SraSpanglish said, “#LangCamp topics so far include PBL, SBG, CI, portfolios, rubrics, and #authres.” @dr_dmd, @SraSpanglish and @cadamsf1 are just a few of the 30 teachers signed up to attend. While some are coming for the amazing professional development, most are simply excited about the opportunity to meet other #langchat tweeps in person (Skype actually) and work together to design curriculum for the upcoming school year. Visit the #langcamp wiki for more information and sign-up to participate. @CatherineKU72 suggested attending the national conferences for AATF/AATSP as a great way to acquire resources.

Driving Questions, Backwards Design and Authentic Assessment

Another topic on everyone’s tongue was how to create effective backwards-designed curriculum that stems from effective driving questions and results in real learning. While this describes effective curriculum in a nutshell, the #langchat teachers had some great ideas on how to create comprehensive curricular units that incorporated these three vital functions.

Begin at the End: @alisonkis asked the important question, “Where to begin when planning curriculum bckwards?” @SECottrell replied, “Begin with the end: the assessment” @dr_dmd interjected his viewpoint: “Where to begin? We build the assessments based on the standards and proficiency goals. Start with Standards, then build the assessment, then the learning activities and the comprehensible input you need.” @PaulSolarz put it succinctly: “Begin with the end in mind. What are your essential questions? What do you want students to know and be able to do?”

Essential Driving Questions: Many teachers agreed that essential driving questions that are standards-aligned are vital to creating comprehensive curriculum. @SraSpanglish said, “I try hard to start w/ driving questions, situations where Spanish is needed that also interest students. HARD!” Both @PaulSolarz and @dr_dmd suggested books about how to use Essential Questions to facilitate backwards designed lesson plans.

Authentic Assessment: @SECottrell said, “I don’t usually use the comprehensible text to plan the assessment, I do it in reverse, based on proficiency standards.” @dr_dmd heartily agreed that assessment was an essential part of backwards curriculum design. He said, “Assessment is essential – make them more real world!” @SraSpanglish said, “Real-world focus is essential to meaningful curriculum and CC ties well w/ literacy strategies we do already!”

@SraSpanglish summed up the whole backwards design goal in a single thought: “My goal this summer is to come up with engaging driving questions, AUTHENTIC projects, and reflective grading strategies. I need to work on more proficiency-based focus for evaluations, especially for portfolio artifacts for NC’s new ‘exam.’”

Managing the Use of Textbooks

A number of teachers began to discuss the ways they might be able to use, change or replace their current textbook curriculum over the summer. The #langchat participants have varied experiences working with textbooks. While some, like @julieh1999, have the curriculum mostly defined by a textbook, others like @jennahacker have no textbook and must design all of the curriculum themselves. Many #langchatters prefer this type of curriculum setup. @Elisabeth13 said, in one of the most retweeted comments of the night, “I stopped using textbook 2 yrs ago. Looked up one day and 2/3 class asleep!”

Of the ideas presented about using textbooks, a few stood out as good alternatives to this traditional tool.

1. Modify the textbook to incorporate themes or resources. @SraSpanglish shared that “using relevant vocabulary, maybe tweaking themes” is a good way of dealing with a mandated textbook.

2. Create or write your own textbook. @alisonkis said, “ [I’m] tired of textbooks so I want to write my own textbook this summer and add #authres.” @madamebaker responded, “In my opinion, the problem with textbooks is that even the #authres get outdated FAST. Curate…ideas.”

3. Curate an online digital textbook or resource collection. @dr_dmd suggested using “wikis as a digital textbook” through the use of theme pages and online authentic resources. @MCanion shared thoughts about relying solely on external sources: “The challenge is finding enough comprehensible input- not thematic texts that are 3 levels above students.” Specific curation sites mentioned by world language teachers were Evernote, Schoolology, Pinterest, Diigo, MentorMob, EdCampus and LiveBinders.

Other Goals for Summer

While all the world language teachers present were focused on creating the best curriculum next year, they had many specific ideas for how they would use their summer months to make it happen. Here were some of the other admirable goals that teachers have for the summer:

  • @CatherineKU72 said, “Looking forward to progressing more towards project learning, #geniushour, standards assessment, student-led learning.”
  • @Marishawkins said, “I am also working on including more proficiency-based teaching and writing more comprehensible input.”
  • @alisonkis said, “My goal is to design backwards grades 6-12 language B curriculum.”
  • @madamebaker said, “Integrated performance tasks/assessments, using AP and IB themes vertically, backward design.”
  • @julieh1999 said, “Goal: to incorporate more #authres, supplemental activities and authentic assessments into our textbook-heavy curriculum. I would love to learn more about proficiency-based grading. Eliminate talk of ABCD and more novice-low, etc.”
  • @SraSpanglish said, “My goal this summer is to come up with engaging driving questions, AUTHENTIC projects, and reflective grading strategies.”

Thank You!

We’d like to give a big thanks to @dr_dmd, who led the discussion even though it was his last day of school! We are also appreciative of the many brilliant and wonderful teachers who shared their thoughts and ideas about curriculum development with us. There were a number of great ideas that we didn’t list in the summary. You can find a full transcript of the conversation in our online archive.

Thank you for being a part of #langchat by participating in the summaries. If you have a specific topic for future #langchat discussions, please share it with us! We are always open to new ideas to help better the world language teaching community.

Additional Resources

#LangCamp wiki
Developing Units with 21st Century Skills in Mind
Student ePortfolios
Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding
Make developing curriculum even easier
la mariposa spanish school
le célèbre chanteur belge, Jacques Brel
Le cyclisme
Understanding-based Curriculum
The puzzle of motivation
La ciencia y la tecnologia: Las Redes Sociales??
Project-based learning in World Languages

All Smiles by A. Witt, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  A. Witt 

Wouldn’t it be great if your students would continue studying and practicing second language skills this summer? Maybe you are fresh out of ideas to make that happen, but the #langchat community came up with 9 motivational language activities. We’ll share those with you in a moment, but first how can we be sure these ideas will work for our students?

Basic Guidelines for Developing Summer Activities for World Language

@msfrenchteach asked the important question, “How do you motivate students to do the tasks you suggest? Is there a carrot dangling? Or do you hope for the best in Aug/Sept?” While there were a lot of great responses, @dr_dmd’s comment was noteworthy: “Whatever they do, it should be FUN! Like @SECottrell said in her blog, they should be motivated to do things.”

This idea of intrinsically motivating activities is important when discussing how to keep students involved in language over the summer. In addition, other teachers came up with a number of best practices when assigning these kids of activities.

  • @jennahacker said, “I encourage kids to use technology (movies, music, podcasts) and to challenge themselves by speaking with people in the community!”
  • @jennahacker said, “We had to give summer “homework” so I tried to make mine interpersonal and communicative. Hoping that’s not the only thing they do.”
  • @ZJonesSpanish said, “One way to encourage target language use is to facilitate social interaction within the target-language community and talking with friends who speak the language.”
  • @msfrenchteach said, “I think we must choose strategically how we make the [summer language] connection.”
  • @CoLeeSensei said, “I guess we don’t try to find [students over the summer] – we decide how we’re going to reach out and let them find us.”
  • @Innablog said, “I learn best when these two things are present: feedback and reflection.”

Regardless of how you present your activities to your students, it is vital that motivation for the summer doesn’t start at the end of school. @jennahacker said, “Motivation can’t be communicated in last two days of school. It’s something that is fostered starting in August. We have to show our passion and make it relatable for kids. Show them that language is both fun and meaningful. The whole year!”

9 Great Summer Ideas for Continuing World Language Learning

1. Target Language Scavenger Hunt

@jennahacker shared the brilliant idea of encouraging students to do an authentic resource scavenger hunt over the summer. Although it can be an excellent opportunity for students who are traveling, it is also great for students who have no travel plans for the summer. @Marishawkins said, “Even if they don’t travel abroad, they can still find some. Being close to DC we have Spanish newspapers.” @jennahacker said, “Absolutely! Even product labels, etc. Helps them recognize vocabulary in authentic context.”

2. Summer Language Wall of Fame

In conjunction with the authentic resources scavenger hunt, the results can be shared in a back-to-school presentation, bulletin board or award ceremony. @ZJonesSpanish said, “I like this idea of featuring the stuff when they return! 🙂 Sorta like a show-and-tell.” Along those same lines, @Marishawkins encouraged teachers to take some of the best student-found authentic resources over the summer and showcase them on a bulletin board. @ZJonesSpanish said, “If it were public or in hallway, maybe good way to engage larger school community too.”

3. Summer Fun Packs

A number of teachers give students many choices when sending them off for the summer months. @sraslb said, “Inspired by @ZJonesSpanish a few yrs ago, I give a “packet” of fun activities with music, movies, twitter, cartoons etc.” @coindoeil responded, “I think a list of movies, music, websites, books, blogs, and podcasts is a great way to encourage kids to continue with TL in summer.” Choice is key when giving summer assignments, and is much more likely to elicit participation during the vacation months. @dr_dmd said, “I like to have a long list of choices on a wiki page to give kids ideas of things to do”

4. Group Messaging Boards and Wikis

One of the best ideas for using technology for keeping students engaged in world language was through the use of group web pages, wikis and messaging systems. These resources are attractive to students because they are interactive and technology-based, and meet many core requirements of interpersonal, presentational and interpretive standards. Some great specific ideas are:

  • Having a group Pinterest Board
  • Having a class blog or website
  • Featuring a “Song of the Week” on iTunes and sharing through Twitter or Facebook
  • Creating a class Pandora radio station that students can subscribe to
  • Have a student create a Facebook group for each class and put language-related links and messages there
  • Have a Tumblr or other photoblog where students can post images relating to the target language or culture

5. Google Voice Summer Assignments

Some teachers that use Google Voice during the year say that they continue their assignments over the summer, sometimes for extra credit. @dr_dmd said, “I have a Google Voice number – how about you? I like the students going on to AP to phone in a message about some summer activities.” @CatherineKU72 responded, “Google number has worked well with us these past few years. It’s how I send out trivia questions.” Consider having students watch a movie, telenovela or read a book as a class over the summer and calling in to Google Voice as a summary activity.

6. Virtual Language Exploration

Most student’s won’t have the opportunity to travel to a foreign country in order to keep their language skills fresh. That is why some #langchat teachers suggested using the internet to do their language exploration. By changing settings on social media like Facebook and Twitter, students can feel immersed in a culture without ever having to leave their home. @SrtaTeresa said, “Most of the smartphones allow the keyboard to be changed to the target language.” Teachers can provide a list of online movies, music and games in the target language as well as virtual communication opportunities like pen-pals. @CristinaZimmer4 suggested that using epals might be a way to keep students writing in the target language over the summer.

7. Class Competitions and Prizes

Another way of keeping students motivated to learn throughout the summer is by “dangling a carrot” for their return in the fall. Small prizes and friendly competition might be a great way to keep students on the lookout for ways to use their language skills. @CatherineKU72 said, “I’m toying w/ the idea of a weekly sweepstakes with giveaways (iTunes $5 card, Starbucks, postcards, etc) for trivia sent out on social media.” @Marishawkins said, “I was thinking of putting together a little prize- some candy and homework pass?” @SraChiles said, “I plan to use twitter and a class wiki for group challenges this summer for GT and IB students.”

8. Language Meet and Greet

Encourage communication and cohesiveness built during the school year with more informal summer gatherings. @cyberfrida said, “I’m hoping to Skype with students and meet some of them at a coffee shop to chat.” @msfrenchteach suggested using FaceTime to organize summer speaking events. @CatherineKU72 said, “Students will be using our blog and Web site to connect to media. Planning a Google Hangout at least two times to watch YouTube videos and chat.”

9. Take a Language Stay-Cation

Another brilliant idea of the evening was to bring the target language and culture to the students through local participation and personal interaction with the language. @CoLeeSensei said, “My hope is that their ears/eyes are open to recognizing the TL when it comes and perhaps interacting with it!” By attending local concerts, speaking events and changing settings on personal devices, students can have a semi-immersive environment all summer long. Some specific suggestions included:

  • Volunteer in the community using the target language
  • Attend local festivals
  • Attend a presentation or story time at a local library in the target language
  • For Spanish, provide simple “in the shower or car” exercises to practice rolling Rs
  • Have students change their language preference at grocery self-checkout or ATM machines
  • Give students recipes so they can cook an authentic dish
  • Encourage students to text with a friend in the class in the target language

Thank You!

Again, thank you to our moderators @dr_dmd, @CoLeeSensei and @msfrenchteach for helping us share so many resources and ideas about keeping our students occupied with world language over the summer. As usual, there were many great suggestions that didn’t make our list, and you can find them all in our online archive of the night’s chat.

Thank you for being a part of our professional learning network. We love to hear your ideas and advice about how to become a more effective and authentic world language teacher. If you have a specific topic you would like to see discussed this Thursday at 8pm EST, please share it with us!

Additional Resources

A Note from George Lucas: Celebrating Unsung Heroes in Education
Summer: Language for the fun of it
Exploring Spanish
Test Your French
Des outils pour mieux comprendre l’info
Social Writing for Education
Free French Listening Resources Podcast
Brain Pop
Tous les cours Mathématiques Gratuits en Vidéo
Tous les cours Cuisine Gratuits en Vidéo
Conte-moi la francophonie
European Space Agency Kids
Step outside the textbook: Tell a story
Madameshackelford Cajun Culture
Projet iPod au lycée Mount Vernon
Educational Technology and Mobile Learning