Parents Night – Option

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31 thoughts on “Parents Night – Option”

  1. We also need to include a clause about the “lack of homework assigned” — as (helicopter) parents WANT the ‘rigor’ of homework and can’t understand why a teacher is ‘slacking’ and not giving homework.

  2. Rather than give the impression that output is heavily delayed (since speech output is how the layperson evaluates the success of a FL program and since I do think our kids develop more fluency than other approaches) we could say that we create a comfortable environment by encouraging output, but not forcing it. You have to be able to listen before you can speak. It does you no good in a conversation to be able to put together a sentence, but not comprehend the response. Likewise, you have to be able to read before you can write. It is well-evidenced in the second language acquisition research that accuracy develops over time and happens in sequences (orders & stages). Therefore, accuracy will not be expected from the beginning and will increase over time largely as a byproduct of more comprehensible immersion and will be supported in response to breakdowns in communication.
    Here’s a form I used for parent night. It’s dense. Feel free to modify for your own purposes:

      1. Yep! I did this with the 7 or 10 minutes I had with parents last fall… obviously not enough time. But what I did was outline what else would happen after we did brief establishing meaning and some PQA questions on “wants to drink.”

    1. …since speech output is how the layperson evaluates the success of a FL program, and since I do think our kids develop more fluency than other approaches, we could say that we create a comfortable environment by encouraging output, but not forcing it….
      I agree that speech output can be very impressive with motivated kids in the suburbs, but not in all settings. Perhaps points (3) and (4) could be up to the teacher to word as they wish.
      I will not, however, allow a layperson to influence what I do in the classroom. I will state my truth. If a kid doesn’t receive enough input, and that happens even if we are 100% in the TL for four years, we need to alert people who are not trained in how languages are actually acquired, as per Krashen, that their expectations may not be accurate. We can no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by people whose heads are wedged in other worlds, like colleagues from the last century, administrators who just don’t have time to figure it out, and any parents who think that if a kid takes a language they should be able to speak it as if by magic.
      (By the way Eric I received your email entitled “Heresy” and can’t wait to share it with the group, even though the queue is badly jammed right now. I am especially interested in your laying down the research sword a bit in favor of making plowshares. The group will be interested as well, because in my view there is no more knowledgeable research person in the world, and that includes VanPatten because he is not in a secondary school classroom like you are.)

  3. I say we make resources available (reading & listening) to students for homework, but leave it up to the kid and the family to do any of that independent work. Put the onus on the parent if they think the kid should be doing extra work at home.

    1. Yes, Eric – I agree. I tell my parents that— that if the kids say they don’t have homework, that’s MALARKY!!! I tell them to read or listen to Spanish for AT LEAST 10 mins every night.
      BTW — I love all the resources you have listed on your website — I used to have that available, but not since the district switched website formats — I haven’t had time to re-create a website. But I will be this summer! (and I’ll be using several of the ones you listed — since I *USE* to have them, and we still use them in class!) 🙂

    2. AMEN to this. If they have energy and focus for it, it’s amazing. But if they don’t have energy and focus it then turns into mindless “check this off the list” and they are not really absorbing anything and they could have gotten an extra half hour of sleep. Or finished their biology lab that’s due the next day. My 2 cents on the HW quandary.

      1. By shifting the thinking on “required homework” to “self-directed independent work” (or some other school-y way of saying it), we free ourselves and our students. And the reality is that many kids, by just being in our classes, get more excited about language and automatically do outside work that they never would have done if we had assigned it. Fan the fire of enthusiasm and joy in learning, right?

      1. I updated my school site today, adding a few more listening and reading resources.
        I can tell subs to just choose something to watch off my website.
        We also have “computers on wheels” – a unit of laptops for everyone in a class that I can request for a period, something I can do these last days of the year – let kids choose something to watch or read on their individual laptops (like a language lab). Although, nothing on YouTube can be accessed on the laptops in my school.

        1. Wow Eric, nice list of resources! I’m stealing a bunch of these, ok? I love that you have the TV series up top, a great way to get addicted to input… plus they’re new to me.
          Do you suggest Sr Wooly to your students? My kids love watching/listening to his songs.

    3. I really love the idea of putting the decision about homework on the parents Eric. With the internet, it is easy. And as Jen said last week it makes the homework more self-directed which is an awesome paradigm shift, an electrifying one, first addressed by Robert Harrell here a few years ago.
      Putting it on the parents also reflects my own frustration with our always having to prove ourselves in terms of pedagogy as I stated in an article here last week. Really? I don’t believe in homework that is forced and I have to listen to a parent tell me that my views are not accurate and that I should give homework because they say so? Really?
      Really? Sean has to beg to weigh jGR at 65% in this classroom even though we here just spent three years talking about it every day? What are we? Chopped liver? Do we not test ideas well enough here that we have to test them, draw conclusions, but not apply them until someone with zero background in SLA approves the request? Really?
      As Michael says:
      Really? I battled 4 years with my department chair and colleagues for the ability to speak Spanish with my students?
      Really? I fought for 4 years for the right to teach TL literacy and read books and short stories?
      Really? I endured attacks and fought off other language teachers just to engage my students with topics that interested them?

      How long are we all going to have to live the Ballad/Chanson Balladée of John Bracey in our buildings? One year? Five years? Fifty?

  4. Larry Hendricks

    This is a great idea, Ben, I like the way you are constantly making efforts to get us focused and organized for the betterment of our CI way of teaching, even though I’m now retired from teaching in public (or military) schools. I suggest language should be included to the effect that language is more caught than taught, and that students internalize — not memorize — the language by constant repitition, by hearing it over and over and over again.
    If you include something about homework, just say it is of limited value because CI inherently presupposes the presence of the instructor. (Somebody can probably state that better than I can, but I hope you catch my drift.)

      1. But again, Magister, we have to state our truth. If we aren’t in the classroom speaking to our students half the time, and if they are not reading the other half of the time, they won’t acquire because they won’t have had the necessary input, years of which are required before any output can occur. I agree with your statement in general but only think that it applies to singles who in buildings that lack administrative support for Krashen/VanPatten etc. need to lay low in order to protect their job. My suggestion above is that we now begin to work at the departmental, not individual level because of the career danger, to change and educate those in the school community. There are such departments, like the one at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, NC where last month I saw a team of seven incredible teachers shoulder to shoulder moving in the same direction for the good of all. So my hope is that this entire thread would lead to a more pro-active position with other re: what we do. It’s the defensive posture that many of us have had to adopt that bothers me and that I think is on the way out the door now. No one has the knowledge to challenge us, our results are astounding, and yet people from the last century and people who don’t still challenge us. It is the purpose of the above article to get us to state our truth more pro-actively and not shirk what really is a moral obligation to society to undo decades of pure ignorance. After eight years of this blog and fifteen years of teaching this way, I just can’t function any more thinking that I might piss off some fool. The fool needs to be schooled. It is time for that. The Parent’s Night idea is just one way of doing that. There are too many GREAT language teachers here in our online community and throughout the U.S. who just no longer need to go to work in fear of ANYONE.

    1. On constant repetition, it might help to differentiate CI reps from textbook drill reps. We have disguised reps because we’re focused on meaning, and having a conversation (or reading something together). I think many people would hear repetitions and think, “repeat after me: salad. salad. salad.” (I overheard that happening in a classroom down the hall from me back a few years…)

  5. My parents always seem to breathe a sigh of relief when I say I don’t assign homework. Kids have so much going on these days.
    I used to post our class stories on my teacher page on the school’s website, but no one ever read them, so I stopped. I might make it a goal for next year to maintain a more student-friendly page of resources for those who need more ‘practice’ (time in the language).

  6. Some of my colleagues recruit students to present at parent night, to tell parents what they have experienced and are getting out of a program, demo some simple output, etc. Another strategy would be to show a short clip of a class activity. My helicopter parents are impressed by this, so I’m already thinking about October.
    Also, let’s remember Carol Gaab’s advice: don’t say you don’t teach grammar or encourage output. TPRS teachers do all this, only in ways that are appropriate to the language learning process.
    I also want to cite van patten’s quote about how teaching paradigms doesn’t work. I will post it when I find it again.

  7. Showing a clip of their students participating in a typical CI activity is fantastic. It takes the pressure off the teacher to explain and instead lets parents see their child at work (that looks like play.)

  8. As Joe Dziedzic said at IFLT14, “I am an extremely lazy teacher. I don’t give homework.” His 2s were mindblowingly good, of course.
    I tell kids “use duolingo if you want practice. Free and easy.” I’m typing up a for-parents form too, will send it when it is done.

  9. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I did a faculty and PTA presentation. I’ll add notes to it and send to Ben to upload. It included a 7 minute story demo -The Princess Wants Chocolate (There is, wants, goes to, Poor little one!-rejoinder) with parent volunteers and locations/props. Since I teach elementary 1-4, my presentation didn’t address homework, though my 5th-6th colleagues have those take home, read to adult, sign and bring back hmwk thingies. A great way for parents to see/hear the extended language, reading, comprehension, strike up a convo w/kid about WL class, etc.
    I love the idea of a site w/student resources – it can remain static w/occasional uploads – though we’re on hold as our district migrates to a new website.
    I’m not sure how technical parents are willing/able to get. Just the facts, ma’am.
    1. We have shifted to a focus on communication proficiency. (ACTFL 5 C’s are OUT)
    2. Comprehension is the foundation of language development.
    3. Acquisiiton is sub/unconscious. The study of language structure – grammar, syntax, etc., isn’t an efficient path to acquisition.
    4. We strive to make the class interesting and fun – Compelling, so that our Ss can take in and comprehend the messages they hear. (Personalization, stories, drama, props, etc.)
    5. Output happens, but is not forced.
    6. SLA takes time.
    7. The students and the structures are the curriculum.
    8. Ss differ in rate of processing/acquisition.
    9. Reading in general, specifically FVR, is a boon for vocab expansion and retention.
    I’ll make notes on the present’n and send to Ben soon.
    Parents are often impressed/relieved when they see that there are leveled readers (in lieu of a textbook.) Showing hard copies of class stories and other ‘texts’ can’t hurt.

  10. Michael Coxon

    Laurie has a brilliant FAQS for the TPRS classroom. I adapted it and have it on my school website…the information is simple and explanatory without being defensive.

  11. Michael Coxon

    These are FAQs adapted from the work of Laurie Clarcq. These are great for parents and admin. Or the record the school’s grading percentages are CRAP…I don’t agree with them.
    My class is taught by optimizing immersion using the TPRS® method. Our class activities are designed to provide students with many opportunities to be involved in the Spanish language at or just above their level of understanding. Each language-building activity is designed to introduce or strengthen the understanding of high frequency words and phrases in Spanish.
    Frequently asked questions!!!
    1. What is TPRS®?
    TPRS® stands for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. It began as a teaching strategy created by several teachers who wanted a more effective way to teach languages. Over the last decade, it has been developed through research and practice by thousands of dedicated teachers world-wide. It is based on the idea that the brain needs an enormous amount of “comprehensible input” in the language. We choose the most commonly-used words and phrases and use them in stories, conversations and other activities so that everything we talk about in the language is understood by the students.
    2. What does a TPRS® class “look” like?
    It sounds like a lot of Spanish!! Some typical activities are:
    Storytelling. The teacher starts with the outline of a story and asks the class large numbers of questions that 1) ensure that the class understands the language and 2) add personalized, interesting (and sometimes very funny!) details to the story.
    Story writing. Students will write retells and original stories from outlines, templates, songs or partially-written stories. This may be a class, group, pair or individual activity.
    Reading. We read stories created in class, stories created by other classes, summaries and stories written by the teacher, stories written by individual students, ads and articles from magazines/newspapers, children’s books and short novels written for TPRS® classrooms.
    Songs. The students will be learning between 10 and 20 new songs in Spanish this year.
    Games. We have a number of games based on comprehensible input that help students to acquire language and create strong, positive relationships within the classroom environment.
    Projects. There are opportunities each marking period for students to use art and technology to learn and share information about language and culture.
    Video viewing. We will be watching several video clips, along with video series this year. Some will be in Spanish, others in English. There are always activities in Spanish for each movie.
    3. How are students graded?
    Tests are given with notice and preparation and study guides and notes. These test are unit exams that follow the curriculum of all level 1 classes at DVHS. There are summative tests given at the end of each quarter and formative tests given each month. There are a total of 10 textbook tests and account for 40% of student grade per DVHS Foreign Language policy.
    Quizzes/projects are given every with and without notice. The students may be required to demonstrate their ability to read, speak, write, or listen in Spanish. They may also be required to identify vocabulary or explain cultural/historical information. Quizzes will vary in frequency and form based on the learning standards of each class. Quizzes will account for 30% of student overall grade per DVHS Foreign Language policy.
    Paperwork/homework is collected on a regular basis. It may take the form of translation, answering questions, illustrations, flash cards or story writing. Any assignments completed in class or for homework may be collected, graded and recorded. Homework may be assigned infrequently due to the nature and importance of in class work. Homework will account for 20% of student overall grade per DVHS Foreign Language policy.
    Participation is necessary in Spanish class and the single most important factor for student success. Students will be required to pay attention on a daily basis and should come to class ready to be active participants. Participation will account for 10% of student overall grade per DVHS Foreign Language policy. This grade is determined through in-class assignments and student behavior.
    4. How can parents help?
    Any time you show interest in and support for your child’s school work, you help. Ask your child to share the stories that we have done in class or to teach someone in the family a song!! Encourage students to tell the teacher whenever there is confusion or stress about the class or the work. Be willing to listen and ask questions when students share stories and have to take a “selfie” with you.
    5. How can parents contact the teacher?

  12. I’m going to see if I can win over my admin this summer. My principal told me that she was awful at Spanish (and Math) in high school. And my assistant principal said he failed Spanish in high school and in college. I’m going to try my best to work off of that frustration with Spanish and use it as a spring board to help them see the light on SLA and to give me full support in doing things like making jGR (ICSR) 65% of students grades. Hopefully they’ll sit down with me for a little visit over the summer. Wish me luck! I’ll be sure to put on my best Don Draper (Mad Men).

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