ACTFL 2019, Here we come!

The ACTFL annual conference is in about two weeks, and I’m taking some time this weekend to prepare.  I’ll be presenting on Saturday at 5:30 with Karen Goering on how Lucha Libre can be the foundation for Comprehensible Input driven units from level 1 on up.  I’d love to see you there!  It’s the last session of the night, but we have some awesome things planned for our participants.

As I’m preparing, I’m reminded of how intense and overwhelming this conference can be, even for experienced attendees.  However, careful planning and some tips can make it an amazing experience.  Here are some things that have come to mind:

For Presenters:

  • proofread your presentations
  • look at your *projected* presentation and make sure that the visual effects like color contrast and font size are well designed
  • have a plan for sharing content easily, especially for those who are unable to attend your session.  Need a spot to share? Contact me about guest posting here.
  • bring speakers, dongles, clickers, all the toys 🙂

For Attendees:

  • ACTFL is like Disney World.  It’s big, shiny, totally awesome, and if you don’t pace yourself everyone gets cranky!
  • Use the app to plan your schedule
  • Be sure to plan time to relax and grab a cup of coffee with your professional friends 🙂  Some of my best conference moments have taken place outside the context of the session rooms.  Come say hi!
  • Spend time in the exhibition hall with amazing vendors!
  • There will often be several sessions you want to attend all at once.  Having a squad of friends with similar interests can allow you to divide and conquer.
  • Wear comfortable clothes in layers, and pack light.  The convention center is BIG.
  • ENJOY DC! While there are many famous locations to visit in the city, I’ve prepared a list of places to consider that are a little off the beaten path that my family and I enjoy.  We live about 4 hours away, but go to the city a few times a year.
    • National Museum of African American History & Culture:  one of the newest museums on the mall.  You could spend days here and not see it all.  The basement galleries are intense and not to be missed.  The music section–including Celia Cruz artifacts (top floor) and sports galleries are really cool. Passes sometimes needed–check ahead.
    • Newseum–a museum to the First Amendment.  Closing at the end of the year 😦  Get passes in advance.
    • The monuments on the mall.  The Vietnam, Lincoln, MLK, and Korean War monuments are clustered fairly closely together and it’s easy to walk between them. These four–especially the Korean War monument–are especially fascinating at night, and will have smaller crowds then.  There are restrooms open at night in the base of the Lincoln. The FDR monument is also super cool if the fountains are on, but they haven’t been the last several times we’ve been there.  The WWII monument is often being visited by veterans during the day.
    • Getting around: Metro is easy and inexpensive, and navigates just like the ones in Madrid & Barcelona.  Capital Bikeshare is also a good option–download their app.
    • Dining: any restaurant by José Andrés like Jaleo or China Chilcano. Another family fave: take an Uber out by Gallaudet University to Union Market, a food hall + market and take a little culinary trip around the world.
    • The National Cathedral–take a guided tour, attend an organ recital, soak in the architectural beauty, and see if you can find the Darth Vader grotesque carved on the outside of the building.
    • The view from the Washington Monument is awesome, but it is currently closed to visitors.
    • The American Veterans Disabled for Life memorial is beautiful, touching, and inspires deep appreciation for the sacrifice of so many.
    • The Library of Congress–get your library reader card while you’re there.
    • Many of the museums have teacher/educator centers.  Check them out for lots of resources while you’re in town.


Classroom tour 2015-2016

New school, new room, and profoundly new opportunities are ahead of me this year.  Our staff has been challenged to “be different” this year, and many of us started with our classroom environments.  My department and I used the TELL Project’s environment self-assessment as part of our planning process, and are setting professional development goals for ourselves based on the outcomes.  We’ve also been hard at work re-creating our physical environments to encourage and invite collaboration and creativity among our students.  Here are a few pictures of the results, with many thanks to Pinterest for ideas:

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Left to right: Pinterest/Instagram inspired door decorations.  Thanks to free photo prints from Shutterfly, there are photos from around the Spanish-speaking world greeting students as they enter.

Turquoise blue inspired by the water off the coast of Tulúm, México. 🙂  I use the walls as a reference chart, so there are some common classroom expressions posted, then Amy Lenord’s kid-friendly proficiency descriptors next to places for classroom announcements.

An IKEA kitchen cart with drawers and shelves makes an amazing presentation station.  In fact this corner is a classroom edition of an IKEA ad–the sofa and the chair in the corner are also from there. Word wall posters from Martina Bex are in this corner too, as is our classroom library. One of the offices was getting rid of this cool rotating literature rack, so it became our magazine organizer in the corner.


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A new twist to the IKEA table to accompany the IKEA loveseat and IKEA pillows:  my amazing kids covered it in peel & stick whiteboad covering. We will see how it goes, I’m hoping it will allow for some more collaboration and brainstorming.

My desk & work area are at the back in the corner.  Definitely a work in progress!

Student computers and one of my favorite products ever–the hanging file folder.  This is where students pick up their handouts & self-serve for getting extras.

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Still more reference walls, this time with verb stuff & more awesome resources from Amy Lenord.

Outside the door:  Lots of decoration that includes my favorites!

Our building houses Spanish, French, and Chinese, so we have labeled many things in all three languages.

The Caras Inolvidables display will become an interactive tool identifying key people in Spanish-speaking cultures.


And finally…IMG_3303 since all the world language rooms have been relocated, my kids helped me ease the transition for my students by pointing the way!