Chicagoland TPRS/ TCI meeting 5/31/14

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26 thoughts on “Chicagoland TPRS/ TCI meeting 5/31/14”

    1. I like the sound of that Sean – TCI Chicagoland. It just sounds cool. What are the other nascent groups? Can we call them:

      TCI New York
      TCI Philly or Tri-State TCI?
      TCI Northern California
      TCI Maine and Beyond

      Tell me if those names are o.k. or what you want to call them. What are the other groups doing this?

        1. Nathanial I should have included skip’s group – TCI Maine and Beyond – in that list because they are the first and most active, amazingly so for like 15 years or more now. Thanks for the heads up.

          At least I think that is their name.

  1. Eric Spindler

    If possible you should go. I regret that I haven’t been able to make it recently. Unfortately, you are not going to be having it in Germany.

  2. Eric Spindler

    I am doing my GAPP exchange with Gymnasium Wildeshausen. I’ll be taking 14 students over there starting this Wednesday. We’ll be there through the 25th of June.

  3. Our Chicagoland TCI/ TPRS meeting was fantastic. The three teachers in the Winnetka (IL) school district that hosted the meeting, Alisa, Su, and Carla, are an amazing team. I learned so much about how to deliver comprehensible input to younger kids (or older kids with different learning styles). We spent a good deal of time learning about how to deliver reading instruction… lots of skilled circling (stopping frequently from a reading to circle, TPR, and parallel question), lots of skilled Reader’s Theater (e.g., kids acting as animals, following our direction in tandem to the low-level picture book being read), and some other kinesthetic activities and things. Carla put together a list of “Reading Activities” that are phenomenal… again, these come from an elementary school teacher. (I’m asking her right now if I can share her list of reading activities with anyone interested here.)

    I’ll be teaching a 6 week summer Spanish program to incoming 1-2 graders, and another to incoming middle schoolers at the University of Chicago Lab School, and I feel much more comfortable with the idea of teaching those little kiddos now after our meeting today.

    Truly, nothing beats meeting, face-to-face, with a group of CI teachers.

    (We missed you Diane!)

    1. Yeah, I missed you all, too. This weekend all my grades have to be ready to submit, and I had to write my 7th graders’ exam (that’s done!). I have quite a while to go on the grades though. It’s the last week of the school year for me next week!

      I hope that I can get the information, too. It sounds great.

    2. Sounds like you had a really productive meeting/training. I would definitely be interested in the list of reading activities. If she is willing to share, maybe you could post it here so you won’t get a ton of individual requests.

    3. Great. Carla emailed me last night saying she is happy to share her wonderful list of reading activities. I’ll wait for her to email me them so I can just copy and past them on this thread.

      BTW, the three ladies that hosted our meeting yesterday; Carla, Su, and Alisa, will be presenting at iFLT in Denver. If I understood correctly, they’ll be presenting on what teachers new to CI/TPRS need to get their classes rolling like bail-out moves, structures that help with classroom management, etc.

      1. That’s a wonderful topic for a conference seminar. They would be great at that – I don’t think I have heard of a group of teachers who all went into CI together in such a thought-through way as they have recently done in Winnetka, IL.

        For others who don’t know: Alisa is an elementary Spanish teacher and World Language department chair for elementary schools in the town where she teaches. At one time, she was a favorite of Helena Curtain (thematic units, no translation, culture and authentic all over). However, in a survey parents overwhelmingly complained that after 8th grade, the kids had barely any Spanish ability. So they responded with an investigation of what produces fluency. They discovered that CI does it, and switched the whole elementary program K-8 in Winnetka, complete with educating other teachers and parents about the reasons and what to expect. (Helena reportedly became very unhappy with Alisa and urged her not to do this, but Alisa was convinced.) I am very interested in what happens among the high school teachers when they start getting kids trained with CI from kindergarten through 8th grade.

        1. There was a time when nobody questioned Helena Curtain and Mimi Met. That time is over. Why will their work eventually prove to be ineffective? Because they were tied to textbook companies and their methods only got to a few of the kids in each language classroom, pushing a lot of those kids into the sad field of thinking that they couldn’t learn a language, which was a lie.

          A few years ago we got into this topic of Helena Curtain here on the PLC, and an entire category of articles was the result. In those articles (click on the right side of the page for the link on Helena Curtain), we said things that may have had a little venom in them, things we shouldn’t have said, perhaps, but we are to be forgiven for shooting at Goliath (the textbook companies) – we were just so frustrated!

          The story you share above, Diana, about how Alisa and Su and Carla (sounds like the Three Musketeers and I hope to meet them this summer and call them that) have moved past what they have learned from Helena, is of extreme interest to me. Why would it now? It shows that teachers no longer blindly accept the party line thinking that Helena and Mimi sold – in the form of textbooks and especially Realidades – for so many years.

          Teachers and parents – those in Winnetka forming a vanguard on this – are no longer accepting the old status quo. They are trying new things. Is it not just a matter of time before everyone does this? Expensive books that don’t produce results are of the past. Trained, exciting teachers who use the target language all the time in the classroom are of the future, and no book is needed for that.

          1. Alisa and I have communicated a few times by email and we just realized that she teaches next door to a teacher I know (we both volunteer in the summers for the Honduras Educational Development Assistance Corp). Small world!

            Surveying parents is one way to spark change and there would probably be different reports from parents of students with CI and non-CI teachers. Not sure how I could ever get that survey to happen in other nearby elementary schools (I’m the only FL teacher at my school). At least in my case, all the teachers fall back on the “we don’t have adequate time and schedules.” While that is true, I would like to show what can be achieved when taught with CI, despite the time restraints.

          2. so cool, you’re connection to Alisa, Eric! Must be a great organization, the HEDAC, if both of you are involved.

            Thoughtfully so, they are a bit weary about sharing this list of Reading Activities after all. I will say that out of the list of 20 or so activities, the ones that stand out to me involve some advanced circling and Reader’s Theater. They, the three musketeers from Winnetka, teach elementary and they have found lots of gains in getting students up and moving around, making the sounds of animals, acting like animals, and really “micro-coaching” (as they term it) the acting out of the reading.

            I’m left with the notion that the three CI masters in Winnetka have fine-tuned TCI for little kids by keeping things compelling with switching up the reading activities to include partner-pair activities, kinesthetic activities, mini survey sessions, drawing activities, and what not. I guess we all find a balance with how we keep the CI compelling for our students, but I sure learned some great tips from them.

            Note: The Winnetka 3 will be presenting at iFLT in Denver this July. They are Alisa, Su, and Carla.

          3. This is a big deal, the Winnetka 3. We have so little at the elementary level. I am so glad that they are coming to Denver. Now, since they are right there in Chicago, are they then going to NTPRS the next week (which is that week of July 21-25 just after Denver which is July 15 – 18)?

          4. Yes, the Winnetka 3 (and perhaps others from the Winnetka district) told me that they are going to NTPRS.

  4. I’m hoping Ben will list the reading activities from Carla as a separate post! I’m checking this every so often but fear I could miss it if you link from this post.

    While we’re on the topic of reading, I went to my own blog to search “reading,” and found a link to one of Martina’s posts on how to get kids to re-read a text.
    It’s here:

    and here’s one on using (Robert’s?) idea of the most important ten sentences. I love the presentation that is linked to this post; luckily I had not deleted it with a bunch of other kid projects.

    An afterthought: now I’m going to start teaching kids about how to find and credit legal photos for google presentations. I don’t want us to get into trouble, and I don’t want to model poor on-line practices.

  5. Michele and Ben, I spoke too soon when I expressed the desire to share Carla and the Winnetka 3’s reading activities for elementary kids. I found out that the list is, in fact, a compilation of activities that various foreign language teachers around the Winnetka elementary school district do that have worked well for them as they implement CI delivery. Since the just put the list together, and since they work as a team in Winnetka, they are rightfully weary of sharing the entire list on mass.

    But really, I have to say that what I think are the meat and potatoes of their list involve skilled Readers’ Theater and skilled circling techniques.

    Sorry again for being a overly earnest on this one.

    But do check them out at the iFLT conference, even if you teach older kids.

  6. Will do Sean. No problem. When we share stuff connected to a district we have to be careful about the intellectual property rules so that’s fine. I am just glad these musketeers are coming to Denver. Don’t forget to call me, we need to talk about the Chicago War Room.

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