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by Erica Fischer on Jun 29, 2012

Reflections On the Past Year: How Has Your Teaching Changed?

Hello everyone! We hope you’ve all been enjoying a relaxing summer, and are getting excited for regular LangChats to resume this coming Thursday on August 2nd at 8pm EST.

Our last LangChat discussion before the July break asked participants how their teaching has changed in the past year. Everyone seemed proud of their recent individual professional development, and was excited to share with one another – after all, as @tmsaue1 noted, you can’t be a teacher if you aren’t a learner first!

For some participants, books about education read in the past year strongly influenced their approaches to the classroom:

  • @SECottrell said that reading The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn and and Brain Rules by John Medina completely changed the way she looks at students and lessons. She also plans to read Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes in the coming academic year.
  • Many participants shared a common goal of focusing on problem-based learning (PBL) this year, and @dr_dmd found Reinventing Problem-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss to be very useful in achieving that goal.

Online technologies (which were discussed in detail in our June 14th LangChat discussion) played a big role in helping participants re-shape their approach to the classroom:

  • Participants learned to use programs and sites like Voki, GoAnimate, Glogster, Blabberize, VoiceThread, and Prezi.
  • Many participants came to love the networking aspects of Edmodo and the webinars it offers.
  • @dr_dmd recommended Emilia Carillo’s blog,, which offers great ideas for integrating technology into the classroom.
  • @SraSpanglish added that the use of online programs like Edmodo and Glogster have allowed her classroom to go almost completely paperless.

The use of online content allowed many participants to try out the “flipped classroom” set-up, which reserves class time for practicing and reinforcing information that has been learned independently. @Catherineku1972 shared that even without technology, teachers can still partially “flip” their classrooms, allowing them to guide instead of lecture. @alenord found success when she played with some integrated practice to reduce or eliminate direct instruction time.

One of the areas of change most often cited by participants was in the realm of grading and assessment.

  • @Catherineku1972 moved further away from the point-based grading system. Instead, she evaluated through discussion and adaptation. If the work doesn’t measure up to expectations, students rework until the product is “A” level.
  • @dr_dmd has been working hard on kid-friendly and meaningful rubrics.
  • @alenord has worked to get her students more involved in the assessment process, teaching them to self-assess. He has seen great results by having students check off where they are on the rubrics, and then writing a reflection about why.

@TELLproject shared a model for teacher growth that they have assembled which can be viewed here:

@Musicuentos is trying to match learning environment to what research says about motivation: that motivation can’t just come from the teacher, it must come from the students themselves. She shared the following link to a post on her blog that dicusses that topic:

In conclusion, all our participants agreed that connecting with other educators through forums like LangChat has been an important part of their professional development in the past year. We’re so glad you all look forward to LangChat each week!

Thank you to all our participants, and a special thanks to our moderators, @dr_dmd and @SECottrell! Feel free to comment on this summary on the blog if you want to keep the conversation going!

Remember to keep suggesting topics for future LangChats! Looking forward to hearing from you all once again when regular LangChats resume on Thursday, August 2nd, at 8pm EST!

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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