Allison Steps Up with a Video 1

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16 thoughts on “Allison Steps Up with a Video 1”

  1. Awesome questioning. Clear. Great one word answers from the kids. I was amazed at the amount of rapid fire questions that showed real unconscious acquistion that is visible in the video. They are not even aware of the language as they all focus on the meaning of what is going on in the story about the elephant. Clearly they have the target structures or they could never move this fast. If it were in the first stages of telling a story and not a retell (I am assuming this is a retell), then it would be a lot slower, I would think. That is the process we need to see more than retells because once the story is done, we can’t see the process it took to create it, but it still is great video to study. I counted yes or no questions from the time the story started with the actor getting up at 2:15 to 6:15. In that time you asked 48 questions, or 12 per minute, or 3 every 15 seconds. The timed drawings of the sentences from the story in those 12 panels is really clever and totally involves the kids! The coolest part was the lean in from the girl in the back who was determined that the castle be correctly identified as grey. The only suggestion I would have is the same I would make to myself and everybody else, which is to take a big deep breath and slow down and do some more comprehension checks to make sure that the roads of communication are totally open with each student, which I’m sure you did when creating the actual story. This slow checking in with various kids and constant individual and group hand comprehension checks or “What did I just say?” questions is something I am working hard on right now. Great work! The lack of English was awesome. That school board [ed. note: this was originally done as a demonstration of the method for Allison’s school board] is going to love this. Allison if you still have time and have the right technology for the school presentation, they might like translation titles.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Ben.
      (This parenthetical comment is what I wrote to Ben in an email: I felt pretty good about these classes. I really felt like I had the kids. 5th grade has always been my toughest grade, but now it’s my easiest! (Not to figure out how to work with my 4th graders, my beginners).
      It is indeed a retell. We PQA’d the structures for a little over one class (45 minutes) and then developed the story over 2 classes. This is the 4th day.
      I picked out about 7 minutes worth of clips to show my school board and did subtitles for them, color coded. It was a lot of work, but I think it will be most worth it.)
      It’s always hard for me to know if it’s appropriate to ask single kids to answer, but I feel that at this age, students still need individual recognition. And I rarely have kids that don’t raise their hands at some point but it depends on the activity. Because I wanted the retell to go quickly so we could do other activities, I did move fast; I will often wait up to 10 seconds (probably not long enough) to see if I can get hands that I haven’t seen before. I will sometimes also use a class list to keep track of who has answered questions/gone to the board/volunteered to ensure I get everyone. And thanks for the reminder to go slow-LI. Always a good one.

      1. You may want to try the “Appaudissez!” thing that I find myself naturally doing now. By asking fora round of applause every time a kid does something that merits recognition, I not only shine the spotlight on the kid, but also remind myself to slow down. If I think more of the kids and less of the story, we move at a more balanced rate of speed, and that sense of balance allows a lot of good, unexpected, things to happen in the story creation process.

  2. Angela Williams

    Wow, Allison, super awesomeness. You can really see the kids excitement and see that they are enjoying learning French. The language is flowing very fluidly and the kids are right on point; quick responses, you do quick comprehension checks, etc. Two quick questions, what level is this? Approximately how long are the classes?
    Again, great job Allison!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Angela! These are my fifth graders. They meet four times a week for 45 minutes. They started French in fourth grade, three times a week for 30 minutes. I did not do any TPRS last year. It’s been fun to see what kinds of structures from previous stories we work in (“la taille de…” being one of my personal favorites). I realized last night that in my previous pedagogical life, my students never learned “il y a.” How dumb is that? Now all of my students know it!

  3. Allison, this is amazing. Love, love, love what you did with the story panels on the SmartBoard. This is a super chouette idea! Do you have the rest of the class draw on a piece of paper at the same time? That would be a terrific document to save for a formal assessment.
    Thanks for taking the plunge and being the first one to put yourself out there for everyone to chime in – I bet you’ll get tons of “A”s!!! (and maybe some money and lots of boyfriends as well!!).

    1. Thanks Brigitte! It was great. I usually don’t have the rest of the students draw at the same time, partly because they love to see what the artist is drawing, and it’s actually important for them to be able to associate the drawing with what I say for the comprehension checks later (sometimes the drawings aren’t super clear!!). However, I do do a storyboard where individual students draw on their own paper–same basic idea, 30-60 seconds per drawing. This is what they then use to tell the story to someone at home as homework (the “audience” has to sign the paper as proof). This brings in positive feedback from parents, too!

    2. …thanks for taking the plunge and being the first one to put yourself out there for everyone to chime in…

      What Brigitte says here is most important to all of us who actually want to make this video thing work. We are never going to get the kind of footage we want, we are always going to be flawed in this work, and yet we put up the video knowing that our task is to learn to critique each other lovingly, and yet making suggestions that have teeth in them so that we don’t create some kind of smiley face mutual admiration society. We suggest things that we will ALL benefit from when watching each other teach.

      Getting the video piece into regular practice here goes 100% against our egos and against everything we 4%ers have ever been taught to think about ourselves, which is that we have to the best. No we don’t. None of us is the best – there is no best, and if we can get over that notion about being shining stars in the teaching world, putting our egos at the door, and if we can do this thing as described above and in the spirit of leadership that Allison has provided for all of us, then we can make this program work for the good of us and our students.

      The fact is, I have never watched a TPRS teacher teach on video or in person from whom I didn’t learn something significant. I may not be able to articulate in words what it was, but just watching Allison working here on some level gave me insight into my teaching. It is more an unconscious thing to watch a video, as we learn by osmosis, if you will.

      So can we trust each other to make this work? I hope so. Last year at East High when the film guy came in for the district moodle, I wasn’t able to say, “Oh, those classes weren’t that great, can we re-film until I get a story that I feel I want to share online?” We can’t do that, because filming and setting up a camera and all that is just so much trouble.

      So we put up what we get! Luckily, I have more footage from Allison and will put it up over the next week or so, with possibly less comments from us but we still get to watch the video and learn in that way of osmosis.

      Again, thanks for running out onto the playing field with this, Allison – it can only help others. Ultimately, if we have time and the necessary tech piece, we can consider adding translation titles and maybe directors’ cut voiceovers, because I have been told that they are helpful also. Now, can anyone get why we need to be private here? Hello!

  4. I started going slower with the stories and cutting it down from 2 a week to 1 a week. Adding the drawings like you’re doing is going to make it even better for my students; having them produce something for a future retell. I will try to incorperate that this week in my classes.
    Way to hit all of the modalities. Such a good example of how a TPRS class can vary the activities quickly on a non-story day to keep high attention.
    Cool, calm and in control. Those students appear engaged.

    What did you have on that dry-erase paper in your hand?

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Drew. This is all so exciting for me, I can’t contain myself! I am so excited to present this class to my school board on Wednesday. And I’m not sure if I can wait until July and learn more at the NTPRS conference.
      The dry-erase paper has the sentences I read to the kids. When we do the true or false questions, I often write them down as I say them to the kids. Sometimes, if I have my act together, I have them on a slide for my Smart Board so I just read them, but I didn’t this day. Oops!
      I find that the kids really enjoy working with the stories. I usually spend 1 day on the structures, 2 days of developing the story, 1-2 days with activities and then 1-2 days with a reading. I have no idea if this timeline makes sense, but it works for these kids.

  5. I think I have some of them from before but I have to go find them. Allison said they were a lot like the one she posted, though. I would like some Step 1 video from her and I think she has some of that ready or soon to be ready. She and Angela are the only ones who have been willing to offer the gnarly stuff in exchange for our comments. That is where the real video work will be done. Thanks for displaying the true courage, Allison.

  6. SO MUCH FRENCH!!! It’s beautiful. There has been a huge debate on FLTEACH about whether or not 90% TL is actually do-able and those that believe that it is, except for the CI folks, just blabber on without caring at all if the students understand. Pshaw!! It would blow their minds to see Allison in action!! If you want detailed feedback, you can have it, but for now…please accept our kudos to you!!!!!! ooooooo rah!!!!!

    with love,

  7. Sabrina Janczak


    It is hard to believe you are new at this! I watched your video twice today and
    there is nothing to critique ( one thing though, it looked like these tiny creatures had a hard time drawing on top of the whiteboard, as if it was too high for them). You stayed in the target language almost 100% of the time, your kids were engaged, speaking French sometimes in one word answer , some other time with a short sentence. It was just what I needed to watch today, after a very depressing day at school. We were told that we are going to be watched by people from head office and administrators all the time and unannounced . They want to make sure we turn in daily lesson plans and unit plans based on our curriculum (The book!) and if we are not teaching what is planned for that day we’ll be in trouble.
    We are under attack from Corporate America who thinks education is another business that can be turned around.
    Anyway watching your video was so soothing because it reminded me that teaching can be something magic and kids can still learn, if given the attention they need, opportunity, time of day, and not be treated like robots , using some mathematical formulas to appease the lobbyists and Arne Duncan.
    Sorry I had to vent.
    Thank you for the great video!

  8. …if we are not teaching what is planned for that day we’ll be in trouble….

    As long as you are aware of whatever you are supposed to be teaching that day according to whatever pacing document or whatever, you can turn the class in that direction. PhD candidates are told to do that in their orals – if they have no idea about a correct response to a question, they are told to dissemble over to an area they know and give that answer. I wouldn’t let it get me down. If you are in French the whole time what will they even know about what is going on?

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