Episode Transcript
Ixchell Reyes
The DIESOL podcast

Brent Warner
Digital Integration in English as a Second or Other Language,

Ixchell Reyes
Episode 31 interview with Matt Miller.

Brent Warner
Welcome to DIESOL. This is Episode 31. We are your hosts I am Brent Warner.

Ixchell Reyes
And I’m Ixchell Reyes. Hey Brent.

Brent Warner
How’s it going?

Ixchell Reyes
It’s going it’s still go in 2020 just won’t end.

Brent Warner
This is the this is the last episode of the year though. We’re gonna make it

Ixchell Reyes
and we’re gonna go out with a bang. It feels you gotta Yeah.

Brent Warner
Well, we got it. We got it. We got an excellent, excellent guest to help wrap up the end of the year. So Matt Miller, how are you?

Matt Miller
I’m great. I’m thrilled to be with all of you. And yes, we are so so close to the end of 2020. Let’s just put this thing out of its misery and move on.

Brent Warner
Reaching distance, I even feel confident there will be people that are going to like download, but not really listen till after we’ve made it through. So. Alright, right. So, Matt, you know, I don’t know that you need an introduction. I think you’re fairly well known. But well, we’ll give it to you. So. So Matt Miller, taught in public schools for more than 10 years teaching all levels of high school Spanish, and in his career, he’s planned more than nearly 12,000 classes. That’s a heck of a number Matt. And he taught more than half a million instructional minutes, and he graded for nearly 2000 days of class. his blog, ditched that textbook and four books have equipped and inspired 10s of 1000s of educators in more than 100 countries. He lives in West Central Indiana, and says that he’s living the dream happily married with three dogs, three dogs, two to three kids, two dogs and a mortgage. All right, so Matt, we are really happy to have you here. You know, one of the reasons I was talking to Ixchell about having you on is, you know, your language language teacher, right, this is this is, you know, you have a ton of experience, you’re well known for your books, ditch that textbook, and, you know, and the whole series, and, you know, great keynotes and all of those fun things. But also, you know, the digital integration for us with ESL and working with language learners. I know you’re you’re kind of your background story is really aligned with a lot of what we think about what we talked about. And so I know this is kind of your classic, classic Matt Miller type of stuff. But we really wanted to talk about the idea of like, hey, how do we help our students with equitable and easy to access technology? And maybe, maybe not have to work with a textbook all the time?

Matt Miller
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah, that is, that is sort of my jam, I would agree. You know, for for me, I think I started to move in that direction, when I started to realize that my Spanish textbooks basically, were just not helping my students to become fluent speakers of the language the way that I wanted them to. You know, I started teaching very much the way that I was taught when I was learning Spanish as a second language in high school. And so it was a lot of, you know, activities out of the book, read this chapter, do these questions at the end of the chapter workbook, pages, worksheets and all that. And, you know, I kind of taught that way for three or four years. And I started to develop this little secret. And see, my principal didn’t know this secret. And the other teachers in my building didn’t know this secret. But my students all totally knew the secret way. This is a recipe for disaster, isn’t it? So my secret was that the students in my high school Spanish classes, couldn’t speak Spanish, that his students in my Spanish classes that couldn’t speak Spanish, that’s a problem, right? Like all of the students knew that but and I just kept thinking like, oh, my goodness, you know, babies can acquire a language and they don’t have to conjugate verbs and rememorize long vocabulary was like, there’s got to be a better way. And I just started kind of like, experimenting with different things. Like, I started to think about how we acquire I mean, this shouldn’t be like an epiphany and like, some crazy thought or anything, but I just started thinking like, how do we acquire language without learning it explicitly? And, you know, we just started playing with it. We started doing some like storytelling activities, we started creating and using the technology with, you know, like, images and just all sorts of different things and Little by little by little, I started weaning myself off of my textbooks till eventually I was like, man, I’ve got all of these activities that seem to be working a little bit better. I’ve got my curriculum lined up the way that I want it, why do I need these textbooks again, and so I locked them up in a closet in the back of my room, and we kind of quit using them. And it also allowed me to kind of like, customize the vocabulary a little bit more, I would let my students add vocabulary words for things that they wanted to learn, which was cool that our textbooks never let us do you know. So you’re just little by little by little, I started putting this infrastructure into place where I didn’t need the textbooks very much at all. And then eventually, I didn’t need them at all. It didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t, you know, easy or quick or anything like, I would spend my I would spend days on my summer break, you know, like articulating a curriculum across different levels. And my wife is like, Don’t you ever stop? Like once you just use the same lessons that you use last year, last year? And I’m like, no, sorry, that’s not me.

Brent Warner
I know, I actually I do the same thing, too. And I’m like, I’m spending so much time rebuilding this and doing this in a you know, in a new way, but but I love it too, at the same time. Right. So there’s there there are different parts to that. But I think one of the things that, you know, catches me about that conversation is the idea that like, I think a lot of people hear Okay, well, hey, if I’m not gonna use a textbook, then I have to build everything from scratch, right? Yeah. And but you’re saying no, you can pace through this, right? You can you can get into it over time. And so when you say, you know, ditch that textbook, or whatever, it doesn’t mean, you’re done right now and throw it away and throw a match in the in the trashcan.

Matt Miller
If you want to do that, at some point, you know, definitely get it on video, I’d like to see it. Yeah, exactly. No, you’re exactly right. Um, and you know, when I started I, this whole name, Ditch That Textbook started as a blog, you know, it was just, it was just like a little free WordPress blog. And then I started doing some presentations by that name. And I didn’t realize how controversial it was going to be just because I knew my own story. I was kind of surprised that people would, would tend to think that and yeah, you know, with me, a lot of the whole get rid of the textbooks thing, it almost feels a little bit like cheating in a way because the way that I got rid of my textbooks, was by examining a whole bunch of textbooks. So you know, when textbook adoption comes around, and you get all those samples, and you hang on to them, and you stick them in your closet, and everything I pulled like five or six textbook samples out and I looked at their scope and sequence and I looked at what they were teaching and what order and what words, they were teaching and vocabulary and stuff. And I thought, Okay, what do I like? What do I not like? What do I want to throw out what I want to add? See, I was also very fortunate that I was a one person, foreign language department. So I had all of the classes all the way from Spanish 1.

Brent Warner
That’s how you got away with your secret!

Matt Miller
Yeah, you see? I’m dishing all my secrets on DIESOL. So that that did make it a little bit easier for me. But you know, really, all of us have no matter what class we teach, all of us have a set of standards, and there is no set prescribed individual only way to teach to those standards. And so I basically looked at the standards, and I looked across all of those textbooks, and I figured out Okay, I’m going to teach all of these things in this different way. And then I started looking at all the pieces and I thought, How can I break them into thematic units, and I tried to make up some of my own thematic unit. So I would pull, you know, like a handful of grammar structures and a couple lists of vocabulary, put them in one package and thought, What’s the topic we can talk about with all of this stuff. And so then I just started kind of like building that little by little. And across all four of the levels. I came up with lists of vocabulary sets of grammar structures, and I started just writing them into my own study guides. So the study guides were, here’s how you conjugate verbs and the present progressive. You know, here’s how I describe it. In my own words, here’s a list of vocabulary words, that’s one study guide. And then after a while, I made up enough of those study guides, written in my own words, the way that I was going to describe it anyway. And that’s the point when I started to really realize I don’t need these textbooks that much. And so from there, that’s the foundation, that’s the structure of the whole thing. And so I set that structure up, and then after that, it was just a matter of building activities to support, you know, proficiency and fluency and those in those areas. And so, you know, I started to come up with, you know, a handful of different kinds of activities that I could kind of replicate over and over again, kind of feels like edgy protocols. You know, like those things I love how they call those lesson frames. You know, it’s like a picture frame, like the frame stays the same, but the picture inside changes. So like the content changes, you know, I started doing some of those too. And after that I had a sustainable way of teaching languages that didn’t require the textbooks. And it was nimble and agile because I could go into one of the Google Docs and change one of the study guides, just like any moment that I wanted to. And, you know, so that that was kind of like, you know, when you when you say, ditch that textbook, yeah, I did quit using my textbooks, but it was, in large part because I use textbooks to get there. I don’t know if that’s cheating. But if it is, okay, I’m a cheater.

Brent Warner
No, you know, it’s funny when you when you mentioned that I, I was thinking most people, people do this, right. This is this is a process, but I think the traditional structure of doing that was like people would do that over a couple of years. And then they would turn that into their own textbook, and they would, they would submit that to, you know, submit that into the corporations and say, hey, I want to have my textbook, right. And so what I really appreciate is like your thinking, and I think this is more of a modern thinking for teachers, too, is like, we don’t have to charge we don’t have to, like, you know, it’s not a it’s not a money making venture, it’s an educational venture that helps students and, and get some engagement going on. So I yeah, I really appreciate that. And how that, you know, that turned into something that you could turn around and help the students with.

Matt Miller
You know, and along that same line, there was one part of it that I didn’t expect until later. So if somebody is hearing this, and they’re like, Oh, yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna go start it right now. They’re the one thing that I didn’t expect is that after I had done that, for several years, you know, I basically taught, you know, my own curriculum that still supported the standards that was not based out of the textbook. And then eventually, at some point, I left the district and I took a job in another school. And so when I did that, see, I realized that when I didn’t adopt textbooks, I didn’t get brand new textbooks, I should say, we decided to keep the old textbooks on and so I just locked them up in the closet and everything. But if I had done what you said, Brent, you know, like, throw them on dumpster and lie to match, you know, then the incoming teacher would have had to basically teach from my notes, which would have been really hard. So it is kind of nice to have that structure there as a backup plan, or in case, you know, like, you know, if I needed some kind of, you know, heaven forbid, some sort of surgery, or if something happened in my family, and I had to take time off or something, there would have been that that support there. So anyway, that was one part of it that I didn’t expect. So if anybody hears this don’t like that match. Yeah.

Ixchell Reyes
So Matt, one of the things that I’m thinking of, as you’re mentioning, the process you use to come up with, you know, looking at the textbooks, and then coming up with your own material. I used to teach and I teach English as a second language, now a second or other language now. But before I was working at a reservation, and I was in their language revitalization project, and my job was to learn the, their language. In this case, it was Serato. And then I had to create the first ever children’s curriculum for the children to learn that language. And one of the things that I did, because I thought, Well, where do I start? If you know, where do I start? And so I did, what you did is look at all these textbooks, language textbooks, look at the scope and sequence, but that what words they were learning first, and then took those transferred them to that language? And then because you know, not everybody’s going to agree that this language should be taught, I had to align it to the the K through 12 standards to make sure that if anybody was going to go Wayne, or have an issue with like, why are you teaching it this way? Or will you know what to align to the standards, but so I’m wondering what kind of results you saw in the classroom? What was the effect of having you, you know, change these, the way that you approach the textbook? And what was what was your experience?

Matt Miller
Yeah. You know, for a little while, when I was still trying to get my feet under man, I was still trying to get a handle on all of it. It was I mean, it’s like any sort of transition, you know, even looking just schools in general, and you start a school improvement plan of any sort. And there are changes involved. And if you’re trying to watch the standardized test scores to see how well you’re doing that first year, usually see that dip, you know, because you’re still making the adjustments and making the changes. And so I saw I saw a little bit of the dip and of course, not knowing any better, you know, that that concern me and it made me wonder if I had just broken my entire curriculum, my entire department if I broken all of these kids, you know, and little by little I think what happened was because I was using something that I had sort of created. Now all of a sudden, the way we were doing it mattered to me. It used to be, it was coming out of the textbook. And I’d be like, Why in the world? are we learning this vocabulary set with this unit? And this group of grammar like these don’t fit together at all? And why in the world, you know, I had all these Why in the world questions, and I had less of those, whenever I had figured it out on my own. There was that. And, you know, little by little after I started explaining things, in my own words, through those study guides, instead of the canned explanation, and the book, kids started to get it and a little bit different way. We started putting an emphasis on conversational Spanish. And so I started to see the results when, you know, I would hear them I would hear Spanish words in the hallway. But there’s one time I was standing behind some of my students in the lunch line, and we had just been watching a movie and Spanish with the English subtitles on. And they were saying, you know, I think was Finding Nemo. And so they were seeing Just keep swimming and swimming, which was not ours, Ramos, Ramos. And I was like, you know, my ears like, like, wow, they’re doing it, you know, and it was just like, little by little, after I got out of that dip. And it started to come up a little bit, those were some of the places that I so I’m so glad that you asked about results. Those are some of the places I saw them. And, you know, being a Spanish teacher, other than the AP exam, we don’t really have anything standardized test wise to be able to measure that stuff. So that’s the way that I measured results. You know, I measured it with my eyes, I measured it with my ears, I measured it when the interactions in the hallway, you know, just in little places where I could feel what their fluency was like, and the parent started to see it too. So they were thrilled, they didn’t even realize how I was getting there. I mean, if some, if they were paying attention, then they knew that I wasn’t using the textbook, but I think a lot of them that, you know, that didn’t really occur to them. And so all they knew was the some of their kids, especially the freshmen, you know, the younger ones, and they learned some words, and they could go home and speak Spanish. And parents didn’t have any idea what they were talking about. They would come home, and they would jabber in Spanish, and I would meet them at parent teacher conferences. And they’d be like, Oh, my goodness, I took three years of Spanish and I can’t speak a word. And now my kid has been in Spanish for nine weeks. And now they’re like having a whole conversation and like, it was just like little things like that were where I started to see the results. But they they didn’t come immediately it took a little bit of patience.

Brent Warner
So let’s talk a little bit about the the technology. I mean, that’s that’s what we talk, you know, so the how one, I guess probably people are wondering about like, what your setup was right? In the classroom? What were you sure do you have a computer lab? But did you have students, you know, BYOD, all that type of thing, or however that was? And then and then actually, if we follow up with, you know, what software, what were you using to engage the students?

Matt Miller
Yeah, yeah. I ran the gamut. Seriously, I’m in 11 years teaching high school Spanish, I started out with one teacher desktop computer in my room for taking attendance. And that was it. But we had computer labs. Yeah, that’s exactly what it was. Yes. That was back when I had to beg, borrow and steal LCD projectors from other places, because they didn’t have them in every single room. So I started out with that. So we did a lot of stuff in the computer labs, that was a lot of like web quests and stuff like that. Our school got rolling laptop carts, which was a huge deal. And they had those, those external batteries. You know, they’re like, great big ones that you could plug in to the power port of your laptop, and it would give him a little bit of extra life. And that was the time I was still teaching out of textbooks there. And they had these CD ROMs that went with the textbook. And so they had some extra little activities and stuff. And that was actually kind of a big moment for me in educational technology, my class because you see, those kids got those laptops out, and they plugged in their little earbuds. I had a whole great big set of like class earbuds with like alcohol wipes so they can clean them off.

Brent Warner
Thank you thank you. For considering the sanitation of the students.

Matt Miller
Yeah, yeah. And so anyway, they had their earbuds and they put their CD ROMs in and they’re like listening and practicing and stuff. And I remember there was a moment, I stepped back and I kind of like cross my arms and I looked at the classroom and I was like, This is the classroom of the future. Look at this. Look at that. Look at how this is this is amazing. They’re all working on laptops like this, and I was like, look how innovative I am. Look how good of a teacher I was. Where’s the superintendent? Where’s the principal? Where’s the newspaper, like, Where’s the TV cameras, you know. And at some point, it dawned on me that what they were doing on those CD ROMs was not much different than what we were doing and our workbook pages, it was a lot of drill and kill and a lot of and so there was a moment there, where my like, you know, crossing my arms, sticking my chest out, being all proud of everything. And then all of a sudden, I’m like, this is no different. And so that was my big, like, Sammer moment, you know, like, this is just substitution or maybe augmentation, you could say, you know, but if you really want to get something out of that, out of those out of that technology, then you got to go further than that. And the next school that I went to, I had, this is the craziest setup, I had one to one desktop computers, in these little like, can just a little student desks and they had a flat screen. monitors at the back of the desk, there was a little tray that would pull out that had the keyboard, and then along the side was the tower for the the computer. And they were clunky. And they were slow. And I had all these big plans for them. And it took, like 10 minutes for them to start up at the beginning of class sometimes, like it was so bad…

Brent Warner
I remember that process of going around and turning on all the computers before students got there so that you’re ready for them. Uh huh.

Matt Miller
Yes, yes, exactly. That was that was it. And so, you know, I started to get a little bit better at innovating beyond just substitution with by technology, but the computers were still sort of a limiting factor. But then finally, finally, finally, I got a rolling laptop cart of my own that lived in my classroom with Chromebooks in it. Okay. Oh, the Chromebooks. That was that was beautiful. And those were like the days right before Google Classroom showed up. And so Google Classroom comes in. And like, you know, that simplifies the grading process and the assignment management process. And, you know, a lot of the really good apps and tools and stuff, were starting to really come out there. And I finally started to really hit my stride on like, what can my kids create with the language? That was when things started to change? It wasn’t like, how can we do flashcards? And how can we conjugate verbs and how can because you need to do some of that stuff. But it really started to change whenever I started to get into that creation mode. And even if the language wasn’t perfect, even if it was messy, I still wanted to make things with the language anyway. And so I hope I didn’t go on too long, without a big long evolution that I had from like, barely any technology, if I could get my hands on it to like, slow, clunky technology to finally something a little faster and a little more meaningful.

Brent Warner
You know, it’s funny, because you talk about those as being, you know, several years back or whatever, but there’s still teachers that are dealing with those those exact setups, right. And, sure, I think part of it is encouraging, like, hey, whatever setup you have, wherever, wherever you’re at, you can work with your students to get things going. Right. And now, of course, the computers are in their hands on. So yeah, so we have so many options of working with like mobile devices and letting our students engage in that way. And, you know, I think there’s a lot of fun things for, for teachers to start exploring with even even if they don’t have a great school setup, or the if the school is not providing them with everything, they can still kind of make adjustments to just start connecting with their students to

Matt Miller
Yeah, yeah, I totally agree with you.

Brent Warner
Okay, so Matt, so now you, you help a lot of teachers kind of understand different ways to actually engage with technology, building communication, all those types of things. Let’s run through just a couple of your favorites these days. Like what what are some of the things that you like to use or you’d like to share with teachers for for interactive activities with their students? And especially if, you know, obviously, focusing on language building, but but what what are you using to connect teachers with their students and build some real engagement?

Matt Miller
Yeah. See, for me, I’m not one of those like, flashy brand new, what’s cool, what’s hot, what’s, you know, new on the scene type of technology, guys. Like, I’m still an enormous, huge fan of Google Slides. Yeah. Yeah. You know, of course, if you’re a Microsoft and PowerPoint fits without as well, and, I mean, there are a million things you can do in a language classroom with Google Slides. You know, some of my favorites. You know, I really liked the idea of Photo comic strips, where you take a picture with your webcam, and then you insert a shape that looks like a speech bubble or a thought bubble and you add some text to it. And then you take another picture, and you add another speech bubble and you take another picture in yet another speech bubble. The neat thing about that is students can kind of act out the things that they want to communicate in the pictures that they take. And then, you know, they become the stars of the activity, you know, it’s their faces, that that’s on that activity. So I think that that is, that’s super cool. And it’s a fun way to do dialogue. It also helps them to see kind of like, naturally, which sort of pronouns are going to use. So you know, is it like the first person, the third person, like, you know, it helps them to see that a little more naturally. So I love that,

Brent Warner
oh, you know, what that’s making me think of, I’m sorry, Matt,

Ixchell Reyes
I just got an idea too.

Brent Warner
Okay, let’s share all of our ideas. So my idea was, and Ixchell sorry, if I’m stealing yours from under you. But my idea is, you can then go on to voice recorder online, record your audio of it. And now with the Google or with the Google Slides, you can click on the play audio buttons that you can plug in the audio directly on to the slides. So you could actually have students have their voice on the comic strips connected together with it. So they can also practice their speaking in their, in their pronunciation at the same time.

Ixchell Reyes
As family. Yeah, I was thinking I was thinking of my my students, the population that I work with, they have such big trouble. And in general, with reported speech, so now you could have the comic, and you could have them retell the story or whatever it is, and now they would, they could either write it out, but now it has to be changed into reported speech. And then of course, you know, you could also record that do a voice recording. But yeah, so ideas, ideas floating around triple stack.

Matt Miller
I’ll even riff on my own idea there and say, Hey, if you do a photo comic strip, and you have the pictures and the speech bubbles and stuff, you could take that slide presentation, so you could do like, you know, two or three or four pictures with speech bubbles on each slide, do you know like two or three or four slides or something? Turn on screencast fire loom, and now you’re recording the screen and you can narrate over the top of it. And so you go to that first slide, you have them read it, you have them narrate it, flip to the next slide. And now you’ve got a video recording of it.

Brent Warner
Nice!

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah!

Matt Miller
Yeah. So um, yeah, Google Slides is a is a good one. Other things that I like are the shared Google Slides, presentations, where you know, you have if you have 24 students, then you create a Google slide presentation with 24 slides, each kid gets a slide and you have them do a prompt or an activity. Sometimes whenever I show that to teachers, they’re like, Yeah, but what if they, how, how are you going to make it so they don’t look at each other and get the right answers? And my answer to that is, you don’t want to ask questions that have a specific answer to them. That kind of defeats the purpose. So it’s like a writing prompt or a storytelling or something like that. I love that there’s infographics that you can do, you know, if you pull in icons from like, the noun project, or flat icon, and have them pair a little icon with a little snippet of text? And then they can either tell stories or do things in list form? Or how tos or, you know, that would be really good for commands? I think. So any of that stuff? slides can be used? Yeah, so many different ways.

Brent Warner
I love that. Yeah, that’s that. Yeah, we were, we were just playing, we did a little presentation recently, like an educate edge of protocols and ESL presentation. And we did the numbers mania, which was, you know, kind of same same type of thing. We’re building the infographics with it, and all of those things. And I don’t think we talked about this on an episode show, but but we talked about it for presentation, which was, I used it for having my students do research on the book that we were going to read. So they said, Hey, you know, here’s a bunch of different numbers, whatever it is, go find some information on this book, and on this author, and then they’re pulling in those icons, and then writing up little, little speed, you know, little parts on it. And then and then this part of the part, one of my favorite parts of doing this is if you find an author who’s online or who’s on Twitter, then I tweet those out to them. And then they respond back, right? So I use a fetus a Dumas. And she has she writes his book, or she has this book called funny in Farsi, which, you know, it’s this excellent fun and kind of, you know, accessible book for the students, but then she’s online and then I say, hey, this, these are the names of a few students who actually, you know, built these things. And then she she comes back and she like, rah, rahs them and they’re, they’re all excited to see the connection. Yeah, you know, oh, we’re reading her book, and she’s actually Talking to me too. So there’s there, you know that that technology connection wouldn’t exist before, right? You could never do that before you could send a write a letter to someone in the past or send an email, but like, now, love is so such a great way to connect.

Matt Miller
It’s it’s audiences. And then I mean, right, you know, I mean, they got free. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, they can create, first of all, for an audience of their classmates, but then you can take it and share it, you know, with the author, and oh, my goodness, the rah rah from the author is like, huge. So that’s super cool. While we’re on slides, before we move on to something else, I wanted to throw one more quick thing out there. I’ve built a whole bunch of a whole bunch of Google Slides templates that people can make a copy of and assign directly to their students. And a lot of them are really good fits with language. For instance, I’ve got several of them that replicate social media platforms, like I’ve got one for Instagram stories and for Twitter, and for Snapchat games, a Spotify one, a Yelp, one, like a whole bunch of stuff you could do with language. If anybody wants to go to ditch that textbook.com slash templates, I’ve got all of them available for free there, you can just go over there and just make a copy into your drive. So yeah, so anyway, there’s like this great big repository of Google Slides, templates that I’ve built over the years. That’s all in that one spot, if anybody wants to go check it out. Yeah. So

Ixchell Reyes
Matt, I do a lot of tech trainings in my organization as well. And I’ve, you know, one of my go to hear teachers, you must know, this is your website because of the templates. So I just wanted to go back to to mentioning how just simply using icons, even though you’re using something so simple as an icon, the fact that now there is a pictorial something like a representation of text or whatever it is that they’re coupling it with, students are able to internalize, I think there’s more levels of or more layers of internalization, we know that, especially language learners need images, right. And so when they can, they can connect those things. It helps them to Yeah, to internalize and it goes back to where you said, you you were measuring by listening in the hallways to see to hear your students using it right. And so then it’s like, Oh, you’ve internalized it. That’s not, that’s not part of your lexicon. That’s not part of who you are. You can use speaking, you’re using it in the appropriate context. But so you want it to you are going to share, we’re going to move on to something different.

Matt Miller
Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, we can, we can keep going. I’m a big fan of flipgrid, too. You know, it feels like everybody’s a big fan of flipgrid. These days. I think it’s, you know, honestly, let this sort of date me from a how far how long it’s been since I’ve taught Spanish, but flipgrid didn’t really exist the way that it does now, when I was teaching. But my goodness, I think, you know, especially with as powerful as the video editing options are in flipgrid, like, all this stuff, you can create with language in a moment’s notice, and then be able to share it with class if you want to super cool. And then there’s one other thing I’ll throw in there, too. If students are kind of hung up on being on video, and they’re not as excited about that, if you want them to have the audio practice, there’s another tool called synth. You can go to ghost synth calm. It’s kind of like an audio version of flipgrid. They call it podcasting in small bites. And so you can record a little audio clip, and then students can reply to each other’s audio clip. So it becomes almost like nested conversations like Reddit, only it’s done with audio. So it’s kind of a natural way to follow a conversation in small bite sized audio. It’s kind of like having an audio conversation asynchronously. That’s awesome. That’s interesting. Yeah,

Ixchell Reyes
I’ve never heard of that one. Can you spell that out for us?

Matt Miller
Yeah, it’s a synth S y n t h. So it’s gosynth.com.

Ixchell Reyes
Okay, got it. That’s cool.

Brent Warner
Yeah, awesome. So Matt, one thing we’re thinking about, I mean, I think we’re all dealing with COVID. Right. It’s, it’s still here at the moment. And yeah, I imagine, you know, in the past, you’re traveling all over the place, right? You’re You’re, you’re keynoting there, you’re doing workshops here, right, all of those types of things. And now, most of us are stuck. And so I’m imagining that you’re also kind of re imagining conversations, and not just for your workshops and presentations, but I mean for students and like talking because now what people want is like Well, how do I do this all all online? And I guess we could talk about an individual things, but I guess really what I’m kind of wondering for you because you’re interacting with so many different teachers and seeing different things. What are you starting to think? Or see as the kind of like the next steps the future like how are How are what are you imagining that people are going to be doing online for their learning? And do you have any kind of, you know futurism predictions here, I guess is what I’m getting, oh,

Matt Miller
I’m, I’m really bad at these. But I’ll I’ll kind of I’ll play along for you Brent. So, one, one direction that I really like, that I see education going. And actually, I’m seeing more of it with, you know, sort of the online, remote learning, concurrent learning, hybrid learning, all of that is incorporating more choice and to learning. And so I think the more that teachers get comfortable with that, I think the more that they see how it can be done without just saying, like, okay, here’s our class. Now, just go learn whatever you want, you just make this class, whatever you want. And, you know, the truth is that it doesn’t obviously have to be that way. There are small choices you can give students and then it kind of extrapolates out. But I’ve found that as we’ve gone to more asynchronous, remote learning, you know, giving students letting them do things kind of on their own time that has kind of lended itself to giving them more choice. And so I feel like this is just a gut feel thing. But, you know, from following social media, and from the conversations I’ve had with teachers, that I think we’re starting to see what a little bit more choice looks like. Maybe that’s one of the you know, every once in a while you hear people talking about the silver lining that is going to come out of all of this. And maybe this is a one of them that we start to see what a little more of this choice looks like. And so that’s definitely one thing. That’s, that’s really one thing that I really love out of all of this.

Brent Warner
Yeah, I’ve seen no, I Well, I’m, I’m seeing more presentations and more people talking about like choice boards, right. And that whole thing, so it’s like, it takes work to set those up. Right? That’s, that’s the biggest problem with with the choice boards. And for those who don’t know, sorry, yeah, yeah, for those who don’t know, the choice boards is like, it could be like a tic tac toe grid with like, Hey, you have nine different possible activities, and you get it, you get to choose like a three in a row that are going to be the three activities that you’re going to do or something like that. But that also means that a teacher has to set up.

Matt Miller
Yeah, and see, I’ll even take that a different direction and go, you know, if somebody looks at a five by five bingo board, and they think Holy cow, I can’t make 25 activities, or 24, if you give them a free space in the middle, like, you know, that one, one direction that you could go with that is you could have five variations across the top and five variations down the bottom or down the side. So you know, you know, it could be kind of like, you know, create a video is one create something in audio is to create an image is three, right in text is four, or do something, you know, artistic or drawing, or whatever is five there, your five across the top right, and then your five down the side could be use this vocabulary list this vocabulary list this one. So like, in that case, you don’t have to really come up with 25 different activities, it can be different variations, you know, and so then that that makes it a little there are little things like that, you know that. I think that’s one of the big misconceptions when it comes to differentiated instruction and choice like that, like, you know, I co authored the book, don’t ditch that tech, which is a kind of like a digital differentiation book. And that was one of the myths that we tried to crush is that you don’t need to make 25 different assignments for 25 different kids, if you help them to figure out how to adjust Little by little, and if you provide some, you know, if you provide some simple ways that they can adjust to fit their needs and everything, it can all be done. And of course your technology can help you do some of that stuff, too. So yeah, I I totally hear you on the choice boards thing and I think that is a that is a real thing. But I think there’s there’s some some some things that we can do to to sort of defeat that a little bit.

Brent Warner
Yeah, that’s great. Because I love the idea of the of the choice boards, I just see, you know, I just see as the teacher’s eyes glaze over when you’re like, hey, you’re gonna make 25 activities for for a 30 minute class or whatever. They’re like, No, thank you.

Matt Miller
They’re gonna give you the stink eye.

Brent Warner
Okay, so, Matt, there’s a lot of different things to talk about and think about here, but I know you’ve also… the timing of this, we’re coming in right in the middle of your, your summit. So can you share a little bit about Ditch Summit?

Matt Miller
Yes, I would love to. So this is the fifth year for the Ditch Summit, really the ditch that textbook digital summit, it’s a free online conference for teachers that I’ve put on. For the last five years, I actually did a version of this with CUE for a couple of years. And so, you know, it’s basically just a whole bunch of video presentations, I, you know, I select prisoners to come in and present what they’re passionate and knowledgeable about. And I try to pick topics that I know people are, you know, interested in things that can be very practical. And over the last five years, we’ve amassed a library of I think, now more than 60, video presentations by all sorts of different educators and you know, various walks of education, different age groups, lots of different topics. And, you know, of course, it’s all asynchronous, it’s all recorded. So you can come in, and you can watch the presentations, you can generate a certificate of completion for professional development credit for any of them. Remember, there’s more than 60 of them. So do the math on that for your PD hours. And there’s a hashtag the ditch summit hashtag is usually hoppin whenever this is going on, because people are sharing what they’re learning. So it runs from December 14, through January 8 this year. And one of the unique things about it is that you can only watch the videos when the summit is open. I want it to feel a little bit like a real conference, you know, where you show up on at the location, you’re there for a few days, everybody’s there, but then everybody goes home. So it’s kind of the same idea there. But yeah, we’ve got some really, really great presentations this year, that’ll be brand new. And we’ve got five years worth of other presentations that you can go watch as well. So if anybody’s interested in signing up for it that I mentioned, it’s free, because it’s free. It’s not even one of those watch for free, but you can buy lifetime access for 59 dot like, we don’t have that we don’t have sponsors. This is just it’s just really free. But if you want to go sign up for it, it’s at ditch summit.com. That’s where you can get signed up, and it will start on December 14. Actually, it started on December 14, I forget how this is going.

Brent Warner
We’re traveling through time here. Yeah,

Matt Miller
Yeah, yeah, exactly. It’ll run through January 8. Awesome.

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah. There’s some great speakers. I’m looking at the lineup and it is great.

Brent Warner
Yeah, I log in. I log in pretty much every year, I think. And I’m, you know, I’m just like, Oh, I want to see that. I want to see that. There’s, there’s always good stuff going on. So yeah, definitely worth checking out. Okay, so we are wrapping things up… Ixchell? Fun finds!.

Ixchell Reyes
It is time for our fun finds! And this time around. As I’ve been saying, in the last few episodes, it’s it’s important to do to take care of your self, especially if you feel isolated, like me, I miss my students, I miss my colleagues, I miss the classroom. And so one of the things I recently purchased that I that I find useful nowadays, especially now that the election is over, and we can breathe a little more calm commonly. It’s essential oil, and it’s the peace and harmony blend by now. And oh w it’s one of the lower and essential oils. I have a lot of friends that are into the higher end essential oils. But this one’s an essential oil you can put on when you want to relax or right before bed and it’s got like, I think it’s cinnamon and a couple of other

Brent Warner
How do you put on essential oils? Do you just drip it on your face, or?…

Ixchell Reyes
Well, no. You could you could dab it on your wrist or but, you need an oil diffuser. So it’s sort of like, you can just get one from like Target.

Brent Warner
Oh yeah, you put it with the water and it sprays out some spray.

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah, mix it with the water and it sprays out some spray and then it smells really good.

Brent Warner
Nice.

Ixchell Reyes
But that’s my Fun Find.

Brent Warner
All right. Um, mine is Nooks.in So I was at a conference recently the DET/CHE conference, which is digital educate, sorry, nope. Directors of Educational Technology, California Higher Education, which is a mouthful, whatever that is. But anyways, a good conference, but they had this thing called nooks and basically it was kind of a back channel slash interactive, zoom replacement type of thing. It’s really it’s it’s a little hard to describe, but it was so great and so engaging because basically what can happen is you can get into little groups with people live like you’re like you do in zoom or whatever else. But you can also see the presenters talking at the same time and you can talk to the few people with your voice. You can jump around to different rooms you can check in, you can peek in on rooms before you join them. There’s all sorts of little funky things that are really much more like the natural conference feeling where you’re interacting with people that just doesn’t happen so much when you’re on zoom or, you know, Google meet or anything else like that. And so I’m just super interested in this right now. And I want to see what what might happen with it. So knucks dot i n, it’s worth looking into it’s it seems fairly new. I don’t know much more much about it, because I’m just Today’s the first time I experienced it, but it’s really worth looking at. So I think it’s just called looks Diane. Matt, what do you got?

Matt Miller
Um, yeah, so I’ve been recording podcasts and videos and different things like that for for several years, I’ve been using the same old USB microphone, I’ve had my trusty Audio Technica ATR 2100 USB microphone.

Brent Warner
Good ol Audio Technica.

Matt Miller
Oh Yeah, that’s right. You gotta love it. And eventually, it started to develop a short and it just wasn’t reliable for me anymore. And so I finally had to pull the trigger and get a new USB microphone. So if you are wanting to do some podcasting, if you want to record videos, if you really, if you want to have something that sounds good on video calls or something, I just bought an audio technica 2020. So it’s an 80 2020 microphone, they’ve got the regular 80 2020 you know, which is a nice high quality USB, you just plug it right into your laptop, or your computer or your Chromebook or whatever, and it just hooks right up. I actually splurged and got the 80 2020 plus, which has a microphone volume. Yeah, no, I know. That’s right. It doesn’t actually have any extra features. It just has a plus on it. No. But it lets you adjust the microphone volume. And it also lets you mix between in your headphones, you can mix between what you hear through computer and what you hear through your microphone, so you get the perfect blend and everything. It’s it’s pretty nice. So if you’re looking for something that’ll sound good, the 80 2020 is a good one. And then if you want those extra fancy features, throw the plus in there too.

Brent Warner
Right? Plus it is.

Ixchell Reyes
Thank you so much for listening to the show. If you’re listening, you could win a one of a kind DIESOL pin by leaving us a review on Apple podcasts. And if you’re giving a shout out any other way, just make sure you tag us on social media. And then Matt, you’re getting one for being a guest on the show. So we’ll get that to you.

Brent Warner
For show notes and other episodes, please check out DIESOL.org and then this show is DIESOL.org slash three one. And of course you can listen to us at voiceEd Canada. That’s v o i c e d dot c a. We are on Twitter and all sorts of other things but mostly Twitter so you can find the show at @DIESOLpod. And you can find me at @BrentGWarner.

Ixchell Reyes
You can find me Ixchell at @Ixy_Pixy that’s I x y underscore p i x y. And Matt, where we can find you?

Matt Miller
Yeah, you can find me on Twitter at @jmattmiller, that’s the letter J Matt with two T’s Miller

Brent Warner
and Matt there are other ways that people can find you too. So throw out all your all your resources.

Matt Miller
Yes, I’d love to so ditchthattextbook.com is the main website. In fact, if I can make kind of like a free giveaway to the people that are listening to this, you know, I’ve got these three free ebooks available on my website. If you sign up for my email newsletter, which is where you know, I’m sharing all of the, you know, practical teaching ideas you can use right away. You can get that by going to ditch that textbook.com/101 those are probably the best best things that I can that I can offer.

Brent Warner
Awesome. Thank you!

Ixchell Reyes
Cool

Matt Miller
In Estonian Thank you is aitäh, aitäh for tuning in to the DIESOL podcast.

Brent Warner
Thanks everybody.

Ixchell Reyes
See you soon. See you next year.

Matt Miller taught in public schools for more than 10 years, teaching all levels of high school Spanish. In his career, he planned nearly 12,000 class lessons. He taught more than half a million instructional minutes. And he graded work for nearly 2,000 days of class. His blog, “Ditch That Textbook”, and four books have equipped and inspired tens of thousands of educators in more than 100 countries. He lives in west central Indiana and says that he’s living the dream — happily married with three kids, two dogs, and a mortgage.

Check out Matt’s freebies for listeners and more at DitchthatTextbook.com/101!

Catch some awesome PD during Ditch That Textbook Summit Ditch Summit – December 14 – Jan 8 ditchsummit.com. It is FREE!

Matt’s Activities

Fun Finds

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