Quick Response Needed

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32 thoughts on “Quick Response Needed”

  1. I read through the form — wow, it’s huge, and has just about every kind of administrative trend included: essential questions, Common Core standards, outcomes by the end of the unit…
    This is only a small suggestion probably already thought of: but I’d make the unit’s time duration last as long as possible so the form doesn’t need to be completed as often.
    In my own mind, a “unit” is when I’m teaching towards a book, so a unit title is “Herbert’s Birthday” in level one. I have far less experience with this kind of paperwork (just needed to do it for my state certification program). I know that Martina Bex has worked with showing TPRS achieves Common Core standards: http://martinabex.com/2014/04/08/tprsci-and-the-common-core/

    1. “I read through the form — wow, it’s huge, and has just about every kind of administrative trend included: essential questions, Common Core standards, outcomes by the end of the unit.”
      It’s definitely like that here in California — trendy people. However, I will say that it is all very flexible. You just need to see where it all fits. I’m sure it gives people headaches.
      The most hated part for me is the “I can” statements that some departments here use (mine doesn’t). However, my supervisor always mentions “outcomes”, “performance” etc…
      My question is: “can you perform any of the tasks you did in High School _____insert language_____ class?”. Okay, well then read this paper on SLA research and well talk later.

  2. Oh, yuck. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that. I do teach story ‘units,’ though, in that I choose 5-7 story scripts with vocab surrounding a general theme and teach a story a week. Some of my themes are “Travel & Vacations,” “Dating and Personal Hygiene,” and “Helping around the House,” and even though I don’t HAVE to submit any unit plans at my school, I find it helps me recycle past vocab in current stories, getting more reps in. From there, it becomes easier to develop essential questions & skills. You might make an essential question one of your PQA questions, and your skills/knowledge might be just the target verb phrases that you want kids to learn. Then, if you follow the general flow of introducing vocab/PQA, story-asking, reading, etc., you should be able to make a lesson plan that looks reasonable.
    On my state’s common core website, foreign language is mentioned zero times. This is a good thing, since we can interpret the standards fairly freely. Martina Bex’s website that Diane just mentioned is a good resource, and I have a document from ACTFL which aligns ACTFL standards with Common Core standards, if you need anything more official-looking.

  3. I really wish I had the time for this. I spent 10 hours on my first observation documents, and reused them over and over. Next time more notice, please?
    I was thinking about those Units. If we really are teaching Students and Stories in ____, why can’t our Units just be “Fall, Winter, Spring?” We can talk about anything and everything students do that changes throughout the year…very relevant to their lives.

  4. The bigger the unit can be, the more interesting it can become. If we have to cover three units for Mid Year Exam, then it is better for student acquisition if they are exposed to the most important things first, keep those going throughout the semester, and add in other things as the semester continues.
    Instead of going lesson by lesson, the question becomes, “What are the essential things in each lesson?” Then, “How can we combine them together to get simultaneous exposure for the longest period of time?”
    I am attempting to this with my Spanish 1, Level 2. Since we have to give Unit Exams I have drawn from both lessons without regard to order in the lessons. The key notions are
    likes to eat
    likes to {do}
    is called
    is {tall}
    is from
    was born
    The basic plan is to follow the star of the week /day.
    If this can help or spark something better for our 911 caller, so much the better. Feel free to critique and offer suggestions.

  5. I recently had an observation done by my BTSA supervisor here in California. She suggested I fill out a similar document using UBD (understanding by design). My world language standards are California’s, im sure you can align them to your own state. Essential questions are generally “investigative” ones the “drive” the instruction according to what students “discover” but as teacher we provide them. EX: How are holidays celebrated in X country? How is food important to X culture? etc…
    The only thing you will need to add is “I can statements”. You can technically have students say, yes/no when RECOGNIZING the sheltered vocabulary that is found in the text or during PQA.
    Here is the link to my google doc for my LESSON (not unit). For me, I use a set of three embedded reading for a unit. That way you can scaffold the vocabulary with gestures or TPR. Also, the Common core standards I included are the ones I use for all my instruction. I leave them up on the whiteboard for admin.
    For summative, have the students (depending on level) draw 4 scenes and write one sentence for each of the scenes. You can have students change from present to past tense. Have them write their version of a story etc…

    1. Thank you Steven, This will help me write up everything in this format. I hope they don’t actually require this for everything, but if they do I now have a great model of how to do it 🙂

  6. Thanks everyone! Super helpful. I was in a pinch bc I got an email last Friday that I had to meet today (mon). Then after all that, it got postponed til Wed. Big relief for me, as I am impossibly behind on all the paperwork.
    I was thinking of seasonal focus / natural cycles so am glad to see that affirmed. Now I gotta get to work on it!

  7. I recently wrote this to Jen, but I think sharing it here would benefit others:
    [Background: I of my own free will have tried this year to organize all my TCI activities around “themes” such as beach, pets, sports, etc.]
    I’ve already realized that the theme may change, but the language doesn’t change all that much. We’re still sheltering those highest of the high frequency verbs (25-50 total different high-frequency verbs all year?) in every single theme. That is our “teacher” focus, while the content/message may somehow be related to a different theme. Actually, if the words are not common to the next theme, then there is no incidental recycling, kids aren’t going to hear those sounds for a while, and are probably much more likely to forget them!!!
    I’m also realizing, as a I try to include a lot of different CI tools (TPR, TPRS, MT, etc.) per theme, that I think my kids would be better off if I just storyasked a story (step 2) every single day. I don’t know if that’d get stale, but I’m feeling it’s power outweighing everything else. It’s so compelling, involves so much interaction, and is so finely tuned to the students’ linguistic level.
    The only reason I don’t only storyask stories is because of how tiring it is for me to do that 4-6 classes per day. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to say that TPRS is tiring, but to me, step 2 of TPRS is the most tiring CI activity and most definitely because it requires so much more classroom management.

    1. Really glad to see this articulated…story asking requires “teacher spidey sense.” Done well a teacher really needs to be tuned in to all the students in the class. Every decision and opportunity is carefully selected but calmly yet rapidly carried out. This requires “A-game” teaching. Story asking is an art form…I love it! I am also really appreciating the Bail out moves in order to sustain it.
      Alisa, I love the “stringing together the other side dishes” idea. This is where I am this year with middle schoolers. I can’t serve up one big heavy meal like I could with high schoolers. I have to break up the CI into consumable pieces in order to be successful.
      Ben, has a point too, stories can be created in peacefulness. The problem with that for me is I think that I bore the students when class is low energy. That is a personal thing though…maybe one day I will get over it.

  8. I feel your pain w/39 classes/week across 4 grade levels (why do they do that to elem teachers?). It’s a hefty load, but the story-asking – the constant teacher talk no matter how it’s served up, is the most exhausting part. Story asking is the hardest endurance-wise – cuz we are doing sooo many things at once – making soooo many decisions from minute to minute based on their responses (weak? strong?) their body language, (leaning forward, rapt; eyes rolled back – on Mars?) behavior management/engagement (tapping, whispering, tossing your hat/sweater/necklace in the air,) quality of the elicited story details (I am tired of all roads leading to Bob of the Minions).
    The need for novelty – to shake things up – do some exercises, sing a song or chant, play with props, do a dictado, look at the calendar, do a survey of favorite Halloween candy, cloze a version of a story, read the other class’s version, learn some alternative greetings/goodbyes, learn a numbers chant – these are all ways to make the class feel fresh, not just filled with my droning, no matter how great the class story is going.
    So while the story spinning is #1 in the arsenal of most compelling, productive acquisition maker ever, even I couldn’t live on a steady diet of Snickers bars…
    I am finding that stringing together some of the other side dishes to stories with authentic personalized classroom banter also works to keep the class fresh, unpredictable and survivable for me, and less intense and strictly auditory (but with all the dramatic visuals) for the kids.
    Some kids would LOVE to participate in story spinning all day every day – but the ones who can’t handle it cause too much distraction to make it work.

  9. I hear you Alisa and Eric on the energy required for story asking. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We are in charge and we can set the pace. We must remember that the kids always get less than we think. So by slowing down and letting the story develop in a way that is not frenetic is an exercise in self care, for both teacher and student. Stories can be created in peacefulness.
    A second point. There is no planning required with stories. I never want to know what (Matava) story I will be doing that day until just before class. That makes it new for me. Once you start in on PQA of the structures (or not, as per Chris Stoltz where we can just do PQA DURING the story whenever we feel like it), we just go from there, as the energy grows and we get an 85 min. fun class of CI as a result of zero planning.
    (Problems in the story? Dictate the last sentence, or do any of the Bail Out moves listed here in that category.)

  10. “Stories can be created in peacefulness.
    A second point. There is no planning required with stories. I never want to know what (Matava) story I will be doing that day until just before class. That makes it new for me. Once you start in on PQA of the structures (or not, as per Chris Stoltz where we can just do PQA DURING the story whenever we feel like it), we just go from there, as the energy grows and we get an 85 min. fun class of CI as a result of zero planning.”
    This used to be me. No, it IS me. How I operate and in my former teaching life, how it was a joy to be in class. It felt good to have the plan be “open the Matava / Tripp book, write up 2 structures and…GO!” The energy of that for me felt grounding and lively enough to keep me on my toes. Stuff fell flat more often than not, but it seemed easy to shift to another activity (i.e., the “other side dishes” that Alisa mentions ) and still keep the CI flowing. I felt like I was way more in tune with the purpose of my being there, which was to communicate and connect with kids, with Spanish almost being a by-product of the interaction. Seamless? No. Perfect? Hardly. Fun? Yes. Boring? sometimes. Clunky? Yep. Laugh at myself and say “whoops, JK, let’s try this instead…or…whoa! let’s start over!” Usually. Kids laughing along and able to shift gears? Yup. Back in the day.
    I am finding everything difficult now. I can’t figure out if it is the paper work or being new or the challenging group or all of it, but I feel like I am being water boarded daily. I just texted MB last night: “This is supposed to be fun! Why isn’t’ it fun?”
    Taking today off to decompress and find my center somewhere in here.
    One thing I realized yesterday. Yes, in week 9 I just realized this. Probably due to my state of cognitive impairment ( not kidding). I need to explain very explicitly every single thing I do, and why I do it. I have never had to do this before.
    Example: we have been doing mini “star of the day”. Usually two kids per class, 3-4 questions per kid. That is about all they can handle right now. It is fun and light. We skipped a few days of this last week…i can’t remember why, but yesterday I wanted to recap the previous stars 1) to recall the fun info we found out about them, thus giving those kids props / more limelight and setting up the scene again to entice others to be the star…and 2) to give kids who were absent or who maybe did not get the notes down, a chance to “catch up.” The whole thing exploded. Literally exploded into chaos and horror. Kids complaining “I already did this!” “I already have the notes” “People should just get zeros”. Kids walking out of class, etc. I was completely unprepared for this reaction. I am still reeling from it. Just totally dumbfounded.
    Clearly, I have not created a learning community here. Everyone is operating from a fearful judgmental competitive mindset.
    As I was typing my sub plans this morning, I noticed my own reactivity to and shut-down toward this group, writing out plain old “do this” “write this out line by line in your notebook” (like barking orders) whereas for my other groups I wrote smiley faces and things like “have fun with this” “be over-dramatic” etc. (my normal self).
    All I can think to do is make a poster for each activity: Movie Talk… Reading…Star of the day…story asking (have not been able to do this so far)…dictado… essential sentence…TPR…read and draw…listen and draw…weekend chat…listen and gesture…etc. Then write out specific instructions on how to do each of the activities. Even though it is the exact same process (look, listen, respond). But I realized after yesterday’s explosion that they need super literal instructions and rationale for each different activity, because they just do. So I could color code the posters. Today is blue day. That means reading. Here is the reading poster. Who can read the first instruction? That type of thing. I will think of student jobs to go along with this.

  11. This is the first year blues where you walked into a school culture, all INFP of you, and the clash was too much for the kids. Like Piazza, you are going to have to weather the storm until, in his case at the end of this year, you graduate the last of those who can’t learn this way, and start to appreciate the benefits of starting something new which can only be done with your level ones. It’s not you but the school culture. Get that.
    The posters idea is not a bad one. They are used to rote instruction. Be more rote. Make them write more. How is that one class from hell doing these days? I have learned over the years that it’s not about how good the CI is, it’s about getting to a place of self care, which often times with some of these concrete sequential little shits means just getting through the ^&*#ing class.
    Dear jen, we have been so far as a group and you have been with us all the way for years now. There was the honeymoon where we felt that we had found the secret teaching potion. Now are the days when we must temper that joy with the reality that not all kids want to share it, and that in the first weeks of each school year that cloth is dyed, and if there is stank in the cloth, and a dark cloth, we must then not focus so much on how to get the CI going in that particular class, pushing it, but rather find enough rote type of activities that we can do as the first line of delivery of our instruction, doing CI only when we can, and making our rest and our self care our major goal. We need to stop and learn to nurture ourselves and stop trying to do so much with CI. It’s a moral imperative. CI won’t work with certain kids. It’s not about CI. It’s about what is best for us.

  12. <3
    Yes indeed. "All INFP" haha. Nailed that one.
    The "class from hell" is the level 1. They were the ones who exploded yesterday.
    Curiously it is the level 2 class that brings me the most joy in the day. I can do CI with that group more than the others. I think it is pretty funny and amazing because this level 2 group is the last block of the day.
    Level 1 can't handle it at all and level 4 is too chatty. Good natured at least but chatty. Since they are in their last semester of HS Spanish I am learning not to beat the CI drum with them so much. This way we can enjoy our time together and learn from each other.
    So yes. Point taken. Level 1 will be rote. I welcome any rote ideas ppl have that don't involve me "correcting" things and having to deal with reams of paper. That is probably unavoidable to some extent.
    Rote routine such as: 1) Take your seat quietly and copy x from the board. 2) 1 min. silence/mindful practice 3)Open your notebook for dictation 4)Correct the dictation 5)Copy Star of the day interview questions. Answer them for yourself in your notebook. 6) "interview" one kid conducted from their regular seat 1 kid per class, 4 question max.
    Maybe this is still too CI-ish. I need a repetitive and predictable routine. In my own mind, the "simple block schedule" template worked, but not in real life, so rote rote rote.
    ???? what else ???? OR what instead that is rote and concrete enough???
    I have "technically" 80 mins, but pledge of allegiance comes in last 10 min, then announcements. So practically speaking I need to fill just over an hour divided into probably 4 chunks. ???

    1. I use FVR for my more difficult classes and when I just don’t think I can “do” an entire period. For those who care, it helps. For those who don’t, it doesn’t. Ultimately, it is very helpful to me.

      1. There are other things we can do to protect our mental health. I love to have the kids translate a sentence into the TL. I give them the verb and other words – they just put it together. No pedagogical value at all. Good for my mental health when I need it. What is more important by far than CI? Our mental health.

  13. Jen, this situation sounds super sucky and I’m sorry they’re not appreciating what they have. If I were at the end of my rope, I’d probably be doing more dictations/translations/reading unpersonalized stories and answering questions, sounds like you’re headed in that direction already.
    Re storyasking, I find that I can do a story one day per week and although it raises the stress factor and exhausts me a bit more (unless I get lucky enough to do it well and my students are buying in, in which case it can be so much easier than anything else!) it just helps to carry the rest of the week. Mondays I’m finding quite effortless right now. “What did you GIVE (or any other verb) this weekend” and just PQA from that for 50 min. Tuesday and/or Wednesday I ask the story. And that makes the rest of the week flow better with reading their story (still carrying emotion from the storyasking) and including new details (embedded storyasking) and later reading parallel stories that they can understand and do one of the many reading options we’ve compiled here together. I have a hard time keeping any semblance of a schedule though. It’s a cycle that roughly resembles what I said above.

    1. Yeah Jim and that cycle is roughly the Three Steps, morphed in each of our classroom into what works best for us, with no right way to do it. I am curious as to why people seem to agree that stories are exhausting. What are people doing to report that? You just ask questions. I’m missing something.
      Your point Jim about how each story generates days and days of good classes is well taken. ROA in my CI world has 18 steps. That’s like two or three classes on a block schedule, all based on the same text. Talk about narrow and deep. And of course we can embed the reading a few times and get even more reps on it. I started with Textivate today. Cake. Jen and Daniel and anyone wanting to eat up minutes, take note of Textivate and the grammar translation of one sentence option, and dictee and some of the other bail or rote things we can do. Mental health is first. Teaching them the TL, that’s in second place now.

      1. I think stories can be exhausting, too:
        – If the class has a lot of management problems like blurting, there’s the need to deal with it every time. That gets old fast & I find it draining.
        – If the class is dull and not giving good answers, that’s a problem, too. The pulling teeth analogy.
        – If you can sense the general mood of the room and some are not into it, that gets tiring, too, even if some of them are responding & carrying things along well. (This was one reason I had to deal in a big way with an oppositional student – not just for disruptions, but for how his negativity affected my ability to teach well.)
        – If balancing all the skills for good story-asking takes a lot out of you, even if the class is really with you. Ex: teaching to the eyes, slow, keeping every student’s comprehension in view, asking lots of questions, not being predictable about them.
        I know there are ways to address all of those issues, but still, they are reasons to do story-asking intentionally and not every time through the 3 steps in my opinion. I think that these are some of the main reasons some teachers think that TPRS “doesn’t work for me” because they hit these issues and didn’t know how to adjust. They thought that only really high-energy, funny, extroverted people could pull it off well.
        That’s not true at all, of course. I’m about to write a blog about that very thing. I heard some Chinese teachers say that again (“I couldn’t do TPRS”) because they didn’t know how to adapt things to their personality, style, and students. They thought there was only one “right” way to do this artful practice.

          1. Yep, Diane said it. I wouldn’t call it exhausting. But it requires a level of interaction that is quite intense… you’re building something with kids and they’re going to want to give you info and you have to temper that info for appropriateness/comprehension/TL/etc and work it into an engaging whole for them, because they can’t speak yet.
            I think the stereotype Eric mentions exists because there is so much energy radiating from the students at the conferences, and the race is short (a couple days vs a couple semesters). It’s natural to be a bit more hyper in such a setting I think (unless you’re Linda Li or Ben Slavic… damn, those kiddos are lucky to have both of you superstars out there at the same school!)
            I think the war room was a great demonstrator of the various personalities that can work TPRS.

          2. Nice comments, Jim: intensity of interaction. Case in point on reserving energy:
            I just finished a Novice class. We did Listen & Draw (rather than actors up for a story, they draw it — that’s basically the only difference). I was going to offer a choice of which way to do it (actors or drawing), but I’m congested & didn’t sleep very well last night — so Listen & Draw it was! Because they are drawing, there are a lot of natural pauses. I can very easily retell the details we’ve developed so far as they are rather quiet as they draw or look at their picture. Went very well.

          3. Illustrated Storyasking without actors. I never really pictured Listen and Draw (no pun intended) this way… I thought you just told them the story and they drew what you said. But this is interactive? Nice! How do you go about checking for comprehension during? Occasional partner share of drawings? Hold up or project a good example? Or not worry so much about the precision of details?
            Look forward to reading your post about storyasking with different personalities.

          4. Listen & Draw is not mere pictado though that’s how I got started on it. It’s waaaay better (well, more compelling for the kids, I really think). Ben has a category: https://benslavic.com/blog/category/listen-and-draw/
            I posted a video used during iFLT (captioned from Chinese 1 last fall): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNc_zKPYgFU
            About things to do with completed sketches, adding reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSgcCY3PA6s
            It’s story-asking with elements of drawing added. Sometimes I’ve used an authentic photograph as something we’ll compare student drawings to after they’re all done. Also, it’s nice to create 2 different scenes (using the same core language, but new details in each), so you have the option of comparing the two drawings later on (orally or with written statements). Ideas keep developing out of it, too. I do allow a little bit of “turn to a partner and describe your picture” but that really isn’t very productive, so it’s very brief. We do other follow-up discussions from scanned pictures and I use their pictures to start them on reading, too. Seriously, this is my favorite way to approach the 3 Steps. I grade their sketches (for including all the details). They often, often ask for clarification in drawing, but hardly are willing during normal storyasking. I like that about it, too.

          5. I’m going to be doing this soon, too, Diane. Thank you for bringing it up again. There are so many good things here, like asking for clarification. That’s a big deal! And it does seem relaxed 🙂

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