Kelly Cusson

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



15 thoughts on “Kelly Cusson”

  1. Hi, Kelly: I too am always struggling with upper levels. I feel that I have the lower levels under control but always wrestle with the 3-4’s. Someone on this blog went to the Level 2 to AP workshop that Susie Gross offers last year and was impressed. I have invited her to present at my school (Pennsauken, NJ) on March 24, 2012. I don’t have any details, but that’s the date. She has handouts from the workshop on her website. Bryce has also posted teaching with upper levels information. I too teach French alone. You are lucky to have departmental support!

    1. That was me, Carol. It was a two day workshop with Susan a few years ago. I just have the notes all piled up in a big stack of stuff on TPRS that has been growing for eleven years now so whether it makes it to this list is doubtful. I will go back and create a category for Upper Levels. Plus, we have Bryce and Laurie and Harrell and a few others. It’s like all this work we have been doing has been primarily directed at levels one and two. Somebody needs to write the upper levels CI book. Not me, because I don’t teach those levels.I think Melanie has the thing figured out, though – reading and some spin outs for the upper levels is going to be a winner plan. And, of course, songs. And poetry.

      1. I agree that the emphasis seems to be on levels 1 and 2 and rightly so, but after a comfort level has been achieved, it only stands to reason that more kids will be going on to upper levels. Oh, yeah, it was you! Great to start an upper level thread!

      2. Melanie Bruyers

        I had some Ph.D. students visit my College in the Schools class and present to my class and I asked one of them about finding poems for my class and she recommended It has contemporary poems in their original language with a recording of the poem being read by the author. I found one poet so far who writes poems for children in German, so they are fairly easy to understand (Arne Rautenberg).

  2. Melanie Bruyers

    I adjusted my upper levels recently to have more output and gave up the story asking with them and really limit the PQA and just focus on reading because they just weren’t interested in the stories anymore.

  3. Thank you, chill and Melanie!
    Thanks, chill, for the resources to check out.
    Melanie, how to do get reps of new expressions? Or do you just do a little PQA on new expressions and then plow through reading? Or do you just not worry about new expressions?
    Also, my schools: I teach one class at Reid Middle School and fours classes at Taconic High School, in Pittsfield, MA.

    1. If you are doing comprehensible input based on reading, you can’t really target structures – there are too many. So what works with targeted vocabulary from story scripts at lower levels won’t really work in terms of PQA in upper level reading classes where the content is so much thicker. Plus, the kids have vocabularies that are at least fifty times greater than those of traditionally trained kids, so I see no real need to target anything. Just dive in to the snowplow reading plan, read/spin/point out grammar, read/spin/point out grammar, read/spin/point out grammar, etc.

      1. Thanks for the schools, Kelly. The avatar thing is weird right now, but people are sending in bios – I will publish a bunch of new ones this week – and also sending in school names and cities to update bios already published. I really want to make the schools and cities available so we continue to feel safe in what we say here.

    2. Yes, like Ben said, at the Upper Levels, I am not worrying about reps anymore, I am just reading.
      For the novel we’re doing now , I have lists of vocabulary that are defined in English to be a quick reference. I am just plowing through.

      1. I’d suggest that the Scaffolding Literacy idea of “pre-reading” is what will fit here. It’s between the steps of backward-teaching every structure (which is too much to do, as Ben says, given advanced texts), and pre-teaching all the ideas, in Carol Gaab manner, because again there’s often too much to do. Instead, tell the kids the story of the chapter, acting it out as necessary or having an artist draw it, so that they all have that common visual in their heads. I’m constantly surprised to find how many of my kids don’t have a picture in their heads. If there’s a twist at the end, you can leave that part out. But tell it to them, and then possibly read it to them in advance of their reading it on their own. If you do that, you will be able to see where their comprehension will break down and fix it. It also means that you have three sets of input for that chapter. You might be surprised as I was–my kids don’t mind hearing it two different ways before reading. They’re happy because they expect to understand it when they get to read it. Then you can do other re-reading activities.
        I am at a disadvantage because there are so few easy-reading materials in Russian that I want to really milk any reading I have. I don’t want kids to get bored, but I also don’t want them to be reading anything just once.

        1. There is a faith walk in this kind of teaching reading which is very similar to the one we took when we adopted a CI approach.
          We “assume” that kids only read to find out the ending…and if they know how it ends there will be no reason to read.
          What really happens is that kids don’t care as much about what happens next as they care about HOW things happen.
          Again…look at how many times a kid will play the same video game over and over and over again. They like knowing which level comes next and where all of the “surprises” are. Because each time they can sucessfully get to a level, they can find even more hidden secrets, tools and surprises.
          Keeping the ‘big” surprise in a story, or the punchline in the joke until later works wonders. There is still an element of wonder.
          But the beauty of ‘pre-reading” is that the reader has a logical, comprehensible framework to work in….an outline to color in with interesting details…the ‘how” of the story…the “what else?” of the story.
          with love,

  4. kelly, would you expand a bit on your “hit parade” idea? I’m very curious how that works in your classroom. (I really like the idea of listening to a song everyday of the week before going deeper on Friday)

  5. Thank you all for your guidance, it’s JUST what I needed!
    Jim: At the end of every class, we listen to the song of the week with the lyrics. I write a translation of the lyrics line by line (it got too cumbersome to go over it with them). On Mondays, they read the translation and I point out one or two key vocabulary/structure points appropriate for their level. Whenever we can, we practice pronunciation of the chorus. On Tuesday-Thursday, I ask them to try to sing along or mouth the words to work on their pronunciation (and, I’m hoping, subconsciously their vocabulary). I have to really push sometimes on that, depending on the kids, but I promise them that if they try it every day it’ll be much easier by Friday. At the end of class on Fridays, we watch the music video and the kids vote on the song (0-10, on a sheet I made up to keep it organized). I average their votes and list the songs in order of popularity on my website under “Hit Parade”:
    The past few years, I’ve chosen all of the songs. This year, the kids are always requesting songs for me to do – it’s great. I post the lyrics now, too, because some students like to practice or just listen for homework (30 “fun French” minutes per week – I can’t remember who I got that idea from, sorry). For whomever teaches French, please feel free to use the lyrics with my translations from my website. It’s a bit of work up front, but the kids seem to enjoy it.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben