Posted By Barbara Lindsey on April 21, 2011
Every Thursday night (8-9 p.m. EST: Time zone converter) for the past four months language educators across the United States have been meeting online to discuss and share ways to improve their professional practice. They do this using Twitter, the free online service that allows you to send out public or private messages of 140 characters or less and the hashtag #langchat. Based on the hugely successful #edchat movement started in 2009 by Steven Anderson, Shelly Terrell and Tom Whitby, language educators Diego Ojeda, Elvira Deyamport, Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell and Erica Fischer serve as Twitter chat moderators for these online sessions. Recent discussion topics addressed Differentiated Instruction in the Language Classroom, Teaching World Languages Without a Textbook and Using Music in the Classroom. Tonight’s session will be a continuation of last week’s chat: Standards-based grading in the World Language Classroom. Each week’s topic is crowdsourced in advance by participants and then voted on.
In a previous post we shared survey research results from both ACTFL and the NCLRC on which of the five standards language educators found most difficult to implement with their students. Both findings reinforce what most of us intuitively know: the most difficult are connections and communities. What was surprising were teacher elaborations on why the communities standard is so challenging—the limited resources available in local communities. In other words, teachers restricted their definition of communities to their local target language communities. And technology was rarely mentioned as a vehicle to connect students with language communities beyond the immediate geographic area. The conclusion at the ACTFL session was that the profession needs to do a better job at providing world language teachers with scenarios that demonstrate the kinds of community connections our students can make. What better way to do this than to participate ourselves in online communities? As more language professionals join #langchat, I am convinced this will be an important avenue for us to be able to experience, reflect on, model and implement extended communities of practice with our colleagues and students.
If you’re interested in joining this online community and would like more information have a look at some of these resources:
New to Twitter? Read our take on why and how to use Twitter. It includes some nice how-to resources created by fellow educators.
Need information on #langchat? The LangChat on Twitter wiki has it all, including an embedded livestream of tweets devoted to #langchat. Don’t forget to click on the LangChat Resources link where you’ll find an archive of past sessions.
Want a way to easily follow, filter and participate in #langchat? Use TweetChat. I’ve created a brief screencast to show just how easy and useful it is. Hope to see you Thursday nights for #langchat!
We’ve shared how innovative educators are using online tools to crowdsource teaching ideas and how they are connecting their students with language communities in our interview series:
What are some of the ways you have connected with a larger community of language professionals? How have you connected your students to target language communities outside your local area?