CSCTFL 2016: takeaways

Wow. I cannot say how amazing it was to attend CSCTFL conference this year. The highlight was being able to see some of my favorite tweeps in person, but also that they were so supportive of me. We didn’t get a lot of time to talk about sessions (I’m a verbal processor) but we did have a lot of wonderful conversations and I am so thankful. I finally know why Sara-Elizabeth puts so much stock in her “couch conversations.” They are amazing. This year’s conversations included cookies that I baked for my tweeps, which is apparently going to have to be a conference MUST from now on. Next conference, it’s oatmeal raisin!

Part of Friday’s lineup was presenting a session on storytelling with the lovely Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, which you can find here, on her blog. I want to give a huge shout-out to Sara-Elizabeth for bringing me on board to present with her, and an even bigger shout-out to everyone who approached me to give feedback. I was so nervous, but apparently it didn’t show.

Right before our presentation, I was excited to see Lisa Shepard representing Ohio as our teacher of the year, and though I was sad that she didn’t advance, it’s okay! I was just as excited to scream and clap for Grant Boulanger, the newest CSCTFL TOY. I was honored and humbled to meet Grant this last summer at IFLT and can’t wait to root for him at ACTFL (probably from behind my computer this time.) He really is as amazing as you’ve heard.

As for my conference takeaways, these are the things that completely rocked my world. I will group them into categories, à la John Cadena, who reminds us that at conferences, we need to think about our seeds (dreams that I want to pull off someday,) saplings (good ideas I need to plant and let grow in my head) and transplants (things I can take from the conference and use immediately in my classroom)

Transplants from #CSCTFL16:

  • A good essential question can be answered in the TL. Any other EQs, according to Donna Clementi, are a waste of time.
  • Novices cannot successfully transition to the intermediate level if we only ask them novice-level questions (from Linda Egnatz’s session)
  • If students have a hard time asking questions, it means that the teacher has been the only one asking them. Let Ss question each other as a proficiency-builder.
  • I need to teach students how to circumlocute effectively! The biggest problems with incomprehensibility stem from vocabulary, not grammar! (Thanks, Sara-Elizabeth!)
  • If you don’t plan well, using the TL is hard. – Carrie Toth <– I have learned this recently and will continue to struct my 90% lessons well.
  • The fantastic Amy Lenord said, “In level two, they are notorious for saying only what they learned in level 1 – and we LET THEM.” I need to push my students more here.
  • #CONFESSIONTIME: I don’t always say the learning target. (I know, I know, I’m dodging the things you’re throwing at your screen.) I need to be more transparent with my students about how their learning gives way to a bigger picture, make sure they have a way to evaluate if they met it.


  • Everything that Laura Terrill said in her session was utter gold. I need to get the Keys to Planning for Learning and book club it this summer with Megan and Laura.
  • Students need to see how this lesson ties into the next, into next week, into the next unit, etc. I need to find ways to be more explicit about this.
  • Thomas Sauer was adamant that we need to spend time planning our 10% that isn’t in the TL. I’ll be reflecting about ways that I can more intentionally use this time.
  • If you’re using IPAs, you should be modeling the IPA format in you classroom. This interpretive segways to this interpersonal, to this presentational, etc. This will help students when it comes time for the IPA. This is GENIUS.
  • As a follow up to this, Laura Terrill said that if a text is good, you WILL use it in all three modes. I need to reflect on the texts I’m selecting and use them in all of the modes.
  • In the words of the wonderful Carrie Toth, “be a mouse and go ask for cookies” – I need to ASK my native speaker resources to do things for me. And, I need to find native speaker resources. #yikes
  • “The most literate people are the best guessers” – I need to reflect about what this means for my classroom.
  • And again, from Carrie Toth: “Baby steps are the key to making change that last” – I have to evaluate what changes I’ll be making and which will have to wait.


  • I want to design units as beautifully as Laura Terrill and Donna Clementi
  • Amy made an amazing case from liberating from the vocabulary list. I need to chew this one over before I go for it.
  • All of Carrie Toth’s units have beautiful ties to culture. I would love for mine to be that amazing some day.
  • Linda Egnatz rocked my world. Seriously, one day I would love to coach students like she does. Her September/April evidence of student growth was so amazing I could have cried.

All in all, I learned a ridiculous amount of things at CSCTFL, I hope to return next year, and maybe present something! I would love to collaborate with you!


3 thoughts on “CSCTFL 2016: takeaways

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  1. I wish I had been able to go to this conference. It sounds amazing, and I love how you’ve organized what you’ve learned.

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