Visual PQA – 1

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48 thoughts on “Visual PQA – 1”

  1. Yeah Chris I just got my mind a little blown and will need a few days to process it before presenting details. In 15 years of this I don’t remember being shocked by new ideas like this. Maybe I’m over reacting but I don’t think so. I do promise to write up what I saw in step by step detail so you can decide for yourself if this is genuinely new. It is possible that both national conferences need to contact Julie right now and ask her to present on what might be a brand new way to do PQA that is not only much easier but also much more productive in terms of output, and also much safer for the teacher vs. the old hippy PQA that have caused so many teachers so many sleepless nights. I’m sure people will say that they already do PQA that way, but it’s new to me and mucho badass IMHO. I’ll know after I write it up.

  2. Having loved PQA forever and always found it to be the best stepping stone ever to stories–never caused sleepless nights (always felt like an anchor and great base), this has me intrigued. I guess we all figure out our own ways to make the tprs steps safe, sane, and good for kids’ acquisition. Looking forward to hearing more. How great!

  3. It’s about previously acquired verb bundles from the DPS S & S allowing more expansive PQA using Look and Discuss and captions. I saw today that once the kids read it, they had things to say and could say them by referencing the captions and pre-prepared personalized questions that the kids read first. It’s also about the culture of non-forced speech Julie is able to get in her classroom. I should say it’s new to me.

    1. Another comment on Julie’s classes, as I try to wrap my mind around everything she was doing that I personally cannot remember having seen before (doesn’t mean it’s not being done all over – I’ve just not seen it anywhere in DPS):
      In her classroom kitchen, she combined PQA, Look and Discuss, reading and unforced speech together in a heavy gravy of personalization and mixed them together in a big safe ceramic mixing bowl that was so strong that the teacher clearly didn’t feel vulnerable which made the kids totally confident about speaking. The dish was so tasty, apparently, that SLOW was not really necessary. The teacher and kids spoke quickly. I know I know, second year Spanish classes of 13 year olds don’t speak fast in the TL. I thought the same thing. But I saw it with my own eyes. And it wasn’t a few kids. It was like almost the whole herd. Go figure that one out!
      Up till now, again in my own experience, PQA was separate from L and D was separate from reading and natural and unforced speech output was nowhere to be seen.
      Into the above mix Julie kept adding heaping spoonfuls of four most important spices that are normally very hard to find at the TPRS store:
      1. Compelling input
      2. Meaningful input
      3. Personalized input
      4. Interesting input
      This of course made the dish so tasty that it caused the students to not even think about the words. They were more focused on meaning than I ever remember seeing in a DPS learning lab. By far.
      Now these kids were not in poverty – Merrill is not one of our poverty schools. But in discussing this with Suzy Livingston she reminded me that what Julie did and what is a key point is that – and I think of Sean in Chicago when I bring this point up – we create input that is directed at the needs of the child to be included in the group, to be heard and recognized for who they are and what they think via speech that they, not we as the teachers, create. Or something like that, Suzy said it better. All of a sudden yesterday I was transported out of my earlier conceptualization of output in the TPRS classroom. I saw what was possible on the level of output with first and second year kids and it is something I never saw before. Suzy L. suggested that kids oin poverty are perfectly capable of being brought to the level of engagement we saw in Julie’s class if we can but find the right topics at the right level for these kids of poverty. Because we know that they are not stupid and that some of the urban language systems those inner city kids have developed are very sophisticated. So Suzy’s idea that we can see this in less privileged DPS schools is very interesting to me and just goes back to what Blaine identified early on as the key ingredient in TPRS – personalization. And so now this gets me thinking about what personalization even is, just like I am rethinking what output is.
      In one case a kid in the second class we observed yesterday was reading a sentence with the word “ciego/blind” in it. I was sitting right next to him and followed his eyes and he was offering in Spanish his opinion (without really being aware that he was speaking Spanish – and this happened with almost all the kids in both classes that day – tons of long, unforced nice sentences sprinkled with a few English words that the kids were unaware of saying because they were so focused on what they were trying to say) on whether he thought it would be better to be blind or in a wheelchair. He looked directly at the word ciego and said at the same moment “una persona ciega”. Nothing was ever said about adjective agreement and in the space of a nanosecond he looked at a masculine form on the screen and said the correct form (and location) of the adjective without even knowing it. I have never seen that in a classroom – it was in a second year 7th grade Spanish kids.
      So this kid was reading in a super highly contextualized compelling situation and speaking at the same time as he processed the language far away from any part of his conscious analytical mind. He felt safe and un-self conscious – just happy to be expressing what was clearly a strong desire to add his opinion to the vibrant discussion in unforced Spanish with his teacher and his equally verbal classmates, while all along having his thoughts reinforced by two images one the screen in front of him – one of a blind boy and one of a boy in a wheelchair under the captioned question of which would be better.

      1. Hi everyone…
        What Julie is doing is awesome but I need to add that there are many, many DPS teachers who are doing the same thing. This is what happens with a ‘rockstar’ CI teacher. A CI teacher who has the freedom to deliver language instruction using the strategies that we know are effective.
        Once again…Julie is awesome but not unique in DPS. We created a Scope and Sequence in response to a demand from beginning teachers, Julie included, who said… “We get this…but where are the words we need to teach?”
        I see amazing classes everyday in my observations of DPS teachers. Ben is just now discovering the wealth of talent because he has the time to observe. Teachers in DPS have the freedom to teach with CI. That is the magic which gets results.
        As Ben often says to me…”This is important”. My post is important. Not sure if it will make the A list.

    1. I know that Diane because I just wrote up Listen & Draw to add to Stepping Stones which I think is going to have to become a second book because you and others have invented so many new strategies since last summer that they literally don’t fit into the existing book – and now I have this brand new strategy from Julie – it’s brand new and can replace stories or MT in the TPRS three step format – it has that much potential. You are going to love this one and one day I would like to come over to Valor again and see you doing this strategy in Chinese like I saw Julie doing in Spanish.
      When you say:
      …my middle schoolers couldn’t always do PQA in a fun way….
      it is something I found out in my own eight years in middle school that my 8th graders could do but my 7th graders could not, and I would imagine 6th graders couldn’t because as Rudolf Steiner has shown, the age of 13 is when the shift away from the black and white concrete sequential reasoning into abstract thinking occurs, right there in the middle of 7th grade so no blame on the kids that they couldn’t do PQA, which requires too much abstract thinking from them for their age. (Please note again that as always, I am just expressing my own opinions here.)
      What Julie offers is a potpourri of so many things that 12 and 13 years CAN do, including sophisticated speech output and you are going to love it if I ever get what I saw yesterday in Julie’s classroom written up bc so much was going on I’m not sure I can do it. We should probably meet and maybe Lynette or anybody else on your team can meet. We can meet at Front Range Christian, possibly, with Suzy Livingston who came to the two days of DPS observations with me. Front Range is on your way home up into the mountains from Valor Christian and the department chair there also does TPRS. And it’s near my house. Or better we can just go back to Merrill and observe Julie again. That might be best bc I honestly don’t think I am going to be able to sufficiently write up everything I saw yesterday and we can’t video in there bc she doesn’t have the releases and all that yadda yadda. OK that was a ramble!
      (Julie said we can come back anytime. Honestly, she is one of those Diana Noonan trained DPS rock stars that are taking this whole thing to the next level in their classrooms and not even being aware that anything special is going on. There’s a bunch of them like that and I am thinking that what I need to do now is just start going in there and taking notes on what I see in these young rock stars’ classrooms and reporting what I see back to the group since they can’t just fly in and observe what Diana has done via her Learning Labs. It’s frustrating to write it all out! You really have to see it so I say we just take as many from Valor and Front Range as can get away and we’ll get a south suburbs caravan and go observe in DPS as much as we can. I’m gone from the district for not even a year and it’s like a stellar explosion of young new teachers down there. How long can this super nova in language teaching go on?)

      1. Fascinating.
        It would be interesting to know if the students in Julie’s class started Spanish in elementary with one of the many DPS super star teachers. Eventhough they’re in Spanish 1 some of the kids -might- be false beginners. There are so many strong early FL programs in Colorado that eventually you must get kids in middle school that have already had 200-250 hours of (quality) TCI under their belt. Just sayin’.

          1. These students have had NO Spanish prior to being in Julie’s class. DPS has very limited Spanish in elementary. None or the elem. schools which feed Julie’s school have Spanish as a second language.

      2. I’m all for visiting any of those locations! And I imagine my colleagues would be, too, with schedules being the hand-up. (And local without a conference fee is all the better… while private schools charge tuition, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have an annual professional development budget.) Come visit my classes at Valor any time, Ben.
        I have been thinking about how to incorporate more characters-in-view into days I’m doing mostly auditory stuff (like look & discuss, PQA, etc.) so this is interesting. I have become increasingly convinced that for them to be really happy and comfortable reading Chinese, it needs to be organic feeling and not just a special reading “event” on days we’re focusing on reading input.
        It sounds to me (from what I hear so far) she’s doing what I think of as Look & Discuss with PQA question elements played up more, and adding reading to it by including captions/questions. I can see how all those concrete visuals would be a big help to those young brains still not ready for total abstraction.

        1. Diane said:
          …it sounds to me (from what I hear so far) she’s doing what I think of as Look & Discuss with PQA question elements played up more, and adding reading to it by including captions/questions. I can see how all those concrete visuals would be a big help to those young brains still not ready for total abstraction….
          That’s pretty much what I saw. In the debrief we found out that Julie added those elements in consciously after hearing Carol Gaab speak here in Denver at our state conference in the fall. Julie said that the visuals and the captions changed everything for her. You describe it perfectly Diane – her students had something to hang their hats on in a concrete way, spurring speech and understanding forward.
          I will write it up as soon as I can, because I took lots of notes on the format she used. Having specific steps to follow helps me. Really, it’s a better form of PQA but one that can’t be done right away, obviously.
          An amazing detail is the kids weren’t fazed by the speed. Meaning just glopped all together, glued together by the captions and images, perhaps. And speed marked their own speech as well.
          So these classes represent a new kind of PQA, and a new definition of SLOW as fast, and maybe Julie can talk about how it evolved not just from Carol’s presentation but because of the DPS Scope and Sequence which Diana made me realize yesterday is essential for new teachers, where they have access to two lists, one of 100 and one of 200 words, backwards planned from novels, and the teachers are expected to have gotten to full acquisition – instant recognition of various forms in various contexts – of 25-30 of them by the end of each year. And I added how as Diana goes around to different classes she is noticing, now in January, that all the classes she observes have done essentially the same 15 verbs or so.

        2. What also stands out to me about this Visual PQA — as you are wrapping your head around how to describe what Julie did, Ben — is that Julie had two similar but comparatively contrasting pictures up: one of a blind man and one of a man in a wheel chair. I think it was James who brought this point up in the past, about displaying 2 images during L&D that are very similar but slightly different so that our students can compare and contrast (higher order thinking for admins) as they get input on a targeted structure. Julie’s was “which is better”.
          Sounds pretty cool.
          These posts have gotten me thinking about doing notebook-based mind-warmers, as much as I’ve experienced them as ineffective in the past. Maybe with my deeper understanding of all things CI now I can have better success with them. Could I do a mind warmer as a way to lead into presenting a new structure for the day instead of merely review previously taught vocabulary?

  4. What I love is how much you are learning about the possibilities of teaching by WATCHING OTHER TEACHERS. That is the gift of time that retirement gives you and we are grateful for it. Isolated in our own classrooms, running on our own hamster wheels, we wear blinders so that we don’t fall off and SPLAT! going flying off into space. By actually watching other teachers, we realize we may not even need that darn wheel!
    with love,

  5. Diana spends most of her yearly budget on subs for the learning labs, less and less on testing. You are so right, Laurie, watching each other teach is what makes it happen. I can tell you that it is a truly nerve wracking experience, but with the hour debrief, when the observing teachers simply report on what they saw and ask questions – that’s all we’re allowed – the growth happens. I was talking with a school administrator recently and she used the term “deprivatization” of classrooms as what she wants to see happening in her school. The learning labs do that. After a few years of hosting and observing others teach, with our subs paid for, we find that not only do we come to respect where each of us is on our own path to becoming better comprehension based teachers, we also come to genuinely like each other as people. When that happens, when teachers are not split apart by ideas, as Nathaniel alluded to earlier this evening, as you say Laurie, the sky’s the limit as to what is possible. We grow together, not in isolation.

    1. What? She spends money on improving teaching? I thought that was illegal in the U.S. I thought your policy down there was, if there’s a problem, add standardised tests.
      A bunch of my dept colleagues are all psyched on CEFR outcomes guiding instruction. This after we in B.C. spent 20 years lobbying to get rid of Provincial exams (mind you CEFR is more flexible). I have never understood how tests improved instruction.

  6. I use CEFR as a help to get my advanced students to Germany for University studies. 5 so far. Sprachdiplom B2/C1 gets them there and is so much better than the AP exam for my Grade 12 students. I suppose it becomes a tool for me to use.

    1. What I find funny about CEFR is that it’s so vague (which is also cool). But it replicates older curriculum designs– e.g. the subjunctive is something you’d start using ( or need to know) in B1– which is silly. I guess tho you could just introduce everything from Day 1.
      Nobody has ever explained to me *how* use of CEFR– or any other organising/evaluative system– aids acquisition. Not even my colleagues whose entire courses are built around it.

  7. “After a few years of hosting and observing others teach, with our subs paid for, we find that not only do we come to respect where each of us is on our own path to becoming better comprehension based teachers, we also come to genuinely like each other as people. When that happens, when teachers are not split apart by ideas, as Nathaniel alluded to earlier this evening, as you say Laurie, the sky’s the limit as to what is possible. We grow together, not in isolation.”
    This is so huge. The connection we make by observing and learning from each other is so ignored I think. Last weekend Skip hosted a peer coaching day with Laurie. We all learned SO MUCH by creating a positive space for each of us to bring our strengths out, even if we are unaware of what these strengths are. The protocols we followed were pretty simple: you get to control what you want for feedback, know that the group is here for community, you are your own expert, be a witness, observe, notice, give positive feedback. It is really liberating AND I can see where some ppl might think that the “positive only” might be too touchy feely or whatever, but in fact it is not. Here is why. By freeing the space of all intimidation, and only offering encouragement we are free to take risks at our own pace. Hmmm not unlike our students. We were free to teach for 5 mins or even 2 if we wanted, or not teach at all but observe and coach and be a student. When we have a strong reaction (emotional / energetic) to something, that is a signal to pay attention…something we need / long to work on, etc. So the various “zings” I noticed while watching others teach showed me something in myself that I want to work on. I believe it is this way that we stretch ourselves. I know. Sounds “out there” but truly the “challenge by choice” knowing that nobody would hammer on us or say “try this” or “you should” or “you shouldn’t” is extremely valuable for allowing each person to push beyond her perceived boundaries.
    Bravo to Diana and DPS for investing in this. With money in addition to time and all the resources and scheduling to make it happen. Wow. Really mind blowing. I can’t wait to read / see the details about Julie’s class.

    1. I think the peer coaching you attended sounds very reasonable and an excellent model for teacher training! Experiencing acceptance right now, as you are, is a great base from which to grow and try new things.

      1. Nice summary, Jen. It was an excellent model, Diane. We can get enough shoulda/woulda from others, our past, our fears, and our perceived failures. Laurie explained a few times that if some were ready to do something they would have done it. That fact that they did not do such and such is that they did not have they training, the ability or the readiness. Had they they would have done so. Our pointing it out is not the solution. The solution is more experience, interaction, observation, training, and learning. It was part of the antidote to a post-common exam slump that I was feeling before getting up to Maine. Thanks Laurie. Thanks Skip for making it possible.

    2. Great point made on positive feedback, jen. Yet, it sounds like in the DPS learning labs they are only allowed to 1) share what they observed, and 2) ask questions. What? You guys in DPS aren’t able to give positive feedback, like saying “I love how you ______.”

      1. I was part of a “professional learning group” this fall. Basically a small group of teachers getting together to “analyze” an issue a colleague may have with a particular student’s work or any other dilemma relevant to teaching.It was not specific to FL.
        We followed this model: 1. listened to the focusing question 2. asked clarifying questions (matter of fact type who?where?when?) 3. examined i.e. the student’s work silently 4. shared warm feedback (highlighting the strengths) 5. shared cool feedback ( I wonder if…you might want to…giving a different perspective) 5.reflections from the original teacher on the feedback .
        It was quite clever and productive for everyone involved.

  8. I think that watching others teach is a key to becoming better at CI and TPRS. Every video that I have watched has helped me in so many ways. I am located in NE Oklahoma and wondered if there are others here in the area that would like to have a visitor in your class. Being the only language teacher in my school makes watching others difficult.

      1. I will write up the details of Julie’s class anyway, but I agree. Plus it takes hours to write down each thing she did. One cool thing is that she videotaped a follow-up class today, I don’t know how if she didn’t have releases but I may get access to that video in the next month.
        And don’t forget, all the great teachers at iFLT 2014 last summer are on videotape and that link will be available as soon as Diana gets the footage edited sometime soon this spring. THAT is going to be useful, because our best teachers were working – Sabrina, Joe Dziedzic, etc.

  9. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Perhaps Julie could write something up about it, or you could interview her? This might guide your written description better and embed her process and resources?
    Exciting stuff. As a grades 1-4 elem teacher, the more concrete the better; the more supports the better.
    Exciting times!

  10. Hi all,
    I just wrote a rather lengthy response (for me!) in response to Learning Labs in DPS and our Scope and Sequence.
    And it disappeared.
    I don’t have the patience to write it again but the most important points: Learning Labs are the most effective PD for teachers. Sit and get/ sit and read… are not as effective and I know this because teachers tell me so.
    Next point: We would not have our DPS Scope and Sequence without the work of Joe Dziedzic who responded to a need expressed by all teachers, but in particular new teachers, to have “the words” with which they could build the stories. When DPS mandated a Scope and Sequence, I asked Joe if he would contribute and share the work that he had already done when he created his website. He generously gave us his curriculum and we went forward to write our Scope and Sequence. Joe needs to be given big time credit for his generosity in sharing his hard work for very little compensation.
    In this same vein…those who create need to be given credit for the creation. Many of our effective strategies come from the collaboration and trial and error of this fabulous community of teachers. As someone who is really good at putting in to practice the ideas of others but not especially inventive of new strategies, I know how important it is to give CREDIT to those inventors. That is why I feel it necessary to acknowledge Joe and his HUGE contribution to DPS CI teachers. By the way… his website and curriculum is
    Love to all of you rockstars, especially my DPS rockstars! In 2015, we finally have an amazing collaborative team leading the way towards the most effective second language instruction ever imagined.

  11. Wowie! I juat checked out that website! THANK YOU Diana, Joe, and all the DPS-ers! I’ve never met Joe, but remember seeing him in Breckenridge, and also have watehed him teach on the DPS videos. In a fun coincidence, my college roommate, who lives in Denver, started to describe her son’s Spanish teacher to me, and I immediately knew who it was.”Oh you mean Joe Dziedzic?” She was floored that I knew who he was. Kinda fun!
    This statement stands out:
    “Many of our effective strategies come from the collaboration and trial and error of this fabulous community of teachers. ”
    That says it all. Teaching is a LIVE community process! Of course we need to collaborate and witness each other live! Of course this is the best PD! Ben mentioned in a previous post that in DPS money is spent on subs so that teachers can visit other classrooms! Outstanding! Woot!

          1. I was able to watch some of Joe’s videos for free. I think there are 6-7 videos of 2nd year High School Spanish classes? Brave teachers who put themselves out there. Cannot thank you enough Joe D. and Eric H., Diane N., Sean, Jim, Ben and all.

          2. Up in the Videos hard link at the top of this webpage, there are videos that Diana Noonan shared from iFLT 2013. Several are Joe’s classes.

          3. Thank you Diane!!! I had no idea. What an amazing resource of videos from iFLT 2013! Leslie Davison (wow) and Jason Fritze (wow): two elementary giants. Now I just need a couple of snow days.

  12. Lucky teachers in DPS who have Diana Noonan! A force of nature.
    I may have missed this info, but what exactly are Language Labs in DPS? Who teaches whom?
    Is it one rockstar teaching to a group of kids to give a demo while other DPS teachers are watching like at iflt conferences? Or is it more like Ben’s war room?

  13. Ok – wanted to find a somewhat related post for this comment. Along the lines of showing more written language during PQA and auditory activities… I have been doing this for a week. I LIKE IT. I’ve been writing sentences as we say them — not every sentence, but some. Or, some parts of a sentence. Since I show a new word chart on screen during the first two days working with words, I need to write the discussion stuff on the white board by hand for this. It’s good for the kids to be able to read handwriting, so that’s fine. It also slows things down and gives little mental pauses as I write. It’s also an example of being able to hand-write characters (the kids notice that) and it lets them see that I sometimes check the computer for how to hand-write (which is A-OK with me).
    But the big gain I think will be in giving them 2 more class periods that has a fair amount of reading in it. It’s reading “light” but it’s still putting written language before them more, and that’s what I wanted. I’m only writing in characters for words they already know in that form; any new word I write in pinyin, as they are just being introduced to it. We’ll see if it helps the weaker readers catch more.

  14. We’ll need updates on this Diane. I tried it a few times and every time I got bored writing the sentence because I wanted to know what was next in the auditory CI. But this is definitely a skill we want to explore. You’re sneaking reading and writing into auditory training. Can their speech be far behind?

    1. I write things that’ll be useful in talking for a while – maybe 4 or 5 written in 20 minutes. New words charts help with written language, too: left column, new words + English meaning; right column, previous vocab that might naturally come up. I’ve made use of the right column a little more this week: before working with new stuff, reading those aloud together, checking for comprehension, and pausing & pointing if they do arise as we talk.
      I think it might be really helpful for Chinese and other non-phonetic or alternative alphabet languages to see written language more. I have 2 or 3 kids who still struggle to read in Chinese 1; both try, at least some of the time. One of them is incredibly auditory strong & has an amazing listening & spoken vocabulary. I’m aiming to reach them a little more through increased sound-visual connection. Same for the weaker readers in Chinese 2, 3, and 4. Some read well, but only one is as confident as the majority of the Chinese 1 class.
      Sometimes the Chinese 1 kids don’t think they know how to read something, but when they try they get it almost all the time now. (I think it’s because it’s unconscious knowledge just being brought to their realization. Took time for some of them.) How I love TCI. What a difference. For those reading who don’t know — I am new at my school so levels 2-4 had a different teacher until this year.

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