Question for the Group

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13 thoughts on “Question for the Group”

  1. My kids crush in writing and they only do it at the end of a story cycle. Honestly, make embedded readings fo stories, read loads of novels and don’t worrry. The kids will do fine. Summarising reading is boring, useless and will make them hate reading– Krashen will tell you that any “accountability piece,” as the trendy Adminz like to say, will reduce their involvment in reading. Just read aloud, ask questions, do your comp checks.
    If they MUST “practice” writing, either do dictée or make them copy out in TL a text then underneath translate. Input is all.
    Chris

  2. Can you assign the grammar work as homework for the kids who want it? Or for whose parents want it?
    Ben, can you just require them to participate as in a multi-level class… bouncing higher-level questions off of them and getting their opinions more in front of the group… giving slight brain breaks to the newbies and enticing other newbies to progress faster? That’s what’s always been so attractive for me about multi-level, though I’ve never had the chance to experience it as a teacher.
    Or… what if you had them take the final 5 or ten minutes to summarize in writing instead of taking the normal quick quiz, or read for the first several minutes of class? I’ve had kids say, when trying to read while another class is going on, that they can’t concentrate because they’re distracted by the banter. I can sympathize.

  3. I think Jim hit the nail on the head when he said…
    “can you just require them to participate as in a multi-level class… bouncing higher-level questions off of them and getting their opinions more in front of the group… giving slight brain breaks to the newbies and enticing other newbies to progress faster?”
    I think these students will create better more compelling class stories and scenarios because they can add things that might be considered out of bounds. This becomes teachable moments for making their input more comprehensible.
    Also, I saw Gerry Wass implement something brilliant with Karen Rowan as his writer/helper. He would face the audience in the War and Peace Room and ask Karen Rowan (the supposed fluent student) to write on the “board” what he dictated in Spanish.
    He was modeling how to use heritage learners for the benefit of the class. The great thing was he did not have to turn away from the class to write on the board. The helper would do this…I imagine heritage and advanced students may need help with spelling on occasion which makes the use of alphabet in class more relevant than ever. I would say the slower the writer the better for this kind of thing.
    Ben…you might get away with never picking up a marker the whole year!!!

  4. Hello, dear friends! I’ve been incommunicado for a few weeks – just returned from the Alaskan Inside Passage!
    All the recommendations above to meet the needs of the orally fluent speakers are great, but I see this issue thru the lens of an elementary teacher. There are always those first through third graders who know how to read Harry Potter and write about it while lil Billy and Suzy still grasp their pencils with their whole fist and scribble their names backwards….
    I say that the near fluent face-to-face communicators who’ve lived immersed in oral French (sounds dirty) could really benefit from some bona fide writing instruction beyond dictation, etc. Perhaps they write story retells with modified details? Perhaps you see the repetitive errors of each of that handful of kids, and focus on overcoming them in 1-on-1 writing conferences (while others are doing reading, or Textivate, etc.? I’m saying approach it as an L1 writing teacher…cuz they’ve already cleared the Intermediate hoop and they’re ready for higher level stuff.
    Elem teachers have all kinds of rubrics for tracking writing progress – look at the rubrics and cobble one together to help your heavy hitters improve their written OUTPUT – since they’ve demonstrated that they’re ready for it.
    We can’t continue to treat them as novices if they are not, nor can we punish them with extra work, so we have to be thoughtful about making it interesting, exciting and, of course, consistent with our understanding of acquisition.

    1. Alisa I needed to hear this:
      …perhaps they write story retells with modified details? Perhaps you see the repetitive errors of each of that handful of kids, and focus on overcoming them in 1-on-1 writing conferences (while others are doing reading, or Textivate, etc.? I’m saying approach it as an L1 writing teacher…cuz they’ve already cleared the Intermediate hoop and they’re ready for higher level stuff….
      I feel the truth of that. Thank you. And I’ll share this with Linda. We’ve been talking about this topic a lot this week.

        1. I certainly would agree with Jim. If you can use this opportunity to give them a real love of reading in French, the battle is won. For that you would need lots of books and lots of levels, so that the reading is truly compelling and comprehensible, but it sounds like some kind of heaven to me. I remember how I loved those rare occasions when we were allowed to take out a book and just sit there and read.

  5. I had different levels of native Spanish speakers in my class last year. One girl was super fluent. She regularly attended Bible study at her church. They read, discussed, and, from what I gathered, wrote responses to Biblical passages in Spanish. Despite her advanced fluency, she chose to stay in the mix with the rest of us doing Spanish 1 stories and other CI stuff. I offered for her to read casually on her own. Nope. She wanted to be a part of the group and enjoyed laughing and playing along with the stories and getting to know each other.
    In a different class, had 3 intermediate level students that would just about always choose to read independently over participate in the stories. Sometimes I asked them to write summaries or have 1 on 1 conferences, depending on the interest of the student.
    Sorry, but I got no easy answer here besides working with each student individually and then helping the school better place students next year.

    1. I remember that conversation about audio-books and making them ourselves. I’m pretty sure Eric was leading that conversation. I miss Eric’s voice here!

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