Important Request – Action Needed

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25 thoughts on “Important Request – Action Needed”

  1. This is so weird because I’m in Maine yet I’m not feeling this heat in regards to the 5 C’s (maybe I will soon?) In fact, when I went to a World Languages District Meeting, many teachers were saying the 5 C’s are outdated.
    Here at my middle school in Portland we have decided to use the three modes of communication for our standards-we have decided that it’s impossible to “assess” the cultural standard especially at this level.
    I’m curious why you have to work within the 5 Cs?
    I can certainly share with you what I’ve done with the three modes in terms of assessments, etc

    1. Annemarie Orth

      On March 23 I’m going to a Standard Based Grading workshop offered by the Maine DOE. It’s a Westbrook High school, so I can find out more info there for you.

  2. I wonder about the 5 C’s as well. Last year we had a two day workshop with Paul Sandrock from ACTFL and we also heard that the 5C’s were outdated and that the focus was now on the three modes of communication.

  3. Anne and Laura who are the admins making you worry about this so much? How can we focus on the Three Modes and do the other Cs? Can’t do five. Can do one – Communication – and still align with research. I sure wouldn’t scrap your work now for some badge who doesn’t get it.

  4. Is it about you teaching to the standards or actually doing projects with the standards? If it is just a matter of teaching with them you could work it into the CI in small ways throughout the year. For example, 2.1 Could you do tiny segments (like a brain break or transition) where you show a couple of photos of “cultural practices” and discuss it using the vocabulary students have already acquired. To assess them on it, you could do a comprehension quiz of it.

  5. Thank you, all, for weighing in. It is great to hear that in other places the 5 C’s have been scrapped in favor of just the three modes of communication. For whatever reason, we have to pick 5 standards and they have to be the same as the Latin teacher’s. He is only able to do the interpretive mode of communication, so we have to pick 4 standards from the other categories, and write at least 3 performance indicators for each standard, and a rubric for each indicator! So 15 rubrics, at least 15 different “assignments.” Today we decided to add a 6th standard–the interpersonal communication one–just for Spanish and French. That way, at least Laura and I can say that this is important, and continue to focus on it somewhat, even with all of the other stuff encroaching. The problem is that if someone “doesn’t meet the standard” per the JGR, we have to provide an opportunity for remediation.

    Is anyone still following this? If we don’t use interpersonal communication as one of our “required” standards, we can still do CI and use the JGR, but it won’t have any teeth, because we wouldn’t be able to make it much of the grade. (What? You mean I met all 5 of the required standards and I’m still failing because of the JGR?) It is all very Orwellian, if you ask me. But last year I fought the law and the law won, at school, at home, and in my town, so I have no fight left in me. My goal is to check the boxes and satisfy the suits with the least possible disruption to the CI.

    Since no one here seems to be in the same boat with us on the connections, communities, etc., can someone at least share how you have managed remediation with students who have failed the JGR?

    Thanks again.

    1. I just think you’re taking it all too literally. If enough people here on the blog were to provide you with one thing of what you need, you could have these boxes checked in an hour. Can we be specific and do a team thing on this to save time? What exactly to you need, exactly? We have enough mental firepower here to knock this out in five minutes. Plus, the suits won’t get it if it is on point or completely made up and false. They just want you to do their bidding, and that is very ugly. Like Talone’s vent I just posted. Same exact thing. Little people looking for other people to control. Sad shit, that. OK group, we have until 11:00 a.m. EST tomorrow to knock this out. Come ‘on! Anne let us know the specifics again. This could be a fun experiment to see if we could do it. Good lord, after the hundreds of happy hours I’ve spent with my students for the past four years bc of your scripts, we all owe Matava, y’all!

  6. Anne – talk to Skip! I went to a Standards meeting and he, Therese, and Dennis Gallagher were there. Skip, in fact, typed up all the “assessments” that people developed at the end of the day. All of us also felt that there was a lot of focus on forced output. There is a thread somewhere on here where we were talking about it. (Ben or Skip, do you remember the title of thread?) If I read it again, it will help me remember what all we did.
    That presenter talked about the 5Cs, but that they were all “wrapped up” within the 3 modes. Skip is trying to organize a peer coaching day – perhaps we can have a “standards coaching day”???? Let me look through my notes — and get my head together. I have had to go to FL this past week for my daughter (emergency surgery) and my head is just not into school again yet! When I get settled back in and wrap my head around things, I will share with you.
    I went to FLAME and it was all about the new Standards. Fred Ravan(?) did a great presentation on Embedded Reading. Again, I don’t remember much right now – but I have notes!!!
    Skip — can we start a thread about this on our Maine blog — I think we all need to help each other!

  7. Anne –

    First, let me say, ‘Shame, shame, shame!’ to your administrators! You — are a treasure. They — are idiots for not valuing you more. *They* should be asking *you* what *they* need to do!

    Anne, I love your intuitively-crafted stories. They are my curriculum. By making your stories available to all of us, you have made my year.

    As far as the goofy C’s, I do ‘stuff’ in my class, but most of my ideas are really lame, though. However, in their lameness, they do not disrupt the TPRS process enough to get me and the students off track. I can’t think of anything that hits the standards multiple times and hits multiple standards that would not be overly disruptive to me.

    So, I have to ask, how sophisticated do these ‘performance indicators’ have to be? These are some things for which a rubric could be developed, but the question is — would you want to? I am almost embarrassed to mention them, but here goes….

    1) Teach them the French-style hand shake and assess them on it later in the year
    2) Pass around the little santons that come in the Galette des Rois, asking students to discriminate between the ones that represent the townsfolk and the ones that represent the nativity characters
    3) Teach a few of the little songs that appear in the ‘audition scene’ in the middle of ‘Les Choristes’ and then show the clip of the movie, turning off subtitles and asking them to identify the order in which the songs are being sung.
    4) On Mardi Gras, find out which popular Hollywood star is the King of which Krewe and reading in English online about it.

    I can think of a million of things like these, but could you use them?

  8. …how sophisticated do these ‘performance indicators’ have to be….

    See this is it. Nobody will ask if they were actually done. Nobody cares! Nobody visits Talone, though invited. It’s not about the instruction. It’s about making Dave write something down. The goal of this mindlessness is they demand and you provide on paper and they are happy. They want to make you do what they think is important and you (give all million ideas to Anne, Leigh Anne) submit them and then never do them. It’s absurd. Thank you Leigh Anne, this idea of writing them down but not actually letting them disrupt your real work with CI is what we needed to read on this.

  9. Anne, I just have to add my voice to the others about the absurdity of your administrators’ position.

    Just an idea: ask them how this fits with the Common Core State Standards, and wouldn’t it be better to do all of this work with the CCSS and be ahead of the curve rather than having to throw all the work out in a year or two because it doesn’t fit the Common Core? No one understands the Common Core as it relates to Foreign Language anyway, so you

    Also, have your administrators read the Maine Foreign Language Standards? I just googled them and found a pdf on the official website. There are no 5Cs, and Communication with its three modes holds pride of place:
    The major organizing principle in today’s world language classrooms is communication. (Page 1 of the Maine Standards)
    Outline of World Languages Standards and Performance Indicator Labels
    A. Communication
    1. Interpersonal
    2. Interpretive
    3. Presentational
    4. Language Comparisons
    B. Cultures
    1. Practices and Perspectives
    2. Products and Perspectives
    3. Comparisons with Own Culture
    C. Connections
    1. Knowledge of Other Learning Results Content Areas
    2. Distinctive Viewpoints
    D. Communities
    1. Communities
    Here’s the link:

    In addition, the Maine Standards clearly differentiate between classical and modern languages in the standards. While we know that this is ultimately nonsense for TCI, you can use it in the current situation to question the necessity of having the same standards for Spanish and French that you have for Latin.

    In the meantime, Leigh Anne’s suggestions are good. You can even include teaching students how to count with their fingers (starting with the thumb) as a cultural component. Give them outside-of-class assignments to make a French meal for their family and write a report on it. Maybe even discuss how to use the utensils “the French way”.

    1. Oops. The end of the second paragraph should have read,

      No one understands the Common Core as it relates to Foreign Language anyway, so you use the ambiguity and uncertainty to help direct the conversation in a way that is TCI/TPRS friendly.

  10. Good morning, everyone! and thank you for the outpouring of support. Leigh Anne, please do write down whatever you can think of, if you have time. I love all of your little ideas; I just can’t think of a meaningful way to incorporate them into a rubric. If you use the scripts you know how my mind works. I don’t believe that there is a left side to my brain!

    Our report card will have categories, one for each of the standards, and we will have to indicate “meets, exceeds, partially meets”, etc. for each one. So I’m not sure how we’d be able to write things down and not actually do them.

    We were thinking to start with interpersonal and interpretive communication (no presentational–this is level 1) and have them worth more than the others. I’m thinking 90%, if we can get away with it. It’s kind of bizarre to make kids do all of this other stuff and have it worth so little of their grade. But it’s better than the alternative–having it worth a lot of their grade.

    Robert, we don’t know yet what the Common Core standards will look like for FL, and so we’ve been handed the 5 C’s. The Maine Learning Results (thanks for doing the research) basically are the 5 C’s, spread out. And while they make distinctions between Latin and modern languages in terms of how the standards may be accomplished, they are still the same standards.

    Mary Beth, I hope your daughter is all right. I will get in touch with Skip. I think our situation is different than many in Maine, in that our staff has held out on even discussing standards until now. When the last superintendent retired, the new one was charged with “getting the high school on board.” What that has meant is we will go from nothing this year to a SB freshman class next year. There won’t be any time to experiment or transition.

    Laura and I have to be conscientious about the writing of this stuff, as our school has hired a standards consulting firm, and one of the two experts who are at our school all the time is a former foreign language teacher–not CI. Today she is going to review our work from yesterday. We’ll see how that goes.

    Meanwhile, anything at all that you can write down or send us would be hugely appreciated. This thread has been very helpful so far. Thank you, everyone.

    1. …one of the two experts who are at our school all the time is a former foreign language teacher–not CI….

      Let’s be clear. If she doesn’t know about CI, she’s not an expert. No one who is incapable of having an intelligent conversation about CI is going to judge my work. Question: If the expert is wrong, what do you do?

    2. Annemarie Orth

      I can’t believe you are switching to standard based grading so fast. We’re switching next year, but we’ve been easing into it. Last year we worked on how to write the language of learning “targets” or objectives based on what we wanted students to learn. And of course I felt clueless because I didn’t know what the WL objectives were so I made mine up! And this year my department has agreed to use the 3 modes, because that’s what Casco Bay High School is using and we’re both EL schools. I’m sorry you’re being handed the standards and told you have to use them. I agree with Ben in that you have to work your way around the 5C’s until they come to their senses. Do you know Carlos Gomez from Deering HS? You can email him and mention my He’s a great person to talk to regarding standards. He doesn’t use TCI but he’s on board with the 3 modes and doesn’t believe that culture is really assessable. He’s one of the area trainers for Standard Based Grading in FL classrooms. In fact, I will email him and ask him about your situation (I won’t mention your name).

      1. He …. doesn’t believe that culture is really assessable.

        Finally someone said it. I like Carlos. I take it further and say it’s not even teachable in the real sense. How can they grasp the culture? Tell-me-I-forget, put-my-butt-in-Paris and I get it kind of thing. I tell my first and second year kids to hang tough until they know enough language in the upper levels to attack culture then in the TL. But it’s a lie bc I know that 250 hours (we call it two years but it’s only a bit more than six weeks at 40 hours per week) isn’t a long enough anticipatory set (heh heh) for me to provide meaningful instruction in culture. Carlos is right. So often in readings I will just stop and go off in English about whatever hits me that is interesting about French culture. I am a bad person bc I don’t actually target that C, I just take class time in English to discuss it and that not across the board but in whatever class it happens to come up in. Dang me for being a bad planner. When I start getting paid six figures for this job I’ll consider targeting culture in my classes. I’ll also feel a greater degree of guilt for dipping below 90% to bird walk about culture in the TL when I get those larger bucks. But I figure if 250 hours represents 99% CI for two years, then honestly I am getting MAYBE 200 hours in two years, then how does having them do culture projects help when they don’t know the language? Kind of a not very clearly expressed ramble there, but hey. My mind is on basketball.

        1. The other thing about culture as regarding Spanish in particular is “which culture”? It is insulting to think that there is a blanket “culture” for all denizens of Hispanic countries. Do we teach a little bit from all 20+ countries? Do we just teach the culture of Spain as the mother country or of Mexico or Puerto Rico or Cuba b/c that is the culture our students are most likely to encounter? That one has always puzzled me.

          I agree that fake “culture” projects do not lead to acquisition. Make a travel brochure. Do a weather report. Write a menu. If students are not at a high enough level to access culture in the target language, then let them learn about cultures in English in their global studies classes. And let us stick to the business at hand, Krashen-style.

          (I am bemused and irritated the way that our New Tech webinars quote Krashen favorably about “meaning-based acquisition” but then insist that “authentic” projects are the best way to accomplish that…)

          1. …I am bemused and irritated the way that our New Tech webinars quote Krashen favorably about “meaning-based acquisition” but then insist that “authentic” projects are the best way to accomplish that….

            Wonderful. Emporers without clothes (research) again. When will it stop? How can the people who do these webinars justify this?

        2. I’m going to represent a slightly different viewpoint here. 🙂

          “‘Culture projects’ do not lead to acquisition” is a true statement. However, they can accomplish the following:
          1. Satisfy admins/systems that want to see “homework”
          2. Give students a small insight into a foreign culture
          3. Give families an activity to do together
          4. Let parents see that students are “learning”
          5. Prepare students for an important component of the AP Exam (They have to prepare a presentation that discusses differences between their own culture and a foreign culture)
          6. Give students a fun experience with the language or culture outside the classroom

          There are, of course, negatives:
          1. Some students simply won’t do it
          2. It’s more work for student and teacher
          3. It has little to do with acquisition

          In addition, there are aspects of “culture” as opposed to “Culture” that we can do every day in the target language that do help with acquisition. Examples:
          1. Whenever I count “One, two, three . . .” in German I show my students on my fingers, beginning with the thumb because that’s where Germans begin when they count. (BTW, the film Inglorious Basterds was helpful because the spy was revealed when he “miscounted” on his fingers.)
          2. Every day I ask “What day is it?” and “What is the date”? I also have the date written on the board. Every time I do this, I reinforce the culturally authentic way of saying and writing the date. Eventually I have students who come in “complaining” that they wrote the date “the German way” on their English paper.
          3. Whenever we talk about dates and I put a calendar up, I make sure that the week starts with Monday, because that is the official calendar in German.
          4. As we talk about time, I always use the 24-hour clock for official time because that’s the way it’s done in German-speaking countries; I use the “quarter/half/quarter-til” system when speaking casually about non-official time.
          5. When I write down a time I do it as you see it written in German-speaking countries: 13.02 Uhr (1:02 pm).
          6. If I write down a large number or decimal, I switch the comma and point – again because that’s what is done in Germany. 2.167 is two thousand one hundred sixty-seven; 2,167 is two point one six seven (two and one hundred sixty-seven thousandths).
          7. Whenever I give telephone numbers I do so in the “German way”, which breaks the number up into sets of two. My school’s phone number, for example is 66 36 51 5 (sixty-six, thirty-six, fifty-one, five).
          8. When a student has a birthday we sing a German song.
          9. On my birthday I bring something for each of my students and explain that because German students are in the same classroom with the same small group of fellow students from fifth grade to twelfth (or thirteenth) grade (the teachers come and go), the custom is for the “birthday child” to bring a small gift for the classmates. On Friday one of my level three students brought in a bag of bubble gum and gave a piece to everyone – at the end of class so they wouldn’t chew it during class time. I stopped early so he could hand it out, and we sang to him.
          10. I write a “saying of the week” on the board with a literal translation and then an English equivalent. We may spend a minute or so talking about why the two cultures express the idea differently or why English may not have an equivalent saying.
          11. If I am using a picture of something, I look for a culturally authentic picture (e.g. a bathroom in which the toilet is in a separate room, the WC) rather than just any picture.

          So, we can and do teach “culture” – meaningful, everyday culture – in class; we also teach in the target language so that acquisition continues. Part of the issue is that we simply don’t recognize how thoroughly culture permeates what we do.

          1. That is “embedded” culture, Robert–why did I never think of it? German and Spanish share a lot of those same items–calendar, dates, commas, phone numbers. I used to do a phrase of the week; may need to look through that list again. And find real pics of real houses/apartments.

            thanks for much for letting me see past “culture projects.”

      2. now I’m feeling even worse about missing the Standards workshop at my school on Friday!!! Carlos was one of the facilitators!!! (with Amber from K’bunk) My dept head said that he was SUCH a nice guy!!! I have already emailed him asking for a “private audience” with him!!! 🙂
        Hey – just throwing this out there to Skip and Annemarie….since this is a MDOE initiative, and these workshops are FREE, why don’t we ask one of these teacher-leaders to come to the Maine TCI Conference and give a Standards workshop!!! Maybe we should ask Carlos????

  11. Anne – your school is wrong! Maine HAS developed the standards to go with the Common Core — the workshops I have been to show the alignment between CC and ACTFLs alignment to them!!! I am going to photocopy all my workshop handouts and send them to you. email me your address:
    ALL of us need to go to these Standards Workshops. Contact Don Reutershan and ask for a listing of the teacher leaders and then ask your Admin if you could have one come and do some coaching to your “Standards Consulting Firm” (thank goodness we can’t afford one!) I contacted Don and volunteered our school as a hosting site for one of the workshops (it’s today! – I was getting ready to go to it, but my daughter is having an issue and I need to bring her to the doctor today!) I then invited our “consultant” (one person), my Asst. Superintendent, and our Gifted and Talented director. Why not do the same? they are still looking for more workshop sites and I bet they would LOVE to have one up near you!! 🙂

  12. Also, contact Fred Ravan – he teaches at Brewer. Like I said, he did an embedded reading (as per our Laurie!!) AND he advertised our TCI conference in October! (so I think he is TCI …and Skip knows him) He is also one of the board members of FLAME and very “up” with the new state standards from what I could gather.

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