John Piazza PQA Strategy

Hi Ben,
I wanted to share something that I used successfully in my class today, and which I hope can be of use to other teachers.

Student Surveys as a TPRS strategy for “circling” words and phrases while maintaining student interest.
by John Piazza

Recently I have employed a few TPRS strategies outlined by Ben Slavic for beginning the year with students. One powerful strategy that I have used with some success this year has been to have students draw pictures of things that they enjoy doing, and have this paper on their desk, with their name on it. This has helped me to get to know student names as well as what interests them,  and what various students have in common. I then let those drawings guide the class discussion. Again taking Ben’s advice, I have maintained student interest by moving from discussion of what students do, to a comparison with myself, after jokingly asserting that I am also good (or even better!) at what they do.
I recently stumbled upon a strategy that is helpful for taking this discussion in a fun direction that directly engages the entire class: this is to take a poll. I have been able to get in an incredible number of reps on a phrase with this strategy.
Once it has been established that Jimmy plays baseball, and that I play baseball well,  I will then put it to a vote. On the board I write the question: “Who plays baseball better?” Then I write “Jimmy” and “Teacher” in two columns. Then I begin asking the class for their opinion. They must respond with one of the two names on the board. I then have a chance to ask this question to each student, and have a significant and compelling exchange with them, and one in which the other students are very interested. Such an interchange may look like this:
Teacher: Students, who plays baseball better, Jimmy or teacher?
students raise their hands
Teacher: Billy, who plays baseball better?
Billy: Jimmy
Teacher: Jimmy plays baseball better?
Billy: Yes
Teacher: Jimmy, not Teacher, plays baseball better?
Billy: Yes. Jimmy.
Teacher: Jimmy plays baseball better?
Billy: Yes.
Teacher: OK, I’m afraid that’s an F.  One for Jimmy. Who’s next?
All the while, the students are riveted, and are strenuously raising their hands to contribute, laughing at the tension as a student disobeys my wishes, namely that they say I am a better baseball player. Once the votes are tallied, an opportunity to count numbers in the TL, we can declare a winner, and either move on to another fact and comparison, or use this as the beginning of a story.



4 thoughts on “John Piazza PQA Strategy”

  1. Very nice idea, John. I just had to try it today in one of my French classes. But with my 5th graders, it turned out to be different. We were discussing if Henning or Monsieur Anders play the guitar better. When putting it to a vote 60 % of these young students chose to vote for me although I tried to make them change their minds. So we had to do a little competition: Henning and I had to play something for the group. I played miserably, so I convinced them that indeed Henning is the better player. Maybe the students were just too young to be all on Henning’s side. Fortunately, we did everything with a twinkle, so nobody got hurt, we had a good laugh, and – we didn’t speak any German.

  2. When we have auditions for the MAIS bleater – just like in music schools behind a panel – we speak no French. Times like that, just playing, really bring community so that is great. I’ll bet Henning is feeling good right about now. He belongs in the class. People know who he is and what he does. Nice, Martin.

  3. Just to clarify and add a bit of context, my MO in these conversations getting to know kids has been to assert with a false sense of pride that I do everything they do, but better. So I may say: “students, teacher plays baseball well” and they have to say ooh, ahh, because, remember, everything I say is fascinating. So when I get to the comparison, many of the students take great delight in saying that Billy plays well, and they wear their “F” with pride. And everyone is anxious to see which side students will choose. Also, although I did the name game circle in English, all of this has been in Latin since day 2 or 3.

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