One regret of attending ACTFL14 is that I was unable to stay for the Sunday morning sessions. I had an early Sunday morning direct flight, (at an unbeatable price), which meant I had to miss the last 1/2 day of the conference.
However, there was one Sunday morning session that I was able to hear BEFORE it was presented on Sunday. It was "Helping Students Navigage the Can-Do Statements" by co-presenters Michele Whaley and Mira Canion.
On Saturday afternoon, Michele Whaley, Krista Applegate, and I were debating which session to attend. After several minutes of searching possibilities, we admitted that we were feeling a bit weary from information overload. It was then that Michele asked if we wanted to help her by listening to a practice run through of her Sunday presentation. Of course I said yes! We found a quiet area and Michele proceeded to deliver her "practice" presentation on I CAN statements. Her presentation was informative and helped me to better appreciate the usefulness of I CAN statements.
I returned home from ACTFL pondering how to incorporate I CAN statements in a way that would be beneficial for my students. In the language department at my school, we don't teach what many refer to as well-defined "units". It's easy to visualize how I CAN statements fit into traditional units, but not as clear for a curriculum based on high-frequency words and structures.
It quickly became evident to me that I CAN statements fit hand-in-hand with Backward Planning or Understanding by Design. (Check Carrie Toth's blog "Somewhere to Share", especially this post, for an explanation.) I looked at what I wanted the students to be able to do and then wrote I CAN statements that matched those goals. After the statements were written, it was easy to align the class activities and stories to match the statements. (Michele Whaley wrote a blog post this week with an example of how she is implementing the I CAN statements with her students. Find it HERE!)
On the first day of school after Thanksgiving break, I greeted my students at the door with the above paper of I CAN statements. Each day I remind them to check the paper and sign any statements they can complete. Today as I circulated through the class as the students were working in groups, I noticed a student's paper with her signature in several cuffs. It was evident to me that students are using the statements to monitor their progress. (Note: The I CAN statements pictured above are guiding the students to pull together what we've been working on for the entire semester as they look ahead to the final exam which is less than 20 instructional days away. My future I CAN statements will be more specific to relate to our "units".)
This is only the beginning! I have ideas bouncing around my head in other ways to use the I CAN statements, and when I have time...(hopefully soon), I'll write additional statements for our "units".