Report from the Field – James Hosler

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35 thoughts on “Report from the Field – James Hosler”

  1. Congratulations, Jim. You’re too modest to say so, but obviously it has taken a lot of hard work and investing your time to get such results. Not to mention the courage to decide to try something completely different. And yet you still find time to contribute to this site with thoughtful and interesting ideas. Keep it up!

  2. James ,

    Congratulations! You deserve everything you are receiving. They should be so happy to have a teacher like you doing the kind of work you’re doing. And thank you for everything you’ve done on the blog. It has been instrumental.

  3. Jennifer in NJ


    I am so proud of you! That is truly wonderful news! I wish Latin would’ve been offered at my school when I was a student. I find it interesting. I just want you to know that you have renewed a sense of hope in me about next year. This standards-based grading talk is really lighting a fire. I just got my Marzano book delivered so that’ll keep me busy for a little while. I don’t want to highjack your post but since it is fresh, I’m going to ask here: Do you have a sample of how you explain what you do to students and their parents? i.e. a syllabus? I was talking with an admin that oversees that grade book; explaining my ideas for next year and he wants to try to help. I just need a way to explain things better to him and since it’s new to me I feel like the blind leading the blind.

    Thanks again and CONGRATULATIONS for your increase in enrollment!

    1. That’s a really good point about explaining to parents. I really tried this year to explain to my students again and again how it all worked. But I didn’t do a good job of talking with parents about it. This summer I am going to spend some time on a “letter to parents about standards-based grading.” When I get that done, I’ll post it to my blog.

      1. When you do have that letter posted to your blog, I’d love to see it as well! I’ll just have to watch your blog more often :). (I too have been thinking about how I’ll explain my grading system with parents).

        Also, congratulations sir! You are doing wonderful work and your students (and us!) are lucky to have you :).

        1. By the way, Nathan, I’m currently drafting some revisions to my standards based on our conversation here. Because next year I’ll have so many students, I need to simplify even more. So I am probably going down to just three standards: Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational. I’ll be more in line with ACFTL, I think, and closer to what you have suggested. More on that later, too, when it’s had time to fester.

          1. Ooo this is exciting! If you look at my updated version of SBG I tried to come up with a solution for quizzes by making it its own standard (Marzano isn’t so keen on quizzes as a formative assessment, but I can see its importance in our CI classrooms.) I just stuck the standard under Interpretive because students were ‘interpreting’ (showing comprehension) of an oral or read story. I also had to re-write the standards for Spanish I to be more inline with the four-point scale (I like that better). I’m still messing around with my conjunctive grading scale, but am leaving it for now. Lots of other things to worry about as the semester ends!

            I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  4. James, this is awesome! I’ve seen my enrollment grow slowly over the past few years, but 160 to 220 is amazing! Congratulations!

    This is a common thing that I and I know Bob and John have seen. When a Latin program switches to CI, it’s numbers go up. It’s so cool to see it happen again. And we know how traditional programs are struggling to stay afloat, unless they are deep in 4 percenter country (I’m talking 4 percenter students and parents here.)

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. When you build a better mousetrap, students will beat a path to your door! Thanks so much for sharing the good news with us, James. Your victory encourages the rest of us.


  6. Wow-zah! This is such exciting news James! And also not surprising. I want to be in your Latin class along with the other 220 and likely many more from this community 🙂 Congratulations!

  7. I like the way you said TPRS Leigh Anne. I am still not totally comfortable with TCI as a term. It’s a double whammy. The term TPRS is hated by so many teachers, so truly misunderstood by thousands of teachers who have flat out represented it improperly or in some cases, most cases actually, with very little accuracy.

    It’s not Blaine or Susie or Jason or Carol’s fault at all and it has a lot to do with the Mimi Met/Helena Curtain phenomenon we’ve talked about here in recent months, but TPRS as a term in language education is just loaded with misunderstanding and confusion and misinformation.

    In spite of two decades of bad press, it is specifically in those very three steps of TPRS where the greatest magic always happens. Never can TCI and general comprehensible input work done in general approach the greatness of TPRS when a story is rolling out in the shockingly wonderful way it sometimes can.

    I experienced that when being observed yesterday. Wow. You can do things in stories you can’t do in pictures. Just yesterday or the day before here I wrote with confidence that you can do things with pictures that you can’t do with stories. I said it was because pictures give the kids a concrete image.

    It felt that way at the time. But then when doing those stories yesterday I saw how there can be so much more imagined stuff, weird and hilarious imagined images, goofy stuff in our collective mind, which is what pure TPRS does.

    I was watching some of my quietest and most non-communicative kids smiling in total involvement in that Matava story yesterday, and I said to myself, “What a wonderful world! It doesn’t get any better than this.”

    My actors played their parts and did those silly things they do, those spontaneous blink moves (I think all kids possess genius) and it was classic TPRS.

    So do we keep using TCI? Is that fair to Blaine? Do we avoid the negative political charge of the term TPRS? Do we diss Blaine that way, the true inventor and applier of Krashen’s ideas into the classroom? I don’t feel comfortable with that. And yet, when I say TPRS, a little flare of red light shows up in people’s eyes. What to do?


    1. Ben, you wrote: You can do things in stories you can’t do in pictures. Just yesterday or the day before here I wrote with confidence that you can do things with pictures that you can’t do with stories.

      Both statements are true. Stories and pictures are two tools in the TCI toolbox, they do different things.

      There are two different aspects to being a “master” or professional:
      1. Having the right tools (Thank you, Asher, Krashen, Ray, Gross, et al.)
      2. Knowing how and when to use which one (That is the art and craft of teaching)

  8. Not surprised at all, James. Maximas gratulationes tibi! I hope you will post this on LBP as well. I want more Latin teachers to hear this. I am getting clearer and clearer about what motivates me to keep on keeping on this work, learning it, getting better at it. I have three words:

    1. equity
    2. retention
    3. growth

    They are not separate, really: equity because CI makes it possible for everyone in the room to acquire language; retention because they want more of what they are getting; growth because, as Lauri said – better mousetrap and they beat a path to your door.

    As your program grows into one larger than you can teach, you need to have eyes out for a Latin teacher who can join you who either is doing this work or who is VERY eager to learn it.

    Okay, who wants to move to James’ school to help him teach this program?

    1. Actually even a dinkier town near a dinkier city: St. Joseph near Kansas City.

      I have heard that hiring a part time Latin teacher has come up in meetings. I am terrified, actually, of that happening. Anyone qualified to teach Latin, deadly interested in TCI, and willing to move to the middle of nowhere for a part time job? Anyone?

          1. That’s a border to border four hour drive dude. It’s a nice four hour drive, though. Great country. You and James have that state pincered. A pincer movement. You can do workshops in Columbia. Then there would be two things going on in Columbia – basketball and TCI. Or do workshops together. Start at my alma mater, Washington U. – they need it.

  9. Sorry about that dude I thought you were over there along the Big River.

    Hey, if you can’t get a person who wants to do CI, and you won’t, then you just have to tell your school to limit the enrollment in Latin. I know that they won’t listen to you, but tell them anyway.

    They have to be made to understand that Latin is not the big draw here, but the way you are teaching it. If they can’t understand that and decide to just throw you some teacher who is, as you say, not deadly focused on TCI, then there will be problems.

    1. Ben is right about the draw. A few years ago we had a math teacher at our school who had studied in Germany. He agreed to take on the beginning German classes but had no idea how to teach foreign language. So I worked with him and dragged him to some TCI/TPRS workshops. He did very well and told me that he enjoyed teaching German better than teaching math. The program continued to grow. Unfortunately, he transferred to another school in the district because of politics. Since then we have had to limit enrollment in German, but that is better than having someone who doesn’t understand what is going on in language acquisition and wants to do only grammar. If you do limit enrollment, you will be working with cycles. Last year, for example, I had a single beginning class, and the administration chose to allow only sophomores and juniors into the class. This year that class remains small and is full of juniors and seniors. Fully half of the class graduates this year. Next year they will probably combine it with the 4/AP class, and the following year there will be no level 4 class at all. My two sections of German 1 this year both have over 40 in them, but nearly half of those are sophomores who couldn’t get in last year. It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of this will be.

      1. Sorry, forgot something.

        Perhaps I should note: students who had this particular teacher for both math and German also thought that he was a better German teacher than he was a math teacher. They enjoyed his class and acquired German – and he was definitely a new teacher as far as language instruction is concerned. One of his students (who finished up with me) spent his senior year in German on an exchange program and said a couple of times that he was the only one in his group who was truly prepared to communicate in German. My colleague laid a very important foundation.

    1. Anne, I would love to have you come and teach at my school. There’s so much I could learn from you. Unfortunately, I’m afraid they will close the German program when I retire.

      Last year the only other teacher with a German program at all retired from another high school in the district. It was, admittedly, a small program, but they didn’t try to save it at all or even do much for the students. When I heard he was retiring, I went to the counselors and principal at my school and suggested that students who wanted to continue with German could be given the option to transfer. While my German 1 classes were impacted, I could fit students into all of the other classes. This year I found out that students at the other school were never given this option. They were told 1) if they had had two years, they completed their college-entrance requirement and didn’t need any more language (even though the UC and CSU systems recommend three years) or 2) if they took French or Spanish they could still get their required two years of a language in.

      Earlier this year, our head counsellor said to me, “Let us know in plenty of time before you retire so we can phase out your program rather than having to collapse it like [the other high school] did.” That alone should tell you how valued German is. I genuinely believe the counsellors would be happy with nothing but Spanish at our school as far as foreign language is concerned. As a result of that conversation, I have decided not to return my letter of intent to return until late in the school year. For the next four years or so, I will return the letter of intent with “yes” marked, but do it just before the deadline in June. That will accustom them to not having an answer too soon in the year. They will have to schedule all of the classes with the assumption that I will return. Then, one year, just before the end of school, I will return a “no” form. That way they will either have to find a German teacher or explain to an awful lot of very unhappy students and parents why their children are unable to get the class they signed up for and were “promised”. I’m devious.

  10. Anne, are you really considering a move? I know there is an opening in Garden City – a very prestigious (whatever that means) district on Long Island. We could use some TCI “fortification” in our neck of the woods.

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