Questions

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5 thoughts on “Questions”

  1. Tomar decisiones

    “being too contrived with targets/reps/heavy circling”

    Contrived. Good word.

    Yes I am an oddball, but for the record let it be known that I was pretty happy doing TPRS the old way. I thought it was fun for the most part. It was hard sometimes to get the kids interested, especially by this point in the year. April. The cruelest month. Ten more weeks of school. And no holidays till the end of May either!!! So, I was mostly happy and anyways I was happier than I would have been if I had done grammar (which I never did, thank goodness).

    But then when I saw Ben tell Pringle Man a little over a year ago, I thought, “I have never seen Ben so happy teaching.” The love and excitement and happiness and interest just shone from his eyes. And I wanted me some of that. So, then I tried it, and liked it, and I found that my stories got lighter and easier without that heaviness of all that contrived language and trying to get in the reps and the clicks on the baseball counters.

    It is the only thing that saves me on a Sunday night like tonight. I am going to go in tomorrow and make OWIs and tell a story about a microscopic cowboy hat that is half happy and half sad and has rainbow eyes and is smart but sometimes makes bad decisions. I am pretty psyched about that character. Plus I know that the kids like it so much. I felt the love in my class Thursday.

    Let’s just hope the lights are back on. Friday we had school in the dark. Portland had very high winds and it knocked out our power, all day. I thought about just taking them outside to run around, but I was afraid a flying tree branch might take them away. Or some of the lighter ones might just gt carried off, especially if they were wearing baggy sweatshirts…

    Don’t tell anyone but I just let them sit around in the semi-dark and hang out and chat in English and just cut up. It was OK for one day, right?

  2. Do you think that SSR/O.W.I., artist’s reveal, town meeting, story from O.W.I. is too much listening in one 90 minute class?

    It is a lot of listening but it depends on the group. I might put something active in after the OWI and the artists’ reveal. Annabelle Allen will be in Portland (I agree with Ben, come to Portland!) and she also has a ton of videos on her “La Maestra Loca” YouTube channel, showing different active brain breaks. They are a good way to have fun and get the kids moving between listening activities.

    Depends on the class though. Some love to sit and listen.

  3. Hey Karen. Great questions. That classroom management question is a big one. We run a very unique classroom. We interact with our students in ways that they don’t experience in other classes. While we are trying to have light conversations that are personalized and authentic by nature, I have realized this past year, especially, how many of our delightful school students don’t yet have a mature social filter that keeps them from saying inappropriate, rude, or hurtful things. Our intention of having a light-hearted conversation can quickly turn sour and become offensive to any one particular student or group of students. We have to not let that happen. My presence in the classroom this past year has become much more sedate and austere (relatively speaking), less reactive and whimsical, so that I can address anything inappropriate that comes up.

    And stuff comes up. It’s a truly unique dynamic, right? Our students don’t have books to look for references during a analytical discussion, nor pencil nor paper to take notes. Nope. Their attention is fully on the body language and words expressed by someone in the whole group. I think of one of my junior boys who is full of such bravado it makes me puke sometimes. He often has to show off, like about how good at basketball he is, and will do so by putting down others. Thankfully, he is getting better and treating others better. But it has taken some work… some taking-to.

    I too teach 87 min block classes. Maintaining interest, or simple alertness, is crucial. We have to pace ourselves like I’d pace out that 200 meter freestyle event I loved swimming in high school. Starting off smooth and steady in that first 50 meters was the way to get that personal best time. It’s not a sprint. And, yes, I used the word alertness. Of course, we want to make the CI compelling. But honestly, if we can make it interesting just enough to keep them alert, I’d say we are doing a glorious job. I mean, what teenager listens to anyone for longer than a 3 minute hit single on Youtube? It is a remarkable task we’ve assigned ourselves. When so many students grow misanthropic through high school, the task we’ve given ourselves to turn their soul towars altruism is remarkable. I hope that next year I will be better at my classroom management so that even fewer hurtful comments are made.

    Below is a blueprint for my 87 min classes. Granted, every day looks a little different, and some days are much more reading heavy.

    5 min SSR (sometimes I have students Gap-fill or separate the words, like what we see Textivate.com does with texts)

    10-15 min Check In (weather, activity reports, calendar, etc.)

    5-10 min Town Hall

    30 min OWI/ Invisibles/ Matava Script/ Story Listening (which I plan to do after break more)
    *I look for and jump on any TPR-type opportunity during co-narration that comes up

    5 min Brain Break

    20-25 min Write and Discuss
    *with Reading Options

    5 min Exit (Gap-Fill / Translate)

  4. Thank you Sean. I do feel that with the non-targeted initiative we will see better classroom management as we get kids more involved. It is a bit early, but it would be nice to perhaps proclaim the main theme here for the 2017-2018 academic year to be classroom management. We’ve not done that one yet, I don’t think, for our yearly focus as a group.

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