In the final Musicuentos post next week, you’ll see what posts are at the top of all 700(ish) of them, in terms of hits overall. But there are some that perhaps didn’t get viewed as much that are special to me, either because I said something I really thought was meaningful and needed, or because they’re ideas that I know made a big difference in my classroom or in yours. Here are the ones that stand out the most in my mind and heart.
One of my first practices that rocked my (and then your) world was a case for free-topic blogging. (I know this seems like old news now, but it wasn’t then.)
I wasn’t the first to come up with an analogy to help learners understand proficiency. I don’t even remember if I was the one who came up with making the analogy to tacos. But the taco talk (and then the crepe talk, and then the sushi talk) has been a major contribution I made, and many thanks to Iya for making it so pretty.
Kicking the vocab quiz was one of the most controversial? and important things I ever did.
Varying my seating every day made my classroom a manageably fun and interactive place to be.
I feel like I had a good influence on the push to rethink world language homework and my post summarizing nine homework choice systems was and is important.
One of the strategies that revolutionized my teaching was when I learned and adapted the conversation activity Linguacafé from Nadine Jacobsen-MacLean, and I don’t use the word “revolutionized” lightly. No other single strategy got my learners more comfortable taking risks with the target language in a way that felt low-risk.
I’m proud of trying to bring together other voices to speak to things I couldn’t properly answer. My favorite of that type of post is Forced to adapt a textbook: Now what?
I’ve never been one to shy away from philosophizing on my site; arguably, I’ve posted more philosophy posts than ideas, resources, and strategies.
If I had to say what one message I want people to take away from Musicuentos, it’s in this post: motivation trumps your method, materials, and madness.
My post called Where are the points of agreement in language teaching? felt really important to me, to identify what it seemed to me like everyone was arguing about and show where I stood on those issues. And it was really fun to write. Similarly, I wrote a comparison of principles espoused by 4 really smart guys to push back on the echo chamber of “Dr. so-and-so says this, so it must be true, and everyone must agree with him.”
I think technology is the writing on the wall for the way language learning has ever been approached, and particularly our arguments for why to learn language must change. My post on world language teaching after the Babel fish was hard to write but still needed.
My work on a quality performance-based assessment rubric was a lot of work – but it was worth it. It’s the most requested document I’ve produced.
I’ll always feel like my post on the new NCSSFL-ACTFL statements was one of my greatest contributions from this blog.
When a handful of teachers crossed the state to come and visit my classroom years ago, I got an inkling for how much teachers were hungering for real help on how to make proficiency-based teaching happen in the day-to-day lesson plan. Thus, Camp Musicuentos was born, my proprietary workshop on how to set performance goals, plan units, and make lesson plans from those units. One summer, in the final hour of the 2-day or 3-day workshop, a teacher told me she still was struggling with how to make this happen in a practical way. I sat down and asked her for a unit theme or title, opened a spreadsheet, and started showing her how to break this down into what I call micro-goals that become scheduled lesson plans: Monday, identifying numbers 1-12; Tuesday, telling what time it is; Wednesday, telling at what time something happens; Thursday, using “do you want…?” and “I want…” + “to go”; Friday, finding out if someone wants to go to a concert at a particular time. She was astounded. “This is going to change my life. Why didn’t we do this at the beginning?” she exclaimed.
Structuring a lesson plan according to when the brain is most primed for learning was an important and widely shared post I wrote, but the post on using micro-goals to help learners accomplish big things flew way under the radar and in my opinion was far more important. Perhaps my analogy to the iceberg is what made it fall flat, but whenever I talk about this in workshops and conference sessions or couch conversations, teachers often remark that it’s the most helpful advice I’ve ever offered. Take a minute to read the post, and I hope I expressed it clearly enough. And I must say when I passed a booth in the ACTFL exhibition hall and noted a company/group was advertising help for how to create “micro-goals” for lesson plans that build to larger proficiency goals, I got warm fuzzies inside. I doubt they learned this from me, but it made me happy that the idea was spreading, however the spreading happened.
I’d love to know if there was a post in particular that helped you in some way. Before I post which posts “won” in terms of number of hits, which one had a message you needed to read?