The Best Defense is a Good Offense 2

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8 thoughts on “The Best Defense is a Good Offense 2”

  1. Ben,

    Sounds like you have things under control, and yes being proactive is the best defense and offense . Isn’t that awful that we have to jump through so many hoops before we can do what seems right ( to us at least) for the kids ?

    Good luck Ben.

  2. Umm…as I wrote on here once before, we’re only paying $5/month for this PLC. And brilliant things -like this post right here- pop up on my computer screen while I’m in the comfort of my own home or the relative comfort of my classroom with a mere click on the refresh button. And a prettymuchaltogetherclueless new teacher (c’est moi) gets to converse with seasoned professionals and other beginning teachers? And we get to form and join in the ranks of people seeking an earth-shaking, heart-seeking, community-building repentance in how we do school and in what we’re providing to young people every day in these schools -a repentance in ourselves, students, and systems we work in? And have honest conversation about our own teaching amongst ourselves? And not to mention access the posters, videos, etc? For five bucks a month? Sorry I keep mentioning this, but I just love it. Wow! Ben’s post right here? Goodnight!

    In the interest of human compassion, I’m going to start finding ways to spread the word about CI in general and this PLC in particular to other language teachers before they get sucked into -or any FURTHER into- the dark den of despair (conscious language learning). I’m truly relieved that the strains of that dirgeful prelude to my career, albeit a brief prelude for me, are fading away fast behind the first shaky but soulful bars of my opening number (Although my lead singer and rhythm section [my input and pacing] both have their practice cut out for them and there’s some SERIOUS intonation issues going on in the brass section. No biggie. We’re gonna keep jammin’ till we hit the high note. Then jump right into our second number).

    Well, I’ve totally cluttered your post here Ben. Sorry! I had to get this out! Thanks again on behalf of the world’s present and future youth and on behalf of the sanity of us all on The PLC. May I offer you an authentic Duke jersey from the Bull City?

  3. Great comment Greg. I especially like this:

    …my lead singer and rhythm section [my input and pacing] both have their practice cut out for them and there’s some SERIOUS intonation issues going on in the brass section….

    We have compared CI to jazz here, years ago, because it is like jazz:

    https://benslavic.com/blog/2009/10/01/all-of-it-is-jazz/
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2010/08/29/handel-and-the-ventures-reprise/
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2009/03/25/jazz-vs-classical/
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2008/08/28/six-easy-pieces/

    What I hear behind your words is a fearless refusal to accept that which is mediocre in teaching. You don’t want to become a sad old person who bitches that all the students aren’t like their four percenters. You want a real experience as a teacher. That is what CI brings. I see you and James and Nathan and other really young ones just going nuts with this stuff. It takes a lot of the sting out of my own rather lengthy 24 year build up to CI, my own dreadful prelude to this work, so I thank you for your courage.

    I’ll pass on the Duke jersey. Offering a Duke jersey to a Gamecock fan is not as offensive as offering one to a Tar Heel, but all the same, I’ll pass, if for no other reason than the Cameron nutcake fans you got there who don’t know how to behave. Duke will not prevail in the tournament, by the way, if you were wondering.

  4. Ben, could you expand on this, how do you immediately evaluate kids at the end of class?

    “the constant use of jGR when needed and the immediate evaluation of individual kids at the end of class.”

    Thanks

    1. Dave Talone first drew my attention to this, Ben. Since I am a lazy person, I spent much of this year evaluation my kids using jGR every few weeks, whenever I felt like it.

      My classes weren’t going well. The kids and I forgot about jGR and the message it carries about how important it is that they align with the ACTFL standards or get knocked down on their grades. I forgot to keep the evaluation immediate and I paid with too much English over much of the course of the year.

      So, to keep their minds, and mine, on what counts in a foreign language classroom (Three Modes, Use of TL), so that they remember that in languages it isn’t all about how much you know but how you show in class that you know it in obvervable non-verbal ways as per ACTFL, I have started now to give daily grades on jGR like many of us are now doing, and it really makes a difference in how they act in the classroom. Daily grades using jGR gets it.

      Hope that’s clear Ben if not let me know. How many miles you got so far by the way? Been warm enough to ride up there?

  5. Susan VanBronkhorst

    Ben, I have really appreciated these specific ideas of how to do readings.

    For what it is worth..this is how I do my stories this year for 3rd through 8th graders. After we have told a story, after class, I take about five minutes with my pencil to write the story on lined paper, skipping lines. I write enough to fill one side or two. I find that it is easier for me to write with a pencil than to write on the computer for some reason. I make enough copies for all the students.

    The next day I write a list of words on the board, maybe ten, that are more unfamiliar to the students. Step 1: Kids underline or highlight these words in their text. In this quiet time I also encourage kids to read the story and try to understand it. (The good part about this is that it helps kids pay attention; it gives me something to grade; and they can go back to their stories, which we keep in their folders, and reread them.)

    Step 2: I read one paragraph in Spanish, or in some classes we do a choral read.
    Step 3: we choral translate in English. We stop at the underlines words. I point to the word on the board as we all say it in English, and they write the English translation above the underlined word.
    Steps 2 and 3 are repeated for each paragraph.

    Then we do the echo read for pronunciation practice,
    the sacred read,
    and a comprehension check.

    What I like about the way I’m doing these this year is that it is really simple for me to write the stories (paper and pencil!); the stories are personal because I use what we talked about in class and they like to see their names in print; the grading is really clear and it is simple for them to get their five points for the day.

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