Art in the World Language Classroom! Frida Freebies!

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One of the first things I do when I start a unit, is a search of what is already available on the internet.  I especially like to find authentic resources to use as a hook or as part of an Integrated Performance Assessment.  One of my favorite finds is a good children’s book.  I like Frida by Jonah Winter and illustraded by Ana Juan.  Leave a comment at the end of this post to win a Free Frida Book on Friday!Frida book


On one of the last pages in the book it explains that Frida painted little magic scenes with a written explanation called Extovas.   Have students write extovas in the target language and share.

Check out this awesome talking infographic I found free on Pinterest.frida inforgraphic

I also found this article free on Pinterest.  Check out my Frida Pinterest page.




I found this awesome powerpoint free on

frida free


This is in English but could be useful for building background knowledge and it’s free on Youtube.  Maybe use with a sub or for a movie talk with the English turned off.

But this one is in Spanish and it’s also free on Youtube along with one on Diego Rivera!


There is a cute little printable book for $2 on that could be used for a directed coloring, adding details activity.  There is also a free reading with comprehension questions on

frida printable

free frida

Have students study Frida’s self-portraits and create Frida inspired selfies and describe them in the target language.frida

frida quote


Here is an activity to talk about Frida’s family.  Click on this link for more details. describefridasfamily

La familia de Frida


Frida novel by Kristi Pacido, view a free preview at novel


and don’t forget Free Frida on Netflix.  Netflix offers a free one month trial.  frida movie

Students could create Frida memes for free!

frida kahlor

frida thumb

frida finger pupppet

Students make thumb puppets and have conversations between famous people.  Check out this website.  I have these Frida and Diego Finger puppets.  I’m thinking about having them star in a Youtube video.


Get this free face at


Free frida paper dolls at



Frida2 (1)

Check out this free idea on this great blog where children share their opinions on pieces of paper hung under works of art by Frida.

Leave a comment, like my page on facebook, or follow me on twitter @JohnstonL60 to be entered in a drawing for a free Frida book.  Winner will be announced on Friday!

Frida books and products  available on

Art in the World Language Classroom! Selfies with Pablo Picasso?

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Artists have been making selfies for centuries.  Students can create Picasso inspired selfies, write descriptive paragraphs, and read about the life of Picasso in the target language.

Picasso paintings in general are good for observing and discussing shapes, colors, body parts…How many noses do you see?  How many fingers do you see, count them? How is she feeling?  How do you know?  What makes you think that?

weeping woman

What shapes do you see?  What emotion does the painting suggest? How do you think the artist is feeling?  Use this image question response chart to practice an observation protocol.pablopicasso-self-portrait-1972

Here is a powerpoint about Pablo Picasso-français.  Here is a powerpoint in Spanish Pablo Picasso-español

picasso self-portrait

Here is a story about the life of Picasso-French and Picasso-Spanish.  I teach first year so I try to tell the story in present tense as if he is still alive.

picasso selfie

C’est qui, Picasso ?


I like to use a running dictation activity from Jason Fritz with paragraphs from the novels Los Agentes Secretes y el Mural de Picasso and La France en Danger et Les Secrets de Picasso by Mira Canion.  These novels work really well with a unit on Picasso or art in general.

picasso book




The novels revolve around the painting Guernica.  Students study the painting and record how many people, animals, body parts, and other things they see in the painting. How many arms, legs, heads do you see?  They pair up and discuss their observations with a partner, then share out with class.  Students then read the description of the paintings from the novels and compare their results.


Who am I?  Have students close their eyes and try to draw the shape of their head on a piece of paper.  Using the color of their eyes, they should try to add on eyes without looking at the paper.  Repeat the process for adding hair, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, with a directed drawing activity.  Students can add symbols to represent themselves, favorite colors, activities, or future careers. You can also use

Then students write a paragraph about themselves, without their name in the paragraph and end with who am I?  Place the pictures and paragraphs under the document camera and students try to guess who is who.  Pictures can also be numbered and posted around the room and students can walk around gallery style matching names to numbered pictures.  Here is a template students can use to write the paragraphs.   In Spanish it’s called quien-soy and in French it is Qui suis-je?  Here are some sample paragraphs in French and Spanish Yo-no-soy-alta.  Here is a powerpoint to introduce the assignment. Quién-soy-pp

picasso head

How else can we use incorporate art in our world language lessons?  Share your ideas here please!


Art in the World Language Classroom! The Ear of Van Gogh?

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My students never tire of the story of Van Gogh cutting off his ear.  I have created embedded readings in French and Spanish here.  Van Gogh Readings By Lynn Johnston for French and Van Gogh Readings in Spanish by Lynn Johnston.  But besides the story, I can use the art to teach body parts, colors, and shapes.  We can describe people, places, and things. We can express opinions, likes, dislikes, and emotions.  We can read biographies about the artists and debate whether Van Gogh cut off his own ear of was it Paul Gauguin that cut off Van Gogh’s ear? Students can also research and give opinions on how Van Gogh really died.vincent-van-gogh-bandaged

Check out these animated versions of Van Gogh paintings! Follow this link  Van Gogh 3-D  or go to

Students can compare their bedrooms to the room of Van Gogh.  Lesson plans here La-Chambre-de-Van-Gogh in French and here in Spanish El cuarto de Van Gogh. Here a template of his room for a directed color and another for Starry Night.
Van Gogh bedroomGauguin et Van Gogh powerpoint in French and Gauguin y Van Gogh powerpoint in Spanish.  Here are sentences that can be used for dictation, to illustrate, to act out.  They can cut up and race to put them in order.  They could be used for students to practice retelling story.  Paul Gauguin et Vincent Van Gogh- sentences for French and   Paul Gauguin y Vincent van Gogh- sentences for Spanish.

paul guaguin


Take your students to a local museum or go to a virtual museum on-line and have the students select their favorite piece of art or the worst piece of art.  Have them give the name of the work of art and the artist.  Then describe the art and state their opinions and why.  These could also be posted to a class website or google classroom.  this lesson is always engaging and Van Gogh’s ear continues to show up in strange places like in a backpack during our school unit or in a soup in our food unit.





Checkout these Van Gogh resources in French, Spanish , English and other languages from


Tpep Criterion #8: Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instructional practice and student learning.

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Criterion number eight is: Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instructional practice and student learning. 

The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.  Consider what you do at the school, district, state, and national levels.  Write an article for WAFLT’s Forum, PNCFL’s Lingo, or the Language Educator for ACTFL.  Topics could include a review of a conference, workshop, book or movie.  Teaching tips are always welcome.  Do action research and write about it!


Do presentations at state and regional conferences.  Chair a committee or be a presider for a workshop for a state or regional conference.  Become a board member.  Join your AAT, AATF, AATSP, etc.




Start a book group!  Try Teach Like a Pirate  by Dave Burgess or Do I really have to teach reading? by Cris Tovani.  Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jenson is what we are currently reading at my school.  The Keys Series from ACTFL would also be good books to read, discuss, and share ideas.

To score a four on this criterion the teacher volunteers to participate in school events and district projects making a substantial contribution, and assuming a leadership role in at least one aspect of school or district life.


Work vertically with other colleagues in PLC’s  to establish goals, to develop and implement common high quality measures, and to monitor growth and achievement during the year.  Watch ACTFL webinars together and discuss.


Posters and cards to promote World Language Study from amazon

How do you exhibit collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instructional practice and student learning?  Share your ideas here! 

Tpep Criterion #7: Communicating and collaborating with parents and the school community

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Criterion number seven is: Communicating and collaborating with parents and the school community.  

The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families, and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning. Some teachers use weekly letters, e-mail, class calendars, websites, and on-line grade reporting systems to communicate with parents.   Why not have students develop materials to inform their families of class activities with a newsletter they write?



In addition to keeping parents informed, I look for ways to promote world language in our school and our community.  As an elective teacher, each spring I compete for students to take my class.  I call this “sweeps week.”  Students use their persuasive language skills to make posters called “Why Study a Foreign Language.”  After several YouTube clips, a brainstorm session, and my power point, they are armed with reasons to cover the school with quality posters promoting world language study.  We also cook this week so students are following recipes in the target language to create something delicious. You can smell this all over school and students poke their heads in and ask what class is this? It’s really not fair to the other elective teachers, but it helps to advertise our programs in our schools, feeder schools, and community.  Here’s my presentation and some of the Youtube clips.  Why learn a second language



Look for opportunities to have students perform in the school or community.  My students sing, dance, and read poetry in talent shows at school and festivals at the Seattle Center.  We perform fairy tales, complete with scenery, costumes, and props, the last week of school for other classes that want to come watch. Each year my students read picture books in French and Spanish in the children’s area of Barnes and Noble book store.  This is a fundraiser that involves the community and raises funds for our school.  How do you  incorporate the communities standard and the Tpep requirement of involving families?  Please share your ideas here!

Tpep Criterion #6: Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning.

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Criterion number six is: Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning. 

The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform, and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning. The teacher uses multiple sources of growth or achievement data from at least two points in time to show evidence of high growth for all or nearly all students.  Assessment is fully integrated into instruction though extensive use of formative assessment techniques.

Almost any assessment instrument can be used for formative or summative purposes, it is how the results are used that determines whether it is formative or summative.  If there is still time for the student to take action and improve learning it is formative assessment.  My favorite analogy is when a cook tastes the food it’s formative assessment and when the guests taste the food it’s summative assessment.

hanging-cooking-utensils-clipart-35277-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Kitchen-Chef-Dog-Holding-A-Spatula-And-Gesturing-After-Tasting-His-FoodMy Favorite No!

Pose a question, have students answer on index cards.

Sort the cards into yes and no piles.

Look at the ones that are wrong and pick out one one to analyze “Your Favorite No”.

Rewrite the problem so students can’t identify the handwriting or to whom the card belongs.

Start with having kids identify what is right about the problem, what do I like about it?

Then focus of what is incorrect and how to improve it.

not yet

According to John Dewey, “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”  Students need opportunities for self-assessment and reflection. This can be down with practice tests, dictations, or other immediate feedback learning activities like the box game, white boards, sentence strips, search and lift or other manipulatives, and exit slips.

Students help develop rubrics with success criteria. is a free site to develop rubrics. This can help students to monitor their own understanding. Encourage students to provide very specific descriptive feedback to each other.  See this in action in the video Autin’s butterfly .

Learners can use Youtube to fill in the gaps in their own learning.  There is boy who was trying to learn how to start a fire with a bow string.  He knew he was doing it wrong so he posted his attempt on Youtube and asked for feed back. Ninty-six people responded, providing very specific feedback like he was using the wrong wood, his foot was on the wrong side, he needed to tighten the string.  I used Youtube to teach myself how to build this blog.  Step by step, every time I needed to know how to add the next element I would consult Youtube. This made me wonder…can my students bridge the gaps in their learning with Youtube on their own?

They can if they are taught how! Anything we can teach ourselves, we can teach someone else how to do.  Student portfolios, digital lockers, or learning logs can help track student’s growth and what gaps need to be filled in.   Distinguished teachers establish appropriate student growth goals in collaboration with students and parents and identify data to monitor, adjust, and evaluate achievement of goals.

Check out my post on Core Practice #6 for more feedback ideas and here is a list with descriptions.The Formative Assessment Techniques ensure 100.  Here are some formative assessment resources from   How do you use student data to improve instruction?  Please comment here!


Tpep Criterion #5: Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment.

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Criterion number five is: Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment.

The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being.

This can best be done by examining your routines and procedures.  Check out some of my ideas in this article Using Routines to Maximize Language Acquisition.  Instructional time is maximized because of efficient classroom routines and procedures.  To score a four, students should contribute to the management of instructional groups and transitions and the handling of materials and supplies. In addition, opening and closing routines are well understood and may be initiated by students.

no ingles


Other routines to consider: turning in papers, getting make up work, what do you do when you are done?


make up work


I like this idea I found on Pinterest.  Thinking about making this in French and Spanish.

make up board

Use several methods to form groups so that no student feels left out. Seating charts, partner maps, index cards or other randomization devices help mix it up and manage behavior.  Change groups and partners often so that all students have an opportunity to work together and get to know each other.  Check out the No Yell Bell at for easily regaining attention.

Discipline with dignity.  Management of behavior is subtle and preventative. I like to carry a clipboard and note behavior and productivity on my seating charts.  As soon as they see me pick up my clipboard and start walking around they become more engaged.  Most the time I don’t even need to write anything down, I call this The Clipboard Stroll.

Check out assigning classsroom jobs for students from Ben Slavic’s website.  How do you foster and manage a safe learning environment?  Add your ideas here please!


Tpep Criterion #4: Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum.

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Criterion number four is: Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum. 

world readiness standards

The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy, and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.  The distinguished world language teacher demonstrates content area knowledge and connects to other disciplines. Our connection standard has always supported connections to other disciplines. We can support the Common Core State Standards by providing students with more experiences with informational text and modeling and practicing reading strategies.  Have students cite text evidence to back up their inferences and opinions. Compare and Contrast. Reinforce the writing process, especially expository and argumentative writing. Use graphs, math, and story problems.  Check out my common core posts for more ideas on how world language teachers can connect to Common Core State Standards.

venn sp

ACTFL is in the process of establishing collaborative teams of world language educators from across the United States in a project focused on developing learners’ literacy skills. The development of the Languages and Literacy Collaboration Center (LLCC) will provide educators access to a multitude of resources including: webinars, mentoring, a virtual resource portal, and online discussions.  Educators will be able to collaborate around strategies to reinforce and strengthen learners’ literacy skills.

LLCC logo

With this increased focus on literacy skills, the distinguished teacher seizes the opportunity to make connections to cognates and root words. Find opportunities to extend students’ vocabulary in their first language.  I like to point out root word connections to students for example mort meaning death in French is used as mortal, immortal, mortuary, mortician, and even morgage (death grip) extending their vocabulary and root word knowledge in English. Whenever possible, use metaphors and analogies to bring content to life, or even to practice vocabulary.  Have students make analogies with new vocabulary.

El brazo: El codo – La pierna:__?___(La rodilla)

La main: Le Bras- Le pied:___?___  (La jambe)


The teacher displays extensive knowledge of resources, not only through the school and district but also professional organizations and universities and on the internet, for classroom use, for the expansion of his or her own knowledge, and for students.  Create a classroom library of children’s books, scholastic magazines, books on tape. Create list of ebooks, websites, and apps for student use and encourage exploration of these sites for autonomous acquisition. What are your favorite resources?  How do you provide clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum?  Please share your resources and ideas here!


Tpep Criterion #3: Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs.

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Criterion number three is: Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs. 

The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual, intellectual, and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning. To score a four on the Danielson rubric it states “Teacher actively seeks knowledge of students’ levels of development and their backgrounds, cultures, skills, language proficiency, interests, and special needs from a variety of sources. This information is acquired for individual students.”

This criterion is usually non observable and will probably be discussed in the pre and/or post conference. Consider evidence like sub folders, IEPs, and on-line grading programs like Skyward. Make sure to update sub folders with medical and learning needs periodically.  Document discussions with teachers, counselors, and other professionals into your eval digital locker.


Gather evidence that you are actively seeking knowledge of students’ backgrounds from a variety of sources. Consider giving interest surveys at the beginning of the year to get to know student backgrounds and interests. There are several ready-made interest surveys available from TPRS practitioners on line. Check out the Circling with Balls activity to get to know students at

Personalization is key to engaging students. In my class we have a student greeter each day.  After the greeting the greeter answers questions about themselves in the target language.  This allows us to build on spontaneous events and student interests and get to know the class members better while practicing follow up questions. “Teacher seizes an opportunity to enhance learning, building on a spontaneous event or student interests, or successfully adjusts and differentiates instruction to address individual student misunderstandings.”

comment allez vous

One way to keep students engaged is to provide them with choice in assignments and assessments. Choice boards are one way to provide students with structured choices. A menu type activity also gives kids some choices.  Learning centers are another way to provide choice and individualization.  Check out the station ideas at The Creative Language Classroom.

keep-calm-and-join-study-club-1 (1)

Keep a list of help professionals. Some evaluation tools state that the teacher can cite others in the school and beyond who s/he has contacted for assistance in reaching some students.  Document conversations with others around students of concern, or any student. Consider offering a study club before or after school.  Study club allows for extra time and extra opportunities for retakes. It also helps connect with students and discover things about them that I would not learn in class. The distinguished teacher persists in seeking effective approaches for students who need help, using an extensive repertoire of instructional strategies and soliciting additional resources from the school or club connect

In addition, criterion three requires teachers to establish appropriate student growth goals for subgroups of students not reaching full potential in collaboration with students, parents, and other school staff.  The goals identify multiple, high-quality sources of data to monitor, adjust, and evaluate achievement of goals. Multiple sources of growth or achievement data from at least two points in time show evidence of high growth for all or nearly all students. I have students do a 5 minute timed write on the first day of school.  They write in the target language or list any words they know in the target language or write about themselves in English if they don’t know any of the language yet.  They write again at the end of the first semester and at the end of the year and evaluate their growth.

timed writes

Tpep Criterion #2: Demonstrating effective teaching practices.

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Criterion Number two is:  Demonstrating effective teaching practices.  

The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students. Build higher level thinking questions and metacognition into your lessons. Use Bryce Hedstrom’s New Taxonomy for World Language Teachers for planning lessons and incorporating higher level thinking questions.  In the book The Keys to Planning for Learning by Donna Clementi and Laura Terrill there is a revised Bloom’s taxonomy includes suggestions for digital alternatives.  Teach students to ask higher level questions and to initiate and extend discussions with classmates.  Here are links to documents I created for my students with Bloom’s verbs in french Bloom%27s french  and Spanish.  La Taxonomia de Bloom


Using essential questions can help promote higher level thinking. Some possible essential questions could include. How does water make our lives different?  How can we conserve water? Why can’t all young people go to school?  How will you help an exchange student prepare for school here? How does where we live influence what we eat, do, and wear?  How can we avoid wasting food?  Use the ACTFL themes and essential questions from the novice level and build on them each year.

ACTFL Global Themes as context for language learning:

  • Belonging
  • Challenges
  • Well being
  • Discovery
  • Creativity
  • Identity
  • Exploring Time and Place

The state documents states ‘‘Teachers use a variety or series of question or prompts to challenge students cognitively and advance high level thinking and discourse and promote metacognition.”  To practice metacognition include Thinks Alouds, QARs, KWL’s, mind maps, webs, sentence frames, and prompts. On the rubric to get a 4 it states “Students formulate many questions, initiate topics, and make unsolicited contributions”. Have students create their own higher level questions.  Research suggests that students who use self-developed test questions perform better on exams.

A good strategy to teach students is question answer relationships.  Basically there are four types of questions. Two are directly from the book Right there and Think and Search and two are from the reader’s head, Author and Me and On My Own. With Right there questions, the answer is in the text. With think and search, the answer is in the text but you might need to look in multiple places to put the answer together. With author and me, the answer is not in the text, you have to think about what you know and what the author is saying and put them together, with on my own questions the answer is also not in the text. The reader could have answered the question without reading the text but is related to the topic.



Students can apply this strategy to pictures or works of art to develop good questions.  Practice Image, question, response following the same process.



Check out the chart of this page Image_Questions_Responses_Chart and this website for a better explanation.


Some HOT (Higher Order Thinking) ideas from Carol Gaab at

1. Either or Questions- Students are provided sentences and asked to decide if the sentence is possible or not possible.  Other choices are probable or not probable.  You could also use logical or not logical  or likely to or not likely to.  The point is that students are hearing vocabulary in context and are thinking at a little higher level, but are able to respond with very little forced language. Read sentences from the text that are logical and illogical or probable or not probable and have students react with choral responses, white boards, or thumbs up or down.

2.  Who would say…? this is a fun activity that encourages higher order thinking and is based on statements that a character in a novel might make.  Students must deduce WHO would say something based on context, content and/or verb form. An example from Carol, from the cast of Gilligan’s Island, who would say, “I’m tired of taking orders!” or “That Ginger thinks she’s so beautiful– bla! She’s not THAT pretty!”

Who said…? is a similar game, which does not require a great deal of higher order processing. It is great for young learners and/or slow processors. Students simply recall the story and determine which character made which statements. An example from one of Carol’s novels, in ‘Houdini’, who said, “Disconnect the cable!” or “Can I drive your car?”?

3. There are a variety of ways to implement sequencing or logic activities:

Sentence Strips for group activity, individual, or pair activity. Sentences are written on strips of paper and students need to arrange them in order from first to last. This can be done as a whole class activity with sentences written on tag board and one sentence per class member. It could also be done as a group activity, individual, or pair activity.

Project sentences and have students number written statements in order.

Provide a list of 3 choices and ask which happened first?

Type up sentences from a chapter of a novel and have students cut them apart, mix them up, and put them in a envelope.  When a signal is given, have students race to see who can put the sentences in order first.  

Then use the sentences is another activity from Carol Gaab the action chain.  Embed the target language structures in a logical sequence of events, number and write or project the sentences so everyone can see them. Choose students to act out the sentences, handing them a number corresponding to a sentence they will act out without showing the other students. The other students must match the sentence to the scene that each student acts out. Continue to get more repetition to the language structures by having students determine a logical order for the events. Have actors act out the scene as you ask for details for each event.

4. To get at main idea start by asking which of the following 3 statements best describes the situation?  Promote critical thinking by providing students with three choices and asking which one best describes the situation and why?

Marzano in his book states that summarizing, note making, and comparing and contrasting are high leverage strategies.  Compare and contrast holidays, houses and possessions. Students make Venn diagrams to compare and contrast their room and possessions with another student, or a student from the target culture. I like to show the photos taken by Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti.  His project called Toy Stories compiles photos of children from around the world with their prized possessions—their toys.  For food comparisons go to Youtube and check out What The World Eats. To make country comparisons go to  Use two overlapping hula hoops on floor for a twist instead of a paper venn diagram.  Give students index cards with statements to scaffold comparing and contrasting.

To get kids to summarize and synthesize try the Two Word Strategy created by Linda Hoyt. Students stop at the end of a reading selection and reflect on everything they know.  They must think of just two words that reflect their understanding.  Choosing two words is not threatening to most readers. It takes their comprehension beyond recall to a higher level of understanding of the text. click here for form Two_Word_Strategy.

2 words


According to William Glaser we learn 95% of what we teach. Incorporate reciprocal teaching into your plans. Train students to perform roles such as predictor, questioner, summarizer, and clarifier.  Teach protocals or use structures like Team Windows to provide opportunities so  “Students themselves ensure that all voices are heard in the discussion”.



To score a four on this criterion the teacher must assess the effectiveness of the lesson.  The document states that the “teacher makes a thoughtful and accurate assessment of a lesson’s effectiveness and includes specific indicators of effectiveness.”  If the lesson is not effective the teacher offers specific alternative actions with the probable success of different courses of action.  How do you demonstrate effective teaching practices?  Share your comments and ideas below.