I so enjoyed our day together and learned so much from you! I have uploaded many of the materials from my presentation here. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that occur to you as you process the things we discussed! Thanks again for the chance to be in sunny California in December (instead of cold, gray Michigan)! - chericem1 chericem1


Presentation Summary

  • Teaching Contexts & Problems Are Complex - Administrators, community members, policymakers, and teachers typically respond to the complexity of learning with curriculum, legislation, mandates, policies, professional development, and standards.
  • Students Get Lost In the Layers - Students get lost in the layers.
  • Literacy Lives in the Layers - Careful alignment of all of those layers makes it possible to address many of the complex issues in schools because it focuses our attention and students' learning.
  • Technology & Literacy Are Linked - We must expand our definitions of text to include multimedia, and our definitions of literacy so that they include the multiple literacies students will need in order to participate in and contribute to society in the future.
  • What does 21st Century literacy entail? - Emerging technologies are creating shifts in the way people work, play, live, and learn across many different domains (art, business, entertainment, medicine, science, etc.).
  • Literacy for the 21st Century Language Learner - As the culture of our society changes in conjunction with these emerging technologies, so will what it means to be literate. Language teachers are in a unique position to help students develop many of the literacies they will need.
  • Shifting Perspectives By Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones - Although these new innovations make it clear that the world in which we are preparing students to function is very different from the world in which we grew up, the changes that teachers and schools need to make in order to equip them for it are not always as clear. We can change what it is possible for us to see by stepping outside our comfort zones--drawing on domains outside the field of education for inspiration about how to craft powerful learning experiences for students.
  • So where do we go from here? - As our thinking shifts from thinking about teaching to thinking about learning, we open up new possibilities for our students to grow. As we move from thinking about learning to thinking about creating a better world in which to live as part of our everyday planning, we empower students to change themselves, their schools, their communities, and the world in powerful ways.
  • Crafting Compelling Learning Experiences (From An Artist's Perspective) - There is much we can learn from the ways in which other disciplines create compelling experiences for their audiences. Key principles from the domains of architecture, art, filmmaking, marketing, music, and science all make one thing very clear--that creating meaningful experiences for others requires thinking in layers. Each time we add a new layer to our thinking (such as adding images to text, considering spatial elements as we work with the images, then introducing sound and movement to the result), we also dimensionalize it.
  • Designing for Learning: What does it mean for the curriculum? - As we grow more experienced with the aesthetic principles of design, and more confident in our application of the National K-12 Standards for Foreign Language Learning, we position ourselves to design richer learning experiences that result in deeper understanding for our students. One practical application of these principles is to move from thinking about topics to thinking about themes, and from thinking about themes to thinking about cultural and societal change. In other words, thinking about culture as we plan enables us to contextualize what we are teaching in ways that make it more meaningful to students. As we think about the relationships among these elements, we position ourselves to transform students' thinking, and students to transform the world.
  • What About Assessment?: Designing for Understanding & Proficiency - Too frequently, we think of assessment as something we do to conclude a unit, rather than as a way of finding out more about what students understand, what they need, and what our next steps should be as teachers. As a result, we often design assessments that give us very little useful information. Project-based assessments (when they are carefully planned and scaffolded for students) can provide both the information and the support that we need in order to prepare rich and meaningful learning experiences for students.
  • Final Thoughts - Good teaching is not about doing things "right," it is about constantly imagining how what we are doing could be improved upon, and progress always happens with just one step away from what we are already doing toward a future filled with possibility.

Guiding Questions for the Session


Waiting on the World to Change - From Continuum by John Mayer

  • What implications do trends in the use of emerging technologies have for the what, why, and how of student learning?
  • How can you design aesthetically satisfying, cognitively challenging, and emotionally engaging learning environments and experiences for students?
  • What changes might you need to make in content, process, and practice in order to adapt today’s activities to suit the needs of your classroom?


Mayer, John. (2006). Waiting on the world to change. Continuum. Columbia Records. Lyrics available here.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2007). Luscious Layers. Photo taken in Okemos, MI.

Teaching Contexts & Problems Are Complex

  • Why is teaching so complex?
  • How does our society attempt to manage this complexity?
  • What are the consequences of this for students? Does complexity have to be a problem?


Funnyteacher. (2007, May 22). Teacher breaking down. YouTube. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from http://youtube.com/watch?v=bsrBQ6AGo_g

Students Get Lost in the Layers


"A way of seeing is also a way of not seeing" (Eisner, 2002, p. 85).

  • What causes learning to break down?
  • Why does alignment make addressing the complexities of learning easier?
  • How does alignment focus learning?


Eisner, Elliot W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09523-6.

Montgomery, Cherice & Rodriguez, Julio. (2005, November 4). Supporting student learning. Alumni Connection: Supporting Our Students. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from http://nflrc.iastate.edu/news/200411/homepage.html

Montgomery, Cherice. (2006). Making it meaningful: The power of thematic teaching. Selected slide from PowerPoint presented in Ames, Iowa.

Literacy Lives in the Layers

  • When you think of illiterate, what words or images pop into your mind?
  • When you think of literacy, what words or images pop into your mind?
  • How might expanded definitions of text and literacy enable us to plan for proficiency in more powerful ways?

Literacy & Technology Are Linked


[file:Do You Speak Digital.doc]]

  • What might proficiency in other literacies entail?
  • How proficient are you when it comes to 21st Century literacies?
    • Do you know how to search? Really?! Are you sure? Take this short quiz to find out:
      • Does the search engine you use depend on your purpose for searching?
      • Do you know how putting your search terms in quotation marks will change the results the search engine returns?
      • Do you know how to make a search engine return specific kinds of file types (such as Excel files, PDFs, PowerPoints, or Word documents)?
      • Do you know how to search for images you can use for free in presentations and publications without violating copyright?
      • Do you know how to search for audio or video files of particular formats, lengths, or sizes?
      • Do you know how to convert audio, document, image, or video files from one format to another?
    • Do you know how to browse the internet in tabs?
  • Why is this presentation placing so much emphasis on technology?


Clix. (2006, August 16). Mainboard: Chips. Stock Xchng. Retrieved February 19, 2008, from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/593449 Image used under a royalty free, Stock.xchng 8.2 Image License Agreement.

What Does 21st Century Literacy Entail?

Bendable Video

Electronic Paper

  • AmzonKindle. (2007, December 1). Jeff Bezos and bestselling authors discuss Amazon Kindle. YouTube. Retrieved December 7, 2007, from http://youtube.com/watch?v=pv9nvVTtm08 - Obviously an ad, but it shows you how the concept of electronic ink and electronic paper are already being applied and marketed. For those of you who were doubtful about the idea that books will ever be replaced, note that this device was released in December 2007 and Amazon is taking an initial loss in the price of its books in order to launch it.

Electronic Paper & Mobile Computing Converge

MIT Media Lab's I/O Brush

Mobile Computing with RFID

Organ Printing

Surface Computing

  • Ted Talks: Jeff Han - A fantastic video that demonstrates many ways that emerging technologies (such as multitouch sensors) are going to change the way we interact with ideas, concepts, information, and machines.

Video Stamps



Literacy for the 21st Century Language Learner


  • What does the cultural triangle from the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning have to do with understanding literacy?
  • How are the products, practices, and perspectives of a literate person in the 21st Century different from those of someone who is illiterate?
  • Why do multiple literacies matter?


Kendall, Cindy, & Kendall, Bryan. (2007, November 28). Tech Toys. Photo taken in Williamston, MI (on a cell phone!). Used with permission.

Literacy for the 21st Century Language Teacher

  • Why was this video so funny?
  • How did you feel about this video?
  • What implications does it have for current personal and professional contexts?

“Seen any papyrus scrolls lately? . . . No? Guess why not? They used to be the very latest form of text, totally en vogue. The most literate people used them. But guess what? The scroll was supplanted—totally obliterated and replaced by a new kind of text: the medieval codex . . . . Been to the local library lately? Seen any codices? No? Why not? Because a new technology came along that made the codex totally and utterly obsolete. Yes, Gutenberg’s printing press and Gutenberg’s book created a completely new kind of writing space—one that was more efficient and effective. So the codex became history. And the scribes? They became obsolete, too! Do you want that to happen to you—or to your students?" (Wilhelm, 2000, pp. 5-6).


Shifting Perspectives By Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones


(PowerPoint coming soon. Until then, the text of the presentation appears below)
  • I began with the question: How might teachers design physical, emotional, and virtual spaces that would support meaningful learning experiences for students?
  • But, I forgot that . . .
  • ". . . a way of seeing . . . is also a way of not seeing" (Eisner, 2002, p. 85).
  • If teachers were architects . . . [images]
  • . . . but if architects were teachers . . . [images]
  • If teachers were architects, they might ask: How do we design an experience that will fit in the space?
  • But if architects were teachers . . .: How do we design a space that will make room for the experience?
  • If teachers were architects . . . concern for the task would design the curriculum.
  • But if architects were teachers . . . concern for perspective would be paramount.
  • If teachers were architects, they would ask students to read in order to understand reality.
  • But if architects were teachers, "Everything we'd read would be translated as best we could into some reality" (Feynman, p. 3)
  • If teachers were architects . . . : How can we make it meaningful?
  • But if architects were teachers . . .: Why should it matter to students?
  • I ended with the question, How can I be more like an architect?


Eisner, Elliot W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09523-6.

Feynman, Richard Phillips. (1999). The pleasure of finding things out: The short works of Richard P. Feynman. Da Capo Press.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2006, April). Technology Classrooms. Photos taken in Erickson Hall at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

So where do we go from here?


  • How might you move from thinking about teaching (a.k.a. what grammar you will teach) to thinking about learning (what students will do with what they are learning)?

  1. Conjugate --> hablan, hacen
  2. Change --> hablen, hacan
  3. Check with the yo form --> hablo, hago (Do the stems match? If not, make them match!) --> hablen, hagan

GoVerbs.jpg PreteritSuperY.jpg
(Note how much a little color can do to draw students' attention to patterns in the language!)

Grammar in Action: If You Give A Mouse a Cookie

1) Teacher reads the story, students put the pictures in order (without seeing the pictures in the book)
2) Teacher paraphrases the story, showing students the pictures so they can check their work.
3) Teacher introduces a "formula" (in the target language) that students can use to help them retell the story:
  • If you give a mouse a cookie, he WILL WANT a _. (Si le das una galletita a un ratón, él querrá un .)
  • Once he has a , he WILL WANT a . (Una vez que le hayas dado un _, él querrá un .)
4) Teacher calls on individual students to "tell their way around" part of the story (the story is cyclical, so the pictures will form a circle).
5) Once the teacher is satisfied that students understand, students form pairs or small groups and practice telling the story. (Teacher can provide an answer key that a member of each group can use to coach and supervise for accuracy.)
6) Teacher circulates and asks individuals to retell part of the story on the spot for an assessment grade.

(Note what else becomes possible when you add images to the text . . . students could also match sentences to pictures, for example.)

Son Los Mandatos - A student-made video regarding commands

(Note what becomes possible when you give students opportunities to add music and movement to the activity.)

  • What would be required in order to move from thinking about learning (what you will ask students to do with content) to thinking about living (how students might use content to change the world in positive ways)?



Montgomery, Cherice. (2006). Go verbs. Photo taken in Okemos, MI.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2004, November). Life is in the Layers. Photo of the tree roots taken behind Erickson Hall at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2006). Super Y. Photo taken in Okemos, MI.

Shimpdapimp. (2006, December 18). Son los mandatos. YouTube. Retrieved October 16, 2007, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUk-7gA8ZaQ

Werner, Dave. (2006). Reflect/respect. Dave Werner's Portfolio 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2007, from http://www.okaydave.com

Crafting Compelling Learning Experiences (from an Artist's Perspective)


  • What effect do images have on you?
  • What would be required in order to move from thinking about learning (what you will ask students to do with content) to thinking about living (how students might use content to change the world in positive ways)?
  • Why is it so important to integrate visual elements into our instruction?
    • Cognitive load theory
    • Psychological power of images
    • Research on visual thinking



Sony Super Dooper Music Looper

    • What elements do you consider when you plan a lesson?
    • How does music affect the aesthetic, emotional, and psychological sensitivities of learners? How might planning in "measures" and in "layers" (like a musical score) for a combination of different "musical instruments" (a.k.a. diverse learners) help you to "compose" lessons with more engaging "harmonic combinations," "melodies," "rhythms," "points and counterpoints," and "musical themes?"
    • Why is infusing music (and other kinds of rhyme, rhythm, and sound) into as many aspects of your classroom an educationally responsible thing to do?
      • Affective, psychological, and memory-related effects of music
      • Comprehensible input and pronunciation
      • Cultural authenticity
      • Connections to conceptual content from other disciplines
      • Cultural and linguistic comparisons
      • Communities of interest to students



  • What counts as a learning space?
  • How might we immerse students in meaningful contexts that stimulate cognitive and emotional engagement with learning? How might emerging technologies help us to do that?
  • Why might learning spaces need to be redefined if the goal of the curriculum is to support students in using their language for personal self-expression, classroom community-building, systemic reform, community change, and social transformation?


  • Colombia Intercambio Cultural - Standards-based project between a school in Michigan and a school in Colombia that used emerging technologies to bring the world into their classrooms and their classrooms to the world


  • What effects does movement have on the brain?
  • How is movement related to meaning? How does movement add dimension to text? Images? Music? Architectural design? How might we add more movement (physical, emotional, mental, and social) to our assessment, our curriculum, our classrooms, and our instruction?
  • Why should movement become an important component of our planning?



Block, Peter. (2003). The answer to how is yes: Acting on what matters. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. ISBN 1-57675-271-2. Available: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1576752712/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-7221346-0169441#reader-link

Montgomery, Cherice. (2004, November). Creativity. Photo of the pen taken outside Erickson Hall at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2004, November). Divine Paint. Photo taken outside the Administration Building at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2007, December 2). Expectation. Photo of the fountain taken in the Detroit Airport, Detroit, MI.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2006). Improvisation. Photo of the piano keys taken in Okemos, MI.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2007, July 4). Spiritual Progress. Photo taken at the 4th of July Fireworks Display in Meridian Township, Okemos, MI.

Designing for Learning: What Does it Mean for the Curriculum?



These links will take you to practical ideas for using emerging technologies to facilitate language teaching and learning.

Teens 'N Tech - Materials from a 3-hour workshop Cindy Kendall & I gave at ACTFL 2007 re: the use of emerging technologies as tools for fostering the development of various kinds of proficiency in world language classrooms. You'll find links to lots of projects and related materials here.


Montgomery, Cherice. (2006). El canto de las palomas thematic unit. Photo taken in Okemos, MI.

Montgomery, Cherice. (2006). Making it meaningful: The power of thematic teaching. Selected slides from PowerPoint presented in Ames, Iowa.

What About Assessment?: Designing for Understanding & Proficiency

1) What can you tell about what students understand and are able to do from examining samples of student work?

2) How do the assignments we give change the kind of thinking it is possible for students to do?

3) How does the thinking that students do change what it is possible for them to understand?

4) What kind of thinking did this project require from students?

5) Where do you see evidence that understanding broke down?

6) What does that tell the teacher about how to better scaffold students’ engagement with the task?


Runawaybox. (2007, September 10). One semester of Spanish love song. YouTube. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngRq82c8Ba

Final Thoughts

“In other words, the promotion of artistry in teaching is more likely to be realized not by searching for a formula for effective teaching, but by finding out what one is doing and by imagining how it might be made even better” (Elliot Eisner, 2002, p. 49).


Eisner, Elliot W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09523-6.