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We teach kids to speak real Spanish. For life.™

by Erica Fischer on Nov 24, 2014

Top 10 Reasons that #Langchat is an Awesome Professional Learning Network!

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In the week before Thanksgiving, participants shared why they are thankful for #langchat! This time, some of them even met off-screen at the 2014 ACTFL conference for a #langchat tweeting session. @alenord reflected on the experience of meeting Langchatters face-to-face, writing, “These #langchat folks are even cooler live! But they have weird accents!” In case you couldn’t join us last week, we bring you the top 10 list of tips or ideas that participants have gained from #langchat!

Thank you to all of the language instructors who showed some #langchat love last week, and thank you to our dedicated moderators, Don (@dr_dmd), Cristy (@msfrenchteach), Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), and Kristy (@placido), for participating.

Top 10 List: Why #Langchat Rocks

Langchatters recognize the importance of finding a professional learning network (PLN) that supports you and stretches you to grow. @alenord wrote, “BEST TIP EVER: Learn with a group of like minded educators that bring the best out in you and encourage you at your worst!” @MmeFarab wrote, “I feel like everything I know about language teaching, I’ve learned from this PLN.” Participants reflected on just what makes #langchat such a wonderful PLN, and, without further ado, we bring you their top 10 list!

1. It’s a great place to make connections with fellow language instructors.
#Langchat allows instructors from all over to connect on a weekly basis. @dr_dmd wrote, “Best thing for me – all the wonderful connections with people I have come to love so much! Friends everywhere!” @placido agreed that this is the best: “For me, [the] best part of #langchat is connecting virtually with like-minded collaborators!”

2. It provides instructors with a variety of fresh instructional ideas and advice. If you’re looking for fun and innovative instructional ideas, #langchat participants have got you covered. @kwieser24 said, “This awesome PLN has helped keep me from falling into the habit of traditional teaching methods, instead [keeping] things fresh!” #Langchat offers a wealth of ideas and advice, even if you can’t make the Thursday chats. Summaries provide an overview of the conversation, and you can follow #langchat participants on Twitter or visit their personal blogs. @katchiringa wrote, “Even though I don’t make it to weekly #langchat often, I look to many chatters for ideas [and] guidance via blogs [and] tweets.”

3. It reminds instructors to value student input, choice, and voice. Participants highlighted some of the ways in which #langchat has taught them to allow for more student involvement. @MlleSulewski has learned “[how] to incorporate student choice into assignments!” @SraB_C highlighted the importance of student choice, “[giving] students options to demonstrate their understanding.” @mmepercival313 wrote, “Agreed. Student choice is vital to the success of whatever product they create [or whatever] task they perform.” @SraB_C responded positively, “Definitely! It shows ownership of their assignments, differentiates, and creates interest.” @CatherineKU72 reflected on the benefit of a more student-centered approach, writing, “Student voice and student choice have made a major impact in the past two years.” For more thoughts on student input, be sure to check out a recent summary!

4. It highlights the importance of ‘keeping it real’ in the classroom. #Langchat inspires instructors to use activities that are relevant for life beyond the classroom. @KUBuffy wrote that #langchat is helpful for “[coming] up with real-life, relevant tasks.”

5. It’s a wealth of fantastic resources. If you’re looking for authentic resources (#authres), look no further. @FrenchatMcAuley wrote, “I’ve gotten so [many] good #authres from #langchat, as well as help with differentiation [of activities. This is] great for a second year teacher!” @alenord developed #authres addiction thanks to #langchat: “Well, if you don’t already know, I am an addict of #authres. That addiction started [with] this group and inspired me to curate them!” In case you missed the discussion on how to incorporate #authres in the classroom, have a look at a recent summary! Instructors also listed some of their favorite applications that they learned about on #langchat. @CoLeeSensei promoted “Kahoot!!!” and @MmeFarab mentioned infografics and Socrative. Quizlet (@KUBuffy) and ThingLink (@SraB_C) were also mentioned. For advice on how to use the right tool at the right time, have a look at this post. Participants added that #langchat is a great place to find lots of helpful blogs! @ShaunaWiese said, “I get links to all kinds of great blogs!” and @MartinaBex encouraged instructors to “read blogs! tons of blogs! blogs of all kinds!” Instructors then shared some of the blogs or bloggers that they look to for advice. @MmeFarab gave a shout out to participants whose blogs have provided her with wonderful tips: @SECottrell, @alenord, @MartinaBex, @SraSpanglish, @senoraCMT, @HolaSrHoward, @CoLeeSensei, @SraDentlinger, @SenoraWienhold, @viajando_kj, @muchachitaMJ, @CecileLaine and @msfrenchteach! @JessieOelke added to this already lengthy list: “Don’t forget @mike_peto @SraDentlinger,” and @CristinaZimmer4 mentioned some final bloggers: “I love ideas from the blogs of @karacjacobs and @sraslb. [They] always [have] great ideas for #authres.” We encourage you to follow fellow language instructors’ blogs and to continue to add to this list!

6. It encourages instructors to differentiate instructional approaches. #Langchat doesn’t just encourage instructors to vary their approach, but it provides them with concrete ways to do so. Additionally, the weekly chat underscores how differentiation helps instructors reach out to all different students. @magisterb480 said, “Keep trying new approaches to help [students] learn; use as much [of] the TL as possible but in meaningful, relevant ways.” For an older post on ideas for differentiated instruction, click here!

7. It reminds instructors of the value of comprehensible input (CI). @srdoylewchs wrote, “Mostly, #langchat is [good at] reminding me of the importance of CI and using [the] TL as much as possible. To learn a [language], one must hear the [language].” #Langchat helps instructors define CI and suggests ideas on how to incorporate it in the classroom.

8. It helps participants become less worksheet dependent. As previously mentioned, participants often reiterate the importance of activities with real world relevance. To this end, they encourage each other to become less worksheet dependent and share alternative instructional materials. @connolly335 wrote, “[Worksheets] are weak. Real tasks [and] projects are key.” @Jjeiden added, “French class used to have too many worksheets. [We are] throwing them out unit by unit and speaking more!”

9. It helps instructors see that it’s OK to make mistakes. They are encouraged just to try, reflect, and grow! Several participants wrote that #langchat reminds them that no one is perfect and encourages them to take risks in the classroom. @KUBuffy said, “Another thing I’ve learned is to not be afraid to make mistakes in front of the [students]. [It makes] us all more human.” @MmeFarab wrote, “#Langchat has pushed me to make mistakes, to try new things, and to persevere.” Not only does #langchat encourage you to try, but it celebrates your efforts. As @CoLeeSensei wrote, “[This PLN] has convinced me to ‘try’ and supported/cheered me on when I did.” #Langchat provides a friendly space for instructors to share in more or less positive outcomes. @oowwoo wrote, “#Langchat keeps me motivated to keep trying new things and to hear other teachers’ struggles and successes.” In addition to encouraging experimentation, #langchat promotes self-reflection as key to growth. @MartinaBex tweeted, “#Langchat has forced me [to] articulate why I do the things I do…and in doing so sometimes I realize that maybe I need [to] make a change or 50.” @senoraCMT reminded instructors, “Never stop growing!!!” adding, “I always have more to learn!”

10. It makes us want to keep #langchatting! #Langchatters leave weekly chats counting down the days to the next #langchat. In short, langchatting encourages more langchatting. @StratfordFrench wrote, “I need to #langchat way more often! These people are awesome!” @cbloodworth summarized his advice in two words: “Keep langchatting!”

Conclusion

Participants overwhelmingly agreed that #langchat is an invaluable PLN, and they shared the reasons that they keep coming back for more week after week. #Langchat could not be the fantastic resource that it is without the commitment of all of YOU! We echo @cbloodworth’s words in encouraging you to “Keep langchatting!” so that we can all continue to try, grow, and reflect as a community!

Thank you!

Thank you again to all of the participants, including our moderators, Don (@dr_dmd), Cristy (@msfrenchteach), Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), and Kristy (@placido), who gave thanks for #langchat last Thursday! Due to space limitations, some of the reasons you love #langchat had to be omitted from this summary. We encourage you to continue to share your thoughts on Twitter. 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!

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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