I Don’t Give Gold Away

A repost from when I was in India last year:

If a class is being gnarly, put them immediately on a worksheet program. I did so recently because a lot of my diplomat kids are going back to countries next year where it is all grammar. Their parents, knowing this, have expressed “concern” that their kids are not being properly prepared for high school. Fine. I’m happy to oblige.

Once they have been on the grammar program for a few days, spring a free write on them. Make sure that on this day, after the grammar classes, you show them how to set up their bar graphs if that hasn’t been done already. I have them tape those large note cards into the back inside cover of their composition books and on it write the date and the number of words (exactly 10′) inside the bar.

After they have counted the words and entered the information, casually ask them what they think would happen if they did worksheets the rest of the year: “Class, when we have parent conferences in the spring, do you think your bar graphs will show improvement in your ability to write if we keep doing the grammar? Would your bar graphs go up in geometric fashion?”

Since they have just done two days of grammar or more, it dawns on any thinking child that it is the stories that allow them to write new stories in the form of free writes. Then they ask if they can get back to stories again, since the glow of “something new” in the form of grammar has waned anyway.

I say no. More grammar. I don’t give away gold.

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10 thoughts on “I Don’t Give Gold Away”

  1. Leigh Anne what do you mean by intrusion? Parents wanting grammar instruction? I only have one out of all my students. I didn’t make that clear. But that little girl is such a pain in the patoot, and the daughter of the ultra conservative chairman of the Board of Directors of the school to boot (more homework for my daughter!) – who is a true memorizer of epic proportions who has created an undercurrent in the class that grammar is important even though the kids always want stories, that I have decided to respond. I think many of us have to go to grammar for a few days or even more at some point in a school year just to make our students appreciate stories. But yeah, it’s just that one girl, but she has swayed the class. (After all, I’ve only been doing this for 38 years so she may be right with her 3 months of experience in language learning.)

    I think Linda is so far off the chart that no parent would dare confront her, just us mortels. Plus, not too many parents ever took Chinese. It’s the parents who got A’s in traditional French classes that always load up and fire at teachers who use CI, and with Latin it’s even worse! I would collapse under what the Latin Kings are experiencing right now.

    Did that address the question? Man, I love that my initials are BS. I can give responses to questions that I don’t even understand!

      1. Craig the best I’ve seen at least for French and probably also for Spanish is the Amsco Deuxième Livre (R214 W) which is a true tour de force of worksheets. Of course, with all the worksheets out there, anything you grab will do the job. One thing not lacking on this planet are worksheets for foreign language learning. I’m guessing tens or even hundreds of thousands of trees have been destroyed for them and textbooks over the past fifty years. We have a lot of reasons to do this work in this new way, but let’s not forget the trees. It may be the best reason of all!

          1. Yes! But Craig I fear that it’s not just traditional teachers now who are trashing trees. I think we are starting to have a lot of paper-using CI instruction starting to happen. Tell me I’m wrong! And think of the paper used in standardized district testing!

          2. It’s true ther is a lot of paper out there. Because I teach at continuation school and we’re 1:1 with technology I almost never use paper. I have a hard time even wanting to hand things out especially when I know it’ll be in the trash the next day.

  2. Yes, Nathaniel, how right you are.

    Thank you, Ben, for explaining. Yes, “intrusion” is anybody telling you and your students what should be happening in your own classroom. The daughter of the Chairman; lucky you….

    How many years has Linda Li been at the school? Just curious.

    I am new in my current position at Ayala High School, in Chino Hills, after 11 years at different high school, and am going through just exactly what you are going through. Ugh!!!!!!

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