FCR Questions

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16 thoughts on “FCR Questions”

  1. I do exactly this. I would not move the reading period into another part of class because I need the fifteen minutes (5′ passing period plus the 10′ of reading) to get them and me settled and focused. I don’t care if they get too relaxed. In May, using this system, I will have taught a full 20% less instructional minutes using FCR in this way.
    Combine that with the two months of projects to end the year as per ANATTY, and every Friday off for the WCTG, that is more than 50% less direct pressure on me to fill instructional minutes over the course of the year.
    I guess I could not do those three things (FCR, spring projects and WCTG Fridays) but why? Do I get paid extra for working harder? My theme is my own mental health. It always will be. Why? Because I chose to spend my life in school buildings in America and I measure my success not in student gains (they don’t care much so why should I care so much?) but in mental balance.
    So yeah, Jonathan, I do exactly what you describe above. I don’t know how many others in our group do ANATTY but I would like to hear what others do with FCR also.

  2. Thanks for the feedback.
    Mental health is key. I fear that in my 18th+ yr of teaching I’m only starting to preserve that for myself and family to a level that I should have long ago. NTCI sure has been a gift for that.
    I did my first EVER WCTG this past week (I have decided to consecrate Thursdays for games inst. of Fridays leaning on the fun coinky-dink mnemonic of “los JUEgos del JUEves” / “les JEUx du JEUdi”).
    It went best in the last class of the day as my “roll out” of it got better each time I delivered the set-up (should have prefaced it with “okay guys, this is going to be AWESOME, but hang on tight as we ride the roller-coaster of how it’s set up so that we can have it work right.”)
    I think that it will be ever better next time and I look forward to using it as one of the many games they can select from on Thursdays.
    Back to the FCR. Question #3. I assume previous years and current year other classes’ material/stories can be easy-ready sources.
    I was thinking of curating a Shared Google doc. with links to websites that I can find linking in to their interests, whether they be dirt bikes, hunting, volleyball, music, astrophysics, the news, etc. Just want to make sure that the sources can still be COMPREHENSIBLE enough to honor that need for them to access reading materials they can understand. But really, i think that the other facet of COMPELLING can be so much more accessed if they see their own interests accessible online in that language they are now acquiring, especially in SUPER-authentic Spanish from the REAL world (partly springing from a students’ comment the other day of “Can we focus more on real stuff instead of made up stories?” Good feeedback. Glad they gave it. It’s all about finding the interesting and understandable, right?

  3. …it’s all about finding the interesting and understandable, right?….
    Yes but in my CI reading world based on my own experience in the classroom, thinking about all the various levels of readers there are, I want ALL of them to enjoy reading. So I find texts that they can READ DOWN on. Massively easy texts. And the interest level or level of cultural authenticity is less important for these kids to me than that they can just feel that there is something in the room that they can read, so, for example, if they are new arrivals who don’t read that well even in their mother tongue due to violence in their old country, or if they are facing alcoholism in their house where monthly income is going for alcohol instead of a nice in-house book collection for the children, then at least they can sit in class during FCR and not feel hopeless…).
    Three things happen to me when I think about a class where typically only certain kids, those 5 to 7* are the only ones really comfortable with reading, as in:
    The three things that happen to me when I feel that poverty has divided my class into readers and non-readers (let’s be honest – that’s what happens in many classes):
    1. I get hives.
    2. My socks start rolling up and down for no apparent reason.
    3. My teeth start itching.
    So without equity in my reading program I am not a happy teacher because if my classroom is not 100% equitable then what the hell am I doing in this profession?
    Therefore, what to do?
    I just make sure that EVERY LEVEL of texts is available to them in my classroom. Now Jonathan this means to me that those kids who want to “focus more on real stuff instead of made up stories” – those kids who are readers – of course make sure they have that kind of text. But also make sure that the kids who “don’t care” (code for “don’t have the skills”) what they read, because they are in the “not yet” stage of reading, as per the article below, have many ultra simple texts that they can read.
    But what do they read? What are the vastly simplified texts that I put on the book pile table for FCR? They could read a collection of those categorized stories that you found on other websites (that would be a NICE LINK to have here if you make one available for your classroom).
    I don’t even care if they read authentic texts as much as that they just read, just give reading a chance for them in any language at any time because their lives kind of depend on it and the overall success of our fluency programs also depend on it. (How can we succeed in our work with CI unless our kids are readers?)
    This topic is so enmeshed with poverty, in my own experience as a teacher, and I wanted to rant about it a bit here. I guess the answer is to just pile whatever you can find on the FCR book pile table and keep adding to it and then just let them pick.
    I do think that many new teachers worry excessively about what they are offering. Just texts that the kids can read is my answer….find them and put them on the table and if we don’t have them now then we need to start writing them ourselves just like we have done with every other new thing we have invented here because no one was inventing it anywhere else, like the old jGR and the grading rubrics and all of the things that have led us to the Invisibles.
    Here’s the Martin Haberman article that brings in the poverty piece. So much to say!*

    1. Wow.
      Lots to read here on that link to the Pedagogy of Pov. post.
      Gonna have to digest it maybe this weekend.
      Thanks for it.
      Poverty is definitely an issue in our rural one-stoplight county where accessibility and/or even plain encouragement of literacy is not like some places in our region.

      1. To me the hypocrisy is to assume all entering kids read at the same level when we know otherwise and then go ahead and teach to the upper 5-7 kids in the class anyway, leaving the others to feel that feeling of struggle. We are elitists in American education. That is why I am against the reading of class novels, besides the fact that they are boring.

  4. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    And I would add to Ben’s thorough, experienced and thoughtful treatment of the subject, and I dunno what levels you teach, Jonathan, that ‘real stories’ or news or whatever non-fiction they are interested in with that student comment – still has to be comprehens-ified by you. Cuz only you know what language they’ve been exposed to, what sounds they are familiar hearing, how long the sentences/paragraphs can be without creating overload.
    I teach elementary and do very little in the way of non-fiction reading. I figure the new English Lang Arts reading rubrics have forced so much imaginative literature out, with their focus on NF, that I will follow interest and imagination in my classroom to replace an important and scarce resource…. But if the majority of kids are asking for it, you could consider some of those newsy resources (M Bex has one) and NewsELA has some graded news stuff…
    I once did a nonfiction piece in 4th grade – backwards planned it from Martina’s free article on fidget spinners in the height of the craze – I thought it’s be a home run but it fell flat as a pancake. You see my Ss were really spoon fed on imaginative images and stories… so they loved the lead up to the article – basically lots of extended PQA, I invited Ss to bring their spinners to class, and I interviewed them about their spinners, and commented trying to incorporate language from the article…so far so good – but then when I brought in the article, the vibe in the room plummeted from the unconscious “wow Señora is really interested in this gadget” to “oh, that special invitation to bring the fidget to class was just a ploy to get us to read this school article.”
    In my opinion…

    1. So, let me throw this out there.
      I am a dumpster-diver at heart.
      A gleaner.
      I think back fondly to those days at the end of the school year at college when so many students were just ready to pack up their dorms and get outta’ Dodge.
      They would quickly throw away the stuff they didn’t have space to put in their car to take back home for the summer and my friends and I would score countless free things including our entire next year’s worth of laundry detergent. Cha-ching!
      Of course, there were plenty of items in the dumpster that we could have picked up as well, and used, and in plenty fine condition, but they were of no particular interest / usefulness at that time to us, so we just glanced over those and gleaned what we could use and what we were interested in.
      So… could I apply that concept to online realia?
      Put it out there for my students and let them choose what they want to read, even if it is above their level, but if it is something they are really interested in, they will be able to glean what they can, right?
      Oh, btw, I am currently teaching levels 2, 3, 4.

      1. …put it out there for my students and let them choose what they want to read….
        I was professionally done and to no minor extent exasperated with the class reading of novels in 2012 and in that year immediately started doing what we now call FCR. I’d put out all levels of novels I had, which unfortunately at the time were only lots of Ray/Gaab novels. I remember one bright level 1 kid picked up Les Yeux de Carmen (level 3) and started reading it. I didn’t stop him. Lots of level 3 kids read level 1 books. It’s fine. They pick. The important piece of FCR as I saw it develop in my classroom over the years was that the kids, not the teacher, choose the text, which is exactly what Krashen says is best.
        A little rant here: I think that the biggest error that Krashen made – since his announcement here in Denver in 2008 that TPRS was “the closest thing out there” to his research – was to let things like class reading of novels, circling, targeting continue to happen in TPRS (they still are happening w/o being vetted each year for their real value and alignment w the research) when those things and a ton of other things they do in TPRS don’t align with the research at all, so why did Krashen allow that perception for all those years? Why does he still allow it?
        I will publish a variation on the ill-willed Hit List that is less attacking later today. It supports NTCI as being in far greater alignment w Krashen than TPRS.

  5. You can get a lot of cheap FCR material from Teachers Pay Teachers. Those sellers sell PDF downloads of FCR books and you can make as many copies as you want for your own classroom. Check out the following sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers: SpanishPlans, Comprehensible Classroom, Storyteller’s Corner, Comprendes Mendes, and Señor Jordan. My Teachers Pay Teachers store is ¨The CI Guy”. My readers come with native speaker audio.
    Also check out Brett Chonko and Mike Peto’s site. They have free FCR Readers.
    I recently presented at TCI Chicagoland and I showed a video of my classroom library. Perhaps this will help you get some ideas!
    Here is the video:
    My advice is do something every day for your FVR library (adding a book, printing something, getting furniture) and in one year you will have a decent library.

    1. Thanks for the leads.
      Will check ’em out.
      Looking forward to chatting more with Brett Chonko.
      He’s here in VA and my first true intro to CI method was at a workshop of his at our annual FLAVA (For. Lang. Assoc of VA) conference 2 yrs ago.
      My library, of course, will be a mobile unit. Maybe a nice book cart is the first piece of furniture I need to invest in.

  6. I know Krashen says that we should not label books with levels, but I have had students take native speaker books (like Harry Potter) and just stare at the page. I have to look up words when I read that Harry Potter book in Spanish—so I found that the labeling with levels works for my students.

  7. In my view you must do FCR in the beginning of class, otherwise you will neglect to do it. Something always comes up. There is no such thing as a class that is too relaxed. I would rather have a dead class than a rowdy class any day.

    1. Yes, relaxed is beautiful. The kind where learning happens just by them experiencing the hour and a half we have together.
      Rowdy= not desired (that’s where the blurting in English can happen & other such chaos), I agree.
      I guess I’m just trying to find that sweet spot between relaxed and energized where the ideas are flowing, the language is flowing, the comprehension is flowing, “bref” we are in that state of FLOW.
      Perhaps I need to examine other facets of my delivery and fine tune those to see more interest built.
      I actually have not moved the FCR time from beginning of class and I don’t intend to.
      I’m already seeing that it is a positive in so many ways, including not the least of which is Ben’s big nod to mental health.
      Thanks for the feedback

  8. FLOW really is where it’s at and I wish we discussed it here more often but as you imply Jonathan it’s an individual thing that we each have to get at individually because we all have different teaching personalities. Many articles here over the years on FLOW. I plan to write a Bite Size Book on it in the next few years. FLOW can take us to the Pure Land.

  9. 1) ill start in november. I will have class stories for level1 and level 1 novels for level 2.
    2) ill start with 6 minutes then move to 10.
    3) class created stories, SL stories and novels for level 2.
    4) serious classes will be more serious and quiet. Funny extroverted classes will calm down slightly until its storyasking time. In my experience.
    5) FCR allows students to grow as readers. At times they feel successful.

    1. Thanks for the perspectives, Steven.
      I’m guessing that your classes carry throughout the year?
      Mine are only one semester. 4X4 block. Which I hate for my dear students. (Another sore point of mine vis-a-vis a bad ‘system/structure” for improving language acquisition, but I won’t get on that soap box here…)
      Hadn’t thought about increasing the reading time gradually.

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