sGI – Sabrina’s Brilliant Insight

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5 thoughts on “sGI – Sabrina’s Brilliant Insight”

  1. The truth of sBI, settling in my mind, is both a humbling and a liberating feeling. Realizing that the level of acquisition we hope for is so impossibly out of reach for the time we have in class really does cause us to take stock of what we do and how we do it.

    When I left “grammar-translation,” as we Latinists call it, for CI, there was a long letting-go process, of releasing a lot of unreasonable expectations I placed on my students: that they be able to produce correct grammatical forms, that they memorize endings, that they understand and apply grammatical principles and rules of Latin in their production of the language. At the time these were all difficult expectations to let go of, now they are not – I really don’t miss having these expectations hanging over my head and the heads of my students anymore. It was humbling at the time, but now it is liberating and has brought new life to my classroom, students and my own teaching and being.

    But now, to let go of my expectations for large scale acquisition in a CI BASED CLASSROOM… that is a whole new level of letting go for me. But it has to be confronted, because I see the truth in sBI – we just don’t have the time. It’s a hard truth, but I know that once it is embraced (and it’s going to take a while), it will bring a sense of newness to my job, just as my previous letting go of grammar based instruction and my move to CI brought that sense of newness too.

    So those are the best words I can come up with to express my feelings on this – humility and liberation. I know the two go together in a spiritual sense:

    “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

  2. Yea and amen, brother David. And still, what they CAN do through CI is so much more than we were ever able to do with the grammar-translation approach. That’s the bright light for me, as we continue to let go of our illusions. I suspect there are many more for me to let go of. Just haven’t seen them all, yet.

    Yesterday, I began handing back grading rubrics for a performance final that my Latin 2’s did. They wrote and illustrated short stories, and I got a LOT of wonderful stories that I will edit into beginning readers this summer and, OMG, the artwork!

    Here’s my confession. While handing back the assessment rubric, a student asked me what “language control” means and why his grade on that part was so low. I heard myself say: that’s about grammar. Don’t worry. No one did terribly well on that. You all are doing as well as you should be able to right now.

    Then, they left the room. I sat there in silence listening to what I had just said. you are doing as well as you should be able to, but I gave you a low grade. What the hell is that? Something to let go of. Monday, I go in to change all 130 of those grades. The sooner I let go of some of this stuff, the less work it is for me.

    1. No one did terribly well on that. You all are doing as well as you should be able to right now.

      That is an important insight, Bob. I have old rubrics that have absolutely ridiculous requirements for “accuracy” (language control). They are long overdue for revision; maybe that’s why I seldom if ever use them.

      Actually, I like the presentational communication rubric my master teacher used to use:
      Comprehensibility: Is it understandable? (Hint: using language you have heard and used in class will be a lot more understandable than looking up words you don’t know in a dictionary or using an online translator; if you have to look up words, your audience – other students – won’t know them either, and you won’t be comprehensible; this is the second biggest reason for getting a low grade on a presentation)
      Content: Did you include what you were supposed to include? (Hint: this is the biggest reason for getting a low grade on assessments, e.g. I ask you to tell me about your family, but you talk about your classes at school. Now I don’t know if you understood the question.)
      Appearance: Do you present the product as if you care about it? (Hint: if you don’t care about it, why should I? This is perhaps the underlying reason for not doing well in other areas)
      Accuracy: Do you show the proper level of accuracy in language? (Hint: a “more advanced” student should be more accurate than a beginning student; your accuracy will go down whenever you challenge yourself – see “Creativity”) [N.B.: I really like the idea that this is a sliding scale – how accurate should a student be at this particular level? In the case of beginning students, the answer is “not very”.]
      Creativity: Is this your own work, and are you challenging yourself? (Hint: work that is not your own shows zero creativity; work that shows you are trying to use what you know in new ways is more important than absolute accuracy.]

      Each of those categories can be weighted as deemed appropriate. She used a percentage scale rather than Standards-Based Grading, so each category was worth 20 points. You could also do it with each category receiving an SBG number (0-4/0-5 or however you do it).

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