Question for Group from Briana

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21 thoughts on “Question for Group from Briana”

  1. I think your last paragraph outlines your next step. Just to add to it a little bit: go ahead and do your circling with balls and norming the class. Discipline precedes instruction. (Today I had to stop teaching and remind my fifth period of expectations related to Interpersonal Communication and proper behavior in a classroom setting. Even with many of them getting a 2 for Interpersonal Communication on their Progress Report (and therefore a low grade), they don’t seem to get it, and I need to stay on top of things.) Use your Spanish 2 students to demonstrate the process before bringing in the Spanish 1 students. While you may not introduce a lot of new vocabulary, the repetition can only benefit the Spanish 2 students; many of us tend to move on too quickly anyway. Like our students, we mistake recognition for acquisition and move on. Think of how solid your students will be on those structures after hearing (and using) them “a few” more times. You can bring the Spanish 1 students into the conversation as they are able, but emphasize with them that their main job at this point is to listen and let the language wash over them with understanding. They are bathing in the words of the target language.

    As you continue, keep putting responsibility on your Spanish 2 students to help you carry the conversation/story. Emphasizing the past tense will help with keeping the interest of the upper level, and the exposure will no doubt help your level 1 students keep from using the present tense for everything.

    You build the base of vocabulary by making certain that you keep the language comprehensible for the Spanish 1 students but note that Spanish 2 students should have a broader vocabulary by now. As far as your heritage speakers are concerned, I would suggest using them for some of the higher-level tasks: writing the story, counting use of structures, etc.

    No doubt others will chime in with their excellent suggestions.

    1. key sentence, Robert:

      “Like our students, we mistake recognition for acquisition and move on”.

      I have a student who had 3 years of TPRS Spanish and wanted to be put in Spanish II last year, but my grammar colleague told her to stay in Spanish I. Now, in my class, she told me that she “isn’t being challenged enough.” I am giving her harder versions of quizzes and exams and having her read books one level higher than the class is doing, but I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing. She really does understand everything I say, but her free writes need improvement. I suppose many of you have the same situations in your class.

    2. Briana Livingston

      Thank you for your thoughts. You are absolutely right about recognition not necessarily being equivalent to acquisition. I also appreciated your comment:

      “Today I had to stop teaching and remind my fifth period of expectations related to Interpersonal Communication and proper behavior in a classroom setting.”

      I actually had to do the same thing today, reminding those Spanish II students that while they feel they “know” everything, they still have plenty to learn, even if they are not adding a lot of new vocabulary.

      What I have found as I have been circling balls is that in the classes that are predominantly Spanish II (unfortunately, they aren’t very balanced), I keep speeding up as the more predominant voices move the conversation forward. Going SLOW is always a challenge, made even more difficult as students push me along.

      1. Look. I apologize in advance if this seems rude ( I don’t mean it to be), but it is my belief that when we have to remind them of the rubric all the time and what it means, then we haven’t been honest enough with them in the gradebook. The kids only respond to jGR when they get an initial volley of low grades (mainly 2s) which send their grades spining out a bit in the first grading periods. Only then does jGR have teeth. The kids don’t believe or respond to pep talks. They only respond to low grades.

        1. …and BOOM. There it is. I believe this is my problem. We started talking on the Whatever Floats Your Boat 1 thread which piddled out but I believe this is my issue. I like when you just lay it all out there. There is no reason to beat around the bush in this community. I like. I guess putting the jGR low in the gradebook causes The Fear because the parents start calling and THAT’S my other issue but at least it opens up a line of communication at that point to explain why Angel’s grade is so low…

          1. I don’t think that we realize what a tool we have in jGR. I think we lack confidence in ourselves. We have so long been told by ignorant administrators that we need their approval on everything, when they have no clue at all about standards, that we have come to doubt ourselves. If you really think, as a language teacher, that a child can take your language course, which is a reciprocal and participatory thing, and just sit there and get a passing grade because they got a few quiz questions right or did some sort of dumb ass project, then you are compromising the entire direction of assessment in this new century with its new initiatives as expressed by ACTFL. Do we want to align with standards or not? If we do, then we grade these kids honestly. We hit them where it hurts. Or we could just continue to be pushovers by parents. Screw the Fear. Fearing parents? That’s something that is no longer on my list of things to do in this particular lifetime.


          2. The rubric isn’t a process for labeling students.

            It is a vehicle for communication…”This is what is happening. If you do X, Y, Z…then you will be in this category because you will be demonstrating a higher level of interaction.”

            When parents come at you in anger, this is what they kneed to know. “I’m not labeling your child. I’m communicating..”

            with love,

        2. Briana Livingston

          As I am new to the blog, I am trying to catch up with jGR. I really like it and plan to implement it soon, but haven’t done so yet. How often are you giving a jGR grade? I have always struggled with how to juggle any kind of rubric assessing participation: remembering what kids were doing what after teaching three back-to-back classes while focusing on the structures and circling and the story and everything else. It’s an organizational thing, I realize, but what have others found to be successful? I am guessing there might be something already on the blog that I haven’t found yet, so even pointing out where to look would be great.

  2. I agree with Robert’s excellent articulation above. Perhaps for vocab quizzes you can give a handout to the Sp I’s that has the Spanish words already printed for them and all they do is translate whereas with the Sp II’s you dictate the words – they write the Spanish and then the meaning as well. That could bolster the confidence of the Sp I’s and reinforce to them that you mean what you say about focusing on listening and letting the language wash over them whereas you’re holding the Sp II’s to a higher level of accountability for their learning.

    1. Briana Livingston

      I like the idea of differentiating the quizzes. I have been trying Ben’s quick quizzes at the end of class. I wonder about asking the Spanish II students to write 5 statements about what we discussed in class for their quiz while giving the Spanish I’s the comprehension based true/false statements.

      1. I know that Ben prefers yes/no questions for the quizzes, but I sometimes use “who” questions or even “what” questions.
        -Who plays water polo with alligators in South America? (Yes, we actually have a water polo player in class, and he claims that’s what he does.)
        -What did Wolfgang do on Friday?
        Then you can grade based on specificity of answer, particularly on the what question. If lower level students put something like “played football”, they get the question right. Upper level students have to be more specific: “played football in the park with friends after school”. This is in line with ACTFL Guidelines in that Novice-Low students ought to be able to get the main idea of a “text” (either spoken or written), but Novice-High/Intermediate-Low students ought to be able to catch details. If you have a lower level student who provides that much specificity, give full credit and potentially a “bonus point”. I did this recently with a quiz on Oktoberfest, and it worked really well.

          1. For the end-of-class quizzes, I use English. This is, after all, a comprehension check/Interpretive Communication grade. Currently I have my level 3 class reading my pirate book (They are really only level 2.1). For Interpretive Communication quizzes on the book I use German in a format based on the AP exam. Eventually they will write a presentational piece (persuasive essay) based on the book and a film about Klaus Stoertebeker that we will watch. Anybody remember where the excellent process post on writing an essay was?

        1. And I would do that kind of testing if my overall goal in life wasn’t simplicity, and if I weren’t so lazy. Now, amidst and because of all this discussion about jGR and discipline via Three and Done, and the jobs piece, I have found myself spending calm and simple days with the kids. If anyone would have told me over the past thirty years that one day I would be mentally balanced in a classroom, never feeling rushed or harried, I would have called them bonkers. I call this a result of prayer and grace. It is a magnificent victory, but not by me.

  3. One thought on ways to avoid the jGR inflation that most of us do (myself included). I was talking with David Maust about this a few days ago, and I think there can be a compromise on this, and it has to do with how heavily you weigh the rubric in the overall grade. If you do 50%, it has real teeth, and can seriously bring down the overall grade. I think this was part of the original idea (correct me if I’m wrong, Ben and Jen). But the downside is the parent blow-back, and making sure you are very careful about the grade, and making sure you have some specific info in your gradebook (e.g. Ben’s abbreviations) for responding to parents who contact you. This can be scary, and may account for our reluctance to really hit a kid with a D or F when they deserve it. Here’s another way to do it: weigh it at 30% so it doesn’t decimate the overall grade, but a D on the rubric is still a D, and calls for action in many schools, such as a parent email, referral, or even, in David’s case, a mandatory study period. At minimum, you could require a parent signature every time they get a jGR below a B. This way, you can scare the kids and parents with a D, especially if there are some immediate consequences, but then you can assure them that one D won’t mess up their grade. Two or three, however, will. Obviously we want to work toward the goal of fearlessness that Ben talks about. This is one step in that direction.

  4. John the 30% deal really has worked for me and I’m glad you make that point. The 50% was too fangy, but I’m loving life with the 30%. I really do use it like a hammer, because it really does wake kids up. And now I see Nancy and Jen determined to make it work. Good point on the 30%. Like you say, “…it doesn’t decimate the overall grade, but a D on the rubric is still a D, and calls for action…”.

    I am lucky in that my kids are happy with a D. But if I worked in a school that requires parent contact on a D, I wouldn’t be so lucky.

    Think about that for a second. We have to contact parents when the kid doesn’t meet the standard. That is way phucked up. Shouldn’t the parent contact us with respect to see how their kid can improve?

    And then shouldn’t all we have to do is tell them (repeating what we have said so much in class but the coddled kid didn’t get it)? Just tell them? Responding to them instead of being made to go out of our way by the school to do what? To tell the parent that the kid hasn’t met standard when the kid knows full well that they haven’t met the standard bc they have a D, but they still refuse to show up as a human being in our class?

    The D is a strong grade to use in the first months of any year when a teacher uses jGR. It is a hammer. But we shouldn’t be made to explain our hammering. They need to come to us. It all reveals what little professional respect we are given in this system.

  5. Unfortunately this is often backwards at many schools (literally in Latin, preposterous. pre- is post-), and I am coming from a very different demographic than you, Ben, but I’m sure many on this list can relate. If you are the only one who puts the hammer down on Johnny for something he gets away with in all his other classes, you need to be armed with a lot of data and research to back you up (and thanks to this PLC I have exactly that). But the burden is still on the teacher. A common parent response is “why didn’t I hear about this problem before he received the D on his grade report?” or “then why is he doing great in all his other classes?” So, teachers are required to play defense the moment they decide to give a low grade. If we don’t, parents think they can contest the grade, by blaming the teacher for not communicating at the first sign of a problem. Meanwhile no one is talking about the behaviors that earned Johnny the grade in the first place. He is a victim.

    1. …teachers are required to play defense the moment they decide to give a low grade….

      …blaming the teacher for not communicating at the first sign of a problem…

      That is why we might wonder if we aren’t all crazy. Maybe we should take the easy route. But we can’t. It’s too boring! I’m working on (a response to Jen) an article that address these points made by Jody and John above. Hey, they both are in San Francisco. I think of them as the San Francisco Giants. They look like ordinary people, but they are really giants.

  6. Since French is an elective course, rigor means that many students take easier classes instead. They don’t want to get a “B” and lower their college money from the state (an A earns more than a B). Furthermore, there seems to be a loophole in the 2 world language credits requirement in my state. Makes it hard to recruit and maintain students for world language classes in high school. Any ideas?

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