Scope and Sequence Question from Joe

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11 thoughts on “Scope and Sequence Question from Joe”

  1. O.k., Joe, I realize where you’re coming from. Theoretically, we have to follow some kind of “scope and sequence”, too, in order to prepare the kids for the FLACS exam, for example. I realized very quickly that there are many ways to adhere to certain “prescribed” vocab lists, grammar topics, thematic units…… without actually resorting to using said lists, topics, units. By using the high-frequency structures, you hit all of the above (e.g. he/she likes…… you can discuss the dis/likes of fruits, clothes, neighborhoods, family members……, same thing with the grammar: he/she liked, would have liked, will like……).
    Assuming they administer some kind of (comprehensive) final exam, could you get a copy of it ahead of time so you have an idea of what it is they are looking for? I can’t imagine that such exam would be grammar-concept based. It will probably cover the usual, listening, reading, writing, speaking.
    Like Ben said, just give them what they want in terms of a syllabus/lesson plan but do what you have been doing so brilliantly this past year.

  2. Thank you Ben and Brigitte,
    The good thing is that the district has told me repeatedly they are NOT grammar driven which I believe frees me up a bit. They also said that we will be working backwards from a “unit assessment” and how I get the kids to know that material is up to me. It appears as though I am going to have a lot of latitude to fully implement TPRS/CI. So as you both so eloquently 🙂 stated – I have to just give them what they want. It’s just seems so frustrating to come up with structures and vocab specifically designed to address a particular theme.

    Any suggestions on handling the vocab lists the students must get?

    1. Joe here is a link to a list of thematic units that I used a few years ago as a smokescreen to make parents and administrators think I was teaching thematically. But I stopped doing them after a few years because people can’t learn languages from lists, not to mention that the kids hated them and most chose not to do the memorizing outside of class:

      I’m just showing you something that shuts up administrators. So it has value. We cannot, however, think that by memorizing lists of words (vs. hearing words in meaningful context) that people can make any gains whatsoever in languages. They just can’t.

      So this is your first of two options in terms of providing your supervisors with something, as per your statement above:

      …I have to just give them what they want….

      The other option is not a lie and there are people in our community doing this right now. They are doing backwards planning from novels and those words, even though they are in the form of a list of words, are not like the thematic units because they are going to be targeted and PQA’d and circled and repeated many many times to set up the reading of the novel – basic backwards planning.

      And then I think it is Leigh Anne or someone in L.A. who is just taking the list of targets that we find in Anne’s story scripts and presenting those as the curriculum. It is the truth. The teacher who does a lot of stories spends essentially the entire year working with about 25 words but going about as narrow and deep as one could imagine.

      Hope this is kind of clear.

    2. …I have to just give them what they want….

      This makes me think of something good about our jobs. If we have learned to fly under the radar and pick our battles (I’m still learning), and if we have built a half way decent reputation in our buildings because our kids don’t complain, their parents are happy with our product, and we indeed provide our administrators with what they want, then it is highly likely that our admins won’t even read the stuff we provide them and, if they do, they will merely glance at it.

      I believe this to be true for two reasons: 1. they don’t have time to read everything they are given. 2. one of the reasons for the onslaught now going on against teachers is to get rid of the bad ones and for that they need documentation. But they must be politically correct – they can’t just ask the bad teachers to provide documentation for what they are doing, they have to ask everyone. That’s just the political climate in districts.

      So, what all this paperwork most of us are dealing with to start the year (while trying to find a few minutes for honest self reflection on what we ACTUALLY want to do in class vs. what we tell our administrators) is really a smokescreen on us. They can’t TELL us they are asking for all that paperwork to keep tabs on bad teachers, but it is possible that that is really what is going on. So if we keep that in mind – I think it’s true to an extent – we can sleep easier.

      Honestly, in my view, if we are at a point of basic implementation of CI in our classrooms, the only people who really don’t like what we do are traditional teachers and that is not because we are bad at what we do and that CI is bad; it’s because they are seeing their jobs disappear and with it their idea of who they are. That’s gotta be hard to take. Bless those recalcitrants.

      Kids, parents and admins pretty much appreciate us, I would say. Because the kids are engaged, happy and learning. The tomb-like days of the past in foreign language education are over. Mighty Mouse has saved the day. So hand in your paperwork and relax and enjoy the year and the kids. Stop looking in the rear view and thinking that the policeman behind you is looking for you – she’s looking for people breaking the law, teaching shitty classes in the building. Life is for enjoying!

  3. I would use quizlet or something like that and upload the vocab lists there. Just use the HF structures in class and give them the option of studying “additional” vocab on their own. I just think it’s so ridiculous to study 500 different types of fruits when ordinarily you can get by with orange, banana, and apple. If they wanted to buy a kumquat at the market in Guadalajara, they could just point to it. Way more importantly, your kids will be able to say “I am looking for a…/I would like to buy a…../”.
    Great that you will be able to work backwards from the unit assessment. So you already know which words will be on it. That way you only need to make sure that they know those words. And if you absolutely MUST give them longer lists of vocab, put them somewhere (see above) so they can access them but don’t assess the kids on these words. Btw, if you ever want to talk shop, remember that Commack is in my neck of the woods 🙂

    1. Yay! Claire, I have enjoyed reading your posts about ESL and language acquisition. My district just put out a survey to teachers about what we would like to see next year in the way of professional development and consults, and I replied that I would like to see the development of a non-grammar scope and sequence. Your scope and sequence document will be good to have should there be any ongoing discussion.

      Thank you!

      1. Thanks for the feedback. Glad I could help.
        Sometimes I wonder if I’m just junking up Ben’s lovely space with ESL-specific stuff, but my intention is to be helpful. You all are so knowledgeable and your ideas are incredibly helpful to me. Most teachers groan when they hear IEP, but you, Robert, seek opportunities to help children who need you most.

        1. Annemarie Orth

          Hi Claire,
          I really appreciate your posts re: ESL because my good friend here in Portland is the academic writing teacher and is always asking me about TPRS and how she can use it in her classroom with her ELL students-in fact, she came with our world language team to the TCI conference last fall here in Maine I just shared with her one of your postings about scope and sequence. Thank you!

          1. Annemarie, this might help your colleague with TPRS and how it’s used in ESL:
            Sadly, I have been testing for weeks and now it’s Spring Break, but I’d like to record myself before the end of the year (even though I’m still new to TPRS) just to prove it can be done with (some) English as a Second Language students.
            Maybe bilingual education or deaf-language education? Who knows? It’s exciting, though.

          2. Annemarie Orth

            This is great-thank you! I already shared your scope and sequence (I think it was yours) with my ELL colleague and she was psyched. And I will share this article as well. Thanks for being so willing to share all your work.

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