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22 thoughts on “Question”

  1. I think doing stories is the only way to go in that short-term situation. No, they won’t acquire much in 10 weeks, but they would get even less in the traditional grammar-grind mode.
    And I’m just thinking about what would happen if we applied that ‘all the way to Spanish 3’ logic to other classes. Like, we just expect kids to go into higher-level math, English, and science classes, right? No one is impressed when a student progresses from Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-cal, and Calculus. (Okay, maybe I would be impressed with Calculus because math is my bugaboo.) It’s just the way things are supposed to be. Why is Spanish supposed to be so much harder than math?

  2. I think Ben is right in saying that the other teacher quitting because grammar is unworkable under the circumstances is actually an opening for you to do whatever you want, so long as you don’t call it something, like CI or TPRS, which might draw too much attention.

  3. To speak briefly to relationships:
    Enthusiastically support the wisdom of your colleague in not teaching Spanish. Agree that teaching that way – the way that you have taught in the past as well – will not work on the quarter system in 10-week chunks. That’s why you are switching to a different way of teaching, one that aligns with new research and understanding of second-language acquisition.
    Your predecessor was a good teacher (in the same way that Susan Gross was a good teacher before TPRS), and both you and he recognize that the new curricular configuration requires a different approach to teaching Spanish. The difference is that your predecessor chose not to overhaul his teaching method – a perfectly valid choice – whereas you are excited to explore this “new” method (which is not really so new) and see how it fits with the new organization.
    In other words, use your predecessor’s wisdom in leaving the Spanish classroom as an argument in favor of what you are doing with CI. If the recognized expert couldn’t do it the old way, why would anyone expect you to even try? In addition, you continue to build him up rather than tear him down and can potentially make him an ally. He will recognize that what you are doing is totally different, but he already recognizes that the situation is different. Capitalize on that.

    1. I enjoyed reading what Ben wrote. He has some valid and encouraging points. I think that Robert has given wonderful advise on how to frame the situation with the people in your school.

  4. Hi Carrie! I totally agree that you should just go for it, but don’t label yourself as “doing CI or TPRS” if that makes you more comfortable. I do know that there is at least one TPRS Spanish teacher at Hellgate High School and also at Sentinel High School in Missoula. I teach French at Sentinel (though I’m on paternity leave until January…). I just started using CI and TPRS last year, but I’m all in. Of course, I’m the only French teacher at my high school, so I can pretty much do what I want as long as the kids, parents, and admin are happy. I also know that the French teacher at Big Sky is on board with TPRS as well. So, you’re not alone! I would just say that you’re introducing them to the language while emphasizing communication and games over grammar. Particularly since it’s only 10 weeks per class the students can’t really be expected to remember much grammar anyway (as the previous teacher can attest). Du courage!

    1. Hello and congratulations on new bébé!
      Thank you for the info. That is great to know about local CI teachers. I look forward to meeting more of the MCPS language teachers : )
      I had emailed my question to Mr. Slavic who then posted it here. I have to say I am fairly mortified at having my name and location out there, especially given the nature of some of the reactions. Please let me be clear: I was in no way deriding my predecessor for a decision which was as well based on additional valid and personal reasons. Said person IS a great teacher! : )
      I am slowly implementing these new teaching skills. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Consider a novel. Teaching from a book or other text has smoothed things over with administrators for me – no problems so far.
    There are many options for books that work with TPRS. When you talk to administrators, just emphasize this, and like Ben says don’t actually say “TPRS.” Search for “novels” and Ben has lots of resources linked. Graphic novels or wordless graphic novels work too. Above The Clouds (almost wordless -nothing Post-Its can’t fix) is precious and The Arrival by Shaun Tan (completely wordless) is a work of art.
    You might get creative about what “text” is (Common Core folks tell us this is okay). Today, my kids spent the first 30 minutes doing a MovieTalk with this classic French fable: Then, we spent 60 minutes with similar structures/vocabulary making up a story. Today, Honey Boo Boo tried to eat ever-increasing amounts of cheese curls to get bigger than the Hulk. Super-intellectual, right?
    Administrators know that this week I am studying Les Fables by Jean De La Fontaine, but I haven’t mentioned “TPRS” because they don’t know how to process that. I can explain it if I need to, but I instead focus on what they can relate to: TEXT. As much as possible, throw around the word “text” as in: “creating co-textual support with an alternate version of the text” and “recycling vocabulary and target structures from the text” blah blah blah.

    1. Great.
      How does one teach from a novel exactly?
      Do you still incorporate the fundamental strategies of PQA, gestures,TPRS and ask a story with working a novel? I.e. do side stories or circling of structures from the book as you come across them?
      Thanks so much!

  6. Have you asked the administration why they decided to change from a sem/yr classes to quarter classes? They may have something to share that will free you up to pursue a middle-school approach rather than a HS prep course.
    And as has been said, it is only 10 weeks. That is an introduction. The best introduction is the feeling that they can understand Spanish.
    If it is important to show what you are doing, you have a list of verb forms you are using. In most people’s minds, verb forms are grammar. So if they know you are doing verbs, they know you are doing grammar. But this is an introduction to verbs, so we need to limit the forms to, let’s say I and she, because that is what their middle school minds can handle (it is what my adult mind can handle, too). How can it properly be called an introduction if the kids are responsible for the entire conjugation?

  7. I’d view this as a chance to provide a solid foundation for high school. After loads of exposure to the super 7 verbs and basic nouns (to be, have, go,want, like, need, be located in/feel) etc they will have a basic platform for the future.
    They will also be much better prepared for the grammar grind of high school if the basics are hammered in via a few good stories and lots of slow smart PQA. If you must say anything to the grammarians, I would say something like “complicated grammar– like conjugating verbs– is very important, but can’t meaningfully be done (or be interesting to) 5,6,7th graders, so we are going to do our grammar work through story listenign and vocab decoding.”

  8. Oh my gosh! I just started middle school this year – 6th, 7th, and 8th. There is no way they can handle grammar. Well, the 8th graders – a little. But I was trying to explain the difference between tú and Usted to my 6th graders the other day and quickly stopped when I saw their eyes glaze over!

  9. don’t know where else to put this list – seems tangentially appropriate here – Ben can find a place for it – but I got/compiled this list of wordless picture books, many of which you could find at your local library. Post-it’s are great, but these allow for story spinning without any prescribed text, or need to write/cover existing text:
    My favorite wordless book for my classroom so far is ’10 minutes until Bedtime’ (yes, it comes in Spanish (title):

    1. Hello and thank you.
      So I have been doing much study-prep regarding PQA and Circling, and Immediate Immersion but as yet (just now starting 2nd quarter) have not started any CI instruction. I am gearing up to though just a combo of settling in to new school and also learning how to teach differently.
      How then does one utilize/ instruct from the textless picture books?
      And what are Post-its?

      1. Hi Carrie,
        Using any kind of textless pictures (from a book, from the internet, from a student’s sketch) might be called “Look and Discuss” in this PLC. You show the interesting picture, and ask students a wide variety of questions to discuss it. In the long list of categories on the right side of the screen, you can reach this list of posts related to it:
        For me Look & Discuss was where I started with CI instruction before I went all in. It’s great! When you get stuck or conversation wanes, show a new picture and ask more questions. It helped me start to learn to ask lots of questions and gave me a sense of security because I had more pictures ready if I needed them.
        Post-its are those little, removable sticky notes you can stick on and remove later without damaging the paper or other surface. That one’s not CI teaching jargon. 🙂

        1. Wonderful thanks Diane. Questions and interest around pictures sounds doable : )
          What then about staying in bounds, having set or limited structures and conveying translation (any writing on the board?) Would you then have the language introduced archived someway for future repetitions? class writer? student notebooks?
          Happy Monday!
          Profe Carrie

          1. Hi Carrie, yes, staying in bounds. The pictures and the questions about them are asked with the students’ “acquired” vocabulary in my mind. I rarely add anything to the board, but I do aim to use lots & lots of language they’ve known from prior classes. (I say “acquired” with quote marks because really, I’m using that language again to reinforce and build deeper acquisition of it.) If students start wanting to say lots in English about the pictures, then it’s back to the classroom rule about staying in Chinese. That helps a lot.
            I don’t use student notebooks or make plans from words that happen to arise and are needed in the moment, but they are quite few anyway. However, if the words are obviously high-interest to my students, and they come up again, I probably will start including them in discussion & reading in the future.
            Others will probably have somewhat different approaches on these points!

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