Conference Proposal Help Request

Steven Ordiano has a question for the group:

Hi Ben,

Could you ask the PLC for some topic proposals I could possibly teach at a foreign language teachers conference that will take place in the fall?  It will be about an hour long.

Some background:  The conference is usually filled with teachers with more than seven years of experience.  Most have been trained using thematic units that either cover the book or follow a sequenced grammar syllabus.

Is there any hope here to spread the word on the amazing work we are doing?  Any feedback and suggestions would be helpful.



6 thoughts on “Conference Proposal Help Request”

  1. When I speak to groups of experienced teachers, I usually tell them my own story, so that they know that I’m one of them, that I have shared their daily experience, that I was a “grammar queen” with colleagues who copied my schemas and lessons. I don’t want to come across as an extra-terrestrial that has something new and amazing to sell, but rather as someone they can identify with. So I tell them how I first discovered TPRS, my doubts and why I was curious about it and wanted to learn more about it. My goal is not to convert them, but to stir their own curiosity so they will begin their own journey.

  2. A few years back we did a “transitioning to Comprehensible Input Strategies [for the Elementary grades]” presentation at some conferences that was very well received. I think newbies or the un-initiated benefit from seeing very concrete ‘before and after’ or ‘side-by-side’ comparisons. For example, here’s what my classroom (report cards, supply list, binders, homework, lesson plans, curriculum, Scope & sequence, etc…) looked like before, and here’s what it looks like now, and why.
    Photos, exemplars, links, resources, leveled novels, original stories, clips of student retells or acting, etc. embedded in slides. Keep it very global -and as brief as possible – l but inviting. If they’re all newbies, start w/a 5-7 min demo.
    Decide (among the partial list above) what will most grab interest and narrow the focus. I am glad to help with a presentation. I may have slides that can help you get started! What do you feel most inspired by? What practices have transformed you teaching? Go w/your inspiration…

  3. Could you do a Circling with Balls demo and then try to spin it into a little story scene? Just treat the teachers like students and let them feel what it is like to play in the classroom without worrying about thematic units. Then you can look back at all the vocabulary that slipped so naturally into the conversation. Throw in a reading? Then you can show how easy it is to discuss little bits of grammar. I know I was sold on TPRS after a Portuguese demo where I walked away feeling like Portuguese is easy and fun!

  4. Steven this is one of those apples and oranges things. If you are selling oranges and they want apples you may want to reconsider the workshop. I just completed a three day workshop here in CO with a district north or Denver (Ft. Collins) and their 60 teachers have all been informed, probably due to what Diana Noonan has done in Denver, that the district will be transitioning entirely to TPRS/CI in the next few years. So those teachers have been told in no uncertain terms that they are required to train up to this stuff. Do yours need that? Are you still (in their minds) a frill/freak kind of thing? If so, I would not do the workshop. It’s brutal when they give you that “look” like they are not convinced about this work and the strong body of research that we have, compared to the zero research out there to support the use of the textbook. IF you choose to do the workshop, just present good CI without explaining. I would suggest some non-targeted work with the Invisibles since it is such a strong way to do CI. In Ft. Collins as soon as we picked a character that they created (in this case a funny hand face) we were off and running. But do check your audience.

  5. Steven, way to go for landing a conference gig after only teaching for, what, one year? You da man.

    Ben has shared Susan Gross’s observation that we’re lucky if something like 5 out of 100 teachers at a general ACTFL-like conference get turned on to all things CI… or some outrageous number like that. So don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’re not reaching any of them. But do spread the joy in teaching that can be had for all!

  6. Thanks gang for the suggestions. I’m thinking of combining what judy said above and demoing some of my best CI activities without using jargon or buzz words. If there’s an interest among teachers then I could always speak to them after. I will have to meet them where they are.

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