Rebar 3

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6 thoughts on “Rebar 3”

  1. So I am your barometer TPRS student. I am a bit confused. Wouldn’t you still Point and Pause at the new target structure while going slower, recycling etc… Why use Point and Pause less? I teach pre-literate levels, and struggle to make myself understood since I cannot point to the words without interrupting the flow of TL. I would point and pause 24/7 ?

  2. Catharina I’m not sure I get that last question. Please clarify.
    My learning over the years on that skill – and not just from Diana but also Anne Matava, who is extremely strict about virtually no new words in stories and constant reps on the targets – is that too many new words confuse them as badly as not going slowly enough.
    Three or four years ago, I would always lose the barometer – and I didn’t much care and am still working on that – by writing down and pointing to and pausing at any new word that happened to come into my mind in the flow of the circling. It was a way of showing off to a captive audience.
    And then the kids got frustrated because too many of them couldn’t keep up. The superstars ran those classes three or four years ago. I had bought into the old model of education – that some kids are smarter than others, which, although true, in no way applies to language instruction.
    So then I came to DPS and Diana visited my classsroom a lot and reminded me on each visit in a kind way that the less new words I introduced into the PQA and the story, the more reps I could get on the target structures and the happier the kids would be.
    I did that. I learned to use that awesome technique of Circling to weave together the questions and the targets in all sorts of weird ways, always limiting, rejecting from my mind the minute they appeared, those new words that I used to let into the discussion in such a cavalier way in earlier days.
    So it is my opinion that each time you introduce a new word using Point and Pause you are basically digging the hole a a little deeper for the barometer.
    I am not saying not to avoid the skill, which really can’t be done – sometimes a new word is vitally necessary to gig a story into a new direction. I am just saying to avoid new words that are not that important and stay in touch with the barometer.*
    *remember that we define the barometer not as the dumb ass who ignores the lesson but as the kid who is the slower processor but who tries to learn.

  3. I understand much better. Thanks Ben for the clarification and excellent reminders as always. I think my frustration comes from teaching pre-literate levels where I have to rely 100% on making myself understood through gestures, drawing, sandwich translations, comprehension checks and a whole bunch of stuff that I schlepp from class to class. It is incredibly frustrating to me not to be able to Point and Pause to any words on a board, not even the wh-questions. It’s through tons and tons of repetitions, and slow slow slow motion, that I can get through a mini-story. TPR, PQA works for me. Creating stories with the kids, not so much. As I am writing, Point and Pause seems like “teacher heaven” to me. That’s why I wrote earlier that I wish I could Point and Pause 24/7. After teaching little ones all morning, the grass seems so much greener in Upper School 😉

  4. Sometimes I feel so boring in class… here are some thoughts I’ve had while trying to improve that.
    Spanish teachers are fortunate to have Sr. Wooly. He sure knows about repetitive and engaging input. There’s a song called the invitation… “-Can you go fishing with me? -With you? -With me. -No I can’t go fishing with you. I want to go shopping.” He does three locations, otherwise repeating nearly the same words. It would sound like a textbook drill. But there’s this other layer for kids to find, which is that there’s a rejection going on. They’re working hard on getting the literal surface meaning at first and then when they get comfortable, the social meaning dawns on them. There’s intention, emotion, opposition–> interesting tension. Michael Miller tells jokes. The punch line is the reward for all that hard work. And if you don’t get the joke at least you still comprehended because it was CI. The joke is a form of differentiation for the fast processors that keeps interest. well, not just fast processors, because when people laugh or groan, it clues the whole class in to the fact that there’s something to find. These kinds of layers are typical in normal L1 discussion. I don’t know how to create this for myself, but I think it’s definitely a piece of the puzzle.
    I’m currently reading a book on using drama to teach reading. So much of it would take language that’s too advanced for my Spanish 1 students. (The author teaches normal 6th grade English.) But I’m still hoping to find ways to work it in. Sometimes the techniques add layers. For example, he talks about doing a good angel/bad angel enactment, where you have a character who is trying to make a decision and you put people on either side to give them advice. I’m wondering if adding that kind of a layer, even if the teacher has to play all the parts (still fishing from the class, but not making them stand up and compose complete thoughts individually as is done in the L1 version), I wonder if that could add interest. Another version is the inner voice: someone tells what the character is really thinking. That made me think of Laurie: what does the character think/feel/say/do. Maybe that can be used to produce layers.
    I’ve also noticed that good movies have multiple layers too. They develop a lot of universal themes like love, friendship, success and they also weave together multiple plots. Maybe there are ways to “ask” these things into a story…

  5. Those are all great things to know, Carla. I know Bryce does a lot of jokes too. Anything to get the kids decoding the language because they want to and not because they have to. But I don’t know how planned good teaching can be.
    I collected many such activities over the decades, but I have the disadvantage of not being able to remember them. It is a real drawback. No sooner do I learn a cool new activity than a month later it’s gone from my mind.
    I can’t even remember to tell a joke. But I can’t tell a joke anyway. Plus, I would probably end up trying to not tell it but ask it so as to make it personalized so I don’t lose my slower decoders. I would be sure to ruin the joke.
    I have had to let go of the fact that I just can’t remember all of those activities. Plus, my new schedule won’t hold any of those activities. I love my new schedule. It allows me to completely play off the kids for five days of auditory and reading CI – plus some degree of output but nothing intense until after the first two years and then look out.
    I have learned to just pack in the language in class and then let the kids’ deeper minds take over and parse it all out at night while they are sleeping. I allow the power of the unconscious mind do the work instead of me taking responsiblity for the acquisition. What I do in class merely sets up the acquisition which occurs, rather, when they sleep at night. It takes a lot of pressure off of me.
    It’s like I shovel the coal into their minds in class but the train is perfectly capable of running down the tracks on it’s own without me getting all freaked out about it and having to consult a pacing guide and make myself sick with planning. (for more on pacing guides, see
    The train tracks of the unconscious mind are powerful indeed. The train will keep moving down the track if I but trust that process and sit up in the engine and make sure that the coal is provided and relax a little.
    Actually Carla that ties in with the email you sent me about vocabulary acquisition and CI last week. I have to make that into a blog post because it is very important. Remind me to do that. Or you do it and I will publish it this week.
    The upside of memory loss on those activities, however, is that I do relax a lot more. Now there is a certain joy in not preparing classes, not knowing even what the day’s structures are or what the story is about – a lot of spantaneity comes with that not knowing.
    I know the stories will work, anyway, because I only use stories by Jim Tripp and Anne Matava. They give me stories that have already worked in their classes, which saves me even more time from having to plan. I was thinking about writing a story about a kids who can’t prevent his arms from moving akimbo. Jim you write it – I’m too lazy.
    Plus, I don’t even concern myself anymore if it will be good CI or bad CI – I don’t get paid more if the CI is bad.
    So, knowing that all I have to do to start any week is enjoy my weekend without planning the week all out, and then speak to them in French during the week and and enjoy what they come up with and then write up the story and we read it in a happy way together mid week – it’s all lower pressure.
    I wish time weren’t so linear, then I wouldn’t forget those activities like I do. Oh well.

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