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Reflecting and Planning

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT Co-Director East Bay WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

Well, the end of my school year was crazy! How about yours? Between managing students and their final projects, grades, graduation, including my eldest son's from UCSB (where did THOSE four years go????) and all the rest - you know what I mean - I am way behind in my postings. Sorry everyone, but I suspect your lives have been crazy busy too.

And now, summer begins. Summer - the most wonderful time of the year! What? Yes, indeed. But maybe not only for the reasons that cross your mind at first glance. For me, summer is not only about NOT seeing teens for several weeks, for reading my brains out, for sleeping in until 7 or 8 or...well, whenever! For me, summer is also about reflecting about the past year, and planning for the new one. Can you relate?

This past year had several challenges - both personal and professional. I have been dealing with severe pain issues, and that has taken a real toll. I will have surgery on my neck for the forth time in July, but I am hopeful that it will finally resolve the issue. Professionally, I had some students who challenged me in new ways this year - at least new for me. I have vowed to build my tool chest of strategies by digging in and doing some serious reading and note taking! First on my list is Teach like a Champion, by Doug Lemov. My book pile is very high! I'll plan to share the best tips as I read.

As for planning - again, first on my list, is to write the new AP French Syllabus. Since the AP French (and German by the way) is different for next year, I will need to rewrite that course. I suspect that will be a quick task, but the planning in detail of all the projects will take a lot more time. In fact, this week I have been at a PBL workshop at New Tech High in Napa working on the creation of a new project on Global Challenges for AP French - it has been a TON of work, but I am very excited about the plans and I think it will be very engaging.

I have a lot of work to do on setting up the class wikis for my students, and to realign the ones I have set up for collaborating with other WL teachers. The one that maybe of most interest to you is here: http://pbl-wl.wikispaces.com/ This wiki is intended to give us a place to collaborate on the development of projects in the PBL model. Interested? Sign up to join the wiki and help us create good projects for our students. I would love to have a team of several teachers join in on this venture.

How about you? What are your reflections about last year? What are you planning for the new year? I would love to think with you about these things in this discussion thread! Thanks!

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Teacher of French, levels 1-AP, near Sacramento, CA

Seems you and I are on the

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Seems you and I are on the same line of thought this summer. I've been actively seeking a variety of resources to connect my students with the new themes of AP language and culture course and exam. Right now, I'm acquiring access to media content that is constantly updated on those themes, such as from print and TV media websites that have sections dedicated to some or all of the themes (global challenges, technology and culture (which may include esthetics) are the easiest to find). I'm hoping to embed regular examinations of current documents (print, audio and video) on these themes throughout the school year. In fact, students enrolled in AP in the fall are also spending the summer looking at articles and reports online about these themes and as I find new online reports on any of the themes, I'm posting them to the AP class's group page on Facebook.

Initially, I'm focusing on my AP class for next year since they are the first group to take the new exam, but my ultimate goal is to examine pathways to begin foundational-level examinations of at least some of these themes beginning in year one. When I served as part of the field review committee for the proposed curriculum guide for the new AP course, I noticed (and told them) that all of the examples they provided assumed students were starting their language studies at middle school at the latest! As a result, our freshmen enrolled in year one of a language course are already "behind" what is expected of them in terms of language skills and cultural content around the themes. As with the original AP exam, I find that teachers need to be reminded that "AP prep" begins in the initial years of the course, not in the year that happens to have the AP label attached to it. I think I was fairly consistent from a language standpoint (for example, by teaching in the target language only beginning in French 1), but I've always been better at employing a thematic approach (and in designing PBL) for my advanced classes than I am for my introductory classes.

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