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We teach kids to speak real Spanish. For Life

by Erica Fischer on Jun 3, 2011

Take Advantage of Summer to Prepare for the Coming Year

Thanks to all our dedicated #LangChat Twitter participants who shared some great ideas and suggestions on how best to take advantage of the summer months to prepare for the coming school year. Below you can find an overview of the excellent discussion we had Thursday night 8 EST, with all the main points that participants shared. You can read the entire archive here.

Many of our world language teacher participants say summer is a great opportunity to review what worked and did not work during the school year. It’s a good time to spend a couple of days looking at lesson plans and making notes while the material and ideas are still fresh (@mme_henderson). Summer is also a good chance to get organized. Several teachers mentioned they would use this time to build up their online accounts on class wikis and sites like Delicious and Edmodo. Almost everyone plans to catch up on their reading. This includes books (check out the resources section later for some great suggestions!) as well as colleagues’ blogs.

Summer Time Management

Summer’s long days and cool nights are for relaxing, right? Well, yes and no. It’s easy to get caught up in your “time off,” but it’s also a good idea to use this time to develop yourself professionally. After all, who has time once the school year starts back up?

The big challenge is how to manage your time during the summer. It’s important to get to the end and be able to look back and say, “I got something done, and I don’t regret it” (@SECottrell). What’s the best way? Perhaps it’s as simple as pacing yourself and not waiting until the end of summer (@msfrenchteach). Maybe you should pick three areas you want to improve and focus on only those areas (@mme_henderson). Or what about writing down your goals for next year and coming up with a plan on how to accomplish them (@suarez712002)?

Whatever your strategy, most teachers agree that summer is a great opportunity to develop yourself–so don’t waste it! Below are some of the ways our participants spend their long summer days.

Ideas for Summer Projects

Participants had tons of summer projects they intend to work on. Many teachers plan to improve their skills with various technologies, and come up with creative ways to use tools such as Skype, wikis and iPads in the classroom. Quite a few others want to find authentic resources, projects and assessments for each unit in next year’s curriculums. Several will present workshops and training classes to colleagues.

  • I want to find creative ways to learn grammar without studying it. @DiegoOjeda66
    • Here’s a tip: think about functions of the language and how you can embed the grammar into it. @suarez712002
  • I am committed this summer to turn a scope and sequence/vocab list into thematic units with real assessments. Also, I haven’t taken my students anywhere in the community, and I want to change that this next year. @SECottrell
  • This summer my students and I are hosting our first Empanada Festival. @DiegoOjeda66
  • I participate in free technology workshops and have been going to the annual French teacher convention in July. @msfrenchteach
  • I’d also like to take the DELF exam for myself. I’d like to work for the C2 certificate! @mme_henderson
  • Preparing. We are starting the new term with a meeting with parents about what to expect in the world language classroom, so that students and parents both have realistic expectations. @cadamsf1
  • Finally, many participants mentioned they intend to stay connected via Twitter throughout the summer.

Practicing Your Second Language

Practicing the second language was a major focus of quite a few world language teachers, unsurprisingly. How do you do this?

  • I use my ‘authentic’ list (http://bit.ly/iqGkhA) to get tweets in my target language–that’ll keep you up on the slang! I also have a friend who has a free medical clinic nearby, and I hope to help him with interpreting. @SECottrell
  • Hang out with native speakers. @suarez712002
  • I’m going to look at my Facebook posts from my French friends to see what language is really used in daily life. @mme_henderson
  • I like to participate in local Alliance française summer events, such as the party for La fĂȘte de la musique. You’ll speak lots of target language! @msfrenchteach
  • Lots of reading, podcasts and calling my cousin on Skype. @dr_dmd

Summer Professional Development Links and Resources

  • This summer, visit the LangChat wiki. You won’t find this many resources anywhere else: http://bit.ly/lgXGbk. @DiegoOjeda66
  • Also this summer, check out SE Cottrell’s blog: http://musicuentos.blogspot.com/
  • I’m looking to learn a new program Animation-ish in order to create some animated stories for level one classes; I want to learn some new applications to support my digital storytelling projects. @dr_dmd
  • Toodledo.com (and related iPod/iPad apps) are helping me a lot. I need a to-do list with deadlines in order to get anything done. @SECottrell
  • The Blaine Ray TPRS workshops are offered in the summer. @SECottrell
  • You can explore my Delicious Web 2.0 + tools tag http://bit.ly/lx0wQc (don’t be overwhelmed–been collecting a lot of them). @SECottrell
  • My state’s language association offers a summer workshop every year: http://www.waflt.org/. Can’t come to WI? Check out our Summer Institute wiki: http://wafltsummerinstitute.pbworks.com/w/page/7841553/FrontPage. @DiegoOjeda66
  • This summer I’ll be revamping the Language Teachers Collaborate wiki: http://bit.ly/eTrVPd. @DiegoOjeda66
  • Lots of people mentioned they’ll be working on Edmodo.com this summer to prepare their classroom materials.
  • Check out @cybraryman1’s Edmodo page: http://tinyurl.com/4jcrzaz, and his Glog page: http://tinyurl.com/2cd9vhc.
  • I am using the summer to check out resources that I found through #edtech. @ctrlaltdeliver
  • In the past, I assigned language standards to students and had them make glogs with evidence that we met them. Check out the wiki: http://bit.ly/ivVAoz. The most meaningful part for me was asking the kids, “How should we meet that one next year?”
  • In order to do something different I will participate in the Next Generation Academy to integrate world language and art. @suarez712002
  • Several teachers mentioned making “I can” statements for each unit of the next year in order to help you and the students to have a goal in mind. A few suggested using Linguafolio’s “can do” statements.
  • @profesorM invites you to update his Google Docs page for project-based learning by topic: http://t.co/bAp2W2s.

Books for Summer Professional Development

  • I heard “Teach Like A Champion” is very good. For professional reads, I’m going to read lots on 21st century skills and digital learners coupled with project-based learning titles. @dr_dmd
  • I am finishing “Brain Rules”, and hope to read “Schools our Kids Deserve” and “Homework Myth” by @alfiekohn. Also, posted this a while back: twelve books educators should read http://bit.ly/en5ZOI. @SECottrell
  • I will read: “Drive”; “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”; and I am finishing “The 7 Habits of Effective People.” @suarez712002
  • I’ll be reading “Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers” by Debbie Silver–great speaker, so I think it will be a great book. @klafrench
  • I also like to read author Chick Moorman, he provides great insight on how to work with children and teenagers. Read Chick’s ideas: http://www.chickmoorman.com/PTsystem.html. @DiegoOjeda66

Wow, great ideas! I am sure you can take some wonderful inspiration from our participants’ summer plans for professional development. However, while it is important to take advantage of your coming “free” time, it is also important to rest, relax and spend some time doing things you love with the people you love. Everyone needs to take some time OFF the grid for a while–we need to live in the MOMENT also (@mme_henderson). Your #LangChat moderators plan to follow that advice and take the month of July off from our weekly chats.

Thanks again to all our participants, and be sure to check back next week for more great ideas and best practices from your world language colleagues. Be sure to enjoy the professional development of #LangChat throughout June and again in August.

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.

3 Comments

  • totthoughts.com

    Thank you for this summary, it’s extremely helpful!

    I wasn’t able to make the #langchat but wanted to offer up another great resource to encourage language development (especially good over the summer): Rockthoughts.com is a global art and collaborative storytelling initiative. It is a free tool that allows participants to not only read stories in other languages but to practice writing by creating stories for publication directly on the site. This is a great tool for children to practice utilizing their acquired language skills and connect with storytellers the world over.

  • Erica Fischer

    Thanks for sharing your link. We hope to see you again at #LangChat.

  • totthoughts.com

    Thanks Erica!

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