A New Problem

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25 thoughts on “A New Problem”

  1. Being a new teacher that teaches level 1 and exploratory, I think this document is extremely useful. I would like a copy of it in it’s properly formatted form, actually: christopherroberts9@gmail.com

    I like how it is pretty prescriptive, that’s needed for a beginning TPRSer. I do have a question, do you provide resources for the teacher to find “level-appropriate” songs? Youtube only has so much.

    Good job explaining the 3 steps in a nutshell. The writing, novels and grammar sections I find to be helpful as well.

  2. I echo Laurie. That is a lot to do if you got it all done. I am so glad I don’t have to do grades. I am only accountable to my students and myself.

  3. Wow and wow. This is absolutely excellent. We are getting a visit from ACTFL next week to evaluate our program *gasp* so this will be so useful to have on hand!

  4. I like how straight forward it is. You are teaching on a traditional yearlong schedule, aren’t you?
    My concern is the error correction in the writing piece. As per Krashen, error correction does little to help acquisition. See his article at: http://www.sdkrashen.com/Principles_and_Practice/Principles_and_Practice.pdf
    The correction gives the teacher a lot of work for what doesn’t seem to have much pay off for student acquisition.

    Of course that just may be the lazy teacher perspective.

    1. No I think that point is right on, Clarice. I don’t want anybody new to get the impression that we actually have to work when we teach. We play. We don’t do all that old stuff that doesn’t work and is so labor intensive for the teacher as per what Traci and others have said here in the past few days about projects and the like.

    2. I think what was meant was that the teacher identifies “common errors” and makes sure that there’s some extra comprehensible input of the correct structures so that mistakes don’t become fossilized. I didn’t understand the guidelines as saying that the teacher was correcting errors in the writing. With experience, you know what structures are going to be difficult to acquire and need extra work, but young teachers may need to use students’ writing to see where the problems are. Or even an experienced teacher may think that something has been acquired and realize when reading her students’ papers that she may have assumed too much.

      1. What I wrote concerned two types of writing: 1)10 minute timed writing (much more often, weekly even, in which the student writing is briefly analyzed for common errors and whether structures were acquired as indicated by writer’s ability to use them in their writing; 2) accuracy writing, much less frequent, once or twice a semester. Clarice is right, it is a lot of work, but I’m willing to do this very occasionally to push accuracy (with my assistance). Ben

        1. Oh Ben I see that we – the two Ben’s – are not alone in that we both have a Grammar Man. But I should say that even in DPS we have a very similar thing to what is being discussed above called Grammar Hospital, where we will do grammar correction. But we don’t really believe it does any good. It placates superstars, I would think. But they can learn that stuff in college, where the grammar trains arrive every hour. I don’t mess with it because so many kids eyelids get heavy then. It’s more a bail out if you want a break. That’s what I understand, anyway. I rarely use it because my CI side doesn’t want to lose any CI minutes to Grammar Man. I fought that battle too long with that old dude to let him in on any of my classes.

  5. Well Ben, we play in the same way that a professional athlete plays, or a professional musician plays….with energy, joy, intensity, emotion, focus, training, talent, passion, heart, effort, education, preparation and inspiration. It ain’t like shootin’ craps or playin’ the ponies.

    with love,

  6. To be honest, this document freaks me out. Maybe it is because I am insecure and am probably not doing all that I could/should do in my class during every minute of instruction. If I were in a position of mentoring/encouraging a fellow teacher in the method, especially one who is new or on the fence, I would not give them this document, for the same reason I would not give my students a complete paradigm chart. Affective filter. This may be an accurate description of what does or should go on in a TPRS classroom, and I will definitely keep it on my computer as a reference. But if I don’t forget about this document by tomorrow morning, I will be a deer in the headlights tomorrow in front of my students. Like I said, I think it accurately describes what can or should happen in class, but the crazy thing is that it will most likely be the result of a teacher’s NOT thinking consciously of all those details, but who is hanging out with their students in the TL, using a story script or PQA as a foundation. I do not think this document will help a beginning teacher to teach more effectively, because it is intimidating and overwhelms them with details. On the other hand, we can and should use the intimidation factor of this document and give it to administrators who are suspicious of our “rigor” and who think we are not teaching anything and lack structure. But my point is, this document is a weapon, and it should be directed outward to those hostile to the method, not those whom we are trying to convert/encourage. If I’m not making sense, please let me know, but this is my late night reaction as I fight off a cold.

    1. John, your honesty here is important to this discussion and evaluating the usefulness of spelling it all out. I’m concerned in the same way, certainly don’t want to freak anyone out, especially a new nervous teacher. But maybe if it’s used as a planning tool, a reference to check and see if you’re on track, perhaps it could be helpful and not intimidating.

      Besides, who on this list of experts does all/most of the items listed? We have the experience to pick and choose and guide our classes toward the activities they most need for acquisition or for classroom management or just so we’re reassured that we’re steering the ship in a good direction.

      Maybe this doc is like learning your scales and arpeggios (the three steps, “classical” TPRS) on your way to becoming a jazz musician who can improvise over complex chord changes (going into class with nothing but a compelling idea, the net, and a smile a la Krashen). Personally I’m somewhere inbetween, striving for the “Pureland” (love that image Ben) of compelling comprehensible input but needing the framework of the three steps.

    2. There is a real grey area in this discussion but I feel the truth of what Johnn said here:

      …this document is a weapon, and it should be directed outward….

      That’s it for me. If someone gave me some truth serum about why I get so into this internet space, I would say that my goal is to simplify and make the method into little understandable chunks that could be tried one at a time, with encouragement from others who, like me and John, are easily stymied and might shut down by the enormity of what Blaine found in the Krashen River. All that gold. It could drive a simple miner nuts. Plus, guess what? (with all due respect) – some people ain’t gonna get it. If they are in the classroom, the best thing for them is Diana’s Learning Lab model in DPS, where we visit each other and love each other and support each other and those who will, will and those who won’t run away as fast as they can, which pretty much describes the scene in DPS right now.

    3. I had the same reaction. It increased my anxiety the first time I read through it. That said, I read it again after not looking at it, and was able to distance myself from the stress by thinking of it as an inventory of everything that goes on in a CI classroom. Personally, I could not handle using this only because I am scattered by nature and I could see myself looking at it and seeing all the things I should be doing and sort of skipping around fitting them in, rather than establishing a steady practice for myself and my students. That has been the most difficult thing so far for me. I don’t stick with the discipline of the practice (by this I mean in addition to the discipline of the classroom behavior/protocols, also the discipline of being present and sticking with the basics of PQA for example). I find myself too quick to “try something new” when I have yet to hone the foundational skills. That is why when I first read it, my breathing quickened and I got a sinking feeling.

      I agree that it is a great tool to present to administrators and visiting committees (we have reaccreditations coming up, so definitely useful to show “rigor.”).

      1. Jen & John–glad someone else had the same reaction, same sinking feeling and I’ve been doing this for 2 1/2 years now. If I were brand-new, I would throw up my hands and panic. I see that “measuring stick” and the perfectionist side of me kicks in and tells me I stink at this.

        Again, if this is an “outward gun,” it is quite impressive. I agree with Ben that seeing the method modeled is more powerful and more affective.

          1. Effective and affective drive me nuts. I want to find the bloke who made up those words and tell them how many times they have confused me.

  7. OK I want it too so send it to me Ben and I will put it up under Useful Information on the new site with your permission. What jen said made me realize that we can only help new teachers to the point that they want to be helped. If a new teacher is feeling the heat, having no training in using comprehensible input, and is given a doc like this by a well meaning experienced colleague, they would have one of two reactions.

    If they were emotionally secure and ready to make the kind of leap we who read this blog have already made, bravely in spite of all our fears, then it might be of use after an initial freak out. If not, if there were a level of reticence born of whatever reason, then they would not get over the initial fear and it would become intimidating to them.

    This is happening right now in an entire high school in DPS. Diana is putting the heat on, this big department knows the deal, and most of the members of that department, thankfully not all, are scattering like mice heavily into tech based classrooms (overkill tech/not in the service of CI) and other such stuff that doesn’t work.

  8. OK. This document may freak people out, but as a new foreign language teacher (second year) I really like it because it lays out the CI/TPRS approach. This is a good roadmap for someone ditching the textbook. I had to piece together everything by reading different blogs, reading lots of different books, and trial and error. This is pretty concise and informative. Maybe there should be a final note on focusing on one skill at a time, to not overwhelm a new teacher. Combined with a TPRS weekly schedule (I like the one from this blog site), it can be very useful.

    1. Chris Roberts “likes” this comment.

      I feel the same way. For somebody preparing to, or who has recently, ditched the textbook, this document is gold.

  9. I think you have to do an AA number here . . . take what you like and leave the rest until your filter can lower to bring you to another piece that will strengthen what you’re doing.

    Think of it as the highest level of Scaffolded CI/TPRS and work it down to what you can do now, then later, then still later on with experience.

    Maybe at the top it should say–Keep it Simple! GO SLOW-LI! Trust the process and take your time!

    Thanks for an amazing document. I’ll keep it on my computer to refer to as well but I know I can’t do it all this year.

  10. I wasn’t sure which post to talk about this on but since this document mentions songs, I figured this would be the best one. This is for the Spanish teachers on the list.

    You’ve all probably heard of this Kony 2012 video now, its a HUGE viral sensation right now, my middle schoolers were talking about it. There a song by a Spanish ska/punk band called Ska-P and their song is “Niño Soldado”. They’ve been singing about this stuff since the early 2000’s. Good song. good song to play on a Friday.

    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZP-7TBrUpk

      Yeah, one of my classes (high school upperclassmen) won’t stop encouraging me to watch this video (Kony 2012).

      I’ll be reading/listening to this song today with them. Thanks Chris!

      (Words for me to pre-teach, probably with signs/gestures: “teach”, “shoot”, “apagar”). I might do a bit of PQA with “me ensenaron/they taught me”… I’ll have to think about how that one will play out.

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