Advice Needed

We are getting really busy here. Lots of posts are in the queue, held back because I don’t want them to get lost in a sea of too many posts and comments per day, which seems to have happened this year more than in previous years.
Are we doing that? Is the amount of ideas shared here on average day getting to be too much? I am concerned that it might be too much. Thoughts on that? Any suggestions for keeping the blog from taking on the characteristics of a runaway freight train?
Or are things good the way they are now? Can people find what they need? My concern as always is for the new people, so that they can find the good stuff that can help them move swiftly and efficiently into this new fantastic way of teaching.
Any comments are welcome.



20 thoughts on “Advice Needed”

  1. I don’t have any problem finding what I want to read here. I often learn just as much from the comments as I do the original posts. Best $4.99 per month I’ve every spent!

  2. I think there are three ways to use the PLC: one, keep up with the conversations by following the “Recent Comments” listed at right.
    Two, find a recent article title that seems of interest, and read as much as you wish.
    Three, search for key words or use the list of topics at right based on what you’re wanting to learn about. Then, if you comment to add an idea or ask a question on any of those older posts, some of us who take approach #1 will see & you’ll probably get people talking with you via those comments.
    Did that make sense? I met people at iFLT who were a little intimidated by the amount of content in here, but it really can be accessible different ways.

  3. Diane’s first strategy is the only way for me to remain current.
    I would search the articles, but I already have a short list in my “To Review/To Prep” Drive folder in addition to my “Easy Strategies to Implement” folder that I have to be mindful of. I haven’t even gotten around to VPQA.
    Here are a few observations:
    1) There are too many categories. I think that most of the categories are really keywords and the categories themselves would be better organized more broadly (e.g. Classroom MGMT, Grading, Assessments, Support for Admin, etc.). Agen isn’t a category…there’s only one Agen.
    2) We are commenting on blog posts as if it were the Forum. I think it’s easier that way, but that probably contributes to the pile-up. It’s been months since I’ve clicked on the Forum tab and kind of forgot about that.
    3) Many of our discussions are theoretical, which might muddy the waters for someone just looking for how to implement something they heard about.
    4) When searching for something they heard about, people discover that practices are constantly updated to the point of sometimes being overhauled. It would be nice to have a single post that keeps getting updated with variations on the original. Quick Quiz is a good example. I’m excited to see what happens when more students are reading for answers rather than wracking their brains to remember. Anyone who missed that update must pour over articles to find the current state of that practice. Some mind resent the new change and would prefer to see and choose from all the options.

    1. I totally agree about having fewer (much fewer) categories. It can be hard to find things again, even with the search function. I also wish we had fewer abbreviations. I can imagine it feeling intimidating to a newcomer; I’ve been following this blog for years and I still couldn’t tell you what half the abbreviations in the categories stand for.
      I feel like a lot slips through the cracks because we don’t have enough time to read/digest ideas.

    2. I agree with Lances suggestion of cleaning up/organizing the categories with broad terms like Class management, grading, admin, observations etc….
      Lance wrote, ” We are commenting on blog posts as if it were the Forum. I think it’s easier that way, but that probably contributes to the pile-up. It’s been months since I’ve clicked on the Forum tab and kind of forgot about that.”
      No offense, I never really liked the forum. It’s format to me is clunky. I prefer the format of the blog. Even if is acting like a forum.
      FOR BEGINNERS (sorry for yelling)
      I feel like the “training” link on top could be updated. Beginners do need to be pointed towards specific videos maybe even in a specific order 1) SLA 2) short strategy vids like Circling then 3)Clips of actual teachers using these strategies in a class setting.
      They need to be reminded about looking at the OLDEST posts regarding subjects like “jGR” because when you click on categories you get discussions about it without knowledge of what it is.
      Linking some videos in the Training link could be helpful. Strategies like Circling with Balls (those ones with you on camera explaining). To be truthful i thought CWB was Circling with gusto or confidence. It totally went over my head to include the balls of the actual sports.
      I agree with Lance’s #4.
      Also I would add the BASIC TPRS Skills. I am still shaky about PQA (who isn’t?) but personalizing language is important. I also just discovered story-asking then having the sudents read their conversation.
      Is ROA in the training link above (I can’t check as I write this comment)? Very fundamental strategy there that is easy to implement because you labeled it so neatly with asterisks and options.

  4. As a (relatively) new member, I feel like there is a lot of information and a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to find things. Not for technical reasons. I wear out the search bar–but now that I’ve slowly begun to figure out what to search for.
    (Kind of like my students) I had to figure out some of the definitions and concepts as I went. Perhaps this is to do with differences in verbiage used in SL (my background) verses FL. I liked where you were going with the “New Members” tab, but just so you know, some of the links are missing.
    Otherwise, I don’t think this blog is particularly hard to navigate.
    Magister p commented on the ideas being “theoretical.” I agree that this may be confusing or not expedient for those who are new or prefer more practical application than abstract ideas. I see a balance of both, and I like both, but for some that may be a conundrum–one I can’t image a solution for.
    All around, the information I find here is extremely helpful and greatly appreciated.

  5. Ben, if you decide to revamp things, creating new categories is relatively simple, but would require assigning each post to one of those new categories.
    Is there an Archive function? It might be easier to do a “clean slate” set up of the blog while still keeping all of the older posts searchable, and then assign all new posts to one of the few new categories.
    Clear blog clear mind?

  6. Good ideas here. Could we help Ben do this by outlining some of these key categories? I suppose the opposite danger is that if you put things in a category because it is the closest related category but it doesn’t fit that well it might make it harder to find things that really pertain to that category. The key would be making just enough categories that really fit all the kinds of things we talk about on here.
    I don’t know how hard it would be but updating posts would be super helpful – I just wonder how we could keep the comments from the old ones because often the comments help shape what the post meant or offers important applications. In the future it wouldn’t be a problem because the comments would just continue on that one post.

    1. …I don’t know how hard it would be but updating posts would be super helpful….
      In my view with the time I have now it would be impossible. There are well over 5,000 posts now and over 41,000 comments. There is some really good stuff back in the archives, I mean really good stuff, that can’t be brought in because of the limitations of the medium we are using. Maybe when I retire again I can do that, depending on what God’s plan is for me. I’d like to but I can barely keep up with the rich and varied discussion that occurs here now on a daily basis, which has increased as we have all gotten deeper into the onion and gained power.
      One thing I can do, and I deeply appreciate the excellent suggestions from everyone, is to simplify those categories. I’ll start doing that, a little at a time. The big point made in the comments is about forming categories that work. My right brained self can’t wrap itself around that one right now. Also, I really feel that what Matthew DuBroy (how cool a name is that for a language teacher?) said this morning is key to the topic of redoing the categories:

      …if you put things in a category because it is the closest related category but it doesn’t fit that well it might make it harder to find things that really pertain to that category….

      I’ll get started on the category reduction project and let the search bar do it’s critical job of bringing up the right articles for us. Thanks again. It’s clear that I am working with professionals here. I started this blog to be a kind of summer conference option, since some of us can’t even get to them because of the costs and because they have other responsibilities. I think that it serves well in that regard, but that nothing can really replace conferences to lay the foundations. And nothing replaces the joy of meeting someone you have known online for years at those conferences. For example, I am (we all are) waiting for Eric to show up at one of the conferences so we can give him the hug he deserves for being so badass. Also I will update that newcomers link, which I agree sucks at the present time.
      (I wish we could all fly. We could fly to any classroom we wanted in an instant and visit each other. I would do that. At least a student of Don Read in CA who is visiting in New Delhi this week will come to my class. How many times does something like that happen in traditional classes?)

      1. I went through and started deleting categories and deleted the first ten I came to. They seemed to make sense at the time. Although I don’t understand all the bustle. There were only 649 of them.
        What we need now is some kind of consensus on how the categories need to change, what they need to become so that they work for people. Lance and Diane and a few others directly addressed that topic this morning, but what we need now is to know what categories people want. So write your suggestions in the comment field. And remember what DuBroy said – we don’t want stuff in one category doesn’t really belong there.
        I also seek advice on the entire concept of acronyms to describe strategies. What do I do about that?

        1. Just to be clear – we cannot re-categorize old posts from nine years back. We CAN get a nice small group of new categories and I can be careful to get all new posts going forward from this point into the right one. BUT what DuBroy said has to be looked at – if we had just a few categories wouldn’t there be too many unrelated posts in them and cause kind of the opposite of what we have now? (I like calling Matthew “DuBroy” instead of Matthew because that name makes me think of central France about 500 years ago, which really was quite pleasant especially in terms of la vie champêtre.)

        2. Here are my suggestions for categories:
          Self Care
          Conference Announcements and Discussions
          Bail Out Strategies
          Dealing with Administrators
          Parents and Community
          Defending Your Craft
          I think that reading would be too broad to make a category.
          How to break it up?
          Also, I am still uncertain about Movie Talk and Look and Discuss. Can it all be put into the same category? Something like digital media? Something that could be combined with vPQA (like using digital images?)?

  7. To reiterate my point, PQA isn’t really a category. What category would we find this in? I’m thinking of categories like these:
    Basic CI Skills
    Strategies & Techniques
    Grading & Assessment
    Word Lists & Curricular
    PQA articles could be filed under both Personalizing and Basic CI Skills. I think the point of categories is to help people find exactly what they want but also direct them to related ideas. Right now the categories are ther own ideas and it probably takes Ben 5min just to go trough all the possible categories (or missing crucial ones?) when writin a new post.

    1. Lance those categories would work for about a year. But after that each would contain too many posts. So I am keeping a number of categories like PQA and Sauk Language, with the goal of keeping them from being lost into the dust bins of the past. Deleting some of those “categories”, which I made to never lose them really, because I got so much from them, was very hard. I understood that it had to be done, however. I will make sure that the ones you and Steve suggest above are included in some way. Make sure I do that. It’ll be a compromise. Maybe 40 categories tops, when it’s all done. But man there is some good stuff gone forever. It’s just the medium we are using. I have noticed over the years that those who want to learn from this site will and those who want an easy learning curve to plug and play into their classrooms won’t get that. It’s true of everything in life. The really good stuff has to be worked for. There is no way around hard work. But when it’s joyful, as it is here with us, it seems like play.

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