Hit List of 26 – Updated

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28 thoughts on “Hit List of 26 – Updated”

  1. Reading up is where the teachers get so excited about the gains they are getting that they hand the kids books that they can’t read. Of course it’s just my opinion. But I know CI teachers who proudly announce that their kids in level 1 read four or five books that year when in my opinion doing that forces them to read up like above their level. And then since it is a class-wide activity (I never do that anymore, just SSR/FVR) the feeling for over the half of the kids is like standing under a cherry tree and being told to jump up to get the cherries. Some can’t jump as high as others. It is the teacher’s job to pull the branch down to all the kids and thus make it effortless for them. So I say we need to implement more “reading down” in our classes. Thus I never do a single novel in Level 1 anymore, except maybe those really easy ones Carol has been coming out with lately. Mainly all we do is read our stories. I find that when I do it that way some kids in Level 2 choose Level 3/4 books and some choose Level 1 books, as per their own processing speed. It’s all a big plan to reduce stress in the classroom and fight hard for the most important thing in a school classroom – equity.

    1. Basically this:
      Reading anxiety happens when students a) don’t know enough necessary vocab and b) don’t have enough cultural context (background info). We can reduce (if not eliminate) reading anxiety (see Affective filter hypothesis) by giving our students easy books to read. To read a book at the 2000 word frequency level students need to read about 200,000 words in context. This means we need to give them about 22 hours of comprehensible reading. EASY reading. Reading up is worse than forcing output in my opinion. Forced output makes them hate a class, forced reading up makes them hate READING. Which will have drastic effects on all aspects of their life.

  2. When you say “establishing meaning,” do you mean something more than simply making it clear what a word/phrase means?
    To me, establish meaning is “perro = dog.”
    There is another level. The topic is “dogs.” This could chatting about dogs (PQA). This could be Circling w/pets or El Perro Especial.
    There is another level. The story is about a particular dog (and survey of English children’s literature will yield a lot of stories about dogs or about a person with a dog, so this is an important topic, at least for American readers).
    Having laid out my thoughts on this, I am hoping to hear what you have in mind for “taking out” EM. Thanks.

    1. Nathaniel can you explain? I get PQA. I do that only if I AM GENUINELY INTERESTED (Bold letters here) in finding out information about students. What about El Perro especial, and the “particular story”?

      1. “El Perro Especial”
        I just used that as a take-off on the “la Personal Especial” as a possible topic. The idea would be that students might want to talk about their own dogs/pets.
        Story about a particular dog. I was thinking about a lot of dog stories out there and the possibility for simplified stories for story listening or for readings: Ribsy, Big Red, The Call of the Wild, Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yellar, The Incredible Journey, Lassie, Clifford.
        Just thinking out loud. Maybe “level” was not the best word, but that was all I could think of at that moment.

    2. What I had in mind was not that we – in my view only here – should never convey meaning. Of course we do. But when it emerges in the story. Not before, which when I did it that way came first (perro = dog) but then I had to ask everybody in the room if they had a dog. Seemed kind of stupid to me if I am good enough at my craft to make the word dog clear enough in the story. That’s what I meant. Really I was voicing concern that the first step of traditional TPRS is a bit overhighlighted and we can do perfectly good stories without it. Unless we are tying it to a curriculum, I guess. Then we need step 1. Because of TPRS, because the system says to do it. To align with the curriculum. When in my view the curriculum should align with the research, which doesn’t talk about targets. I don’t think that we should make the curriculum align with the research or the instruction. I think it should be the other way around. Don’t tell the textbook companies, who have written a lot of curriculums in their day, to the tune of about 1.3 billion dollars a year.

  3. What I mean by novels as #9 is when we have the class read the novel as a group. A class of 35 kids is going to have many different reading proficiency levels. How can that unify the class? How can each of our kids participate at full throttle if they don’t have the reading backgrounds of other kids in the classroom? The kids spend the first ten minutes of class reading individually. Some level 3 kids read level 1 books if they want and vice versa. That has the greatest value. Kids want a choice and they should not have to “perform” when reading. It’s just Krashen 101.

    1. Ben, your reasoning has convinced me to not do any more class readers in middle school when they are advanced enough to read on their own but until then we read as a team during the process of learning to read in L2.
      At our Waldorfschool I don’t start reading until year 4. And in my year 5 class some students were ready to read their own books during the last couple of weeks before the end of the school year. But other students wanted to stick with the class reader.

  4. Here’s my deal on the group leveled novels thing. It has evolved in the few short years I’ve tinkering w/T/CI in my elem CI classroom (grades 1-4). 3rd and 4th graders do read as a group w/a class set. I used to be a lot more controlling about it (who, me?) as in, when you get to page 59, here are some Qs on the screen – take a look nd try to answer (in Spanish or English – to yourslf) til eveyone is done with chapter 6.
    No I’m much more “keep reading if you want to – here are some other choices.” Also, we read more at a time – at least 2 chapters where as I used to strictly only do 1 chapter at a time and used to insist on “processing it” in some way – reading together, popcorning, dramatizing, textivate, Teacher’s guide Qs or activities…
    But I do still have my lil ones read as a team…

    1. I, too, read in grade 4 as a team bc many can’t read the words fluently on their own yet and sometimes have problems with pronunciation, although I start reading in year 4 (before that we have three years of mainly listening and comprehension) with short action poems and songs they have previously learnt by heart.
      But after reading Kathrin’s contributions I’m beginning to think maybe SL is an even smoother way to reading.

  5. 5.establishing meaning
    I still do this but I just write it up on the board then sometimes I create a gesture (for me) if I know that I am going to use it. I also say the L1 translation of it too. Then I am back into the story, I may repeat the whole sentence or recycle the story. I am putting away the “hammer” as it is not a tool that I like using in class.

  6. Gesturing is something that didn’t come naturally to me, but in my private tutoring a lot of the students who come to me are dyslexic and having great difficulty surviving in a regular classroom. These are bright, often extremely intelligent kids who just have a different way of perceiving the world around them. Dyslexic kids are the ones that see the gorilla walk across the stage when “normal” people are focusing on the number of passes made by the people playing basketball and don’t notice the gorilla. I found that gestures were a tremendous help to them. When I said a word, they would first remember the gesture I made with it, and then the meaning of the word. It was a kind of key to meaning for them. I never insisted on them making the gesture, I just trained myself to use a gesture every time the word came up. It’s a useful tool for some students, especially at lower levels.

    1. “I just trained myself to use a gesture every time the word came up.” Yes! For me training myself to use the gesture is easy… at least the high frequency ones. One cool hack that I have discovered is using the same gesture for multiple tenses.
      Example: I use two fists in a motion of one over the other then switch. Right over left then left over right for the verb “faire” I use it for the imperfect, for passé composé and for the infinitive. Sometimes, I even use it for expressions… though it may not make sense if transferred to English.

  7. I think it depends where you are at in your CI teaching journey and also the school/department/population you teach. I’m new to CI so I am just focusing on getting my feet wet and learning the basics. For me the things that I like the most so far are MovieTalk, OWI, and Persona especial. I also like TPR. It works really well in my school because we have a very successful dance program and many students (boys and girls) are in dance.
    For now I am kind of eclectic within the scope of CI. I am a huge BVP-ite and I am pretty convinced that the way to go is to focus on the principles of language acquisition and then teach how you think best within those principles.
    Some kids actually prefer the reading novels in class because it seems more like school AND also it can be motivational. Like I have kids and their parents say “I can’t believe my child has read two novels in Spanish!”

  8. Larry Hendricks

    When I taught high school, some of my classes seemed to enjoy reading “Pobre Ana.” But getting through the novel actually became the goal, and that goal replaced comprehension and having fun. It was like we became driven to finish it. So I agree with Ben’s assessment of that.

    1. One of the freeing moments for me came when I discovered “The Rights of the Reader” by Daniel Pennac.
      The rights that I keep in mind especially for reading as a class are numbers 2 and 3.
      2. The right to skip
      3. The right not finish a book
      When we read, at some point I ask the students to read at home and then talk about what is going on during class time. Of course, that means that I have to have enough copies of the book for students to be able to check it out and take it home. If students have read the chapter, they are able to participate in the discussion; if they have not, at least they are hearing a summary of the story in German. Sometimes I just tell students what happened and skip part of the book.
      For “The Trip of his Life”, I ask my students NOT to read the last chapter but write their own ending instead. Then we share the endings in class. Quite frankly, my students often have better ideas for wrapping up the story than the actual ending. Interestingly, students usually insist on reading the book’s ending after they have written their own – and then agree with me that their stuff is better.
      The goal is to help make reading more interesting for the reluctant readers, so it has to be easy.
      Here’s a link to a pdf of the rights of the reader:

  9. “We kind of have to want to be there”…
    I’ve noticed that my worst classes are when I kind of *don’t* want to be there (for whatever reason) and there’s no teaching “method” in the world that can save me when I don’t really want to be there.

  10. In my experience, working in a school setting, most kids in middle school want to have the feeling they are really learning sth even if their behavior doesn’t suggest it, and if the language classroom feels too much like chilling they get dissatisfied. So for me it’s the question of balancing the two aspects: some effort plus relaxing, humorous learning/aquisition.

  11. Hi there-I’m new to the forum. I just started back to teaching this past year after a 12 year hiatus and came upon TPRS from 2 colleagues. I’ve experimented with it this year and am planning to use more next year. However, I’m feeling quite overwhelmed after reading your last couple of posts! I’ve been immersing myself in some of the basics and now it seems you are shifting your thoughts about TPRS-at least the foundations I’ve been studying. From my small exploration of TPRS, I can understand your reasoning, but now I feel lost about where to start. I’m just learning about OWI and would love to be pointed to a beginner’s posting about Invisibles.
    I’m really enjoying this community, just wish I had another 6 months before school begins again 🙂

  12. I’ll send you a book. But just remember that this is where I am at right now professionally, and that I am not saying that this is the only way to do it and the old way is wrong. I am just trying to follow my own star. Read the book and then you have to make your own decisions. In that way, you will be developing CI for yourself, making your own vision, one reflective of your own teaching personality, and so you can look forward to a long career in which you develop your own way of doing CI, since there is no right way to do this work. If we do comprehensible input with our kids, that’s all we have to do. We each have to find our own way.

    1. Ben, which book are you sending? I’m just wondering because I am in the same boat–took 14 years off from teaching to be home with kids, returned last year and dabbled with TPRS, and I have a few of your books that I have been reading to help guide me this year. I tend to want to do everything at once, so I am trying to control myself and just focus on a few things to start. Wondering if there is one book that you feel is a good starting point. Thanks!

  13. I am also returning to teaching after a 10 year hiatus and I am overwhelmed with the how and what of beginning my year. Can I get a link to this book as well? I teach Level 1 5th-8th graders once a week and I would love to use OWI/Invisibles but not sure I completely understand.

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