Why I’m not preparing my students for the “real world”

We often hear education experts tell us how important it is to design learning experiences for our students that will prepare them for the “real world.” And teacher blogs, conference presentations and tweets are also full of strategies they have developed and implemented to prepare their students for the “real world.” By and large, they are good strategies worth exploring in our classes. I wholeheartedly agree that our students need and deserve a world-class education that prepares them for life, work, and citizenship in a dynamic, complex, and evolving global society. However, I no longer tell my students that I am preparing them for the “real world.” And I would encourage all of my fellow educators to also stop telling students, parents, and other stakeholders that they are preparing students for the “real world.”
Why? Lest you think that I have abandoned the greater purpose of education, let me explain. When we tell anyone that we are preparing students for the “real world,” we are perpetuating the already all-too-common belief that that our classes and everything we do in them is something other than “real.” Rather than reminding everyone of the fact that there is a purpose behind every learning event we have crafted for our students, that phrase instead invites all our stakeholders–students, parents, community members and others–to dismiss the majority of the work we do as artificial at best and irrelevant at worst. Think about it: if we tell students, “This [insert activity or rule to be followed here] is important because it will prepare you for the real world,” what are we doing the rest of the time? I have another post coming soon on whether or not our grades and policies really do reflect the “real world” but just looking at our instruction and assessment, we can do better than imply that only some of what we do is relevant. And if it is true that only some of what we do is relevant, then it may be time to take a closer look at our practice.

But if we are teaching, practicing and assessing for proficiency rather than for points on a chapter test, then it is likely that most–if not all–of what we do is exactly the preparation our students need in order to use their language beyond our classroom walls to communicate with others and comprehend the world around them. Just consider some of the most banal examples from my own classes (and probably yours as well): we look at the same documents native speakers around the world are looking at. We talk about them just like native speakers around the world to do. We compare them to other documents from the target cultures as well as to similar documents in American culture. We interact with native speakers as often as possible in person and online. And these are just the “easy” examples. My classes are not artificial and the work my students do provides them with numerous opportunities to participate just as fluidly in French outside of class as they do in class. So I’m not about sell my work–or my students’ efforts and time– short by implying that it is different from a mythical “real world” that in reality looks an awful lot like how we are already using French in my class.

Perhaps the real issue isn’t the phrase “real world” but rather that it’s not enough to tell our students that we are preparing them for the “real world.” We have to do so rather than say so because when we are doing it, there is no longer a need for us or others to say it…or question it. How do we “do real world” instead of telling students we are “preparing” them for the real world? By ensuring that the work in which students are engaged during their time with us is representative of the authentic ways the fundamental and advanced skills of our content areas are used outside of our classes in that seemingly mysterious place called “the real world.”

As a language teacher, our field offers a diverse array of opportunities to do just that. At the most simple, we invite native speakers into our rooms from our communities, as host students, or via Skype, FaceTime or Google+ Hangouts. It’s so easy and natural for us that we almost take it for granted. We also facilitate their progression from using words and structures in controlled environments and contexts to using the language to examine a variety of topics  on a range of issues and interests that reflect authentic cultural perspectives. We do that by using the same infographics, advertisements, articles, YouTube channels and news reports native speakers are reading, listening to and talking about.  We can go a step further by using community-based and online resources to connect our students with target-language speakers around the world in a discussion of those topics. Even a time difference isn’t a problem if we send our contacts abroad links to digital forums we have created for our students to virtually discuss concepts and content. For example, tools like TodaysMeet, Padlet, and Blendspace allow anyone anywhere in the world to participate in the “conversation” if they have a link to the specific thread in question. Want to “hear” them talk? Use tools like Voxopop to create “talk groups” to which anyone with the link can contribute. Use these tools to enhance  your learners’ connections and interactions with their penpals, with humanitarian workers serving in regions where your target language is spoken and with others who are interested in the topics your students are learning about.

Ready to go further? Engage your students in Project-Based Learning, otherwise known as PBL (and for language teachers, Project-Based Language Learning, or PBLL). I’ve been learning about and implementing Project-Based Language Learning for several years, although so far, I would consider my implementation of it to be fairly novice. One of the most accomplished language educators who has made PBLL a fully integrated component of his language instruction is Don Doehla, who blogs on world languages (including PBLL) for Edutopia. Here is just one of his many PBL posts. Spanish teacher Laura Sexton has also done incredible work in this arena. And here is a great overview of best practices in PBL directly from the experts at the Buck Institute for Education.

Why do I like PBL or PBLL to prepare students for a myriad of roles in a society that will define itself after our students leave us?  Through well-designed Project-Based Learning experiences–or more correctly, expertly facilitated PBL experiences–students learn through inquiry, often of their own design. Two critical components of successful PBL and PBLL are

  • the active role the students play throughout the learning, practice and assessment process, and
  • the higher purpose of assessment in PBL/PBLL

Starting with the selection of the essential question or challenging problem the students will tackle, through the cycle of inquiry, reflection, and critique and revision, student voice and choice are the primary factors guiding their work. Students move from learning language for points in the gradebook to acquiring language they will need in order to comprehend and talk about the field they are studying. They move from passively receiving instruction to determining and acting on their own learning needs with teacher support. I’ve even had students work with me to help write the grants that would fund their work and design and publish their own advertising.  And of course their involvement doesn’t end when their research does: I include my students in the choice, design and implementation of their culminating  PBL/PBLL event, which is often open to the community. It is through this event that students demonstrate their knowledge and apply the full gamut of their skills (content skills, language and literacy skills, and often numerous 21st Century Skills). It is the essentially the assessment, but really it is so much more: the culminating event evaluates students’ proficiencies much more thoroughly and authentically than a test grade. The culminating event provides students with a meaningful venue that requires demonstration of both spontaneous and prepared application of their language skills and content knowledge.

Interactions with native speakers in our classrooms and online. Discussion and analysis of authentic media. Assessment for an audience beyond the teacher and a purpose greater than a grade. For the language educator, this is–or should be–our every day, day to day. Just like in the “real world.”


UPDATED: Speaking of….speaking (Post 1 in the “Readers Request” Series)

Recently, I decided to ask my readers what they would like me to examine, explore and/or share in my blog. I’m so glad I did. Their ideas have shaped not only the series of posts that I’m launching with this piece, but also allowed me to reflect on aspects of my own practice that could use some dusting off, tweaking and outright re-imagining.

And that brings us here: to the first post in a special “Readers’ Request” series in this blog. Multiple readers asked me to explore and share tips for facilitating and maintaining peer-to-peer interaction in the target language. Some wanted to know about strategies for novice learners and others for students at higher levels.

I love a challenge, so let’s kick things off with the novice learners. I think many educators (and other stakeholders) feel that getting novice learners to speak is just one of the most difficult aspects of language teaching. “After all,” they might say, “they’re so new at language. They can’t possibly know what to say. It’s just so hard!”

When I’m working on learning pathways for my students, I realize that I want them to speak, but I also have to be realistic about their proficiency. The hallmark of novice-level language is that students can consistently, accurately and spontaneously handle lists of known words in familiar contexts and memorized “chunks” of language in familiar contexts. So the challenge becomes to design contexts that maximize their ability to work with lists and chunks. And for the real pros (I’m not always there yet), to do so in ways that result in real language use for real purposes and real audiences beyond the classroom. Like I said…I’m not always there yet. My novices do most of their speaking (and other communicative tasks) in “simulated” real situations that lay a foundation for their work with target language speakers around the world in subsequent years, although we do an annual conversation group with French exchange students who come each spring (a true highlight of the year for many of the students) and I’m constantly on the lookout for other real speaking opportunities that are appropriate to their level.

So how do I get my novices to speak?

First and foremost, I speak French to and with my students. Thanks to reader @srstolz for asking numerous questions on the first version of this post. His questions helped me see that I had neglected to mention the cornerstone of my approach to supporting novice learners to speak. They must have quality input in order to be able to produce any output. That means I must maximize my time with them by using real, authentic, untranslated French as the language of instruction and of communication with my students. I speak French to them in and out of the classroom. I speak French to them even when I’m not technically teaching them. And of course, I speak French when I am teaching them. Doing so is not always easy, as many of you know. I must draw on cognates (for my English, Spanish and Romanian speakers, there are many), life experience of my learners, previous knowledge in French, visuals, realia, context, gestures and any other tools I can use to ensure that I am not merely throwing French words and phrases at them. Instead, I am building a context in which the students can acquire the targeted words and phrases as naturally as possible, crafting my input so the students arrive at the meanings themselves, just like they did in their first language. My goal is to NOT translate. Why? Because building translation into input lessons actually detracts from the effectiveness of the lesson. The students learn that they do not need to pay attention to the words the teacher is using, the context the teacher (hopefully) created to use the words realistically, or anything else the teacher might do to make the words comprehensible because the students know that the teacher will simply provide a translation anyway. Likewise, I don’t ask my novice learners to look at lists words and take notes on them because those lists take the words out of context and present them as isolated fragments of language that are disconnected from the whole. Lists on the board, in the book or on a worksheet cannot give the kind of contextualized input I can provide by crafting the lessons myself. In the most basic sense, vocabulary lists provided to students as a substitute for well-crafted comprehensible input will fail to produce speaking because the lists do not model spoken language.

Here are some other strategies I employ that support my learners to communicate in French.

  1. I seat them for communication. That means no rows. In fact, this past year, I got rid of desks altogether and replaced them with tables. Rows send the message that the class isn’t for communication: it’s for taking notes. It’s for listening to the teacher. That wasn’t the message I wanted to send. It’s true that by seating in tables, there is more opportunity for students to talk in general (and they are NOT always speaking in French, alas), but I felt strongly enough about the need for a more communicatively conducive physical environment that I decided to give up on desks and rows.
    Tables are flexible! Here they are pushed together for large groups. And, they are speaking with our French exchange students.

    Tables are flexible! Here they are pushed together for large groups. And, they are speaking with our French exchange students.

    In the end, I know that if my students are speaking English, it’s because of a failure on my part, not theirs. What kinds of “failures?” Perhaps they were given too much time to complete a task. Perhaps the directions weren’t clear. Or maybe they weren’t linguistically (or socially) ready for the task at all, causing them to break down into English. All of these things are in my control. Ultimately, I can prevent the use of English with outstanding learning supports (instruction and others) and by ensuring that the tasks are appropriate to the students’ interests and levels. So…I actually don’t scold them for speaking English if I can see that it is because I didn’t provide the appropriate supports for them to be successful in French.

  2. I design tasks that maximize those memorized chunks! When students have learned to talk about themselves a bit, we imagine we have been accepted on an international exchange. All the international students will be coming to France (hence, French becomes the common language for the whole group). The host organization has prepared a get-together to allow the students to begin to get to know each other. Even with just name, age and where they live, students can begin to participate in short conversations. They participate in the “mixer” asking each others’ names, ages and home cities. And they get extensive practice with those particular chunks. If a group needs even more structure to be successful, I put them in two concentric circles. The inner circle asks the questions and the outer circle responds and then rotates to the next student. After a few rotations, the students switch circles so that all students get practice asking and answering questions. For this particular example, among students in the inner circle who are asking the questions, approximately ⅓ has the question “what’s your name?” while the remainder of the students in the inner circle are either asking “how old are you?” or “where do you live?” In this way, all students know that they could be asked any of the three questions, but they don’t know for sure which question is coming next. In addition, the students asking the questions get very comfortable with not only their question but with what a “correct” response should sound like. I train them early in the year to use this accumulated experience and knowledge to help students who struggle to answer their question by saying, “Par exemple, Je m’appelle Nicole” (“For example, my name is Nicole”) thus using their own personal response to their question as a model that may help the responding student remember how to answer that question. This empowers all students to be support providers to each other and also makes it easier for me to be more effective when monitoring responses of the whole class (I typically stand in the center of the circle so I can easily “lean in” on various pairs and listen to the conversations).
  3. As the students acquire more language (even though they remain novice-level speakers), it is easy to adapt the above activity. One adaptation I like to do is for them to add follow-up questions (such as “with whom,” “where,” “when,” etc.) as soon as they have enough language to at least provide a simple response to those questions. This begins to introduce slightly more spontaneity (they don’t know what follow-up questions they will be asked next) and it also builds additional listening skills. Furthermore, it increases the amount of the time the students spend asking questions. Given that they will likely be asking quite a few questions when they finally get the chance to travel where the language is spoken, it is imperative that teachers ensure students aren’t always merely responding to questions: they need practice spontaneously asking questions as well. Even more importantly, these short, semi-spontaneous conversations allow students to get to know each other even better and contribute to our sense of community in the classes. I do NOT insist on complete sentence responses. We don’t insist on that in “real” life, and I don’t want my students feeling like what goes on in our class is “fake” language use that doesn’t represent what happens in the real world. Real-world language use is full of single-word answers and partial phrases. That’s OK for my students as well.
  4. I use random participation techniques.This sounds like a small point, but it’s really quite important. At least to me. During the oral guided practice phase of instruction on a new aspect of the language, the students first get an opportunity to work through the task with a partner at their table. If they run into trouble, they have the other tablemates to turn to before asking me (I’m constantly circulating). After they have attempted the activity with their partners, I randomly select two students to complete each mini situation for the class (these are typically question-answer activities that hone in on a specific vocabulary theme or language structure). I used to use index cards to select students, but now I use the iPhone app called “ClassCards.” I use the app on my iPad rather than on my iPhone, but it works great because I can “shake to shuffle” the list of students, I can see the next five students to be selected (crucial since I will be selecting two students at a time), I can mark students absent when they come up in the list so they don’t come up again during that school day and I can allow a student to “pass.” That said, the app was free when I got it and it is no longer free. There are other randomizers available. I encourage you to check them out. Although these initial interactions are not always 100% realistic, guided practice is a critical language learning phase that our learners need in order to eventually be able to speak confidently and spontaneously and by randomizing participation, I am able to help maintain an environment in which all students are ready to speak–in French–at any time.  That said, it is important to move from guided practice to more open-ended, realistic independent practice and performance as soon as teachers have data that their students are working successfully with the new material.
  5. Surveys and other information gap activities are a great way to engage novice learners in short, interpersonal exchanges on a specific topic. Students first work as a class to develop a class bank of questions on the given topic (food, exercise habits, favorite activities, etc.) that they practice at their tables or in inner-outer circles. Then specific questions are assigned to individual students (or selected by students) who will conduct a survey on their assigned question, collect data from the class based on their answers and then create a visual representation of the responses (chart/bar graph/etc.) as well as a one-sentence summary. This task therefore involves speaking and listening and then also reading of their responses and writing (to generate the visual and the summary). And yet, it remains well within the realm of lists and memorized chunks with which they are comfortable.
  6. As students gain more contexts about which they can speak, conversation cards can be a productive peer-to-peer interaction activity, but for novice learners, they may need sentence frames (or rather, question frames) provided in order to get the conversations going. Typically, this would have to occur towards the end of their first year of language study at the earliest, because they won’t have enough different contexts as retrievable language with which to do the activity otherwise, but once they arrive at this point, conversation cards can serve as a great way to recycle earlier material and build-in more recently acquired expressions for their conversations. The cards might prompt them with questions they can ask about their partner’s family, favorite foods, weekend activities, how they would like to decorate their dorm room, where they like to go in town/in the region, etc.

Here are some videos that show both how I use French as the language of instruction and how my students use unscripted, unedited and unrehearsed French to practice and build communication. These students were in French 1 in the 2013-2014 school year.

French 1 end of fall semester: 

French 1 end of spring semester:

  • Part 1: 
  • Part 2: 
  • Part 3: 

These are just some ways I ensure my novice-level students are engaged in and supported during peer-to-peer interactions in the target language. What are your favorite strategies? Continue the conversation and continue the learning by sharing in the comments.

What I learned in three weeks of regional conference attendance, according to Twitter

When I’m at conferences, I like to tweet when I hear something that I feel is important or helpful. I do this to share the learning with others who were not in the same sessions as I was, but I also do this for myself. Typing helps me remember what I learned. Synthesizing to 140 characters or less requires me to think about each concept I wish to share carefully so that I can discuss it so succinctly. And tweeting provides me with a relatively easy-to-find record of the items I hope to apply in my own practice.

Pulling those tweets into a Storify makes my learning even easier to find. If you would like to learn along with me, there are several options: check out my handle on Twitter (@NicoleNaditz); scroll through the various conference hashtags Twitter so that you get not only what I tweeted but what everyone tweeted (I was at #swcolt15, #swcolt15, #clta15 and #csctfl15); or check out the slideshow I made on Storify, just so I could have the tweets that were important for my own learning in a place that made them even easier to find and view.

I hope to have a chance to truly synthesize what I learned from the amazing colleagues with whom I interacted around the country and post something a bit more profound here in a separate blog. But for now, this will have to play the role of a teaser post.

What thoughts, strategies and approaches did you explore at professional development that have since impacted your practice?

Yes, they CAN understand native speakers!

I often hear teachers say that authentic videos featuring native speakers (and intended for viewing by other native speakers) are too difficult for our language learners to use as listening practice, let alone listening assessment. And yet, I think we can all agree that we would like to have our students listen to “real” products that are authentic, meaning that they were created and published by native speakers for native speakers. In addition to providing real examples of the language the students are learning, authentic videos place that language within culturally authentic contexts, thereby providing our students with windows into the cultures that speak the language and the way the cultures are reflected in the use of the language.

One approach I have found to help students better work with authentic video is to ensure we apply what we know about best practices pedagogy in general to the way we present videos and the ways in which we have students interact with the videos.

So what do we know? We know that adolescent brains benefit from multiple opportunities to pause, reflect and apply knowledge at intervals throughout their work with a written or multi-media document, rather than requiring them to read/listen through the entire document before providing them with opportunities to discuss, ask and answer questions, analyze the content, and make comparisons within the language and culture and also to their home languages and cultures. In circles of experts in reading development (even in L1), we often see the reminder for teachers to design a variety of activities for “into, through, and beyond” the reading. I believe this applies just as much to videos: hook them and prepare them to listen (into); help them process what they are hearing and respond to it at multiple intervals during the video (through) and then provide students with opportunities to personalize and extend the video by creating their own responses and products after listening and successfully completing the activities to demonstrate their comprehension of the targeted language and cultural knowledge from the video (beyond).  Today’s post deals mostly with the “through” portion of this cycle. And with another important concept in world language circles (that I cannot take credit for): Modify the TASK, not the content. In other words, provide students with real content (such as authentic videos), but design tasks that are appropriate for their stage of proficiency. In this way, their listening–and their responses–are focused on what they do know and can understand.

Before we look at one of my favorite “high” tech ways to provide this kind of ongoing interaction throughout an authentic video, it’s worth remembering that a lower-tech way to do this is to simply pause the video at various points to engage the students in conversations, personalization tasks or other work that allows them to process what they have heard, connect it to what they know and understand, and use the video as a springboard for their own communication in the target language.

I had already created three Zaption “tours” in preparation for upcoming lessons, but a few weeks ago, I finally tried one of my Zaption tours with my French 2 class. Zaption is one of MANY tools that allow you to edit existing YouTube videos and add student response activities, such as open-ended or multiple choice responses to questions you ask during the video (they automatically appear during video playback), a drawing response, and a discussion thread possibility. In this particular case, it proved to be a very effective and engaging lesson for students when I was absent (which can be the subject of a separate post and is a key concept for me: ensuring students are at least as engaged when I am absent as when I am present).

All of the tools that provide teachers with video editing and student response options differ a bit in their setup and their exact functionality in terms of what you can do with the videos and what kinds of questions we can ask. Currently, I like Zaption best for several reasons.

  1.  It allows me to crop existing YouTube videos without having to go to another program first to crop it. This is really key for language teachers because many videos are either simply too long or they only have a chunk that is usable at the students’ current level of proficiency.
  2. It allows me to make a “tour” of multiple videos on the same topic. Or…multiple crops of the same video (which is how I did it with French 2).*
  3. It has a variety of response/question types, including mulitple choice, open-ended and draw a response.*
  4. It provides me a report with overall success on each question and also with individual student responses.

*The downside is that these two items of functionality are only applicable to their paid version, which I happen to have this year. That said, I like it so much that it will become one of the very few tools I pay for!

So, I will share three samples here: two for French 2 (one we didn’t get to use this year, but I’m looking forward to using next year) and one for French 4/AP. In all cases, the process is as follows:

  1. Create your teacher account at http://zaption.com
  2. In your dashboard, select “New Tour”
  3. It will prompt you to add the Youtube URL for the video(s) you want to add.
  4. Click on “add video” above the video frame to add next clip. If you want to make multiple edits of the same video, just when you click on “add video”, the first video you added will automatically appear in the new window. Just click on it again to add another copy of it so that you can make multiple crops of the same video. So to make a “tour” of three clips from the same video, I copy it as many times as the number of clips I want to use from that video. Then I crop each of the copies to be a different chunk. They will all play together as one video activity when finished.
  5. Now you can crop your video clips. You do this by clicking on “trim”, which appears within the video window, in the upper left.

    Zaption edit screen

    Zaption edit screen

  6. In the same screenshot above, you can also see the tools for adding student responses. Just play your video to the point where you want to add your first question/activity. Pause the video and click on the question type you would like to use from the buttons at the top. Fill in the fields and then submit. Continue for the rest of the clip and then the rest of the tour. It is recommended that you have the video stop playing while students respond, but note that for the “discussion” feature, this doesn’t appear as an option. The students have to begin typing in order to stop the video. Also, you have the option for multiple choice responses to send them back to an earlier point in the video if they get an answer wrong, thus requiring them to listen again.
  7. As students complete the activities in the video, their responses are being saved for you to view. You can see an overall summary as well as individual student results. See screenshots below:Zaption_analytics Zaption_indiv_data

Here are some samples of Zaptions I have made for my classes.

Zaption’s YouTube channel: lots of tutorials here.

And here are some additional, very popular video editing and response tools to explore. Because ultimately, everyone has different styles and preferences. To me, it is less important which tool you choose. I happen to love Zaption. You may love Educanon. Do what you love. The key here is to ensure that authentic videos are not a passive experience for our learners, but rather one that engages them in active listening with multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding and provide personal responses.

Harnessing the REAL power of technology

I started teaching French in 1993. At that time, the technology to which I had access consisted of a Brother word processor I shared with my husband at home, a high-speed duplicating machine that used a drum and pushed out volumes of paper with blue ink that smeared and faded, a slide projector with carousel for showing dozens of slides, an overhead projector with plenty of overhead sheets and wet-erase markers, a tape player in the classroom (not even a CD player in the classroom yet), and …wait for it….a reel-to-reel film projector.

reel to reel

Photo credit: accessed on “Classic Technnology” Flikr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/41002268@N03/sets/72157625376698180/detail/?page=2

So when the Internet first became available to me in 1995, to say it transformed my practice would be an understatement. For the first time, I could log onto a computer and within a few keystrokes and clicks, I could see what native speakers around the world were reading in real time, at the same time that they could be reading it. My students didn’t yet have access to a computer lab connected to the Internet at school, but I could print out the documents to share with students. I was ecstatic and took long virtual (and largely text-based) journeys nightly from my AOL account. And this was with static Web pages: text and a few images, no interaction within and among the creators and the users of the content. But I could see the potential.

Fast forward 10 years. By 2005, YouTube and Google Search had both hit the scene…and redefined the Internet as we knew it. The content didn’t just look different. It was different. More dynamic. Audio-visual. Enhanced search capacity. Commenting and interaction between the creators and users of content. And in fact, the line between creators and users started to blur at this point in our collective cyber history: anyone who could figure out how could upload a video to Youtube. Wikipedia turned everyday citizens into content creators and curators. Today, the line between creators and consumers of online content has disappeared completely. We all can be creators if we choose to. And we continue to be users. We can create, publish, edit, republish, share, collaborate, comment, and more.

The true power of technology does not lie in any one tool, suite of tools or newest, glitzy capacity. Instead, the real power of technology as an educational tool lies in its ability to provide ongoing, diverse and dynamic opportunities to inform and connect anyone, anywhere.

As a world language teacher, I am inspired and energized by the possibilities technology affords to help my students become not only more knowledgeable, but more connected to the communities of target-language speakers all over the world.

  • Tools like ExplainEverything, Doceri, myBrainshark and Educreations that make it possible for teachers to ensure that learning, practice and enrichment available to students 24/7.
  • Skype and Google + Hangouts connecting my students to classes elsewhere to talk in French, in real time.
  • Video editing tools like Zaption, Educanon, EdPuzzle and Blubbr that let teachers add questions and other activities to existing YouTube videos.
  • Twitter to share their work to a real audience and to engage in global dialog around current issues.
  • Dynamic tools like Padlet and TodaysMeet where students can quickly post thoughts on any topic and see what others (local and global if the links are shared with others) are posting as well.
  • Collaborative tools, such as those in Google Drive (and, for those schools that use it, Google Apps for Education) thatsymbaloo_pic allow students to collaborate, create and publish–locally and globally.
  • Rich tools like Blendspace that allow users to organize all kinds of content into an interactive, multi-media presentation in which users all over the world can use the commenting feature to dialog about every item in the presentation.
  • Creative multi-media tools like Storybird, Wordle and Tagxedo, Voicethread, PowToon, Animoto and more that help students build capacity to use and ultimately publish their work in their new language creatively.
  • Mobile tools like Toontastic, Tellagami, ShadowPuppet and others that allow students to quickly and effectively combine their own spoken audio with video and images on their mobile devices and publish to an audience with one tap on their screen.
  • Free mobile and online tools, such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, and more that allow students to foster one-to-one connections in real time with native speakers around the world–allowing them to communicate authentically when and where they want.

I’m fortunate to teach in a place where technology is seen as an ally in students’ education. Virtually nothing is “blocked,” thereby allowing my students to learn, explore, communicate, collaborate, create and publish using a variety of media and tools, right from my classroom. Yes, we have an obligation (legally as well as ethically) to protect our students from nefarious content and people on the Web. But we are also responsible for preparing students to become productive, responsible, and media-literate global citizens: these tools allow my students to learn and practice, but also to produce and share and get feedback from real audiences. More importantly, these tools allow my students to make real connections with French speakers around world right from their residences in suburban Northern California where French is rarely heard on TV and virtually never on the radio or in person. Through their interactions and their experiences with a rich array of authentic documents now easily accessed from their pockets, they increase both language and cultural proficiency by interacting with a variety of people from diverse communities where the language is spoken. As technology continues to shape how we work and interact, it truly empowers teachers and students to transform what it means to “study” a language or to “learn” a language by taking their voices and their experiences out of the book and out of the classroom to the global community.

Am I Charlie?

The recent events that have unfolded in France have shown the best and worst of humanity. Once again, a series of cowardly acts of violence have caused numerous senseless deaths. Once again, families, friends, colleagues, countrymen and the world are mourning. And yet today, millions have stood up and marched around the world in a beautiful and rare sign of peaceful political and religious unity and in favor of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

In class Wednesday, we talked about the events. We examined tweets and political cartoons in French from around the world that overtook Twitter in an explosion of indignant anger and rebellion against these attacks on the most fundamental tenets of a democratic society. We sent our penpal classes in France pictures showing our sympathy and solidarity.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably noticed that I tagged many of my tweets #jesuischarlie or “I am Charlie”, “Charlie Hebdo” being the name of the satirical paper whose editorial staff was the initial target of the terrorists. By now, you may have researched or seen in the news and on social media the content of Charlie Hebdo: always harshly critical of many facets of society, many groups, many faiths and many points of view…and often incredibly offensive.

Like many, including one of my students, I had to decide if I would be part of the #jesuischarlie movement. I had to think about whether that hashtag meant I agreed with the contents and the editorial approach of that paper (which I do not) or if the tag represented something more. For my student, a thoughtful, mature and very talented artist in my French 4 class, she could not bring herself to hold a sign or part of a sign with the #jesuischarlie tag in our class photo. She abhors the violence and the deaths and wants to stand in solidarity with our class against terrorism, but she also vehemently believes that the paper’s content is so offensive and hateful that, in her opinion, it does not deserve protection under statutes protecting freedom of the press or freedom of expression. We all respected her opinion and she created her own drawing indicating that Islam is not about violence and she held that as she stood with the class in the photo we sent to our penpals.

And what about me? Like her, I find much of their content very offensive. I do believe that with the freedoms afforded citizens in democratic societies also comes the responsibility to exercise those freedoms in a manner that is respectful of the many diverse perspectives of the different people who call those societies their homes, their countries, and for many, their nationalities. But ultimately, all opinions have the right to not only exist but to be expressed. Those publicly expressing extreme opinions, those engaging in rhetoric that is hateful, defamatory, and derogatory, such as some of the content of Charlie Hebdo, know that their views will be questioned, critiqued and even outright criticized. They know that they may be asked to defend and explain their views. They expect to start conversations. Heated conversations. They do not expect–and they do not deserve–to die for expressing their views.

As offensive as some of their content is, we cannot, as a democratic society, say that they have no right to publish. Because the strength of “freedom of speech” depends precisely on our willingness to defend that right even when the opinions expressed are disdainful, unpopular, or only held by a small group rather than the majority. Otherwise we begin eroding that right, eliminating more and more ideas that are not in line with “majority thinking”. If only those opinions that are easily swallowed are protected, then freedom of speech in becomes just a meaningless slogan.

And so it is in that vein that I have determined that, yes, #jesuischarlie.

Say what? 3 tips to help novice speakers SPEAK

We all want to see our language learners leave our world language programs able to participate in spontaneous conversations on a range of topics. Preparation for this lofty goal starts in the very first years of language instruction. But, we also recognize that language students at the novice level are primarily comfortable with memorize chunks and phrases (see page 5 of ACTFL’s proficiency guidelines for speaking at the novice level). How can we facilitate spontaneous conversations with and among  students who cannot yet independently manipulate the language? The single most important thing we can do is use the target language in every class every day. Students can’t be expected to use a language they don’t hear used! But here are three additional strategies I use specifically to support my novice learners to speak spontaneously.
1. Randomize participation
I knew my very first year teaching that I didn’t want to have only my bravest, most confident students to participate on a daily basis. I wanted to know how well students were manipulating new words and structures after they had practiced with a partner or small groups, and yes, my novice classes almost always complete oral activities in pairs and small groups before I ask students to provide responses to the whole class. In my first several years of teaching. I used to use index cards to randomly select which students would speak. I had a card for each student and I would shuffle them (frequently!) to randomize their participation. For question-answer activities, I would use the index cards to randomly select one student to ask the question and randomly select another student to provide the answer. This is a small, but important, step in preparing our most novice learners for spontaneous conversations because although they may be responding to a fairly structured partner activity with only limited variations, having randomly selected students produce the questions and responses for the class after they have completed the activity with their partners gives them practice being ready to speak at any time.
Random selection provides other benefits as well. I almost never allow students to volunteer because research shows that volunteering offers very little to students in terms of engagement and equally little to teachers in terms of useable formative assessment data. But randomizing participation enhances student engagement and provides more valid and reliable data from more students regarding their proficiency with the topic at hand. Some teachers do this with Popsicle sticks, but I liked index cards better than Popsicle sticks because the cards allowed me space to mark how many times each student spoke and even make other small notes regarding their work. But, not surprisingly, technology now provides us with digital options that work from smartphones and tablets. I personally have traded my index cards for the iPhone app “Class Cards” to randomize my students’ participation. It was free when I installed it years ago. Unfortunately, it is no longer free. I like the fact that I can see who is next up in the random selection because that makes it faster to announce who will ask the question and who will provide the response. Sadly I can’t find any free randomization apps anymore. Another app is “Pick Me“. It costs less than Class Cards, but is still not free. A free web-based alternative may be “Random Student Generator“. Since I have been happy with Class Cards, I have never tried Pick Me or the web-based Random Student Generator, but for what it’s worth, I can say that I have found randomization of participation to be so instrumental to support the work we are doing as a class that I would actually buy one of the apps if I didn’t have one already (and because I use my iPad tools extensively during class, I would personally opt for an app rather than a Web-based tool, but that’s just me).
2. Add spontaneity and build on existing activities with “just one more”
Often, we choose to use some existing materials in order to provide our students with practice in the new language. In my case, I find that I can often make use of or adapt some of the practice activities provided in publisher materials. I firmly believe that textbooks do not teach and therefore, I provide all the instruction myself by designing lessons that are communicative and proficiency oriented in order to teach the variety of vocabulary and structures students will need to communicate at a stage-appropriate level. However, I can include many of the proposed practice activities in my students’ learning and practice sequence, along with numerous supplemental activities that I create. Often, the activities prepared by publishers include a several designed to be completed in pairs. It is common to find these activities already organized in a question-answer format,  simulating real life conversations, albeit very short ones. But they often stop short of providing any element of spontaneity. This can be remedied as soon as students have learned and practiced the basic question words (who, what, when, where) and at least a couple of easy ways to answer those questions. Armed with these powerful language stems, we can support novice language learners to step up the game a bit (even with very structured, text-book based question/answer activities) by asking “just one more” question. This simple strategy actually supports both partners in the question-answer format to increase their language skills by requiring the questioner to listen actively and determine an appropriate follow-up question while the respondent must listen for a question that was not part of the original activity and then formulate a simple response to it.
3. Semi-spontaneous interviews
I use this structure frequently as both practice and as one of the ways I assess my novice learners’ interpersonal communication. It is easy to incorporate on a day-to-day basis so students can have several opportunities for practice (not just assessment) throughout the year. I actually really like it when students don’t feel like their assessments are different from the communicative work we do daily in class.
The key to this strategy is to allow all students to prepare some of their questions in advance but not tell them whom they will interview. Nor can they show their questions to the person they are interviewing. Preparing questions in advance for an interview is actually more authentic than not doing so because it is rare for professional journalists and others who conduct interviews (such as researchers) to not have prepared their base questions in advance.
Once students have created questions, I have them practice. There are many ways students can practice (beyond the obvious of interviewing the students that sit next to them or with whom they are normally partners. Here are some variations that provide more randomized practice:
  • “Inner-outer circle” format. This is one of my favorites. This is done by having the class stand in two concentric circles: the students in the “inner circle” face outward from their circle and then the other half of the class forms the outer circle by standing face-to-face with a student in the inner circle. If there is an odd number of students, I stand in one of the circles to even it out. Otherwise, I stand in the middle of the two circles because it is easier to quickly listen to the various conversations from the middle than it is from the outside. Once the students are in place, I choose one group  (inner or outer) to be the ones asking the questions they have prepared to the student facing them in the other circle. That student listens, and responds. Typically, with novice classes, students can ask and answer five questions in about a minute (unless they are struggling), due to the highly “memorized chunk” nature of their language use and also their inability to provide extensive detail that would lengthen answers. So, after about a minute, I ask the outer circle to rotate to their left.  The process repeats again, but their is a new pair of students. After several rotations, I have the students switch places with their partner so that students who were on the outside are now on the inside. This also results in a change of speaking role (from interviewer to interviewee or vice versa). We then continue for several more rounds. This is a great activity to do outside if the weather permits.
  • Caterpillar: This is a variation my friend (and outstanding teacher) Christine Lanphere uses for tighter spaces. Have students stand in two parallel lines. When done, each line rotates TWO speakers to their left. Note that this will have each line appear to be moving in OPPOSITE directions. This will cause those at the end of the line to switch lines. Having them rotate two speakers (instead of just one) ensures they don’t end up with the same partner they just had before switching to the other line. In smaller classes, I have one line designated as the “question line” and the other as the “answer line” and students switch roles when they rotate to the other line. In larger classes, I have students switch roles after five rotations or so, just like with “Inner-Outer Circles.”
  • Mingling: Another variation is to designate half class as interviewers and half as interviewees. Ask interviewees remain seated, set a timer and have interviewers circulate freely in the room, attempting to interview five different students in approximately five minutes. Then switch roles and repeat.

This format can be used for quick conversation practice with many topics. And as students become more comfortable, you can even have them do completely spontaneous, impromptu conversations using this format. Furthermore, you can use the

Five exchange students were visiting from France. Students prepared some questions in advanced and asked more questions spontaneously.

Five exchange students were visiting from France. Students prepared some questions in advanced and asked more questions spontaneously.

“just one more” strategy mentioned above in combination with their personally prepared questions in order to add an element of spontaneity, increase the authenticity of the conversations and promote greater listening and speaking proficiency.

When it becomes time to move from practicing conversations to assessing their interpersonal speaking proficiency on a given set of learning targets (can-do statements) with or without the “just one more” questions (I prefer to include those in assessments, so it is important to have them practice listening for opportunities to add them and also practice responding to them), I find that the easiest way to manage randomizing students for interviews I am assessing is as follows:

  1. Print out a copy of the rubric you will use to evaluate each student’s interpersonal proficiency (you can find my draft rubric here…I’m always revising rubrics!).
  2. Make enough photocopies for the class and distribute it to students. Remember that it is beneficial to do this earlier in the learning-practice-assessment cycle rather than at the end: our “end-game” shouldn’t be a secret to students!
  3. When it is time to assess, have them write their names on the rubric and then hand it back in.
  4. Shuffle them up, and the order of the rubrics becomes the order for the interviews: I call up the student whose rubric is on the top of the pile. That person asks the questions. I also call up the student with the second rubric. This student will answer the questions. When they are done, student A sits back down (she will come back at the very end). Student B becomes the interviewer (asking the questions) and I call up the next student from the rubric pile to respond. We continue rotating roles and calling up new students from the rubric pile. The very last student called up to answer will be the one who asked questions first.

What strategies do you use to help your most novice speakers actually speak? Share your ideas in the comments!

What (my) novice language learners need

Over the years, it has become more and more clear to me that our novice learners can produce language and even have a bit of fun with it, if we remember the characteristics of novice-level production. I think a lot of teachers (myself included until just a few years ago) have expectations that are surprisingly unreasonable for novice level students. Once our expectations and the tasks aligned to those expectations correspond better to the characteristics of the novice learner, reader, writer and speaker, students experience greater success, and in some ways actually produce more content (and do so with greater accuracy) than was possible before.

According to the proficiency guidelines published in 2012 by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, a language learner at “novice high” (which is where some of my French 2 students are at in writing) can “[…] express themselves within the context in which the language was learned relying mainly on practiced material. Their writing is focused on common elements of daily life. Novice High writers are able to recombine learned vocabulary and structures to create simple sentences on very familiar topics, but are not able tosustain sentence-level writing all the time”. Similarly, ACTFL states that “novice mid” writers (the rest of my French 2 students) can “[…] reproduce from memory a modest number of words and phrases in context. […] Novice Mid writers exhibit a high degree of accuracy when writing on well-practiced, familiar topics using limited formulaic language. With less familiar topics, there is a marked decrease in accuracy”

Here are two different examples (from two different themes we considered in French 2 this semester) in which I endeavored to design assessments of their writing proficiency that reflect ACTFL’s proficiency guidelines.

1. Jobs brochure

This was actually part of an Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) that incorporated listening, reading and writing around the concept of careers and finding careers that fulfill individuals personally and professionally. We began by examining two documents from this Web site (where careers are profiled for French children, often including interviews with real French citizens who have chosen those careers. The first document was a “practice” document on the careers of “Photographer” before using the second document on becoming a florist as the reading portion of the IPA. For both the practice and the actual reading assessment, I followed the reading comprehension assessment template provided by ACTFL. Here are the students’ comprehension questions for the florist document. It should be noted that, as recommended by ACTFL I added section numbers to the authentic document before copying it for students in order to facilitate their ability to identify the information appropriate to their level of proficiency).

After completing this task, students were ready for the writing portion, in which they would create their own short brochure for a job fair featuring the careers on the Webjunior careers Web site. For this task, they were allowed to explore the entire set of careers profiled and choose the career that interested them the most. I did suggest that they might find the task easier if they chose a career that featured an interview with someone working in that field, but it was not required. On the brochure, they were required to provide the following:

Some images from one student's job brochure

Some images from one student’s job brochure

  • a list of responsibilities for people working in this field,
  • a list of advantages to choosing this career, and
  • a list of personality traits that would be important for individuals working in this career.

So, how does this task correspond to the guidelines from ACTFL I cited above? The first two bullet items in the brochure allow them to use language provided by the original document in order to complete the task…students are demonstrating their understanding of the relevant language in the authentic document by the relevance of the items they opt to include in their brochures. Only the third item requires students to use their own bank of French language (descriptive)  to produce something and the task could be accomplished in list form for the novice-mid learners or i sentence form for the novice-high students. It is also worth noting that this task allows students to create something that is inspired by an authentic document and adds something new to it, repurposing it for a new audience (those attending a hypothetical job fair.

Example 2: writing an article

In this same class, just after examining careers, we began considering how to talk about past events. I use a murder mystery (now out of print) from a series in Quebec that was originally published for “French as a Second Language” classes, much like the programs we create for students learning English as a second language in the U.S.  The murder mystery provided a very engaging context and introduces the students to the basics of speaking and writing in the past in a way that is almost so inductive that the students figure it out for themselves, naturally, as they progress through the scenes of the mystery.

As one of the culminating activities closing out this mini-unit, students write an “article” about what happened over the course of the mystery, and of course, they name the criminal in the article. Referring again to the proficiency guidelines provided by ACTFL, I prepared a list of actions that each character did, including the victim. The actions in the list were left in the infinitive and were in no particular order, but they were organized in a table by character, as you can see here . Students selected a number of these actions, determined a logical sequence of events for these actions and then put themPhoto of sample from French 2 Murder Mystery Article into sentences in the past in order to compose their article. In past years, I had asked students to write the article as well, but only the most advanced of my French 2 students found the task manageable. Students who were still at novice mid struggled mightily when they were asked to come up with their own articles using sentences about each of the characters they created without any support beyond their memories.  Those students who were not the highest achievers typically wrote significantly fewer sentences, and exhibited more errors in the sentences they did manage to write.

This year was different. More than 75% of students achieved a 4 on this assessment, meaning that they exhibited production of language that is fully proficient at the targeted vocabulary and structures. And the vast majority of the remaining students achieved a score of 3 (mostly proficient in the targeted language and structures, but some difficulty with the more complex aspects). They had much the same experience in terms of learning and practice of the new material as last year. The difference came from the table in which I provided them the characters and the characters’ actions in the story in infinitives along with a reminder of the targeted structure at the bottom. Was this too much information? Does this somehow detract from the validity of the assessment? I don’t believe so. The reality is that this assessment provides the degree of support that corresponds to the abilities of the novice learner while still requiring them to demonstrate the desired skills. Additionally, I believe that this format respects the reality of life and work in the “real world” beyond our classrooms: the “real world” almost never requires employees to produce high quality work without access to resources, information, formulas, etc. Why do we insist on isolating students from such resources and support in the academic world? Even with the benefit of the “tool” I provided them, they still had to show that they knew how to apply the knowledge in order to effectively communicate the details of the story. Providing them access to a list of the information they might want to include and a sort of formula to use to check their work is both more respectful of their capabilities as a novice user of the language and more realistic.

How do you support your novice-level students to communicate in a variety of contexts and in realistic ways? Share your thoughts and ideas below! I look forward to hearing from you.

And the single best tool I recommend to other teachers is….?

Is the phone? a pencil? the paper? the act of collaboration? all of these?

Where is the tool? Is it an app on the phone? the pencil? the paper? the act of collaboration? all of these? none of these?

I’m often asked what my favorite educational technology tools are. The question usually goes something like this: “With all of this emphasis on education technology and 21st century teaching and learning, what is one tool you would recommend to other teachers?” My response?


Before you rush off to the app store or to your computer to try selectivity.com (which is NOT a site, by the way), remember that a tool doesn’t have to be technology. In fact, according to webster.com, the origin of the word “tool” actually comes “from Old English tōl; akin to Old English tawian to prepare for use.”

Although I have a fairly well developed list of great tools for teachers and students, none would make the grade as “one tool I would recommend.” The single best tool in the teacher’s belt is the ability to be selective: there is no ONE best tool; only the ability to evaluate all the available tools and thoughtfully select the right tool for this group of students at this time to accomplish this task–and to do so in a way better than it could be accomplished without the tool.

Let’s go back to Webster’s explanations of the origins of the word “tool.” I find that this etymology is particularly appropriate for education.  As teachers, our work is not to teach students facts, figures, dates, or even words in a new language. All of these can be looked up with a device they carry with them in their pockets. Our role is to facilitate their preparation to use information, knowledge, creativity, collaborative and interpersonal skills for life, work and citizenship. When researching content for history, science, or other classes, they need practice creating effective search terms to narrow the otherwise potentially overwhelming tidal wave of search results provided by Google. Then they need practice critically evaluating those refined search results to determine authenticity, validity and bias. They need to be selective.  When choosing how to prepare their next class presentation, students need practice navigating the dozens of available tools, ultimately selecting the best one for the job and then figuring out how to use it effectively.  Therefore, selectivity isn’t just for teachers. We must endow students with this as well. Selectivity could become the most important tool they take with them after high school to allow them thrive purposefully and conscientiously in a society inundated with information and misinformation; a society replete with great tools they want to use today being replaced by even better tools tomorrow.

Rich, Relevant, Rigorous….and completely redesigned

I have always been passionate about providing a rich, relevant and rigorous education for all learners. In addition to always practice what I teach in my work with students in my French classes, I also try to help other teachers reshape their approaches to education through my blog and through my professional learning programs at conferences and institutes by reframing the traditional view of teaching to emphasize designing more for teaching than for “covering” and more for learning than for teaching.

Through extensive work with thematic instruction centered on authentic materials and equally authentic assessment, my students have made significant gains in proficiency compared to their performance in my tentative first years as a teacher, going back to when I began teaching in 1993.

But the past two years, I have noticed a lot of talk about “learning targets” throughout the education community. And a lot more talk about assessment and grading practices. And I finally started seeing the “Can-do” statements and “Integrated Performance Assessments” (“IPAs”) from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and many other organizations devoted to world language education everywhere.  It turns out they had been around for a while and I was just oblivious.  I realized that while I was doing “well” by most measures, and had even started on the road to reforming my grading and assessment practices, I had fallen behind. I wasn’t using “can-do” statements to guide my instruction. Until last year, I had never even seen an “Integrated Performance Assessment”, let alone designed one (I did both last year).

Over the years, I have done a lot of “teaching” both in class and at conferences, but it was time for me to learn. I went to Pearson’s Assessment Training Institute in Oregon this past summer (see many of the notes shared by myself and others on Twitter). I bought many books on assessment and grading and began reading like a teacher about to start her first semester with her own rostered class. I sought and devoured information online about IPAs and Can-do statements.

So right at the end of summer, when my week-after-week of travel finally came to an end (fun as it was, I got very little done), I did it. I changed every thing. I changed my grading, assessment and lesson design to start with the Can-do statements, not with the first unit in my textbook. To be clear, my textbook helped me sequence (although I often changed their sequence to better suit my students’ learning needs) and it provides a fair amount of well-designed practice, but the book never taught my class. I designed EVERY lesson we learn; students are never told to “turn to page 54 and study the verb chart.” Or, “turn to page 122 and copy the vocab list.” Nevertheless, I came to the realization that I could do better for my students.

I made our online student information (and grading) system do my bidding to allow all grades to be proficiency-based on not on the traditional 0-100% scale. This allows my grading to match what I’ve always wanted to do with my rubrics, but couldn’t because a 1-2-3-4 rubric ends up skewed. Why? because, by the “traditional” math the traditional teaching scale (and online gradebook) understands, a 1 is an F, a 2 is an F, a 3 is a C and a 4 is an A. Here is the document I now give students with some basic info about the class (I call it the “Path to Success”) on the front page and the grading information on the back.  I laid out year-end proficiency benchmarks for each mode of communication in each level of French and also identified the supporting Can-do statements we would develop along the way so the students achieve the benchmarks.

Last week, I began designing my first units starting with the Can-do statements, including exactly which words and structures students will need and precisely how students’ proficiency would be assessed so that I could provide that information to students and parents before the units even begin. There is a LOT of work ahead for me in order to even come close to what other teachers around the country are doing, but a journey must start with its first steps, and this is one of mine.

I don’t have any French 1 this year, and I still have to do French 4/AP

For the first time in years, my instruction is rich, relevant, rigorous. And completely redesigned. It’s an exciting journey. I’m sure that at points, I will exit the main highway. The detours may be valuable, or I may just get lost along the way. Either way, I’ll post here so you can come along for the ride.

Some of the first documents to come from my journey towards truly proficiency-driven instruction and grading

Some of the first documents to come from my journey towards truly proficiency-driven instruction and grading


P.S., if you’d like to see some of the resources and great thinkers that are informing my journey, check out the links below:

  • Interactive, online version of ACTFL-NCSSFL Global Benchmarks (and can-do statements)
  • Ohio Foreign Language Association IPA resources
  • Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning (TELL) Project resources
  • Great thinkers in world language education: Tom Welch, Thomas Sauer, Linda Egnatz, Toni Theisen (search them on Google and on Twitter!)
  • Great thinkers in assessment and grading (search form them–and their books–on Google and Twitter):
    • Ken O’Connor (A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades, Second Edition, 2011);
    • Jan Chappuis (Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning, 2009, and Creating and Recognizing Quality Rubrics, with Judith A. Arter, 2006)
    • Rick Stiggins (Revolutionize Assessment: Embpower Students, Inspire Learning, 2014)
    • Tom Schimmer (Ten Things that Matter, From Assessment to Grading, 2014)
    • Myron Dueck (Grade Smarter, Not Harder, 2014)
    • Ken Mattingly doesn’t have a book yet, but he is a great teacher, great speaker, and said one thing that I now say to my students: “Today is a great day to make a mistake.” Because unless we’re administering an assessment, any day should be a safe day for students to make a mistake. Find him on Twitter!