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Creating Thematic Unit Plans for Checkpoint A

Co-presenters:  Dr. Joanne O’Toole, Dr. Lori Langer de Ramirez & Bill Heller

Date & Time:  Tuesday, November 8th, 2022, 8:00 a.m.—3:00 p.m.

6.5 hours of CTLE credit offered

Link to workshop flyer

The Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL) of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) presents a virtual full-day workshop entitled Creating Thematic Unit Plans for Checkpoint A on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  This professional learning event is offered in anticipation of the September 2023 implementation of the NYS Learning Standards for World Languages (2021) with first-year Checkpoint A classes (Grade 7) and is free of charge for world language educators and administrators working or studying in New York State schools, colleges, universities, BOCES/RBERNs, or other educational institutions.

The focus of this full-day workshop is on developing rich thematic unit plans at the Checkpoint A level. It is designed so that individual teachers as well as entire world language departments can collaborate to develop an in-depth understanding of each section of the Thematic Unit Plan design template through alternating “input sessions” and “onsite tasks”, in which teachers will work with their departments.  This workshop is offered live via Zoom and will not be recorded for future viewing.

During the day, participants will:

  • Analyze Checkpoint A proficiency targets and performance indicators;
  • Develop engaging themes based on anchor topics;
  • Write function-driven Can-Do Statements for each standard and identify acceptable evidence;
  • Identify how language structures and vocabulary support language functions and context and are selected at Checkpoint A; and
  • Apply concepts learned in today’s session to the NYS World Language unit plan template to design a standards-based thematic unit plan.

NYSED-OBEWL will provide digital materials to local building or district facilitators in advance of the workshop to maximize the active engagement of participants. 

The schedule of the day is as follows:

           8:00 - 9:15          Input Session 1 - Performance Indicators and Themes

          9:15 - 10:00         Onsite Task 1 - Thematic Thinking

         10:00 - 11:15       Input Session 2 - Function Driven Can-Do Statements and Acceptable Evidence

         11:15 - 12:00       Onsite Task 2 - Writing Can-Do Statements and Acceptable Evidence

         12:00 - 12:30       Lunch (on your own)

          12:30 - 1:30        Input session 3 - Language Structures and Vocabulary

           1:30 - 2:15          Onsite Task 3 - Creating the Language Toolbox

           2:15 - 3:00          Input Session 4 - Completing your Unit Plan: Assessment Tasks and Authentic Resources (Q & A and closure)

Registration process:  All participants must be registered for this event.  Registration will close by November 7th; there will be no same-day registrations.  Only registered attendees will be eligible to receive a certificate documenting their attendance, including CTLE certificates.  Individuals who are the only participants in their district/school/organization may register themselves, or one person from the district/school/organization may register multiple educators or an entire department on a single registration form (see link below).  Registrations will be processed on a rolling basis.  Once the registrant's email address has been verified as being from a New York State school, college, or university, an email confirming their registration will be sent.  Twenty-four hours prior to the event, all registered individuals will receive login instructions with the link to join the workshop.

Link to registration form

When multiple educators from a single district, school, or organization are registered for this workshop, a facilitator for the workshop must be designated.  The facilitator will be responsible for communicating information about the workshop to their departments, arranging for the printing of workshop materials and the technology necessary for departments to participate (computer, webcam, projector, screen), as well as confirming attendance of department members following the workshop.  Departments will only need to communicate amongst themselves - they will not need to have individual devices, webcams, or microphones to communicate virtually with participants from other schools/regions.

Facilitators will be required to attend a pre-workshop meeting on Wednesday, November 2nd from 3:15-3:45 p.m.  We will go over the facilitator responsibilities for before, during, and after the workshop.  The Zoom link to this November 2nd meeting will be sent to the designated facilitator.

For any questions on this workshop or the registration process, please contact Candace Black via phone (585.356.0951) or email (

Workshop presenters:

  • Dr. Joanne O'Toole is a Professor of Modern Language Education in the Curriculum and Instruction Department at SUNY Oswego. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the NYSED World Languages Content Advisory Panel and the Principal Investigator of the NYS World Language Standards Initiative. Joanne has served in several world language leadership positions including NYSAFLT President and NECTFL Director, and is a regular presenter at national, regional, state, and local conferences. Joanne is a certified teacher of Spanish and taught Spanish for 16 years prior to entering post-secondary education.
  • Dr. Lori Langer de Ramirez began her language teaching career as a teacher of Spanish, French and ESL. She holds a Master's Degree in Applied Linguistics and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently the Director of World and Classical Languages & Global Language Initiatives at the Dalton School in New York City. Lori is the author of books, texts and articles about language teaching and learning and multicultural education. She presents workshops at local, regional and national conferences and works with teachers in schools throughout the U.S. and around the world. Her website ( offers free materials for teaching Chinese, English, French, and Spanish.
  • Bill Heller has taught in public elementary, secondary, community college and undergraduate classrooms for 40 years, including 24 years teaching Spanish at Perry High School. He has been a methods and Spanish instructor at SUNY Geneseo since 2001.  He is a frequent presenter of workshops, webinars and keynotes. Bill served as Conference Chair for the 2018 Northeast Conference (NECTFL) and is currently a member of the Executive Board and Content Advisory Panel for World Languages at the New York State Education Department (NYSED).