Preparing for an Observation In One Day

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4 thoughts on “Preparing for an Observation In One Day”

  1. I’ve had random obervations. I don’t close my classroom door unless there’s busy-ness in halls that’s loud. Once I have the kids locked into proper behaviour– no English, no side-talking etc– all I do is stay in TL and in-bounds and Adminz seem to have no Problemz.

    I only ever teach with the loosest of plans– “I’m gonna pqa 3 structures and possibly start a story I have in my head” is the classic; the other is “we will read one chapter of _____ novel and do PQA with the stuff in it”– but that almost never happens as planned, because if a kid says something interesting during start-up I just run with it.

    E.g. yesterday my new kid said she liked Justin Bieber. My superstar, who is helping her (sits beside her) got up ina pretend huff and moved 3 seats away…because my superstar is “married” to Bieber in Spanish class.

    So I put “esta celosa” and “dejo a ___” and “estaba con…” on the board and we improvised a mini-story about Justin Bieber dumping one person and meeting the other (the dumpee got to meet Jake T. Austin ๐Ÿ™‚ ). I never got to my novel reading. Did they learn? Hells yeah zillions of reps. Did I fulfill my “plan”? Hells no. Do I care? Not a whit. What would Adminz or Headz have said? I don’t especially care…but I was in TL, I provided a small river of comprehensible input, kids were engaged, and there was little to no English, so come on in, Mr or Mrs Head, and learn some Spanish!

    Blaine Ray, Portland, 2013: “My goal is to never finish a story” and “I’d like to get rid of the word ‘curriculum’.”

  2. This is what I do. It seems so natural, if Krashen is to be believed, that taking something like that thing with Justin Beiber, would be the way to go. Why? Because it is alive and happening now and much more meaningful and compelling to the this group of kids than any canned lesson could have been. Chris still established meaning. He just didn’t establish meaning of any canned structures. Why would he teach boring structures when he could teach compelling structures, since we know that compelling input is the KEY to comprehension based instruction?

    This is a goal we all may want to consider going for, to be able to say after a class:

    …Did they learn? Hells yeah zillions of reps. Did I fulfill my โ€œplanโ€? Hells no. Do I care? Not a whit….

    This may seem kind of radical to a lot of people who do CI/TPRS, but I think it is at the core of why comprehensible input doesn’t work for many people. They are trying to control it. You can’t control it. It is fluid. This is where the future of language acquisition is slowly going. To flowing with the water down the hill instead of trying to push it up the hill. Following energy instead of keeping it boring, always pushing, pushing our students to focus on something that is boring to them*. It doesn’t mean we ignore step 1 of establishing meaning and it doesn’t mean we are not organized. It ‘s just that we are working with, and not against, how languages are really acquired in real life by the deeper mind, which alone has the capacity to learn a language, which process is pretty much described by Chris above.

    *www.newsela.com/articles/boredom-research/id/1922/

  3. I should note that I can’t always pull this off– I have to be well-rested enough to be able to think fast on my feet, stay in bounds, etc, and it works best (with beginners) after the first 2 months or so, when you have a base of vocab to work with. Today for example, not enough energy and kids distracted (last block) so we bailed into reading Berto.

    And that was fine…the energy came up later, and during the sequence where Berto is rowing and a toad jumps on his face and he falls into the water, a kid said “Can I act?” and presto! I had a mime to illustrate what the kids were reading and I was saying.

    I like improvising on my feet, but I have also learned that a backup is essential (especially when ideas exceed props and realia), so my on-hand backups are always

    — a picture or video I can discuss
    — reading
    — a planned story

    and if any of these fail I’ll go all Slavic and throw a dictee at ’em ๐Ÿ˜‰

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