For the last 4 years I've had the privilege of attending the Kentucky World Language Association's yearly conference. The last 3 years I've presented. The last 2 years I've been a board member and helped out. And this year I was honored to present twice, work Thursday registration, and receive an award on Sunday!
What I love about this conference - other than getting to hang out and network with mi gente- are the great ideas and things to think on that I come away with. The most salient bit of knowledge I came away with this from weekend was from a session on managing data from the STAMP test.
Now I don't even administer the STAMP test (although my district is thinking about it for the future) and I know very little about it. I happened to walk into this session late and didn't realize what it was about. I probably wouldn't have even gone if I had known it was about STAMP.
But the presenter, Randy Barrett, shared that nationally students perform the lowest on the listening portion. They score higher on the writing and even speaking than they do on listening. So why so low on input? I would have thought that output would have lower scores.
He had the answer - It's because our students are only listening to us. Even native speakers use teacher talk with them. And us non-native speaker are putting them at an even worse advantage. So when students get to that part of the test and it's not their teacher talking...well they don't do so well.
So what's the solution? Students need lots of opportunities for varied and authentic listening.
What does that look like at the elementary school level? I'm still figuring that out. But I do think of all the stories and books that we read and if there isn't a way that I can't find someone else reading them on youtube. Or recording my Spanish speaking friends. We also watch a lot of different cartoons and songs aimed at young learners. There's also Spanish Proficiency Exercises from the University of Texas at Austin. And also SpanishListening.org. If you know of any other resources please share in the comments below!!!
So how's that for a nugget to chew on and try to add more of to all of my lessons from a session I probably shouldn't have even gone to! This is why conferences are so great.