Lessons Learned from Hybrid and Remote Teaching

by Elena Spathis
@elenaspathis

This past year was one marked by change, loss, and unimaginable hardship. For the first time, after being closed for an extended period, most schools across the nation reopened with unique hybrid schedules. Rarely-used terms like “hybrid,” “remote,” “social distance,” and “virtual” suddenly became part of our everyday vocabulary. For teachers and students, the ordinary school year as we knew it quickly became a distant memory. Even the classroom looked like an unknown space, with desks and chairs spread far apart. 

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Supporting Both Heritage and Non-Heritage Learners in Your French Classroom

by Elizabeth Zwanziger
@ElizabethZwanz1


The demographics of French learners in the United States continue to evolve as we welcome newcomers from around the globe and our population grows more diverse. According to Statista, in 2019 there were over 1.2 million people in the U.S. who speak French at home,1 and francophone families must make important decisions regarding balancing language use at home and at school. Francophone families speak French at home to maintain cultural ties to their place of origin or to ensure children can communicate with family members here or abroad.

Children in these families are likely to be considered heritage speakers of French, a subset of multilingual people who have varying experience in the language. They may or may not have lived part of their lives in a francophone country or attended school in that language. They may understand the language, but not speak it. They may speak the language, but not write it. They may not have used the language themselves, but feel a familial or cultural connection to it. Each individual heritage speaker’s cultural and linguistic biography is unique.

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Building Mental Highways with Latin

by Alex Terwelp

When I was 18 years old, my mother fell on the ice and developed a brain hemorrhage. As a result, she lost her speech and had to start over again; luckily, it was much quicker to learn the second time around. The doctors described it as the signals from the brain, which usually take the highways to get to their destination, now needed to take the back roads and figure it all out. This analogy helped me understand the situation I found myself in five years later when I became a Latin teacher.

When children are born, they develop roughly 80% of their brain capacity by age two. Adolescents’ brains grow to fill out the remaining 20%. After teaching for a few years, I began to realize that my 7th graders did not have the highways built yet, and the construction would continue into their early twenties. I recognized it was my job to be the brain foreman for as much time as I had them in class. After this epiphany, I stuck my foot in the door of my school’s student support office because I knew my role as a Latin teacher was more than teaching Latin. However, I soon realized that Latin did me the favor of supporting my students in the development of executive functioning skills – Latin is the vehicle that brings these skills to my students.

Below I have selected a few executive functioning skills that I believe Latin can help build:

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Jamboard – A Virtual Whiteboard and So Much More!

by Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

Want to get your students excited to start class? Start by having them join a Jam of the day! When I first started using Jamboard, it felt much clunkier and lagged more than Slides, so I did not use it very often. However, Jamboard has received some significant updates the past few months which has made it more functional than ever. Google for Education has announced that another update is coming soon, which will allow for search history on Jams to see who has contributed what and when. 

At its core, Jamboard is a virtual collaborative whiteboard. Within that whiteboard, there are options to add many things, including backgrounds, text, shapes, images, screen shots, and sticky notes.  Individual Jamboards are called Jams, and you can have up to 20 Jams going at a time. Although you cannot assign Jams using “@” like you can with Google Slides and Google Docs, it is easy to assign students to Jams by adding sticky notes indicating which student or group of students is assigned to each. 

Curious to know what you can do with a Jamboard? Here are five of my favorite ways to use it:

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Transitioning to Proficiency Part II: Baby Steps to Comprehensive Input

by Alex Terwelp

I have a two-year-old son, and watching him grow, I have discovered there is nothing more fundamental than the process of a child learning to walk. I see four stages to this process, namely supported standing, cruising, staggering, and finally, walking. We can apply the metaphor of learning to walk to a journey toward Comprehensible Input (CI). I am taking that journey in my Latin Classroom, one step, and one stage, at a time.

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Transitioning to Proficiency Part I: Advice From a Recent Convert

By Conner McNeely
@indyprofe1

 Would you rather conjugate verbs in another language or have a conversation with someone who speaks another language? Unless you are a true grammar geek, you prefer communicating. That is why teaching through comprehensible input and using a proficiency-based practice is what we language educators should all be doing with our students. The question should not be whether to transition to a proficiency-based curriculum, but instead when and how to begin the transition.

My department has recently adopted the proficiency-based EntreCulturas and EntreCultures series for Spanish and French. It has been a challenging process, but during the transition, I have learned a few things I would like to share with you:

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6 Ways to Celebrate National Foreign Language Week

by Elena Spathis
@elenaspathis

Every year, National Foreign Language Week serves to highlight and honor all languages. In our increasingly globalized, interconnected society, it has never been more crucial to promote the value of language learning. Although this year presents several unique challenges with hybrid and virtual settings, there are still ways to encourage your students to celebrate languages and cultures. Read below to see how you can incorporate this special week into your classroom, from March 7-13, 2021.

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Engaging All Students with Google Slides

by Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

At a Google for Education conference in 2017, another educator referred to Google Slides as the swiss army knife of the Google Suite. At the time, I really thought it was just a digital answer to PowerPoint. I had not used it extensively except to upload my existing PowerPoint slides onto my Google Drive. 

Well, I was in for a shock when I began exploring all the amazing features! I Immediately started converting almost all my Google Docs to slides because of the wonderful functionality of the program. Some of my favorite key features of Google Slides are the ability to assign slides to different students or student groups, to ask and answer questions interactively, and for students to add notes on their slides.

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French: From Classroom to Community and Back Again

by Elizabeth Zwanziger
@ezwanziger

A few years ago, I ordered a stationary bicycle for my home. When the two delivery people brought it in and started putting it together, they began to chat in very technical terms – in French! It turns out, they were from Togo and had relocated to the Upper Midwest a couple of years prior. As a French teacher, I was thrilled to hear them speak a language I also speak and to join in when they explained to me how to use my new equipment.

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