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:  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.


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