Sandbox – 2

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4 thoughts on “Sandbox – 2”

  1. Man, Ben, you are the Metaphor King! I especially like this one.
    Honestly, my sandbox is on another planet from the empty boxes of HS teachers in my area. An example: I was asked to tutor a girl in HS Spanish 3. She wants to go from C1 to Honors level 3 and despite the HS having this girl and knowing how badly she wants to move up, the teachers won’t let her move up until she can pass the Honors level 3 exam with an 80+%. She got a 69% without studying for it. 25% is a grammar section and 15% is pure vocabulary, the rest is 15% per the 4 skills (and vocabulary and grammar again have a category in each skill rubric – double dipping!). All based on a textbook – Avancemos. I hadn’t looked at a textbook in a while. . . 9 chapters of low-frequency 80+ new vocabulary items and 4 new grammar concepts of low communicative value PER chapter.
    I am friends with the parents of the girl needing tutoring, so I couldn’t help myself. I told the dad: “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
    These textbooks and the teachers that teach this curriculum ARE doing harm!!! How could anyone, but the most studious and brainy kids, learn all this stuff?! And even then, it’s crammed and forgotten. This is the illusion (or delusion) of learning. When the majority of kids report they dislike/hate FL class and when they all get the message that FL class is hard and that they’re not good at languages, then a FL program has FAILED! Isn’t there a disconnect between liking kids on the one hand and teaching this content on the other?
    It’s comical that the same HS teachers tell me their kids have mastered this content in their language use. HA! If that were true, then get the SLA researchers on the phone, because you are the answer the field has been waiting for for 40+ years!
    The HS teachers do NOT want an invitation to my sandbox. I brought the dept head kicking and screaming to my sandbox last year and her ONLY comment to me after my 7th graders ROCKED the house was: “It’s interesting to see how other teachers engage their kids.”
    This is about finding content to fit the kids, not making the content fit the kids. The content in a textbook curriculum is harmful. And it has NOTHING to do with teaching for proficiency. This IS criminal!
    https://benslavic.com/blog/forum/general-discussion-1/wheres-the-research-for-textbooks/
    “But on what has the collective thought processes of the profession based its decision about what to be in textbooks? Is it based on some expertise in language, language acquisition, and language teaching? The answer is, of course, no. What we find in language teaching materials (at all levels, by the way) is simple historical inertia from decades and decades of ‘that’s how it’s done.’ Nowhere are language teaching materials genuinely informed by what we know about language and language acquisition, for example, in spite of what publishers may tout in a preface or back cover. Nor are the materials informed by what we know about the development of proficiency” (VanPatten, 2015).

    1. “This is about finding content to fit the kids, not making the content fit the kids.” The artful part of our jobs. I personally thrive on that moment of uncertainty, that moment when I am scared out of my wits by where to go next, and then like THAT, it just happens and it’s perfect and we roll with it and the class takes a deep breath because they get that we’re going with the flow too. We TCI teachers are expanding our comfort zone everyday, and that’s why we are going to be leading the profession into a new era, like right now, despite the sucking inertia that VanPatten talks about.

  2. I think I will be using the sandbox analogy tonight for back to school night with the parents. Whenever I forget that my classes take place in a school I tend to have my most powerful and engaging classes. When I have school and lessons and curriculum maps on my mind I tend to never find situations where the students forget they are learning.
    When school is play… FLOW occurs. I need a daily reminder that invites students to my sandbox!
    Thanks for the post!!!

    1. Hey Mike, remember when I said after your session that “I don’t know about the part where you said we should ‘make TPRS look like school'”? Well, I hope you know where I was coming from, basically what you said above (and perhaps a bit more). And I think I know now where YOU were coming from in expressing that sentiment. You are one heckuva diplomat in our field.

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