Class Competitions 1 – Overview

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27 thoughts on “Class Competitions 1 – Overview”

  1. This could be the most powerful motivator for kids just yet. They are so ultra-competitive. Not to mention the mentoring aspect of it all for us. Are any of the (few) German teachers on this PLC up for the challenge?

  2. And I want to be clear that keeping the videos off the big forum here is open to discussion. I think the value to the kids could be undermined if the teacher knew that in the story creation process being filmed that the entire group could see them teaching warts and all bc that’s what it feels like and warts happen.

    On the other hand, if we limit our competitions to smaller groups, with smaller chunks of people being involved, maybe limited just to language groups (a video in French is not going to be much of a motivational tool for a bunch of Spanish kids to want to compete with), then it would be just easier.

    So I wasn’t trying to exlude from the CC videos those who read here but stay quiet because they are not yet ready to throw themselves into the fray, but rather just do what might be best for the kids. Let me know what you want to do with this.

    1. Not responding to the competition aspect here (which doesn’t particularly interest me)–just the privacy part. Could the “owner” of the video be the one who decides which members get access to the video? Is it acceptable for everyone here to know who are members of the blog?

      Another thing I think would be extremely helpful to video viewers is the following: A brief description of the lesson plan and where the class is in the “big picture”.

      For instance, is it the very first day of introducing the structures?
      Were the structures introduced and PQAed “yesterday”, so what we’re seeing is the follow up to that? How much is new? How much is old?
      Is the story formation in its first day or second day?
      What happened before the reading activity we are seeing (if that is pertinent)?

      Personally, I need a bit of context for the videos so that I understand “where” the students/teacher are in the process. Otherwise, I make incorrect assumptions which, in some ways, make the videos less useful to me as a teacher.

      Video observation is a very powerful tool for teachers in my opinion.

      1. It’s perfectly acceptable to want to know who all of the members here are. I think security and privacy are absolutely essential as a few of of I know have said some things that we’d hate to leave this group. I’m under the understanding that the sign-up process is kind of automated. Somebody could set up a PayPal payment and get a password sent to them automatically and then see everything going on.

        And I think Vimeo allows you to set a password that you have to give people if they want to watch the video.

      2. …Is it acceptable for everyone here to know who are members of the blog? …

        This is not only acceptable but desirable and even necessary. I just haven’t known how to set it up. Sabrina has a background in business and might be able to help – I’m too stuck over there in the right hemisphere of the brain. I really like that question Jody. We don’t know with whom we are speaking and I am not doing a good enough job of insisting on bios. So that question might put into motion some needed change here on the site in terms of who is reading. I know I am paranoid and with good reason from before it became private, but we could be doing more in this area of privacy and transparency from all group members.

        And then there must be some way when we set up/record the CC videos to answer the questions you ask so that the videos have more immediate value to us. Just don’t assume I know and will do it. We kind of have to work more together here. If we want something done, we should do it. Just email me to do something and if I need to play the moderator card and refuse it I will but not without consulting the group first.

        I would like to know in general what group members have as other suggestions for improving the PLC as well. Do we need a smaller group? What would make it work for you better, Jody? Others?

        1. Hi Ben,
          General ideas for the PLC: I would like two things. A tighter list of “Categories” (though I understand how tedious it would be to fix that) and a longer list of “Recent Comments” (because I like seeing what current conversation is).

  3. I would be open to working with other Chinese teachers along these lines. It’d be my 7th or 8th graders.

    I think an application process to join the PLC would be fine, Ben. Maybe a short questionnaire could be created and someone from the group could call the person and talk about it for a few minutes?

  4. I like the idea of a questionnaire or interview process. I really think that this is an amazing resource, but only for those that are serious about it.

    I LOVE the competition idea and would like to do this with a group of Spanish teachers.

  5. I think this could be a cool project as well. If i can get releases signed I would be interested in participating either in Latin or Spanish at a 1st or 2nd year level.

    If people in language groups could agree to do a common Matava or Tripp script, that would be the easiest way, no? I am just imagining my kids saying, “We could do something cooler than that” and really trying to shine in their story.

    I think that if the teacher included the background information, as Jody said, that could help understand it. Also, I think that any vocabulary which is not a basic part of the story (i.e. the cute details) should be explained beforehand, or subtitled or something similar so that the story remains comprehensible.

    Again, I am interested in either Spanish or Latin.

        1. Dude I will pay you for your time and expertise. Take the blue chip ideas we have and turn them into easy to read flow charts over the next few years. Otherwise we lose the ideas bc of the scrolling out factor that happens here so fast.

          The flow charts of blue chip ideas we have had here would be a brilliant response to the problem of losing those great ideas, which is an inevitable process, unless we can freeze them up above on a hard link in for easy reference.

          If we get a Templates/Flow Charts hard link next to the Videos hard link at the top of this page, and then next to it put a series of Beginner’s Videos – short 3-5 min. videos for those who come here and get bewildered by the level of converation – I would be very happy. I can’t do both.

          I do want that hard link – wasn’t this your idea originally, James? – very much but I don’t have the ability to make it nor the time to do it. But I can do the Beginning Videos based on my book TPRS in a Year! I could make hundreds of those. It’s time we use video more and more here in more and more different ways.

          While we are talking about working more together as a team, maybe someone can follow up on the idea Diane suggested yesterday of a phone interview needed to keep one’s membership. People who sign up don’t need to comment here, they can just lurk and read, I have no problem with that, but we need to know who is reading here and why and a short phone interview and verbal request for a bio can do that.

          I don’t think the video piece is going to happen here unless we get that tightened up and, as somebody said this past week prompted by the excellent video sent in by Sabrina, the video piece is possibly the biggest player of all in our online growth into the method together.

          As usual, just firing ideas out there, thinking out loud.

  6. I think this idea has a huge amount of potential. An awesome way to get EVEN MORE reps of the target structures. Very techy, too, which is always good to show nowadays. We could as a group compile a “best of” video to show administrators, parents, guidance councilors, etc. Lots of possibilities…

    I’d love to get involved with other Latin teachers next year. Can we make a note to republish this sometime during the summer?

  7. jen you said you will record in March on our competition. Me too. I want to do some other stuff first.

    I will be interested to see if other language groups in this PLC get into this.

    By the way, why not set classes against each other? Record in house. It’s a start. And then the best class gets to challenge other schools. Just thinkin’ out loud.

  8. Yep. I’m on! I am taking the “competition” idea rather abstractly, fyi, but I’m sure my students will be all over that aspect! I love the idea that we will share our videos and “compete” but really for me it is about the reps (or “camouflaging the reps” as Carol Gaab says) and about introducing our students to the wider community so that they can get a glimpse of the fact that we are all a community of learners. Of course the average HS kid won’t really catch that consciously, but it will sink in somewhere.

    I am looking forward to this. I’m in a place now where it feels like the right time to push myself to do a video. What I said the other day about being self-conscious, I think is “normal.” I am not obsessively self conscious or dwelling on the fact that “I suck.” It is a practice, I keep reminding myself. Every day I get a fresh start! I admit that when I heard Sabrina using passe simple, I thought “oh crap, I don’t own that. ” But then a second later, I let it go, because there are other ways to ask that particular question, and I will just use the one I am comfortable with. It’s not as if my students will know the difference or be shortchanged.

    I am pretty good at not taking myself too seriously. This is one of those moments of “feel the fear and do it anyway,” and it is a stretch for me which is a good thing. I think it will also help me to share with my students this vulnerability. It is good modeling for me to put myself out there, and since I know that this community is totally supportive, it helps me to take that risk. These are all things we want our students to develop as well…a healthy sense of risk-taking and trust, and getting over our need to appear “perfect.”

    Let me know about dates. I think I will use the script with both level 2 classes (French 2 and Spanish 2…mostly 9th graders w/ some 10th). Not sure about my other 2 groups (French 1 and Spanish 4) because those groups are too small to do stories. But who knows, I might try anyway.

    I like the rules. They are simple. Tell me if I am remembering correctly:
    1) One day of PQA
    2) Run the video during the story asking and submit whatever happens
    3)??? I forget OH YEAH! Ben wins no matter what 🙂

    Can’t wait!

    1. Jen,

      I so agree with you that we can’t take ourselves so seriously because we will undeniably find fault with just about everything we do ( I would for sure) .

      Hey, I look up to you in so many ways because you’ve been teaching far longer than I have and you have so much more experience than many of us have. Your comments are always so right on so don’t knock yourself short. Look at that incredible rubric you put together with Robert’s input. And how many people are using it ( 40, 50, may be more ??) Your legacy is just about done, time to retire ( haha) !

      Seriously Jen , you just don’t know where your talents lie!
      Bottom line is we all teach in different ways, we all have our own God-given voices, we can’t coin this way of teaching. All we can do is embrace it to the best of our abilities with all our heart and add our own color and fabric to this beautiful mosaic.

      Ok now, about that passé composé thing, you said it yourself, there are many ways to get to Rome right? So as long as you convey your message in a COMPREHENDED way, whether you use passé simple or imparfait or passé composé or another tense does not matter. What matters is that the message be COMPREHENDED, because that is the only thing that will yield acquisition.

      I realize that passé composé is not widely taught in the US so how would you know to use it if you’ ve never been exposed to it?

      One more thing : you are so right about this video competition tool. It is a tool to provide more repetitions in a disguised way. The brain craves novelty and this is a cool way to provide novelty that still uses CI in a fun way for the kids.
      You know it, I know it, the kids don’t know it but they love it because it’s cool to compete with other kids from other parts of the country. I told my kids today we are going to watch you and/or Ben s video and compete, they were sooooo excited!

      Now I m a little disappointed b/c I told my kids today we ‘d be watching Ben’s video very soon and now he says not before March and I know they are going to be very disappointed.

      As for the rules, even though they were created after I had done the video, they fit my circumstances because I did pqa the day before. As for letting Ben win, I say NO! I’ll vouch for you Jen, par esprit de solidarité entre femmes!

      1. I’ll have it by the end of the month at the latest. As per something chill said a few days ago about the new bi-weeky schedule, I never know when that sequence ( will end and that is a mental health thing for me. I must not be on a plan. I don’t know what the language will do, how it will flow, where it will go, as it flows down the mountain of acquisition, and I don’t want to know. That is why I say end of Feb…. Remember when people used to plan shit? Good grief I am done with that! I think that plans are based in fear. I trust CI big time.


    2. I’ve never used the passe simple once in a story bc I was told in graduate school that it is only a written text found in literature. Until I met a real French person! (that’s a dig at 4%ers). And like you said jen, “It’s not as if my students will know the difference or be shortchanged.”

      Feel the fear and do it anyway. I love that. Great line. Strong words from you jen. Very nice. I do that every day. Like when I get out of bed. Welcome to the teaching profession! As in

      I thought of another rule maybe – only send in video of one class. It doesn’t matter how many hours with that class – I intend to record the PQA and the follow up stuff after the story including TQ, so it could be many days of recording, but I think it would get too complex if we sent in more than one class. Also, I think that we should make a rule where you have to send the tape in by two months after the first one, just so we don’t forget.

      So the unconfirmed rules so far are:

      Only one day max on PQA to prepare them.
      Film the first story you get and send it in.
      No stopping the camera.
      I get to win bc I am an old white male.
      Only send in video of one class.
      have to send the tape in by two months after the first one is sent in.
      We all have to use the same story.

      1. OK since old white males are having their ass handed to them on a plate by the American PEOPLE right now, I will say that I don’t have to win. It’s just more ego. But wouldn’t it be kind of embarrassing to act like I know all this shit about TPRS and CI instruction and then turn around and have some class rock the house while my class story sucks? Actually, and I am serious here, we need that. There are at least five or so young teachers in DPS like Mark Mallaney who have achieved far more than I ever will in this stuff. It is a great thing. Imagine no experts. Just us.


  9. I have never done a Bio. Didn’t know I needed to. But just so this group knows that I am totally for CI. I have been teaching Spansish for 13 years. I started using TPRS in about 2002 or 2003. I love it. I was in A high school setting for several years. It was tough being the only TPRS teacher, you know all the teachers doing the grammar thing. When I got an opportunity to change to a charter school where I control the program i jumped on it. I am now the only teacher plus an aide at a K-8 school. I teach CI, tprs, whatever we call it. I love this site because i get to read from like minded techers who are all struggling with the ” normal” way language is taught. I still have problems with parents complaining that I don’t teach the right way. But it’s getting better. I have no problem with having a questionaire of some sort to make sure those that log in are on the same page as the group. Usually the only days I get to really participate in this forum are Wednesdays but I feel this is a great learning site for TPRS teachers. thanks Ben.

    As far as the video thing. I think it is a great idea. I did a video project with my 6th 7th and 8th graders. It went ok. I think their could be a lot of improvements. I think this idea is a good one. Not sure if I want to dive in and do it just yet.

  10. jeffery Brickler


    Right on brother. It would be powerful to see what others are doing in Latin. I’m on board. It would help me and the kids. More reps for them and some competition. How many Latin teachers are on here anyway?

    David Maust
    Robert Patrick
    John Piazza
    Jeffery Brickler (me)
    James Hosler
    David Talone

    Are there others?

    1. OK but language groups have to organize themselves. I think one person per language group should do it. Like Sabrina and I and jen will just email each other to keep the airwaves uncluttered here as we work on our class productions and processing of our common class stories.

      There is a group email category. Or use the comment fields below to set up competitions. Other ideas? I do have to say that whenever I mention to my class the filming of Sabrina’s story for week of Feb. 25, the class is suddenly really involved. It’s like jGR that way, but stronger.

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