I recently participated in a professional growth opportunity to increase Spanish Language proficiency among students. Diego Ojeda, working through the Bureau of Education and Research, presented upon a collection of language activities that increase thinking, speaking, and writing in the language. He is a master teacher who has implemented most of the lessons in one way or another, and he presented first hand experiences of pros and cons, and he provided excellent student projects.
This professional opportunity was particularly rewarding as he reminded me of some methods and practices that I had not revisited since 1994 conversations with my mentor teacher, Frank “Paco” Watkins, at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN. Both teachers are highly energetic, goal oriented, conversation experts who engage students in ways that are motivating, creative, and problem solving. Their methods allow teachers to teach, and students to engage.
Ojeda’s publication which includes over 100 methods is packed with great warm ups for starting conversation, vocabulary thinking, creating writing, and more. The lessons can be used separately, in combinations, or as a foundation for a creatively edited project. All methods describe great examples that can be used to meet targeted goals in vocabulary, verb usage, sentence creation, writing, speaking, listening, reading and interpreting. The materials alone were well worth the visit, but the presentation from Ojeda was priceless.
As I was leaving the seminar, I started applying my educational technology smarts to what I had just experienced, and I began thinking about how these best practices are great foundations for working with a SMARTBOARD, digital project, computer, internet, Moodle, and other platforms. The clear merging of two fields to produce the best possible learning was occurring once again in my teaching. I feel energized, and the creative lesson plans are flowing from my brain. We should always revisit the craft for great research, best practices, and wise goals. There is so much to learn in life, and sometimes we have already learned it.