Report from the Field – Dana Miller-Kitch

This report is from Dana (pronounced Danna) Miller-Kitch, from Canada, who is just starting in the MS French position I had two years ago at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. Tina and I worked with Dana in Philadelphia this summer and she is using the Invisibles with the same kids, now 8th graders, who invented them with me two years ago as 6th graders, so her reports from Delhi have extra interest to me because they bring so much happiness to hear what those kids are doing:

Ben – those 8th graders are simply awesome. Here’s the first story that they came up with (and I embellished a bit) – all within 1 hour:

le 5 septembre 2017

Histoire #1

Il était une fois 24 mini petits gâteaux qui vivaient dans un château dans un pays lointain. Ils s’appelait des Quaad Cakes, et ils étaient très mignons. Il y en avait douze à la saveur de vanille et douze au chocolat. Ils avaient tous un glaçage arc en ciel à la vanille et étaient fourrés avec du caramel. 

Un jour, les Quaad Cakes étaient dans la cuisine du château avec leur meilleure amie, Fiona, un gâteau rouge velours à trois étages. Ils bavardaient et s’amusaient jusqu’au moment où Lord Farquaad a gâché leur jour. Il a choisi Fiona pour le dessert pour le dîner ce soir-là. 

Fiona était fâchée donc, elle a commencé à formuler un plan. Les Quaad Cakes formeraient une armée pour aider Fiona; ils attaqueraient Lord Farquaad avec des grenades de glaçage. Ensuite, Fiona mangerait l’ennemi.

Le moment pour le dîner est arrivé. Les invités étaient assis autour de la table. Ils étaient tous des malfaiteurs des films de DreamWorks. Le Chat Botté y était aussi. Ils ont bien mangé et puis, c’était le moment pour servir le dessert. Tout d’un coup, Shrek et l’ ne ont défoncé la porte, et les Quaad Cakes sont descendus du plafond par parachute, et l’attaque a commencé. Les petits gâteaux ont lancé des grenades de glaçage d’en haut, et Shrek et l’ ne ont attaqué soudainement. C’était une grosse bataille!  

Les Quaad Cakes avaient peur du Chat Botté car il les poussait avec son fleuret. Ils lançaient des grenades en se retraitant. Lord Farquaad a été atteint par beaucoup de grenades et était couvert de glaçage, et le Chat Botté s’est retraité parce qu’il avait peur. 

Fiona a saisi le moment parfait et a attaqué Lord Farquaad et l’a mangé.

We did the Reading Options today and they were so proud of their story! And I was so proud of them. I pointed out the conditional tense and why we use it there, and many of them got it. And the two that pay the least attention in class are my artists so they have to get it – it’s brilliant actually. I told them they need to converse more with Maanvi and Anoushka, the two story writers, if they have any questions. Vikram is Prof #2 again, and even though he doesn’t always pay attention, he surprised me today when I was asking questions with them turned away from the text – he knew some answers, in French, that some of the others didn’t. I made Anoushka Story Writer 2, so that she is “being pushed” as her father asked me to do. Am was disappointed in losing his job as Videographer, but he’s my Reader Leader and I let him use the laser pointer, which he loves. And he’ll be the filmmaker for the end of the year. I made Egor an actor and he likes that.

I also have made up a few jobs so that everyone has a job in all of my classes. M. or Mme Météo checks the weather outside and on MétéoMédia online. The Keeper of the Vocabulary updates the ongoing vocab list in a Google Doc. I also have a Kahoot Quiz Maker so we can review and do a game every so often. I just have to figure out when to give that student time in class to work on it.

It’s going great here! I’m loving it and so are the kids. My daughter is begging to come into my French class, but I won’t let her,  lol,  since she speaks French already, she’d be too bored and wouldn’t be learning. I told her maybe in 8th grade!

Much love from Delhi! Namaste,




12 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Dana Miller-Kitch”

  1. This is kind of unrelated but may help some people doing the Invisibles – Dana tried to make up a character DURING a story. It was rough, she said. So the breakthrough point that she shared with me and that may help others is to ALWAYS start a story with a character that has already been created in advance, either by the group (OWI) or by an individual student.

  2. Can you speak more about the Keeper of the Vocabulary job? I am starting OWI and Invisibles this year after doing mostly targeted CI. Thanks!

  3. In some school buildings it is necessary to put on a front as if learning is going on and making lists is perfect to do that, even though such lists have very little to do with actually building vocabulary in another language. Krashen has made this quite clear, stating as further evidence of his Input Hypothesis that we acquire vocabulary and spelling by listening reading and that is enough.

    So I suggested somewhere in the book on the Invisibles that we have a kid noting down every new word in every class. I can see where Dana would be doing that since I taught in the same school (the same students) that she is in in New Delhi. I know those parents and they NEED lists of words. So, not to answer for Dana here but just throwing in a comment, having a kid that lists all new words that occur in each class, and eventually putting them on the class website, keeps parents happy. Dana might do well to even test on them, in that school!

    My position is that in June the same words will have been learned at each level, if not in the same order. I refer on this claim to everything Krashen has written about the Natural Order of Acquisition Hypothesis.

  4. Beth, I created that job because the students asked at the beginning of the year what they could do if they wanted to do extra outside of class. So I used a Google Doc template – I think it came from Bryce Hedstrom (I’ve forgotten again!!!) – to do it. The date on top and then two columns – French on one side and English translation in the other. I’ve given one student editing access and that student adds any new vocabulary to it every class. I’ve posted it to the Google Classroom so it’s always there, along with the OWI descriptions and the stories. Students can go in any time and practice. I’ve assigned a Review-to-Date as homework once as I figure it won’t hurt the kids once in a while to go over the info. And it allows one student to feel super special about their contribution to class.

  5. I think everyone should do this Dana. It is a premier CYA move. You can always test them on this information for those classes that might like that. You can call it up at parent meetings. You can eat up minutes on days when you don’t feel like teaching by projecting it in the front of the room and cover the English words and just go down the list and have them translate. They love lists bc it makes them feel as if they are learning. This is an excellent idea.

  6. So, just wanted to say that when parents asked me what their child could do at home (we had conferences this week), I told them that they could be reviewing vocabulary, character descriptions and stories that are linked on Google Classroom. I had no extra work to do to get stuff ready – the material is already there. Plus, I told them that we’ll be having summarize assessments next week so they could review these documents if they’d like to feel more prepared. I also told them they could sign out books from our classroom library for more reading input.

  7. So nice. By the way Dana I have all three of your posts ready to go. The queue has gotten jammed again so I will put them off until next week. I am thrilled that the very classroom in New Delhi where this all started is being continued there, thanks to your fine mind and wonderful dedication to our craft. You are to be congratulated for all you’ve done in the last six months. I remember when I first arrived in Delhi and sampled the air and looked around outside the Embassy compound, I got a little freaked out. You are a person I would go to war with, and in fact in a very real sense we have!

  8. Thanks for the kind words, Ben. I have a feeling it might be a bit of a war when it comes to having to write curriculum and do vertical alignment. However, Tina’s Cycle of Assessment will help me there. I may be coming to all of you again in a few weeks needing support and advice on how to deal with the “necessary” things in our school.

    The air isn’t too bad yet but it’ll be awful soon. This will be the test as to whether or not I’ll be able to stay here long term or not. As for what it’s like to live here, it wasn’t a surprise for me. After having lived in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, very little surprises me. The good thing is that I live on campus so if I don’t feel like dealing with traffic, I can stay in my little bubble and have groceries delivered here. I do hate the traffic but I knew coming here, to a city of 26 million, that it would suck. 🙁 I will enjoy my time back in Canada even more when I can breathe beautiful air!

    1. Well if they still have the same robotic one-size-fits-all-for-all-subjects curriculum team there at the American Embassy School they won’t like it. They will like you but they won’t get you, you are above their level of awareness re SLA. I had a tough relationship with them – I can’t remember if I shared that with you in Phila. It is written up here but I can’t find it. It would be in the March/April archives of 2016. Linda Li snuck under their notice but her smile is better than mine.

    2. We have a windy bright 70 degree going on here in Denver and I consciously thanked God for it a few hours ago. My experience there in Delhi taught me a lot about appreciating what we have here. I read somewhere that the 26 million people is just in the metro area. The larger area, up towards Pakistan and all, has 56 million.

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