Posted by: Michel Baker | January 29, 2016

Playing TPRS House

Since August, I have been practicing many of the things that Jason Fritze taught us at the National Conference last July and wanted to share a bit more of it with you here.

Jason encouraged us to crouch down, rub our hands together, make delighted eye contact with the class and say “Juguemos [Let’s play] before starting a session of TPR.  I do this while holding up a sign that says “Juguemos” and ” Let’s play,” just until they get that word.  It took me a while to get it integrated into my practice, but once I finally did, I noticed that it instantly transfers excitement to the students.  One can even say “Juguemos” to them at any point during Storyasking because it can also serve the same purpose as Ben Slavic’s “Secreto,” buying this practitioner a moment to think when I don’t know what to do next in the story.  All of TPRS is playing, anyway, isn’t it, much like “playing house” when we were little.

During Storyasking, comparatively fewer students feel the need to write the words down, but a significant number of them do; we second language teachers were surely like them.  So in order to keep the students who like to write things mindfully participating while we “play TPRS house,” they are asked to write it quickly and then get immediately back to full participation in the story.  This way, instruction still mimics mama and child, while also meeting students’ need to write things down.  As children, we played house by fully participating in the playing of house.  The same must be true for fluency development via TPRS; all senses are in, and when someone needs to write things down really quickly before looking back up and participating, that is always fine with me.

Posted by: Michel Baker | October 29, 2015

Contextualized Chanting

Before TPRS found me, I used to chant and act out everything I wanted my students to know.  I got some results, provided that students would start chanting their words in order to activate them.  But, how conversational is that, anyway?  Not at all.  The chanting was outside of context and for the purpose of having my students “know” each vocabulary word.

After 12 years of teaching hundreds of words that way through rote chanting, I got to see another way, unconsciously, at Carol Gaab’s TPRS training in Columbia, SC in 2007.  But, I could not knowingly see it, yet, as we were all taking in so much.  A few years later at a National TPRS Conference, I raised a question in class about the kind of chanting I had done for so many years prior with my students, and Carol told us all not to chant that way because it was not contextualized.  The students would easily zone out, if all we were doing was chanting the colors, for example.  I still did not fully understand, I guess because I was busily working on other skills, and I tucked this information away.  I trusted Carol with this instruction, and I stopped the rote chanting.  Meanwhile, I always kept the question of chanting in the back of my mind.

With all the skills we have all been working to hone over the years, it took hearing this once again, this time from Jason Fritze, at this past summer’s National Conference, as he asked us to sometimes chant our Circling Questions.  I wondered about this, as I had stopped chanting altogether.

In order to provide a Brain Break, to rescue floundering attention spans, to drum up student enthusiasm, Jason challenged us to stop in the middle of whatever story we are asking, and chant for fun whatever question we are asking at the time.  His example for us was, “¿Dónde, dónde, dónde está? [Where, where, where is it?]”  He chanted it with us over and over, as we were to act it out with our hands on our foreheads.  I participated, took notes on it and tucked them away into my suitcase until I could process them at home.

This week, while reviewing the notes and deciding how and where I might put into practice the things that we learned last summer, I came upon once again Jason’s chanting challenge.  While Storyasking, just when student attention spans were starting to wane, I got them up onto their feet and we started chanting the structure that we were targeting, within the context of the story we were asking:

One story was about a student we’ll call “Bob,” who doesn’t want the Kleenex; everyone except for “Bob” had to get up onto their feet to chant softly with me, while gesturing and walking in tiny circles, as I chanted aloud, “Bob no lo quiere [doesn’t want it].”  Everyone got a physical jolt to their attention span, and we all had fun doing it.

In the next class, we acted and chanted “Alex se llama Alex [Alex is named Alex],” in order to drive home the point that the kid in class whose name is Alex really is named Alex, not the other kid “Freddy,” who was playfully claiming that he is named Alex.  We all had a great time doing this, and the Affective Filter went way low.

As I experienced the joy of Contextualized Chanting for the very first time this week, my thoughts immediately rushed back to the many times that Carol Gaab had demonstrated this in her training dvd’s and in person with us at workshops and conferences.  Not all the time, but every so often, Carol stops in the middle of her Storyasking and chants whatever we are talking about at the time, over and over with us the students, just as a quick Brain Break and in a playful way, even clapping her hands in front of her body and then again behind her body, over and over, just for fun, saying “Ha ze’ev ratz le bayit. [The wolf runs to the house.]”  And now I fully understand one reason why I remember that phrase in Hebrew to this day, 8 years after my first Carol Gaab workshop.

A fellow practitioner named Charlcie Swadley asked an important question about management on the IFLT/NTPRS/Ci Teaching Facebook page…I was so glad she asked the question.  Taming the “barbarie” into a “civilicación” is a very constant reality for all of us, and in my opinion, it is half of what we do.

I spent the first three years of my career working to learn classroom management skills, as this did not come naturally for me at all. Over the next 20 years of your career, you will collect a whole bag of tricks you can use.

I encourage you to go observe some of your master classroom teachers, and ask what they do. Fred Jones’ Tools for Teaching is an entertaining and life changing read for softies like me, full of advice about Meaning Business, and illustrated with Far Side-like cartoon drawings.

Jason Fritze reminded us this summer to divide the class into two teams that compete with each other, which they seem to love.

Model for them the procedures you want to see, then have the class practice them silently with you. If anyone makes even one gutteral noise, we redo …practice, practice practice for the first several weeks of school until they get it right. Use every failed behavior as a great teaching moment/opportunity (Fred Jones). Behavior management is ALWAYS first before instruction. If someone on one of the two teams is a repeat offender regarding behavior, I tell the class that I will remove such a person from the team to play on their own team against their own self in order to keep from walking laps at recess. Talk with the whole class, as though you have no idea who it is out there that might consider such a thing. They usually shape right up.

Use Carol Gaab’s Silent/Managed Response.

As the year progresses, I start a notebook that has one page per homeroom, with a sticky note T chart for each child who needs extra support, and I mark a positive point every time I catch them showing leadership, a negative point when they are forgetting to follow the prodedures. If they get more points on the positive side, they have been a leader that day; if more on the negative side, how ever many more points they get on there is the number of laps/minutes they must walk at the next recess. I explain this to the student one on one, and I conduct it without the rest of the class knowing.

However, those are the biggest guns I have, and I only bring them out as a last resort. Most of the time, I just keep all of my students as far away from the cliff as I can by doing more preventative things: using my proximity as I physically “work the room,” keeping Jones’ “red/yellow/green zones” in constant flux so that no one has time to even consider whether it is safe to “goof off.”

Each child is told they may sit in Criss Cross Applesauce or with both knees under their chin, as long as they are on their bottom at all times.. They may also stand up if they need to, as long as they are not blocking someone’s view, and it truly helps them to focus…I move to where all can see, if I can help in that way.

Students are taught to “think it to yourself in your brain,” rather than blurting. They are only allowed to talk without raising their hand under three conditions: when they are making a +/- Rejoinder comment in TL (I am not talking at the time, they say it once and stop saying it, no one else has just made a comment, it is respectful, it makes good sense, and they say it in TL), checking for meaning or answering a question that I ask them. All other questions require a raised hand, and I usually silently and lovingly motion for them to put their hand back down, or I hold up a translated sign that asks if it is an emergency, followed by a sign that asks if it can wait. I offer question time at the end of class, on their way out, while the others are silently exiting class, but I try not to encourage this to get out of hand.

I used to lose my voice a lot and had to learn how to redirect them silently with gestures, so I still do a lot of that simply to keep from allowing the instruction to be interrupted with verbal redirection…Ben Slavic points and pauses at rules on the wall while making firm and loving eye contact with the perpetrator, and I adapt this for elementary by pointing at the part of the body on the”Rules Boy” poster that needs to be under control. When the student complies, keep eye contact with them while you smile, and say, “Gracias. (a la Susan Gross).”

I encourage you to invest in some wiggle seats by Isokinetics…I now have a class set, worth it. You might also try to keep a sturdy antique chair, a rocking chair, a bean bag, rolling chairs with a small stool to steady the feet, for the neediest students. Set your teacher’s desk in the back, arrange the seating in a Fred Jones chevron with wide pathways and boulevards that allow you to get to any student within as few steps as possible.

Keep a seating chart. When you need to change someone’s seat, ask the class to subvocalize as you spell the students’ names aloud while writing them onto the new spot on the seating chart. If you do not trust the students to wait quietly for you, you can always fall back on the Silent Game, with one volunteer up front looking for the quietest boy in the room, or a girl, if s/he can’t find a quiet boy.

Set things up for success by asking them to “nod their head if you think that…”

Work out, eat right, drink plenty of water and get to bed early each night so that you will be there to catch that ball and stay one step ahead of them behavior wise…never take your eyes off of them.

Program your computer alarm to go off 3 minutes before time to leave, all across the day so you can focus on THEM.

Keep a points system, this year’s for me is a tiki on a surfboard on a wave. They start out almost at the top of the wave on the number 3. They can either go up over the wave to land at 5 or down the back side of the wave to land at 1. Tally this on a chart at the end of class, and culminate with a celebration in December when they “get enough points to have one.”

Finally, and most importantly, use the Love and Logic ways…love the students…they will be able to tell if you don’t. Say, “I expect everyone in this class to do these things. If someone forgets, I will give the student a chance to fix it. If s/he can’t fix it or will not fix it, I will do something. And what I do will depend on that person’s situation.”

Mean business and love the students. They will rise to the occasion.

Posted by: Michel Baker | July 23, 2015

NTPRS Day 4: Jason Fritze’s Elementary TPRS Track, Part 2

I wanted to finish telling you more about some of Jason Fritze’s new, great takeaways…

Do 5 different segments in a 45 minute class period, or they will check out.  Vary the activities.  Take “Commercial Breaks” by stopping the Storyasking to do TPR or an old Curtain/Dahlberg game or some other Brain Break and then return to Storyasking.  Do all of it with Comprehensible Input.

Have ALL of the students punch their hand if one of them does…this makes the one feel like s/he isn’t alone in not comprehending.

Draw a circle around the “s” in “tienes” [you have] when it changes from “tiene” [has], and then draw a circle around the word “you,” written underneath in English, to keep the board from becoming jumbled and yet allow the students to see what the added “s” means.

Make some blank speech bubbles out of laminated posterboard so that you can write erasable dialogue on it with an Expo marker.  Then, hold them over the heads of your actors.  It looks very funny and extends the reach of the written language.  Take labeled manipulatives off of your interactive word walls during Storyasking and use them as props or as part of the speech bubbles!

Sing, “Hay un problema” [There is a problem], and the students respond with “dum da dum dum dummmmm…..”  Also, make up a tune and start singing whatever Circling Question you are currently asking…sing it over and over, as we act it out.  All of this hones student attention!

Jason whispered to the actors to learn if in real life there is a family member they could ask for permission to have a new pet.  Then, he would get an actor to play that actual role in the story.

Ask the class if the next character is one of our old characters from a prior story.  It is usually not, but the students get to chuckle with fond memories, as you recycle the old language.

Don’t let targeted structures go dormant, build on them.  Jason’s Question Word Word Wall serves as a reminder the teacher of what words have been previously targeted.  He recommended that you might try to have one for each grade level.  I think I will first try writing things up in colors that match grade level, both because of spiral overlap and transition time.

When it is “le dice” [says to him/her/it/formal you], just write up the one we are using right now in the story, not all four of the possible meanings.

Build actor intensity by modeling melodrama, as you say their lines.  Do it stronger and stronger until you get the most emotion out of your actor.  By doing so, you get several more reps of the language being targeted.

If an actor has to cry, have them cry.  Then, turn to the rest of the class and say, “Clase, llora [cry].”  Then have the actor cry again.  Be sure to teach the word “Stop” in your target language from the beginning!

Have temporarily inactive actors simply sit down on the floor, for now.  This prevents wiggles and wandering while waiting.

Use a few different colors and numbers in EVERY story.  This ensures that they get covered effortlessly.

When you say “Hay un niño/niña/animal” [There is a boy/girl/animal], immediately ask what kind and what their name is.

You can do shortened Pair Retells by stopping the Storyasking every now and then and asking them to turn to each other and interpret to each other the sentence just stated.  They thereby help each other confirm comprehension.

If a story does not seem over, yet class time is, feel free to say “Fin” [The End], and leave the story unresolved.

Jason confirmed my suspicion that the more complex structure “quiere comprar” [wants to buy] is for older grades.  While they are younger and just starting out, start off with “quiere” by itself.

Jason introduced us to the work of Erin Gotwals, an Elementary TPRS teacher at Sabin World Elementary School in Denver Public Schools.  Erin projects stories with photos onto her interactive white board and has a student click through the pages while she looks at the class and talks about each one with them.  Here also is a sample lesson:  http://www.schooltube.com/video/2a8bccee1acf1ede4018/Erin-Gotwals-Part-1.  Jason stated in class that in Denver Public Schools, world language teachers “may not use a textbook, they must teach with Comprehensible Input.”

On this note, I will close for today.  Please stay tuned for more on Jason’s class, plus highlights from today’s Elementary FVR Workshop, a wonderful complement, as Jason promised.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

I have enjoyed seeing you all this week…I so wish that I could have gone to every session and spent time with every one of you.  What a comfort it is to know that I am a part of such an enormous, enthusiastic and outstanding family of professionals.  May God richly bless us all as we return home to put into practice all that we have learned this week.

Posted by: Michel Baker | July 22, 2015

NTPRS 2015 Day 3: Coaching through War and Peace

We all know that receiving and/or observing coaching is an integral part of getting better at TPRS.  The struggles I was permitted to have in front of twenty people with a coach several years ago made me into the better practitioner that I am today.  I appreciated the coach arresting my actions right in the middle of them and redirecting me to make it be all about the students, while I was also being made to feel valuable in the process.  My coach did this by being completely fascinated with all things involved, from the grand scheme all the way down to the minute detail.  He enabled me to really begin doing TPRS by redirecting me, hijacking me in the middle of where I was headed away from the goal…kind of how a director guides his actors to perform effectively, as he sees fit.

The experience reminded me of how a boat pulls a beginning water skier up onto training skis for the very first time.  I could not get myself up on top of the water.  I needed a pull and was glad to have the coach and the support of so many other people in the room rooting for me, struggling through it with me.

After my turn was over that evening, I got to witness the same things with the next of my fellow coachees, but this time with a lot less internal stress inside of me.  I could observe the practitioners getting stuck and being allowed to stay stuck for a little while before the coach skillfully and caringly jumped in to redirect.  The time that was allowed to lapse while the practitioner went fumbling for what to do next gave all of us time to consider what we would do if we were on the floor, and it gave the practitioner the time needed to try and work it out on his own, first.  When the coach would finally redirect the practitioner aloud, we could either sigh with relief that our intuition had been well founded, or be guided into a new direction of thinking.

Musicians cannot play an entire symphony from start to finish without stopping to fix problems, and sometimes they must be allowed to struggle through them themselves. Gentle Coaching offers practitioners a choice: some prefer that their coaches whisper their redirectives, and others do not mind their comments being shared aloud for the benefit of the group.  As an observer struggling to learn, I want to know what to do to perform better and am willing to be interrupted in order to receive the guidance, and I want that others may hear it, as well.  There are many options available, and I believe beginners will grab onto any of them they are offered in order to keep on top of the water until learning to ski on our own.

Tonight in the War and Peace Room, I also got a sample of what it is like to watch a practitioner battle it out with no redirection at all, making it look effortless and very entertaining.  I want to encourage as many of us as possible to be willing for our coaches’ comments to be made aloud for the benefit of the group in order that we may all learn together, and yet also to respect the needs of those who wish to be coached more gently.  There are so many different ways to coach, and each of us is unique in how we best get the coaching.

While sitting at breakfast this morning, four teachers from Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville, VA told me that they have each recently converted to TPRS because a German teacher in their district has been using it.  I asked them what the German teacher did in order to persuade them to make the switch, and they responded that she had done nothing.  Instead, it was her high test scores and a growing German program full of happy students that wooed them.

This evening, I interviewed Jason Fritze briefly, mainly just to catch up.  He, too, said that results are what sell methodologies.

In class, Jason also cautioned us not to throw out the baby with the bathwater and mentioned that older methods can and really must be peppered in as Brain Breaks throughout TPRS in order to keep the TPRS fresh, as long as the activities are conducted with Comprehensible Input, rather than forced output.

For example, he demonstrated Carol Ann Pesola-Dahlberg and Helena Curtain’s Fly Swatting Game, their Monster Drawing Activity and the Magic Box, while each was conducted in totally 100% comprehensible TL that had already been acquired through TPRS.  Students were asked to swat the correct picture that the teacher describes in full sentences that contain only previously targeted language, take a surprise out of the Magic Box while the teacher Circles it through PQA and draw a monster on a piece of paper as the teacher draws it with them up front on the board while talking them through it via Circling…all using previously acquired language only, nothing new and currently incomprehensible.

Jason told us that in a 45 minute class, activities should totally change every 10 minutes, and the changes should include TPR or other such Brain Break activities as older methods offer…just keep it in the form of Comprehensible Input.

Jason also reminded us elementary teachers to choose what words we target very carefully because of our limited instructional time, going for the highest frequency words first.  Because of the limited time, he also targets his verbs in present tense only, just not to confuse the children; verbs can (and, in my opinion, should) be used contextually in other tenses, but he always targets them in the present tense so that students can assume that the present tense is the default.

This evening after taking a 5 minute dip in the pool, I changed clothes and headed over to “The War and Peace Room” to see some Reality Coaching in action.  There was a growing number of approximately 60 teachers, and I got to watch a delightful Creole teacher named Carol Mears get up and have a go at Storyasking for her very first time…a job well done…I applaud her for getting up!  Next, a young fellow named Brian Peck from Michigan got up to be coached.  He has been practicing TPRS for one year after having attended last year’s iFLT Conference.   Brian reasked a story from the night before in Belizean Kriol and demonstrated such talent in Personalization and Flow that everyone was laughing at the actors and the language, riveted by the cutesy story of a man who has lost his wife and needs another one.  I must ask you, where else can you find 60 plus teachers gathering at 10:00 at night to continue working the method about which they just sat in class all day for seven hours on the second day of a week long conference?  That’s the beauty of TPRS…we just can’t stop talking about it and seeking to hone its skills.  As Jason Fritze alluded, it really is theater.

The Sheraton Diamond Ballroom was packed at 8:00 am with 350 professionals from all over the world who had gathered as TPRS inventor Blaine Ray heartily welcomed us to the 2015 NTPRS conference.  He quoted John Dewey: “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

I stood in the back and scanned the massive hall, as my eyes welled up with tears of joy at the monumental space filled with educators who felt TPRS was worth a week out of their summer vacation and a sizable sum out of their pockets.  Some came paying their own way, while others came with financial backing.  Some were fresh out of college, and others have taught for decades.  Some were poised to experience TPRS for the very first time, still others have been practicing it for years.  Some seek to improve, while others want to learn how to share it with others.  All of us were caught up together in one a glorious moment, anxious to take it all in this week, not to miss anything.

And yet, there is so much more available now, as the number of workshops offered has multiplied exponentially since I attended my last National Conference in San Antonio five years ago.

As I looked around, I saw the familiar faces of so many who have begun to make contributions to the method, each in their own way.  Some have become coaches, others presenters, still others authors, researchers, bloggers and organizers.  Some who used to serve in one area may now have graduated to another, and still others have shifted to fill the positions left behind.  We greeted one another as though we were family, the passage of time having done nothing to erase our bonds.

Now that I am once again working in my beloved field of elementary Spanish, I joined Jason Fritze’s Elementary TPRS track.  I had taken the Experienced Track under Jason while at the Ixtapa Multicultural Conference four years ago, so I knew his training would be stellar and also innovative, with Jason having had four more years of experience and study under his belt.

I was gratefully surprised when he began by focusing in on TPR, an often overlooked skill with new practitioners busily honing the tenets of TPRS, and one that I have been practicing more carefully over the past year.  Jason said that TPR is necessary for classroom management and is also a needed Brain Break to be conducted at every other interval throughout what you are doing with TPRS, such as in between PQA and Storyasking.  He also confirmed my suspicion that you can Circle TPR at any point, which links it back to TPRS.

While carefully going over all of the basic tenets of TPR, Jason also added many new observations:

In Elementary TPRS, all of the students want to be the actor and may even cry if they do not get to be.  Jason addressed the need by having half of the class playing one character, and the other half playing the other, al estilo “All the World’s a Stage.”  The skill was both hilarious and effective, meeting the elementary student’s need to be the actor.  Plus, it is not necessary to run verbal Comprehension Checks when you can watch all of the students’ actions to confirm that they are comprehending.

New gestures have been added, in addition to the seeking of meaning: asking the teacher to “write it out,” permission to speak in English (raise your hand), students “watch and listen,” and a signal to “slow down.”

For TPRS, Jason recommended Backwards Planning for elementary reader novels Brandon Brown Wants a Dog and Las aventuras de Isabela.

During Storyasking, if an actor appears too weak, thank them and ask them to sit down.  If an actor gets too distracting, whisper the phrase instead of saying it in front of the class:  “I need actors, not distractors.”

New noises were employed for when the teacher tells them, “Hay [there is] un problema:”  the class gasps or even hums the suspenseful “dum da dum dum…dum da dum dum dummmmmm!”

Wait for the class to chorally fill in cognate blanks…then say it back to them to confirm they are right, or have them turn to their neighbor and say it.

When redirecting from small groups back to whole group, hum “Shave and a haircut” and wait for the rest of the class to respond by humming “two bits.”

We were invited to Google Jason’s Language Ideas at http://jasonslanguageideas.wikispaces.com/?responseToken=564444724631a89078351dc5a5409384 .

Jason encouraged interludes of chanting from time to time in our Storyasking, such as “¿Dónde, dónde, dónde está, dónde está?”[Where is it?], in order to build student excitement and anticipation of what is coming next in the story.

Model and say what you are asking students to do; if they don’t do it, simply start over by modeling and saying it again.

Ask the whole school to send you an email of their pets, and create a Powerpoint of the ones you do receive.  Ask the classes about whose pet it is and what the animal’s name is.

Animate objects, such that backpacks are eating teachers, and chairs are walking across the room.

Never accept weak choral responses, or they will grow weaker across the year.  Solicit answers again until they are big enough.

Use pets to teach High Frequency structures, saving the most popular pets for last in order to build student anticipation.

Jason posts the colors equally and separately, with the color word underneath so that each may be signaled while used.  Be sure to Point and Pause at blanco [white] so that students get that it does not mean black.

Add “¿Qué tipo?” [What kind?] to your question words.

Whisper aloud to the native Spanish speakers to ask what a certain student’s pet’s name is.

Our homework was to illustrate the Bad Baby story onto a storyboard folded onto an 8 ½” by 11” piece of paper, as we would learn by doing.

I can’t wait to see what we learn tomorrow from Jason and all of the other presenters.

Posted by: Michel Baker | July 19, 2015

Gentle Coaching

The 2015 NTPRS Conference gets underway tomorrow morning in Washington, D.C.  Today, I also attended the Coaching for Coaches Workshop, led by Teri Wiechert.  My small group facilitator was Laurie Clarcq of http://www.heartsforteaching.com/ .   Lizette Liebold and a plethora of other coaches were also available.  Turnout was great, and with a very small Coach/Attendee ratio.

They taught us that there is a new way of coaching teachers that has proven much more effective for the affective needs of Teachers who want to get coached in front of others in using their TPRS skills.  The Coach sits near the Teacher and interviews him/her beforehand, lowering the Teacher’s affective filter by asking him/her several preference questions, peppered with nods, smiles, encouraging tones and gestures, establishing to the Observers, Students and “Coaches on Deck” (Coaches who will later praise the practicing Coach for things done well) what level, language and TPRS skill will be targeted.

Ground rules are also established before beginning, including the fact that there will only be one Coach.  If anyone else has anything they wish to see the Teacher do differently, s/he must refrain from saying so, but rather simply demonstrate it the next time there comes an opportunity for them to play Teacher.  Everyone takes turns playing Coach, Coaches on Deck, Teacher, Students and Observers.

Many practitioners learn most while playing Observer because it is our luxury to view what we liked and didn’t like.  When a Teacher “gets stuck” because s/he doesn’t know what to do next, Observers can imagine what they would do; if the Teacher needs help, the Coach always offers more than one option, maintaining the Teacher in charge of what s/he is doing.

By keeping negative redirections off limits for everyone else, the Teacher, who likely was nervous while up teaching, is the only one allowed to bring up the flaws afterwards, if self-noted;  if the Teacher did not recognize the imperfections, that is okay because there will be more “Comprehensible Input” of more effective teaching delivered by other, more experienced Teachers, as we go along.  If none of the Teachers appears to be proficient in skills, it may surely be time to return to presenting to them.  If only one Teacher, or so, seems to be lurking “off skill” or is not very interested in receiving feedback, you might limit their time and move on to the next Teacher.

This type of coaching keeps us Type A Coaches and Observers from becoming overbearing and helps us to be validating, while also allowing the Teacher to learn through messing up.  Most of us who want coaching already know the skills information, anyway…it’s getting up there and doing it that is an entirely different matter.

Posted by: Michel Baker | May 21, 2015

Recent Observations

Here are some more things that I have observed lately in my practice.  When conducting Directed Draw with elementary school students, it is most helpful to draw the pictures with them underneath the text, at first, in order to train them how to draw what things mean, especially if they are low level readers.

I have some classes who come in needing or wanting things or attention.  We have two signs up front in order to keep in TL:  ¿Es una emergencia?  Is it an emergency?  and ¿Puede esperar?  Can it wait?  By responding to them in this way, attention seekers get their attention, and TL communication is maintained.

Students sometimes need to be taught not to talk over my voice.  They are, therefore, instructed to check for meaning after I have finished speaking.

Another rationale for running Comprehension Checks came on the day a student saw me gesturing a nametag on my sweater for “Me llamo” and thought I was saying “heart” instead of “My name is.”

The beauty of Storyasking is that although a slow processing class may not finish the story, they get the needed reps of the targeted structures anyway…over and over and over.

Comprehensible Input based instruction is definitely the way to reach all students.

Posted by: Michel Baker | April 1, 2015

Recent Observations

Sometimes, elementary school students like to raise their hands to ask or tell me things that have nothing to do with class at the moment, and it can be excessive, at times.  I want to talk with them, but I reserve that time for after class on their way out of the room.  In order to protect instructional time, I seek to filter out the non-emergent questions in favor of emergencies.  Therefore, when a hand goes up, I hold up a sentence strip that says in L2, “¿Es una emergencia?” and has a red cross underneath.  I conduct a Comprehension Check.  Then, I follow that question with “¿Puede esperar?” which is translated underneath in a different color in L1, “Can it wait?”  Another Comprehension Check.  Usually, this takes care of non-emergent questions for the moment, and I get to provide contextualized L2.

I use the Question Word posters with the colorful, cartoon drawings, adding the typed word in a large, white rectangle to be most legible from afar.  When I introduce a Question Word, I explain the picture that is shown on the poster.  I have begun using a different pointer style for each of the different question words.  I use my hand to ruffle the “¿Quién? Who” poster, use a pointer to Point and Pause with a loud hit noise on the first syllable the “¿Dónde? Where” poster, throw my hands out in opposite directions with palms facing up, shoulders up and a “middle school face of protest” for “¿Por qué? Why,” hands and voice a little lower to kind of ask the students for help for “¿Cómo? How,” a face of doubt and need of help for “¿Qué? What.”

One other beauty of TPRS that I have noticed lately is that even with a class of slow processors, if you don’t get far enough into the story in order to finish it, you have still provided tons of the reps that they need by keeping it totally comprehensible to them.  I have had to repeat it and repeat it and repeat it for them until they still have gained fluency, they just did not get through the whole story.  The story can be the reading!

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers