Vermont Foreign Language Association

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June 2011 Newsletter

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Convention 

Our Spring Convention on April 8 at Vermont College was a smashing success! 

We were very pleased to receive such positive feedback from VFLA members who 
attended the convention. Bill Rich kicked off the day with a stellar key 
note address reminding us that although our disciplines and content areas 
are important, it is the relationships we establish with our students that 
really have the lasting impact.

Our break-out sessions focused on concrete and practical ways to meet the 
needs of our students. We addressed formative and summative assessments and 
aspects of students’ learning profiles, including readiness, interest, 
learning styles and personality traits. All of the sessions supported the 
idea that We that differentiation is nothing more than a philosophy of 
teaching that depends on strong knowledge of our students to optimize their 
learning.

A special thank you to all of the presenters for their efforts to prepare 
and deliver such exceptional sessions: Ellen Emery (Essex High School), 
Heather Baron (Colchester High School), Cecilia Miga (Colchester High 
School), Colleen Purcell (Colchester High School), Joyce Stone (retired 
teacher and administrator), and our keynote speaker, Bill Rich. 

 

New Board Members 

Simona Talos is in her fourth year of teaching Spanish at the high school 
level; she currently teaches at Randolph Union High School. She has also 
worked as an ESL instructor and World Cultures teacher in conjunction with 
the Rutland Central Supervisory Union, as an Upward Bound Spanish Instructor 
at Castleton State College and as a Spanish and World Cultures teacher for 2 
years at Proctor Jr/Sr High School. Simona believes in continuing her 
education in order to provide her students with an engaging academic 
experience. She is currently enrolled in UCSB Summer Institute in Hispanic 
Language and Culture from where she will graduate in August with a MA in 
Spanish Literature and Linguistics. She also believes that her students 
benefit from interaction with the Hispanic culture and in order to provide 
them with such an experience every two years she organizes. educational 
trips to Spain. On the VFLA Board she is interested in promoting foreign 
language instructions within our schools and providing educators with 
workshops that strengthen their instruction.

Thatcher Hinman graduated with a degree in French Literature from UC Santa 
Cruz in 2001. After working with the AmeriCorps program for two years in 
California, he decided to become a teacher. After a brief detour in law 
school, he received his teaching certification from the Upper Valley Teacher 
Institute in Lebanon, NH. As a first year teacher, Thatcher taught middle 
school (Strafford, VT) and college (Dartmouth). He is now in his fourth 
year teaching French and German at Hartford High School. On the VFLA Board 
he is interested in seeing the language teachers of Vermont sharing their 
ideas and collaborating more on a regular, continuous basis.

Simona's favorite websites 
 
http://www.sunderlandschools.org/mfl-sunderland/resources%20sp%20ks4.htm - 
Spanish worksheets 
http://www.laits.utexas.edu/spe/int06.html -Spanish proficiency exercises 
http://www.spanishdaddy.com/ - picture dictionary 
http://www.condorspanish.com/practice-your-spanish.html - a great resource 
for PPT, listening or activities 
http://www.podcastsinspanish.org

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Member Profile

Colleen Purcell interviewed Carrie Robinson for our summer VFLA member 
profile 
1. Tell us about your teaching position. 
I am the veteran Spanish teacher in the Colchester school district have 
taught levels 1-4 for nine years.

2. What is your favorite game? 
Right now, Badminton.

3. What is your least favorite food and why? 
Callos... Which is tripe. When in Spain I ordered a plate of callos having 
misread the menu and thinking I was ordering gallo!

4. What is your proudest professional moment (from any part of your life)? 
I taught ELL in NJ before moving to VT. I had a student from Taiwan who, 
when he first started class, had only one phrase he could say in 
English: "McDonald's number 4" . Now he is an engineer in the midwest and 
sends me a Christmas card every year!

5. What is your favorite classroom activity? 
Using PowerPoint prompts and having students fill in missing 
words/conjugations/answers on individual whiteboards and then reviewing the 
answers before moving on. This way the student can self-assess and it 
allows some flexibility with pace.

6. Do you have any pets? 
Yes, a cat named Felix. His name has morphed over time from Felix to 
Felicisimo to now just Mismo.

7. What is the most surprising thing about your job? 
I've found that every single student (even the really hard ones) has a spark 
where they shine. It may not be in Spanish language directly but they each 
have that spark.

8. If you were a household appliance, what would you be? 
A Fan.

9. What is your favorite musical album? 
Juan Luis Guerra - Grandes Exitos

10. What one piece of advice could you give to teachers in our state? 
Be and stay involved as much as you can with colleagues and with what you 
are passionate about. I feel lucky to have my job reflect my own passions.

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