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#iFLT18: How Lucky Are iFLT Participants?

Thank you so much for following this iFLT18 FOMO blog series! Before turning this final blog post over to Arianne, please allow us to just express a HUGE thank you to Arianne Dowd for diligently attending as many diverse sessions as possible and taking incredibly detailed notes. We owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude for bringing the conference to those at home who were unable to attend, as well as allowing those of us who did attend to experience some of the sessions we missed! We’d also like to thank Meredith White for being our social media queen! She did a fabulous job of providing up-to-the-minute coverage and has quite a knack for being everywhere at once! Lastly, thank you to the ENTIRE iFLT team. From the directors to the school administration, teachers, and custodians to the coaches to the presenters to the volunters, this conference is truly a TEAM effort. Thank you so much for being a part of this amazing experience! See you in St. Petersburg!

SERIOUSLY. How lucky are all of us who attended iFLT18? There are just so many benefits to this conference. Below I have compiled many of the reasons I LOVE this conference below:

  1. The Simple idea of Language Labs! I honestly don’t know of any other conference where there are language labs. It is an enlightening experience to be able to observe master teachers deliver CI. They go slowly, point and pause, differentiate, personalize, build interpersonal skills and in Mark Mallaney’s case with intermediates, they are even delivering AP theme content while students are relaxed and having fun. (However, Gary DiBianca reminded us that even identity in level 1 is connected to an AP theme.) Watching these instructors is super powerful for me because I do not live near any master CI teachers. Denver Public Schools is so lucky to have A. an entire district based on the principles of CI AND B. an incredible leader/supervisor like Diana Noonan who is supporting her teachers to master their craft since beginning teachers have mentors to help them refine their practice. I am just so very grateful that these master teachers share their expertise with us at iFLT during their summer! What dedication! Thank you!
  2. The Diversity of the Language Labs. Okay. Language labs themselves are pretty awesome. But to make them even MORE awesome, there is so much diversity in them. You can observe elementary, middle school, high school or adults! You can observe French, Spanish or Latin and sometimes Mandarin. You not only observe but can plan with the presenters and then debrief with them. And finally, this year the iFLT language labs added an option to experienced track participants. We had the option to assist in the teaching with a master teacher. They were labeled an apprentice. What an incredible opportunity to get feedback and coached while actually teaching a class. This conference has so much differentiation built in because of its multiple tracks of beginner, intermediate and experienced (and even these tracks have differentiation). Finally, if you don’t think you learned enough yet, you can join the Ignite lunch talks, Collab Rooms or after hours coaching!!
  3. What a great amount of variety in the presenters and presentations! This conference has something for everyone. Some may think that iFLT only cater to TPRS or simple CI strategies to take back to your classroom but they ARE WRONG! After being at iFLT for two years I have learned that it offers multiple avenues to learn as well as multiple things to learn. Here is a list of the super innovative ideas that you had the opportunity to learn about at iFLT:
  • Becoming a NatGeo Certified teacher with Carrie Toth.
  • Global education and Sustainable Development Goals with Leslie Davidson
  • How to teach with music from Becky Moulton and Mark Mallaney
  • Teaching with a TV Series with Kristy Placido, Donna Tatum Johns and Dustin Williamson
  • Classroom management in the in the urban CI classroom with Jon Cowart
  • Sessions on SLA with Dr. Stephen Krashen and Carol Gaab
  • Classroom management tips with Annabelle Allen
  • Learning how to bring culture into your classroom of novices with Martina Bex
  • Bad Unicorn (AKA Mafia) with Erica Peplinski
  • How to teach whole class readers with Kristy Placido or Mira Canion
  • Finding out how to create content-based units with Carrie Toth
  • How to keep students reading with Bryce Hedstrom
  • Learning about what an intermediate looks like and what types of actives will keep them engaged with Kristy Placido
  • Persona Especial with Bryce Hedstrom or Sabrina Sebban-Janczak
  • Learn how to teach with videos and graphic novels with Señor Wooly himself!
  • Create a successful AP program from the bottom up with the incredibly talented Darcy Pippins
  • Learn tips about 90% target language with Linda Li
  • Curious about embedded readings? Michele Whaley has got you covered!
  • Learn how to Movie Talk with Carol Gaab and Donna Tatum Johns
  • Find out how to differentiate to meet the needs or your Heritage learners with Adrienne Bradenburg and Mary Beth Johnson
  • Have you ever been able to speed date with experts in the field before? Well I have and it was AWESOME!
  • Do you need to marry your textbook to CI, Can Dos and IPAs? Gary DiBianca has totally got you covered!
  • Want to learn about tons of fun games to keep your students engaged? Nelly Hughes and Cynthia Hitz have precisely what you are looking for!

And all of this awesomeness probably only represents about HALF of the incredible sessions that were offered.

  1. So how many times have you left a workshop and felt, “Well, what do I do now?” Guess what! iFLT cares about its participants so much that they even have a workshop for that too! Martina Bex and Cecile Laine prepared a session to help all of the beginners who felt like after all of their training they needed their guidance on their next steps after the conference. So they prepared a panel of 4 teachers to give tips and advice to new CI teachers as well as an entire session of support beyond that. Some participants were heard walking out of this session saying, “Why don’t all conferences end like this?” Do you know why? I am not 100% sure but I am would bet that it is because this conference is a group of like minded people who are so passionate about what they do that they are willing to go above and beyond before, during and after the conference to help you. This has been my experience and this is why I have dedicated myself to coming back as often as I can. I am constantly growing and so are the presenters. As Carol Gaab said in the opening session, “At #iFLT18, you will see people that will inspire you. They were not born like that! They worked very, very hard to develop their skills. YOU CAN DO WHAT THEY DO. It takes hard work. You can do it!” and “There are teachers here that have been teaching for 20…30…more! years!! And they are here to learn. No matter how long you have been teaching, there is still more to learn and try! (Tweeted by @MartinaBex) Some key advice I heard in this session is make sure you stay connected so you do not lose steam on your journey. Join online communities like the iFLT Facebook group. It is full of like minded people who are ready to help and never judge.

Now if those are not enough reasons for you to consider this fabulous conference that actually has me leave my adorable 3 boys and their very handsome father every year for four and half days? Well consider that you can meet Dr. Krashen, all of your favorite teacher-authors, Señor Wooly & Feona aka Sarah Breckley AND get that selfie you always dreamed of! 😉


Arianne Dowd has been a Spanish Teacher at South Brunswick High School for the past 18 years. She is committed to lifelong learning. She holds dual BAs in Spanish and Psychology with a minor in International Studies from Montclair State University. She has two Master’s degrees, an MA in Spanish Literature from Montclair State University and a MAT in Italian from Rutgers University. She is passionate about delivering Comprehensible Input in order to engage and interact with all learners. Arianne enjoys collaborating with colleagues through social media to create compelling and comprehensible units comprised of cultural knowledge. She has begun documenting these activities on her blog.

1 Comment
  • Sarah Breckley
    Posted at 22:14h, 25 August

    “I honestly don’t know of any other conference where there are language labs.” – Exactly! This is my favorite part of iFLT! We can share and tell, but showing is so much more convincing. Thanks for the great summary, Arianne!

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