The Few and the Many

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9 thoughts on “The Few and the Many”

  1. I read it. I know I didn’t follow directions, but I needed to vent with you so I read it! I’ve been out of teaching Spanish for three years, and just completed my first week back. My 2 Spanish classes are wonderful. We are circling their names and activities, and they love it. BUT…My administrators have decided that all teachers must be doing the SAME thing in class on the SAME day. I am the only TPRS teacher on my campus. The others don’t have the desire to change. I tried 4 years ago. I’m not ready for the fight that I see brewing. I’m worried. I HOPE that they (admin) are so focused on the English, Math, etc. classes being aligned that they will leave FL alone, but I don’t know. I am thankful to have so many of you out there who have experience in dealing with the battle. If I could take a picture of the lesson plans the other Spanish 2 teacher is turning in on “our behalf,” you would know what I am dealing with. She’s already got “possessive adjectives” on the agenda for next week. Of course, I’m teaching possessive adjectives, but the students don’t know it! Ha! Ok, I feel better. Thanks for letting me vent with you!

  2. …I’m teaching possessive adjectives, but the students don’t know it!…


    However, what is the answer to this –

    …my administrators have decided that all teachers must be doing the SAME thing in class on the SAME day….

    The only thing I can think of doing is to sneak as much CI as possible in when you are doing what they think you are supposed to be doing.* If they really mean it, and will actively follow up on it, then you don’t want that fight. Trust many of us here on that one. My advice, then, is that as long as you are in that school do what they say as fast as you can and devote any additional minutes to fun CI. Word will get out. Those four colleagues will be blown out by the winds of change, but don’t you get blown out of the professional with them. Rather, wait them out. Just my opinion on a pretty serious matter. Other ideas from anyone?

    *the cavalier answer here is that if you are teaching possessive adjectives then make the CI all around that grammar target. People actually try to do that in TPRS/CI. But in my view it just doesn’t work. You cannot aim a conversation at a grammar target any more than you can in English. It has to be natural. Try it. You’ll see how frustrating it is. This stuff is hard enough when you are keying in on one card or on one structure for a story. Now you have to direct the flow of the discussion to a GRAMMAR structure? I don’t think so.

  3. …I’m teaching possessive adjectives, but the students don’t know it!…

    I had a similar experience with my school. I have been using TPRS (without asking for permission) for the last 2 years in 6th grade. This will be my first year with another Spanish teacher in 8th grade. Upon being told of the mood I asked my princiole if I could teach ” my way” and turn in different lesson plans. She told me that she liked what she was seeing in my class and I could teach ” my way” as long as I taught the same state standards as the other 8th grade teacher. This might be something you can pose to your administration.

    My principle has recieved many phone calls from parents raving about my Spanish class and what their sons/ daughters can do. I made sure to keep student work up on the wall ( stories written in the past and present tense by students ).

    I had one of my TPRS students tell me that, ” last year we learned to conjugate. “They conjugated all year. I was so furious when he said that. I told him that they had known how to conjugate before they ever entered that 7th grade teacher’s Spanish class. The students looked confused so on the 2 nd day of class I asked, ” What does the r at the end of the verb mean? What does the o mean? ….” He answered them correctly and realized that he infact had known that before going to 7th grade. The teacher had drilled and killed conjugation and told them they didn’t know how to do it. She probably unwittingly undid so much that they had learned in 6th grade.

    1. Oh forgot to add that learning conjugation was a worksheet intensive year. Most are not accustom to hearing the language.

      Not sure if anyone can help but I have had what I think is a problem this year. Whenever I ask a question to the class I have about 4 kids in each class that proceed to translate/ decipher the question outloud in English. Any help on explaining the process and how doing this undoes how CI works would be great? Am I correct in my understanding that this hurts what I am trying to do in my class?

  4. The unconscious mind does the work of acquiring a language. It does so by hearing it repeated in different forms constantly, and then, each night, it takes some of what it heard and allows it through its gates to be incorporated into the growing language system, and it also keeps some of what it heard out. This happens in deep sleep. To try to learn a language consciously by analyzing it is sheer folly and can never work. So yes, if you allow that English from those kids in, it is like yelling in a concert, it will mess up the absorption process. Their use of English is like throwing a stick into the spokes of a bicycle as it rides by. These facts, in fact, announce the ends of tens of thousands of careers. Those who understand it will have jobs in five to seven years, those who don’t won’t. So the worksheets are out. And those kids who use English? Aggressively lower their grades, and you may want to use jen’s Great Rubric to do so. Just explain where their use of English gets them on the scale. They’ll stop.

    1. Thank you. I will start using Jen’s rubric on Tuesday.

      The difficulty has been in explaining how using the English hurts. So far I have explained that I know they have mastered English b/c that is what they use all day. My class is different b/c we are working on Spanish which they don’t use as often, by translating the question outloud (even if they don’t realize they have done it) makes them rely on a crutch ( English) and robs the slower processors the chance of getting there themselves.

      I like the analogy of the throwing a stick into the spokes as it rides by. I will introduce this to them if they continue. This visual may help. Maybe I can get the art teacher to make me a poster drawing .

      1. That will all help but with kids they can’t hear you. For them it’s not about consciously thinking that English is bad for the class; they are far from that kind of adult thinking. You have to just not let them use English, as Laurie says below:

        …the best thing to do is to have them stop….

        If you read the Three and Done post, which is my way of making them stop, it is very clear to them – if they talk there will be a clearcut and immediated consequence. For me it is the conference atom in IC and three of those and they get referred with the parent phone call. Then your purpose with the parent phone call that happens with the three offenses is to explain to both parent and child that you are more than serious about how English ruins the class. We had a big discussion last fall here about contacting parents and a few group members like Chris, I think, started calling parents in September and managed to snuff out a forest fire which would have raged all year unless those calls were made at the beginning of the year. October, even late September, is too late. This is something that must be acted on and appealing to their sense of reason is not going to work – it’s just their age. No blame, but they really really need the adult in the room kindly setting clear limits and not once failing to act when they use English. How do I know? I have had decades of crappy discipline bc I didn’t do what I am trying to express here. Decades. Trust me, you don’t want that. Have a plan. I also like Laurie’s ideas below. But it has to also be clear and simple. Here is the link to Three and Done, which is working nicely for me now after one week of school. The jury is still out on it, but I am feeling the difference bc it is so clear:

        The following things interfere with learning in our classroom:

        1. Excessive bathroom trips
        2. Use of English
        3. Unexcused tardies
        4. Unexcused absences
        5. Visiting with a neighbor during class
        6. Cell phones
        7. Buds/earphones in ears

        Therefore, when a student has three (2,3,4,6,7) or more than three (1,5) of any of the above things documented by the teacher in the ALHS grade book, a referral will be written and a phone call home will accompany the referral.

  5. The best thing to do is to have them stop. Now. There are a lot of ways to get that done.
    a. Pull that group aside and thank them for being so smart. Tell them that now you need the rest of the class to have time to understand the question in the TL because you are going to be looking for answers in the TL only and thinking in English will get some kids confused. Promise to ask them the tough questions because they are smart enough to ANSWER them.

    b. Announce to the entire class that there is no answering or translating in English. Use the “English” sound effect job…where one kid makes a funny noise whenever someone (even you) speaks in English. Have an English “czar”. If you, or anyone else, wants to use English, they have to get permission from the “czar”.

    c. If questions are new, and challenging, or they are having trouble with question words, give those vocal kids the job of holding up a sign with JUST the question word in English every time you use it in the TL.

    Hope that helps!!

    with love,

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