jGR December 2012 Version – Latest

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29 thoughts on “jGR December 2012 Version – Latest”

    1. I am having the new one made now and it will be placed in a very conspicuous place, on a rolling white board where it is big enough for all to see every word easily during class. I just place my hand on the 2 whenever a kid is not engaging me, look at the kid, and say, “Hey, you have a 40% as 30% of your grade right now. You may want to go for the 60% here (I read it to them) or even the 80% ( I read that to them). Some of you are working above the 80% (I show that to them and praise them). Now let’s get back to work (then I point to rules #4 and #5 on my Classroom Rules poster) and we go on. Right now, half way through this six weeks grading period, many of my students are failing. The result will be increased attendance and focus in class for the rest of the term. I think that we make a grave error when we don’t fully enforce jGR. The only way to reach most kids these days is through their grades.

      1. ….I think that we make a grave error when we don’t fully enforce jGR…

        So, so, so, so, so true. I’ve made the mistake this quarter of being really lax on enforcing the rules and the jGR in my Exploratory classes. Thankfully I have 4 weeks left with them, get a new group. I get “re-do’s” every 9 weeks 🙂

        But my God, my 7th grade Exploratory kids are awful right now. The side conversations and blurting are getting crazy. About a week and a half ago (3 weeks into the quarter) I started really enforcing jGR, putting low grades into the gradebook. Most of the kids are failing, some of them have shaped up, a lot haven’t. These kids are kids who don’t really care about their grades. I told one kid today that he has an F and will continue to have one of his behaviors don’t improve. He said he doesn’t care. What’s the solution here?

        1. Thank you so much for all these posts Folks!! I was SO down today– my Block 4 kids have been HORRIBLE for the past few weeks. today I finally laid it out on the table – I asked them to take out a piece of paper and tell me what the HELL is going on – why are they so disengaged, disrespectful and RUDE…..
          I got some eye-opening answers….bc of the hectic schedule we have been undergoing – schedules disrupted bc of assemblies, holidays, vacations, kids out, ME out (jury duty x 2days; week stuck in FL bc of Hurricane Sandy); one kid said “students are fine; educator is lacking energy….strict policy=unhappy students, unhappy students=unhappy educator” – yeah, well, to heck with THAT! we NEED to be strict! and CONSISTENT!; others said that they were bored of the stories, that they should be deciding what they are about (but I have to stick to themes!! to cover the curriculum); others say they LIKE worksheets, while yet others HATE worksheets!
          Funny no one said anything about READING! but they DO want games, they feel like all they’re doing is reviewing (they’re not! – I’m recycling vocab and grammar structures! maybe it’s so easy they feel like they’re doing that all the time!)
          I don’t know what to do tomorrow! but, first I will re-norm the class!
          Sabrina reminded me earlier today that the kids need and yearn for Consistency — they haven’t had it! they are missing it and are rebelling!
          I agree, but feel insulted by some of the comments. (feeling very vulnerable after being put down by a colleague repeatedly about using CI too) I know this is a long process, and that we need to persevere, but BOY is it ever hard!!! I am SO grateful that my dept head loves TPRS/CI, and I have someone to share thoughts with now!

          1. Hey, mb!

            I’m sorry you’re going through this right now. Please know you’re not alone, as I’m sure you cannot deny it with all of the support this PLC provides. Is your Block 4 MY Block 4? Geesh! See my comments below and I apologize for hijacking your thread. We are dealing with VERY similar issues. I hope you don’t mind, it’s just that I felt so much empathy for you because I relate. What I’ve learned from the wise crew here is that 1) it sometimes doesn’t pay to take a survey from the kids because you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. They’re kids and they would never admit that THEY are simply being jerks. 2) it’s nearly impossible to not take their comments personally but unfortunately for us soft hearts, we have to let it roll off our backs.

            Keep up the great work. Don’t stop.

      2. Hi Ben,

        Do you have a copy of this poster to share? I am having trouble consolidating your description of each grade into language that is comprehensible for my students (even if it is in English). I also wanted to give them their grade with the explanations of what each point means they are doing right/wrong and what they need to do to earn the next point up. Also do you have a description for zero?

        1. I play the zero card when they are physically absent. I haven’t ever, but could conceivably play it when they are clearly not mentally present, as well.

          The latest version of the poster is here:


          We all tweak it individually. I think that how we do that tweaking is determined by our particular grading situation in our individual buildings. Let me know if this is a clear response to your question.

  1. I love the new wording in this–observable negotiation of meaning–brilliant. Now here is my question. I don’t think it is strictly related to the rubric, but it is, in the sense of reining in a wayward class.

    I am finding myself in a bizarre space right now. I just returned to school yesterday after missing a whole week and a half. I have been really sick, and so my classes have been limping along for this stretch. It was very stressful for me to try to keep CI going (I didn’t). The first few days were ok because they were finishing a novel, so reading and Robert’s “essential sentences” were the perfect thing. But then they were done with the novel and I was not done being sick. I have never missed this much school and it seems disastrous for CI. I probably prolonged my recovery by stressing out about school. There were some days I should have been sleeping but instead was on the computer writing out elaborate instructions for the sub, which of course never got implemented for one reason or another.

    So I went back yesterday and limped through myself because I am still not all the way better, but whatever. I didn’t have the energy to teach a story, or talk much, so the rules were out the door. Since I was feeling so crappy, I kind of took the attitude yesterday that I was simply “being my own sub.” I realized that the students have just gone 8 days without any good CI or rule enforcement so I am going to have to start over again. Is this even possible? If anyone has any experience with prolonged absence I would love to hear how I can get the kids back on track. Particularly, how do I get them back on track when I am lacking energy? Sorry if I seem whiny.

  2. This is a mental health issue. I was guilty of this kind of obsessing over what my kids were getting in class when I was gone earlier in my career. In my 24 years as a traditional teacher I would get sick often. I can only share what I have learned over 36 years – nobody gives a shit. They want the kids quiet. They want the sub happy. The kids want the sub happy and the sub wants the kids happy.

    I now give up that lost instructional time to the universe and consciously take care of myself when I am down. I no longer fight through it. That is a sick thing to do. It is so hard for a teacher to give herself permission to relax. I find that so odd. Like we are whipping ourselves. But look how much money we make. And then look at how much money some of those well rested politicans make.

    I try to get the kids to do as much FVR or SSR or free writes during missed days, but I could easily go with a video as well. Doing FFR and SSR is input, and freewrites are great too. But vids are fine. What the hell. We have some good articles here on sub plans. But the point is that we need to learn how to take care of ourselves bc nobody cares. We need to get that.

    Now, jen, when the world acknowledges your gift to foreign language education in the form of jGR, which is truly a brilliant assessment instrument, they will come running to your door with large offers of thanks. But that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. So just relax and heal. This all will pass. The TPRS drama will slowly evolve as people’s hearts slowly open, but it is a slow process. WE ALL NEED TO JUST RELAX AND TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND OUR FAMILIES.

  3. Sabrina Janczak

    Hi Jen,

    I would suggest the first thing you need to do is take care of yourself, get some TLC, mentally and physically so you can be back in your classroom, and function normally.
    Stop being so harsh on yourself, but I m preaching to the choir, aren’t I? Just start all over again, get on the bike, put your hands on the handles and start pedalling.
    Reintroduce the rules, and do all the stuff you do at the beginning of a new cycle. And you will see , it will all fall back into place, kind of like muscle memory. I think a lot of us are feeling down right now, may be the arrival of Winter, the change of weather, the shorter days, lack of enough daylight, is affecting our mental health ( well it is for me anyways). The kids are human too and they go through the same cycles. Right now what is on my mind is the lack of motivation from a few kids, and how to better engage them. It s always on the back of my mind. Gosh why are we such perfectionnists !
    Jen , be gentle on yourself, the kids understand you were sick and they will come back , give them a little time. By next week I think things will start falling back into place.
    You know we are here for you, we hear you wail and it does not come unheard. I am sending you all the way from Chicago the biggest hug ever…..

  4. Jen, I reinforce what the others have said. Take care of yourself first. (It’s sort of like on the airplane when they tell you to adjust your own oxygen mask before helping someone else. You can’t do much good if you can’t function.)

    I think we often fail to realize just how fragile our policies and procedures really are. I know I do. When my students returned from a week off at Thanksgiving, I had to re-norm the class. This year it was glaringly obvious to me that I needed to do this, probably because I am incorporating your jGR in grading. In the past I might have simply wondered why everything seemed harder. Children and students really do fall apart behaviorally when the routine changes. We see this all the time in families. When do the greatest meltdowns tend to occur? On special occasions, when the routine has been altered. After a week away from school, the re-norming needs to occur.

    It’s the same way in your classes right now. Students have been out of the routine (and so have you), so you need to invest some time on norming the class again. It should be easier to re-establish the norms than it was to set them originally, because students already know what the norms are and just have to get used to following them. Expect to do this again after Christmas break, the new semester and spring break – at the least.

    1. Thank you all for the encouragement. I am usually the one reminding my workaholic stress-addicted friends about the whole oxygen mask on the airplane. It is funny and sad that we have a hard time taking our own advice.

      It is a relief to hear about norming the class after vacations, etc. That seems so obvious now, but I had never thought about it before. So we’ll have a wee chat tomorrow, and hopefully be back on our feet next week. I know this is a process, so what is the point of my wasting precious life force outside the classroom? Ok, I will focus on getting lots of sleep and narcotics (ha…just kidding…but they do help curb those 10 hour nighttime coughing attacks 🙂

  5. I can feel the pain. I agree with the others that you MUST take care of yourself. On a related note, in some of my classes I’ve been feeling like things are falling apart. So I was debating doing some lessons with the textbook to give the kids a taste of the “other” option. I have one fear- the kids will rather do the book than have a CI class because it allows them to disengage. Opinions on this?

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      I would decide based on what you can most enjoy in a case like that. If YOU would not enjoy the textbook even for a day, I suggest that you don’t go there. Find another way. I had a recalcitrant class that I spent a class period talking with about how poorly class was going. Some of their ideas were important to hear and respond to. I’ve changed class and they have begun really to respond… maybe some day we’ll have stories with actors again. In the meantime, they have a lot of CI.

  6. jen those three smart kids who feel smart I was sharing about here about a week ago, the ones to whom I gave some old National French Exams and the Amsco book, worked like crazy on it. It lasted two whole days. Then they were back in class, done with the grammar, sharing in the reading of Le Voyage de Sa Vie with a better attitude. I didn’t press them for more information.

    1. Ben,

      I have a serious situation. I once made comments on the PLC about a class I had that was really in the doldrums; fighting me every step of the way. Today, I finally had enough and asked who wanted to go the book. The 4 angels I suspected would say yes DID. I gave them a book 2 levels more than what they are in only because that’s all I had available sitting on the windowsill. I told the 4 girls to get to work on a reading with comprehension questions and also an activity on stem changing verbs when they were done.

      At one point, one girl was turned around talking to the other and I stopped my CI going with the remainder of class to tell her to stop. She said she was asking the other girl what to do because she didn’t understand. I told her she made her choice and had to figure it out on her own. I told all 4 girls that they needed to have completed the assignment by the end of the period (30 min to spare) and of course none of them finished.

      Now, I don’t know what to do with the work they handed in, what to expect from them for next time or whatever else. I remember reading someone’s (yours?) comment that was very detailed….perhaps it was from Robert. It was about expecting them to do ALL the work, even the CI stuff. So the rest of class took a simple listening quiz since we were able to move on but I didn’t require those 4 girls to take it. How could they? They weren’t listening.

      So, I need help. Please help. I’m scared and pissed. It’s been a day from hell and I just want to cash it all in now……

      1. It was Ben who described that. He made it clear that the book work was extra work – but not for “extra credit” – that the student voluntarily chose to do. The CI was required work, so students were accountable for it even if they chose to do the other. It is not your fault that they chose not to listen. I once had a student aide who had flunked Spanish. He did clerical work, materials preparation, etc. for me, so his assigned job was something other than paying attention in class. Nonetheless, one day I was giving a quiz and asked him to take it. He got 100% and was extremely proud of it, enough so that he asked if he could put it up on the wall by my desk. Of course I said yes. Just one more piece of evidence that Comprehensible Input works unconsciously. So, your girls have made some choices and need to feel the consequences. Don’t do what their families have no doubt done all their lives; that is, don’t try to save them from the consequences of their choices. (Think of it as saving them from the Lindsay Lohan life.)

        You’re being too nice. Ignore totally that voice in your head that wants these girls to like you. They never will, so don’t even try. Give them what they need (a dose of reality), not what they want (their own way). I am often reminded that God destroyed pharaoh by letting him have his own way.

      2. What I did with my three smart fellows who felt smart was make them responsible for the work in a vague way, and for the CI in class as well. I just let them figure out how to do that. I really didn’t care and didn’t put a lot of thought into it when I gave them that work, but I didn’t see where they shouldn’t be responsible for the CI work too, since they are so smart and bored with the novel my undocumented kids struggle so much with bc they never really learned to read in their first language in Mexico, when my smart fellows didn’t grow up in Mexico so there was that split I was trying to address. As I said, those guys quit the grammar and joined in after two class periods. This is what Sabrina reported with a superstar grammar kid who returned sheepishly to the fold after a few days in the back of the room. So why didn’t it work for you – this idea of giving them the textbook and then letting them go splat with it and returning with a better attitude to the big group? It may have been in the way you presented it, it felt like there was a mean streak in how you set them up and wouldn’t let them work together. Which is a problem bc they would start talking and messing around, and you would soon have a little rebel stronghold right there in your class. When Blaine does this, and with my smart fellows, and with Sabrina’s single rebel, there was no group there, we keep the kids separated physically. Did you keep them physically apart? I’m trying to figure this out without having been in your classroom. Hmmm. This is like what Mitch McConnell did on the floor of the House yesterday, where it turned around on him. Hmmm. Just thinking out loud here. Maybe the kids felt your anger. I have fought all my career with a kind of small piece of anger deep inside of me that the kids can’t see at all, but is there. It’s resentment that I don’t have all superstars. It is anger towards kids who won’t “play”, who won’t do what I ask. I guess all teachers have to deal with this. It is so UNNATURAL to teach unmotivated kids who are just in there for the credit. But there is seriously a bad vibe feel to this thing with these kids. I would suggest that you make a herculean effort to just let that go, as it won’t help you. Give the rest of the class some SSR or FVR or a free write and sit down and just be honest with the kids maybe in the hallway away from earshot of the rest of the class. Tell them that your hands are tied by the new standards of Communication and especially the interpersonal skill and that you have to teach this way and you love grammar too but it won’t get them to the goal. Would they be willing to do the grammar at home and maybe together outside of class and that extra work could be added to their grades to make sure that they have their A’s and then maybe they could help you do your job of teaching to the Communication standard and then you could have a group hug and be done with it? Probably not, as those little snots are probably enjoying seeing you squirm. I certainly don’t blame you for wanting to cash out. It’s a hell of a job we have when you think about it. Let your emotions rest over the weekend, but if you can get to those kids today before the end of the day, maybe you could make peace and offer them something that will help them retain their dignity and yet fall into line with your requests as their teacher. Oh man, been there done that! And I’m certain I am not the only one reading this who hasn’t been in exactly this situation. I wouldn’t force them back into the group though. Back of the room? The problem is that there are four of them. Separate in the back of the room? But do make them come to you. Don’t force them back into the group. That’s all I got this morning off the top of my head but maybe others will come up with some ideas.

        1. To answer your questions and comment on your comments:

          1. The whole class has heard me explain why I teach CI time and time again. A discussion with them about it will be a broken record feeling.
          2. These are not kids that are 4%ers. They are not grammar lovers. At least not 2 of them. I would say 2 of them don’t want to show up anymore the other 2 never did.
          3. No. They were not physically apart. They were seated almost in pairs. If there is a next time I will address that.
          4. I am certain the whole class felt and has been feeling my anger. I’m also certain that they are LOVING it.
          5. The way I presented it, it seems to the class that anyone who is done with CI can take a text book and do their own work. I never explained (because I didn’t know but had to act quickly with SOMETHING) that the text book was IN ADDITION TO everything we would be doing in the CI classroom. Now, those girls (and everyone else) has already seen they missed a listening quiz because they were doing individual work with the books.

  7. Robert was writing his comment while I was writing mine. I think the group hug and invitation to come back that I suggested is not as good a plan as making them feel the result of the choice they made, as Robert suggests. At least to start as an immediate response. But, Robert, how do do that exactly in terms of logistics with these four girls?

    1. First of all, as Ben suggested, they must sit separated. Since there are four of them, put each one in a different corner of the room. Remind them that respect for their classmates means that they must remain silent. You will be glad to work with them outside of class to help explain anything they don’t understand, but during class they must make the best of it on their own. It was, after all, their choice to do this work.

      Then, their grade in the class depends entirely on
      1. their ability to express interpersonal communication through not speaking under, blurting, etc.
      2. their scores on the normal quizzes, etc. that the rest of the class takes
      3. completing the assignments they have voluntarily taken on

      A couple of things to remember:
      -don’t take on extra work to accommodate these girls (other than being willing to help them outside of class)
      -they are responsible for the content of your class
      -the “extra work” they are doing is for their benefit and does not count positively toward their grade in the class; however, if they choose to do it, then they must do it or have it count negatively [N.B.: This may be a tough sell to parents]

      1. You could also make their “extra work” simply irrelevant, but then you would have more discipline problems because they would know that they aren’t accountable.

        The whole idea here is to make cooperation easier and more palatable than resistance and rebellion. If their chosen activity has no chance of positively influencing their grade, it soon won’t be worth the effort (unless the student genuinely want to learn); if their chosen activity doesn’t get them the social benefits they want (talking, “hanging” with friends, release from responsibility), it soon won’t be worth the effort; if their chose activity doesn’t get them the “entertainment” benefits they want (watching the teacher rack her brain to keep them “engaged”; seeing the teacher feel uncomfortable*), it soon won’t be worth the effort.

        *I once had a conversation with a former student who related tales of what another student used to do to teachers. This second student was also in my class, but I never had problems with him. The reason? He knew that I wouldn’t stand for it and that I would probably laugh at his attempts to upset me. In his “cost analysis”, he knew the effort wasn’t worth it in my class.

  8. I commented above and I’ll comment here too. I need a plan of action. A script of what to say to these 4 kids. I also need to know if I should call their parents to discuss it or give them time to realize it sucks.

  9. Mmm. I think I would conference with the 4 girls, just the 4 girls first. You might say that you want to be sure they understand your arrangement, since you now realize that you may not have explained it very well. Then you lay down your rules, what they may and may not do, what their choice involves and what your expectations are. If they whine, you say that they misunderstood. You give them a chance to think it over and decide if this is really the way they want to go. If they’re still whining, you say that perhaps you need to get their parents in on it.

    Above all, remember that you are the expert here, the professional, so you know what they need to do in order to learn a language. They’re the goof off experts, but that won’t help them learn to speak a foreign language.

    Personally, I’ve never given any of my students a choice about going back to the book. Actually, none of them ever wanted to anyway, but that may say more about how unrealistic the announced expectations are in our French textbooks than anything else. Pre-TPRS I had a very weak class and decided to let them choose which chapters in the book could interest them. I gave them a whole hour to look through the book and discuss in groups what might be interesting to study. The only thing they agreed on was Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Of which they may have understood about 20%. We did it, they found it very difficult and from then on I worked with songs and films.

  10. Judy et. al.,

    Thank you for the support. I should not have ever offered this option. Now, it’s out there. I see this particular class on Tuesday. I’m still not sure what route to take but a definite explanation about what this choice entails is necessary.

  11. Just make time to talk to the kids. Clear the air. Say that you weren’t clear before and you want to be clear now. Tell them their options, make them pick one. The options should include at least some of what Robert said four or five days ago here. Be firm but kind. Give them some room to get back into the flow of the class. That is the option you want them to take and whether they take it or not depends on how you present it. They must have the choice and not feel pressed against a wall. If this were me, I wouldn’t make it a big deal. Let the class do SSR or a free write or FVR. This gives you five minutes in the hall. Present your new clear position, with choices. Make them attractive choices. Tell them if they can’t reach a decision they can go home and talk about it with their parents, and make it clear that when that happens you will ask for a conference with the parents to make sure that everyone is on the same page about your class expectations. After the five minute talk, that day or the next day they should be back in line, whether they are separated back in the back of the room or whatever. Five minutes to discuss it, one day to decide, the threat of a big parent conference, this gives them the room they need. That’s what I would do. Under no circumstances would I nastify my attitude. Almost like I don’t care, I am a machine, a machine who smiles, and they get to choose from among the options. What those are depends on you and what you have chosen to incorporate into your response yourself and from the suggestions made here over the past week.

  12. UPDATE:

    This morning I spoke with the 4 girls out in the hall, all at once. I told them that since they had chosen the textbook during last class, I needed to specify a couple details about how I would grade them which were: Interpersonally-no blurting, textbook assignments must be completed by the end of the period, responsible for all other work the class does. I let them know that they had either until the end of class to let me know or to think about it overnight but then, I’ll be phone conferencing their parents.

    1 of the girls said right away she will come back to class. 1 of the girls didn’t say explicitly but scored well on the jGR because she was reciprocating during PQA. 1 girl was called to speak with her counselor, who told me that she had requested the meeting because she wants to drop out and the last girl told me she DOES need to go home and think about it. So there it is. What do you think?

    In other news, I had a class today that was blurting during a Reading day. 1 student asked why we went from reading the story to then being asked questions. Another student said that the information was more or less what we had discussed last class (duh!) so it fell tedious to sit and listen, and a 3rd student asked why everyone was arguing; he said it was obvious that I was talking to them BECAUSE the reading was familiar and I didn’t want them to be bored so I expected them to share things about themselves (BINGO! He gets it.). I talked to them about how I would never give them a reading with a lot of ideas or vocab that they had not previously heard in class, and the connection the brain makes when they see something after hearing it and how listening promotes speaking/reading promotes writing.

    Honestly, I feel like it fell on deaf ears. And there’s another total terror in that class that was suspended for a month and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do but send him to the office….and he needs 3 strikes before he’s out. But then I’m reading that book Teaching with Love & Logic and I’m just at a loss for what to do.

    End rant.

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