NTPRS14 Chicago – The second day – Tuesday the 22nd of July

Betsy PaskvanToday I went to the advanced workshop by Betsy Paskvan: TPRS Strategies. She learned us Japanes and this way she showed us all kind of strategies she uses. Bess Hales wrote about it at her blog “Mme Hayles and the TPRS Experiment” and it’s a very good description of the workshop and I do not have much to adjust to it, so do read it here. What I have to adjust is that Betsy uses 8 embedded readings and this way she builds the text gradually up. Betsy sacrifices language time for the social-emotional learning – in order that the students get to know each other & bond.

The first thing Betsy does in the morning is play a song and show a slideshow with explanation with pictures. With us she used a very well known song and gave cultural information about it.

Betsy’s workshop was very practical and inspiring! Here you can find her PowerPoint: TPRS Strategies at Work and Play : Sequencing TPRS Activities for Optimal Learning

Jason FritzeIn the afternoon I went to Jason Fritze’s workshop session: Tools for thriving. Because Bryce had written on the white board with an unerasable marker, Jason learned one of the first person’s entering how to erase it with an erasable marker by writing over the unerasable text and then it was possible to erase. And this person had to learn to a new person entering who did not know this trick how to do it and so forth, like an erasing chain.

Jason’s workshop had a few of the same points of his workshop at iFLT, but also a lot of new information. He had us form groups of three or four and made us do all kind of group works every once and a while and before doing this he had us point at all the participants of the group. When I met the two ladies of my group the next day I felt that we really were somehow closer because of this pointing and working together.

At the end of the afternoon was the exhibitor’s reception. Everybody could have a look at the books and dvd’s and buy them and there was a buffet and drinks. There Judy Dubois introduced me to Alparslan, the french teacher of the Turkish delegation. We contacted each other a while ago on Linkedin, but we did not know of each other we were going to iFLT and NTPRS! We talked for hours and that’s one of the nice thing of these conferences: meeting your colleagues and talking with them.

Monday evening I got lost when trying to find Wholefoods and Tuesday I went there during the lunch break with a  group of colleagues in the shuttle of the Sheraton hotel.  I bought a warm lunch at Wholecheckbook as Jason called it and a big salad for later on and the most expensive tarte au citron (or in fact: lime tart) I’ve ever bought… I could not resist…

Lime tart Wholefoods



NTPRS14 Chicago – The First Day – Monday the 21rst of July

Blaine Ray, Lisa ReyesThis morning at 8 o’clock started NTPRS14 in the Sheraton in Lisle, Illinois. We gathered in the ballroom and Lisa Reyes opened NTPRS14. Blaine did a few words and Lisa presented all the teams and all countries and US-regions had to stand up in order to show with how many they were. The big group from Turkey is also present at NTPRS.

This year NTPRS has special workshops for :

  • the beginning TPRS teachers,
  • The intermediate TPRS teachers
  • the advanced TPRS teachers

So there is one level more: the intermediate TPRS teachers. The advanced workshop has, unlike last year, one presenter and the intermediates also have one presenter, one of which is my roommate Michelle Kindt. The workshops are longer now: there’s a part in the morning and a part in the afternoon.

Carol GaabI first went to the workshop by Carol Gaab: Reading, an advanced workshop. Carol’s workshops are always a delight to attend. They have a lot of variation, you learn a lot of interesting tips and tricks and they’re fun. I made a lot of notes and hope to use it all the coming schoolyear. See the link for her hand-out.

Diana NoonanDuring the lunch, Diana Noonan held her keynote speech. She told that she’s not the type for speeching and that she didn’t want to do it, but finally she gave in. She told us how she got into contact with TPRS and how she introduced it in her district. She started small, one teacher at a time. She invited a lot of TPRS presenters.  The teachers can choose if they come to the professional or not. The next piece was assessment, because you have to prove that you are improving the students. They had funds and the teachers came together and started writing.  They have the data: thousands of students did the tests. Diana filmed 9 teachers and put it on Schooltube. Teachers ahve to be able to observe each other. At the end Diana gave the message: Do what you know what is best for kids. If  you meet roadblocks, remember (she finished with a cute video): “don’t stop, don’t give up, keep trying, keep trying (sung by of a cute little girl).

After lunch Carol’s workshop continued and besides new tips and tricks she also gave us pages from TPRS novels in order to prepare a readers theater lesson.

Gary DiBiancaAfter Carol’s session I went to Gary DiBianca: Big picture planning: how to use CI to make meaningful; units filled with content and culture. He gave an overview of backward planning, how to reflect on personal and professional passions to engage students, how to present so that students acquire, learn and manipulate language. He gave the ACTFL 5 C’s: Communication, Connections, Culture, Community, Comparisons. He adviced to make cross connections within your lessons and units – do not isolate them.

What’s your students base knowledge in and with the target language? How do you adapt or retool your in-class target language usage? Is it all comprehensible? How do you organize instruction/content/language?

What is your passion that you could share as a teacher? CONNECTIONS. Think about “Teach like a pirate” by Dave Burgess, who mentions 3 passions.

At 6 there were two showcases by Blaine Ray and Michael Miller and after it a research masterclass, I’d have loved to attend to them, but I was too tired to attend.  It was a long day already…




iFLT14 Denver – The fourth and last day – Friday the 18th Of July

Root Down desertAlready the last day?! And I even slept 40 minutes longer: 6.40! This week went so fast! Yesterday evening Contee and his wife Maggie invited me to go to Root Down, a great restaurant and it had a.o. glutenfree and vegan/vegetarian dishes. We didn’t make a reservation and we were lucky we were in time, because it was really crowded and we had a table and fortunately we did not have to wait on the list. We had delicious food! And the desert, wow……………! (Samm is the pastry chef: we’ll certainly hear more from her in the near future I expect!). Here you can take a Root Down virtual tour.

Bryce Hedstrom - Classroom managementThis morning I first went to Bryce Hedstrom, classroom management. I can listen for hours to Bryce. He has so many good ideas and has to tell so much about his personal classroom experiences. Some tips from Bryce about classroom management:

  • Start kind and then keep iron discipline – but stay kind!
  • Start teaching your language and then do the routines as they come up.
  • Model positive behavior

From the classroom managment hand-out at Bryce’s site:
“There is no instruction without discipline. When students experience the spontaneity of a TPRS class, they can interpret that joy as a wisecrack free-for-all. We want to keep the affective filter low, but we also need to keep students focused and in the TL. To pull off this hat trick we may need some new ideas. We need effective classroom management strategies and techniques that apply to C.I.-based language classes.”

At the end of the first lesson Bryce tells the students they are going to do a game or have free  time on Friday, if they are always on time, if everybody is quiet and is collaborating. The class gets 3 points for it and one student’s job to note down the PAT points (Prefered Activity Time).

Bryce shows funny video’s when the students are entering, so students have to be in time to see them. Bryce has all kinds of jobs for his students. It’s one student’s job to switch it off.

Bryce has a project – and he already starts in lesson one, also at  the lowest level : la persona especial. Bryce interviews students in the class in the target language and every time they talked about 5 students, they have a quiz – one a week. It’s easy for the students to know, because it’s compelling and this way they get to know each other.

The students grade each other, two students have to put them in alphabetical order.

The big idea, both with acceptance; all of us are working together, we’re a community. We all have roles in the class.

Bryce takes care to make contact with all of the students, talks to those who are in time.

Report is important to Bryce, but he is not so much interested in their favorite actor, singer, sportperson but more in what do they like to do: real things about real people. Bryce’s favorite question is: what are you not good at yet? It has so many layers.

He advices  to read: Mindset, Carol Dweck and The talent code by Daniel Coyle

At the end of the lesson Bryce bows and says: “Gracias por aprender” and the class answers: “Gracias por enseñarlos señor”.

Mark MallaneyAfter Bryce’s classroom management workshop I wanted to observe in the learning labs, but I did not know which one to observe. When I was in Joe’s lesson, I heard another teacher yelling a lot, in the fire of a story and it did not really attract me to go there, but Mark Dellaney happened to be  this teacher and someone told me to go there, so I didn’t not want to follow my prejudice and I went to observe his lesson and I really loved his Spanish 1 lesson to middle schoolers!

After the lesson we did the debriefing and Mark answered all the questions; here some of his answers.

Mark backward plans from a novel and that’s the vocabulary he will work on. He does pre-teaching per chapter –Mark knows very well where he wants to go to. He picks one thing/word and works on it all different ways.

Sign classroom Mark MallaneyWhen the students enter, Mark already gives them something like a pre-warming. This time he gave them a little paper with a color written on it in Spanish and they had to find the same color in Enlish (or the other way around, I forgot) and he had groups of two or three with the same color. Mark already took into account which students he did not want to sit next to each other – and be couples who would work together, so he took care to give them different colors. Mark projected the sentences from Isabela, read  the sentence and then he drew a colour and the group with that color had to show, to form this sentence in front of the class and Mark made pictures of each group – this activity is called “Snap shot”. Mark also had put sentences from the Isabele book on pieces of paper and he gave it to a group, the group had to form the sentence in front of the class and the rest of the class had to read the page and had to find the right sentence and when they found it, they had to raise their finger. The first one with the finger up read  the sentence and Mark checked with the small group and repeated the sentence. (read, read, read, rep, rep, rep)

Mark thinks his best props are people. A door: a kid, the golden gate, some kids etc. But he also has e.g. funny hat’s from UStoys, like the pizza hat. Mark only gets the actors up until everybody gets the story, once the story is established.

Mark’s students write a lot – he did not do that during iFLT, because that would be boring to observe, to see the students only writing; he all grades them. He has a rubric on ACTLF. It can be found on CIteachers.com (it requires membership).

And then iFLT was almost over…

Carol Gaab and Diana NoonanDiana Noonan & Ben SlavicWe had lunch and the closing session. Of course a lot of people were thanked by Diana Noonan and Carol Gaab and special thanks to Ben Slavic, because he “is retiring again”. A group of colleagues who worked with him together spoke some funny words, but Ben was not allowed to say anything, because “he talks too much”. He tried several times to get the word, but was severely spoken to he  did not get it. He obeyed.

And then Carrie Toth first did a rap, before starting her closing speech. Carrie is the 2013 Illinois foreign language teacher of the year and was named Central States Teacher of the Year 2014 in March. She will join the other four regional finalists at ACTFL 2014 in San Antonio in November where the 2015 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year will be named. Carrie’s blog: Somewhere to share

Carrie Toth

Sorry for the dark photos – it was quiet dark in the conference room.

Carrie closing speech was entitled: Post workshop workout plan. Carrie compared us language teachers with Michael Phelps, an American swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time and Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (18, double the second highest record holders). She said a few things are very important to Michael Phelps and to us language teachers as well:

  • Food – feed yourself
  • Reflection
  • Practice
  • Collaboration

Be yourself – don’t imitate someone else

Collaborate : find a buddie!

Everybody has his own team and everybody has his favorite player, We’re all part of team TPRS.

Anybody that cares for kids, can do this!


iFLT14 Denver – The third day – Thursday the 17th Of July

Joe DziedzicIt’s already Thursday! This morning I awoke again at 6 and could not sleep anymore. Daniel and Judy Dubois from France also have this… It must still be the jetlag. And I think because of that, I mixed things up and I went to observe in the learning lab in the first round, but it should have been in the second round… I went to Joe Dziedzic’s class, teaching a Spanish 2 class.  It was a calm group; as is Joe. The class was very supportive. It’s very nice to see all those different teaching styles.

After the break I went to the workshop of 7-months-pregnant Martina Bex. She has a blog: The comprehensible classroom. SheMartina Bex had a very interesting interactive workshop “PQA hooks”. Martina calls PQA (Personalized Questions and Answers): a teacher facilitated discussion with students about students.
– Purpose = relationships & repetitions
– Benefits: engagement & inspiration
– Challenges: engagement & execution

She used several primary school games and teamwork activities with personal questions, containing certain grammatical features in order to have the students work and communicate together in the target language.

When I was waiting in the hallway during lunchtime, suddenly Susan Gross came along! What a nice surprise! I heard she did a small lecture with the beginners and of course she said: Nothing motivates like success!

IMG_2596After lunch I went to  the engaging and highly inspiring workshop by Leslie Davison: 20% projects. I did not know at all what it was, but I found it an intriguing title and someone in the hallway said Leslie’s workshop was great, so I went for the adventure. The title happened to be inspired by the Google project to use 20% of the time for projects. “Google described its startup ideal of “20 percent time,” where any employee could take a day’s worth of time out of the normal work week and come up with a cool project to work on”. Leslie had us go to the site of the Kiva project – empower people around the world with a $25 loan – and we had to find someone we wanted to loan $25 to. We had 6 (or 10?) minutes to make a presentation and put it on Google presentations and then convince the group in one minute (!) why the 25 dollars should go to our project. We had about 5 presentations and then we had to vote for the the one we wanted to give the money to and then Leslie really made the loan of the 25 dollar with the money on her Kiva-account. What a wonderful idea!!

Leslie also had a project: What’s your passion?
I. investigate your passion (or: learn more about…)
II. improve in your target language
III. connect with someone in the target language
IV. save the world in the process

• 2 months (up to four)
• provide the language they will need
• teacher is the guide in terms of ideas
• out of class work

– journal or blog entries
– their presentation
– student reflections/teacher reflections

The last workshop I went to was Karen Rowan’s Personalization workshop part Karen Rowan2. Yesterday I went to part 1. This one was more about personalizing and making it into a story. Karen was coaching someone and then another person had to take over the coaching and she would coach the coach.

iFLT14 Denver – The second day – Wednesday the 16th Of July

Katya PaukovaToday the learning labs started. The masterteachers who teach these classes already started Monday to get to know the students and start their lessons. The beginning TPRS teachers first went to observe these lessons and the experienced TPRS teachers could choose the workshops and after the fisrts break the groups changed. I chose to go to the workshop by Katya Paukova about teaching higher levels. She started with the ACTFL guidelines; I saw kind of ressemblances with the Common European Framework, which is in fact something completely different with a different purpose. Katya told that she and her colleagues developed thematic units and she showed examples of current topics that they treated, which had to be interesting and controversial, in order that the students finally could have interesting debates. As resources they used : Youtube, articles and literary texts, announcements, advertisements, letters, maps and tables and also for the auditif part interviews, podcasts, public service announcements.

Sabrina Kanczak & her classIn the second round the experienced teachers could observe in the learning labs and I went to the beginners French class of Sabrina Janczak. She taught a small group of 8 kids. They were cute and  they did very well! Sabrina did lots and lots of repetititons; het three main structures were repeated more over a hundred times. Three students had a counter from a sports shop and every time they heard the structure, they had to push the button. Sabrina also did a few brainbreaks in between, like a song about the body with TPR-movements.

We had a long lunch break of about an hour and a quarter and had a lunch; me outside in the warm Denver sun.

In the afternoon I went to the workshop of Jason  Fritze: Language acquisition?Jason Fritze it’s ELEMENTARY! It’s always so inspiring to see Jason performing! A few important messages from Jason: TPR is underestimated! Not only use it with lower levels! Jason uses TPR as “a commercial break”.  TPR is so important for classroom management, not only with the little kids. In TPRS chunks of language: formulaic sequences that can be learned as wholes or may be fused. Chunks build fluency. There’s grammar build into these chunks. Chunks are likely to be produced as whole units.

Karen RowanAfter that I went to the workshop of Karen Rowan, Xtreme personalization, part 1. Karen asked us to walk around an meet two new persons and ask each other: if we were stuck in an elevator with a celebrity, which celebrity it would have to be? After it she asked us if we still remembered the names of the new persons we met and that most of us had forgotten. She said our own name is the most important and dear thing to ourselves and that it’s important to know other people’s names. Karen says that her ideas are not always understood at first, but later on everybody is using or doing it. Her point now is, to make your lessons Xtremely personnal, that’s the most important. Not the techniques; if you concentrate only on the techniques your teaching will become too sterile.

iFLT14 Denver – The first day – Tuesday the 15th of July

Dave Burgess- Teach like a pirateIMG_2510Today iFLT14 started in Highschool North in Denver!

After the announcements of Diana Noonan and Carol Gaab keynote speaker  Dave Burgess impressed us with his inspiring thoughts about “Teach like a PIRATE”. Although Dave signed his sold books for a long time, his books were sold out and unfortunately some teachers even had to be disappointed because of that.

TLAP_TshirtLook at the picture of the T-shirts to know what the different letters of PIRATE stand for.

After the lunchbreak of 1,5 hour the experienced teachers went to Carol Gaab’s workshop and the beginners went to the workshop by Diana Noonan and Katya Paukova.

Tomorrow I hope to have more time to write about the conference and all the interesting and inspiring things we’re learning.