Report from the Field – Laura Censi

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12 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Laura Censi”

  1. I’ve been keeping all new vocabulary on word docs to be projected. Also, I’ve got a pad of paper and an easel to put any new random words on the “word wall.” Different periods have different sheets.

    I’ve got 4.5 preps, so this is a must in order to keep my class comprehensible.

  2. It looks like maybe you are trying to tell full stories with CWB. Try to just get “snapshots” of scenes. Yesterday I spent 20 minutes with a girl who draws. At the end of 20 minutes we got…

    Katy dibuja. Katy dibuja en Taco Bell. Katy dibuja bien. Katy dibuja Mr. Potato Head. Katy dibuja Mr. Potato head despacio.

    So she doesn’t go anywhere, she doesn’t say anything, its just a scene that’s happening. Stick to recognizable proper names, don’t accept answers (even cute ones) that will make you write stuff on the board. Especially these first few days, kids will get overwhelmed with too much vocab. Circle the heck out of that. Ask tons of “no” questions.
    -Katy dibuja LeBron James?
    -Katy dibuja Lady Gaga?
    -Katy dibuja Buzz Lightyear?
    -Katy dibuja en McDonalds?
    -Katy dibuja en Mexico?

    My first few years of CWB my board looked exactly like this, but each year I learn to cut it down and my students get more relaxed each year… Keep it up. You’re doing it.


  3. You might want to try writing the structures on a piece of paper and hang it on the wall. Those are your target structures and you cannot stray from those. The out-of-bounds vocab goes on the board, but severely limit that vocabulary.

  4. Yes. Don’t mix add-ins (Point & Pause) with target structures – the kids need to see them as separate in the room. Targets get 99% of the reps – I know it is difficult to do that at the beginning of the year but you have to. Teachers have crashed and burned on this one point.

  5. I’m going to have a class again! I’m so happy. I enjoy my private tutoring, but all last year I regretted the “buzz” of going into a classroom full of kids who had to be won over, kids who weren’t paying customers. I just learned that I will have a class of 24 apprentice builders, 14-15 years old. Not any easy public, but I’m eager to meet them and get going. So I’m listening in on this conversation and I’m thinking that I’ll keep the questionnaires for later. I’ll start with just the cards and see how we do with CWB. Then, when I feel like I’ve earned their trust, I’ll give them questionnaires to fill in, but I’ll tell them that they don’t have to tell the truth and I’ll make some wacky questions. Such as, How old do you wish you were? If you won a million euros, what would you buy that would astonish everyone that knows you? What famous person would you like to have dinner with?

      1. That’s exactly the kind of question I want to have an answer to. But I know that it takes some kids a while to develop enough trust to actually tell a teacher what is really important to them. I hope that they’ll realize that their answers are important to me, that they are important to me.

  6. Thanks Ben and everyone else (that’s my board!) I was trying to get to Susan Gross’s “Back to School Night” at Cheyenne JHS cat and mice story (the mama mouse scares away the cat by yelling BOW WOW – the importance of speaking another language – so they could do a retell to their parents tonight. I teach at a small private school and am the first to do TPRS so before they realize what I am doing, I wanted the parents to be impressed with their children telling the story.

    I am just flummoxed with how to get the ball rolling. The “cards” you refer to are the name tents that they decorate with a few things they’re interested in? Thanks so much for your advice. I just wish I were more efficient at this! I know the kids already enjoy it over a regular class…

  7. Here are my rambling thoughts from being in Linda Li’s Chinese class this year at NTPRS. Linda Li had about 40 words total on the board by the end of our day (4 hrs? the equivalent of about a week in my class.). It wasn’t overwhelming because she had the words in categories, and I don’t think she added more than about 10 words. Response words like yes, no, great, thank you were in one category. Verbs, question words, subject pronouns/possessive adjectives. Then nouns/verbs/adverbs to add interest and miscellaneous words to add interest. 6 columns. She went so slow and the words were easy to find due to the categories. I think one way she avoided vocab was by picking interesting words to start with. Then the people who were processing faster could pick those words to make interesting conversation like coffee and Starbucks for our group of teachers. Or hamburger with a giant hamburger prop, or Great! and hug. Quickly and romantically were two of the adverbs. (Wow! I was trying to remember what Linda paired with hamburger. I stopped and saw Gerry being asked to give the hamburger to someone, and listened, then heard Linda’s voice in Chinese saying ‘give,’ which I couldn’t remember a minute ago. CI is powerful!) I don’t remember this for sure, but I think that probably the coffee and hamburger conversations used a lot of the same words, with different people, so that it felt like a different experience. I never noticed before how words like my/your/his/her can add a lot of emotion to a conversation without adding a lot of new words. Emotion is one of the keys, because genuine emotion can be repeated and it doesn’t get old, and you can add it without a lot of words. Gestures are pretty natural for emotions. And that’s part of what the cwb cards bring… genuine emotion.

    Now I’m trying to figure out why it would make a difference that Linda didn’t add too many words to that gigantic list… maybe that wasn’t so important after all, except in that it is easier to play with words you have had more time with (which is why people in movies are so smart and funny… writers and scripts!) Emotion and very simple scenarios seem key. Whose coffee is that? His coffee. Who wants coffee? She does. Who has coffee? He does. She wants his coffee. She doesn’t have coffee. He has coffee. It’s his coffee. It’s not her coffee. He wants to give her his coffee. He gives her his coffee romantically. She wants the coffee. She doesn’t want him. Now he doesn’t have coffee. He doesn’t have the girl. The girl has the coffee. Etc. Instant problem, instant emotion.

  8. I am a very slow acquirer and actually had a lot of trouble with so many words on Linda Li’s board (not this year’s class, but her demo class is always the same). I remember not wanting to look at it because there was so much there that I didn’t know and couldn’t find. However, I was scanning it like a maniac every second anyway. That was why it was so important for her to go slowly. It seemed everyone else was getting everything much more quickly than I was. I barely hung on for the four days of class. The same thing happened to me in Donna T-J’s French class at NTPRS in Burlington.

    For me, TPRS/CI demo classes are “compassion training” because the classes go so quickly FOR ME and the fast processors (who it appears most FL teachers are) are zooming out in front of me widening the gap quickly.

    I am an adult and know that eventually, everything will feel better and be more clear; I trust I’ll eventually get it; I’ll acquire (in a year or so), and I’m NOT getting a grade. That said, I think it must be absolutely overwhelming for a lot of kids who don’t know what I know. Being in Linda Li’s class profoundly underscores for me the need for S-L-O-W and to use fewer variables, not more. I like the “coffee” example although I would be the kid who would get the word, coffee, and not much else.

    I think this is kind of interesting. Because I am such a slow processor and get overwhelmed from so much text, I believe it influences the way I present material in my class. I realize that I write the (up to but no more than) three structures on the board w/translations, and that’s about it. I point and pause so much I think my arm will fall off. I know I really can’t add any more NEW words to the mix if I still have kids jerking their necks around to look at the board to check meaning for the basic targeted structures. I can add old words, however. This is, also, why I like having a stationary connector word wall (my, your, his, then, after, etc.) in the classroom. We need those word EVERY day, but they don’t have to clutter up the target-structure board.

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