ACTFL Webinar

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10 thoughts on “ACTFL Webinar”

  1. I looked at the link and noted the following:

    Every webinar is offered from 3:30-4:30 Eastern Time. That makes it 12:30-1:30 Pacific Time. Right in the middle of my teaching day. So, in order to access these webinars that are oh so vital to the profession, I have to either arrange for internal coverage (i.e. ask fellow teachers to do me a favor and cover my classes) or take a day off work. In either case I have to prepare lesson plans for someone else so that I can participate in this.

    I don’t know if this is typical East Coast thoughtlessness (It is after the school day for teachers there) or Ivory Tower thoughtlessness (University professors and “language professionals” can probably arrange their schedules to accommodate this). In either case, the professional organization of which I am a member fails to consider the impact of its decision on large numbers the people who pay money to belong. (The Central, Mountain and Pacific Time Zones are all still in school when these webinars occur.)

  2. Ben, whenever you link to something that was posted pre-private PLC, I am unable to access it. It takes me to a wordpress log-in and asks for a password. Any way to remedy that?

    1. Usually those links work. Here is the article, prompted by Ben Lev:

      Hey Ben,

      I posted this on moretprs and got some answers but not practical at all. What I’m trying to find out is: Can the teachers weasel out of the 90% TL guideline bc it’s NATIONAL and not CALIFORNIA, or are all teachers to follow the ACTFL guideline.

      I wrote:

      I had a good meeting with my daughter’s high school principal and brought the ACTFL guideline that specifies 90% target language use is all levels. He was surprised and appreciative. We talked about it a while, I was encouraged.

      Then he asked if the 90% guideline also existed in the California State Standards. I said I didn’t think so. He said his teachers have to follow the California WL Content Standards, which have NO statement about % TL required.

      My questions:

      1) What is the relationship between ACTFL and the states regarding content standards?

      2) Does California (or other states) have a target language guideline? I don’t think so.

      3) Are teachers required to meet ACTFL standards/guidelines, or just their state’s standards?

      4) Do the new California WL standards (use of three communication modes, etc)
      imply less or no focus on explicit grammar instruction?

      Ben Lev
      Sebastopol, CA

      My response:

      As I understand it, in 2008 there was a pissed off parent – his bright daughter had learned no Spanish in four years – in the Los Angeles area who was also a member of the CA State Board of Education. They looked at the existing 2008 legislation and soon the CA state standards had been quickly rewritten to reflect ACTFL and the three modes (not sure on the details).

      But now apparently there is doubt if the crucial 90% use position statement made it into that 2008 CA document. Robert probably knows this, actually. If that statement, just one sentence and yet so crucial, is not in the CA document, then that is a big deal.

      I think that the weak answers on the list were because there are no answers unless the 90% use statement is in a state document. State level documents mirroring ACTFL are just a bit too vague, leaving nobody in charge to hold anyone to standards.

      I thought CA had the 90% use position. We actually ADDED it to our own DPS LEAP document in 2011, because the people who wrote the new CO standards (Dec. 2009) made no reference to it.

      Diana and Meredith are the ones who made that happen. They read that 2009 document very carefully, realized we needed it, and pushed their way around until they got it added (in the form of a short appendix) to the new LEAP document. If Diana reads this she can correct me on the details but that is basically the jist of it, I think.

      Honestly, there is now such huge interest in DPS in the LEAP document precisely because it can lead to grounds for dismissal. LEAP even hired the best of the classroom teachers onto an evaluation team to go into every teachers’ classroom in DPS (every single teacher in all disciplines) and be evaluated in what may be the most painstaking (and painful if you don’t align with standards) teacher evaluation process ever created anywhere.

      Without the legislation part, the powers that be know that nothing will happen. We are so proud of Diana and Meredith for their sleuth work over the past few years. So, to repeat, whether you guys have that sentence in your CA document is a huge deal.

      What you want in a document is teeth, right? So that, if the statement is there at either the national or state level, any WL coordinator in any district who gets comprehension based instruction can then use it as a hammer to bring about change.

      The problem is that you need both. You need the hammer, but you also need someone to know that the 90% use statement is in the legislation and therefore, permission given by the state, can start swinging it at people.

      If we didn’t have Diana swinging the hammer in DPS (Meredith applied for and got the job as the LEAP observor of every world language teacher in the district as well – how cool is that?) we would have no change and it would be business as usual. In DPS we now have a full 50% buy in to Krashen (50 of our 100 DPS WL teachers).

      I don’t know about other states. Perhaps people in this group could report in on whether the 90% statement is in their state law. I doubt it.

      Since this IS legislation, Diana can swing away with the 90% hammer in any direction she pleases, and she does. She swings it at principals, at all teachers, at anyone she can find. Many people duck. Some don’t, and they realize that DPS is not a very comfortable place for them.

      One teacher, the department chair of a big DPS school with high academics, who spoke at ACTFL in October on the use of computers in the FL classroom and who has been the keynote speaker at a state convention, now fits into DPS like a square peg in a round hole. The ten teachers in that departement are trying to do what they always did, ducking Diana’s hammer whenever they need to. It’s a pretty good fight that is fun to watch.

      Unless there is someone swinging a hammer, the entropy and stagnation will continue. Look at the the position taken by your daughter’s principal that only if the 90% use statement is in the state document, it appears that he will be powerless to require anything resembling comprehensible input from his teachers.

      So a hammer with someone to swing it is the key to the change at the state and district levels.

      1. And Ben if you read this what was the attitude of the principal when you told him that you didn’t think that the 90% use statement was in the new CA state standards? Was he ready to support their weaseling? Or did he seem concerned that they might be getting away with avoiding best practices in the classroom as spelled out by you in your discussion with him? I got attacked badly once by a principal, who could only be described as wanting to protect his flock of sheep, as per:

  3. Hi Ben, thanks for the air time on this.
    To answer your question: my daughter’s HS principal did 100% CYA (cover your ass) for the teacher in question and backed the dept chair who claimed that all the teachers addresses the CA stds (pure BS). I thought I respected that dept chair until I read that, because it’s a grammar/textbook/fill-in-the-blank dept and the 2009 CA standards are communication/3 modes-based. So I’m organizing other parents to write to the principal and supt.

    I do NOT have the 90% TL hammer to swing. I do have the 3 modes hammer, and that will have to be enough for now. I figure this is a 2-3 year project, so I’m going to take my time and do it right. In the meantime, I wonder what needs to happen to get the 90% guideline written into the CA content standards. I wonder…
    Ben Lev

  4. I have to admit that I did sign up for these webinars…now I’m feeling kind of like a dope for having done so…I didn’t try to think outside the box when I did register. But I have some prof. development $ to use, so even if I just pull 1 or 2 things out, perhaps it won’t have been a total waste of time. I can share if there’s anything at all worth while in them (

    1. Robert Harrell

      Allison, the webinars look interesting, and I’m sure there will be some good things in them. I was complaining about the lack of consideration for people unable to take time out from their jobs to participate. If there are worthwhile things in the webinars, please be sure to share.

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