Side Talking

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20 thoughts on “Side Talking”

  1. Yes. Totally agree. I am in this place right now, calling forth my inner badass. Mustering patience. Stopping. Smiling. Pointing at the rule. Giving them honest jGR assessments. Everyone is at a 2 with the exception of 2-3 kids out of all the classes who are solidly in the 3 almost 4 category and 1-2 who are bouncing between 1-2.

    I’m also giving “official feedback” next week in the form of a “grade report” printed on an official report form. I have been good about giving them jGR feedback, but since this system is so new to them I don’t think they realize these assessments will truly affect their grades. I decided to give them their “grade to date” in a more official format. My intention is not to use the grade as a weapon, but simply to communicate objectively to them and their parents where they are at this point (end of quarter is Nov. 1) so they can take action. My dept. head thought that was a great idea! I’ll see how it turns out.

  2. It’s the smile and not getting annoyed/angry with them outwardly that I find the hardest part. But I think it gets better over time once you’re committed. I think I still have to drop some of my own issues that make me cranky when kids are disruptive: wanting my students to excel and really acquire language (for its own sake and to ‘prove’ Chinese can be learned, and that CI works, and others issues as well). At least now I can identify why it’s hard to be cheerful when the chatting and blurting happens, & work on those along with the classroom management issues.

    1. Reading my own comment from 2 months ago, I think my attitude has improved! Still working on the smile part, but I’m less needy now.

      I was practicing today with my 8th graders. We’re doing MovieTalk with a long film plus related activities, and I told them at the first instance of talking over me (during the simpler Chinese narration I’m doing on pass #2) that if they talk over me, I will have to stop and go back to repeat. That I want them to understand what is happening. Other students seemed to glare at the offenders. Just where I want them.

  3. Thanks for reposting this. I hadn’t read it before since I joined the group afterwards. I’ve struggled with the side talking with my last period of the day for a couple of weeks. I’ve gone into these kids’ homerooms and lectured to them, which worked, but I still had some rough days before Thanksgiving break. I’m going to be calling homes to warn about the failing grades this week. It’s unfortunate that so many of my kids are happy with simply passing, and the worst part of it is that they know they’ll usually be able to pull up a failing grade to a passing grade at the end of the semester because teachers are pressured not to fail kids. It’s a crappy game we play.

  4. Echoing Jen’s comment, I have found it helpful (and required at my school) to give students feedback on their overall grade every two weeks. For each kid, I fill out a jGR rubric, and print out a summary of the overall grade (from Easy Grade Pro). Sometimes I will require a parent signature (you can add a signature line in the footer notes in EGP). This is an easy way to give kids a clear sense that their jGR grade is an essential part of their overall grade, and has a tangible impact on that overall grade–especially for those smart-asses whose only low grade is in the jGR category.

  5. I echo this from Sean:

    …it’s a crappy game we play….

    This resonates deeply with me. Why? Because most of the kids don’t really want to learn what we are so passionate about. That right there makes it crappy. The lack of truly motivated kids and the interruptions with all the blurting and all make it a crappy game. I agree with you Sean.

    1. For once in my life (as a Spanish teacher) I have a clear understanding of how to grade my students starting at the beginning of the term. It’s a blessing because I can communicate clearly to all parties involved how the student is getting graded and what they need to do to improve their grade. Thank you PLC for helping me get here! It’s going to be a painful reality check for many of my students, and boy am I happy to help them face reality!

      1. And Sean the option on that is that most of the kids will not perform in class if we do not aggressively communicate with them about their grades pretty much every day. I just had this conversation with Annick yesterday. She is incredibly efficient in her grade book. I am in awe of how she does that. We both agreed yesterday that the Quick Quizzes are just a huge piece in this. I could see giving even more than one quiz on whatever content the CI was about that day, if it helps to hold the kids accountable. A great quiz writer would be needed for that. And of course jGR, which I haven’t heard much about here lately. Either we are honest with them or they won’t perform. Those are our choices. It sounds as if you are doing that, being honest with them. That is not a very common thing, so congrats to you on that. The one thing I personally will not do that Annick does is to go beyond the quizzes and jGR to grade them. I’m too lazy.

          1. She has set up an entire world of alternative CI instruction through the online foreign language games. I think that Diane uses them. The developer is here in Denver and visits our school often because he also wants to learn Chinese. So if a kid misses classes she is all over them having to make up the work by getting points online. I can ask her to elaborate.

          2. I do use the same thing as a homework grade (and occasionally use the activities in class). It’s called World Language Games. Mike, who programs it, apparently is mainly getting new ideas from Annick or from me – he’s added games for each of us this fall. We both wanted more story-based activities & told him about how does some of that.

          3. OH YEAH! I actually remember this from when I saw her in Breckenridge. She showed us some of those games and told us about that guy. It is on my way back burner because I can barely keep track of the day to day stuff–don’t wanna add to my day. But good to know in case someone ever asks a pointed question like that. As in 2 of my admins in an upcoming meeting on Monday about my “professional goals!”

  6. Annick and I are talking right now and I asked this question jen (we share a common planning). I’ll just write down what she says:

    Annick: If a student is absent, no matter the reason, including excused absences, I give them an automatic zero for that class. They can miss the class that is fine but you have to make up the time with CI. So my policy is that if you are absent for whatever reason you have to go play World Language Games to get back the points. One day is worth 30 points of WLG. Many kids make up the points! Some don’t. What about them? If they have an F, I show them their grade and they have choices to bring the grade up. When kids complain that the absence is excused, I tell them that yes the absence is exused but that the work is not, that they have to make up their interpersonal grade with the computer.

    Me: Is what you are doing in class tracked with , aligned with, connected to the content of the games, then?

    Annick: Yes, I scaffold in order: vocabulary, sentences and stories. So that the content of the WLG pages at any time has been frontloaded with the content of each of my classes. The content of the games mirror exactly what we did in class. Note carefully: the content and the vocabulary are all pre-planned before the year begins but sentences and stories vary as per what the classes came up with that day or that week. I also have a standard story that I create before class to guide me in much the same way that Anne’s scripts provide rails to the class.

    Me: That is an amazing thing. Does it take a lot of work?

    Annick: World Language Games are customized. My entire four year lesson plans are here. Everything I do in terms of vocabulary for four years are in the WLG pages. So they are my pacing guide and my lesson plans and so it is easy for me to assign homework for kids who are absent. It is easy to generate study guides. So when I gave Mike the ideas for his design plan for the site we kept creating more options – like Textivate and Quizzlet – on this site, even more than Edmodo and Polleverywhere and CPS, for example. It’s like a Wiki. too. Diane Neubauer and other teachers give Mike ideas as well. And it’s all in one place. It’s a fun option and we can have lots of fun in class with comprehensible input games when kids have CI overload from class. Examples of games – played against the conputer – are Jeapordy, Millionnaire, Bingo, Smack, etc. Even with just one thing from the vocabulary data bank, I can generate more than 50 different games and worksheets, so that is how powerful it is. Lots can be done with sentences like Sentence Definitions, Sentence Mathcing, Sentence Targets, Sentence Holes and Sentence Scrambles. So that option is all about reading. And also there are color coded stories, so I can choose the story I want and project it on the Promethean board. I can print the color coded stories so students can do group reading activities as well.

    Back to the point, we do this occasionally in class but, by giving this to people who have missed class, I don’t have to create anything for them (I refuse to do extra work for them if they are absent). Because I created all this so they just have to go to the games and get some CI via technology. It’s all here on this site in advance.

    Me: Where can my PLC members learn more? Do you realize how many Chinese teachers would like to explore this?

    Annick: It’s good for these languages: French, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish. So here is the demo page link:

    Me: Thank you Annick!

  7. I’m assuming that something like this doesn’t come cheap. My district doesn’t really want to pay for anything. I just invested in an annual premium subscription for textivate (totally worth it, btw). By any chance, do you know how much it costs to use? I tried to figure it out myself but only get a blank page when I type in “” .

      1. Yes, Mike has set it as $350 the first year, $35 per year thereafter. It’s been a lifesaver to me (with a school that expects me to give homework every night). I really, really like it.

        Another feature: “Study Guide.” You can post all the stuff easily (using the database you’ve already filled) so children who want a clear list of what they are ‘supposed’ to know can have one. Parents like that, too.

        I think that Annick and I have got Mike making 2 games from suggestions by each of us this fall…

        1. Thanks, Sean, Diane, and Ben. That is quite steep to come up with on my own. Do you know if that is for a whole school license (probably not, just wishful thinking, right?) or per user? If it were for the whole school, I might be able to get our district to cough up the dough. It looks like something that might be of interest to English and/or Social Studies teachers as well.

          1. I don’t know for sure, Brigitte… ask Mike Ahrens (game developer). He does a tremendous amount of training and help, as well as quick response if you have questions, ideas, or problems — more than the value paid in my opinion. I have 4 different databases at that cost.

            I suggest not so much of interest to Social Studies teachers. I think it would work for vocabulary, sentences, and very short stories for English teachers, but it is really designed for second languages.

  8. Yes Annick told me after I hit the send button on that comment above that it is $350. I am trying to get her to give us a link to HER version of this, although much of it is on the site already, as I understand, but am not totally clear about. She has eschewed any financial interest in this, by the way. If I were teaching Chinese, and could get access to all her stuff, I would be all over it like white on rice.

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