Help a Teacher in Detroit

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22 thoughts on “Help a Teacher in Detroit”

  1. What a great idea!! I love knowing that my donations actually end up with someone in need. There is not much stuff left on the registry, so you better hurry 🙂

  2. Hello Mr. Brian Peck! I teach a similar demographic in the West Side of Chicago. Please hit me up to bounce some ideas around. I’d love to hear from you.

    Also, I recommend (and I’m sure most on the PLC would agree here) you buy 3 baseball pitch counters at Sports Authority ($10 each) a quality timer that beeps ($15 at RadioShack) and a laser pointer ($5 at PetSmart).

    Good luck! I was in Detroit over Thanksgiving. My wife’s family is from the East Side. That MGM casino place is something else!

    1. Hey Brian!
      I agree with Sean’s recommendations and will tell you that I found my pitch counters for $5 online. I can’t remember the website, but I just googled pitch counters.

      Do keep us posted…we are awesome at collaborating and love to help!

  3. …a quality timer that beeps….

    Hmmm. Never thought about the “that beeps” part. I’m doing that today. Of course, Brian is probably needing some explanation on that. So Brian the pitch counters are to give to the kids who then count each rep you get when doing PQA to set up a story. Only give out two if you are limiting your PQA to two target structures and if you are not setting up a story but want to make sure that you stay on your targeted structure for that day (the crucial skill of Staying in Bounds) just give one out that day and then that kid counts your reps on your target. The pitch counters are not just a PQA thing for me.

    The official timer kid times how long you stay in the target language. If your class goal is to stay in the language for ten minutes, which is my goal – ten minute chunks in L2) or longer – or however you want to do it, the timer kid is in charge of letting you know how long you are staying on task in the L2. So the timer kid is in many of our classrooms is just a huge job. There are lots of variations on that job here and others might want to comment on how they do it in their own classrooms to help Brian grasp more about the opportunities that lie in this job.

    The Radio Shack pointers break, I have found. I buy a good one at Staples and guard it with my life.

    Brian and anyone new, we keep discipline in our class to a large degree with the jobs, which have the effect, when lots of kids have jobs, of making us all work together towards a common goal of good comprehensible input. The jobs provide a strong antidote to that kind of passive oppositional defiance that is so common in schools now. We have really developed the jobs piece over the years and you may want to read more about that at the link below. I personally base my entire classroom management program on jGR, the Quick Quizzes, and the Jobs for Kids. Here is that jobs link:

  4. Ben, Brigitte, Sean, and Jen,

    THANK YOU for your support and encouragement. The biggest challenge is allowing myself to suck at this (TCI) for right now but not giving up.

    As for those supplies, I have a green laser pointer which is awesome. The counters are fascinating and I’d like to add those to my class jobs. Right now I have fairly basic ones but none that have anything to do with CI. The timer job you mention makes a lot more sense the timer I have now who is just in charge of letting us know the time and schedule. I think they’d be much more invested if they were tracking how long we stay in L2. Great idea.

    The counters are a brilliant idea. I will get to sports authority asap. Do you have goals with how many times you rep? do you compare between classes? Do the kids get inspired by this?

    I appreciate all your comments. Peace.

    1. Brian, regarding the number of reps, I believe the idea is to shoot for something like 70-100 before we can expect some familiarity with the students. I put up a “tally & time in L2” chart for each of my Spanish classes on the wall. At the end of the period a student will document how many reps we got and the longest time we spent in L2. (I personally have a lot of work to do to get more reps in during a class period.) I don’t try to make it a competition or anything. I just make sure a student puts up the tally and time marks. I know students are into it because so many of them volunteer to be the tallier and the timer.

      Oh, and I got this tally chart idea from James Hosler on this PLC.

  5. Hi. I teach at a charter school outside of Detroit, and see my students, K-8th, twice a week, for 40 minutes each class. I’ve been out ill quite a bit, so that is a challenge as far as classroom discipline, as well as getting to know the names of all of my 435 students. I am also on a cart, so I come into the classrooms rather than have the come to me. Spanish, as well as music and art, is considered to not be a “real class, with a real teacher”…by the students, and by the teachers and administration as merely “a teachers prep”. I feel like I am drowning, and just trying to get through the day…and I hate that.

    So, with a week left till Christmas break, and looking for a new start in January, do any of you have any suggestions for me on how to start new/get back on track…? How much can I really teach them seeing them twice a week? Procedures and classroom management?

    Also the school has Rosetta Stone and would like me to use that. I’ve told the Principal that I’d like to do that for 2 weeks when we come back, and then let the students use it at home. I’m not a fan of it, and said so when I got hired (2 days before school started!).

    Thanks for the help. I appreciate it. I just got “Stepping Stones to Stories”, which I’ve been reading, and “TPRS in a Year” (Thanks so much, Ben!!!!)

    1. Hi Alicia,

      There’s a Spanish teacher of K-8 in Chicago in a similar situation — traveling by cart, not seeing the kids very often. It sounds like she’s feeling a sense of satisfaction with what she’s doing even with all those levels and needs. Would you like me to put her/you in touch? She’s not a PLC member but I know her from local TPRS/CI teacher gatherings.

          1. Hi Alicia, Did you hear from Jill already? She was going to try the email back earlier in the month.

    2. Hi Alicia. I can’t imagine your situation. Well, I can imagine it but I certainly would not want to have to live it. Please do whatever you have to do to keep mentally sane and healthy; Rosetta Stone, sing-alongs, whatever. Bravo if you can keep the discipline to where you may try PQA and things. Perhaps look at what your gym teacher is doing. Gym teachers often work with hundreds of students over the course of the week and cycle them in and out through various kinesthetic cues and routines. Maybe you can do what the gym teacher does but make it TPR? Just thinking out loud… Surely the kids could get a double dose of exercise anyways 😉

      1. Thanks Sean. Great idea. I do a “Get the wiggles out!” with most all of Spanish, of course! whee we practice our counting, do different exercises, etc….they love it, and it helps them in many ways!

  6. Alicia this is so moving to read. I don’t think there is one person in our group reading your words whose heart does not melt in reflecting on how impossible your situation is. So my first thought is to embrace that and not try to do what is clearly impossible in education. That’s the first thing.

    Second, I have a few questions:

    1. What level are these kids, and how old are they?
    2. How many per class?
    3. What have you done so far in terms of comprehensible input?

    1. Hi Ben. Sorry its taken me so long to get back.

      1. I teach K-8[ I see K and 1st 1x a week and the school has the Sonrisas curriculum.

      2nd – 8th I see 2x a week, and they are at a very basic level…the last teacher did’t teach them much, and tried to use Rosetta Stone but there were problems with it so not much was learned. Numbers, colors, maybe a fer greetings.

      2. I have between 19 and 35 per class…k, 25 each; 1st 32 each; 2nd 19 or 20 each; 3rd 25 each; 4th 25 each; 5th 32 and 33; 6-8, 22-25 each class, 2 sections of each grade.

      3. I started with TPR…didn’t realized how things had changed in the TPRS world until I started checking things out. They, for the most part did not like the TPR, and it was hard to get them to buy into. HOWEVER I am planning to start brand new in January so any direction here would be GREAT!!


      1. Ben, I just want to state here for the record that I want to be the BEST teacher I can be and am willing to put in the work and time so my students can actually USE the language…just saying!

        I grew up all over South and Central America, Europe and Russia so I know first hand that this is the way to teach…

        Thanks for all you do!!

        PS. Is there a conference coming up, or in the summer, that would be good for me to attend?


  7. Wow, Alicia.
    Tall order. 435 students? I can’t even fathom this. Another question I have in addition to Bens’ questions is what are you mandated to do? What are the expectations?

    My gut feeling in all of this is to hug everything in and stick closely to the CWB type of work so that you get to know your students and they get to know each other. It seems like this is the foundation for everything else. And most importantly, despite the fact that you have a cart and are considered an afterthought by “the BOBS”…you can make this class the realest thing they have in their day.

    I was reminded of this by a 19-year old who came to do some work with 2 classes last week. He said, I know I probably spent too much time on the intro, but I figure they can “get all the stuff anywhere,” and I wanted to share who I was so we could connect.”

  8. Krashen has research on Rosetta Stone– basically it’s crap; look on his site for the article– you could tell whichever genius it was who decided that isolated, non-contextual and inauthentic computerised language would be useful for acquiring the ____ language that RS is a waste of time, and move on to something useful.

    Our school district is all into this as well– tech! tech! tech!– computer-heads always need refocusing on real world.

    1. I know. When I interviewed for the job I asked about this, RS, and was told that it was a gift to the school and they now buy the program so the students can use it at home. It was also put into the charter through the university that granted and oversees our charter. But I think I will address it with the new principal (old one retired and assistant prin is moving up to prin. He speaks 7 languages so I think I may get somewhere with him.

      Thanks for the input!

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