Parents Night Request

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23 thoughts on “Parents Night Request”

  1. I explained the method because I didn’t want any parent to come back to administration saying, he doesn’t give homework or exercises in a workbook etc. I think next time, I’ll do a CWB activity. Better to show them than to explain. I think that I read something that Susan Gross did that she said always was a big hit. It was a mini story. You might try looking at her website.

    Ben, do you know what I am talking about. I’ll look around to see if I can find it.


  2. This thread will really help me out also. My B2S Night is Sept. 18th and I was just thinking the same thing. I think I’ll do CWB and what if we were to just give the parents a handout that serves as an overview with method explanation, etc. as they leave the room?

  3. I was encouraged by our administrator to show, rather than tell this year, so I did a mini-story. I only prefaced it with one or two lines about how we’re using a new paradigm of language that holds off on the verb conjugations and grammar worksheets until students have had a chance to acquire some of the language like children do with their first language, and that I was going to demonstrate it to them. I had a total of 10 minutes, so I started with 4 phrases on the board:
    quiere comer (s/he wants to eat)
    le da (s/he gives to him/her)
    tiene hambre (s/he has hunger or is hungry)
    tiene (s/he has)

    I quickly defined them on the board for the parents (telling them that if they were a student they would copy them down), and then we quickly created actions (quiere comer was someone shoveling food into their mouth as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks, and tiene hambre was the rubbing of the tummy accompanied by a loudly growling stomach). I went through them a few times, and paired some of them together so that they had to act them out in sequence. I told the parents that if we had more time, I would ask them to close their eyes to check if they knew the phrases. All of this took about 4 minutes.

    When parents sat down, I either asked for volunteers (accidentally using the word “victim” before correcting myself, of course) or picked the last two to take a seat and motioned for them to come up to the front of the room. In addition to the 4 phrases, I had written two other words on the board (el tigre and la jirafa).
    I asked the two victim/volunteers to decide which of them was the tiger and which was the giraffe, and proceeded to hand each of them a previously hidden animal hat of their respective animal (purchased beforehand through Oriental Trading Company) to put on (accompanied with the comment to be sure to look at the invisible Youtube camera positioned up in the corner of the room). At this point, I began circling on the identity of the animals. Is she a giraffe? No. Is she a tiger? Yes. Is she a giraffe or a tiger? Is he a tiger? No. etc., etc., etc.

    Then I started the story. One of the animals is hungry. Clase, quien [I point to the question word on my wall] tiene hambre? Tiene hambre la jirafa? No. Tiene hambre el tigre? Si. Quiere comer? Si. During the circling, I handed the giraffe a series of plastic food items [circling the word “tiene” with the words sandwich, pizza, espaguetis, hamburguesa] that the tiger either does or does not want to eat (“quiere comer”) depending on the class preference. The class also decided whether the giraffe gives (“le da”) each of the items to the tiger or not. Then, as the bell rang, I tied off the story with a knowing smile and the statement that the tiger is still hungry, but doesn’t want to eat the hamburger, pizza, etc. Instead, “El tigre quiere comer la jirafa”.

    On the whole, I have a very pleasant set of parents to work at my school, and they were just howling with laughter the entire time (beginning with the creation of the actions when I made them have their tummies growl louder and shovel food into their mouths more vigorously). In fact, my administrator happened to walk by just as the parents were doing the tummy rubbing, and then later with the hats on their heads, and he almost fell down laughing, too.

    This might not work at every school. The atmosphere at our school is very positive, and the playfulness was welcomed. In fact, I had numerous kids coming to me during the next few days telling me how their parents had commented on how much they had enjoyed it. So, if this works for anyone else, please use it!!!

      1. Glad to hear you like it. If you end up going with it, let me know how it turns out. I’d love to hear how being silly with parents can or can’t be transposed into different educational settings.

  4. What I have been doing and it has worked so well for me is this. I either hand the parents a sheet (see it below) when they come in or have it ready on the desks.

    Complete the following quiz:

    Answer the following questions quickly

    1. I can follow directions in French. Oui Non

    2. I know the names of body parts in French Oui Non

    3. I can understand French when it is spoken to me for at least 5 minutes.

    Oui Non


    Complete the following quiz:

    Answer the following questions quickly

    1. I can follow directions in French. Oui Non

    2. I know the names of body parts in French Oui Non

    3. I can understand French when it is spoken to me for at least 5 minutes.

    Oui Non

    I ask them to fold the paper along the dotted line and only answer one side. Usually (unless they know French) their answers are all no to the three questions. then I ask them to stand up and I do TPR for 5 minutes using 4 or 5 body parts and 2 verbs. for instance touch your nose/ touch your toes/ touch your mouth/ear , close/open your eyes ( whatever pleases you but keeping it to body parts since it is what s asked on their quiz).
    Once we’ve TPR’d it for a good 7 minutes and they feel really good ( they usually
    love it!) I ask them to flip the sheet and take the quiz (same one) . It s great , it goes from all NO to all Yes and it is very powerful! TPR is sooooo powerful the first time you do it (it only gets boring when you do it over and over again)
    Parents love this!
    I can’t do PQA, 10 minutes is just not enough but I found that in 10 minutes ( which is what we have ) it is perfect for TPR.

  5. I do TPR in my classes, especially my Latin class, as I find that it is easier at times, and allows me to teach more vocabulary. Is that really all that different from the 3 rings circus activity.

    For 3 ring circus, you simply TPR 3 phrases, put one person in a corner and ask questions about them, then put another person in another corner, continue asking questions to the class and to them, and then put a 3rd person in the corner and have them do it and continue asking questions. Am I missing anything?

    What would be funny and appropriate activities for parents to do on parent night?

  6. I had about 10-15 minutes last year and did a little demo:
    with looks at, eats, and wants
    i had a bowl of chocolate and a little scenario evolved:

    parent 1 eats chocolate. parent 2 doesn’t eat chocolate. parent2 wants chocolate. p2 looks at p1’s chocolate (not at p1) with binoculars. p1 eats chocolate fast. p2 cries.

    i think is was something like this– will lots of circling and having the whole group gesture…
    it was perfect for a short time. the parents loved it!

  7. Flash Update – Sabrina, I copied your exercise with my first two classes, one Latin, one Spanish, and the parents ate it up. At first they did NOT want to do the gestures. But eventually their seriousness broke down, and we were all laughing by the end.


    thanks so much!

  8. I did touch your nose, raise your hand, and scratch your head. I wanted to do all body parts, easy movements, and nothing too embarrassing. Also, this way I could mix up the orders by switching the body part – and then everyone gets a laugh at the end when I tell them to raise their nose.

  9. So, I had to repeat the process today for my upper school parents. Only half the classes, and half the parents since the classes are made up of more MS kids.

    All good, until the final class, when I had one very persistent parent asking me about the lack of grammar focus in the class. I gave her the typical stuff about the focus being on communication (see AP exam and ACTFL standards) with grammar being presented in context. Still she persisted. She stayed after the class (my last), talking with the teacher who shares the room with me.

    She wasn’t particularly offended by the methodology, but she framed it as a concern about what would happen next year. Are the other teachers on board with this? (no) Will she be well prepared for the demands of that class? (maybe). I would have really loved to say that I was preparing her to use the language (not fill out grammar sheets) and that if the other teachers are not doing that, it is their problem not mine. But I bit my tongue.

    I told her that no, not every teacher in the school teaches in exactly the same way. We are not monolithic. I also told her that I am teaching for a deeper acquisition of the language, rather than the memorization for tests that almost never survives summer break. My kids will see all the forms in the past tense repeatedly (much more than a regular class) even if we aren’t conjugating. Honestly, I think my kids will be better prepared for any kind of class and I told her that.

    She was still concerned as she left, and on a certain level I can understand that. These kids come from a beginning MS level class that was all about conjugating, and most likely will be going back to that at the 2 level in high school. I am simply the freak in the middle doing my best to motivate kids, expose them to language, and hopefully help them acquire some basic structures. Would her kid be better off in the future grammar classes if she was in one right now? I would like to think not, but I don’t feel 100% confident in it.

  10. This kid needs to either be in another class or be doing a special side dish in the Amsco grammar book all year. You need to differentiate here. I vote for getting her out. Call the parent back, and set it up. See what happens.

  11. Interesting…I teach in a highly-educated, high-powered community where parents want to know everything! I haven’t done much of a demo in recent years, because giving 5 speeches in 75 minutes doesn’t give me a lot of time! But parents seem happy to hear what I have to say, because they can see at home what their kids are learning. I spoke about Krashen and TPRS at our last faculty meeting and had to admit that I fell on my face last year with my beginners with two parents among the faculty. It all worked out…and in the end, everyone is excited. I even have a family moving to Taiwan in January, and the mother even did research about TPRS for Chinese and French for her kids while they are away! Sometimes the proof is in the pudding…

  12. …I fell on my face last year with my beginners with two parents….

    I’m not sure this was true. You will come to a point with this where you realized that it is not your job to convince, but their job to understand, to clarify, to listen to you with open and not judging heart.

    Keep fighting. You are one of the group who has taken this stuff – over little more than a year – and run with it. You are to be congratulated. You fearlessly sent in video.

    If anyone fell on their faces it was possibly those two parents. Who are they to judge you?

    1. Two of our teachers are also parents of current 5th graders. I admitted in front of them that I felt that my progress was less than adequate with that group. However, when one of those parents tells me her daughter fills out the grocery list in French and speaks to her in French and sees the year as a success for her daughter, I feel pretty good!

  13. I just came home from our parent night. I did the above-mentioned: wants to eat, is hungry, gives, has, tiger and giraffe. It worked! The parents seemed to really “get” the joy and fun that is possible in my classroom. We’ll see how well it sticks but I did hear parents say “I’d love to be in a classroom like this,” “That was fun”. A drop in the bucket I’d say, but I’ll allow myself one little pat on the back.

  14. Hmm. Which group to join? The crazies and the freaks or the old model of disciplined boneheads who think that life is meant to be hard and then you die. We are teachers, y’all, and we end up conveying the one or the other to our kids, who aren’t stupid and who get it. When we are teachers, we convey messages about life in spite of ourselves. So using comprehension based stories is not just a way of teaching, it’s a way to convey hope and success to kids, to show them that learning can be fun. Stories allow us to do that. They allow us to honor kids and allow them to have fun and experience success. The old way was not just a way to teach – it conveyed something deep about life to kids every day. It conveyed to kids that conjugating verbs and all that bullshit was important. It taught kids that they can be wrong. I like what the new way conveys more than what the old way conveys. The old way sucked. But to be able to do this, we have to maybe be crazy AND brave, Jen….

    1. Ditto! I think a lot parents are excited to see that we are approaching language in a different way. I have so many say to me that their kids feel good about French, and exactly what you said, Jennifer: “I wish my foreign language experience had been like this.” When they don’t see it, they are afraid of something different. But when they see how it works and if kids are engaged, then that’s half the battle.

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