Question for the Group

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31 thoughts on “Question for the Group”

  1. Leigh Anne Munoz

    I prefer the word ‘likes.’ Maybe with Calvin and Hobbes, Jake from State Farm, or Mentos — the Fresh Maker. Something along those lines, maybe.

    I would go for something emotional.

  2. This is an awesome template to follow. I attempted a similar thing but only told parents about steps 1, 2, 3 & 4 and jumped into a statement about “wants to drink” with a volunteer parent. It would’ve been better not to get so much ‘meat’ in the circling and discussion & instead to have done what Ben describes above. I had about 5 minutes, too. 1 intriguing verb, no other new language in the target (so in sentences use names or proper nouns, maybe cognates work – coffee did for me) except to pause & point at a question word. I made an adverb chart to play “Head, SHoulders, Knees, & Toes” with classes for a brain break – they pick the adverb in which we sing and act it out (angrily, happily, in a high voice, romantically, etc.). That’s been fun.

  3. I agree Leigh Anne. Likes is really good. Wouldn’t she use ama because le gusta would change too much and confuse the students? The sound they are hearing has got to be ultra simple in a lesson like this one, I would think.

  4. I got another email from Annemarie and she added this:

    …just got more info about my “demo” next week-it’s only in front of like 6 people (one of whom will be the superintendent and another who is the chief academic officer). What the heck can I do with that few people?….

    So I think likes is out because you can’t have a superintendent liking a chief academic officer. It works in schools but not with adults. Just sayin’. And I don’t think describing some thing that they like would be very interesting.

    But Annemarie these folks often are used to being the center of attention so with the right verb it could be really fun. I would love to run some comprehensible input in that setting because with only six people you can really personalize things and it could have a sense of the intime. But we have to find the right verb. Looks at could get funny if you could add laughs/doesn’t laugh as they look at each other. Just thinking out loud. Let’s find the best verb for this deal. I’ll try later today in my classes to find a good verb for this little live theatre scene. When you do this, if you do, don’t forget to establish meaning on a few adverbs before you start . Romantically and sexy are enough. You could have people looking at each other sexy and if you play it right you could have (person 1) looking at (person 2) romantically and (person 2) looking at (person 3) romantically via the questioning. Is that a problem class? Yes a big problem. Is (person 1) happy? (You would have to use Point and Pause to establish meaning on that one). No class, (person 1) is not happy, etc. And keep using your question words to keep it going but as I said above if you use mira you would only use who and where, really, since your time is so limited.

  5. I had an hour to give a presentation to WL colleagues not so long ago. By far the best CI came from using “want” in combination with a balding teacher and someone else’s hair. Is either of these admins balding men??

  6. The main thing is to keep the discussion: 1) comprehensible and 2) about them.

    The humor will (always) takes care of itself; it can’t be forced or planned. So just pick the verb (dances?) and roll with it, going painfully slow for you (just right for them) and keeping it about them. I can’t wait to hear how it goes, what happens when you ask where and what happens when you ask with whom. She may end up dancing slowly (teach slowly and fast beforehand as well, just for some back up adverbs) with the superintendent behind McDonald’s. Who knew?

  7. WAAAAAY to go Anne Marie!!! Congrats!
    How about like what Linda Li does with the coffee cups? go to McD’s and DD’s and get two different cups, and use “quiere” and “prefiere”? Sure, they say “5 minutes” but they might end up so amused that you can do a little longer!
    We are finally moving somewhere here in Maine. My colleague went yesterday to the Standards meeting in Falmouth, and came back saying that starting with the Class of 2018, ALL Maine students are to graduate with a proficiency of Intermediate Mid in all skills.
    Anne Marie – I thought of you today and CI…..I have several Arab-speaking students in my class, and one is a low ELL. He struggles with English, but when I speak to him in Spanish and ask questions, he hesitates, but he ANSWERS in SPANISH!!! One of my colleagues asked how he could possibly be taking Spanish if his English is so low, and does not understand how he can learn. Thanks to TCI he is learning. Are you finding the same success with your ELLs? (since Portland has 57 different languages represented at the high school??? – and your school feeds into Portland, right? or Deering?) That would be a good point for your Board!

  8. …are to graduate with a proficiency of Intermediate Mid….

    They may want to rethink that one. Intermediate Mid is like a strong 3 or higher on the AP exam so what they are saying is that all kids in Maine will be able, after about 500 hours of a language, to pass any AP language exam. You would have to retrain the entire state language teaching corps. They would all have to practically overnight give up their teaching to the form/conscious/analytical/L1 based faculty and retool to teach as we do to the function/unconscious/aborptive/L2 based faculty which alone is where real language acquisition takes place. I know that skip has done some amazing thing in your state but even skip couldn’t orchestrate that fast a change. Intermediate Low is even too high, in my opinion. Novice High is a much more realizable goal. Especially since all Maine kids won’t be taking a full four year program. Whoever made that statement needs to be alerted to its impracticality.

    1. Not to mention that some languages require more time to develop that level. Do they mean handwritten? That’s going to affect Chinese learners in a very significant way!

  9. And Annemarie I think I forgot to add how important it is to use some English here and there to save LOTS of time. In those first few minutes of your short demo when you establish meaning before developing the little scene from one verb (I vote for ‘dances’), set the comprehension up via translation and save gobs of time as you set the stage for this little demo. I know you know it, but I wanted to add it here just to make sure that we remember (and for new people) to use that little bit of English in our lessons to make our gains SO MUCH GREATER.

    And hey, when is this presentation?

  10. The presentation is this Tuesday at 5:30. Hey, do you remember my friend, Jill, the science teacher? She says she’s going to attend the meeting to support me!

    And yes, the students I teach who already speak 2 languages, pick up Spanish very quickly. One my 6th graders loves to point out the similarities between his native language and Spanish. The brains of these students are already wired for languages !
    Ben, I’m not sure if the woman that dances will be there, in fact I don’t know who the heck will be there so I thought of going with “plays” because I can bring in some balls and use adverbs like romantically and fast and slow, etc. I don’t know if I have the confidence to get board members to dance for me:)

  11. They are two separate things. I’ll explain more tomorrow; but for people who havent yet joined the forum they would still see the active topics on the blog.

  12. And mb I’ll ask Trevor to explain as well. It is confusing. The way I see it, when Trevor first brought the idea up about three months ago, we were talking about how some questions are hard to ask here on the blog. The answers can’t be located by the interlocutor. So Trevor said, “You guys need a forum.” And we went from there.

    1. I think we need to be careful to keep the forum threads dedicated individually to SPECIFIC questions or issues. If there is a side conversation in a thread on the forum, it should probably become a NEW thread on the forum. That way it keeps the feel of a place for question-answer-focused discussion.

      The blog feels more like a place for articles presenting new information (not so much for questions, unless it’s a cry for urgent help with admins or parents or students) and a place for discussions to BEGIN in that very amorphous way.

  13. …we need to be careful to keep the forum threads dedicated individually to SPECIFIC questions or issues….

    We have to do this. I just don’t ever want to have to try to follow the kind of discussions like we see on the moretprs listserve. It’s just not what I want. How do we communicate this to people? How do we insure that what you say above James actually happens?

    1. You could make a post on the forum that is “sticky” (i.e., always on top) that just explains some simple rules/guidelines for the forum. And you could do a post here as well about the difference between the forum/blog. I think there is a real difference between the two, anyways.

      1. I like that idea James. I find myself right now not fully grasping the difference. Now I’m just ranting over on the forum instead of on the PLC. That’s not the concept Trevor had in mind, I am sure.

        I really like your focus on specific questions being answered in real time. That means we don’t use the forum to go off on long theoretical questions like the one that divided Chris and I and Ruth here yesterday and caused some rare negative emotions.

        Instead, the teacher should be able to come to the forum, perhaps after experiencing something mechanically or emotionally difficult while trying to apply one of our strategies (Kristin with jGR, for example, in the first ever post on the forum), and get a specific answer within hours or even before their next class!

        In that way the forum becomes extremely useful in the real world way that we need when we try to implement this crazy (like a fox!) way of teaching every day in the real world. We perhaps should leave the ivory tower discussions and bitchy edge arguments and celebrations over on the PLC.

        So sticky note it is. Perhaps Trevor will make a drop down tab somewhere about how to use the PLC vs. how to use the Forum. I will publish our basic thoughts from this conversation as a kind of temporary sticky until someone comes along and writes it better, maybe Trevor or anyone. Thanks James.

        All group members need to feel free to rewrite/edit that sticky note. Send suggestions to me at

        So as I see it now – please comment – the real intent of the forum is to provide immediate practical answers to real events that happen in the classroom on a daily basis.

        Think of the forum as the place where the car gets worked on when it breaks down or is having trouble running properly. The PLC, on the other hand, is where the car gets designed and built. It is the showroom. The forum is the service area and we are all mechanics to help each other fix our cars when they need fixing.

        1. Skip and Beth made t-shirts this year for the conference here in Maine and on the back is a list of the people that have come and presented since 2006 with Blaine Ray. SInce you came two years in a row, you are on the list two years in a row. 🙂

        2. How about this analogy: The PLC is normal places like stores, school, library, home – and the forum is the Emergency Room?

          The PLC side is for general discussion and theory. The forum is where a person goes when they hit a wall (say, what I did sometime maybe early last week? because a kid freaked out during a quiz). I felt a need for immediate response to an emergency and at the time just picked a semi-related, recent post to comment on. In the forum I would’ve started a new thread.

          1. I’m going to ask Trevor to hash this out for us. It was his idea. I think the general idea is more immediate general discussion without the hassle of going through the comment fields in the PLC looking for stuff. We’ll see what he says.

  14. What kind of discussions are on the moretprs list serve? Please be explicit about what should be on forum and what should be on blog. I’m not sure I understand the different. Oh, and , Ben, I now have a t-shirt that has your name on it TWICE!

  15. Why would a t-shirt have my name on it? Odd.

    Anyway, I just mean that when I used to read the list I could barely follow all the gassy comments. I need clear, specific instructions. There were so many opinions on the list and when groups are public like that they tend to get a very wide variety of disjointed discussion. Many like to argue the value of CI. Just a big cacophony, in my opinion. I like that we express opinions here, but we don’t argue about the value of comprehension based instruction. Rather, we want to get better at it, and that’s what we do, through specific discussion, clear step by step description of techniques and through sharing of our own experience with the different ideas that we come up with. Does that make sense?

  16. About the presentation, when I went to Paris last year to present to adults, I used “has” and cars for my demonstration. Do you have a car? So and so has a car! What make? So and so has a grey Jaguar! Does Sally have a car? does she have a Jaguar? Since types of cars are proper names that are the same in all languages and adults get very emotional about their cars, you can give someone a yellow Ferrari and a pink Cadillac and have a lot of fun in 5 minutes.

  17. Annemarie — I have a shirt that has Ben’s name on it TWICE also!!! hahaha!!! Ben you are SO famous now! (I just did a write up about the Maine Conference and put it on the Forum, because I’m not sure how to get anything up here — I wanted to put it here on the blog, under “maine conference” but I can’t find it.)

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