La Profe Loca

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13 thoughts on “La Profe Loca”

  1. Jennifer, I really thought your area by area comparison of the two methods was both apt and pretty objective. In a way, the pacing guide is like the old practice in manufacturing of ordering and stockpiling a bunch of materiale on a rigid and pre-set schedule–it might sit there for a long time without being used. TPRS is like the more modern practice of ordering “on demand.” As something is needed, it is ordered and used. The second way is simpler, more efficient, and more economical. The pacing guide is an attempt to recreate the old style factory production line. Why try to do that when factories don’t even do it anymore–at least the ones that aren’t shut down! Possible solution (the only one I can think of until the older order collapses): All teachers should:
    1. Test with a test modeled after the New York Proficiency (and Regent’s) Tests.
    2. Teach for June (or January & June if necessary).
    3. Let each teacher be responsible for preparing his/her students to be proficient.
    4. Kick-butt teachers mentor teachers who haven’t figured it out yet.
    I think this could help bridge the gap until the Revolution led by Ben’s student.

  2. Chris said:
    “…in a way, the pacing guide is like the old practice in manufacturing of ordering and stockpiling a bunch of materiale on a rigid and pre-set schedule–it might sit there for a long time without being used. TPRS is like the more modern practice of ordering “on demand.” As something is needed, it is ordered and used…”.
    I love metaphors and this one is a great one. Thanks Chris, I have honestly never heard the argument for an input based curriculum put more succinctly than that!
    On my student, K, I got a few emails that wondered if she existed or if I was putting a hoax on y’all. No – she exists. But personally I don’t think that we can wait for the new generation. Somehow, with God’s help, maybe we can effectuate some degree of change now – in the next few years – in the direction of input based teaching. The standards in three states – CO, CA, OR – are changed, so at least in those three states, teachers cannot even legally align with a set of pacing guides or the book. They MUST teach for proficiency and why nobody is holding those teachers who teach lists of words and grammar/worksheets accountable, I don’t know. God bless us all in this difficult change at this difficult time of year. Bless all our hearts. Every one of us, whatever side of this argument we are on. May we learn to work together better to create the best possible instruction for our wonderful kids in this best of all possible worlds.

  3. Chris said:
    “…in a way, the pacing guide is like the old practice in manufacturing of ordering and stockpiling a bunch of materiale on a rigid and pre-set schedule–it might sit there for a long time without being used. TPRS is like the more modern practice of ordering “on demand.” As something is needed, it is ordered and used…”.
    I love metaphors and this one is a great one. Thanks Chris, I have honestly never heard the argument for an input based curriculum put more succinctly than that!
    On my student, K, I got a few emails that wondered if she existed or if I was putting a hoax on y’all. No – she exists. But personally I don’t think that we can wait for the new generation. Somehow, with God’s help, maybe we can effectuate some degree of change now – in the next few years – in the direction of input based teaching. The standards in three states – CO, CA, OR – are changed, so at least in those three states, teachers cannot even legally align with a set of pacing guides or the book. They MUST teach for proficiency and why nobody is holding those teachers who teach lists of words and grammar/worksheets accountable, I don’t know. God bless us all in this difficult change at this difficult time of year. Bless all our hearts. Every one of us, whatever side of this argument we are on. May we learn to work together better to create the best possible instruction for our wonderful kids in this best of all possible worlds.

  4. You’re absolutely right! TPRS is “on-demand” 🙂 It actually really surprised me, when I had written this all out, how diametrically opposed the two philosophies are, at their core. No wonder I struggle all the time!
    My only solutions I came up with were all compromises, but that was predetermined by the question I asked.
    Here is what I have determined:
    Backwards plan from semester benchmarks. (Teach for January and June)
    Provide students with vocabulary lists and grammar sheets for each unit. Then, they have the information. They have heard the words before. They are “prepared” for the metacognitive stuff, and I will just use pop-ups to put that information in context.
    Use the stories that are in the textbook for cultural information and non-fiction reading. Actually, I have already been doing that, so it’s all good 🙂
    And, what I would really LIKE to do, but cannot afford, is to get the Piratas novel because it is so high interest and easy to adapt to reader’s theater, and it uses all those level one words in context.

  5. You know something else crazy? I chose the name Profe Loca because it was an apt description of my personality as a teacher. Not that I am crazy bad, but my classes were always fun. I was willing to stand up on a chair to talk to the kids, or have kids sword fighting, or…
    And since the two ideas are so diametrically opposed, I have found that that person doesn’t exist in my classroom anymore. As I have adapted to this new system, and tried to adapt to this new philosophy, all my crazy has gone away. I stand in front of the class and teach way more than ever in my teaching career.

  6. Jennifer, we should frame what you wrote. Wow! How ironic that a lot of districts have just spent a ton of time and an even heavier ton of money writing new benchmarks, only to find that the state standards have changed/are changing to align with proficiency outcomes, and so the benchmarks – just as you delineate above – must fail, and for those reasons you listed. A lot of folks don’t want to hear that, but it is nonetheless a fact. The benchmark flurry was really a cover for teachers to be able to continue using the book – with the only difference that they would jump around in the chapters instead of sailing right through chronologically. Ignoring the standards, the novice low to intermediate mid classifications, is going to be the biggest new sport in language teaching. Entire departments will become adept at ignoring this new mandate. They will become dodgeball champions. But what you have written is so clear that eventually people will have to just accept that talking in L2 to the kids most of the time and doing a lot of reading will really be the only way to meet those standards, especially at the lower levels. That is one list up there that I really must print out and keep near my computer.

  7. I think your description of the two is correct.
    I’ve been the only TPRS French teacher in my district for the last 10 years and I’ve been trying to mesh the idea that I think TPRS works better with the fact that my fellow teachers have adopted a certain curriculum and pacing guide and my students ARE expected to know certain things at certain times.
    I’d love to just toss the whole textbook/curriculum map out the window and use the TPRS resources I’ve gathered – there is some great stuff there! But our students are just so darn mobile that I can imagine what will happen when one of my students shows up in a different school in the district and doesn’t know the “right” vocabulary at that particular time. There is way too much vocabulary in the textbook and the grammar is such a weird order. The kids have trouble with the imparfait/PC as it is in the book – but they know how to say “I was born” and “I used to live” because I told them my life story and asked about theirs! It’s definitely better to do the CI thing but it’s very difficult to be constantly torn between what I know will help the kids and what the curriculum map tells me we should be doing.
    So I ignore the textbook as much as I can. I give them a monthly vocabulary list so they’ve “seen” the words, and they probably learn them about as well as the typical class that “covers” the textbook. But the words they actually know…those are the words that get used in conversation, with real people. Not some random list of 82 different means of clothing. They really know the important stuff (pants, shirt, shoes, socks) but they also know the fun stuff that is much more interesting like super short polka-dotted mini-skirt, and stinky cheese, and invisible airplane. That’s what they WANT to talk about. Why on earth would they want to be talking about going to school in a car, when they can instead talk about riding a super-fast burro named Jose? Cars are boring! Rocket ships are the best of all…every time someone travels in a rocket, the class does the countdown for them.

  8. In my opinion it’s all here in these two sentences from Heather above:
    “…the kids have trouble with the imparfait/PC as it is in the book – but they know how to say “I was born” and “I used to live” because I told them my life story and asked about theirs!…”
    “…but the words they actually know…those are the words that get used in conversation….
    Look, this is not a joke. There is a difference between learning and acquisition. We need to keep the spotlight on that idea, and keep working towards those ends. Thank you Heather for these excellent observations.

  9. Robert Harrell

    I have taken the post and put it into a tw0-column format so that Jennifer’s points are side by side. Below that I have added Chris’s analogy and a comment of my own. Assuming I have Jennifer’s and Chris’s permission (I know I have Ben’s), I will post the document in pdf format on my blog and put the link in a comment. In the meantime, here is my comment:
    It is no wonder that students find much of their school experience boring, irrelevant, mystifying and unengaging; it is almost diametrically opposed to how they learn on their own. Early 20th-century methods in a 21st-century world leave everyone behind.

  10. Jennifer, I don’t know where you’re teaching or what your situation is with parents. But my genius sub yesterday told me that he always used to put books on hold at our local bookstore and on parent night, he would tell them where to go buy them for him. I could see just sending out a note–those Piratas books are not so expensive that one parent might pay for a class set.
    (Sorry…love this thread!)

  11. Okay, the side-by-side comparison is now posted. You can access it from my main page as Ben indicated above. (Either click on Ben’s link or go to http://www.digitalcomprehensible.com) In the navigation bar it’s listed as TPRS vs Pacing Guide. Or, here’s the direct link http://www.digitalcomprehensible.com/Digital_Comprehensible/TPRS_vs_Pacing_Guide_files/The%20differences%20in%20philosophy%20between%20TPRS%20and%20traditional%20language%20education.pdf
    I posted it as a pdf so that it comes out the same for everyone and isn’t dependent on your browser or font.

  12. I was just looking at statement number seven again:
    7. TPRS believes that language instruction should be practical and focused on communication in areas that currently interest students.
    Today during sixth period (last class of the day before the weekend of a full week after a holiday, battle of the bands at school in the evening – so pretty squirrely freshmen and not much concentration), a student who had gone to the bathroom came back to a lot of laughter. He looked very confused at first, thinking for a split second that we were laughing at him. (Which we weren’t.) One of my other students commented, “That’s why I don’t like to go to the bathroom in this class. You never know what you’re going to miss while you’re gone.” When the bell rang another student commented, “This class went by really fast.” We had FLOW!

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