Don't Bother Me

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24 thoughts on “Don't Bother Me”

    1. I have students everyday who ask if they can play games or have a party. Or just flat out ask to do nothing. They refuse to put any effort in during class and actively work to disrupt the the hard work I am trying to do. I hate this time of year. Everyone is just DONE and we still have weeks to go.

  1. James I’m glad you don’t think that this is a personal thing with you because it isn’t. And yet no one articulates, talks about, this internalized wish to not do anything expressed by the students. So many of us would rather blame ourselves.
    Your point above goes a long way in illustrating how much of what we face is outside of our control. Spring is project time, reading time. It’s not story time. It’s not PQA time. We almost need a spring playbook of concrete ideas that are working for people when the kids get this way.
    It’s not always us.

    1. I agree Ben. In the last quarter of the school year we need another gear or sets of plays. The old tricks are not as fun for them. I often save the majority of MovieTalks lessons for the 4th quarter. Some teachers prefer to use short clips but there is one I use that is 9 minutes. It is a respite in the routine of CI. A long interesting clip almost works as a brain break for students.
      Also if teachers can find video series for their respective classes they can use MovieTalk techniques for showing the them. “Extra” comes to mind and there are others out there that help us provide CI and make it to the end of the year. Nice post for this time!

      1. I’ve used MovieTalk for clips, but never for a longer piece. Has anyone MovieTalked a whole movie (I want to show “Under the Same Moon”) successfully? What does that look like in the day-to-day?

        1. I did with Ratatouille. It was OK but the prob was, kids had seen it, so focus was lower. If I did it again, I would do it with a film they had not seen. I prefer shorter videos, as the element of novelty is essential.

        2. Yes! I love this. I’m starting another 6 weeks on a really great Chinese movie (“Lost on Journey” is its English title). I use MovieTalk for the days we use the film — which is one day per week as I do this. Movie watching days use about 15 min. of film time in a 50 minute class period.
          It’s not the same feel as using a short, repetitive video clip (to myself I call that “Video and Discuss”). Ashley Hastings, who developed MovieTalk, was dealing with multiple language background, ESL college students and used films to develop listening comprehension. He used it as a first class for internationals to increase their listening comp rapidly. When I use it, I add reading to the plan.
          Simple description of the plan: I pre-teach a few words that will come up in the 15 min. of film on day 1 (using PQA, look & discuss, etc.). Day 2 is movie watching and narration, scene by scene. Day 3 & 4, reading incorporating those newly-used items. (Not necessarily reading about the film – maybe based on discussion from day 1.)

        3. I use whole films all the time. It takes some searching for just the right movie to fit your public, their interests and their level. There are some great movies out there that my students don’t know of. The Mighty is one that works every time, with all age groups. I do it scene by scene. Usually I start with no subtitles and we discuss what we see, what they think is happening, why, what words they may have caught. Then we watch it again, with the subtitles, and we decode them, as I explain what they don’t understand. Or, if it’s suitable, we watch it with a script and blanks for high frequency words that are already acquired, so that they can train their ears to recognize words that they know when they are spoken quickly with other, less familiar words. It’s a great activity because it means listening to the scene over and over again. It’s the students who ask me to play the scene one more time. Chesire Cat grin. Then we can have a great discussion about the characters, their motivations. What the students think will happen next, etc. And relate it to them, their own experiences. I often give embedded readings as summaries of important scenes, particularly when there is a lot of action and little dialog. If the movie is truly compelling, and we make it comprehensible, there’s a lot of acquisition going on. Since my private students keep coming back to me, year after year, I sometimes have someone use a word that’s not exactly high frequency, and when a newcomer asks what it means, they explain and add, “it was in such and such a scene in such and such a movie.” They have acquired the word because of the powerful context in which they encountered it.

          1. By subtitles, Judy, I think you mean the target language subtitles, right?
            I say that because I have been clarifying this point with several Chinese teachers… they think that because their students cannot understand the soundtrack, or their narration of what’s happening, that they need to show the film with English subtitles (!). I say that defeats all the purpose of listening comprehension growth, and that they are using the whole film approach too soon for their students. If they can’t speak in slow, simple sentences while pointing to what’s on screen and have their students comprehend, then this isn’t something to do with that class yet. I think it’s definitely an upper-level strategy. Short video clips are different and do work well with beginning levels, but a whole film is much more net hypothesis and non-targeted input. That means they need a certain proficiency with the language.
            I’m going to film some of the first MovieTalk class tomorrow with Chinese 3 so I can show what this looks like esp. for my Chinese teacher colleagues.

          2. Yes, of ocurse. My subtitles are in English because that’s my target language. We decode them as we would a written text. I do not do this with beginners, but I start it fairly soon once they have some proficiency. I do very much believe in the net hypothesis and non-targeted input for my students. But most of my students come to me with a fair number of unsuccessful years of legacy method lessons behind them. They are not true beginners.

  2. Movie Talk. I like it. You could show the clip and just hammer them with questions. They wouldn’t notice it so much because they would be staring at the screen. I could see using PSA and Annoying Orange on some comatose kid with MT. I like it.

  3. Because I’ve just recently been putting into practice the jobs for students and using my students names as the focus of the stories, My classes feel revitalized. I look forward to trying movie talks. You guys have made the end of this year soooooo much better.

    1. Susan! What a great idea! This was my first year using JOBS. I have to say I only use about 5 on a regular basis because 5 times a day of JOBS ends up exhausting me…and I get annoyed with teenagers Ha!
      I think I am going to get some jobs back in the mix to keep it fresh and revitalize them!
      Thanks for suggestion.

  4. I dreaded the year-long program for exactly this reason. I now have semester long courses, block schedule, and this “don’t bother me” attitude is not as bad. It wears on me too, no doubt, day in and day out for 180 days.
    If I had to find something projecty, I’d maybe do a “children’s book” project to build up the class library, and definitely do some Garagebanding of past class stories. The latter is very CI heavy, even if the final product is junk, so that’s my preferred project activity. I don’t like to spend all my time grading stuff like this, so I just give the illusion that I will because that’s what schooled kids respond to, but then I never do.

  5. I recently followed a suggestion of Sabrina’s based on here star of the day idea. I believe that she mentioned having the students come up with their own questions which she could gather into a the interview format. I asked my seniors (Sp 4) to make a list of questions about what they wanted to find out about each other before they head their separate ways (36 classes to go). They submitted the questions. I just typed up the at the language level I deemed appropriate for them, following Sabrina’s format. It seems to have generated some enthusiasm in the midst of term 3.
    They did not want an interview situation though. They just wanted to go around the room one question at a time. So that is what we have been doing recently. One question takes about a class period.
    Some of the questions were predictably concerning future plans (university, major, profession). But some of them were more about current life: what is your family like? pets, and favorite color(!)
    Thanks to Sabrina for providing the idea and the format. I think it may be a key for those of us who are expected to follow a–er, let me regain composure in order to say this–a textbook.

    1. Nathaniel,
      I’m happy I was able to read your post. And I also just saw your were nominated as a teacher of the month.
      Yes, I asked my students to give me questions for Star of the week activity because I wanted it to be so personalized to the point that even the questions would be theirs.
      So Nina (my Spanish Colleague) and I sat down at the beginning of 2nd semester and picked the best student-created sentences and crafted a new Star of the week questionnaire for the 2nd semester.
      I’m still doing it with my students. For me it goes super slow and I don’t do it every day (maybe two a week maximum). This semester I have perhaps interviewed 5 students maximum.
      What I have observed anecdotally is that the students still like it because it feels good to their ear.
      The language (sometimes it can be very complex structures) is familiar and repetitive. Even though they may not be able to reproduce it (when it is complex structures), they’re able to understand and comprehend it. It is soothing to their ear, seamless, effortless, like a breeze of beautiful language calmly passing through their developing ears.
      And because each student has different details to contribute, it does not get boring at all.
      I could go on and on about how this activity has truly made my life as a CI teacher so much more fun and interesting…
      For me, the greatest take away has to be the amount of language gains my students have made.
      The best part has to do with the fact that because it is natural spoken language, it is mostly all high frequency, except for some of the crazy details they give you.
      Today one of my student’s answer to my question what are you most afraid of was : I’m most afraid to be disowned.
      Wow, that is not high frequency but it is high interest because it is such a strange answer.
      I really get to know my kids in a way that was never possible before.
      Another great example was when Ben came to observe me and one of my French3-4 student told me the thing he regretted the most in his life was not having had surgery on his right foot when he was younger because he had polio. The only word he did not know in French was surgery so he asked me and I quickly translated that for everyone. Wow, I got choked up for a brief moment.
      Through this activity I have really opened up the channels of communication like I never thought were possible before.
      OK enough rambling. Glad to hear it is working for you Nathaniel and I wonder if your observations are similar to mine…

  6. I love MT for this time of the year. But I have a couple of other ideas. Let a couple of kids find a short story from the target culture and do a “movie” of it, in which there might be music (wordless), and there might be a few phrases, but mostly they are just acting out the movie. Then MovieTalk those for all the classes. I’m going to be trying this next week (got the idea at a conference, when I realized that there would be no movies in Salish, the language of the Kalispel tribe). I think everyone is going to want to create short movies for us after that, but I’m going to insist that they use TL culture. (They can research the originals in English if they want, but we’ll have a limit of five minutes tops on the videos. That will make it easier to MT them.)
    Next, if you’re starting to think of doing projects, here’s how I handled getting some cultural PPTs done this year: just a few kids chose topics they wanted us to learn about (for our state oral language competition, but that’s another story). I told them they could google the topics (two famous museums, a couple of writers, a painter) in the TL and create a PPT with the information that they understood and wanted to learn. Honestly. I told them they couldn’t use any of the language if they didn’t understand it. That way, I didn’t have to create the PPTs for the classes, the language that went onto the slides was comprehensible, and the kids had buy-in. These have been remarkably successful PPTs. We have played them and read them and circled them until I’m spouting them by heart and so are the kids.
    Finally, if you think your kids are ready for a writing project, here’s what we did at the end of another year: one student came up with the outline for a novel (we met outside class) of about ten chapters. It was repetitive: a boy wanted to go out with a girl, but this other guy kept getting in the way in every chapter. Finally he got the girl in the tenth chapter. The class divided into groups and each group of 2-3 got a chapter. Each chapter had to take the situation from the previous chapter and create a new one. Most chapters were about four paragraphs long. The students could not use dictionaries. They could use only me as a source for vocabulary. If they didn’t know something, they had to creatively work around it. We wrote the entire novel in a week. (We’re still waiting to publish it, but Terry Thatcher Waltz has used the concept, with permission, for a novel in Chinese. I need time to publish!)

    1. I too love that idea Michele, especially for upper level who can write more and better.
      Thank you for sharing it!
      Even though I don’t have much time to contribute to the the blog any more 🙁
      I’m still amazed when I do that you all continue to contribute these marvelous ideas. WOW!

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