I got this from Carol in New Jersey. She is asking for feedback from everyone.
Could you put this out there? Circling and PQA-ing with the purchased materials is falling flat for me. Does someone who is using materials by Blaine or Carol have some advice?
Example: circling and PQA-ing il coupe/he cuts and les ciseaux/the scissors. We got to a boy in the class who cut his hair when he was 5 and his mom was mad. It went nowhere! I feel like I am missing something and practicing skill 22 becomes a real challenge. This morning in French 1 with il rit/he laughs, I finally got a girl in the back who has been struggling to offer that she laughs at a certain teacher who tries to be funny. The whole class came alive with that, but it was at the end of the period.
My first reaction to this, and the first thought that I always have when CI is flat, is that Carol was going too fast. But I don’t think that Carol goes too fast. My second thought was that, es obvio, that when the kids were talking about some teacher, i.e. about some highly personalized, local, content, things took off. It is that local personalization, and not some general discussion, but something that the class shares a common that has a charge to it, that brings the interest.
Carol is certainly doing what we are taught to do in PQA. She starts with a structure and then invites the kids into a discussion, trying/hoping to find in whatever structure (cuts, scissors, laughs) is on the board, some CI that is compelling and leads to interesting discussion. But there are too many blah structures in her choices, and the chance of getting compelling CI out of the verb cuts and a pair of scissors is fairly low. We must remember that the quality of the structure drives the CI. Nobody knows this more, in my own TPRS experience, than Anne Matava.
That’s why the Circling with Balls/Questionnaires cards are so useful. The information from the cards drives the CI well through the fall and into the winter, even, as many of us are finding out here in January, and the discussion is student driven.
This week, I am using Michele’s idea of vacation cards, but I am going to get back to the questionnaires as well. Today, a wonderful child named Amairani wrote that she
– baked cookies and bread with her grandmother
– was in a play with a guy
– fought with her four year old nephew
This worked because the structures came from Amairani. Then, all I had to do was keep making it more and more bizarre. The general tenor of the class is simply more personalized when we use structures from the kids’ minds or that resonate on that level of being a teenager.
I know that Anne Matava writes her story scripts with structures are totally interesting to kids. Here are a few examples:
nothing to wear, wear _____ !, makes fun of, clap and cheer, runs to the stage, I know you!, is looking forward to, can’t think of anything else, I don’t care about ____ !, his/her own room, wants to get married, holds her in his arms, gave her the creeps, my parents embarrass me, has to go to the bathroom, he’s been working out, etc.
Of course, we must not forget the role of skilful questionning during circling to draw out cute answers from the kids and to encourage, bait, the kids into personalizing their cute answers as well.
A final thought on this, Carol, is that you may have just been having one of those days where the general atmosphere in the room is not very bright. It happens. Humans can carry all kinds of energy, and, although it is invisible, it is real, just like thoughts are real. We are not going to have a home run day every day.
Today, I was giggling with my 6th period class, but when 8th period came in, after ten minutes, I knew that it was going to be a long period. In the past, I would have tried to fluff myself up, thinking that I was the one who could change the energy. But, even though it was 9 degrees outside, in my classroom overlooking downtown Denver and the mountains it was stiflingly hot. The kids were on their second day back after a break, many had suffered in the way that kids suffer at home, and it was January. So, I abandoned my sophomoronic (made it up) idea that I am an entertainer, and I just settled in for a quiet class to see what came up. The process of TPRS, the Blainemobile, is an all-terrain vehicle, and it can go through any kind of classroom vibes. I would be interested to hear if that was it, Carol, just a bad day after a break.