Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Reflections: Langcamp Book Club Session 1

Last night was the first Google Hangout for the Langcamp Book Club for this summer.  It meets every Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST.  Come join!  (You can access the full video from last night here.)

The book club is reading The Keys to Planning for Learning by Donna Clementi and Laura Terrill.  For the first session, Laura Sexton facilitated an excellent conversation about unit 1, which explores a 21st century world language curriculum.

Here are some of my initial reflections; more will come over time.

  • So grateful!  First, I would like to thank Laura for organizing the Langcamp community and spearheading the book club.   I truly appreciate the conversations with my colleagues, who offer diverse experiences and perspectives, especially because I am not currently in the classroom at this time (but hope to go back soon). 
  • Online meetings are great.  I enjoy online meetings.  Google Hangouts are an interesting space for interacting with colleagues and friends, both via video and chat features.  Being online makes it easy to research and share new ideas and also to find specific links. 
  • There are unique processes for online meetings.  These include muting microphones when not speaking and expecting wait time after questions are asked.  It's also interesting to think about how participants engage with each other, and what technological ground work needs to be laid in advance for this to happen.  I have much to learn.  (I'm thinking I may do a longer blog post about online meetings at some point.)
  • I want to write my own curriculum.  The discussions from last night made it clear how important a well-designed curriculum is for student success.  I also think that the act of writing curriculum is critical.  The process of engaging with and making decisions about the elements of curriculum, which includes the various standards, language functions, performance tasks, and authentic resources, leads to greater understanding of the end goals of instruction, and thus better daily practice.
  • Moving towards proficiency requires much thinking work.  We had many discussions about topics such as using the target language, engaging students, the three modes of communication, making tasks relevant to students, and engaging with authentic speakers.  
  • Student goals and self-assessment are critical.  When student set goals and evaluate their progress, their engagement increases, and they take ownership over their learning.
  • More learning!  In addition to the discussions about curriculum, I learned some interesting tidbits, such as:
That is all for now.  I can't wait to learn more this summer.


  1. Amanda, This blog is awesome. I missed the #langbook study and love that you have all the essential links. I agree the first chapter if nothing else does make one think how important it is to write curriculum. It is MORE than writing a lesson plan or agreeing with a department colleague what should be mastered or not. I have to admit that at first Chptr 1 was overwhelming...I "read" it back in the fall thinking "holy cow"...this is daunting. And why do I feel so emotional when I read this chptr? I believe one reason is that when it comes to designing curriculum, my district, handles it like piece-meal, we get a PD day of district collaboration but only 1 to 2 hours/PD dedicated to curriculum over the whole year. I don't know what works for others but I do know for me the information from this chptr 1 needs time to absorb in order to reflect and ask questions before going forward. But once going forth...I want to do it in a marathon session...not one hour here or there but a week's time over 7 hours per day, in 3 hour chucks.

    I look forward to seeing last Tuesday's video and participating this Tues.

    See you there!

    1. Thank you for reading this post and for the comment! I agree with you about the curriculum - it is so important and is truly the backbone of all that we do, but we rarely are given enough time to create, really, the most important documents to guide our daily instruction. I agree about the three -hour chunks, and that it would be best to dive in with a big block of time instead of exploring this piece meal. As I prepare for Tuesday over the weekend, I am going to do some more thinking about the differences between the unit-based curriculum and writing the units themselves. Is there are a difference or are they the same? I'm looking forward to connecting next week, and I hope you have a great weekend.