iFLT15 St Paul – The fourth day – Friday the 17th of July

Because I travelled Friday after the keynote speech of Dr Krashen to Washington DC to go already to the hotel of NTPRS15 in the Reston Sheraton and because I got there late at night, I didn’t have time to write about Friday the 17th of July, the last day of iFLT15. I’ll write later on, when I’ll have more time. Here already some pictures and the handouts of Friday: Friday Session Handouts

iFLT15 - Kristy Placido's reader's theatre

iFLT15 – Kristy Placido’s reader’s theatre

iFLT15 - Carrie Toth : Using film to enhance curriculum

iFLT15 – Carrie Toth : Using film to enhance curriculum

iFLT15 - Jason Fritze's elementary class singing Toc ca la piñata

iFLT15 – Jason Fritze’s elementary class singing Toc ca la piñata

iFLT15 - Plenary Closing session

iFLT15 – Plenary Closing session

iFLT15 - Grant Boulanger Plenary Closing session

iFLT15 – Grant Boulanger Plenary Closing session

iFLT15 Stephen Krashen's keynote speech

iFLT15 Stephen Krashen’s keynote speech


iFLT15 St Paul – The third day – Thursday the 16th of July

Because Thursday evening after the nice Tibetan dinner With Tarte au citron dessert with my wonderful French- American host family I spent 3 hours getting my foldingbike in my suitcase… (Oh, why is it in my gene’s that I need to cycle????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I didn’t have time to write my blog contribution of Thursday the 16th of July ; to be followed later on.

Here already some pictures of iFLT15 Thursday and the Thursday Session Handouts

iFLT15 Mike Coxon, Going beyond Movie Talks

iFLT15 Mike Coxon, Going beyond Movie Talks

Language lab #iFLT15 : Spanish 2 : Grant Boulanger and some of his students putting a story together = input

Language lab #iFLT15 : Spanish 2 : Grant Boulanger and some of his students putting a story together = input

iFLT15 Nuts and bolts of how to teach a novel; Kristy Placido

iFLT15 Nuts and bolts of how to teach a novel; Kristy Placido

iFLT15 Debriefing of Grant Boulanger's Spanish 2 lesson, with Diana Noonan

iFLT15 Debriefing of Grant Boulanger’s Spanish 2 lesson, with Diana Noonan

#iFLT15 St Paul – The second day – Wednesday the 15th of July #TPRS #CI

IMG_3470Today the second day of iFLT15 started and today the learning labs started. Yesterday the master teachers – who are teaching the students we were going to observe – already started with their lessons in order to get to know the students and to teach them the first vocabulary.

Here you can find the session hand-outs of Wednesday.

The experienced teachers first went to the learning labs and the beginners went to the other sessions and after the break it wa the other way around. I went to the French beginners lesson of Sabrina Janczak. It was amazing to see what the students already understood after one day! Sabrina makes a lot of contact with the students. After the 2 sessions of the learning labs were the debriefings. Sabrina and Diana Noonan did the debriefing together. During the debriefingIMG_3490 Sabrina told a few things that are important to her: she wants the students to be able to tell how they’re feeling: on the board were written a few possibilities. And so with this group she started off asking how they felt today. Personalization & showing that you really care for the students is most important to Sabrina. Key: explain the process, tell the students why you do what you do and remind them of what you’re doing.

Concerning the taught structures: yesterday Sabrina used the structures: is/has/gives to him-her and today she used the structures: works/yells/lazy/ get out of here.

IMG_3476After the break I went to the workshop about Movie Talk by Kristy Placido. She does Movie Talk every once in a while and the students like it very much, as they also indicate at their evaluations at the end of the year. Kristy started with a demo of… EL MONSTRUO DEL ARMARIO (Pablo Conde – 2009). Concept: play a movie and talk about it. Every Friday her students watch a telenovela, with Movie Talk.

After lunch I went to Martina Bex’s workshop: Bringing culture back, IMG_3491developing units that teach language through culture. It was a well structured, highly interesting workshop, also hands-on: the participants could immediately use what Martina taught. She talked about the need for comprehensible cultural units. Obejctive: use target structures to explain a cultural topic. Method: CI. See her clear hand-out with a practical scheme of how to develop the cultural units at page 15-17 of the the session hand-outs of Wednesday.

IMG_3496The last session I went to was again by Kristy Placido: Rock the CI (page 22 hand-out Wednesday). She started with a few quotes about music, like the one one the left by Ludwig von Beethoven. Kristy told she learned last year from keynote speaker of iFLT14 Dave Burgess (“Teach like a pirate”) how important it is to have some ‘hooks’. And music can be a strong hook. Because of that, a lot of her students start downloading the Spanish music they hear in class on their own devices and the songs become something of their own repertoire.

iFLT15 St Paul – The first day – Tuesday the 14th of July

IMG_3402Today iFLT15 started in Tartan High School in St Paul, Minnesota. How great to meet so many nice colleagues again and to be able to talk together ‘life’!

Carol opened the conference and then Darcy Pippins told about the succes of her students at the AP exams. The worry of a lot of teachers concerning TPRS is: will the students meet the requirements? Darcy showed that her students did very well at the AP exams, without any verb charts or whatsoever.


Then Kristy Placido and Carrie Toth talked about Global competences through service learning. They told that lathough they’re living far away form each other they’re cooperating a lot and that their students are in contact with each other. They promoted cooperating with other colleagues.

They talked about their cultural units and how they backward plan them and how they try to find people in their town who can make it more personal.

They’re teaching in rural areas where the students don’t see the need for world languages and like most adolescents are mainly focused on themselves and so Kristy and Carrie tried to make the students aware of their own power: “What can I do to make a difference?”

IMG_3433Activities Kristy and Carrie performed are Kids helping kids by raising money and with this money helping other kids in Spanish speaking countries to be able to go to school (Kristy) and a Spanish snackshop (Carrie) and the money they raise with the snackshop goes as donations to different projects. They talked about microfinancing at Kiva.org, loans that change lives. Empower people around the world with a $25 loan (I wrote about this last year too, when I was in the workshop of Leslie Davison; I wanted to use it last year and I looked up things for Frenchspeaking countries, but finallly I did not use it in class and I definitely want to use it next school year). All this was done to raise the awareness of the students of important things outside  their own lives and towns and that it’s useful to be able to communicate in another language and to know about other cultures and how you can make a change by acting.

IMG_3434I was happy to hear what I also always say: “With TPRS we’re trying to break down the idea that only a few students can learn a second language: everybody can do it. anyone can learn a (second, third, fourth etc) language if there’s no brain deficiency.”

They also gave some practical tips. I liked the “Wordle battle” Carrie mentioned: you make a wordcloud at Wordle.net of a song you’re going to use in class. You work in pairs and you give each student one wordle. You start the song and the students have to encircle a word when they hear it in the song. The one who has the most encicrled words wins.

IMG_3442Carol showed the reading action chain. 5 persons had received a small piece of paper and on it was written a sentence. They had to show the sentence – withhout telling it – and they could use dialogues. We had to guess what was written and give a chorus answer. With it Carol had written an UNparallel story : more details to the story, which gave e.g. information about the way things were said, or why or how.

Unparallel_Story_Tarzan_Jane_GaabAfter the lunch break Carol Gaab did the session for the experienced TPRS teachers. She talked about and showed examples of staying in flow with CI Strategies, differentiated instruction. How do you create & keep input comprehensible and compelling? Define – Refine – Combine.

High frequency vocabulary, relative to your students needs & interests, situationally appropriate vocabulary. Content based CI.

Carol showed a lot of examples of what she does with the baseball players she’s teaching. She can not do plain stories with them; she adapts what she does with them; somehow it made me think of the traditional way of teaching. It’s the repetition that counts and the way you can keep your students interested, although you’re repeating.

Days 1 – 4 – Beginning Workshop Handouts
Day 1 – Afternoon Experienced Workshop Handout


iFLT15 about to start in St Paul, MN

IMG_3399Tomorrow, Tuesday the 14th of July – but for Europe it’s already today – iFLT15 will start. It will be hosted by Tartan High School in St Paul, Minnesota.

I already arrived Friday in order to acclimatize. I’m staying with a very nice French-American family in St Paul, more than an hour by bike from the school. (By bike: I bought a Bike Friday folding bike with 24 gears with a suitcase and a small trailer – I really miss cycling when I don’t have a bike!)

Registration will start at 8 o’clock and the conference will start with a plenary session from 8.30 till 11.30: Discovering the Power of TCI.


Stepping stones to stories – Ben Slavic’s #PLC

The first part is in English – the second part in Dutch (like the days before)

The coming weeks I’ll be writing about Ben Slavic’s newest book: Stepping stones to stories! Ben’s system of Starting the Year with Comprehensible Input – the book is available at his site: follow the link. Ben shows in his new book how to start out the new schoolyear using comprehensible input.

Ben Slavic's war room at NTPRS14. Picture by Brian Peck

Ben Slavic’s war room at NTPRS14. Picture by Brian Peck

What I did not yet mention is that Ben has a Professional Learning Community (PLC) of which you can become a (paying) member. In his book he also mentions links to his PLC website for his members.

BTW, I’m not a member of this community, nor does Ben ask me to write about his book: I want to read it and write about it to see if it’s interesting to add to my CI teaching skills. So I try not to comment on it too much; you as a reader have to try it out in your own CI lessons and decide if it’s helpful for your lessons or not.

During iFLT14 and NTPRS14 Ben had a “War room” for his PLC and the group always met in the evening and they practiced CI teaching with coaching until late at night. The term War room looks a bit strange to me; the translation tells that it’s a place where strategic decisions are made, especially for military and political campaigns.

Here you can read what Ben wrote about the War room experiences of iFLT14 and NTPRS14 and the comments from a lot of the War room participants.

The picture above of Ben in his War Room at NTPRS14 is made by Brian Peck; he tweeted it with @bcpeck23. I saw Brian perform in Von’s & Blaine’s workshop. He was amazing! On Ben’s blog I read he only started TPRS in October! On the picture to the right are Pilar Reyes and César Gonzalez, English teachers from South-West Spain, who have their own language institute. I met them when we were getting out of the train when I arrived in Chicago Sunday evening. I was just wondering how to get to the hotel and then suddenly I heard someone say my name and it was Pilar! We also met last year in Dallas. Together we travelled to the hotel with the shuttle to the hotel in front of ours. The second person on the left is Jason Bond (no, not James 😉 . He’s American but he teaches Gaelic in Scotland, on the Isle of  Islay! Here you can see where Ben’s PLC members are situated.

And tomorrow I’ll write about Stepping stone #1 Word Associations.


De komende weken schrijf ik hier over Ben Slavic’s nieuwste boek: Stepping stones to stories! Ben’s system of Starting the Year with Comprehensible Input – het boek is verkrijgbaar via zijn site: volg de link. Ben laat in dit boek zien hoe je het schooljaar kunt beginnen door te werken met begrijpelijke input.

Wat ik nog niet genoemd heb, is het feit dat Ben een Professionele Leer Gemeenschap (PLC) heeft waarvan je (betalend) lid kunt worden. In zijn boek geeft Ben ook links naar zijn PLC website voor zijn leden.

Overigens ben ik geen lid van Ben’s PLC en ook betaalt Ben mij niet om over zijn boek te schrijven: ik wil het lezen en erover schrijven om te zien of ik er dingen uit kan halen voor mijn eigen Begrijpelijke input vaardigheden. Dus ik probeer om niet teveel commentaar erop te geven, want ik vind dat je als lezer het zelf in je eigen lessen uit moet proberen en beslissen of het nuttig is voor jouw lessen.

Tijdens iFLT14 en NTPRS14 had ben een “Oorlogskamer”; ik vind het een beetje vreemde term, omdat het een ruimte is waar strategische beslissingen worden genomen, m.n. voor politieke en militaire campagnes.

Hier kun je lezen wat Ben geschreven heeft over zijn ervaringen in de War room tijdens  iFLT14 en NTPRS14 en het commentaar van zijn deelnemers.

Bovenstaande foto is gemaakt door Briuan Peck ; hij heeft de foto getweet via @bcpeck23. I zag hem een les doen tijdens de workshop van Von en Blaine en hij was geweldig. Op Ben’s blog las ik dat hij pas in oktober is begonnen met TPRS. Een natuurtalent! Op de foto aan de rechterkant zitten Pilar Reyes en César Gonzalez, Engelse docenten uit Zuid-West Spanje die hun eigen taalinstituut hebben. Ik ontmoette hen toen ik zondagavond voordat NTPRS14 begon uit de trein stapte in Chicago. Ik sotnd mee net af te vragen hoe ik naar het hotel zou komen toen ik opeens iemand mijn naam hoorde zeggen en dat was Pilar! We waren elkaar vorig jaar ook in Dallas tegengekomen. We zijn samen met de shuttle gereisd naar het hotel dat tegenover dat van ons lag. De tweede persoon aan de linkerkant is Jason Bond – niet niet James 😉 Hij is een Amerikaan uit Maine, maar hij doceert Gaelic in Schotland op het Isle of Islay! Hier kun je zien waar Ben’s PLC-leden zitten.

En morgen ga ik dan echt schrijven over Stapsteen 1, actitviteit 1, Woord associaties.



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!