Scope and Sequence 1 – Robert Harrell

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4 thoughts on “Scope and Sequence 1 – Robert Harrell”

  1. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak

    Robert writes:
    “In fact, the order of presentation in a textbook often runs contrary to the order of acquisition. Examples of this are the presentation of por/para and ser/estar and their distinctions.”
    Another great example of textbooks doing it in the wrong order is the use of the present tense first, followed by the past tense, future and subjunctive in most French textbooks.
    That means teachers shouldn’t speak in the past tense to their kids until it’s introduced in the book, either at the end of year 1 or the beginning of year 2.
    That is the most absurd thing I’ ve ever heard. We know that in a comprehension-based classroom the goal is to deliver input that is comprehensible. How can we limit ourselves to speaking in the present only?
    I cannot do that. I can shelter vocabulary, and that is difficult enough, but I cannot shelter talking in the past tense if the need arises.
    I will never forget my first year of teaching, using stories. There was a French teacher who’d been teaching for like 30 years and she hated me and my stories. I will never forget her walking in my classroom one day, looking scornfully at my board and poiting to a word on it and she said: “how can you teach this word, it’s not in the curriculum!”
    I should have asked her how she is able to control her speech so that it corresponds exactly with the words in their chapter order per the curriculum!!! Talking about lack of spontaneity and robot behavior!

  2. Nicely said and very to the point Sabrina. If people in our group who are new to all of this can drink in what Robert has said in his communication with this district representative – there are 21 more articles in this thread by Robert coming in the next 21 days – then we can indeed begin to see that the change that we have been waiting for is now here and that the teachers of the future – us – will indeed be engaging their children in the target language for the entire class period using a variety of tenses with heavily sheltered vocabulary*.
    *Krashen did his research about acquisition based on 24/7. We have .75/5 at best (five 45 minute classes five days per week). That fact has got to skew his research as it applies to us. Robert Allen Hong Kong reminded me to ask Krashen about that in San Diego and I still forgot. But the fact is true – we have to shelter vocabulary; we just don’t have the time to go shallow and wide in our classes. We go shallow and wide with grammar – we give them all the grammar** we can! – but we have to limit vocabulary.
    **Grammar is properly spoken speech. That’s how people learn correct grammar – by hearing the language spoken correctly. That is what I call three dimensional grammar. It is not the one dimensional worksheet kind. Those days are over. Thank God, right?

  3. Brilliant idea for this series of posts. In my last “department meeting” before I got out for summer, the three of us sat on our individual laptops filling in an excel spreadsheet with our “curriculum map,” as mandated by our admin in response to some NEASC recommendations. Ick.
    I knew this was coming, so I prepped my dept head by sending her a fabulous Robert Harrell document that I thought would clarify the position on scope / sequence, curriculum map, etc. I felt proud and proactive and really grounded in the reasons I do what I do. However, dept. head rejected the ideas pretty much flat out. “I want to see a list of structures broken down by month.” I was headed for a meltdown, when suddenly I decided, “No, they don’t get to make me melt down. I will give “them” what they are asking for, which is a list, a spreadsheet, fill in the boxes in the least amount of time possible.”
    So I sat in the “meeting” which was a total waste of time. Silly me. I thought “meeting” meant we would “meet” as in talk to each other about ideas, share ups and downs of the year, reflect and set goals for next year. Anyway, I filled in those damn boxes by just throwing some random structures in the boxes to “prove I had a plan” or whatever.
    Great point about educating our admins. I take any opportunity to do this. I have an ally or 2 in admin who get what I am doing. But it is awkward because I am not the dept head, and dept head is a dear person with a big heart but who is too busy with other things and is waiting to retire, so…??? I am trying hard not to run behind her back with stuff. Interesting balance between getting “out there” to shine the light and focusing the beam on the kids in front of me.

    1. Andrea Westphal

      The thought of having to turn in a curriculum map makes me cringe and causes me A LOT of anxiety. I just met with my new principal on Monday to discuss, among other things (like how to cope with teaching French I-IV AND 2 sections of economics), what his expectations were concerning curriculum maps. We have to turn them in as part of a school improvement plan. I want the admins to be on board with how I teach French, and so far, they have been. They don’t pretend to know how best to teach a foreign language. However, I am the only CI teacher in the department, if you can even call it a department. We don’t have a department head; there are only 2 1/2 language teachers at my high school, and 4 in the entire district. Luckily, I am the ONLY French teacher.
      Anyway, I can empathize with you, Jen. I am looking forward to reading this entire series. And thank you Robert, for sharing this with us.

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