Parents' Night

One simple idea for parents night is to demo a Three Ring Circus, because you only have usually ten minutes to reach your audience so a story or even PQA is out of the question. I got this from a colleague who feels that Three Rings works with parents:
Last night was middle school curriculum night. We only had a 10 minute slot, so it was very much a sound byte, but I did a micro-mini TPRS demo lesson for the parents! I decided to do it in Haitian Creole because I figured it was likely that nobody knew this language. Anyway, it went really well. I got a couple volunteers up to demo the “3 ring circus.” It was cool. They were all excited and totally engaged! Amazing energy! And total support from the Department Head, who spoke first about how we are transitioning to comprehension based methods, and then she turned the floor over to me to do the demo. I have to tell you that this is HUGE because typically I try to avoid even going to curriculum night. Snore. But this year I offered to do the demo, was excited to go, and was even more excited afterward!
Any other ideas about things that work at Parent’s Night are welcome.



3 thoughts on “Parents' Night”

  1. Elissa this information below can give you a quick refresher at least. We can learn about it by reading about it, until we get some video of someone doing the actual skill so we can actually acquire it.
    Skill #8: Three Ring Circus
    The Three Ring Circus is easy and fun, and it is an effective tool for establishing meaning at any point of any class. It is especially effective at the beginning of the year, and is an excellent first or second day activity. It is not challenging for the students, and it gives some of them a chance to move their bodies and dispel tension that they might feel on the first day back.
    To start, simply write three verbs in the imperative on the board in both the target language and in English. For example:
    1. Raise your arm!
    2. Jump!
    3. Touch your nose!
    After a minute or so of signing, ask (in English) that Student A stand up and go to a corner of the room (one of the three rings of the circus) and perform the actions you command.
    The student at this point may balk, or at least give you a goofy look, and this is the signal for the fun to begin! Just encourage the child to continue the action as you command.
    Get a lot of repetitions before going on to the second and third students, and then just go around to each “ring” encouraging the kids. Keep all three rings going until you ask for a stop. By doing this, you are conveying to the students the idea that class will be fun and that you are in charge of the class.
    It is a good idea to avoid any verbs that may be dangerous or may lead to a fall, like “turn” or “spin” or “run”. Remember, as well, to choose only students who can do this without making a spectacle of themselves. If you make it clear that you are the one in charge during the first days of class it will set the tone for the year, and Three Ring Circus certainly puts you in the role of the “ringmaster”.
    Once things are clear, it is time to alter your commands. Do this in a very energetic way, as one would play Simon Says. The students must change their actions as you alter the commands, never going ‘out of bounds’ with new verbs, only the ones you have already taught.
    Make sure that if you use a new word (left, right, slowly, quickly, raise, lower, leg, hand, etc.) that you write it down on the board with its English translation so that it is clear to all the students. It is best to add in words to commands that they already know.
    This activity usually dies down naturally after five minutes or so, but it is an excellent warm up to classes, especially at the beginning of the year. When the circus is over, you can always ask circled questions of the students about the activities in the three rings, as described above in the section on circling. Three Ring Circus is truly an “oldie but a goodie” in TPRS!

  2. Sounds great, I may have to try it! I’ve found that doing TPR commands at the beginning of the year has helped train the students that I’m the boss. It literally is “I say jump and you jump, that’s how in charge I am”

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