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#Langchat participants met last Thursday to discuss how to get students motivated in world language classes. Drawing inspiration from Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, they reflected on how to help students find purpose in learning another language, how to support student autonomy, and how to highlight student mastery, ensuring that students feel successful. Participants also shared useful resources for educators interested in learning more about motivation. As always, “#langchat [generated] so many ideas [in] so little time!” (@rinaldivlgr) and left Langchatters feeling motivated!

Thank you to all of our participants and to last Thursday’s moderating team, Laura (@SraSpanglish), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Don (@dr_dmd), and @Cristy (@msfrenchteach), for yet another great #langchat!

Question 1: PURPOSE: How can we help students find and pursue purpose in learning another language?

#Langchat participants had lots of thoughts about how to help students find and cultivate purpose in the world language classroom. They highlighted the value of personalization, relevance, and projected learning outcomes. Participants also emphasized the importance of checking in with students early on to see what purpose they bring to the classroom.

  • Personalization. Many #langchat participants commented on the role that personalization can play in shaping student purpose. @Mr_Fernie wrote, “Personalization! Make it for and about them.” @SenoraDiamond55 added that personalization is not always about students but can also be about the communities with which they engage: “Personalization [is] not just [about students]; [it is also about] their COMMUNITIES.” She noted that students can cultivate purpose in developing projects personalized for community member needs, engaging with individuals in the target language.
  • Relevance. Langchatters agreed that relevance is crucial. @MmeCarbonneau urged instructors to “make [language learning] relevant to [students’] lives NOW.” @StJMagistra agreed, noting that purpose can be developed “[by] making connections between what [students are] learning in the classroom and the wider world.” Instructors pointed out that online exchanges with target language speakers can help to make learning feel relevant. @SraSpanglish wrote, “For me the key is finding an audience that matters to students, someone they NEED to use the [target language] with.” @dr_dmd also commented, “[It’s important] to find [second language] communities for real connections – even virtual ones are good for this! Set up an Edmodo group [with your] classes.”
  • Projected learning outcomes. Instructors observed that showing students glimpses of projected future outcomes of language learning can give them purpose. @hsingmaster wrote, “[Show students] how learning a language can benefit them in the future!” @carmenscoggins suggested that sharing success stories of former students can also help: “I use former student testimonies to entice newbies. It shows them that making progress in Spanish is possible!”
  • Purpose as defined by students. Lastly, participants pointed out that students may already have a purpose in mind when they come to class. As @SECottrell noted, “Sometimes students come to our class with a purpose already – [We] just need to ask.” @Marishawkins encouraged instructors to discover students’ purposes, writing, “[Start] the [year] by asking [students] why they signed up for the class. Even if they must take a [foreign language], they typically have some choice.”

Question 2: AUTONOMY: How can we give students control of their learning?

In discussing ways to promote student autonomy, participants underscored the importance of choice in different aspects of the language class. As @IndwellingLang wrote, instructors can promote choice in many areas: “CHOICE–of topics, assignments, projects, texts, activities,…”

  • Choice in vocabulary. Many instructors encouraged giving students at least some degree of choice in vocabulary selection. @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “[Let students] have [a] say in vocabulary,” and @MmeFarab argued in favor of “[self-selected] vocab!,” adding, “Also, I survey students about vocab topics so I can teach things relevant to their lives.”
  • Choice in texts. Other instructors mentioned choice in text selection. @SrtaJohnsonEBHS gives students free choice reading time: “My [Spanish 3/4] classes have been SO good about doing it this year, [and I’m] really seeing the benefits.” @Watermelonworks also allows for free-choice reading: “[My] students pick the books they want to read: their choice, their interest, our decoding the language together.”
  • Choice in assignments. Participants encouraged allowing students to show what they know in the format of their choice. @IU12IMS said, “[Offer students] choices… Let them show you what they have learned how they want to show you.” @profepj3 added, “This is why I love having [project-based learning]—the [students] get to choose how to tackle a topic and show what they know.”

While Langchatters promoted student choice, they also recognized the value of a good rubric that provides some structure. @SenoraDiamond55 said, “Use guidelines, parameters, or rubrics to set [a] foundation for [a] good product [or] presentation [and] then let [students] individualize.” @dr_dmd commented, “Grading with rubrics is a big help – I can offer ‘choice [within] a framework’ [and let students] meet the rubric however [they] like!”

Question 3: MASTERY: What can we do to ensure students feel successful?

In working to make students feel successful, participants highlighted the importance of reasonable expectations, a good dose of praise, and peer instruction and feedback. They also questioned whether it is appropriate to speak of mastery or fluency in the language classroom.

  • Reasonable expectations. Langchatters noted the importance of setting appropriate proficiency expectations. @Marishawkins suggested that instructors “keep expectations reasonable for proficiency!” and @SECottrell observed, “Level-appropriate performance tasks are a huge booster for students to feel successful.” @espanolsrs added that, in order to build confidence, instructors could have “[students] take assessments when [the teacher] knows at least 80% will get 80% or higher [on the exam and] most of rest will get passing grades.”
  • Praise. #Langchat participants recognized the role of praise in making students feel successful. @carmenscoggins wrote, “Celebrate the small stuff! Encourage each other!” Other instructors pointed out the benefit of can-do statements. @SrLaBoone said, “[Can-do] phrases are great! [They] point out what the students have accomplished so far and emphasize [a] growth mindset.” @senorarobbins suggested, “[Have] students check off can do statements after a unit, or even at the end of the year” to see all that they have accomplished.
  • Peer instruction and feedback. @a_rees18 wrote, “Have [students] TEACH each other. They’ll see how much they actually know.” @SrLaBoone observed that students can also provide one another with positive feedback: “[Encourage] students to compliment one another in the [target language], too!” @senorarobbins replied, “[Absolutely! I] feel like they probably value their [peers’] praise more than ours :).”
  • Growth portfolios. @MmeCarbonneau suggested, “Build a portfolio of work like a website [or] blog that shows evidence of growth!” Along these lines, @AHSblaz added that reflection on past concepts that once seemed difficult can help students feel proud of their progress: “[Every] once in a while give [students] something from months ago [and] help them reminisce about how hard they used to think that was!”
  • Mastery? Fluency? Some instructors questioned whether it is appropriate to use the term mastery or talk about fluency as a goal. @ericsonellen asked, “Is mastery the right word to use in the question? What does that mean?” @SECottrell felt that these terms were not useful and could even be detrimental: “One way to address mastery in the [world language] classroom is to STOP TALKING ABOUT FLUENCY.” She added, “Using words like ‘fluent’ and ‘mastery’ kills the lifelong learner in us all.”

Question 4: RESOURCES: What are some good resources for educators to learn more about motivation?

#Langchat participants shared resources that instructors can use to learn more about motivation.

  • Your students! Langchatters overwhelmingly agreed that students are an ideal resource in researching motivation. @CoLeeSensei wrote, “I’m going to step out and say ‘your students’?” @SrLaBoone said, “Yes, who better to consult than your clients!” and @carmenscoggins wrote, “I go to the source. I talk to my students. ;).”
  • Colleagues. Participants also suggested turning to more experienced colleagues for advice. @a_rees18 said, “I see myself asking for a lot of help from other experienced [teachers] when I (hopefully) have a job in a great school.”
  • Online Tools. Langchatters also discussed a variety of online resources. @StJMagistra wrote, “Twitter chats, subscribing to blogs from motivated teachers, [and] building a PLN are great ways to learn motivation!” Speaking of PLNs, @SECottrell shared a link to a previous #langchat post on motivation: “29 Proven Ways to Motivate Your World Language Students http://t.co/44rbelepK6.” @Edutopia was also mentioned as a particularly valuable resource for tips on motivation. @dr_dmd said, “See @Edutopia for ideas on student engagement as well http://t.co/35mLhyZ6NE,” and @RyanWestBosson noted, “@edutopia is great for quick, yet very applicable reads. We don’t always need to read a whole book : ).” @dr_dmd added, “Here are some resources via @Larryferlazzo on @Edutopia http://t.co/itT89RY5RO.”
  • Books on motivation. Daniel Pink’s books were mentioned several times throughout the conversation, and participants shared their reflections on his works. @Musicuentos wrote, “[Here is my] take on @DanielPink’s [Drive] and other book recommendations http://t.co/3jh3a8Uilf.” @SECottrell shared a podcast and transcript of her comments on another book by Pink, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others: http://t.co/bwrOameM5C and https://t.co/rMLZAQaCYY. @CoLeeSensei also shared her thoughts on this book: http://t.co/sXkNO8lWL5, and @dr_dmd provided a link to resources by @DanielPink: http://t.co/9wU9COiFtZ. Tony Wagner’s book, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, was also mentioned as a useful resource, and @SECottrell shared her extensive review of this book: http://t.co/GXJesgpZQB.

Conclusion

#Langchat participants were motivated to talk motivation last week! They observed that personalization and relevance can promote student purpose, encouraged student choice in different aspects of class to help cultivate student autonomy, and offered ways to help students feel successful. Langchatters also recommended tools for instructors looking to read up a bit more on motivation.

Thank You!

Thank you to all of the motivated #langchat participants who contributed to our chat on motivation! Remember: now you can also join us on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET – Same questions, more chat time!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

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Last week, #langchat participants met to chat about integrated performance assessments (IPAs). They began by discussing IPA content, set-up, and execution. Participants then reflected on how to assess and provide feedback on an IPA and commented on anything else that instructors might need to account for in creating and implementing an IPA. Lots of instructors turned out early, ready to dive into the topic, with @CadenaSensei writing, “I can already tell from the stellar crowd it’s going to be an awesome #langchat tonight!” By the end of the hour, heads were spinning: “My head is spinning right now, #langchat!” yet participants were still eagerly awaiting a #langchat Saturday sequel!

Thank you to all those who tuned in last week and to last week’s moderating team, Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Cristy (@msfrenchteach), John (@CadenaSensei), Kris (@KrisClimer), Laura (@SraSpanglish), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell)!

Question 1: What does the content of an IPA look like to you?

At the start of the hour, @MlleSulewski offered a basic definition of an IPA: “[The combination of an interpretive] task, interpersonal task, [and] presentational task, linked to common theme.” Some participants noted that having “[interconnected tasks] is the ideal but sometimes [it’s] not possible” (@ericsonellen). @SECottrell wrote that interconnectedness is not necessary: “[If] I can make a good three modes with two scenarios, why not?”

Several Langchatters emphasized the importance of creating IPAs with real world relevance. @senorarobbins felt that an IPA “definitely uses the three modes of communication, and also [has a] real world application!” @SoyBolingual agreed that an IPA should be “communication-driven [and as] close to real life as we can get in a classroom!”

Question 2: How do you effectively set up and execute an IPA?

Participants seemed to agree that an IPA should be planned backwards. @CoLeeSensei encouraged instructors to “[start] with END in mind!” and @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “I think about what I really want my students to be able to do when they leave my class…then [I] find themes and plan backwards.”

Langchatters also shared their thoughts on IPA execution. @SraSpanglish said, “I post all 3 steps as separate assignments on Google Classroom, [have students] go through them all, [and] let [them] work at their [own] pace over [two] days.” @CadenaSensei also spreads IPAs over a few days and explained how he keeps students busy, assessing two modes simultaneously: “[It’s] not [a] ‘true’ format but I have [students] work on [an interpretive reading task] while I call them up [one] at a time to do [interpersonal speaking] with me.” @SECottrell suggested one way to make connections between tasks: “Students use [an] interpretive source (1 print, 1 audio, 1 [graphic]) to inform [a] presentational task (infographic, poster, OPINION).”

Question 3: How do you assess and provide feedback on an IPA?

When it comes to IPA evaluation, many Langchatters agree that rubrics are essential. @CoLeeSensei wrote, “[Rubrics] are key and tell [students] what we are looking for!” and @MlleSulewski added, “[A detailed] rubric [is good] to show areas of strength and struggle.”

Langchatters also reflected on the ideal time to provide students with feedback. @SoyBolingual asked, “Do you give feedback after each IPA task?,” adding, “[I feel] it would help [students] to get a fresh start on [the] following task.” @MlleSulewski wrote that she “[usually provides] immediate feedback after interpersonal [assessment]” and @profelopez716 agreed that immediate feedback is important: “I think assessment can vary but feedback needs to be instant. [Students] want to know immediately what they did well on.”

Participants shared their thoughts on the shape that feedback should take. @SECottrell wrote, “[Student] feedback [should be] 100% proficiency language – [If students] want to know the ‘grade’ they have to look online.” Langchatters highlighted the importance of emphasizing the positive in providing feedback on proficiency. @muchachitaMJ said, “[It’s so] important to CELEBRATE successes! [Highlight] 1 or 2 examples of growth [or] creativity [and] 1 thing to [work] on.” @profelopez716 commented, “I like how you emphasize [what students] DO rather than don’t. It gives [them] confidence in knowing they did something right.” Other participants noted that students could also self-evaluate, using the same rubric created by instructors. @SrtaNRodriguez said, “[Having students] reflect and [self-assess] is also helpful. [Teachers’] feedback is important but so is [students’] own awareness of meaningful [language].” Lastly, @CadenaSensei pointed out that rubrics could be used to provide feedback on overall class proficiency trends: “I use [the] same rubrics [that] I [use to] assess any single performance assessment, and give [the] whole class feedback on trends I saw when done.”

Question 4: What else do we need to account for when creating and implementing an IPA?

Before signing off Twitter, participants shared some final advice about what to account for in designing and implementing IPAs. Here are some important things to consider:

1. Don’t overdo it! As participants noted, it takes time to provide meaningful feedback on IPAs. @SraClouser observed, “IPAs require TIME! [With] 75 [students] in level 4 it can take a long time to provide timely feedback.” For this reason, they encouraged instructors to limit the number of IPAs and provide more detailed feedback on assessments. @SECottrell said, “[I’m] going to bring this back up – these take a long time to grade. Giving good feedback is more important than doing [frequent] IPAs.”

2. Foster risk-taking. Participants noted that students should be encouraged in order to promote risk-taking, which can lead to growth. @SraClouser wrote, “I would say reward risk-takers who communicate effectively!”

3. Keep IPAs current and interesting. Langchatters acknowledged the importance of updating IPAs from time to time in order to incorporate student interests and current events. @SrtaLibertad221 said, “I feel like we need to account for current ‘events’ or interests. [Our IPAs] might need to be updated.” @spanishsundries added, “Interest is SO important. [Motivation] is [the] #1 problem, [so you] have to do everything you can to motivate!”

4. Allow time for growth. @SoyBolingual wrote, “You need enough time between IPAs for growth to happen. [You don’t] want to fall into [an over-testing] trap!”

5. Ask yourself… “Are they ready for the IPA?” (@axamcarnes). Participants mentioned the importance of adequately preparing students before presenting them with an IPA.

Conclusion

Langchatters provided lots of suggestions on how to design and implement effective IPAs. They highlighted the importance of designing assessments with real world relevance, encouraged instructors to plan backwards, and emphasized the value of detailed feedback with a healthy dose of encouragement. Participants also offered some final advice of things to take into account when creating and implementing an IPA. @CadenaSensei pointed out that instructors need not strive to create the ‘perfect’ IPA, writing, “IPA is a tool. We can modify that tool to fit our purposes! [It’s better] to be ‘good’ than ‘right’.” @SrtaOlson echoed this sentiment, reassuring instructors: “[Try] not to get TOO caught up in the logistics of it all – focus on building your [students’] skills however best you can!”

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to an energy-filled IPA chat! Remember: now you can also join us on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET – Same questions, more chat time!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

Students studying by UBC Library, on Flickr
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Welcome back to #langchat! Last Thursday, participants discussed how to best meet the needs of all students in a class, regardless of level. They began by describing what multiple ability levels look like in the classroom before reflecting on how to fairly assess students whose proficiency levels vary in a single class. Langchatters then discussed how to effectively handle feedback and goal setting and differentiate practice to ensure growth for students of all proficiency levels. Before the hour came to a close, they commented on how to ensure that students meet individualized goals. If you missed a beat in this rapid-fire exchange, you weren’t alone! @MmeFarab said, “I am definitely getting steamrolled by #langchat tonight. [There’s too] much to keep up with!” and @AHSblaz noted, “ha! [This is the first] time I have ever seen ‘rate limit exceeded’ on a chat…things are popping tonight!”

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the lively discussion and to last week’s moderating team, Amy (@alenord), Don (@dr_dmd), Laura (@SraSpanglish), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), John (@CadenaSensei), and Cristy (@msfrenchteach)!

Question 1: What do multiple ability levels look like in your classroom?

Langchatters interact with students of varying ability levels within the same class on a daily basis. Some instructors teach classes made up of both second language learners and heritage speakers. For example, @RyanWestBosson wrote, “In my Spanish 1 classes I have a mix of beginners (not absolute beginners though) and heritage speakers. [There’s a] big range.” @esantacruz13 wrote that background can vary significantly within heritage language classes, as well: “[My students] are all native speakers, but [some] of them have never taken a Spanish class. Others have lived in Mexico.” In second language classes, participants noted that multiple course levels are often grouped together. For example, @CadenaSensei said, “My ‘upper level’ course is [a mix of] Japanese [level] 3 Regular, [level] 3 Pre-AP, and [level] 4 AP. [Proficiency] ranges from Novice-High to emerging [Intermediate-Mid].” @jklopp said that these kinds of combinations are common in her experience: “Many [Oklahoma] teachers have to combine Spanish 3, 4, [and] 5 in same classroom. [It] takes a special teacher to do that.” @katchiringa shared yet another type of class make-up, students of different age levels: “Also, [I] have [middle school] students mixed in with [high school] students. That’s challenging!” While many reflected on the challenge of working with students of multiple ability levels in the same class, @tmsaue1 put a more positive spin on the situation: “[Real] life is mixed level. [Perhaps] this problem is a blessing in disguise.”

Question 2: How can we fairly grade or assess students whose proficiency levels vary in a single class?

Many instructors felt that students should be assessed in terms of individual growth and should not be compared to others in the class. @kballestrini wrote, “[Each] student [should] only [be] judged against his or her own growth and ability level. Why should I compare Johnny to Anne?” @sonrisadelcampo agreed, writing, “[Students’] grade should reflect their [individual] progress; [it should] not [be] a comparison to other [students].” Participants proposed a growth model “[where instructors assess students] at entry and exit to measure progress” (@ProfeCochran). @dr_dmd echoed this point, “Keep a #growthmindset as a class norm!” and encouraged instructors to allow students to re-do assignments until they get it.

While some instructors favored this mindset in theory, they acknowledged that it can be difficult to implement in practice. @BeckyLeid wrote, “I couldn’t agree more that [students should] be assessed [based] on [their] own progress, but when you have 32 [students] and 45 [minutes]…I run out of time!” @AHSblaz said, “I agree [that it’s] sometimes hard to individually assess 100+ [students] daily…a good rubric [and] rough draft-final draft approach [with opportunities for re-dos] can help.” @shakejively added that this more personalized approach can feel less structured, and @laprofeloca said, “[Once] I tried scoring each [student] … at his own unique starting place. [It was a] good idea, [but it was a] grading nightmare.”

Question 3: How can we effectively handle feedback and goal setting for students with different ability levels?

Participants suggested a variety of ways to deliver feedback and initiate goal setting for students with different ability levels. @kballestrini proposed that instructors could have a “conversation with each student [in which they] talk about growth, show evidence [of progress] through [documents], [and assess] strengths [and weaknesses].” @dr_dmd recommended using portfolios to evidence growth: “Portfolios are a great way to help [students] document their growth over time. [There are lots] of ways to do so – I like blogs [and] websites best.” Alternatively, @kballestrini suggested assembling portfolios using Google Drive: “Google Drive provides [an] excellent place for digital records, easy annotation (comments), feedback, and [points] for discussion.” @dr_dmd pointed out other tools for useful feedback: “Peer feedback and [the] opportunity for revision is important and powerful!” @RyanWestBoss agreed that students of different backgrounds and proficiencies can offer feedback to peers: “[Students] can give feedback to each other on a regular basis, especially when we have heritage and native [speakers in a class].” @bxie3 also saw the benefit of feedback on multiple drafts: “[It seems like] multiple drafts would help. When [students] have to rewrite their text, they pay more attention to the feedback.” Additionally, @SraFogerty added that exemplars can help students set clear goals: “Exemplars really are the key. Students need to see the standard [or] expectations in order to reach it!”

Question 4: How can we differentiate practice to ensure students’ growth despite different levels?

#Langchat participants suggested differentiating assignments to promote individual growth. @SECottrell wrote, “I saw [an advertisement] in a homeschool catalog for teaching kids in different grades using [the] same theme, [but] different tasks.” She suggested that this could be applicable for language teachers in multilevel classrooms. @camccullough1 said, “Yes!!!!! Modifying the assignment so that each student grows is more important than it being the same.” Additionally, @dr_dmd noted that having students of different levels work together on assignments can promote growth: “I like my [students] to be in [heterogeneous] groups to support each other with their varied abilities.” @LisaShepard2 wrote that feedback already offers a source of differentiation: “If [we are] evaluating proficiency, the feedback provides the differentiation. All [students are] striving to improve proficiency on each task.”

Question 5: What are strategies that ensure that students meet their individualized goals we’ve set for them?

Langchatters seemed to agree that, students must take initiative in setting out to reach their goals, but added that instructors can offer guidance and support along the way. @kballestrini wrote, “[We] can’t ensure anything – [Students] have to have an active role in process; we can only provide opportunity and scaffolding.” @dr_dmd agreed and preferred to reframe the question: “I might actually ask – What strategies ensure [that students] meet the goals they set for themselves? We guide, they drive!” He added, “We need to stop holding hands so much. [Students] need to be responsible for their own learning – we support [them], but they do the work.” @tiesamgraf asked, “Do we set goals for them or with them?… [That] might make a difference!” and @RyanWestBoss pointed out, “Teaching students to personalize our goals and set their own goals is so important :-).”

Conclusion

For many #langchat participants, mixed-level classes are the norm. Many Langchatters encouraged tracking individual student progress over time instead of comparing students to one another and documenting student growth by means of a portfolio. They also recommended making modifications to assignments in order to support growth for students of varying levels. Lastly, #langchat participants agreed that students must ultimately take responsibility for their progress, working to achieve their personal goals with guidance from instructors along the way.

Thank You!

Thank you to all those who continue to make time for #langchat once… or twice a week! As @alenord reminded participants, “Don’t forget that we have #langchat Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. central. The fun continues! Same topic, [different] time!”

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

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Last Thursday, #langchat participants were eager to dive into a conversation on transitions in an effective language classroom. They reflected on how they time activities and what factors they take into consideration in doing so. Langchatters also discussed what considerations go into their sequencing of activities and what transitions work best in their classrooms. Before the end of the hour, they shared their favorite one to three minute ‘brain breaks.’ Instructors counted down the minutes until the start of #langchat, with @alenord exclaiming, “It’s time! It’s time! It’s time for #langchat,” and, at the end of the hour, they were already looking ahead to the Saturday morning chat!

Thank you to everyone who participated, and to our moderators, Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Amy (@alenord), Laura (@SraSpanglish), and the newest member of the moderator team, John (@CadenaSensei)!

Question 1: How do you time activities? What factors do you consider?

Langchatters agreed that timing is an art that is refined over time. @CoLeeSensei wrote, “I will confess that after 18 years of teaching I’m still learning how long something will take!” and @alenord agreed, writing, “Timing is a magical, mystical art that we should all confess we are still working on.” Many participants are flexible when it comes to timing activities, taking student interest and attentiveness into consideration when deciding when to move on. @klafrench said, “I am pretty flexible when it comes to timing. If students are really into something, I don’t worry about moving on,” and @rinaldivlgr wrote, “I gage them in their attentiveness and change when they need to.” @CoLeeSensei now leaves room for flexibility in timing when lesson planning: “I now have ‘goals of the week’ not day so my timing can be rather ‘fluid’.” Instructors also acknowledged that individual classes sometimes move at a very different pace. @legenda0815 said, “[Each] class of students is so different and moves at different pace…. And [there are] individual [differences] on top of that!” @SenoraWienhold agreed, noting that the “exact same activity in [two] classes of [the] same [level] could take [five minutes] in [one] class [and twenty] in [the] other.” Other instructors consider the nature of a particular activity when deciding how much time to set aside for it. @alenord wrote, “Timing depends on the activity. If [students are] writing or thinking, go with doubling what your gut says.” @SraClouser also observed that reading or writing activities generally take longer. Other instructors felt that it is more important to limit time for activities, regardless of whether or not students are able to complete the assigned task. @tmsaue1 said, “[Just] having a time limit for an activity is already a good first step. [When] you say five minutes, mean five minutes.” He added, “[It’s] ok if [students] don’t finish an activity IF students know more opportunity for practice will come. [Build] trust in learning.” In response to this point, @CoLeeSensei wrote, “I specifically have [activities that students don’t] finish to learn ‘it’s the journey’ that’s key.”

Question 2: What considerations go into your sequencing of activities?

Langchatters felt that instructors should carefully consider which activities to use at the start and end of class. @tmsaue1 wrote, “[Students] remember what comes first in a lesson most, [so] we can’t start a lesson with homework, review, administrative tasks.” He added, “[Students] remember second most what comes last, so the closing activity is key.” @tiesamgraf agreed that activity selection for these times is crucial: “[Yes! The] beginning and end of class [are] SO important – DON’T plan ‘housekeeping’ tasks at either end instead… engage!” @MmeCarbonneau also noted that the “bell ringer [activity] should set the tone and expectations of what is to come.”

Regarding a meaningful sequence of activities, @SenoraDiamond55 wrote, “HOW do the activities ‘flow’ together? I see the connections, clearly, but will my [students]? They should if I’m doing it right.” Some instructors reflected on the importance of making students aware of the day’s activity sequence and goals. For example, @tiesamgraf said, “[It’s] good to post [an] agenda so [students] see activity connections and goals. [They] appreciate understanding planning.” @Mr_Fernie replied, “I do this too, especially with elementary [students. They] need to know what’s coming and what they will be doing.” Some Langchatters mentioned the benefit of establishing a predictable routine. @silvius_toda noted that “routine can help keep affective filters low since [students] know what to expect.” @magisterb480 shared the set routine he uses in his classroom: There’s a certain structure I use for units [and students] are familiar [with the flow]: [vocabulary], culture, story, repeated exposure to [a] story, review, test.” @MmeCarbonneau also wrote that effective transitions should become routine: “[You must] train students on how your common transitions work [to make them] smooth and quick.”

Lastly, participants discussed the importance of pacing input and output when sequencing activities. @SenoraSherrow wrote, “[The most] important [thing] is pacing input [versus] production to make sure [students are] ready. If they’re not ready, plans [will] implode quickly.” @tmsaue1 agreed that this is “[a] key point for sequencing (and boy was I bad about this one),” adding, “I never provided my [students with] enough input before expecting output.” @maestraschemmer commented that when instructors rush ahead to student production, “then the output is never what you hoped for!”

Question 3: What ‘transitions’ work best in your class?

@tiesamgraf wrote that transitions work best when they are part of a routine, whatever that might be (“use a bell, switch on/off lights, clap, key words, etc.”), adding that it’s “never too late to start a new routine.” @SraClouser trains students to transition early on: “I spend the first week working on some transitions cues – clapping, [turning] lights on/off – so that students know [my] expectations.” Instructors then shared some of the effective transitions that they use in their classroom:

  • Take-away shout-outs: @profepj wrote, “I have [students] share out what fantastic take-away they have from their partner work, review some key [points that] I heard, [and] then build on.”
  • Partner encouragement: @amandacisneros3 has students encourage their partner before moving on: “Often [I’ll say,] ‘[Tell] your partner: you are a rock star and high five or [give them] any compliment.’ [This signals the] end of one activity and [makes students realize that we are] moving on.”
  • Songs and chants: @Mr_Fernie suggested songs and chants to signal the end of one activity and the start of a new one. He noted that they work well at the elementary level, but “[middle] schoolers think they’re corny.”
  • Bell ringing: @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “I have a waiter bell students beg to ring. Letting a [different] student ring [it] each time is fun!”
  • Visual transitions: @lovemysummer gives students instructions “(like hand in this [assignment]), [and] then [posts a] meme/intriguing photo/music while they do it.”
  • Pssst! We’re moving on! Are you with me? @maestraschemmer suggested whispering to communicate with engaged students and pique student interest: “Today a good transition was whispering in [the] L2 to the [students] who were with me until others were curious and joined [in].”
  • Movement to move on: @SenoraSherrow encouraged movement to refocus students and help them move on: “[Have students stand] up, toss [a] ball to answer [a] quick question or do some [total physical response], sit down and move on. [It’s like] a reset button for the brain.”

Question 4: What are your favorite 1-3 minute brain breaks?

Participants shared their favorite quick brain breaks in the final minutes of the #langchat hour. We bring you some of their go-to breaks!

  • Memes in the target language: Several Langchatters recommended memes as a brain break. @SECottrell shared a link to memes in español: http://t.co/px9gftRbzE, and @magisterb480 shared a link to a site with memes in Latin: http://t.co/V6xCxXL6VE.
  • Songs: @MmeMinor recommended a variety of songs, writing that they could consist of, “[songs] we’ve made up about [vocabulary], [authentic resources, such as] music videos, or even impromptu 80’s karaoke.”
  • Movement: @Mr_Fernie emphasized the need to get students out of their desks. His favorite brain break is “[anything] that gets kids up and moving and breaks them out of their ‘sitting in place mentality’.” He added that this could mean “[simply] moving to a different part of the room.” @CadenaSensei agreed that “Movement is key,” adding, “I just ask [students] to go high five 3 other students, then fist bump 3 more, then ‘ankle bump’ 3 more.” @MCanion suggested a beach ball challenge as another way to get students moving: “[My] all time [favorite] break [is] the beach ball that can’t hit the ground.”
  • Funny stories: @profepj3 wrote, “I tell funny stories about past students [or] classes.” Entertainment value aside, stories can build rapport between instructors and students, while also providing students with more exposure to the target language.
  • Snacks: @lovemysummer recommended snacks as an important brain break, observing, “[It’s amazing] the number of kids who haven’t eaten breakfast each day, or who didn’t have enough.”
  • Brain break balloons: This break has an element of surprise! @silvius_toda wrote, “I love [@sonrisadelcampo’s] idea of [putting] balloons on a board [with] brain break ideas inside – [Students] choose which balloon to pop [and] do [the] activity [that’s inside].” @sonrisadelcampo shared a link to her blog post on this activity: http://t.co/tBoEz1aWCt.
  • Origami in the target language: @AHSblaz recommended this as a popular brain break. This break has the added advantage of exposing students to instructions that they must process and follow in the target language.
  • Commercial breaks: @mjmergen wrote, “I like to do commercial breaks with humorous TV commercials in the TL related to our unit.”

Conclusion

Langchatters had lots of suggestions for activity timing and sequencing. Most participants are flexible with activity timing, taking student attentiveness and engagement into consideration. Instructors also noted that sequencing is an art that is refined over time, but they encouraged careful reflection on how activities build on one another. As @alenord wrote, “Disjointed activities do not facilitate learning … [We have] to stop thinking, ‘This is great activity,’ [and] start thinking, ‘This is great tool. When to use it?’” Langchatters also highlighted the value of effective, routine transitions. Finally, and emphasized the importance of brain breaks, sharing some of their favorites.

Thank You!

Thank you to all those who continue to make time for #langchat once… or twice a week! Remember: now you can also join us on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET – Same questions, more chat time!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

Student Teacher by BES Photos, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  BES Photos 

 
Last Thursday, #langchat participants gathered to take part in a lively discussion about student accuracy. They reflected on areas of students’ performance that suffer most from inaccuracy, when to correct students for lack of accuracy, and how to approach grading when accuracy is a problem. Participants also brainstormed ways to help students become more accurate without discouraging risk-taking and ways to help students reflect on their output. A “great #langchat CROWD” (@KrisClimer) took part in what became a heated discussion, and participants left the #langchat hour feeling invigorated.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the conversation and to our moderators, Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Laura (@SraSpanglish), Cristy (@msfrenchteach), Don (@dr_dmd), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), and Kris (@KrisClimer)!

Question 1: What areas of your students’ performances suffer from a lack of accuracy most?

#Langchat participants mentioned specific areas of their students’ performance that could be more accurate. Some instructors mentioned oral production skills. @JessieOelke wrote, “Definitely *authentic* oral production,” and @Mr_Fernie made a distinction between students’ speech in the classroom and production outside of class: “[Students could] definitely [show more accuracy in] speaking skills when put on the spot outside the classroom. [In] class, [they are] great; outside, not so much.” Others cited students’ spelling as frequently inaccurate. @CoLeeSensei wrote, “[Okay,] I’ll say it…spelling!” @kwieser24 agreed, adding, “At level 1, minor spelling [or] accent errors aren’t a huge biggie to me… [but] some colleagues disagree.” Additionally, @davis0670 noted that “agreement of all types” can lack accuracy, and @mllemariasmith mentioned nuances, such as prepositions and articles as another area of inaccuracy.

Some participants preferred not to focus on the notion of accuracy. In responding to areas of his students’ performance that lack accuracy, @tmsaue1 wrote, “NONE! Because I don’t view it as a lack of accuracy but as a level of proficiency that comes with certain aspects of accuracy.” @kwieser24 questioned the importance of considering learner accuracy at the novice level, asking, “[At] level one, is 100% accuracy that important? […] One accent mark error [means something is] wrong?! [This idea] baffles me…”

Question 2: When do you decide to penalize for a student’s lack of accuracy?

Several participants felt that students should only be penalized for inaccuracy when it significantly hindered communication. @MmeFarab added, “Second to [situations when communication is hindered, penalties may be appropriate] when [students are making] the same mistake over and over.” Overall, @MmeMurphy noted that it is best not to nitpick student output early on: “[In] the beginning, I think the most important thing is to build confidence. Give [students one or two] areas to work on, but do not nitpick.”

Some instructors took issue with the notion of penalizing inaccuracies. For example, @tmsaue1 wrote, “I can’t believe we are talking about penalizing in a chat about learning.” @lovemysummer preferred replacing the word ‘penalize’ with alternatives: “‘penalize’? [I don’t know. Maybe it’s better to:] revise, redo, keep at it until it improves.” @jen_aston agreed, noting that feedback is more valuable than penalties for errors: “If accuracy needs to be improved, that’s feedback you should give students. Not penalties. Focus on what they can do.” Finally, @KrisClimer observed that “penalty is perhaps in the eye of the [students],” pointing out that “even a correction that is intended to refine or guide [students] can be perceived as [a] penalty.”

Question 3: How do you handle grading your students when accuracy is a problem?

@CadenaSensei spoke for many others when she suggested “giving students [opportunities] to correct their errors and improve [their] score” as a fair practice that also evidences growth. Other instructors encouraged devising a rubric that focuses on a variety of skills in order to highlight areas where students are performing well. @MmeLohse said, “I think the key is to find or create a rubric that includes lots of different skills [and] categories,” and @axamcarnes wrote, “I follow rubrics that give points for what you DO. But, if [output is] nearly incomprehensible, then [a student’s] score is much lower.” SenoraDiamond55 acknowledged that instructors should also observe whether a particular area of inaccuracy is common in a particular class, writing, “If accuracy is a REAL problem, then something needs to be re-taught.”

Question 4: How do you help students refine their accuracy without forfeiting their risk-taking?

@SraSpanglish observed that grade deductions for inaccuracy can discourage risk-taking: “I think the problem is with tying points to errors, thus discouraging risk taking, which hinders growth.” Langchatters had a wealth of suggestions about how to refine students’ skills while still promoting risk-taking. @espanolsrs wrote that instructors could meet individually with student to discuss their progress: “[It’s] hard to do this as often as I’d like, but I like to individually confer with students about writing.” In meeting with students, @jen_aston suggested setting achievable goals: “Help students set goals for accuracy that are realistic, specific and achievable.” @MlleSulewski added that instructors should be careful not to point out too many potential areas of improvement at once: “[Focus on one] thing at a time usually. Don’t pick apart all speech, but [reminders of previous lessons help] a lot.” Aside from one-on-one feedback, participants had other ideas about how to point to inaccuracies. @kballestrini suggested a more indirect approach, encouraging instructors to “rephrase, reframe, [and] repeat [phrases] using correct forms, vocabulary, tense, etc.,” in other words, to “[model] correct usage over direct correction.” Alternatively, @ProfeCochran commented that peers can be a source of feedback: “Change partners frequently within the lesson for more opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback, as well.” Lastly, Langchatters recognized the importance of creating a positive classroom environment that recognizes student achievements and supports risks and subsequent growth. @NicoleNaditz wrote that in such an environment “[assessments should not be viewed as] a trap or ‘gotcha’.” Instead, there should be a “[system] in place for [to] relearn, repractice, [and] reassess.” @SenoraWienhold highlighted the value of providing students with “tons of praise for risk taking [and] trying, [along with] constructive feedback to move [them] forward.” As @carmenscoggins said, “Students should know that it’s OK to make mistakes. You’re their cheerleader!”

Question 5: How do you focus your students’ attention on being more accurate on future performances?

Many participants ask students to reflect on their performance quite extensively. @kwieser24 said, “[My students] reflect after [a] performance [or assessment] on [their] strengths, areas of improvement, and how they’ll get there for next time.” @carmenscoggins has students “go back to those reflections before they do [another] presentation.” In @profepj3’s class, students keep a blog filled with their reflections: “I have my students write a reflection on their blog. They’re pretty honest in those [entries]—[writing about] how they did, why, what can they improve.” Alternatively, @SenorLuna10 suggested that classes could “[create] a language awareness chart […] based [on] common spoken and written mistakes” as a form of collective reflection. In @CoLeeSensei’s classroom, students collectively focus on an area of improvement through an activity: “Sometimes we do a ‘power focus’ for 5 [minutes] on 1 skill that needs more accuracy!” Still other instructors recommended cultivating student reflection by presenting students with errors in texts and asking them to offer possible corrections. @CadenaSensei said, “I identify errors, but don’t correct them. [I give students the] opportunity to think [or] ask about how to fix it.” @MlleSulewski reverses roles, purposefully making mistakes and calling on students to correct them: “[I’m always] careful to make myself look like a dummy so [students] can fix [errors] by teaching me.”

Conclusion

Langchatters recognized that increased accuracy in language learning comes with time. Overall, they encouraged instructors to avoid penalizing students for errors and to instead offer additional opportunities for growth through revision and reflection. Participants emphasized the importance of a positive, supportive classroom environment that refines accuracy while supporting risk-taking.

Thank You!

Thank you to all of our participants for your thoughtful contributions! In the words You can find us on Twitter every Thursday night for the weekly chat. In case you can’t join us at that time, or haven’t had your #langchat fill after Thursday night, now you can also join us on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET – Same questions, more chat time!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!