Expanding PQA/Step One Over Months

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3 thoughts on “Expanding PQA/Step One Over Months”

  1. Hey Ben,
    Thanks for these recent posts. They are the best. I would go so far as to say, that the better we can personalize and center our stories on kids, the better the teaching and learning will be. We cannot be as effective if we are not making the class about them.
    I had a very powerful experience the other day. The kids were putting on like they did not want their card to be grabbed by me – there is great (positive I think) apprehension as to which card I will grab. This very shy student was my “victim” that day. She drew a saddle and some horses. The more I talked about her horses the more she and the class hung on every word. We were beyond “sub-conscious” We named all her horses in Spanish. We talked about her favorite and the one she doesn’t like to ride…. Then I noticed that she had drawn paints and a brush. We circled that she drew and what she drew. Of course she drew her horses. Then suddenly, she pawed through her bag and pulled out this beautiful charcoal drawing of her 4 horses. HOME RUN! We used the Spanish names to identify each horse and guess which was which. We all know this student now and appreciate this area of her life.
    Thank you Ben and all the others that post here for helping me to become better at helping students become better students. Over three weeks I have watched kids that once thought Spanish was beyond them and something that was too hard and too discouraging write notes on the back of their papers that the class is fun, great, too easy etc.
    I am looking forward to your time here in Maine with us. A year ago I told you that I thought I was close. I can feel it now. My constant reading of this blog and the constant reflection and experimenting have really paid off. I wish this for all my colleagues because, really, it is very sweet….
    See you soon, and thanks again

  2. I think the key to this post is how you described Step 2:
    “Step Two – we take a story script and start asking (in the past tense) the story and, because we found out those cute bits of information about some of the kids during Step One, we then bring that information into the story, thus personalizing it.”
    I don’t do a good enough job of taking the information gathered/created in PQA into the stories themselves, and I think that will help immensely. The main reason I like the link is that during PQA I’m more focused on rotating over to students who haven’t been involved as much lately than I am during a story. During a story if you stand somebody up as an actor in the name of involvement who just isn’t going to give you anything that day, it’s just painful for everybody and everybody loses face. If you figure out during PQA, however, who you effectively have to work with that day and then build off the mini-images you spin there, your story is half-written for you that day. I’ll have to try this next week.

  3. I have been doing nothing but “circling with balls” for the last five weeks. We’ve talked about what people do, where, with whom, etc. Sometimes it lasts the entire hour, sometimes not. It just depends on the excitement level of the kids.
    But, I’ve also snuck in some stories as well. I have one class with only 11 kids in it. Compare that with my class of 30, and the class of 11 has less activities to talk about. So we started talking about Brett Favre playing football at a nursing home and Sophie Fifi, who draws orange Chinese apples. On block days, I sometimes sneak in a story using the traditional TPR vocab. The boy walks somewhere because he wants something.
    It’s really working for me because the kids are tricked into thinking that we’re doing something different on those days with a mini-story because it seems different. It looks a little different because I guide the story more than I do when we’re just talking about kids.

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