#TCIMaine18 Recap

Here is a recap of the TCI Maine conference that was held October 11-12 in Lewiston, Maine.

The 14th annual TCI Maine conference just wrapped up and once again, it was incredible.  Here are my top 10 highlights from the conference.

10. Storytelling with Sabrina: Sabrina Janczak from Denver shared her version of storyIMG_5251 listening.   First, pick a story that you love, look for some literary themes in the story, rewrite it using sheltered vocabulary and create embedded readings for different levels.   While telling the story do not rush, enjoy telling it, mix in personalized questions and comprehension checks and have a student artist draw the story as you go (or the teacher draws it which can slow you down).  You can also project key structures, photos, and art work related to the story while telling it.  After doing the story, some possible activities are to retell the story in English, illustrate the story, make a cartoon, write a new ending, readers theatre, and many other reading activities.   It also doesn’t matter which language that you teach because you can use any story from any language.  Stories First is a great resource for stories.

9.  FLES with El mundo de pepita Julie Speno did a great session on teaching a secondDpO6irUU8AAax5S language at the elementary level.  Here is what she does: she looks for culture that is concrete, visual, and can be connected to other topics.  She loves traditional simple games!  She is purposeful about using idiomatic expressions and culturally authentic rejoinders in her everyday instruction.  She looks for topics that will get you a lot of mileage–topics that you can talk about for an extended period of time and hold student interest — Like the Tooth Fairy (Ratoncito Perez) in elementary classes. Someone is always losing a tooth.  Julie loves using onomatopoeia in Spanish with her students.  Use the things that your students will need to do most often in the target language such as greetings and use them every day in class. Upper elementary students love dramatic play and it is important to provide opportunities for them to perform for the class.  Check out her blog for lots more great idea!

8. One Word Images with Anne Matava:  Anne presented about doing One Word Images (also known as the Invisibles).  She did an example in German.  First you ask the class what kind of object they want to create.  You then ask as many details about the object as you can such as: big/small, rich/poor, intelligent/stupid, other descriptions, where it lives, its family, where it works, its friends, its age, etc.  As the class is creating this image, a student draws it.  It is best if the class cannot see the drawing as it is happening.   OWI is non-targeted but creates great classroom atmosphere and a character for the entire school year.

7. Brain Breaks!  Every presenter added brain breaks to their presentation.  Here are a few that we did:  1) the classic rock, paper, scissors with hands, legs, and as a tournament.  2) House, rock tree.  The teacher plays music and when it stops, everybody must immediately get in groups of 3 and determine who is the house, the rock , and the tree.  Each person does the gesture and when the music starts again, it continues.  3) Counting number game.  Students count to ten but the person who gets number 10 is out.  Each student may not say more than 3 numbers.  4) Apple, orange, banana.  Everyone gets in a circle.  When the teacher says apple, you hope forward once, orange=you hop backwards, banana=you turn 180. (you can use any words that you want)

6. Moving Beyond TPRS: Martina Bex presented about moving beyond TPRS and talked about other ways to provide comprehensible input.  Martina first started by saying that a text must be at least 95% comprehensible.  Reading accelerates the rate of acquisition and vocabulary is developed through literature.  The three step of TPRS are 1) establish meaning 2) story asking 3) reading.  Martina said that instead of doing a story, you can play a game using the structures.  Games like Strip Bingo, Grudgeball, or Draw Write Pass.  She also showed a great way to introduce the song “Tengo tu love” by Sie7e and had some fun with the French song “La chanson du caca.”  

5. Turning songs into a full unitKara Jacobs did two sessions about using songs andDpTtg_pWwAAr2Md music videos.  Kara shared and talked about her unit on “Pescaíto” by Carlos Vives and “El mismo sol” by Alvaro Soler.  I have used Kara’s stuff (which is fantastic) and it was great to hear her present about it.  Songs are an instant hook for students and provide lots of compelling and engaging input.  They also build class culture and add joy and enjoyment.  First, introduce and pre-teach the vocab, do storytelling (listen and draw), watch music video, do a cloze activity, sing the song, do comprehension questions, a gesture sing along, freeze frame, dance, and finish with an assessment.  You can also add in lots of culture.  Kara shared activities such as Quizizz, Quizlet Live, Gimkit (new version out now!), Kahoot Jumble, 4-corners, Flipgrid, and Edpuzzle.   Be sure to check out Kara’s website for a wealth of song activities.

4. Sabrina’s language lab.  Just like at the iFLT Conference, attendees were able to observe Sabrina teach French to actual high school students.  Observing master CI teachers is incredibly powerful and a great way to improve.  She masterly used TPRS/CI skills and provided CI that was personalized, compelling, comprehensible and fun.  Here are two videos that I tweeted that show her amazing skills with TPR and PQA:

3.  Anne Matava’s Intro to CI: Anne is so good at doing beginner sessions and intro to CI workshops.  She did a demo in German and when you are new to CI teaching, seeing it in person is a great way to see what it is about, especially in a lesser taught language.  Her beginner session was full and very beneficial.  Anne has a volume of story scripts that you can buy and instantly use in the classroom.

2.  Peer coaching.  On Friday morning (and on Saturday morning) I led a peer coaching session.   If you have never been in a peer coaching session, it is was takes you to the next level in CI teaching.  It provides a safe, positive, and comforting atmosphere for teachers to practice their TCI skills.  We get to support teachers wherever they are in their CI journey.  Whether you are the teacher, student, or observer in a coaching session, it is extremely powerful.  Several teachers taught and the encouragement, the positive feedback, the feed forward, and the self-reflection that occurred were all incredible.

  1. Final Words:  Collaborating/networking with the TCI Maine extended family that gets even more and more extended each year (people from Memphis!)  It is always great to reconnect and to meet new people to the CI family.  No matter what part of the CI journey that you are on: from just beginning to a master CI teacher, it is important to reach out to colleagues no matter the distance (Twitter PLN, Facebook groups, local CI peer groups).   No one is ever alone even if you are a department of one.  Collaborating with others, working together, asking questions is how we all improve.

A special thanks to Skip and Beth Crosby for another wonderful conference.  This was my 12th TCI Maine conference and every year, they get better and better and continue to be inspiring and powerful.  Next year’s conference is October 17 and 18, 2019.




  1. Thank you Dustin for posting your highlights from TCI Maine! I went last year for the first time and LOVED it but unfortunately this year I couldn’t attend. So I really appreciate your wrap-up!

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