iFLT 2017

I really did have the best intentions to blog each night about that day’s excitement, but the excitement lasted until 11 p.m. each day, so here’s your big doozy of all 4 days of iFLT. [I learned this reflection idea from someone (eek I can’t remember who!) at an ACTFL conference long ago. SEEDS mean the ideas that need time to develop before using them, SAPLINGS are half-developed almost ready ideas, and TREES are things I could use immediately]


  • Research more about SLA (second language acquisition) by reading Stephen Krashen’s The Power of Reading.
  • Listen to Tea with BVP podcast more regularly to understand the research behind the method (this would help with advocating, as well).
  • Remember Jason Fritze’s metaphor when it comes to FVR (free voluntary reading). Build in reading from day one (bathtub swimming) and gradually elevate the amount and time before throwing them in the ocean of FVR:



  • Identify the obstacles to student buy-in of 90% and then address those because they WILL happen. Understand the reasons behind the undesirable behavior and work toward creating an environment/ritual/expectation that mitigates the behavior.

Curriculum/Lesson Planning

  • Research story script ideas from people like Jim Tripp (http://www.trippsscripts.com), and Carla Tarini (Harriet Tubman story for the structure ‘walks’ OMG!)
  • Adapt Carol Gaab’s Hero unit to a French cultural topic (she uses Martin Luther King Jr’s speech and then branches it out using the verb ‘judge’ and then asks students if they judge and show pictures where they’re likely to judge and then compares it to a TL country where people died because of judgement. HOLY WORD!!)

Creating an Environment of Acquisition

  • Be WAY more conscious of my language and if it creates a positive connection/environment. 
  1. Let me know if I’ve confused you” vs. “If you’re confused”
  2. “I love how you gave a quick and confident response, I’d love it if we all did” vs. “Participate, y’all!!
  3. “Thank you for…” vs. “Great job…”
  4. “OMG ENGLISH SPEAK FRENCH UGH!!” vs. non-verbal, inconspicuous signal to a sign that says ‘Français’.
  • Go with the flow of classes and let the personalization of what’s happening IN THE MOMENT be what guides acquisition, not my pre-conceived lesson plans.
  • Frame everything in the positive for students. When something goes wrong, it’s MY fault, not theirs.


Classroom Set-Up

  • Sabrina Jenczek’s word walls. I’m in love. Label EVERYTHING clearly and in large font for elementary. 
  • Rotating word walls à la Jason Fritze.
  • Helpful phrases on the backs of clipboards
  • Label areas of the classroom that deal with that language function (example: turn on/off the lights by the lightswitch)


  • Frog of English (Jason Fritze and Darcy Pippins): When a student speaks English they get thrown the ‘Frog of English’ and then throw the frog to another student if they speak English. Whoever has the frog at the end of the class has a 2 minute conversation in the TL to make up for whatever English was spoken. Jason made the distinction–for every one sort of negative thing you have at least 10 positive things. Instead of making this punitive, make it playful.
  • Giving students choice ALL OF THE TIME.

“Where do you want to sit today?”
“What do you want to read today?”
“What game would you like to play for this?”
“One light or two lights? Or no lights?”
Create rituals
When it’s a birthday something happens.
When someone does something amazing something happens.
Be consistent with these rituals!

Creating an Environment of Acquisition

  1. Rejoinders
  2. Adding gestures associated with the rejoinders
  3. Pulling them from a larger word wall and bringing them closer to the students when they make sense from what’s happening
  4. Encouraging students to use them. In the learning lab Grant Boulanger said, “Just let them out when you feel it, whenever it’s right”
  5. Scaffolding common phrases
  • “You could give me the gesture when I’ve confused you, you can say ‘I don’t understand’, OR you can say “I would like to know what you have said, please” All are perfect and equal, it’s just up to you.
  • Train students on when L1 is necessary. Jason Fritze says, “I need to speak English because it’s an important comment that relates to what we’re doing or it’s an emergency.”
  • Recognize that the universal symbol for I need to speak English is a raised hand.
  • Ask students for permission for me to speak English.

Reading Activities

  • Nearly everything from Carol Gaab’s ‘Life of the Party’ session. You can watch it yourself here
  • Jason Fritze’s following along ideas
  1. Notecard
  2. Finger
  3. Novelty fingers (like witch fingers at Halloween)
  4. Light-up finger things
  5. Feather
  6. Highlighter for weak students

Things To Buy

  • Lots of novel sound makers
  • Novelty Fingers
  • Target mini pocket charts for putting stories back in order
  • Grant Boulanger’s rejoinder posters
  • Jim Tripp’s script book
  • English stuffed animal
  • That was easy button in many languages

Things to Follow-up On

  1. Check out waltmania.com for scripts
  2. Kids United French songs
  3. Call and response techniques
  4. Moretprs.com
  5. Leslie Davison’s BreakoutEDU work
  6. Howtodraw.com with sound off for narrating drawing (Alisa Shapiro)

I’ve written so much and yet I feel like there’s still SO MUCH missing. Perhaps more important than any of these things is the overwhelming feeling of belonging while at iFLT. I didn’t have to explain methods, SLA research, or anything. I could jump right into ideas that would work for my students. Watching all of these master teachers, whose blogs have inspired my teaching for a long time, in action, with students, left me…speechless.

You, me, iFLT…Cincinnati 2018?

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