Don’t Change Traditional/Grammar Based Scope and Sequence Models

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Change Traditional/Grammar Based Scope and Sequence Models”

  1. In my case, my students have had two years of grammar-conjugation and are happy to NOT be filling in the blank with the correct form of the verb given in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Or memorizing charts. Plus mine is the last Spanish class they’ll have (not one seems interested in continuing on at the university level).

    But if we are talking about mental health and being tired of fighting, well, sure! I am planning on teaching just one more year and it is amazing how that makes everything seem less earth-shatteringly important!

  2. Do what you have to do, brother. You’re the bravest and baddest SOB our community has ever seen. Nothing but love and respect. I only fear that this move may not end the conflict. Perhaps I have been too traumatized to see clearly, but these grammar/translation teachers cannot be satisfied. The high school vs. middle school dynamic added to the CI vs. traditional dynamic is especially toxic. I hope that they are satisfied with this pound of flesh and don’t come back demanding 2, 3, or 4 pounds next time.

    Either way, I trust your judgement and read on the situation. Again, I support whatever it is that you end up doing.

    1. John thank you. I have to say that I don’t teach grammar and the above post was a result of a discussion I had with Zach Al Moreno and it is still a work in progress that we all will really have to deal with and make decisions about on a building to building basis, depending on how high the readings are on grammar pollution in our buildings.

      The post above recommending teaching grammar, and all the posts over ten years here about not teaching grammar, are clearly seen by you for what they are as grist for the discussion, grist for the professional growth mill that we are all on. Some points I make here may be true for one and false for another. If a person wants to say that I am talking out of both sides of my mouth, let them. But there is more to it than meets the eye, which you clearly understand when you say this:

      …either way, I trust your judgement and read on the situation. Again, I support whatever it is that you end up doing….

      It’s just another fine statement from someone we all have come to know here as a classy person whose interest is clearly where it should be in always exploring what true educators are always exploring – how can I reach up into the stars and pull down from them what is best for kids?

  3. You can teach grammar, and their are effective and less effective ways to do it. The question is what do you assess? How do you assess? And how much do you assess?

    Assessment methods:
    1. Informal assessment: play games until the kids are good at one of the following
    2. English to L2 (vino = s/he came) [vocabulary style]
    3. L2 to English (s/he came = vino) [vocabulary style]
    4. Ending manipulation working from the infinitive: (venir, ella _____ = vino)
    5. Sing, recite, or write words of a grammar song.

    Extent of assessment:
    1. Nothing assessed, just have fun with games.
    2. Responsible for meaning and form of third person only of all tenses/verbs expected of dept S&S.
    3. Responsible for First, second and third singular of all tenses/ verbs expected of dept S&S.
    4. Students are responsible for all tenses expected by department S&S, in all persons, including the rules for regulars and irregulars. Not responsible for meanings.
    5. Students are responsible for all tenses expected by department S&S, in all persons, including the rules for regulars and irregulars. Responsible for meanings.

    This is suggestive. I just want to see what people might imagine these two months or so to consist of.

  4. Cher Ben,

    We know what we know to be true. And we know that if we don’t do what we know to be true, then we betray our students and ourselves. Students are and have always been the reason we fight when we fight. I do not even do pop-up grammar anymore unless I can do it in 5 seconds or less as I do not want to lose them for 6 seconds, much less 6 weeks. I cannot indulge the one student for a whole minute while the great majority struggle to understand and then feel crappy for having no idea what I talking about. If I can’t explain it in 5 seconds I tell them to stay after class. They never do.

    As for people keeping their jobs – I will not judge but do wonder how long one can last doing something you know is ineffective. Honestly, one might as well get into sales and actually make some money. This job is too difficult to do and still wind up feeling like a fake. And in many ways, lots textbook teachers are confronted with feeling like fakes, and that is what animates them. I would rather tell them, “You are not preparing your kids for my class. In my class we re-create the real world where making mistakes is completely natural and only remedied by more input, not rules. Your rules make kids feel stupid and inadequate and what’s even worse, they do not work.”

    Parents are usually our allies. Most do not have an agenda that is pro-grammar or pro-ci. They want their students to be enjoying class and learning. Period. Which one does a better job? CI makes enormous sense to them when you explain it to them. They WISH they could have learned the way their kids are learning.

    I sympathize with the battle fatigue. The irony is that we are working so much harder than the textbook people that there is an imbalance of energy! I do not know that the answer is to getting worn down other than that I am more miserable not fighting than fighting.

    One of my classes the other day asked about learning grammar. I told them it is a separate skill and unrelated to communicating at this stage in their learning. The puzzled look on their faces begged for an example. I said, “You are all fluent speakers of English, some from birth, yes? Please, can someone conjugate the verb “to be” for me?” I have a room full of smart sophisticated kids. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. “So, you guys just told me that you that you were fluent speakers of English, and yet you cannot conjugate the verb “to be”. I guess I am mistaken. Apparently your ability to communicate in English is not what I thought it was.” They laughed. Of course, they wanted me to conjugate the verb. I did so. I could’ve gone on at length about how “be” is a copula verb and not a pseudo-copular verb like become, get, feel or seem. To their good fortune I refrained from impressing them with the gleanings of my graduate level generative grammar class. They said “Ohhh.” “So class, is it possible to speak the language without knowing how to conjugate verbs?” When it is all said and done, lawyers, doctors, scientists and artists all live their lives without being able to recite grammar rules.

    A good number of our students will not get to the level of language required for grammar rules to make sense. The overwhelming majority of them will have no desire to continue language study if they are bored and annoyed and feeling inadequate with meaningless rules untethered to a language experience. If and when they do have their mojo working, then it will not be necessary to coerce them into building a monitor.

    Fortunately for me – you understand me 100%. Can’t wait to see you this summer!

    Love, Paul

    1. Paul,
      Thank you. How long can one last? I have 78 days. It is a waiting game…until a certain bully retires. Publicly, this bully is respected. Privately, this bully is despised. Perpetually, this person is a know-it-all who knows so little and is never wrong. This bully will retire and the question will not be how to avoid that which is vindictive and hateful, but how to again forge alliances with parents and go to battle on behalf of my students. It is too textbooky and traditional this year. I am experiencing what I had remembered about why a textbook is a bad thing and why textbook tests are a part of what is wrong with FL education. And worst of all it makes me think like a textbook teacher. And that is not a good thing. But it will change. CI will gain ground. Opposition to sound thinking will give way without the support of the bully. Your challenge gives me hope.

      1. Nathaniel said:

        … it is too textbooky and traditional this year….

        Nathaniel I fully agree with everything Paul said about staying true to what we know is best practices – CI. Indeed, I have had those same thoughts he expresses above in my teaching soul for almost four decades, and you express them above.

        But peace out, brother. Remember to keep mental health first and CI gains second. I am still in recovery from getting too high up on the CI train, too near the engines where the noise and heat are too much for anyone. I now wish I had responded to the traditional reality of the buildings I was in, and the (often very dark) reality of the people around me, in a different way, less so intense about CI. Not to say I would teach grammar – I just can’t do that. Not a minute these days. I wish, though, that I could find a place in my heart to accept those grammar people like you describe. Just a small place in my heart, where I could be instantly reminded, when needed, that everyone on this planet is doing the best they can at any given moment with what they know.

        Paul well knows that I can relate to the bully you describe above, because I had one – a whopper – in my own experience at East High. We have a story and a half on that one that led me into the darkest days in teaching I have ever known, and I have known some dark days in teaching. It was a time I felt broken in half. Paul knows, and he and Diana and Joe Dzietzic and Mark Mallaney and Annick Chen know. Had I not had had them to hug over the years, I never would have made it.

        I look forward to returning to my loved DPS colleagues next year, even in a retired capacity. It will be kind of like when astronaut Scott Kelly, the commander of the international space station, returns back to earth later this month after a year in space.

        1. My friend and I started 12 years ago. We haven’t been in this fight for 12 years because it did not start out as a fight. It started out as a way to create fluency in the class. We are like a couple of bobo dolls (the balloon figures with sand on the bottom). We get hit but we can’t stay down. We just try to doing the best we can with the odds against us. We are down now, but given our record, we will probably be back on our feet in the fall. Nothing to brag about, we can’t help it–we are just a couple of bobo dolls.

    2. Paul, he understands you 100% because you are 100% right.

      “…if we don’t do what we know to be true, then we betray our students and ourselves. … This job is too difficult to do and still wind up feeling like a fake.” -so true

      Chopin said, “Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on.”

      You are yet another person here who insists on integrity, because without it, what else is there?

  5. Just to be clear. I wrote that “fake lesson plan” NOT for us or for general use. It was for a specific person in what I consider to be an extremely shitty situation. She is required to have a daily lesson plan printed out and sitting on her desk every period, in case admin wanders in and wants to have a looksie. I myself don’t plan. I am not required to submit anything on paper, except four pre-arranged times per year since I’m back on probation after changing districts. So I would NEVER advocate, “Hey people, do this lesson plan daily.” It’s a FAKE lesson plan to cover this person’s ass.

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