Report from the Field – Bob Patrick – 4

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



8 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Bob Patrick – 4”

  1. The springboard was Nell. She took it a thousand miles from being a class in a school to being a real thing that they could experience. There is a very wise lesson here for us – we cannot personalize our stories like they can bc we don’t know their worlds. All we can do is invite those kinds of suggestions and hope we get them, and we don’t very often, and that is just fine bc we all know how rare home run stories are.* God bless Nell.

    And I also wanted to say that your idea of connecting the story text to the Word Chunk game was a stroke of genius. I just pull those words from the Word Wall but this brings it to a higher level of interest for the kids. Great idea!

    *that is why I commend those like Michele who just put up footage of themselves teaching and don’t care about how wonderful it is. We are not in the business of teaching perfect home run hilarious and wonderful lessons. They happen, but not very often. Instead, we put up footage of regular classes like my own at the DPS link and thus help each other get better at all this. This is a process and not a stage show.

    1. Very helpful to hear, Ben. This was absolutely a home run from Nell. Let me confess: I did not know who Chris Brown, Rianna, Drake and Two Chains were. It WAS immediately clear to me that SHE knew and that they were important to her, so they HAD to be the story. I must tell you, though, that that day when this happened was better than any high I could imagine. I was dancing in my soul and in my feet.

      1. Since stories like this get off the ground so well, we might want to investigate more into the why and how of how it happened, with the intent of figuring out how to make stories like this one happen more often.

        We know the why – it was because of Nell, sitting there on a pile of information that, once we get how this method works, we must learn to see as crucial to and directly connected to the level of interest we are able to generate in the story.

        So Nell is far more important than anything else. That’s the why. The next question is the how. How do we get that kind of info during a story from kids like Nell?

        You are the one, Bob, who has already stated that answer here many times. We get the good answers from Nell because Nell trusts us. It all comes back to trust, as you say.

        How many times have we asked for a cute answer and gotten nothing bc we still have our teacher (non-genuine) face on? For me, the real answer is in the tens of thousands. If I want a cute story, I need cute answers, and if I want cute answers like Nell provided, I need to have that trust bridge with Nell. Otherwise, why should she play?

        On another note, and really this is just a major gaff by a teacher who might as well shoot herself in the foot in her classroom, what if Nell had suggested all those cute answers and you had ignored them, failed to see the potentional power in what was happening in class in those moments? This happens more than we think.

        Once, I saw a teacher in a demo reject Batman from a student and tell the class the real answer was Superman. There was no reason for this, by the way, just power. I saw the Batman guy slide back down in his chair. Think he offered any more answers up that class period? Nope. It happens all the time. Our classes don’t rock when we don’t hear the kids.

  2. Bob,

    I love your reports!

    Could you say more, quaeso, about your word wall? Do you start with a set of words and then add (all/some) new words as you go along?

    What structures did you start with, phrases or single words?


    1. Hi Jessica,

      Honestly, I struggled over what the word wall would be. I “wanted” it to be some magical set of perfect words, but my word wall has become a wall in the room where I hang butcher paper and write on it the words we did yesterday. I start each days’ class, in English, by briefly going over yesterday’s words, which I have most often written there just that morning. When I suggest (that’s all it is) that they may want to take out their notebooks and write them down, you’d think I was handing out gold coins. Years ago, when I demanded that students take notes, the compliance (that what it was) was at best, poor.

      When the butcher paper gets full, I hang another one over it. We can always lift up sheets and see what is underneath it.

  3. It may be an overused term on the blog but that story was completely badass! I listen primarily to hip hop so I got a kick out of that story. For those not in the loop here are the characters:
    -Drake is a HUGE r&b singer/rapper.
    -2 Chainz is an up and coming rapper, becoming really popular. Although I’m not really a big fan of him, I find his flow to be intriguing. If you’re curious, here’s a song with both Drake and 2 Chainz: This song is HUGE right now and all over the radio. 2 Chainz is the one rapping, wearing a sailor hat, saying really inappropriate things. Drake is the smooth voiced singer/rapper.
    -Chris Brown is another r&b singer/rapper. He’s the guy who was dating Rhianna, a singer, a few years ago and beat her up pretty bad. It seems like people have forgotten about that since he came out with the song “Look At Me Now”, which was a pretty damn good song (if you like rap).

    What is really interesting about this story line is that this summer Drake and Chris Brown actually got into fisticuffs in a club. I’m wondering if the students took the story in that direction on purpose.

    It’s funny how not all classes take the stories in different directions. Last year, for the “Lazy” Matava story, we had some great gestures for the structures. During PQA, when I was PQAing “the boss/el jefe” somebody mentioned how the rapper Rick Ross ALWAYS refers to himself as a “boss”. It is also very common for him to make this loud yell/grunt in all of his songs. You can hear it a few times in the beginning of this video: Warning, it’s a Lil Wayne song featuring Rick Ross so It’s explicit but within the first few seconds you hear Rick Ross doing his yelling grunt thing. Reason why I mention that is because one of the structures was also “yells”. So for the gestures for that, when I said “el jefe” the students pointed to a picture of Rick Ross that I hung up that a student printed off from home. It was a picture of Mr. Ross and underneath the student typed “Rick Ross – El Jefe”. Classic. The gesture for “yells” was simply to do the Rick Ross yelling grunt thingy. It was awesome. But most of the students in my other classes didn’t even know who Rick Ross was so it didn’t work.

    It sounds like Nell will be your lifesaver all year.

  4. Yeah if your class is culturally uniform you have a much higher chance of getting the home run thing going. When they don’t know or care about each other’s culture, we lose that potential. Depends on how many Nells there are in the class. My classes are 100% Latino. I have to get on that stuff and start floating stories based in their lives for my stories to really bounce this year. How? We already said it: trust. Somehow I have to earn their trust. I don’t have to stop being white, because they’re not stupid. I just need their trust. But last year I didn’t get through and this year I want to get a better pair of ears on me to hear them and their Mexican worlds for real. Then we’ll all have more fun.

  5. …and…Drake “used to be” Jimmy on the popular modern version of the Canadian-based show DeGrassi. Jimmy was a kind character who was wounded in a school shooting and became a paraplegic. He had a huge fan base before he made the jump to a music career.

    Ben, if your kids are at all interested, let them know that Spanish teachers across the US (me! me! me! me!) are VERY interested in the music that they listen to that we could share with our students. The challenge will be for them to recommend songs with appropriate lyrics :o) BUT…I would be happy to write a letter to them in Spanish and/or French asking for their opinions!

    It doesn’t surprise me that it is hard for you to establish trust with them. I’m sure that Jody and others could word it better, but culturally, trusting an adult male “extranjero” is not part of their world. Over and over again I have seen women who develop positive, caring relationships with a Mexican community…but men often struggle to make the same connection. I would love to see what our friend Brian Barabe would suggest. He has been able to make that caring connection in an amazing way. It would be worth it to give him a holler and have a chat…I am sure that he would be very happy to share his experiences and thoughts with you.

    with love,

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben