Lori Fiechter

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34 thoughts on “Lori Fiechter”

  1. Just an update–I have a new position next year at a New Tech high school in Monroe, Indiana. The other Spanish teacher would like to mesh their New Tech, project-based learning with the CI/TPRS I’ve been using.
    If anyone out there has ideas for projects that are CI compatible, I would be very grateful. I am much more comfortable teaching only CI, but I want to make the best of this new requirement.
    thanks in advance,
    Lori

  2. Robert Harrell

    I don’t have any specific ideas, but from what I have been reading and the thinking I have done, any first-year projects should be heavy on comprehensible input (e.g. reading about a destination in the target language) and then show interpretive proficiency (e.g. through creating a product in English based on an understanding of the CI).

    1. Thanks, Ben and Robert. I tend to be too terse in my explanations.
      I will be teaching Spanish II; their background will be in grammar-based and projects with no CI at all to speak of. I’ll have to spend the first few days or so just assessing what they can understand.
      New Tech projects are heavy on the use of technology, fairly long-term, with groups of 4 members. The projects start with a question/ problem or inquiry and the final project is both product and presentation. The project may be a power point, video (commercial, etc.) or printed material such as a photo story, book, calendar, or pamphlet. I will know more after my week-long training in July.

  3. Lori, you said that your Spanish II kids’ background is in grammar-based and projects “with no CI at all to speak of”. You said that you will “have to spend the first few days or so just assessing what they can understand.”
    I might be able to save you that assessment Lori – they most likely have acquired next to nothing, except some secretarial skills like where to file the second person plural form the verb “to go” in one of those verb filing systems. Or maybe they have a few lists of colors or numbers in their minds, which lists, because they weren’t probably connected to other words in the target language, aren’t very useful. They may have learned some stuff, but they can’t use the language.
    You then went on to describe the new school:
    “…New Tech projects are heavy on the use of technology, fairly long-term, with groups of 4 members. The projects start with a question/ problem or inquiry and the final project is both product and presentation…”.
    My comment is that this inquiry model is fantastic! Except that it doesn’t apply to how we learn languages. We learn languages for the first few years at least in essentially (95% of the time at least) a receptive format.
    We learn languages unconsciously. How can outputting projects using technology do anything to reflect this truth about real and authentic language acquisition? It is the exact opposite model. It assumes we can learn a language consciously via the project route. I refer you to these links on this point:
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2010/07/18/we-learn-languages-unconsciously-2/
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2010/07/19/we-learn-languages-unconsciously/
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2010/06/21/the-unconscious-mind-is-wonderfully-set-up/
    “…the project may be a power point, video (commercial, etc.) or printed material such as a photo story, book, calendar, or pamphlet…”.
    That’s output. The kids are being asked in this model to output stuff with nothing of lasting value having ever been programmed in. It is way too early to apply this output model to a level 2 Spanish class that hasn’t had any CI.
    This is a model that cannot succeed. Somebody at the decision-making level made what we could call a fatal error by applying the New Tech model – which will certainly work just fine in other areas, to language instruction, in which the dynamic is about unconscious receptive comprehensible input in the form of listening and reading.
    “…I will know more after my week-long training in July…”.
    You are a language teacher. You need to be with other language teachers when you do your training about best practices in your field. Maybe you can miss the train to the meeting and spend a much more profitable week in Saint Louis with us.
    After a few years of hearing and reading languages, we can do projects. And the hearing and reading must be constant. But that’s after a few years of input up to 95% of the time. What we do is not complex. We relax:
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2010/09/17/our-part-is-simply-to-relax/
    Doing projects when we have nothing in our brains to make them from is complex. It will be deleteriously frustrating for the kids. They are being asked to build things from an empty misprogrammed data base. It’s “garbage in, garbage out” again.
    Sorry. I feel like I’m being negative. But, having just spent two years in a school where my administration didn’t get it at all, I am just telling you what I think. It hurt a lot to be in an environment where the lack of support at the building level was so low, so challenging, so ignorant (but was luckily countered by a much more powerful force at the district level in Diana Noonan, who has a Daisy DYP51 Powerline, Pistol Grip Handle slingshot and is firing CI rocks at DPS principals’ butts with reckless abandon these days and it’s really getting their attention).
    So that’s what I think. I guess I’m not showing a lot of tact here. Diana or Susan Gross, both members of this group, could probably say it with more tact. But, hey, it’s my opinion. Maybe I’m wrong.

  4. Hi Lori,
    I’ll agree with Ben that you’re in a tough spot because your school is requiring output while what your students really need is input. Especially as this is your first year, though, you’re not in position to dictate terms straight out without burning bridges; you need to negotiate some approaches that at least show good faith with the New Tech philosophy without allowing it to gut your class.
    In bridging that divide, it might help to understand that CI and New Tech are actually fairly compatible in theory. The entire New Tech learning approach if I’m understanding you right is pretty hard core constructivist philosophy in which students come to understand a topic through becoming personally and actively engaged with constructing their personalized meanings. The teacher’s job here is not to transmit knowledge through lecture but rather be a “learning facilitator” (hat tip to Jim Tripp) in which students have to learn for themselves and direct what gets explored and processed in the subject area on any given day.
    That’s exactly what we’re trying to do as well, but through the old school medium of conversation and personal interaction rather than joint computer based projects. If you’re going to carve out a space for yourself in that school to give your students the CI they need to learn a language, you’re going to need to emphasize those similarities.
    One of my biggest initial concerns about learning TPRS is that at first glance a TPRS classroom doesn’t LOOK constructivist. You walk in and see the teacher directing everything the class does, avoiding partnerwork mostly in favor of large class activities, etc. It wasn’t until I got further in that I realized how deeply CI language learning is actually as hard core constructivist as you can get. What other discipline can allow the students to spontaneously choose what will be talked about that day. We direct the process through limiting the variables and keeping the discussion tied to the target structures, but what they actually talk about is entirely up to them. This is where Suzie’s continual mantra of “You just have to talk to the kids” is really true; if we force a given story down a classes throat continually without actually listening to them, we stop being constructivist ourselves. Because we do this process of being there for the students and making their lives and imaginations our curriculum in a large group setting, however, it doesn’t match the visual profile of a constructivist classroom.
    That said, I think there are ways to bridge the New Tech and CI philosophies. I think it was Jim last year who dedicated almost his entire first semester to having his class illustrate and make actual print out books of the various stories they spun based on his questionnaires. The students created the stories and illustrations; all Jim did was to provide the language they needed to tell them in. While telling your stories you can have rotating people in your classes create illustrations for the story for you, which you can then broadcast on the LCD using a document camera (there’s some technology); showing off the illustrations and discussing them will get you a bunch more reps.
    Translating Jim’s idea into your environment then, you could set aside a workday every couple of weeks or so for students to re-process the typed up stories you have collected and go through the physical process of making them into readers for the class. You could organize your class into project groups that would each be responsible for adding a couple of details to the original stories you generate, adding illustrations (either drawn and scanned or found on the internet), and formatting the new stories so they can be printed out in booklets that then become a fantastic reading library for you. This way you can start setting aside Free Voluntary Reading time for your classes starting late first quarter/ early second quarter because they would be able to read about themselves (and other classes).
    There are a bunch of other possibilities you might do that involve your students MANIPULATING language (readings, patterns, captions, etc.) rather than freely generating it at this early stage that can work. You have an interesting problem here, but a potentially productive one as well. As Ben noted, the type of stuff your school wants your students to do on the scale they want is excellent for upper level language learners; not so much the beginners. The trick comes in successfully making the argument that your language teaching philosophy is aligned with what your school wants, but that you need to adjust the actual form of the requirements to match student learning needs.

    1. Ben & Nathan –Whew! That’s a lot for me to process but is very helpful. Ben, I agree 100% with you on the fact that it is input that is needed at the lower levels; You have to have enough “stuff” in your brain (acquired subconsciously) to be able to produce meaningful output. You just don’t learn languages the way you can learn other school subjects; languages aren’t really academic at all at the early levels.
      Nathan–thank you for giving me some specific, concrete examples of how I might be able to finesse this. In my interview, I strongly emphasized how interactive my classroom was and how students taught using CI have more confidence in their ability to learn a language and enjoy the process. I am hoping for some leeway and freedom.
      I’d completely forgotten about Jim’s reader idea; I was going to use that this year, but got lazy. I will revisit that post. I am starting to get an idea of how this might work. I will save these posts and muse on them.
      One last thing, Nathan–I’m not sure I understand what you mean about manipulating language, especially the part about patterns and captions. Could you explain that just a bit more? Thanks.
      I am so thankful for this new subscription blog and I do hope someday to be able to meet some of you.

  5. Lori there’s your answer. Nathan, also, in his ideas (about homework as free floating interaction with any language medium that students might find personally interesting) offers yet another option for you to make things work in the New Tech environment, which would allow it in your situation to be not even in the form of homework but something that the kids could do in class.
    And what Jim is doing (I didn’t make that connection either, Lori) is just top of the line early output if there is such a thing. Nathan, that is just an awesome solution. It gives Lori something to work with. So when this program gets solid over the next year or so, Lori, we might be able to create some documentation here for anyone else who might be in a similar situation via early administratively required output in a CI based program.
    Then teachers wouldn’t have to backpeddle every time they see us. It is the beginning of a kind of compromise with those who believe in lots of forced output early. The thing to really avoid, Lori, obviously, is going to be the fake CI via tech. Where there is very little input ever going on – just playing with gadgets and lots of English and a few minutes of the target language peripherally involved during each class period.
    Heather Frackiewicz does real CI technology, Lori. She is the real deal. Find her on the moretprs list and you can contact here for a lot of ideas about how to use CI with technology. Just do a search on the list for Heather Frackiewicz.
    You have a chance to help a lot of people here. I’ll create the category now and link this thread to it for starters. If you revisit Jim’s posts on all those things that Nathan mentioned, and Nathan if you would resend the recent email where you told me the description of your homework information was – it has scrolled out on me again – and Jim if you have any thoughts on this, anything new or old that would make it easy for Lori to get her hands on right away, please let us know. (When I have more time next year I will spend a lot of time on categorizing posts here.)
    This New Tech idea is going to be a very very important part of this blog’s content over time – it is a very positive response to a very difficult situation which, if Nathan had not said the above, I personally would have dismissed as hopeless. I’ll go set up the New Tech category now. I’ll also make a category for Lori as another way to get to whatever we collect here.

    1. Ben–I had the same idea today about Nathan’s homework idea. I’ve been using his idea with my 8th graders this month and they don’t seem to mind that kind of “homework” at all. As for me, it is the most interesting thing that I grade because I never know what to expect. And right–I could actually do that in class itself as each student has his or her own Mac laptop (part of the New Tech deal).
      This job is temporary–only one year (unless I can radically stop the drop-off in enrollment between years II and III) because of a bubble in enrollment in the sophomore class but I figure that anything I learn new can help me in the future (4 years, 4 different schools so far).
      I’m on the moreTPRS site and Heather’s name is familiar; I’ll look that up.
      I’m so grateful that you are actually setting up a New Tech category–it will make it easier for any of us who have to/want to make the best use of projects that is possible.

      1. Yes New Tech is more easily identified than the more general and rather amorphous and meaningless term Project Based or whatever. Just add to that category whenever you can over the coming year. Later this week, I will try to make the point for 95% input in the early years again as reading and listening. I really think that nobody knows what CI means anymore, as so many teachers have polluted its meaning by injecting large amounts of project/output/tech type stuff – with the exception of Heather and I am sure there are others – and then announcing to everyone in the building that their work is CI and is based on the work of Stephen Krashen. I bet Krashen is just about over that by now. He comes up with the formula that works, and then we all put it into a million prism lenses, blinding others and ourselves, and then the next thing we know we have the current insanity and misinterpretation of what is really a very simple thing. That post will appear here on Wednesday and I’ll be gone to Oklahoma and the Indian language conference without a computer until Saturday. I can’t wait to get there. I feel that those languages, so in trouble, so ancient, convey, for example, more than other (younger) languages which largely convey information. I think that they convey spirit. I think that, in that sense, CI is perfect for them – CI can shine in such a setting, because there is so much going on with sound there, in those languages.

        1. I can’t wait to hear about the Oklahoma conference! I’m totally smitten with languages for their sounds and spirit and the ephemeral piece that cannot be “translated.” I know it is not exactly the same, but I wonder about places like Haiti, where the “education” happens in French. I’ve been learning Haitian Creole for awhile, and there is something visceral and spiritual about this language that I love. And I hate when people say “oh it’s just French spoken incorrectly.” I know that Haitians themselves use French to exclude others and to assert superiority. Of course I am not knocking the delicious French language, just the concept that a child has to learn school things, or even a basic skill like reading, in a language other than the one in which he communicates with his mom. I know this is the case all over the world, the ugly legacy of colonialism. Often the backlash against this causes folks to use language as a barrier, when it seems like it would be much cooler to be able to celebrate, honor and live your native language / mother tongue AND to also learn other languages for the joy of the sounds and to connect to others.
          I hope you have an amazing experience (and birthday!) and I look forward to learning from what you share 🙂

          1. ‘…the delicious French language…”.
            Wow. Yes, but may I say what you imply?
            “…the mentally delicious French language…”.
            Jen you beautifully describe something in language that is much different. Something that we rarely talk about here. Those African and American Indian languages, because they are so old, run roots from the mind into some deeper place within it. I stand in awe of such languages. To me, they represent a higher way of being. I think of them as a pathway to another way of living. One that has been lost.

  6. Thanks Nathan, Lori and Ben. Technology is the current bandwagon, so we need to be able to show that we use it. Lori’s case is an extreme example, but lots of us have situations in which we are “encouraged” (i.e. required) to use technology.
    One of the things I have done for a couple of years is follow the German Soccer League. It lasts from just before school starts until May (last game is today), so it is a year-long project. Each Monday I project the results from the weekend – there’s my technology: Internet, computer, projector – so that we can talk about it. Each student adopts a team and follows that team through the year. They keep a record of the team’s performance and write down names and numbers. Occasionally I will copy a particularly good summary of the weekend and project it for reading. Something I need to do more is simply read the scores aloud so that students have to write them down without seeing them – good interpretive mode practice.

    1. Robert it has been a long time since you described this great sports idea, and I think it was Jim who jumped in a ran with it. If you can find and repost any of those links here they would be most welcome.

  7. I guess what I mean by asking our students to manipulate language rather than produce it comes from something Michele did with her Russian I students last year that occurred to me as a good use of the computer lab. She typed up a basic profile of a person: “My name is Carlos and I come from Saskatchewan. I love to eat tacos on Thursdays and spend my time after school throwing eggs over my house. etc. etc.” (I can’t remember her text but it was a lot more compelling than that). Then in the computer lab she gave all of her Russian I students the assignment to adapt that text however they saw fit. Some people did minor tweaks by swapping out details. Some people rewrote entire sections and really made it their own.
    The main thing about that activity from a CI perspective is that the basic form that she started with allowed everybody to start from the same solid, safe base and just manipulate the text rather than spend all their time trying to remember the verb for “lives.” As a result she got a huge amount of variety and texts that the kids were proud to claim as their own and that everybody had a fun time reading. It’s always easier to edit than create, and Michele leveraged that to get a ton of compelling repetitions.
    I’m starting to do something like this right now with my German III/IV class as this is the time of year when I traditionally write a “Choose your own adventure” story with them (“You are walking to the library and find a student dead on the stairs. THAT’s why she wasn’t in class. Do you run to the office to report her as tardy or do you inspect the body for clues? etc.) If you write this up in a Word document it’s very simple to create hyperlinks around each decision, so the reader just jumps to the chosen action.
    Such a series of making decisions quickly branches off into a bunch of possibilities (one group is planning a zombie invasion, another is having her caught up in dueling mobs, still others are making the murder a diabolical plot by teachers in the school, etc.). But rather than just say “OK everybody, write me a story and translate it!” I’m giving them a bunch of possible paragraphs in German to manipulate and steal phrases out of that they need. (You look closer at the ___ and notice that _____; You get a creepy feeling that ____ is about to _____ and so you _____; Your first thought is that ____ reminds you of ______.) By asking them to manipulate the phrases rather than just randomly produce them on their own I can shoehorn this project into a two week window instead of taking a full month on it.
    If they were to do this in their English class this would be called plagiarism. By allowing–even requiring them–to do it in our classes, however, we can scaffold their output in a way that allows them to experience success quickly and still give it a personalized touch by their selection of details.
    Ben–Will do on the email. What’s really nice about Jim’s ideas is that he is simply positioning himself as the scribe for his classes creativity. By giving his class credit for writing the story, they forget that he was doing all the heavy lifting for them and become blissfully overconfident in their own abilities.
    Robert–One nice side effect of your ongoing Soccer league discussion is that it also gives you a nice tie into German geography and learning what the main cities in Germany are. There’s a bunch of great soccer resources on stepintogerman.org right now in preparation for the Women’s world cup in Germany this summer so hopefully that could grease the wheels of your students’ interest.

    1. Someone commented recently that while some people share great ideas that people like me intuitively feel will work well, Nathan takes that step of making them fit into a context to explain why they work and how they match up with what we know about brain-friendly studies or what the admins are requesting out of us. Having that language to support our methodology can be critical to our survival around here.
      Just another reason I love this blog…I have this idea that by working together, we can come close to making a beautiful picture out of all the puzzle pieces.
      Saving tech ideas that are compatible with TPRS somewhere would be very helpful–
      (PS My text wasn’t too compelling, but it was personalized…it was the bios for our “classroom characters” that the kids had developed. Having been able to “be” those characters, they could then transfer the information to talk about themselves.)

  8. Well Michele and others if you ever feel that a category should be created let me know. It is in the right use of categories that these ideas will be able to be referenced in the future. Today I added categories for New Tech, Lori Fiechter, Scaffolding Output, Manipulation vs. Production of Language, and we already had the Nathan Black/Homework category. I am less concerned about getting too many categories than about losing touch with some of these ideas. The categories can always be cleaned up later.

  9. Jim’s project of student-made story books could instead, or even additionally, be a project of student- made movies and/or narrated slideshows. Some
    Fridays could be used for project work. Who has some good ideas for keeping everyone optimally on task?
    For Robert’s target-language sports CI + discussion, in at least some parts of the world basketball is also very popular, even if not quite so much as soccer. Both France and Spain, for example, have had some very good teams and have produced a few NBA- level players. So come on, Bob, rehash for us how you do your soccer stuff. What other culturally relevant sports might compel interest?

  10. Re student manipulation of texts for learning purposes, never worry about plagiarism. Jean-Paul Sartre himself admits that’s how as a young boy he learned how to write fiction. At certain points he finally felt a need to add additional details or invent links between passages.

    1. Ben Franklin states much the same in his autobiography. He read the Spectator, set it aside, tried to rewrite it, and then tried to improve the writing. He even “took some of the tales and turned them into verse.” (page 11, Dover paperback version. Manipulation of texts is much easier than starting from scratch.

  11. I’ve been absent from the blog for some time now. I’m eager to catch up on all that I’ve missed! A new baby boy Eben has been stealing much of my attention lately 🙂
    I noticed that I was referenced about coming up with the story project. I didn’t get to read all comments in detail unfortunately, but I’ll try to put in my 2 cents.
    I don’t call the Garageband projects (if that is indeed what you’re all referring to) “output” activities. They are projects, that’s for sure, but it is MUCH more input than output, if any at all. Basically I read the story and save it as an audio file. Then I give it to the students and they “jazz it up” for lack of better description. They add sound effects, music, and illustrations to make the thing a solid audio (and visual at times) podcast that we can use for a plethora of input activities. So, it might be just what you’re looking for Lori, projects without the having to sacrifice quality CI.
    I am working on a detailed description of this project as I write this. It will be a session at NTPRS in St. Louis next weekend, and will also be an appendix of my Story Scripts book that I plan to release at the conference as well. I really like Nathan’s ideas too about expanding the idea and even experimenting with some motion picture stuff. Lots of possibilities here. AND, you have more personalized audio resources to give your voice a break in the future!

  12. Oh, I meant to add that Thomas Young was the original inspiration to go forward with this idea. He sent me a what is now Beta version of this idea that he and his students did together, and my students enjoyed it and really listened to it. I’ve just been tweaking and tweaking. Thank Thomas for this one!

  13. Actually Jim too many of us are out of the loop on the Garageband projects. I remember them as being published here in early spring but time is our enemy and things scroll out and we forget them. That is why I am trying so hard to work with the categories. I did a search on it but couldn’t find it. If you can find the the text, send it to us and we can republish it here as a brilliant idea in homework using technology (Lori take note). Then we can categorize it so that you and Thomas’ idea is then categorized under “homework” properly and people can access it.

    1. Just to be clear – the way I see it there are three current heavy hitting homework ideas that really resonate with people using CI:
      – Robert’s sports idea
      – Nathan’s ideas (many expressed in the above thread)
      – Jim’s (garage band idea originally from Thomas Young)
      I would like to get them properly categorized. Then, next year, I am certain that we will see additions to the category.

      1. This project has never been homework for my students. I make sure we devote class time to it, usually about 2-3 hours of it for them to do 1-2 stories with a partner. With my block 90 minute classes, we spend one class practicing and learning to use the program, then 2 more actually making the podcasts for all of our class stories. It’s really pretty smooth, but a Mac lab is necessary for doing it this way.
        Maybe a better category could be Language Activities, or Projects, at least for this one and probably Robert’s sports idea also, but Robert would have to speak to that one.

        1. Many thanks! (And congrats on the new baby, Jim.)
          This sounds like something I could readily use. I know that my students already made podcasts last year for projects (preferring them to Power Points–thank goodness!) so they’ll be a step ahead of me.
          I look forward to seeing the details for these garage band projects. I especially like the idea of the audio part. Gives another dimension to story expansions.

        2. My soccer project is also in class. The only time it becomes “homework” is if students are absent; then they have a German website to go to so they can get the information. It’s the same website we look at in class.

          1. Good. Now that post on the “Bundesliga” is categorized under “In-Class Group Work”. I’m going to try to keep up with this! Searches are great, but only if that bell is ringing in your head. This way, and over time, I can make the categories more and more useful.

  14. So noted. So we have these great ideas and we are already letting them scroll into the past here. My experience is that great ideas for the classroom shared in forums like this one are soon forgotten. We have to fix that because all of us are now in a phase of great creativity as we further unpeel the TPRS onion, and we need to share what is working for us, but in a clear and easily manageable way, so that we can get our hands on it when we need it.
    So how to do this? Now that we have homework as a category (weird!), maybe we can add one as you suggest, Jim, and please when you have time get that description of what is essentially a group activity to us. How about a category called
    In-Class Group Work
    This is really what Lori needs in her format, and we do also if we ever just want to take a break from all the CI delivery that inevitably falls on our shoulders every day in the form of speaking to them and reading.
    Actually Michele Whaley has done some degree of group activities that allow for comprehensible input – I’m thinking right now of her Student Generated Stories, which already has a category here.
    Thanks, Jim, and I’ll see you next week.

  15. After my first week trying to set up a CI within a New Tech classroom (an unholy wedlock, I fear), I discovered a few things about fun and creativity. I’d appreciate any comments.
    My sophomores (I’m used to middle schoolers) had a much higher maturity level, for which I was grateful. However, my first impression was that they were not creative at all. I was wrong. Their first project is to interview one another and then create a fake Facebook page. I introduced the project by interviewing my stuffed plush monkey and letting them choose details. They did great. When it came to their own interviews, I said they could do it as written (my classes are…after school, I…on the weekends, I…) or they could make it up. Some of them ran with it: students who were Greek Gods with classes in trident-throwing, another who was Frodo, another who wanted to work for extraterrestrials when she grew up and make crop circles. I was delighted. There are too many structures–not my choice for a first project in Spanish II, but I think I can make a plan for the next project to limit the structures and make it more CI friendly. Maybe. I was just thrilled that these 15-16 year-olds (most of them) were willing to play the game.
    Here is my comment–and I could be all wet–it seems that New Tech emphasizes creativity, but it is a very adult, business-world kind of creativity. I would call it verging on stodgy. It makes me wonder, if for all their good “prepare them for college and the workforce” intentions, they are squelching the very creativity they say they wish to foster. I wonder.

      1. I agree with the your stodgy creativity comment. Business is a less fertile ground for creativity than say, acting. But it doesn’t matter. YOU are bringing out stuff that is hard to bring out in sophomores – my personal opinion is that tenth graders are very hard to work with in TPRS and I think that Anne Matava agrees with me on that because we have talked about it. So keep on rolling with the Greek Gods and Frodo. My only question is, “Were they (and you) able to stay in the TL during all this?” It seems to me that that would be very hard because every single thing that we do must be based on a very limited amount of structures (3) each day, and those topics might require a lot of new structures (too much) to get everything comprehensible.

        1. Ben–No, I could not stay in TL. That was the problem with this assignment (I didn’t choose this project). I will have to think ahead next week and limit the structures–it would be OK if there were only one story as in a CI classroom, but with 6 interviews going on (I’d walk from table to table to give the weird vocab they needed), it was too much. But I am to severely limit whole class instruction. I can pull out the leader from each group and have them teach the rest. sigh.
          In the TPR gesture/student card part of class (wow, that what I’m afraid of/what makes me unique came just at the right time!), I can stay in TL and they are understanding me (I ditched the 10 fingers and went with Susan Gross’s responses)
          I told them they’ll start timing my English next week–I already have a student signed up for that job in each class. That will keep me honest. Next week, we are also starting one of Blaine Ray’s end of 1st year novels, so that will help get in more CI as well.
          I don’t think I can consider myself a CI teacher this year, considering all the constraints, but at least they’ll be hearing more than they are used to. When I said I don’t do worksheets, a white female told me “But that’s the only way I know that I’ve learned something!” I think I got her to see the difference between learning and acquisition. Or she was just being compliant…

  16. …I am to severely limit whole class instruction…
    We need to learn to be honest in this community. So, I have to say, doing what you said above is impossible. If you have to do that, your students will not acquire the language, or even come close. You may do a lot of mixed language activities and such, to comply with the rules of the school, but it is impossible for the teacher to severely limit whole class instruction in a TPRS classroom.
    Diana Noonan read the new document we are using in Colorado to evaluate teachers and luckily read very closely – there was a line in there (the LEAP document coming from the state legislature not the state department of education) that said that students must speak in class more than the teacher. Diana convinced the people in charge of that program to publish a statement that says that that DOES NOT APPLY to world language classes. You know why? Because the best research we have and our national parent organization say so. We learn languages by listening to them spoken to us in a way that is interesting and meaningful to us over and over and over and in such a way that we focus on the meaing of what we hear and not on the words used to deliver that meaning. People who think that they can design curricula for schools like you are in Lori, and have what is good for science and math be also good for languages, need to wake up and do better research. The one size fits all standardization of education does not apply to language learning.
    I will publish something I got from Anne Matava on this in a minute, but the blog is way too full right now. The focus here now is getting as much information about starting the year out. That is the work of these next few weeks.

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