I just saw this wonderful Prezi and I realize that my skills need a little dusting off!!
Election Day 2012
I continue to be blown away by the promise of this great land where our voices can be heard if we just persist, stand up for what we believe is right and use our common sense.
Let’s all go be the best we can be today and everyday. Forward.
This Friday, I’ll be making the trek back to Baltimore for three days of what should be a conference to remember. Call me nostalgic, but I really look forward to spring with my colleagues many of whom I only see once a year. My professional life has changed enormously since I first started coming to NECTFL. For the most part, my classroom now has no walls. Learning happens in the classroom, via skype and online. This morning I administered a test to a student in France, who earlier this semester literally took her classmates on a trip down the Champs-Élysées via iPhone.She braved cold February winds to narrate her guided tour. Living in France, she gave us a perspective that no textbook could offer. A music major taking my class, who sings in various Romance languages, is recording her Debussy recital this week for her classmates and posting it online for all our benefit. We are all sharing our gifts with each other, using language for real-world purposes, not just for academic pursuits. Technology is the facilitator that we have begun to take for granted. It is not about whether we can do something, it is about how. It is just amazing all that we can do! I continue to be amazed by the generosity and all the sharing.
This weekend, I will look for gifts to share with my students in the sessions and workshops of our yearly regional conference. I know I will have some inspiring conversations with friends that I see just once a year.
There is still time to register onsite, if you want to join us!
The Baltimore Inner Harbor will be home to the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, April 1-4. Never before has there been a time when it was more important to show up for languages. Times are tough, money is too tight to mention BUT we still have to band together to fight monolingualism and promote language study in our country. We can make a statement by showing up in numbers. The conference is minutes close to our Nation’s Capital.
While in the city, enjoy Baltimore. The aquarium is right outside the hotel, Little Italy starts right across the street and Edgar Allen Poe’s house is not far away. The Walters Gallery is a standout museum. I’ll be looking for you.
A lot has changed since last year at this time when we were Challenge Walk and MS newbies. After the two years since diagnosis, Lexi has amazed us in her utter strength in the face of this horrible and unpredictable disease. I have sat with her often in the last year when she suffered pain that I wished I could take from her. It was as if she were still that baby that I would hold close to me when she had colic or when she was a young child growing that six-foot wing span.
This spring, we went to Florida for Mother’s Day and the hot sun that we have always loved was both our joy and our enemy. MS does not do heat. Making her way from the street to the beach took every bit of strength we all had- her Dad, Lexi and me. One side of her body completely stiffened and flat refused to go forward. Little by little we made our way, the end result being the cooling emerald green waters where she moved and glided with total freedom. I can still feel my joy that day to see her splashing and enjoying the movement of the water. We stayed in the ocean as long as we could. When finally we had to get out, it was really hard for her to stand up again. Lexi really did not want to accept help from a stranger, but he was right there and so nice to her. He pretended to be showing off his strength to some women he’d met at the beach and helped lift Lex right out of the water. We all applauded his chivalry. People are so nice sometimes, another lesson we learn all the time these days because of MS. Lexi’s sister, Angela and brother-in-law Dennis have fund-raised tirelessly. They walked in Washington Walk MS and went back to NYC and did Walk MS there. Angela has made websites and designed marketing pieces that rival the work of any agency in an effort to make a difference. She is tenacious and uses her endless creativity and talents to lead us on the team. All the motivation comes from the same place. We cannot sit by and do nothing. The whole family is united in the fight, my own Mom, Marie, my stepfather Paul, my brother, sister, their families are all supporting us. We are very blessed.
Talking about the kindness of people, MS is BS will reach our $15,000 goal for the National MS Society this year, more than we raised in our inaugural year and hopefully less than we’ll do next year. A gifted artist from across the country donated his entire inventory of wearable art which we sold at craft fairs and markets. Painters and photographers donated paintings and pictures, a potter gave us pots and candlesticks . Renowned musicians donated their time in concerts and team members baked cakes. We were the winning charity for a Chef’s challenge won by our friends at Maple Ave…….Friends and family just gave and gave. Colleagues at work and longtime friends gave. We definitely feel the love from our spectacular team, the National MS Society, and all the folks we’ve met on other teams. We all support each other and that’s what CCW is all about.
If you are reading this post, check out our web presence at msisbs.org. Please keep all who have to deal with MS in any way in your thoughts and prayers. Two days, 50K closer to a cure.
It has been an adrenalin-filled two weeks, three labs brimming with creativity-new friends from as far as Taiwan and returning friends from STARTALKs past. We are all pleased with the products from our technology workshops and the generosity of the teachers who are eager to share what they know. Today I made a wordle-esque word cloud using a 2.0 app called Tagxedo. (Clever name.) It is all about the social media.
I thought it would be a boost for us to get some positive news. Keep up the fight! Talk up language causes in your neck of the woods. Go,Jaya!!
Since my last post on advocacy, Jay Mathews got a lot of dissenting opinions on his April 22nd piece labeling Foreign Languages a waste of time and there were ripples and rumbles in the language community. Today, I read a tweet that copied this letter from ACTFL Executive Director, Bret Lovejoy.
I am going to call the above an official response. Please make sure folks in your area “get the memo.” It is time for us to speak up for languages. Write your own letters today.
Lately, I have been seeing some troubling trends that affect my profession in a big way. First, my alma mater, GWU, did away with its Foreign Language requirement. GW is where my language educator journey began under the guidance of my mentor, Professor John Andrew Frey, and it is essentially where I learned to appreciate and teach the French language that I love. I just know how my dissertation director would have reacted to this disheartening news. See the article:
Next, I have just learned that in 2010, a Washington Post columnist is debating why schools should bother to offer foreign languages at all:
My question is how did we get to the point in this flat world of ours that we still question the need to communicate with the rest of the world in languages other than English? What is clear to me as a veteran language educator is that we all must speak up, new teachers and veterans, and challenge those who do not see the obvious- that learning a second language is vital to our well-being and our future. Communicative competence opens the door to other cultures and ways of thinking in the most authentic way possible. Increasing the number of proficient speakers of languages other than Englishwill necessarily increase our global awareness, economic strength and our capacity to live in security and peace.
It is ironic that the threat to language programs comes at a time where we have made so many technological breakthroughs that allow us to communicate globally. We now have all the tools to give students practical and meaningful experiences in the classroom. Instead of limiting language study to doing routine and often boring drill work, students can actually communicate with the world for free, via Skype and language exchanges such as Hello-Hello and the Mixxer. The technology is easy to use and most importantly, it is engaging. (Google these tools for more info.) It is also so much easier to give our students meaningful study abroad experiences and service learning opportunities that allow them to interact directly with native speakers of the languages that they study in school.
(retrieved from Fulbright-Hays- Title VI website)
To my language colleagues, the time for advocacy is now. Our profession did not escape the economic downturn. Indeed, teachers from all disciplines have been laid off due to budget shortfalls. I know that when I was a young teacher in the early eighties, I was much more interested in what happened inside my classroom than in joining language organizations or writing letters, but if we do not all raise our voices to defend our discipline, who will do it for us?
What can we do as individuals?
- Join your local language association and be active. Most all of the state language organizations have conferences and websites where you can find out how to get involved.
- Learn all about Foreign Language advocacy at http://www.languagepolicy.org/
- Write an article for your local language organization newsletter.
- Showcase your language program in the local media. Keep FL in the public eye.
- If you cannot participate personally in organization activities, your organization membership will still help support its FL advocacy efforts. Join so that they can use your membership dues to represent you.
- Read about H.R. 4065 and let your representatives know you support it.
- Plug into your regional language organization: NECTFL, Central States, SCOLT, and SWCOLT and PNCFL
- Learn about ACTFL’s Discover Languages advocacy campaign and participate in it.
Blog about it, use the media, tweet…. no shortage of ways to communicate, right? Together, we can insure a better future for our profession.
The other night, Rick and I spontaneously showed up at Wolf Trap. Finally, the weather is calming down and becoming,well, reasonable. In the back of my mind, I am seeing myself running soon. But let’s not get too carried away. Well, we went to see Habib Koité, a super guitarist from Mali with his band Bamada. They really did not need the auditorium seating. Folks were lilting up and down, on and off the stage, at the band’s suggestion to dance,dance,dance. We were all connecting with this wonderful music in our way. Here is a daily motion video, so you get a sense of Habib.
Don’t you just love those camels floating up and back in the video? I like the chill dance moves, too. Koité has an absolutely uncanny ability to invite you into each song. My heart still belongs to my favorite Senegalese singer, Youssou N’Dour, but I was absolutely taken in by Koité.