Curriculum Map Fun 1

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28 thoughts on “Curriculum Map Fun 1”

  1. Oh dear! I won’t be able to get to this until the weekend and/or Monday, which is my in service day. In the meantime, ask Skip to send his stuff. He sent me some great examples that I have yet to really dig into, but they are very detailed and are totally CI based, using the novels, etc. I dont see how anyone can argue with reading. But this might be one of those times where you have to give them the lists they want. In this case I would spend the least amount of time possible, give them their lists and then ignore them altogether in my teaching. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Will get back to you soon. Keep breathing!

    1. Thanks, Jen:
      I have Skip’s document. At some point it will be what format they require. Part of the problem is that I have been floating below the radar and not using the textbook – which to them seems like heresy. Of course, I maintain that every word that I use in the classroom is in a textbook somewhere and it’s odd that when working with the various levels and imputing language from level one, the same words come up in both places – my list and the textbook. Go figure! Thanks for offering to help.

  2. Jennifer in NJ

    Hey, chill. I don’t have anything CI related because all of my colleagues would fill that out just the way yours did. We couldn’t even come to an agreement on quarterly assessments. It was a mess. If I can be of help to you, to develop it, let me know. I can email you if you want.

    1. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak


      I m sorry to hear about your predicament. I am in TOTAL agreement with Jen,
      don’t waste your energy trying to prove something they won’t get anyway. Just “give them the lists they want and ignore them in your teaching”. That is my motto when dealing with people with no clue as to what we re doing ( most of administrators) . It’ll save you from some major headaches.

      But if you decide to try at it anyways, I would contact contact Grant Boulanger ( Obviously his would be in Spanish but I m sure you could adapt it to French easily. Anyway, I doubt they ‘ll read it in its entirety. I know he was working on a CI based curriculum map b/c him and I were exchanging ideas on how to go about it back in October/November. Marybeth also has one . So if you have time, get all the ones that have been created and take what you need from each. You don’t need to start from scratch, just peruse the ones you can get a hold of and copy and paste.

      Courage, Chill!

  3. By “curriculum map” I am guessing the idea is to create a “students can do this by week 2 and this by week 8 and this by week 2 of year 2,” and so on. As you say this is super easy to make look nice with a grammar syllabus, even though we know that does nothing for real acquisition.

    Something similar in TPRS would probably only be able to spell out target structures that would be mastered by certain time periods throughout the first two years. This sounds like where you are going with it. I don’t have much else to offer, unfortunately. Have you tried keying stuff to Matava’s or Tripp’s scripts? Like “by the end of the first semester of the first year, we will have done such and such scripts”?

    1. James, thanks for your reply. SWBAT statements seem logical, but I was told they are goals. According to “them” ( my attitude stinks, yes?), a curriculum map is a snapshot that anyone could look at at any time to see what I am out to. I was told that the more vague my map was, the more flexibility I would have. Being able to organize by semester made it easier and I put the disclaimer at the bottom of the map that any of the concepts, etc on the map could be covered in either semester. To me it’s a no-brainer. The same structures come up again and again, unlike a scope and sequence approach where the chapter topic and vocab are covered, tested – then wash rinse and repeat with the next chapter. I am in Tampa with the grandson and I think I left my copy of semester 1 at home. I will re-type and send it on as soon as I can get my hands on it! Thanks for your help.

  4. This post truly pains me, Carol. I hate that you have to go through this bullshit. Personally, it would be hard for me to “just give them what they want”. Things will never change if we keep doing that, and your energy will be so negatively drained from participating in such an inauthentic and ridiculous exercise. The advice to contact Grant seems wise to me. True, he works in a different situation where it appears “progress” toward TCI has been made. However, I’m sure he can give you insights that should set the paradigm and process for making this map a bit closer to your beliefs and experience.

  5. Carol,

    It is a real shame when we are the minority in all of this. It is amazing that these people don’t read what research has to say about acquiring languages! When I was at my high school several years ago I was in the same predicament. Like you I did not want to teach the “grammar way” and I didn’t. It was a real fight at first but when my department chairs 1st year spanish class, which already had a semester with her had to be switched to me for some reason things changed a little bit. most of the kids that were in her class and now switched to mine said they learned more in a week than they did the whole semester with her. Well that got around and she started to change her attitude about the way I was teaching. With that I was able to say little by little things that research said about language acquisiton at meetings of course She and the rest would agree and then spin what I said into ” that is exactly what we do” and we would get no where. I eventually left there. For me It is important that we stand up for the right way to teach. But we have to be careful and try to work with ” the others” as much as possible and slowly work them into the ” right” way. I would say do what they want knowing that you are also going to do what you need to for the kids because it is the right thing to do. Somehow someway something will open up where you can explain little by little why you do what you do. I know I am just rambling but I know how you feel. Hopefully my little story can uplift your spirit a little. It was always words from others that uplifted me when I was down. Things are tough everywhere for all of us because we are the ” minority”. I will be losing my job at my site. I am seeking a Spanish job somewhere. I think we need to band together and have more of us working together at the same site that are like minded. I would love to work with another TPRSer somewhere. I have been teaching TPRS for 10 years. I think that is partly our answer to situations like this Carol, we need to get others in our site that are TPRSers so that we have more support.

    1. Darren said:
      With that I was able to say little by little things that research said about language acquisiton at meetings of course She and the rest would agree and then spin what I said into ” that is exactly what we do” and we would get no where.

      They are all the same! My colleague says “that’s what I do” or “I do that too” all the time. There is a defensiveness about it, so I normally remain silent, but last week I had to self-defend a little and it was very uncomfortable. I am sure there is not one of us who have not heard how much more they have learned in a CI class that they ever learned in a traditional one. It’s amazing! I am currently re-reading Krashen’s “Foreign Language Education The Easy Way” . I paid $5 for my copy. It’s out of print but there are copies available on Amazon for $49!! I wish he would reprint it. I’d give a copy to all the dinosaurs where I work. Thanks for your story, Darren. I don’t mind being “different” but just leave me alone! If there is an opening in Spanish and you are anywhere near Philadelphia, I will let you know but you could be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire! The funny part is that at the end of the day, my curriculum map will neither increase the enrollment, improve the standardized test scores nor the reading abilities of anyone EXCEPT for the French kids spend a ton of time reading which is the stated goal of the school. Odd, I think!

      1. I asked Krashen last week if, since it is out of print, he would let me publish the entire thing here. He told me that Contee is reprinting it. It’s not that long a book and each paragraph is gold. You could sit with it at one of those meetings and ask them to say something, anything, and you could randomly open “The Easy Way” and whatever you read out would have a high percentage chance of completely blowing their point out of the water. This whole thing is just so odd.

          1. Has anyone heard any more about “The Easy Way”? (Out of print book by Krashen that Contee is reprinting)

  6. Instead of listing grammar points that will be “mastered” (i.e., gorged and purged) by a certain time, have you tried listing structures on a timeline? Instead of just saying Byrce’s key structures, can you list them in the approximate order you might follow and then throw that onto a calendar?

      1. Well three structures for every “cycle” of pqa-story-read. Are you on the one week or two week schedule per cycle? It depends how fast you want to say you’ll “cover” the three structures. You can always lie a little, too.

  7. I’m glad you have picked up on the two week schedule James. It’s kick ass. It’s like, a totally taxonomy, dude. From three structures on a Monday to the stars by a week from Friday. It’s gear. I’m gear for making it up.

  8. Jennifer in NJ

    So I bought the Mark Davies book and cannot find the suggestions here (were they here or somewhere on another TPRS blog?) about how to backwards plan with it. I know teachforjune kind of talks about it but….any suggestions here? How far down the list of verbs should I go? Am I making my point?

  9. Jennifer – check out Carrie Toth’s blog “Somewhere to Share” – she is great with backwards planning and Understanding by Design. Also check out Martina Bex’s blog. Lots of great ideas – both Spanish teachers.

    If you can make it up to Maine, we are having our Teaching with Comprehensible Input Conference up her Oct. 16, 17 and 18 – in Lewiston, Maine. The link is somewhere here – but it’s not too far from NJ, and Carrie is presenting on Understanding by Design ….backward planning for the TCI classroom!!!

  10. OMG. I am supposed to lead a group of five Russian teachers to develop a “year’s framework” (curriculum map in so many words?), an overview of what each year’s study should attain, and recommended textbooks this Friday, October 23. I am dreading the day’s inservice for many reasons. And I’m completely unprepared. I’m going to skip the textbook discussion here. There are no good textbooks written for Russian learners in high schools.

    I have a huge problem with the diversity of the group that will be meeting. There are twists that are possibly different from what you are facing in your schools, but no better or worse. I just never expected that this particular part of the new world order would catch up to me before I retired.

    We have regular and immersion Russian in our schools. The immersion program comes to my school, so we have two very different groups of Russian teachers. The loudest teacher will be the one in charge of immersion, though she has never taught “regular” Russian. Parents of her students have repeatedly tried to get the school to let me teach at least one of the high school immersion classes. She has explained that my Russian isn’t good enough. I agree, but I could teach them reading. She gives them incomprehensible input all the time.

    That teacher (EF) is also in charge of the middle school teacher (NT) whose 1A/1B kids feed into my program. EF insists that NT use a Russian-written, grammar-laden text for her middle school beginners. The program has gone from 30+ kids in each class (as when I taught it) to 13, and only two or three continue to my high school Russian class. I’ve tried to explain that a different approach would strengthen the program. EF argues that a different approach would mean weaker students. I disagree, but that’s a different battle. She said, “What’s the use of teaching them bad Russian through the TPRS method just to get bigger classes?”

    The other two teachers (from another high school and the middle school that feeds the program) use traditional methods in their Russian classes. One (VE) has four levels in one class. She passes out textbooks and circulates among groups, dedicating each day of the week to a different level, with a shared activity on Fridays. I’ve explained that if she could get some CI training, she could differentiate and teach a single lesson plan, but she’s got three other preps and no time for the kind of study we have to do in our first years of CI. The other (MF) is still on the alphabet, nearly a quarter into the year, with her first-year kids. We met yesterday to get on the same page.

    MF is supposed to attend English inservice on Friday, but I’m begging her to come to ours, because I need support. She doesn’t believe in teaching grammar either. I’m not really sure what she does, but she teaches colors, numbers, animals, etc. At least it’s not from a textbook, and she could argue that it’s inappropriate for MS kids to be spending their first two years learning all the grammar of Russian.

    NT is completely under EF’s thumb, and probably believes, as Russians do, that a student must have all the grammar solid before starting any other work in Russian. It’s her first year of teaching in an American school. She’s the third teacher in that position in three years. Just that should tell EF and the principal something.

    All this confusing background is to say that I need help desperately. Does anyone have a curriculum map that works well for both CI and traditional?

    My own department head says that the point of these inservices is to make sure that everyone in every language is doing the same thing at the same time. “We all have to be teaching ser and estar in the first year, things like that.”

    I plan to argue for following proficiency level descriptions, but even those are obviously loose. First year should be able to demonstrate reading and listening at the Novice Mid level. Second- and third-year students should be able to demonstrate Novice High. Third- and fourth-year should be working in Intermediate low. The teacher should be scaffolding instruction so that all levels of students are moving toward Intermediate Mid and Intermediate High, depending on their personal speed of language acquisition and their first-language abilities. (I have students who can’t put together strings of coherent sentences in English, as dictated by Intermediate Mid. There’s no way they’re going to be able to do that in Russian.)

    VanPatten and other linguists say that we can’t force order of acquisition; we don’t really even know what it is. They say that speed of acquisition is different for every student, and we don’t know how to change it; we do know that different students will acquire at different rates. That’s such a good argument for mixed classes… They say we can’t learn rules… I wish I could make our teachers watch the VanPatten videos before they come on Friday, but I can’t even suggest it because I’m only in charge of asking for ideas and recording our group’s agreement.

    I’m hoping Carol will read this – on her birthday, yet!! Happy Birthday, Chill!! If you have documents that you can send me, please do.

    Please forgive the long rant. I’m beside myself (and have a bunch of grading to do because the end of the quarter was Friday).

  11. One more thing: I love the idea of a timeline of structures, but that would look like it was too easy for the immersion folks, and probably too intimidating to the traditional teachers. Example: as we talked yesterday (with an elementary immersion teacher who gets all this), I was asking the elementary teacher to write texts for our second year classes. I was explaining which high frequency vocabulary she could use. The traditional teacher broke in to say that she shouldn’t use “loves” and “likes” because those require different cases – like in Spanish, sort of – and it is too confusing for kids to be learning in second year.

    My first-year kids understand both of those. They aren’t going to get “likes” correct for a while, but it will probably be sooner than if I don’t use one of the structures until year 3.

    Why oh why??

    1. This is what I imagine: You’d all have to decide on where you want to get by June.

      Focus on proficiency. The ACTFL proficiency descriptors will not be appropriate, because they are too insensitive to the small amount of growth that happens in 1 year. That’s why the AAPPL test actually divides Novice into 4 sublevels and Intermediate into 5 sublevels. But I am not supporting that test, since from what I’ve seen it looks thematic and would require a lot of guessing.

      It looks to me that once students are able to speak (not accurately) in past, present, and future, then they show signs of the Advanced ACTFL level, which means they receive an ACTFL rating of Intermediate-Mid or higher. That’s good for us, since our students can do this much much earlier than traditionally-taught students, but it also suggests a flaw in the ACTFL rating system.

      Make the June goal all about communication with the highest frequency language, not specific themes. And not about specific grammar – this one may require education of the Natural Order.

      What seems most logical to me is to say that in 1 year of instruction students would be able to fluently output with 100 word families and fluently comprehend 250 word families. I’m making those numbers up. But they seem reasonable to me to set as minimums and leaves plenty of space to be flexible and use additional language that is chosen because of its personalized interest to the student group. It may make sense that those vocabulary amounts not be linear, i.e. every level up has a higher number of words expected, since it makes sense to me that once more of the mental representation, the implicit structure, has been acquired, the faster the vocabulary development.

      Now, once you’ve decided on the goal, it makes no sense to me to require everyone to stick to the same sequence, so long as everyone gets where they’re supposed to be by the end. But you could just go in order of frequency here. 10-20 more word families* to fluently output per month and 25-50 to fluently comprehend. Plus, additional personalized vocabulary.
      *Word family includes the different persons and tenses of a verb.

      1. I really appreciate the helpful and kind support!

        I do want to jump in on ACTFL Proficiency levels. They are more accurate than one might think. Part of the Russian AP test (not administered through College Board) is an official OPI, so I’ve been preparing kids for that for years, and I have to say that the results we get back are usually right on. My AP kids are almost always at the Intermediate Mid level, and that’s the level I have also grudgingly given them, because they don’t operate at the Advanced level more than half the time.

        I agree that the levels aren’t subtle enough for our classrooms. But it’s important to remember that they measure demonstration of the ability across eight to ten major topics, rather than whether students can produce the grammar at all. My kids can tell stories like nobody’s business, and can often manipulate the cases within those stories. But if you ask them to tell you what they’re going to do this weekend, what they want to do in their summer, how they will study for an upcoming test, and so on, they lose that control.

        The other hallmark of the advanced level is that students have to be able to support opinions in paragraph-level form (with logical transitions and control of grammar). It’s been noted that American high school students are often not beyond Intermediate level in English until at least their senior year, unless you count the debate team. My own (lower level) English students write at that “Advanced” level only with serious scaffolding from me. And since Intermediate High ranking means that the students are operating on the Advanced level 50 percent or more of the time, it’s tough to get there. Our immersion students are showing Intermediate mid/high after 12 years of Russian. Even heritage speakers in my classes who have been well-educated in Russian (not just by me) have tested at Intermediate High. It’s a cognitive thing as well as a language piece.

        A recent large-scale study showed that most language students acquire only Intermediate low after four years. I doubt that the researchers sought out TPRS teachers…

        I love the idea of word families. I will probably push for that.

        Part of my comments were not clear…all language classes don’t have to be in lockstep; the individual languages are supposed to be though. All the Russian classes are supposed to be able to get to the same place by the end of the year, and in case of transfers, the kids are supposed to be able to move from one school to another. (That doesn’t happen in Russian like it does in Spanish; for one thing, only two schools offer Russian at the high school level.)

        Thanks to all again. Martina suggested I write the Yahoo group, but I’m loathe to put comments that truly explain the situation in an open group like that. I appreciate the closed nature of this gathering, as well as the truly, crazily intelligent remarks and suggestions.

        I’ll let you know what happens. The main thing is not to get saddled with a book that I’m not going to use. The other is not to be presented with a grammar list. I’m looking for research from Betsy’s daughter as fast as I can!

  12. Michele,
    I know you are expressing frustration and probably none of the following will actually help. So…just some thoughts of varying degrees of worth:

    “my Russian isn’t good enough”
    How good does it have to be?
    I remember hearing the director of French Immersion in Holliston, MA. She said they were surprised to find that, although the teachers spoke French with an accent, the students developed good accents.

    “Require different cases”
    Do they (the verbs and their accompanying case-bearers) sound so similar that they can be easily confused? If not, it won’t matter to the students how case different they are. It will only matter what the different meanings are of the different chunks of sound. If they do sound confusingly similar, then it might be better to introduce “loves” later and refine likes with “likes more” or “likes a lot.”

    “We all have to be teaching ser and estar in the first year”
    Of course we do. They are high-frequency verbs. It is hard to describe someone, say how they are doing, and where they are without these two verbs. Barb is (es) a boxer and she is (está) happy because she is (está) in the ring.

    “make sure that everyone in every language is doing the same thing at the same time”
    Does every language have everything? If they were identical in grammar they would be foreign codes, not foreign languages. Does Russian have ser/estar? French doesn’t. Does Spanish have cases? Barely. Not enough to even use the term “case” when doing grammar discussions. What about expressing similar ideas in different languages. “He is called” in English is a passive. The common Spanish equivalent is a reflexive (se llama). Do we teach “he is called” in the section on reflexives or in the section on passives? Or does everybody just give up and get on the same page of their different textbooks? (By the way, what is on page 23 of each of the textbooks?) [Robert gave a similar response on another post.]

    “a student must have all the grammar solid before starting any other work in Russian”
    Is that the way the do things in Moscow? All of the little Chekovs toddle around on their solid grammar books before they let them listen, talk, read and write? Does the language KGB come and haul all of the baby Putins off to the Grammar Gulag where they must do their grammar exercises before are allowed their daily rations, so that they can get solid grammar before they are released to go out and to “other work in Russian?”
    Do they not have loving families where kids grow up in language communities? And would they not be like normal communities where the experienced speakers make grammatical errors and use substandard speech, and nobody corrects Anton’s irregularities and linguistic idiosyncrasies. And do they not enjoy them and treasure them long after they have learned to communicate quite well and have been sent off to grammar school.

    A final comment: a lot of talk about grammar is limited to morphology (discussion of case and conjugation). But a full grammatical analysis includes discussion (and mastery) of phonology. How will they ever be able to do any other work in Russian without having fully memorized the whole range of Russian sounds and been able to demonstrate that they understand them by properly labeling bilabial stops, glottal stops, velar fricatives and the like? After all, should we really avoid teaching them improperly labeled phonology just to keep are numbers a bit above zero?

    I hope someone has some real help. Hopefully you can convince some people that 1) they are aiming for the impossible in so many ways, 2) there is only one way to acquire language, and that 3) given the short amount of time for the non-immersion courses that they have to be treated differently. Can you ask that everyone come to agreement on the high-frequency vocabulary in each language, rather than try to align page numbers? (As I recall, Robert was pushing for this strategy in a similar situation. By similar, I mean the “all languages on the same page” nonsense, not the “bear” mascot.

    1. When you put it in those terms, it’s ridiculous to think that thinking people say these things!

      However, it is also weird to me to not really be able to say clearly what a kid should be able to do after x years in Russian. For me, it’s always, “It depends.” It depends on the level of motivation, the speed with which that kid can acquire, the ability I have to teach that class either for my own personal issues or for the ones the kids bring with them, and other complex issues.

      I’ll let you know what happens.

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