Four Truths and a Lie – Instructions

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30 thoughts on “Four Truths and a Lie – Instructions”

  1. I think that the reason two teachers of Sabrina and Nina’s calibre – the best of the best in DPS – basically dropped everything – they really did just drop everything – three years ago to start doing Two Truths/Star of Week pretty much all the time was because in stories the kids pretty much are forced to only listen.
    That is not something kids do well! Haven’t we kind of proven that for years now in traditional TPRS by collectively beating our heads against a thousand walls trying to make stories work, when even the home run stories always had that feeling of we-are-the-ones-doing-all-the-work, whereas these newer activities force kids into a much more active position during class.
    I noticed yesterday as I went through my day with three block classes doing Four Truths all day – even my favorite level 1 6th graders were rocking the house with it – that the kids were:
    1. taking lots of notes, writing by copying from the projected information as we gathered it through the class period.
    2. listening in a much more active way than in stories because they had to because they knew they would in some way have to do some speaking by answering questions from me at any point in class that they could not predict.
    3. frequently casting their eyes on the screen – reading – to be able to get the necessary information correct when I indeed did call on them to answer some simple questions. These were not yes/no answers but required some pretty sophisticated production from them which even two years ago I was not willing to admit as possible in a TPRS class, believing that speech output would just naturally occur at some vague time in the future. I was so wrong on that one and credit Eric Herman for leading the charge on that one, so thank you for being my teacher, Eric!
    And so here I was seeing a major shift to much more active engagement with the CI. They were constantly listening, taking notes, reading (from the screen) and then formulating speech in response to my being so in their faces with the French.
    So I have to say that this appears to represent – and Sabrina is no fool but one of the greatest CI teachers out there as we all know if we have been to any summer workshops – a kind of fundamental shift towards a much more active role for kids in a TPRS class. I know I said that before but I want to say it again because I have been waiting for something like this in TPRS for fifteen years now – something that really worked to engage kids more.
    Maybe TPRS really isn’t the term anymore, even though I have been fighting that to honor Blaine, but in this case it looks pretty much like stories and reading are not what the Two/Four Truths and Star of the Week strategies are limited to, but a more complete active negotiation of meaning (read active production of output) and not just the leaning-back-in-the-chair-while-forcing-themselves-to-listen thing we had going on up to this point.

    1. Ben you said you had them write their 4 truths and a lie in English. How did you keep everything comprehensible? I feel like if I had my kids write down what they did, especially in level 1, there would be many verbs they’ve never heard before. Or did you mostly get, “I went” “I visited” “I ate” etc?

      1. Hey Andrew – Since they wrote their five statements in English, and since the (red) text is first written up there as their first exposure to the verb, and since they have to then ask everyone if they did that (red statement) using the verb, we end up getting about 20 or 30 reps on the verb before we start any serious discussion. Then, due to the nature of the activity (discussing for extended minutes that single (red) statement, adding in details as we keep gathering new information, the verb is always featured and we don’t leave it until we get to the next factoid. It’s amazing how effective it is to be able to just take one sentence and hammer it. It may grow into a story and if it does I roll with that, but normally it’s just a chance to stay on one verb for up to half an hour adding details. Stories have the disadvantage of too many verbs. This activity puts me smack on one verb for as long as I want to be on it. Today I hit one sentence at least 100 times and each time I said it in the same silly way (like a robot in the south of France). I saw LOTS of neurolinguistic response. I bet they dream of that one sentence tonite, and I bet they end up saying it to their parents when called to dinner. It’s “Je ne veux pas quitter ma chambre!/I don’t want to leave my room!”). I dragged out the Je real long and said it in an annoying singsong way and they were begging for me to stop saying it, getting tons of reps on the possessive adjectives and morphing it around but never leaving the core of the verbal pattern. It was great!

  2. I would LOOOOOVE to see a portion of a session where French 1B kids are writing and speaking as you describe. Sounds very cool.
    Aren’t there keystroke sequences for you to type to get the fancy French accents and other marks? In Spanish we do option + n to get the tilde over the n: ñ; and option + e then the vowel to get an accent mark over it: decidió.
    Also, to eliminate your squiggly red lines under the French text, go (in Word) to Tools, drop down to Language, and select French at the very top of your document. If you insert some English along the way, select English, and then go back to select French. Violá (?) – squiggles gone – poof.

    1. The way to get the special characters is different between Mac and PC. Alisa was describing what to do on a Mac. For German, option + u then vowel will produce umlauts: ä, ö, ü. Option + s gives my favorite German letter, the esszet: ß. You can use the shift key to place the umlauts over capital letters. Option + c gives you the cedilla: ç; Option + shift + C gives you capital cedilla: Ç. Option + i then vowel produces the circumflex: î, ô, etc.
      A PC is much less user friendly. There are a couple of keyboard shortcuts, but they work only in Word, whereas the Mac commands work in all applications and programs, even writing on the Internet. Otherwise you can use alt + four-letter code on an extended keyboard, load the keyboard for the language you want, or keep going to the insert menu. Only the last two options work in a web browser. When I’m typing in a Google document on my school computer, for example, I have to go to the insert menu. When I’m typing in a Google document on my personal Mac, I use the option key.
      Okay, sorry for the digression.

        1. Laurie, the best thing to do is open a document and then do the following:
          Hold down the option key and then individually strike each key on the keyboard, including the number keys. See what happens. Some of them will produce a stand-alone character. Others will produce a diacritical mark (usually highlighted) that then attaches to certain other characters. (See my comments above on umlauts and accents.) Write down the ones that you know you will use the most.
          Then hold down the option and shift keys and do the same thing. I did this, and while I don’t know all the keyboard shortcuts, I know the ones that I use regularly, and it saves a lot of time.
          Again, this is for those who use a Mac.

  3. I need to learn the shortcuts for accents in French and eventually will, though I haven’t felt at all hampered by the little box of accents on my MacBook Air which by the way is the second coolest thing ever invented after the wheel. It is so powerful! But yeah I am shocked at how easy it is to type out the information I get and how quiet the room is when I am writing down the information I get (the green text), due to the fact that they have to enter the information into their notebooks. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that my students are finally doing all four skills at the same time in my classroom. Only took 37.5 years. I’ll take it.

  4. Also on the Mac you can add input keyboard options for any language. In google docs there’s an extension called easy accents that I have found to be very useful and use for my natives class. I wish I had read this post before school started I guess there’s still time though!!
    Now if I could only be at a school where I don’t have majority native speakers in a Spanish 1 class.

  5. On PCs, Mac, and Android I have always added another language to my settings. I think that’s what Craig mentions above. In System Preferences, find Language and Region, and add as many languages as you like. You get a little icon on screen where it indicates which language is in input mode at the time. On a Mac, it looks like a flag, and on a PC when I Windows 7, at least, it was a two-letter abbreviation.

      1. I hit “command spacebar” to switch between languages on a Mac. If I remember right, on a PC it was just “shift” to switch between characters & English, but still stayed within Chinese input mode.

  6. Craig I’m still working on it but will try to get a tech person in my building to help before bothering you. I will say about the Four Truths activity that it has already revolutionized my classroom. The kids are speaking and writing up a storm. I am glad that I waited until second semester to do it, of course, esp. with my beginning kids. I have found that my “spring plan” (still some posts to come on that) is really lowering my stress level as I had hoped. Remember, for me at least, I am not worrying so much anymore about how much CI I can teach, but how relaxed I can get in class. The SSR followed by the Four Truths idea is proving to be absolutely califragilistic.

  7. This sounds perfect for after a long break! Last year, I had my students do that cartoon template of Mike Peto’s. I think I’ll do that before the winter break and 4 Truths and a Lie afterwards!

  8. I like 4 Truths bc English abounds and no one cares. We’re just making it through the re-entry process. I remember when I observed Sabrina do this at Thomas Jefferson HS in Denver and after the class she told me with a kind of incredulous look on her face: “I could do this every day all year long!”
    That’s what we need – workhorse activities to burn minutes. We really have to drop all the “I’m the best teacher and my kids learn the most!” mentality. It’s based in ego and falseness. Our job is to instill confidence in our kids and make them want to continue with the language on a life long basis.
    We need to drop the self-inflicted violence on our selves. There is no best teacher. There is only us. And we’re enough.

  9. Ben said “I like 4 Truths bc English abounds and no one cares. We’re just making it through the re-entry process.”
    Ohmygosh yes! English abounds. Duh. I wish I had remembered to expect this. First block was totally off the rails from the get go. I don’t even think dictation would have helped today. Oh well. We got through a few of them.
    Then the day mellowed out and I just “didn’t care” about the English. Still shell shocked and then just dealing with a very agitated population, a fight in the bathroom, so much drama and violence. But I do admit that the whole thing threw me into a pit of self-doubt. The side effect of this, for me, is that I tend to throw paper at them. And that makes me more anxious since I then feel I have to look at all that paper I used as a baby sitter. So here I am at school still, creating paper that I can toss at them tomorrow.

  10. Wow! Anyone who hasn’t been to the Pit of Self Doubt, Jen, is fibbing. There was never one of the 35,000 classes I taught over 40 years in which on some level I wasn’t quaking in my boots. I’m an empath and don’t do well with narcissistic children and admins, and they comprise 20% of our population.

  11. Also jen I think we can both say that after all these years here we are seeing more and more how just instructional strategies aren’t enough. We’ve got to find the proper mix of strategies and classroom management and self care. Such a puzzle. Luckily God made paper. And gave us arms to throw it with.

  12. I did this activity yesterday. With students that were basically creative and fun it would have been fun. All my students cards said stuff like. I ate ham. I smoked weed. I went to visit my grandparents. I ate turkey. Even the lies were like that…. Sigh

  13. Warning: RANT ALERT
    Craig the way I coped with kids who have had the life squashed out of them due to years of drill and kill instruction, etc. and by life in general in the U.S. for this rising generation in particular, bless their mechanized hearts, is to take what I could get from them and say over and over to myself that it isn’t me, that my heart is as open as I can get it right now in this class and that that will have to do.
    I had to daily put aside my nagging mindset that if they didn’t laugh and approve of my instruction then I was a failure at teaching. There is no need to sigh when your students resemble playing cards with nothing on them. Rather, laugh inside a bit, do your thing, smile inwardly and outwardly as much as you can, hang in there, get what you can out of them and if a kid is really dead inside just let him be there, because it is not personal to you. We like to think it is personal but it is not. It is a trick of the ego.
    Never give up on them, and just know that as you told us since there are no other jobs available in your part of the IE, just do what you can cheerfully. By doing that, you attain great heights in teaching, greater heights than all the CI superstars out there, than you have any idea. It’s not about the quality of our teaching but rather about the quality of our reaction to being in a time of pure hell for our country and everybody knows it.
    We’re all hurting and we won’t stop hurting just because a bunch of children like our classes. We all have to get through this somehow – and we will – because we have to because there aren’t really any other adults out there helping kids – they are all helping themselves. For my part, certainly, I didn’t go into teaching for the approval or the money but as a spiritual practice.
    And boy was it! I learned compassion, tolerance, patience, and, the most important one – empathy. And when 1 of 5 of kids has (according to the research) narcissistic (vampire) tendencies, that makes schools into mental war zones. For more on the topic of vampires, read Dodging Energy Vampires, by Dr. Christiane Northrup.
    (I rank that book as the most important book on mental health I have ever read, because we suffer so much from the vampires in our lives and we don’t even know it, thinking (if we are empaths and not vampires) that it is all our fault. I challenge anyone who is unhappy reading this to get that book and read it as soon as possible. It changed my life about who I allow into it.)
    When you are on empty and have to deal with 20% of your professional clientele being self-absorbed vampires, little shits, that is what I would call a spiritual practice because then we are forced to rely on something more than ourselves which in my own personal view is the purpose of life. We can’t deal with those little darlings by ourselves; we need help and in my opinion the human kind ain’t gonna cut it.
    Keep reporting in. You’re doing great work against immense odds and try to remember that. It’s so easy to forget that teachers are at ground zero for the pure and beautiful social changes that are on the way at a thousand miles an hour if we can but just hold on a bit longer.
    Hell, just going to work each day is something of a major triumph these days. No apologies for the rant – it’s my little pep talk for the day.

  14. Sean I just wish I had found that book a lifetime ago. I do plan on writing a book or at least a chapter in a book about classroom management about vampires in education. Northrup and all the researchers into this very new area of psychology say that 1 of 5 people have narcissistic (vampire) traits, and so if we are to understand classroom management then we have to understand narcissism. This is especially true re: admins. In the seven buildings I worked in for 40 years I would guess that fully half of the admins I worked with were narcissists. Not knowing that has cost me big. As an empath and not knowing their self-absorbed natures, I gave to them and received nothing back. That is not good. It can destroy a teacher’s mental health.

  15. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I would love to know more abt the narcissist pandemic and will check out the book as well. What are the underlying forces creating all these vampires and what can we do to stem them?
    The crappier the swirling evil and rhetoric and hatred and intolerance, the more everyone seems to climb into their impervious comfort zone…
    So much anxiety, intolerance, impatience, unresolved anger and denial… Do the grown ups think the kids aren’t breathing it?
    When you say to hang on a lil longer, I wanna believe…I really do…

  16. We can’t stop them and nothing we can say will make them change. That is the research. I believe the principal research on this was done by Sandra Brown and someone named Simon (can’t remember his first name).
    All of this grew out of research presented in a 1957 book by Leon Festinger about cognitive dissonance (like gaslighting) and its effect on people and now they are connecting this kind of stress with Epstein-Barr and other autoimmune disorders.
    There is lots to indicate that relentless stress, if we don’t figure out how to deal with it, is too much for just about all of us, and what profession is more stressful than ours?
    There is like one person who was a narcissist who made the change. Out of thousands studied. All we can do is learn how to block them, but the problem there is that they usually have a very charming personality and can turn any opening you give them, even the time of day, into a bloodsucking experience.
    They are not even aware of what they are doing, is what is really weird. They see a victim, grab all they can from the person after grooming them, then toss them by the side of the road. Anyone feeling out of sorts, weak, etc. may have a vampire in their lives.
    I am really looking forward to trying to put this vampire phenomenon into a book on classroom management, studying how it shows up in students and parents and admins in schools. If we could recognize them in schools, we could save ourselves a lot of suffering. I am also exploring another area of psychology invented in the 1960’s to bring greater mental health to our profession.
    Dodging Energy Vampires is a heck of a book is all I can say from an empath’s point of view. And most teachers are empaths, givers who can’t stand up for themselves and just say NO! so they get walked over. I’ve actually got tire tracks on my back from my four decades in school buildings. God is erasing them slowly, but they are like tattoos.

  17. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    OK I have a new plan for Truths & Lies, generated from student ideas.
    1. Each 3rd or 4th grader writes a truth and a lie – no worries if L1 or L2. Teacher encourages very specific and unique info, not just “I ate pumpkin pie.”
    2. T collects sheets – no names, just class period, and moves onto a diff’t activity.
    3. In her copious free time, T translates each unique truth or lie and types it in large font with several spaces in between. then prints out, chops up and folds in half, like Charades clues.
    4. Next day in class, teacher invites volunteer to blind-select and read clue aloud.
    5. Teacher emcees the L2 discussion, spinning out funny connections as per PQA/circling, etc.
    6. Before moving on to next clue, students act out scene – either choose Ss, or all students do it (i.e., ‘All the World’s a Stage, Jason Fritze)- depending on energy and whim.
    *7. Once all the Truths & Lies clues are ‘processed,’ teacher prints out copies of the lists of scrambled truths and lies from the class. (she already has the document from which she made the clues – just change font size and spacing.)
    *8. Partner pairs or sm groups read to e/o in the TL and decide whether it’s Truth or Lie. Mentira/Verdad; Cierto/Falso
    *9. T reviews sheet statements and answers onscreen with whole group at end of period.
    *Interestingly, these ‘looks like school’ activities were suggested with enthusiasm by some 4th graders. To me they suck the air out – but we can always abandon if it feels flat.

  18. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Some of the kids really just want the truths and lies to be charades to pick and dramatize. I’ll continue to tinker and let y’all know. They don’t have the output to produce yet.

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