Five Stages of R and D

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29 thoughts on “Five Stages of R and D”

  1. That’s a good point. If they are being jerks, this is an option. You still get lots of auditory and reading comprehensible input, but it is much lower key for you, and much less crazy than stories for them, which makes them appreciate stories more.

    But DON’T BACK DOWN and return to stories. Do this for like a week. Every day, the same routine. Lots of Quick Quizzes (made up by your Quiz Writer) and dictée and such.

    You also can do plenty of straight translation quizzes of a paragraph or even a page of the book if you feel like staring out the window and counting some breaths. And then in R and D you always have jGR always pinning down their behavior and encouraging their engagement in a real way.

    Annick Chen and I have been discussing this a lot lately. Why on earth would a teacher new to CI just run right into PQA and stories when we all know it takes many months if not years to get that car – a BMW – going?

    Why not just drive the old Ford for awhile? It is more dependable, it eats up minutes like nothing else, it gives you a much lower stress level, it keeps the lesson varied as you go through each of the five activities, and, the main thing, you can grade them at 1 on jGR if they don’t read with gusto out loud.

    I have an A student who is too cool to read aloud. He gets low grades on jGR. He is not happy. I am. Because I know that I won’t cave on jGR.

    I didn’t bring it up before – if you are wondering – because kids can’t read for the first six weeks in level one language classes – the auditory input is required for at least six weeks before they can read – and a lot of our discussions here are about level one classes, or so I assume. But in level two class you could go right to this at the beginning of the year.

    Another really great thing about R and D is that we all go through very trying times as teachers (issues with misinformed and rude parents, for example), and sometimes that sort of depression can last for months.

    When that happens, R and D becomes an old friend. You go into class. They read silently in the chapter of the novel we are in for ten minutes as the calming music plays (see resources page/calming music on this site), then you start in with the five stages and the class rolls along and you don’t have that weird kind of intensity that you get with PQA and stories.

  2. I love this. I think that I need to do this at least 2 days a week. This is my first time ever teaching a block class. WOW, they can be long for all of us. Today I am meeting with my principle over the workbooks. I guess a student complained about the workbooks that I haven’t passed out yet. What student does that? I am annoyed and am ready to blow a gasket. I can always ask for a transfer if I can;’t handle teaching the privileged white kids. I report on the meeting. I’m going to find her now.

  3. …I can’t handle teaching the privileged white kids….

    Right on. People would question this. Sounds like overstatement. But I can at least walk next to you on that statement, Diana. Who can know what we have experienced to make us make such statements? I know what I have experienced.

    Now, there is a member of our PLC who is suffering a similar deal to the workbook deal but worse. Although we have addressed this kind of bullying – that’s exactly what it is -before in this space, I can share that this teacher handled her 1950’s challenge with courage, intelligence and aplomb.

    I am hoping she will share the content of her hellish week (this week) and how it all went. It will be anonymous if we get an article here from her, of course.

    This teacher probably lost some sleep this week, but she stood up strong. She walked through the fire (it started on Monday), took a similar situation to yours, kept her cool, handled it 100% professionally, and we’ll see if she chooses to share it with us.

  4. I agree about the privileged white kid/parent bullying, which I have experienced. I am lucky I teach this population for middle school, because the stakes aren’t too high yet, academically. For me, it has helped to talk to the parents about respecting all students in the classroom (and model it in class). I have one superstar student who sits next to Ethan, and has complained to me, and I have asked him to be patient with Ethan and with me. Here’s what I told his mom on a peremptory email:

    ” I have asked him to be patient with me and with [the Ethans of the class], and to rest assured that he will learn a lot of Latin in spite of these interruptions. Making sure no one gets left behind is a very important lesson, one which even the academic superstars need to be reminded of once in a while.”

    The mom actually thanked me for, as she put it, grasping her son’s Achilles heel, that is, keeping his feelings of superiority in check.

    When put in terms of compassion for all students in the classroom, whatever level they are at, and whatever challenges they are facing, we can sometimes align families with our CI methods who would otherwise be all over us about worksheets and other meaningless academic crap.

  5. If someone doesn’t step in and educate the student and the parent of this child that there are Ethans in the world, then we are going to just be a part of perpetuating this:

    I know that some people would not want to hear the message, but it’s my blog and I get to say what I think – what we do is about a lot more than teaching a language – this is about healing a broken society in exactly the kinds of microsteps that John did in the above situation.

    We don’t get to own the world because we are white and not lazy.

  6. This is just sort of a random thought, and I’m not certain yet where it will go, but I thought of it while I was reading this and decided I would write it down – just so Ben doesn’t think he’s the only one who uses his blog to think out loud. 🙂

    Whatever you may think of the Bible as a holy book, it is full of wisdom, cautionary tales and examples. Here’s one that speaks, I think, to the idea of community.

    During the Exodus, God supplied the nourishment needs of the Israelites by sending them manna (and later quail). In a decidedly “unfair” arrangement, God made it so that it didn’t matter how much manna someone collected, each person and each family wound up with the amount needed. If someone worked really hard and gathered a lot of manna to store up for the week, by the next morning all of the extra manna had spoiled, so the person had to go back out and gather more manna for that day. I can just hear them saying, “What’s the point of working hard and gathering lots of manna, if God is just going to make it spoil?” On the other hand, if someone gathered only a little manna, not even enough really for a full meal, it somehow multiplied so that the family had enough for that day. Again, I can hear the super achievers lamenting, “You’d think God would make those slackers actually work for what they get. Doesn’t this just reward laziness?” While the theological point is that God is training Israel to trust him, he does it in some interesting ways to emphasize that we should not be putting our confidence in our ability to accumulate things, nor should we belittle our “brothers” for failing to do things the way we would.

    Another thought that comes to me is that during this time, God allows the nation to wander through the wilderness until an entire generation dies off. Only then do they enter the Promised Land. The behavior of the generation that left Egypt reveals that they had been so warped by their experiences there that they could not adapt to being leaders in a new land. They had to be allowed to live their lives in the wilderness (God didn’t just kill them all, he let them die naturally for the most part.) because they didn’t have the ability to become new people. I think this has application for us as well:
    1. The current generation of world language teachers will have to “die off” before we can reach the Promised Land of real acquisition. It will be painful at times, but most of the generation cannot adapt to the new circumstances.
    2. Our “advanced” students who have been trained in the grammar tradition often cannot make the change, either. For someone who is inheriting a program from a grammarian, I would counsel concentrating on the “new generation” and doing what you can for the generation “born in Egypt” but not letting the situation discourage you.

    I do recognize two notable exceptions to the “everyone died” statement: Joshua and Caleb. Both were men who were born in Egypt, yet they entered the Promised Land. They had the faith and vision to understand the change that was taking place and embrace it rather than resist it. As a result they enjoyed long and fruitful lives. I like to think that I am like Caleb or Joshua – looking forward to conquering the land.

    Just some thoughts on a Thursday afternoon.

    1. Point 2 above speaks to me, Robert. I don’t want to think that the 7th and 8th grades, kids as young as 12 and 13, “can’t change” but I won’t let them ruin my year or my practicing to become a good TPRS teacher, either. Plus, there are a few characters in the 7th and 8th grade classes who are hard to handle for everyone. One got sent out with worksheets to do yesterday. Another got the same offer and he decided to stop talking instead. Must do more of that earlier in the class period. My 5th and 6th grade class are thriving (they know little else from me) and I’m having a great time. We can do short dialogues and little sketches and they are great contributors. They read full-page, 28-pt font Chinese and aren’t daunted.

      Ben, I’ll take a guess about why teachers like myself are crazy enough to try stories early: stories are what sold us on trying to teach this way. They are really appealing. That there are Ford options wasn’t really clear to me before this PLC. I don’t blame the presenters at TPRS conferences: they are making a case for a method of teaching by demonstrating it from an expert level. So then I’m sold on it, but don’t have all the tools to put it into practice smoothly, if that can even be done at first. I’m willing to try it anyway (last year adding more reading, personalization, and circling; this year not looking back and setting up a weekly schedule based on input).
      Most teachers who attended the same conferences I did either already used TPRS or felt unable to begin using it – so took, at most, circling techniques and the concept of CI with them, but weren’t feeling up to more than that. I’m willing to have a somewhat rough year and figure it’s a little like being a first-year teacher again. The goal is worth it: being able to teach in a way that really promotes acquisition for the majority of students, makes my teaching and grading simpler and more based on real communication skills, and is just better than textbook output drills and trying to force students to speak and write. Bleh! I won’t do that anymore.

      1. …I’m sold on it, but don’t have all the tools to put it into practice smoothly, if that can even be done at first….

        It can’t. It’s like playing the violin. It takes awhile to even get a tune. Or doing yoga. Over time we learn things. Or, our option is, to keep taking a pick axe to our classrooms.

  7. This is going to be a long year, especially with students trying to tell principals about how another language should be taught. I agree with Robert that the generation of language teachers needs to “die off” before the old way of teaching dies off. I am so sick of having to tow the line of the other teachers. Why can’t they tow my line? I spend way more time developing myself professionally than they ever do. One ex colleague (and almost ex friend because of our differences) thinks that TPRS/CI is old news and its a trend and that she has done it all before because she has done everything and the kids need to learn about how there are boot verbs and shoe verbs and go verbs. HEY: have you ever just thought of teaching them how to say it right and not focus on the fact that it is a boot verb? I know that when I do that they ALWAYS say it right they never say JUGA, they say JUEGA. ENOUGH with that rant on to the real news of the workbook soap opera at South High School.

    This was my experience and I hope that the woman you are talking about Ben will share her experience because I could use the encouragement.
    I went to talk with my principal today and she mentioned that a couple of students came in and to talk to her because they didn’t get the workbook yet and they feel that they are not learning (at which point I was like, YES! because that is kind of the point though I did’t say this is out loud). She also mentioned that a parent called the principal because I had said to a whole class that someone told the principal about the workbooks and that I single her out in class (I have no idea who she is).
    This really pisses me off because I NEVER mentioned the workbook thing in front of the whole class. I DID ask one student who comes into my room room for lunch somewhat privately (there were 2 or 3 other students in the classroom) and she mentioned that she wasn’t a tattle tell. I thought that I had the rapport with her to ask. So now I am really pissed.
    I do not want to blame my complete lack of judgement on the fact that I am ADD (and just finally/recently diagnosed) and one of the symptoms is blurting things out before really thinking about what is being said, but I have had this problem all my life and it comes out in all dimensions of my life. In this case it came out when I asked a girl if she tattled about the workbooks (though not in those words) However, I am not sure why it is a problem for me to ask this student this. Maybe they are not getting enough input and they need busy work and word lists to remember. The thing is, like John was saying above, that we cannot leave others behind.
    So now I can only think about who it was. Maybe its the girl that is a mega nerd and instead of participating in my class she looks at her Spanish notes from last year and memorizes words. That is really going to help her out. But I am the adult here and I see a quiz maker in my midst.
    I also have to use the workbooks. So, what do ya’all think? Should I offer it as extra credit or should I give up and just use the book? The book would certainly be easier. I do think I need more quizzes, that is for sure. Maybe a weekly/daily quiz would get the overachievers something to feel special about. All that said, I am going to put in a transfer from the school as soon as I can.
    Okay I promise when I post in here next time it will be shorter and it WILL NOT be a rant. I am so thankful for this PLC.

    1. “we cannot leave others behind”
      Karen, I think this should be your mantra while you are dealing with all these annoying people at your school. And when we say “others” we mean 96% of your students. While we’re on the topic of “other:” statistically, for every one student who charges into the principal’s office demanding workbooks, there are hundreds if not thousands of students who are silently begging for a real human interaction, and for whom more worksheets will be destructive. These are the students we must fight for, and represent. And in fact the standards demand that we advocate for them. Your “tattle tell” doesn’t speak for anyone except him/her self. As with the method, if we continue to keep our focus on the students, and try never to lose sight of what is in their interests, we’ll make the right decisions when it comes to all the details.

    2. …I am so sick of having to tow the line of the other teachers. Why can’t they tow my line?…

      You go girl! I love it. Keep singing. That kind of honesty is just what I needed to read tonite or this morning or whatever the hell time it is.

    3. …the workbook soap opera at South High School….

      We have a shitload of high schools in Denver. Some are getting with the research but there is one enclave – led by a French guy – that refuses to go there with us. They used to be kind of cool but over the years the teaching landscape under the robust and fearless leadership of Diana Noonan has changed and now the teachers in that school are looking around with weird expressions on their face. They look like a bunch of dudes in covered wagons in a circle. That is because in DPS there are no longer five of us doing CI, as there was four years ago, there are eighty. Anyway, this one school, has a name and you might get a little laugh out of it, Karen. It’s:

      Denver South High School

    4. Karen what you wrote almost identically mirrors something I got in a private email from someone last night. The workbook thing. For her it’s gotten to the level of administration. Such stress. She is right and being made to feel wrong. What could be worse than that in one’s professional situation? But John said this:

      ….there are hundreds if not thousands of students who are silently begging for a real human interaction….

      and then you said:

      ….instead of participating in my class she looks at her Spanish notes from last year and memorizes words…. but I am the adult here and I see a quiz maker in my midst….

      If you pull that one off, we’re going to have a party to celebrate. I love your attitude on this. The workbook thing and the refusal to become fully human in a classroom (isn’t that what this is really about?), instead of beating you down, seem to be met by you with a kind of “Who needs this place?” kind of attitude. Congratulations on your fine reaction. We need you in Denver Public Schools! We need you in our South High School!

      So keep your focus on that, right? It’s like somebody invented a cure for some disease and everybody in the world wants you to think you are crazy for wanting to use it. Our work IS a cure for a disease: the disease of thinking that a person can learn a language by consciously focusing on the words that make it up instead of on the only thing that works, getting them focused on the message only. What the hell is going on in our profession? It’s a fricking bot war.

  8. Thanks Ben for the pep talk. I will definitely keep all of this in mind as the shit hits the fan.
    “What the hell is going on in our profession? It’s a fricking bot war.”
    this is the truest statement. We are the humans and the others are the bots.

    John- I also want to thank you for my mantra. We cannot leave others behind and this is what the smart white kids want to do. There is no reason that they can’t supplement their own education on their own time if they are so intensely smart.

    UPDATE: Today I was planning on passing out the workbooks (but I forgot). I think that people that work on them can have extra credit (minimal points) or they can use them when there is a substitute.
    Also today, first hour, a very weird kid came to me and said he isn’t learning anything and why don’t we have a book. First he asked if we could watch Disney movies in Spanish before asking for the book and mentioning that he is learning nothing. I would like to give him a job but I think he might be too weird to take the job. If he hasn’t learned much so far this year, I am okay with that as I was a little lost at the beginning of the year. I am no longer lost. Now, if he isn’t learning anything then he isn’t participating and he is starring off into his own little world. UGH. WTF is up with these bratty egotistical kids that think they know how to teach a language better than a language teacher? I am so glad that today is our monthly TPRS get together day here in Anchorage. I can cry some more (which I literally did yesterday when a teacher asked me how I was-totally embarrassing).

    “we can’t leave anyone behind.”
    “we can’t leave anyone behind.”
    “we can’t leave anyone behind.”

    I am beyond thankful for this PLC.

    1. Hi Karen! This is crazy that you are having to deal with all of this crap!

      I thought I’d share something that worked for me last year–maybe it will work for you, maybe not. But I thought I’d share.

      At parent-teacher conferences a rather weak student came with his parents who weren’t overtly questioning my methodology, but were wondering why “he never says anything in French at home” and wondering if he was really learning. So I explained how we start with kids hearing the language like when they were little, and then later they speak.

      Then I quizzed him. I said, “Il y a une fille.” And he said without missing a beat, “There is a girl.” And I said, “Elle s’appelle Becky.” And he said, “Her name is Becky.” On and on. She wants a purple cat. She goes to Target. There are no purple cats. There are blue cats. She yells no! He knew it all. The parents were SO surprised and thrilled! “Oh my gosh, he knows so much…blah…blah…blah…” And then raved about him at home so much that he thanked me the next day.

      So with a KID who says “I’m not learning,” I might try that same approach, but using the vocab and structures you’ve been working on. So for my 8th graders it would be something like, “A girl is looking for a dog. She finds a dog in China. A giraffe is selling the dog. He wants $500 for the dog. The girl doesn’t buy the dog. (looks for, finds, buys, sells…)” And when the kid gets them all right, “Looks to me like you’re learning…” might be all that is needed to say. Of course if he doesn’t know it, “Looks to me like you’re not stopping me when you don’t understand. That’s your only job in this class. Let’s work on that this week…” But I bet he knows it. As Krashen says, It happens unconsciously; you can’t help but acquire language. (okay, so that’s my paraphrase because I don’t know the exact quote.)

      Maybe with everyone responding here, you’ll have a toolbox of responses for those pesky kids. And then next year make sure no one orders any workbooks!


      1. This is excellent. What a turnaround in the feel of the meeting. We have to put this under the Parent Conferences category.

        One time I was going in for a 504 meeting in which mom and student (a very good willed kid but at the bottom of the intelligence level but who nonetheless loved sitting in class and hearing the French) were about to go in for yet another one of those meetings where the teachers talk about how they accommodate him bc he is so stupid (also a 19 year old who hadn’t yet graduated) and when it came to me I just said, “I want you to see what ____ can do with French.” Then I did what you describe above Dori. It was so cool to see mom so truly proud of her son, and how the other teachers had no idea of what I said, but this stupid kid did. Maybe he wasn’t so stupid after all!

  9. Trouble is, these kids are echoing what their parents are saying, and some parents feel like they can tell everyone else how to do their job. Weird or not, he is seriously disrespecting you, and feels that he can talk to you like that without consequence. I would respond with something in the way of: This class is not a movie theater. My job is to teach you Spanish, and that is my expertise, teaching language. You may not think that what I do is best, but you are not an expert in teaching languages. You are not the teacher. As a student, your job is to follow my instructions. I appreciate constructive feedback, but the way you are talking to me is very disrespectful, and I’d like you to think about this before you come into class tomorrow. And then send the parents an email or give them a call, saying that their son disrespected you, and that whether or not he disagrees, it is not okay to talk to a teacher in this way, and that you would appreciate their support in making sure their son works on these important life skills and is successful in this class. Don’t feel you have to apologize to parents or to students for what you do. When it comes to language teaching, we are the authority. We have all the research on our side. We are advocating for all learners in our classrooms. Let’s not lose sight of that, especially in the midst of an uncomfortable confrontation with someone who knows nothing about what we do.

  10. …and then send the parents an email or give them a call….

    This is it. Too many of us try to handle such serious, mind blowing disrespect from a child in-house (in the classroom). It can’t be done. The child has a problem. We are the adults. We have to help the child come to an understanding of how serious their words to us are, how deeply they reflect ignorance. It is an emergency. Parents must be called.

    I’m just dittoing what John is suggesting. When we don’t inform the parents over this kind of bullying (and John is right, it is almost always a reflection of words heard at home) we are professionally dropping the ball and should reap the rewards. We confront parents, not in a mean way, but in a caring way. We have to.

    It’s been a tearful week. October is a tearful month. But the one teacher I referred to here yesterday who was being really shoved badly by a parent bully got the admin support and this hell week for her has ended today on Friday with a major win for the teacher, again only because of admin support.

    The way that kids acted there, Karen, that is what we need to take more seriously than our teaching. Why take our teaching seriously when, if we don’t take this kind of preposterous behavior totally seriously, our teaching has no way to get lift off in the classroom. That kid is dark and must be stopped. See it that way and act on it that way.

    And by the way, I give jobs to kids who are involved. The only time I give jobs to kids who don’t know how to be in my class is in the Word Chunk Team competition, and that is just to make contact an play the card for the turnaround.

  11. What a miserable situation you have to deal with Karen. At least you have a supportive group here!
    If I get a rude teenager like that one who said he isn’t learning anything, I do two things:
    1. Throw the responsibility back on the kid. You aren’t learning anything? Okay, let’s take a look at what you are doing wrong and how you can turn that around. Don’t give him an opportunity to say it has something to do with you. And if he tries to do it again, you can say that this is a well proven method that has worked for thousands of students so it couldn’t possibly be that.
    2. I pretend that they aren’t playing power games and have the best of intentions. You want to watch a movie, oh that’s great and I’m so glad you volunteered to do the extra work. Now go home and pick out a scene you like (from YouTube or the a library copy – don’t give him your disk). Make a list of expressions you hear and type that up blah, blah, blah, give him a whole bunch of tasks that will take a lot of time to prepare. If he actually agrees to do it and does a decent job of it, then he is buying in to the possibility that he can have meaningful participation in the class and you can actually use what he came up with or send it back for revisions. Don’t offer any bonus points because, hey, he volunteered to do this out of the goodness of his heart and his reward will be the appreciation he gets from his classmates. If he tries to say that is not what he meant, keep twisting it with “you mean there is some other way that you want to help out in this class?”

    The kid will eventually walk away in frustration. Remember that teenagers are just like two year olds testing the limits of their power over adults. Never give them the power. He’ll tell the other kids you’re crazy but, as Leo Buscaglia once said, “that gives you lots of leeway for behavior.”

  12. Just to clarify, when we do a Quick Quiz on a reading like this at the end of class, it should be with books CLOSED, correct? So that the students need to remember what they’ve read and not just read it roughly then and there to try for the answers?

    1. James, I’ve done some of both on quick quizzes. Sometimes I leave the text up on screen and feel it’s ok for them to find the answer, if they will. I teach Chinese so reading is quite another skill from listening comprehension – you have to be a very good reader to sound out characters. In my opinion it depends on what you want to check.

  13. It’s interesting that you have stage 1 as translate and not choral read in L2. With Reading Option A you have choral read in L2 for stage 1. Isn’t there something important about reading the text in the target language first before you translate? I was just having a conversation on the phone about this with Brian Peck (in Detroit) and, though I wasn’t able to refer to any research or academic study, it seems to me that by reading in the target language before translating students are making important associations and connections (including visual, personal, emotional, or worldly connections) to the target language; associations and connections that greatly help acquisition all before translating. If this is the case, then why have students translate in stage 1 of R & D?

  14. I have a question about translating while reading a novel. If no one knows a word, my instinct is to write down the word and the translation. This really breaks up the reading sometimes and students tend to lose patience. But what if only one or a few people know a word? Should I just keep going to keep the flow? Or stop anyway and write it up?

  15. Don’t stop. Keep that thing rolling. Try to make it like a movie in their minds, as per Susie’s famous advice on reading. We don’t always understand all the words in English in a movie but we still get what is going on. It’s all about communicating general meaning and that idea is reflected heavily in the standards vs. knowing individual words. That desire to teach the word is the teacher in you. (Unless it is a critical word, right? But then you would have already PQA’d it.)

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