Faux Personalization

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8 thoughts on “Faux Personalization”

  1. I find that I have to get the whole class involved in the PQA creation. Storyasking has such power to unite and engage a class. When I PQA with 1 student, just having a 1v1 convo and getting all the details from that 1 person, and checking comprehension with the class, then kids start to zone out. But if I open it up to the class to add details to the personalized image/narrative (encouraging the fictional and the silly), then instantly engagement increases.

  2. Exactly. If a kid camps, that is one thing. If she camps in the gym of the school, that moves it up a notch. If she then wakes up one morning because three basketball players in the class want her to move her tent, we go up yet another notch. When the kids see these larger extended images develop with them in it, it just works better as you say above, Eric.
    The one point I would make here is that this is not easy work. And what makes it so hard? Our inability to let our own sense of play come out in class is a factor. We are teachers and so we have to guard ourselves. It sounds like such a strange thing to say, but, since we work in such dangerous places (dangerous on many levels but very much on the psychic level of emotional safety), we often don’t let ourselves go with an image or whatever comes to our minds. We stop things so much. We are afraid we will fail. But nothing good will happen unless we put ourselves out there a bit when do our questioning. It just takes practice.
    How do we bring a sense of play into our classrooms? We relax and take risks. Only with classes that we feel safe doing that, however, especially at this point in the year when, it seems, at least one of our classes has “won” the psychic battle by establishing, back in the fall, that class won’t be fun this year. Those kids campaigned hard to win that battle for control of the classroom and now in April we can see that I some of our classes they have won. No blame. This is such hard work. But at least it is real work.
    But next year we can win the psychic battle for all of our classes, IF we set a precedent of fun from the start of the year, with strong classroom management via strong personalization. It does occur to me that without the personalization piece, really nothing can happen in our classes. It just simply has to be about them.

  3. I might add, I feel that it is important to add, that children can only learn when they feel safe and that they often have little to feel safe about in schools. Like when those grammar teachers make them learn shit that doesn’t make any sense to them, they feel less safe. How to ensure their safety? How to convey as sense of safety to them? We talk about them, we smile when doing so – this all sends a message of safety.
    If you are a grammar teacher reading this, think about that. Think about how your insistence on things that don’t matter affect your students, how you are in a way threatening them with all those rules and crap. Think about that. I am sure you never went into teaching to intimidate people with your intelligence about the mechanics of the language you teach. Well, ok I ‘m not so sure. I doubt you. I doubt your motives. Does your instruction bring a sense of safety to your students? Ours does. So put that in your stoned out grammar pipe and smoke it. Reflect on what you are doing. Do students drop your class after one year of failure? Think about that. Are your upper level classes populated with sycophants? Mine were. They needed my AP classes to get into college and I needed them so that I could have a job.
    Do you give kids a feeling of safety when they are in your classroom by teaching them in a way that makes them feel safe?

  4. Robert Harrell

    Last night I watched “Mr Holland’s Opus”. It was a very good film and had some extremely fitting things to say about school relationships – and a number of other things. I recommend watching it.

  5. Larry Hendricks

    I agree with all this, but my question is, how do you put yourself out there, taking risks, while still staying narrow and deep with the PQA questioning? I know we should let the story or scene take off on it’s own, but it seems to me you’d be introducing more vocabulary than you want to do in one session.

    1. This is the other side of the razor we walk. “Point and pause” is the only answer I know, that is, write the word in L2 and L1 on the board and point and pause. But then you don’t want more than 1 or two of those per period, if that.

      1. Following a script that has pre-determined structures and variables (mad-lib style) helps you to walk the line. Providing options (translation or L2 with picture), as in vPQA, helps stay in the TL. Trying to improvise a story can lead you out of bounds. This is also why I don’t start with TPRS. I do other TCI activities that among other things, build vocabulary, which helps keep storyasking in the target language.

  6. Yeah Eric’s point about waiting to do stories and traditional TPRS stuff until they have the vocabulary is the answer to that question, Larry. You use simpler activities like those we have talked about here over the past few years to build up to stories.
    Also as per Eric, following a script keeps you safely inbounds and it is in following a script but being open to wacky new stuff and yet determined to stay in bounds where you are able to ride that horse through the TPRS badlands.
    Improvising a story can indeed lead you out of bounds, but if you are true to your structures and determined not to go out of bounds you can do it, esp. if the kids are loaded up with plenty of vocabulary from the first three months of the year.
    James thank you for saying that about only one or two Point and Pause new words per class. It’s such a key point. I used to think there was no limit and Diana Noonan schooled me on that. According to her, and this is radical but oh so true, we should really only be pointing to and pausing at the target structures as they occur in class.

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