James Hosler – Video

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37 thoughts on “James Hosler – Video”

  1. Relaxed teaching style. Huge.

    You are like me, I always start class with little classroom business before staring the PQA or story. I just talk too much in English there in the beginning of class. I am trying to cut that down. My kids just want to get to the PQA and I always make a little speech. I’ll learn one day. (What I think is important is not important to them, and I could get through that stuff a lot quicker and have more time for the CI).

    You validate some of the stuff that I have written about on the PLC. Your use of the Quick Quiz even in PQA classes, for example. Thank you.

    I think you could establish meaning and do the gesturing in under two minutes, for both things, to get to the PQA quicker. It’s fun to hang out in this phase, but Susan Gross was very clear when she trained me that PQA should get to the actual personalized questions asap, two minutes into the class, really.

    Kids seem relaxed, just listening. I don’t sense them as being uptight. I think that is because you yourself are so relaxed.

    Perhaps, however, you could think about staying on one structure for like ten minutes or more and just repeat that one single structure in every single thing you say, without any English (including the words “right” and “so”), getting answers for all your questions, and making it more personal by creating fun little scenarios that I have called “Extended PQA”.

    In doing this, you want to get the “din” going. So on the one hand it is great that you go so slowly, we always must be totally slow all the time, and you do that so well, but I am not aware of the din happening and the back and forth talking about the kids in silly ways part.

    Trust me, that piece is hard. But I can tell you are close to doing that. Just encourage their cute answers to your questions about the structures and the mirth will happen.

    Another thing is you want a strong choral response from each and every kid on each and every question you ask. That is really hard and I constantly forget that piece. Von is the one who told me about that just this past summer and after twelve years of this I am just beginning to do that. It really is hard to get those constant group loud choral one word response, and yet that tell you everything about what is being understood. The choral one word responses can’t be emphasized enough.

    I particularly admire how you probably weren’t taught Latin in this way, nor have any of the Latinists in our group, so I appreciate that part as well here.

    Overall, it is an excellent video to send in. I see portents of fine things to come at the 12:50 mark and again at 15:95 into the video, where there was some group chuckling. This is what you will develop as you get your legs under you, a kind of running fun din of jokes and silliness. You definitely have that potential in your teaching style and in your personality, I sense, as well.

    It is so cool to watch this and see you speaking Latin and seeing the kids chuckling when I don’t understand a word of it. It shows that the kids are processing the language.

    Good use of the box at 16:56. Well done.

    One thing and it is not a critique is that I personally don’t call on kids, I let them answer only if they want. But that’s about our own individual styles.

    AT 18:33 you started to speed up a little. I couldn’t see if they were comprehending. Are you doing fequent comprehension checks? I don’t use the finger count thing any more (don’t think it’s accurate) but are you looking in their eyes to see if they are with you? I think most are, if not all.

    At 19:00 a guy answers a question. But you want more questions answered more often, at a steady pace, by the group, usually just yes or no, so that there is more of a reciprocal choral back and forth sharing with them going on, you asking them the questions and they answering with the short one word responses.

    I look forward to hearing from the other Latinists and the rest of us on the PLC on this very valuable piece of video. You put yourself out there and you deserve a lot of feedback, which I am sure that the group will provide.

    But for the amount of time you have been doing this (how long?), it is fantastic. You “have” it, that invisible “it” factor that we all need as a foundation but not all of us have when we are married to the book. You definitely have that quality that we need to be able teach using CI. Now it’s just a matter of doing some more tuning, like all of us always need to do (like the layers of the onion thing).

    Refer to a recent blog article called Punch List for more things to look for in a CI class, things to reflect on.

    Thank you James, we need more people sending in stuff like this. And I certainly want to repeat that I am no expert at this, and never will be, so thank you for allowing me and the rest of us to comment.

    At some point, we end up taking what we want from the method and making it our own and there is no one way or right way to do that. You are definitely on your way to making it your own!


    1. To answer your two questions:
      1) I have been doing this CI/TPRS stuff “part time” for a semester. This is my second semester doing it. I say “part time” because, of course, I haven’t had the time to fall all the way in yet.
      2) I definitely try to “teach to eyes.” While I’m doing any L2 out loud that, for now, is my main concern. My focus on the structures suffers because of that, so hopefully eventually my power of giving attention will become greater.

      While I was reading your comment, Ben, this occurred to me: One reason I struggle with PQA, I think, is that everything has to be so literal. I did not start the year with Circling with Balls or a survey, so now PQA feels stuck in the, sometimes boring, real world. Thus I need an actual box, etc. So that “silly din” you talk about is rather hazy to me.

      Thanks for the comments!

    2. Ben et al.,
      What do you think of me showing a video of how it is done with other students so they can si what I mean by answering every question and what a true choral response is?

      1. Karen that was the point of the blog – to just throw up all kinds of videos here. It didn’t work out that way for various reasons and we end up talking and writing and keeping things in our heads. We have good reasons, like it’s a big hassle to record, we never get the best stuff, our egos are involved, we first have to have releases (although the way James had the camera, with the back of their heads visible, he wouldn’t need any releases), etc. So please, send it to me at benslavic@yahoo.com or just put the link up here in a comment field. Let’s have a PQA party! The more we see and talk about this work, the more we learn, and that’s for sure, but we can learn faster by talking about video. And the more we talk about and get better at PQA, that carries over to stories. It’s not complex. The idea of learning how to ride a bike is very apt with this. The more video we see and talk about, the faster we’re up on the bike. So what if we get a few bruises – at least we’re trying. I think it was Wayne Gretzky who said:

        “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”

  2. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak


    Thank you for being yet another brave one to put yourself out there for the service of helping others ! I commend you for that. I have some videos made since November but since I am a chicken I never sent mine to Ben. So for that I applaud you.

    From what I saw but unfortunately I don’t understand any of it ( took one year of Latin in high school since it was mandatory and can only remember the declention of rosa……), you are going very slow so that is great.

    Like you I move a lot around my room and I was pleased to see that it is not a distracting factor. Your students seem to understand what you are saying so there is the proof that it works…..

    Thanks for showing your routine and everyone’s is obviously different.

    It is nice to see teachers that take time to explain to their students what and why they are doing what they are doing. Even if it takes time away from CI, it is time well spent and you get your ROI ( return on your investment) I am sure.

    Thank you James. What you Latin CI teachers are doing is nothing shy of extraordinary. You are bringing this beautiful language back to life.
    I am in total awe.

    1. I like going over a brief “this is what we’ll do today” at the beginning of class. I write up a schedule for each class period that I project on the screen to make it go faster. I also save each daily agenda on GoogleDocs so that absent students and parents/admins can see them whenever. On the schedule I have even started going so far as to link each activity for the day with one of our standards (reading, hearing, etc.). Obviously I keep that piece in my back pocket for meetings with admins and parents.

  3. James,

    Thanks so much for sending in a video! I always enjoy reading your posts on Latin Best Practices and it’s great to see you in action in the classroom. Here’s a few of my observations:

    I picked up too on your relaxed and slow, but intentional and focused style. You show confidence in what you are doing and I see it grow over the duration of the lesson as the PQA begins to genuinely develop. It is honest, and progresses organically. I believe that doing these things are not easy for us as teachers – we are impatient to “get-it-done” – to not allow things to develop naturally, to be “the teacher” – but you are present, firm and attentive with your kids. This is a great foundation to have for CI.

    You do well, especially as the video progresses, at asking questions from the students. This is huge. But, as you develop this skill more, I encourage you to also direct questions at individual students more frequently.

    I’ll share here something I do to help myself ask easy questions to build confidence and up the reps. I’ll call it “rapid-fire” circling. I call it “rapid-fire” not because it’s fast, but because the questions are short and hammer the particular structure in quick succession – like a machine gun. And I usually direct these not so much at the class as a whole, but at individual students one after another.

    (I know Ben said something about not calling on students – could you clarify what you mean by that Ben? When you say you don’t call on students I’m assuming you mean for PQA type questions that seek information – not questions that are just circling-type comprehension questions. Is this correct? For me, I let kids answer questions with personal information on a volunteer basis, but try to constantly call on kids to answer informational / comprehension questions about what we have already established or give me translation. THESE types of questions I try to never ask in a voluntary way, but always direct the question to the class – demands a choral response (gesture or verbal) or to an individual student. )

    The “rapid-fire” questions are easy, in that they are usually absurd and the answer is an obvious “no!” Here’s an example (in English, but of course in class in the target language):

    Statement: Charlie doesn’t want to open the gift.
    Questions directed to individual students (I’m adding names):
    -“Amber, does He-Man not want to open the gift?” (Amber says “no!”)
    -“Luke, does Colonel Chicken not want to open the gift?” (Luke – “no!”)
    -“Andy, does Tro-lo-lo Guy not want to open the gift?” (Andy – “no!”)
    (This could go on indefinitely – I try to think of people to include that I know the kids will react too – or I just try to make it absurd or stupid. I use names from other stories and info that comes up in PQA. This contextualizes it, makes if funny and the answers to these questions are easy, especially since the kids know my rhythm of asking these questions and the pretty much know there will be this “rapid fire” barrage of stupid questions blanketing the class when a new structure comes up – they are prepared for it and already know the answer will be “no.” I think this is important, because I mainly direct these type of easier questions at the slower processors to build their confidence and involve them in successful and funny interchanges in Latin.

    Also, throughout the barrage of stupid questions I keep repeating the statement, “CHARLIE does not want to open the gift.”

    Then finally after the barrage of stupid questions, I ask someone, or the class a “who?” question:
    -“Katie, WHO does not want to open the gift?” And if Katie has been paying attention she will say “Charlie” quite easily because I’ve repeated the statement so many times.

    This is a great way to really up your reps.

    – – –

    Another suggestion that I have found was my biggest area of growth this year – GESTURING!

    I’ve been doing ASL signs for gesturing all the time and the kids really connect with it. It is great for establishing meaning, it’s fun, it’s a way kids can actively participate without forcing production (and show you they are paying attention) and it helps clarify meaning all the time without having to use English. I’ve wrote about it elsewhere on this blog or LBP; if you want more specifics on gesturing I can find what I wrote and post it again here. Just let me know. Start doing more gestures and I expect you will find that you will love it. I can’t imagine teaching a class without it now – at every level.

    That’s my contribution for now – I need to go to bed. If I think of something else I’ll put it up. Thanks again for posting! You’ve inspired me to try and get some videos up soon. Like Sabrina I have some, but I just need to get to it and upload it.

    Valeas! David

    1. David, I replied to you on latin-bestpractices, but I’ll restate my thanks here! I think that the “rapid-fire” question idea is a keeper. Definitely a very good way for a newbie like to take steps forward.

    2. David I am still figuring the questioning thing out. I honestly maybe felt so scared in school myself, afraid of looking foolish, caught up in an internal dialogue with myself so that I only ever gave maybe 10% of my attention to most of my classes, bc they were so damn boring, and so I am now loathe to direct ANY questions at an individual kid for fear of making them self-conscious. Now, if I can just get the choral response thing going, I’m o.k., bc they will all be responding and no one will be under the scrutiny of the rest of the class. It is too much to single a kid out, in my opinion. Or, if 90% of the kids are responding and three kids are not, I can just give them the 1 and be on my way. That’s fine. Back in the day it was always about getting 80% correct responses from 80% of the kids. I guess it still is. Does that answer your question? Kind of?

      1. I find questions directed at an individual to be a student-by-student thing. Some of my students are waiting for a chance to show off, and if I call on them (expecting them to get the answer right, which they nearly always do) they seem to have a look like “the teacher knows I get this stuff” that is good for them to feel.

        Others would feel awkward – sometimes the social dynamic, not a language issue – so I rarely call on them directly, but almost always choose them the first time their hand goes up to volunteer.

        1. Ben and Diane,

          I really appreciate your input here. I would value others’ input too. I feel like I do try to go on a student by student basis like you say Diane, but on a deeper level, Ben, your comments about how you felt about being called on in high school are stirring some deeper questions in me about this.

          I was the opposite type of student in high school – for the most part I WANTED to be called-on and interact with the teacher, and if I’m honest with myself, I think I wanted to show-off some too, like Diane says about her students. But what you’re saying is helping me have a better understanding for the kids who don’t feel this way. I need to let this simmer in my mind some more and will probably comment again afterwards – it brings up some deep stuff for me about my own person and how that affects how I connect with, value and love my students.

          Thanks for the honest reflections; these are gold to me.

          – – –

          And Ben, I agree with a comment you made elsewhere on this thread, that video really does bring to the surface some of these deeper, more visceral things of teaching in a way that talking doesn’t. (Or maybe you didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what I took away from it.)

          I’m just thinking that we pr0bably wouldn’t have “just started” a thread about deep, subconscious fears of being called on, or deep desires to feel validated, right? Well maybe some of the wiser and more experienced teachers here might have…

          But for me, unless a video exposed our particular teaching styles and habits, I doubt I would just start a discussion like that. I see one teacher teach a certain way and I have to ask myself – “why is she doing it like that? That’s not how I ask questions, that’s not how I engage a student, etc.” And then I have to ask myself, “Why DO I teach how I teach?” And then in processing why we teach the way we do, we start to find out the deeper, more emotive reasons for it.

          Talk about the onion.

          1. Yeah, and David, your comments made me think about what I was doing in class and why I thought I was doing so. It helps to reflect on these things.

            I think another variable in calling on students: how much time they’ve had with the language. I don’t really call on any but volunteers in the beginning level classes.

          2. Thanks for the comments David and Diane. Reading them just crystallized something for me. As preparation for an accreditation visit, we recently did a survey on teaching strategies: which ones we use, how often, etc. In the World Languages Department, most of my colleagues use “Equity Sticks” or some other “call on all students equally” technique. I am the only who does not, and now I can articulate my objection: I am differentiating instruction by allowing the students who are ready to produce language to speak and allowing students who are still in the silent period to remain silent. If I used something like Equity Sticks, I would be applying a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s amazing how subtle (and insidious) some of these things can be.

          3. And Robert there is no equity in a stick. Some kids see it as permission to say worthless things use it for their real goal, to have the attention of the group focused on them.

            In these kinds of New Age ideas, we end up training a nation of youngsters to value the cult of personality, to get the stick and be the loudest and the biggest, with little thought to introspective dialogue and, almost never, really hearing what the other people are saying.

          4. The concept of the sticks is rooted in the idea that the teacher has no positive, interactive and understanding relationship with the students. When the class consists of members of a caring, supportive community and the teacher commits to the involvement of each member of the community, sticks are simply not necessary.

            What they are missing is that the class is ALWAYS a community. If the teacher doesn’t become a part of it, and lead it, the students themselves will do so. Then we have to insert our involvement, and artificial control of the community, with sticks.

            with love,

          5. …it brings up some deep stuff ….

            Want to know why people don’t do this method? They don’t want to change. They don’t want to become more human as per mb’s field report from earlier today. They don’t want to look within. That would mean changing.

            The real heroes are the ones who spare nothing to reach their kids with this method or any other method that reaches the kid on a human level. Those are the heroes.

            That’s why all the research being done about how we acquire languages is bullshit. If it doesn’t have that human element that has so long been missing from our schools, then the research, so dry, will bear no fruit.

            What we are doing is bringing compassion, love, unconditional positive regard, into schools. No more and no less.

            Hell, in that sense we are bringing real prayer, like the real kind, like the kind He actually listens to, into schools. Call out the National Guard!

  4. First of all, thanks so much, James, for sharing. For me, that is always the best PD – I have to see something to understand it.
    David, yes, it would be awesome if you could dig up your comment about gesturing. This is by far my weakest area in this whole process. I have the kids come up with an appropriate gesture for each new structure, and then I forget to incorporate/have them do it for the rest of the class. Even though I have a gesture guru in the front of the class with me who is told to perform the gesture every time they hear it. Most of the time, this student is too engrossed to hear what’s going on that they, too, forget to do the actions.
    Can’t wait to hear how you tackle this issue.

    1. Sabrina Janczak


      I agree whole heartedly about the importance of gesturing and David does too because I remember having that conversation when we watched his first video a little while ago.

      I too have a sign in person in front of the class that I call sign in interpreter in my list of jobs, and yes some are gifted at it and some are not so good at it, it’s the luck of the draw, trial and error, I guess. Plus there is the fatigue factor. It gets tiring for some of them to do that all the time.

      My problem is that since I don’t know ASL , I have the kids come up with a sign, and sometimes I have 5 different sign with 5 different classes.
      So in order to keep things straight, I ask my secretary to write/draw the sign in the secretary book. That book keeps track of everything ( pqa counters/ gestures/ structures etc….) . It’s like someone taking minutes so that if I have a question, I can always go to the book and find my answer.

      I just started asking my secretary about 3 weeks ago to start including the gesture, either through a verbal description or a stick figure or drawing in the secretary book. It helps me and the kids if we don’t remember what gesture we picked.

      1. Brigitte and Sabrina, here’s two Latin Best Practices posts I wrote in October 2012 about gesturing. And just as a note, I don’t know ASL either, but I’m learning it as I go, one word at a time. The best thing for me is that with ASL I only have to keep track of one sign. Sure it’s nice to have the kids come up with it, but just not practical with 5 classes and remembering different signs from year to year.

        (This first one is about using ASL vs. having the class come up with their own signs. Note: a student of mine who uses sign quite a bit recently told me that the ASL Pro Dictionary Link below is not the best one out there. She is getting back to me on some other resources. I’ll post what I find out from her.)

        I used to have the kids come up with the gestures, but it
        became too difficult for me to remember them all.

        Now I try to use an ASL (American Sign Language) gesture, but if it is too complicated or doesn’t resonate with the kids, or doesn’t exist, then we make up our own and I only make up one for all classes. It is a big hassle for me to do a different one with each class. I always do the wrong one and it throws
        everyone off. In the video I am using some ASL and some not. I made this transition to trying to use ASL as the default sign this year.

        I really like this online video dictionary for ASL. I have a TA or a kid from the class sit at my desk and they look up a word when I tell them to, so I don’t have to walk over to my desk and get on the computer. Everyone looses focus if I do that. The link is:



        – – –

        (This post was in response to James getting a non-participatory class more involved by using gestures.)

        I think that using active (verbal and non-verbal) ways of responding help make the kids participate actively, especially when needing to listen actively. Here’s the signs I use:

        Nonverbal Responses:
        -hand over the head – I don’t understand

        -thumbs up – yes

        -thumbs down – no (but I encourage verbal ita and minime too)

        -an L with the fingers for Latrina (bathroom) for a non-disruptive way of asking to go to the bathroom

        -hand at the forehead level indicates “I’m full – I need a brainbreak”

        -when I say “ostendite mihi” (show me) and then say a word, everyone gives me the gesture for the word — this one is huge for keeping people locked in on eye contact and moving with me

        Verbal Respones:
        -ita – yes

        -minime – no

        -if I ask a quis/quid type question they answer with the correct answer in Latin (optional) or English (required minimum)

        -the KEY here is I have to get a CHORAL RESPONSE if I say “omnes discipuli” (all students) or “dicite mihi (omnes).” (everybody tell me) (as soon as some kids start checking out, it’s a downward spiral to no energy and no participating. I call out people by name, letting them know that I see they are not participating and will mark my clipboard
        indicating to them that their participation grade is suffering)

        -or I might ask an individual student a question

        -if I say translate the phrase (in English usually) or quid significat, I expect an English translation (or would expect to see the hand over the head at this point)

        -NOTE: I used to have kids repeat words orally, but don’t do this anymore because it is a form of forced production and it can be distracting if kids don’t do it in sync. I much prefer gesturing to choral repetition in Latin. (Although we will do choral translation of a passage as I point to words – this works better and doesn’t force production in Latin)

        Also just getting everyone up and doing quick TPR using the word wall and gestures is good to wake people up – the key again I think is demanding that everyone participate and not moving on in class until a true choral response or
        full gesturing is done. The class will loose energy quickly if students think they are allowed to just sit there and not respond.


        1. Yes, that is exactly the problem – having different gestures for the same words/structures in each class. Since I do “employ” a secretary as well, this is definitely something I will add to their job description (writing down the gestures). Thanks so much, Sabrina and David, for explaining your process.

        2. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak


          It just dawned on me. You are incredible! You are teaching them 2 languages, Latin primarily and ASL as a bonus, all the while learning ASL yourself!! WOW!
          I m going to try the ASL thing with no promises but I’ll let you know how it goes, instead of having them pick their own gesture, which except for the very obvious ones, confuses me more than anything.
          After reading the rest of the thread this morning, I realized that for me gesturing is also very important, that is why I have that person in front of the room gestering constantly. That is the job that will get the most xtra credit points b/c it’s in my eyes a key one.

          1. For me it is about limiting the gestures. My goal is to be able to only gesture the (two or three) target structures every single time they come up.

            We must remember that the concept of this method rests on the premise that the students already know every single word we use that is NOT a target structure.

            This fact, like gesturing itself, is often forgotten and actually is impossible in certain phases of teaching like beginning the year, where Point and Pause must be used in CWB or when using the Questionnaires, for example.

            But too many of us forget the mindset that “I will only use words they know” in this story except for the target structures. But this alone brings the high octane instruction, this high principle of Staying in Bounds.

            Doing this work, trying to remember all the little pieces and big pieces we talk about here, is very hard. It takes patience. It is like gluing a bunch of sticks together into a shape of some kind. No sooner do we get one part of the shape glued together, than some other part falls off.

            The gesturing is a part that falls off all the time. That is why I believe it is impossible to gesture one’s way through a class, except for the targets we are working on. I just don’t see it happening. I say, limit the gesturing to the target structures.

            I would add and I think you already know, Sabrina, because I think we talked about it, that ASL gestures never worked for me personally although some teachers can do it.

            Some of those Californians, I think, and maybe Jim Tripp. David Maust I think. I think I saw Liam doing some last summer. Linda Li does it automatically when she teaches. It depends on the person. I just don’t think I’m wired for it, but boy I wish I were bc it really helps the kids.

          2. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak

            “We must remember that the concept of this method rests on the premise that the students already know every single word we use that is NOT a target structure.”

            Ben can you clarify and expand on this sentence you wrote and may be it ll make more sense to me.

            It can’t be true that kids know every single word we say except for the target structure because if it was the case, there would be no room for i + 1 . What about the net? What about acquiring language oustside of the 3 structures passively, unconsciously, as long as it is comprehensible, or comprehended ( I just love that nuance brought on by Mark Knowles!)?

            OK , so if we take that sentence apart , that would mean that our students know everything we say except for the 3 structures, right? Then they would only acquire three things a week , which if it were the case would amount to 120 words/structures at the end of the year based on a 40 week year. That can’t be . They acquire way more than that, right? They catch way more than that through the net , the famous I +1, which is different for every student because their rate of acquisition is different.

            Please help me understand and clarify what you meant b/c that confused me.

          3. It is the premise. The ideal. Of course it can’t be done in the classroom. But it gives us something to strive for – transparency, while keeping our focus on absolutely staying in bounds. We must keep our language comprehensible, so that is the premise if not the reality.

          4. Seek out an ASL class, I dare you. Granted, you’re sure to pick some stuff up, and will probably have lots of opportunity to practice. But beware, you’ll probably get the old approach. I did. I hated it. First 20 minutes of class, she did the sign, showed up a couple times, we drew a picture or wrote a description of the sign in our notebooks (or were supposed to, I quit after two classes since I had a dictionary with me in class and because it was pointless in my opinion). We’d do this for about 15 signs per class. Then, after this super boring period of time, we’d get into pairs and practice the signs doing Q and A. Needless to say, the great majority of the input I got was from another student, so it was bad input. I just wanted to sit and watch her sign, slowly. But when she would sign, she’d do it fast, and expected us to keep up.

            Blah blah blah, anyways, that’s my experience with an ASL class. I want a TPRS ASL class! (If we are using some ASL during our classes, our students basically are getting that, like you said Sabrina, along with another language. But I’m not an ASL teacher, and I always make sure to make that very clear, I just do some signs that I hope resemble actual ASL, because I’m learning them too.)

          5. It’s the same thing. The class wasn’t doing ASL, but talking about it. No comprehensible input that was being aimed at the deeper mind in the natural flow of language and you got bored. I can just see you in there, a CI teacher wanting to get rolling with some ASLCI, knowing what you needed but not being able to get there. Hee hee.

    2. Brigitte the gesturing thing (remember that thread a little over a year ago where we all vowed to gesture more and none of us did except David) cannot be solved in my opinion with the gesture guru. For me that kid up there takes too much focus away from me and my L2 to have that kid doing that.

      My two cents on gesturing is that we simply have to vow to gesture more and then just do it. I was doing a story the other day and I could just feel, really strongly, how one gesture for “wanted to leave on vacation” was just SO SOLID in the kids eyes every time I simple stuck my arm out to the right and pointed. It was so much better.

      David is the only one who keeps bringing this up and it is gold so don’t stop reminding us David. None of us is in a position to forget making this part of our CI technique. It is as important as SLOW and checking for group choral responses. It could be more important.

      Gestures are a big player that we largely ignore. We need more gesturing – we must learn to not forget to do it. If it means working from scripts with only two targets, then so be it. I find that I am much better at remembering to gesture often during the story when I only have 2, vs. 3, gestures to worry about.

      1. Great point, this is actually the same reason why I don’t have the artist draw on the board anymore during story asking but rather give them a 4- or 6-panel storyboard to do it at their desk. Too distracting.

  5. Thanks for sharing James! I want to echo what others have said here… you’re relaxed demeanor is contagious and I think very productive, especially in a small group setting like that. No critiques from me. I’ll admit I only watched about 10 minutes jumping around, and everything looked really good honestly. Well, that time at about 15:20 when you had some nice energy building, I could see maybe going with that a little further, building on it a bit, but unfortunately I didn’t watch the rest so I hate to speculate on what you did NOT do.

    I really enjoy watching these videos (if only parts) to reinforce to me how much MORE enjoyable and instructive it is to hear and see THE LANGUAGE, not hear and see ABOUT it.

  6. Back on the Questions to Individuals Topic:

    I’ve been letting this questions thing simmer in my mind as I thought about “Why do I ask questions of individual students vs. the whole class.” I think that it comes down to is this:

    I ask questions of individual students instead of the whole class when I am failing to enforce jGR well (which is an area I’ve noticed I need to improve this year). Why is this?

    I think we all would agree that asking the whole class questions (comprehension or translation) is the ideal, because we are asking for information from everyone, we are having our conversation with everyone – and of course our ideal for delivering CI is that EVERYONE benefit from it and be engaged in the conversation. This is what we all want and strive for but we know how difficult it is to achieve this all period.

    So as I thought about this, I reflected that I usually start with questions to the whole class, but then I notice that some people are not responding and I start zeroing in on those students who aren’t with individual questions. My question asking is really just an attempt to engage an individual’s attention by calling on them, but I am now questioning the value of this because:

    1. When I shift from asking the whole class to an individual I start losing the conversation with the other 39 students in class.

    2. When I shift from the whole class to an individual I put them on the spot and it is an unnecessary teacher vs. student challenge that I think would be best to avoid. It says, “Ha! I caught you not paying attention, now answer this question!”

    3. When I ask a question of an individual instead of the whole class I am using an alternative to jGR to hold kids accountable. Really jGR is the best, most efficient way of holding the non-responders accountable, but I have to make this a habit and be consistent with it if it is to have any effect. Also it is the method of holding kids accountable that least obstructs the loss of CI during the class and preserves respect between teacher and student (I thinking of Robert’s post about “Who Owns the Problem?”)

    I know others have made these observations before about jGR, but for me I’m just starting to realize how important it is that I start using it better. I am going to try to enforce jGR better this 2nd semester – jGR as the chief accountability measure for the consistent expectation that everyone needs to respond.

    – – –

    What about the “blank-stare-student?”

    The only thing that is still a question here on asking individuals questions is this scenario. Any advice is helpful.

    Scenario (that happens daily): I make a statement in Latin in a story. I see a student whose eyes tell me that they have no idea what I said. I say it again looking directly at them. Still the same blank stare. I say it while making our hand motion for I don’t understand with a questioning look on my face, trying to get them to make the motion. They sort of nod their head like they are acknowledging me but still have the blank look in their eyes and I know they don’t understand what I’m saying. (They are doing what they do in most classes, just keeping peace and sitting there, not self-advocating for themselves and not communicating with me.) I just want them to let me know that they don’t understand with our non-verbal had motion because this is the only way they can communicate with me at this moment and be within jGR.

    So what do I do here?

    In the past, my next step has been to ask that student for a translation. THEN they do the hand motion. But I don’t think this is the best way to handle this. I am beginning to see that it seems better (when I see that the blank-stare-student doesn’t understand on the 2nd or 3rd statement) that I just ask the whole class for a translation. Seems to me this is better than asking just the blank-stare-student: then I won’t put the student on the spot, the student will get the translation from the class, and a little agreeing eye contact with me and the student will establish that he needs to communicate better with me next time without any embarrassment. I could also follow up after class with blank-stare-students and let them know that jGR will go up when they communicate more honestly with me and self-advocate for themselves. I find I rant occasionally to the whole class about the need for them to self-advocate, but I don’t find these rants have much effect on the individuals who should be listening to them and putting them into practice. One on one might be better for this and having jGR behind it as a real consequence to help the “own the problem.”

    Thanks for letting me process this. -David

  7. David I would like to offer some feedback below. This is great stuff you bring up. This kind of self reflection is absolutely key to our success. These are just my own reactions and opinions to what you said:

    … asking the whole class questions (comprehension or translation) is the ideal, because we are asking for information from everyone, we are having our conversation with everyone….

    Yes. This is the one aspect of what we do that people don’t seem to take seriously. They think they can go half way with the GROUP accountability piece. (see https://benslavic.com/blog/2012/08/15/checking-for-understanding-we-verify-by-asking-more-yn-and-one-word-answer-questions-than-we-ever-thought-we-could/).

    I don’t think we can use TPRS in schools unless we make this one of our highest priorities and go full blast with GROUP accountability. But how? In class? Of course, by reaching out to the whole class with our in-class instruction, but also with that badass heavy hittin’ jGR outside of class, hitting the kids, training them, in the only place they respond – their grade.

    We are teaching a class. All students will not interact with us personally at the highest level. Only those kids who have been raised to be able to interact with and trust adults can do this. For most, it is too much. It is a massive social failure, that the family has become such that many kids don’t know how to interact with, but have to hide from, adults.

    However, it’s just our luck that TPRS doesn’t work without the whole class concept, holding the GROUP accountable when we instruct them, so we must make it work that way.

    …I notice that some people are not responding and I start zeroing in on those students who aren’t with individual questions…. it says, “Ha! I caught you not paying attention, now answer this question!”….

    Yes. There are still teachers who are working from the old model that you can shame a kid into performing. That is in the model of the old great football coaches who yelled at their players to get them to play better. That is no longer an accepted model in sports, nor should it be a model in teaching.

    …really jGR is the best, most efficient way to hold non-responders accountable, but I have to make this a habit and be consistent with it if it is to have any effect. Also it is the method of holding kids accountable that least obstructs the loss of CI during the class and preserves respect between teacher and student (I thinking of Robert’s post about “Who Owns the Problem?”)…

    Hello! This is just the perfect observation. As Carol said about RT yesterday, and I believe it applies to all CI instruction, we must learn to preserve and conserve our energies in class. So why go nuts internally while we are teaching if a kid can’t show up? They just are so shy. They are in a group where they have been taught for years that being in a class meant staring at the teacher, as in all their other classes. What we are asking them to do is so hard in the first place – it is so rigorous! So why go nuts if they don’t show up as full human beings? That is why I was so happy when jen wrote that first comment that became jGR about five months ago now. I sensed immediately that it was the missing link, for me anyway, in classroom discipline, because it was.

    …I see a student whose eyes tell me that they have no idea what I said. I say it again looking directly at them. Still the same blank stare. I say it while making our hand motion for I don’t understand with a questioning look on my face, trying to get them to make the motion. They sort of nod their head like they are acknowledging me but still have the blank look in their eyes and I know they don’t understand what I’m saying….

    You are asking them to jump straight out of their comfort zone. Think about that. I leave those kids pretty much alone. You describe it perfectly, by the way. Just the few of us in this PLC in fact have hundreds if not thousands of kids who fit that description. They are not going show up. I know from working with you in Las Vegas that you are extremely aware of everything going on in class all the time. You are like a chess player. You know what the entire board looks like. But you have those 40 kids. You are trying to have an individual conversation with 40 people at the same time. It is too much to ask. Play to the big group more, take some pressure off, and let the “not yet” kids go, is what I think you should do. That doesn’t mean that you don’t make eye contact with those little looks we do that say, “Dude, you can do better than this!” – you do those little invisible things that Malcom Gladwell calls “thin slicing” but you also let jGR do its work. The kid, not you, will bring the change in reaction to the class via your effective use of jGR. You can’t do it in class. There are just too many people. Even trying to force one person to step up and perform is too much. It doesn’t work that way. We can only make the environment conducive and non threatening. This makes me think of what Robert said when Jason was coaching him on RT:

    …the whole thing was a lot of hard work, and I had to overcome some emotions about people not stepping up to the plate….

    He let them go. He did his work. The work was hard. He did it anyway. This is what we need to do with our kids. This is a time in history when kids have become robotic. It’s OK. We can’t fight it. We can only love the setting we are in. This is the spiritual part for me. I know that without God’s loving guidance of each of my classes I would melt. He sustains me and brings the humor and the good stuff. For me, this entire journey has been nothing but one big exercise in learning to trust, to forgive myself for not being perfect, and to be kind, much kinder, to myself than I have been in the past. It is a daily practice. We have the method now. So that is a good thing. When we fail, we can try again the next day. It’s like that. But we can’t make kids perform in class. We can only love the process.

    Now I get to ride my bike across town to see Carol and Diana and all my friends. These people, in my view as I sit there among them, are heroes. Carol is a hero. I keep using that word here lately. My DPS colleagues think that they are just sitting in another workshop. They are not. They are changing the world. One kid at a time. These are the kinds of days when I am thankful to be in DPS, and to work for Diana Noonan, a true hero right up there next to John Wayne.

    1. These two responses here are probably the most helpful bits of explaining jGR I’ve read to date. Not calling on students individually will work if jGR is enforced. jGR is the consequence of being zoned-out, head down, refusing to wake up, texting, chatting, blurting, etc. This should make me feel more comfortable because the stress and confrontation are being taken outside of class time.

      But I still feel myself being enticed by the in-class confrontation of calling on kids and MAKING them answer because that would mean I could spare their jGR and spare myself the call from parents. When you put it like that, I’m being selfish, pushing the confrontation into class time to spare myself a possibly ugly confrontation during my plan hour or before/after school.

      It doesn’t help that the parents who would contact us are the parents of those super smart but shy/quiet/passive-aggressive kids who just stare at their desks all period. Those are parents with influence. But am I wrong to say this is the card we always have in our back pockets: “Your amazing child’s grade can shoot up IN AN INSTANT as soon as your smart child turns on in class the way I know your wonderful child can.”

  8. Robert’s words come to mind about his experience of being the only teacher who doesn’t use the equity sticks. When we are communicating with humans, we will adjust the way we ask questions and interact with those 40 individuals in the room. And like Robert was saying, true equity happens when we treat our students as real and feeling humans.

    James brings up some good points too about why he would pose individual questions and I realize in reading his comments that here really is no one-size-fits-all solution for every scenario. I foresee that I might still direct some individualized questions to students in certain situations, but my posture and attitude are the things that need to change.

    Directing a question with the “Ha! I caught you!” mentality is only going to accomplish more harm than good; this is what I need to stop. Only directing individual questions when I know that trust exists between me and the student is better. And when I think about it some, I usually try to do this (especially when I try to ask easy, ridiculous questions to try and build the student’s confidence), but I am going to be aware now that there is more going on in the students soul than I previously realized.

    Ben’s comments about those non-responders are so helpful. I need to treat them with more respect and be kinder to them than I have been – this is the area where I’m going to adjust my individualized “caught-you” questions to group questions, but still with the loving eye-contact that Ben describes – the eye contact that is affirming and pulls them lovingly into real human interaction and communication. This has been a big learning curve for me because in high school I was not one of those non-responders, but an over-responder and affirmation-seeker. This is helping me understand my non-responder students better and changes my posture and attitude toward them.

  9. …I need to treat them with more respect and be kinder to them than I have been….

    They will love you for this. They are not stupid, just a little freaked out, that 96% of them.

  10. This is a really helpful thread. Makes me plan to talk with a passive-aggressive 4%er who has been silent in class since the return to school this month. She knows she is not doing what she’s asked; she doesn’t yet, I think, understand what that will do to her grade. Last semester she was better at general group responses and the like, it seemed to me at the time — plus I doubtless was going too soft. jGR is another one of those internal changes associated with becoming a better TPRS teacher. It’s a serious internal shift. I’m glad! It’s better this way.

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