A Video from Scott

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43 thoughts on “A Video from Scott”

  1. Here are my observations:

    This new video from Scott (he had allowed me to comment on one privately a year ago just as he was getting his CI feet wet) reveals more growth than I would have anticipated one could pull off in just one year.

    How nice to have colleagues (Liam) in our building we can observe every day! Honestly, when I coached Liam in Las Vegas two summers ago, I was struck by how much Liam resembled Jason Fritze just in his natural manner and now I can see it in Scott. It’s a je ne sais quoi quality particularly connected to personality but also a product of intense work. Anybody who has seen Jason teach knows that he is pretty much THE style master of comprehensible input instruction. Just in the first twenty seconds of this class, Scott communicates many things:

    1. He is in charge of the class. When the kids come in late (1:30-1:45) and there is an administrator in there as well walking around, he doesn’t lose his focus. Instead, and I think Liam has talked about this as well, he disciplines with his finger, making sure that the kids behavior is pointed out, but not shaming the kid, just saying who’s in charge. So many of us ignore stuff like that. I’m glad to see Scott point out the incorrect behavior and not get rattled. Takes him one second to shake a finger at someone.
    2. His gesturing of Where? was excellent. I can’t remember to do that. But here we see the presence somewhere in Scott of a stage actor. That signing of Where? could be a scene from the Pirates of Penzance. I was just talking today with Diana Noonan about how physical and in the body this work is. Here you can see that in action as Scott speaks and gestures, not an easy thing to do, something David Maust talks about.
    3. His use of the question, “One or two skeletons?”, is something I always do with new kids to teach “How Many?”. Excellent trick. And then if you want to teach numbers, you can slip this question in at any time in class. You could just change the numbers. I have the Teacher’s Discovery number/color poster up for that. So when Scott asks, “One of two skeletons?” he could have just as well asked, “One or fifty skeletons?” and gotten any number of reps on numbers that way, throwing them into class all the time. Beats counting to 100 and watching heads hit the desks like ripe fruit falling off trees….
    4. Around 2:20 I sense he keeps going back to the image for things to talk about. I would suggest that he hang more with the kids, go more to them. Now this points out something very important. It is hard to go to them and personalize when you do MovieTalk. It is the only drawback I have found with MT and one reason I don’t do it all the time – not enough interplay with the kids, making things up, etc. However, in general, MT can be seen to be very powerful CI delivery device here in this video.
    5. Scott is strong enough to stay out of English and to allow no English from his students. I wish I could do that.
    6. Scott is able to hang in those little pauses where he can’t think of a question and just wait until one comes to him. That is called Staying in the Moment.
    7. At 3:45 – 3:50 we see him say enojoda (angry) and triste (sad) with that emotion in this voice. This is an advanced skill. He feels the meaning of the word and says it like that. Helps the kids immensely.
    8. Nice returning to the question words, pointing to them, and he does that a lot. Very helpful to the kids to point to the question words each time he uses them, all year if necessary with level ones like this group.
    9. 4:00 in and we can see the class is focused. They are processing CI.
    10. Notice the physical space between them. Great seating arrangement.
    11. Notice no noise from the back of the room. Why? They don’t want the finger in their face.
    12. Look at 4:45. He asks who has big eyes. I would suggest comparing la nina with the big eyes to someone in the class. He could have brought the kids in for a short while there. Just because it’s MT doesn’t mean we can’t talk about our students in relation to what is being projected. Keeps ’em on their toes.
    13. At 7:20 to 7:30 Scott is getting excellent group choral single word responses. This is very hard to remember. For more on that see:


    14. At 7:30 Scott plays the “What did I just say?” card. Well done.
    15. I was thinking that Scott at 8:10 when asking if this skeleton is playing the guitar or the trumpet, to get more reps and bring the kids in more, he could have taken a break from the discussion, gotten three actors up, and had each one mimic playing a musical instrument. So a little Reader’s Theatre, well, in this case, MT theatre. Although that is something he may have done earlier in the year. Can you imagine what a traditional teacher would say when watching this level one class?
    16. He speeds up too fast in through here and for the rest of the class. That is my biggest knock on this class and it is exactly what I do. I speed up to about the same too-fast speed. Heck, we all do it. We need to admit it. We all think that they get it, but I am surprised more kids are not signaling for clarification. This thing about keeping the CI slow is something I wonder if I will ever get a handle on.
    17. At 8:30 we see the hand over the shoulder to indicate the imperfect tense. Really well done.
    18. Right about 9:00 I would have gone over to the guy with the hoodie, kept teaching, but with my hand on desk, whispered to him to take the hoodie down.
    19. At 9:40 there is something about the skeleton giving a blue flower to someone. This CI is too fast through here. Also he could have broken out of the MT and had a kid offer a flower to another student. Just a little break-out scene maybe as a brain break. The kids have got to be in need of a brain break right about now, ten minutes in. Such breaks get the kids back into their bodies.
    20. At 10:05 nice use of TPR. “Show me” is the command.
    21. At 11:30 Scott breaks into a few minutes to explain the bread of the dead thing. Fine. Teach that culture. Use English. But notice importantly he is back into L2 fast. It was a little culture capsule. He didn’t let it take over the class. Like I do all the time. I can’t help it! I love to hear myself talk, and I know so much! I want them to know how smart I am. Here, Scott makes his point and moves on.
    22. By 12:40 the race horse in terms of too fast CI is running down the track with no jockey. My biggest critique of this is of course my own biggest fault, and why I can see it, is getting going too fast in the TL. At this point if I may suggest Scott should be checking for understanding via eye contact, going about 20 times slower, and maybe throwing in some hand comprehension checks to keep in touch with what the kids are really experiencing in the real way.
    23. At 13:00 the student on the right has his thumb up. He is indicating understanding. Scott may want to comment on this, as it is another way some CI teachers to check for understanding.
    24. 13:30 – great example of non forced speech output. He did the motion, they said the word baila. That is the result of Scott’s making sure he TPR’d plenty of verbs earlier in the year. Maybe he can comment on how he uses a Word Wall.
    25. Now at 13:40 he has done almost 14 minutes of straight CI. He now has options. If he wants to he goes on with the CI. If he felt like they were exhausted he could give a nice little dictation. He could check in with his quiz writer who was all this time writing yes/no questions. He could stop and ask personal questions about whether so and so plays guitar, likes flowers, like blue flowers, etc. just to get more reps on the targets. The true danger of MT is it can go wide. Limiting new words is crucial in MT.
    26. Just to quote Scott and what he was doing toward the end of the class when playing the video for the kids:

    “Last year, I did MovieTalk, but I found that the students were so frustrated by the constant pausing of the movie. Now, as we discuss the screenshots, the students are not even aware that they come together as a movie, and it is a big moment when I finally play it.”

    I would add that during the playing of the movie, even though there were no words, big neural events associated with the just-circled vocabulary were happening in the deeper minds of the students. This is the brain deciding what it wants to remember. Scott merely provided the CI. The students’ brains, watching the film there at the end of class, were deciding what was going to stick. We can’t control what is acquired. We can only deliver the language, and some of it will stick and some of it won’t and we are not in charge of that process.
    27. Then some nice review questions at 18:15. Scott here is modeling true in bounds repetition, one of the keys to what we do.
    28. He asks “Who has the flower?” at 20:20. That was SLOW. But still not slow enough, in my opinion. Even the slow question at 20:45 was in my opinion too fast.
    29. 99% in TL.
    30. There’s the thumbs thing at 21:24 again. I think he is asking for a very quick comprehension check, where if they are all up he can go on and if they are sideways or down he would have to stay on that question for a while more. Scott do I have that right?
    31. Asks a nice upper level Bloom’s question at the end of the class. Really nice.

  2. My 8th graders did the “Afraid of the Package” story by Anne Matava. The students and I have been doing TPRS since last January and we love it!

    This link should bring you to the playlist with the 2 videos.


    . . .
    Can members embed videos to their bios? How?

    Is there a way to edit/delete comments made to the article section of this blog?
    I like the ability to edit comments on the forum . . .

    1. Eric I will ask Trevor about embedding videos to bios. On the editing of comments, you can’t and sorry about that. Just email me or add a comment and I can edit from my end. This may change but we would have to go to another format for the entire blog and we just did that.

  3. For the time being, I think it is great that we have a “video” category in which any member can browse and find classroom examples, even if it is not as efficient as one page with links (perhaps something to work toward). I will email a few links once I get more videos up, and I hope others will be brave and do the same.

  4. Great job Scott!! I used that same video with my K-5 students and they loved it. I never thought to screen shot a movie and movie talk it. I really think that that idea would work great for elementary students as well.

  5. Another comment Scott, as I continue to reflect on this excellent video you sent in which I am sure will help a lot of people in our group. This is you now two years in. You’ve been working on technique. I think it is excellent, though too fast like the rest of us. The technique is really strong. The speed will continue to get better.

    I am thinking it is a good time for you to start to think outside of the technique bubble. Think simply about relaxing more. I have wrestled with this tar baby so much! I still focus so much on technique, circling, getting strong choral response, all that stuff and constantly forget what I really want, to relax in my job, because it is best for me and best for my students in all kind of ways, in both the area of mental health and in the area of language gains.

    But I see now that teaching using CI is not really about technique, doing it the “right way” (there is none bc we are all individuals) but really it is about how much we can relax. It is about how much we can relax. Why?

    Because students pick up on our moods big time. Just as in Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development the child faced with an uptight mom would likely be less glommed onto the joy part of learning a language, because their deeper mind would be slightly on edge. When we are too focused on “doing it right” their deeper minds don’t get the flow of love from us. And learning a language is a truly loving and joyful thing when it is given, given. What does that mean?

    Well, if we are totally relaxed, the language is easier for us to give to them. That edge of “I really want you to learn this!” is not there and the kids can want it more. They can like it because the person speaking to them is giving, not taking, giving, isn’t nervous, is focused on them. I wish I had known this before!

    Face it. TPRS/CI makes people nervous. It makes people who never will “go there” really nervous. It makes the kids nervous (“What do you mean, I have to show up in this class and interact with the teacher? Never had to do that before!”) And teaching with CI makes us nervous too. It just does.

    Now, Scott, you don’t look nervous in this video. Your CI style – just a year and a half in – is something it took me AT LEAST eight years to get to when I first heard about this work. So this is not in the least meant to be a criticism, and I know you will take it in the spirit it is given, that the area of growth for both of us, and I am sure others reading this as well (Deena?), is in that acceptance of our own limitations and the limitations of the kids in an imperfect world in a system of education that is completely broken and in which our trying to be perfect in that system is not a good move for us and not a good move for our mental health. So, in my opinion, our areas of improvement lie in simply relaxing more. (There are many posts here on relaxing if you search that word relax.) So in addition to all the good things that you are doing, also:

    1. slow down your speed
    2. create more visible bonds of approval with your students (when kids give a good answer in my classes, I stop and tell everybody to applaud.)
    3. relax

    1. This is just so rich, Ben. Technique obviously has its place in our instruction, distinguishing us from the rest of WL teachers.

      But something has been sticking with me since the first day of school (for teachers) this year. My principal, who I really respect, welcomed everyone back with basically one message: there are a lot of confusing and turbulent things happening in education but remember that more than lesson plans, curricular designs, instructional activities, tech-integration, etc, etc, etc, it is the students-teacher relationship that, EVERY TIME, is the primary factor that will determine student learning outcomes.

      It was a genuine message. True, too. (Apparently there are copious studies that confirm it as well. Anyone know of these off hand?)

      The suggestion for Scott to focus on relaxation > technique gets right at this. China of old had the wisdom to identify the quality of one’s character and speech. Some today might call talk about the “vibrational energy” of a person, his thoughts, speech, etc. The subconscious has an affinity to calm. The reps of our target structures may not go deep enough when we’re not relaxed.

      Finally, I wish everyone on this blog could have a Scott in their building. The only thing that could come close is having the time to read everything on this blog. har-har.

  6. Scott, only a few things after what Ben has said:

    1) The amount of time you are in the TL is absurd, dude. I totally applaud you from the bottom of my heart. I really wish I were more like you.

    2) At 4:53-4:54 you say very quickly in English, “Everybody sit up straight and look at me.” You saw a few students at that critical 5:00 mark of class starting to disengage. You did the absolute right thing by calling them out and making expectations clear. However, do you feel you said it too quickly? I know we want to get back into L2 as soon as possible, but when there is an infraction of a rule I like to tackle it slowly and cooly, if that makes sense. I think some kids like to see us squirm. I have found I stay a lot more comfortable and feel in control if I just stop talking, stare at the kid, and when s/he finally looks at me I can give a clear signal. Sometimes just a tap on the desk is enough. If it keeps happening I’ll explain slowly and with calm what needs to happen in English. This gets at the feeling of calm and relaxation Ben was pointing out. We need to appear relaxed always, even when giving discipline. That kills me every day, too. I want to freak out (often I do) and get huffy (that’s my natural state). But that’s what the kids want to see and they’ll just laugh anyways. So I try try try to stay cool and calm during everything.

    3) Do you have target structures? If so, are they on the board in L1 and L2?

  7. Scott, I can only applaud you for the fantastic job you did and to say that I wish I could learn from you a bit (even though I’ve been practicing TPRS for 3 years now). I used this video in my class recently but was already feeling the October tug and spoke more English than necessary. You, sir, have inspired me. Thanks.

  8. Ben, there are only 24 hours in a day, how ever do you manage to write so much? 😉

    Scott, great job, one comment:

    There appears to be a fair bit of side-whispering etc as soon as you look away from the kids. If I were you, I would get not a laser pointer but a meter stick to point at the screen, stay more in one spot, and stay focused on the class (ie looking at them). Great job with slow, point and pause, etc.

    Now I need to figure out how to do the screen shot thing– that is a BRILLIANT idea.

  9. One more comment regarding Ben’s observations about #s:

    The only #s in the top 100 words (in any language) are 1 and 2. The number 19 is at around 800. In my view, what Blaine did with his LiCT books was totally right: throw in 1-2 #s/story and spend zero time outside stories and PQA teaching them.

    I am guessing that #s– which in French and Spanish are fairly logically organised– have their own “grammar” which is easy to pick up on. Eventually the kids’ brains will start connecting “seis” and “sesenta” etc. So if they see them in context enough, and understand them, they will pick them up. No need to do anything other than make sure they understand them.

    1. I never seem to “get to ” the numbers other than what you describe above, so that is comforting to read. I am not ever particularly worried about it either. We do all the important numbers in PQA…stuff like how many goals someone scored in the soccer game or what ppl’s personal records are in xc…oh and of course lots of conversation / numbers when talking about NFL or the WORLD SERIES CHAMPION BOSTON RED SOX.

      But last week I was doing a (mandated by admin) “peer visit” in a colleague’s classroom. She is an eclectic teacher. She has a level 3 class of kids I had for 2 years. There was so much English I was shocked and rather sad. But anyway they were “working on numbers” by playing bingo because, and I quote “they are SO BAD at numbers.” Sigh. I think I just said to her “oh well!”

      1. Dang. Two dangs:

        1. what you saw in that classroom. Numbers are late acquired. Playing bingo. Bullshit.

        2. Cardinals (I went to Washington U. – St. Louis) let you have it. Cool your jets on the Red Sox. Denver will thrash the Patriots in a few weeks anyway.

        1. Holy crap is bingo ever dumb. I know cos I did it for years. Blaine correctly realised that if you don’t integrate ALL your vocab into meaningful stuff (sentences, stories etc) it gets “filed”– if you’re lucky– elsewhere in the brain where only the 4%ers can access it.

          I would ask that teacher when the last time was that she spent two hours (or whatever) in any language speaking purely #s.

          My colleague Billy, who is a Pats fan, is going to come and get football-aggro with Ben for that Denver comment. I mean isn’t Denver the team with the guy who kneels down and prays on the field? 😉

          1. I know, right? But I am in a very tricky position bc I am “just an instructor.” Part time at that. 80% I just now caught myself jumping all over someone for suggesting that we have kids “recite” and “repeat.” Oopsie! Back off jen! What.ever.

            Hahaha, Pats and Red Sox…I am not really that crazy into it. Honestly it’s just enough so I can engage with kids bc certain ones are soooooo into it & they just light up getting to talk about that stuff in school. AND I learn so much FROM the kids about all of this 🙂

          2. Chrisz that’s why we win. No, that is Tim Tebow and he’s been gone two seasons. Tell Billy to ready for a real smackdown. Sorry in advance if Tom Brady cries.

  10. Chrisz I had to sacrifice the first quarter of the Spurs-Nuggets game last night to write that. But it was worth it, Nuggets lost anyway, and you can see that Scott is a monster teacher about to happen as soon as he chills down a bit and slows down and reaches out to those kids in the real way. Not that I can do that either, but this is a process. I do feel that when we get something like Scott sent in, real video from a real class with lots of potentional for us to learn from, I definitely feel moved to comment at length. This work benefits SO MUCH from videos, and from, in general, leaving our egos at the door. Scott did a great job of putting himself out there and deserves all the feedback he can get from this group.

    1. Chrisz, there is a side bar called “Readings Based on Matava/Tripp scripts – (insert language)”. I think I’ve submitted one or two of my Halloween readings on there.

      I might have confused what you were trying to say, but… Matava is the story script pioneer, I simply copied her style and published my own book of 40 scripts.

      I’ll get my stuff together one of these days and translate all of those scripts into Spanish.

      Thanksgiving is coming up… my story script Nappy Nap always works beautifully for me.

      1. Jim I don’t have that one. Nappy Nap. Can you send it for folks to maybe do in the next few weeks?

        I forgot about those readings on your and Anne’s scripts. Remember we thought we would collect a lot of great readings and we never did? I think it is too much to remember. But at least we have those:

        Readings Based on Matava/Tripp Scripts – Spanish

        and the other categories just like that one for the other languages…

        1. I appreciate the financial incentive Chrisz, I’ll see if I can’t find some time to work on them over Winter break.

          I guess there is not a reading in the sidebar for “Halloween”. Check out this link, it’s my school page, hasn’t been updated in a while. But you’ll find the reading, with a picture and even an audio/video podcast made by some students in the class. The whole get-up.


  11. They are in English with no extended readings bc we make our own. Besides working on a set of ten scripts for Houdini, Anne is also currently working on another set of scripts (Vol. 3). I will talk to her about making all four of her books available in Spanish and French as well as English. Not sure how that is going to shake out though. I think everybody is ok with the English, right? I get that impression from those who use Anne’s stories.

    1. I think English is fine too – I mean the way I explain them to people is that they are Foreign Language resources for any language. It’s not so much time for people that need to adapt them to Latin/German/Chinese/Swahili

  12. Thanks for sharing, Scott! I liked the ‘también’ gesture too. It’s quite amazing how much vocabulary they’re are using in a level 1 class at the end of quarter 1. Bravo.

    1. I missed the “tambien” gesture, could someone explain it here?

      Thanks for the helpful video Scott… great way to spend some time around Dia de los Muertos!

      1. I didn’t even realize I do this gesture until Sean pointed it out and I looked back at the video. It isn’t much – when I say “también,” I make a gesture with my hand as if I am putting something on top of something else.

  13. I apologize for the newbie question but I have to ask it – is it the combination of early TPR and the Word Wall that allow students to comprehend a MT like this? I have several cultural clips that I’d love to use for the different times of the year but my level 1 classes need way more vocabulary to actually enjoy them.

    Cheers in advance for the ideas and insights!

    1. In Spanish 1, I’ve been targeting all of the highest-frequency structures (i.e. tiene, va, dice, le gusta, etc.). Once the students have acquired those, I find that I can talk about pretty much anything. The key, though, is to find cognates to describe the rest in order to shelter vocabulary. If you look back at the video, you’ll see that almost every sentence involves a high-frequency verb and a cognate (i.e. El esqueleto LE DA un melón a la niña). Hope that helps!

  14. Watching this was sooooo helpful. Thank you, Scott, for putting yourself out there. Honestly, watching Ben’s videos (I think the Brrr ones), the Cierra la puerta video from Martina and this video have made all the difference for my teaching. I am so excited for January 20th, when I can start over again with my 3 new Spanish I classes. I think I get it so much more now!

    1. Thank you all so much for the feedback. I hope this has been helpful to you – it has certainly been a worthwhile exercise for me. I hope to get a peek into your classrooms at some point, since the videos are, in my opinion, the best way we learn and improve. Here are my two biggest takeaways…

      1) Don’t lose sight of the importance of personalization during MovieTalk (or any other CI activity). Even though I am talking about the girl in the video, I need to remember to bring it back to my own students. Hopefully, they learn a bit about Day of the Dead from this lesson, but in order for the CI to be compelling, it needs to relate to them. These moments where I should be bringing it back to the kids also provides a break from the screenshots.

      2) Stop worrying so much about technique, and relax…

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