Then and Now 2

Here is the actual text of the Then and Now part of the 21st Century Skills Map, just to have it handy in the Administrator/Teacher/Parent Re-education category. Chris you may want to gently suggest to that verb conjugating mom that she take a look at this bad boy. Again, the link to this astounding text – and thank you again Ardythe – is:

Then and Now

The language classroom in the U.S. has been transformed in the last 20 years to reflect an increasing emphasis on developing students’ communicative competence. Unlike the classroom of yesteryear that required students to know a great deal of information about the language but did not have an expectation of language use, today’s classroom is about teaching languages so that students use them to communicate with native speakers of the language. This is what prepares them to use their language learning as a 21st Century Skill. Following is a chart comparing how language classrooms looked in the past compared to today.


  • Students learned about the language (grammar)
  • Teacher-centered class
  • Focused on isolated skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing)
  • Coverage of a textbook
  • Using the textbook as the curriculum
  • Emphasis on teacher as presenter/lecturer
  • Isolated cultural “factoids”
  • Use of technology as a “cool tool”
  • Only teaching language
  • Same instruction for all students
  • Synthetic situations from textbook
  • Confining language learning to the classroom
  • Testing to find out what students don’t know
  • Only the teacher knows criteria for grading
  • Students “turn in” work only for the teacher


  • Students learn to use the language
  • Learner-centered with teacher as facilitator/collaborator
  • Focus on the three modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational
  • Backward design focusing on the end goal
  • Use of thematic units and authentic resources
  • Emphasis on learner as “doer” and “creator”
  • Emphasis on the relationship among the perspectives, practices, and products of the culture
  • Integrating technology into instruction to enhance learning
  • Using language as the vehicle to teach academic content
  • Differentiating instruction to meet individual needs
  • Personalized real world tasks
  • Seeking opportunities for learners to use language beyond the classroom
  • Assessing to find out what students can do
  • Students know and understand criteria on how they will be assessed by reviewing the task rubric
  • Learners create to “share and publish” to audiences more than just the teacher.



23 thoughts on “Then and Now 2”

  1. -Learner-centered with teacher as facilitator/collaborator
    -Learners create to “share and publish” to audiences more than just the teacher.

    I kind of have a problem with these two. From what I’ve seen “learner-centered” usually insinuates that the teachers isn’t doing much talking and it’s the students who are involved in “co-construction” and all kinds of other buzzwords. With CI teacher, the teacher is doing a whole lot of talking, most people would see it as “teacher-centered” I think.

  2. I agree Chris. But we could also interpret the learner-centeredness as personalization, since it is they whom we should be talking and learning about.

    “Learners create to “share and publish” to audiences more than just the teacher.”
    Output, ok for upper levels maybe, but otherwise not realistic or beneficial.

    A couple others, as output focused as they probably are meant to be, are mostly interpersonal activities, such as the “learner as doer/creator” and “real world tasks”, and therefore can be seen as positive in a CI-minded light. The first few years, the learner is not doing much speaking/writing, but still actively involved in co-creating meaning and outcome of a real activity.

    1. Great response Jim. Yeah, the upper levels – when CI has been the foundation of the first two years – are very learner-centered, as the articulation of language as output becomes stronger each day. But when the foundation is worksheets, the kids never even get to those levels.

      And Chris we have to remember who wrote these. They are people who have been swayed by the overall push in the direction of the student doing things like working with computers and all that. Very few people even within the domain of language acquisition get the importance of input for the first two years.

      I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m glad you made the point, however, bc it allows us to realize that in point of fact we must learn to let some of that stuff slide and use what we can in the document to make our point with others.

      The document stands strong even with those few weird points. Ignore them. Point to the good stuff in them, and use those in discussion with those who would listen.

  3. I get a stomach ache reading this world languages map thing. Are people really able to wrangle students into these fantastic activities? They can’t even engage in basic conversation yet. It sounds like a dream world from where I sit, makes me want to give up. I just spent three straight hours struggling to deliver interesting, personalized CI through a thick cloud of resistance, exhaustion, heat, and, frankly, noise. Six bright-eyed, expectant 8th graders looked at me and responded to every question while 13 others blurted, moved around, yelled back and forth to each other, laughed out loud and asked ridiculous questions in English. They care only minimally about the school’s 4-step rule system, which I struggle to implement with as much good will as I can in spite of the fact that it doesn’t seem to work…is it me? I spent half the period giving out steps and trying to be unconditionally polite yet firm. I read over and over in this blog and elsewhere that if I don’t have discipline established by now that it’s over for me for the year. And yet I am not supposed to lower the bar at all, nor my expectations of what these students can accomplish. Something has to give. I know that the first year can be like this, but these magnificent documents from the government feel like salt in the wound.
    Reality Check?

    1. The ticks on the board could be minus minutes from the minutes they are collecting toward a movie.

      Also Tamula you said “she calls the parent right there in class, tells the parent what is going on and then hands the phone to the stupefied kid”. That is gold, I say we all do that. It’s just gold.

    2. Many of these “fantastic activities” don’t happen. They don’t and anybody that thinks they do is incorrect. These pipedreams are written by district and state level dreamers whose are thinking in very abstract terms and who obviously have eyes bigger than their stomachs, or they have been out of a real classroom too long.

      WE know firmly and without any doubt that the only ones of those things that can ACTUALLY BE DONE in a classroom are basically the pieces we do. So just continue to do them. Just keep on delivering better and better (each day is one more repetition for us and that is how we get better at it) comprehension based instruction.

      If we did all of the things listed on the Then and Now chart, we would be immediately canonized in the church and elevated to full sainthood, since doing all of those things is TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

      For example, the minute we do all the tech stuff they say, or all the culture stuff, we lose mega CI minutes. This stuff MIGHT be possible if we had a forty hour week with our kids!

      I’m so glad you brought this up, Angie. My own thoughts on it, in terms of teaching culture, especially, is that – and I tell my kids this – I will teach them all about the French culture but IN FRENCH when they are in level four.

      I can’t waste the time now teaching culture when the kids can watch a video at home about the Eiffel Tower. My time is all about CI. They get that. And, as far as being computer literate in a foreign language in the broken system that we have in America – sure! Go for it! And good luck on that one!

      On the discipline piece, those 13 kids who are not on task are the issue. They must be stopped. You still have time. What can the group say to help?

      1. I do a lot of the culture activities in Chinese Club after school — festivals, calligraphy, Tai Qi, Chinese Chess, tea, lantern making– these are all club events so they don’t take away from in class CI. In my advanced class we are about to get into childhood in China and I found these great 2 minute videos teaching how to raise your kids with Confucian values so I am transcripting those now to use in class. My poor kids don’t even know how to say “kid” in Chinese because it never came up in the darned textbook I was marching through so we will have lots of CI and TPRS before we actually watch the little videos.

  4. Learner-centered: With CI we do this better than traditional programs. Krashen says we need Compelling, Comprehensible, and Contextualized lessons. We center them around the students’ interests–not the unreal textbook themes that often try to relate to students with outdated/outmoded graphics and material. We involve the students with supplying details that they can relate to and that is centered around what is real for them.

    We sometimes Publish and Share our students’ stories between classes and sometimes levels. Several members of our group have developed great formats to display student work. Last week I “borrowed” Drew’s use of Prezi so that by two levels of Spanish 1 could see the class story we wrote. This is publishing and sharing.

    We just need to give ourselves credit for all of these things we do as CI and that actually fall very neatly into some of these categories. Or am I a little loopy after carrying on an e-mail debate with a parent the last three days?

  5. Angie,
    Don’t give up! Try everything and anything you read about here. That is what I have been doing. Now, granted, my situation is a little bit better because I had my noisies last year, too, and there is some level of trust already but I have been having good days and bad days. Here are a few little things that have worked thus far.
    If the kids care about their grades, the little comprehension quizzes at the end of the period help a lot. At first, a couple of kids whined that they couldn’t do it and I said, “this could be an easy A for you if you would just start paying attention.” Yesterday, I had my kids write out the story we had been working on. One kid said he couldn’t do it. I said I wasn’t counting spelling errors, I just wanted to see if they could retell the story. Any kid that could tell the story AND do it with perfect spelling would get a sticker and even though they are high schoolers they like these stickers I bought in China with pop stars or cartoon characters.
    I have lectured the kids on the importance of listening but they still want to joke around with their buddies. Changing some seats helped a bit. Two kids got after school detentions. Yesterday, I was trying to start class and I didn’t feel like yelling so I just held my hand up in the air then about five kids started “shh, shh, shh” and I couldn’t believe it, they quieted down. It was weird but it worked.
    I have a friend who has the best discipline in the world. She brings her cell phone and all the parents’ phone numbers. If a kid is being disruptive, she calls the parent right there in class, tells the parent what is going on and then hands the phone to the stupefied kid. She usually only has to do it once to one kid.

    Finally, here is what worked for me with my kids this week. I will probably get nailed for this here on the list but this blatant bribery idea bought me sanity this week. I got this idea from Judy Dubois’ posting over on the moreTPRS list. On Monday the kids were yelling out “let’s play a game” and “let’s watch a movie.” so I told them okay I’ll make a deal with you. If you want a movie, you have to buy it with minutes in target language only. I asked who has a cell phone with a timer on it. A whole bunch of hands went up because they aren’t allowed to have a cell phone out unless the teacher says so. I appointed this kid the time keeper and he chose an assistant to write down and add up the time. We established a couple of rules and then we started. Then within the first minute, a kid turned and said something to a neighbor and I shouted, “zero.” The kids yelled at that kid, “hey, you ruined it!” Then we started over. We went seven whole minutes in Chinese. Now I know that doesn’t sound like much but this was a beautiful seven minutes with every kid at full attention, answering questions, and really getting into it. Somebody said something out of turn in English and we started over again. At one point, I needed to clarify something with a sentence in English so I quickly wrote it on the board and the timer gave me a thumbs up . . . It became a collaboration at that point. In the middle of the week we had to do some Chinese character work so they didn’t accumulate many minutes but on Thursday we went a full 20 minutes in TL and when the timer announced that they had reached 40 minutes a cheer went up. So today we watched the Chinese film “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.” There are a lot of great culture points in the film that the students had questions about so we stopped a couple of times to discuss. I showed the film with English subtitles but reminded them that it was a worthless exercise if they weren’t also working at listening. A number of times kids shouted out expressions they heard and recognized and it became a manageable competition until they all got so into the movie that everyone was quiet. It was a good day and they were all happy. They know I would only show a movie on a Friday so they will have to work toward earning the next part.
    I know I might have created a monster with this bribery but Judy mentioned that you can change the rules with time as long as it still seems fair. I never show more than one film per quarter so I figure we can also try a song day and a game day which I probably would have taught anyway.
    Finally, if Thursday hadn’t gone so well, I was prepared to try something I saw another teacher do one time. When the kids wouldn’t quiet down, he just started putting ticks on the board. Gradually the kids noticed and started asking each other what it meant until,they got scared and started telling each other to shut up. When he could finally get the lesson going, he gradually erased the lines as the lesson progressed. He never told them what they meant. I was going to do that and let them assume I was deducting minutes from movie day but I didn’t have to.
    I hope there is something here you can use. I’m sure there will still be some bad days but I see the class coming together work getting done. Best of all, the kids are starting to like the fact they they can understand and perform in Chinese for these stretches of time. Best of luck. Tamula

  6. Hi Angie,

    Discipline has always been my problem in class, and that theory that can only learn after they have learned to listen became a really practical lesson for me. I have started using a system that is probably pretty old-school, but works great for me so far. It was given to me by one of our special ed teachers, who gets some of the kids who are most resistant to learning (in terms of behavior). She uses a form that lists many of the typical things that disrupt class and create a bad atmosphere for learning. (actually, the form was created by our AP as a record of classroom discipline, including student action and teacher action taken, with room for notes.) If a student does something that breaks rules/causes disruption, they get a blank sheet on their desks. This serves as a concrete warning. The first mistake gets no consequences, and they just give the sheet back and get a fresh start the next day. But for each issue after the first, they get a check on the paper, which stays on their desk throughout class. If they reach 3 checks, they get a parent phone call and a detention. I can’t tell you how much this has changed the atmosphere in my class for the better.

    *I use this in the context of Susan Gross’ 3Rs, and tell them that if they are doing things that are respectful, responsible and producing good results there will never be a problem. This makes it pretty simple for them to understand and quick for me to redirect their behavior. It prevents long-winded speeches on my part. The 3Rs create a positive atmosphere that most kids can buy into.

    *I make it clear that the paper is a communication from me to them that they have crossed some line. It is NOT a punishment. I am not trying to hurt anybody. I am communicating with them out of respect for them so that they can take control of their behavior (and resulting consequences). And that’s why the first problem only gets a warning.

    *Junior Highers need clear boundaries and clear communication. This system provides both.

    *Allowing a warning and 3 checks freed me up in my conscience to hold kids responsible for minor but significant behaviors. Before I was always giving kids chances to straighten up their behavior, but there was never any moment of truth. They got worse and I got more frustrated.

    *When I give a kid a paper, they start thinking. I have stopped talking, reasoning and getting pulled into arguments where I’m trying to explain things that kids already know or don’t want to hear. Previously, I would try to reason with them about their behavior and mostly they didn’t appear to be affected. With the paper on their desk, they know that the countdown has started and they get to decide how things turn out. When I try to redirect them and they start arguing, making disrespectful and negative comments or other disruptive and energy stealing behavior, they get additional checks, leading them closer to immanent consequences, which they and everyone else knows are coming. No one is surprised and the student gets to decide how far to take it, but not so far that it ruins my day. They only get 3 checks.

    *Sometimes I forget the paper and try talking with the student. One troublesome kid told me that constant blurting disruptive comments is just life with ADD, and he can’t control it. So I said, that’s why I’m reminding you, and gave him a paper. Then next day he came in worse and used his warning and 2 checks in the first 5 min of class. Don’t ya know, he made it through the final 40 min of class without incident, and he gave that paper back to me with a gesture of triumph and a hearty “Yes!”

    *I keep all the papers that got past the warning stage, and they are my documentation of what the student is doing in the classroom that disrupts class and how I handled it. This means that when things are super busy, I don’t forget everything by the end of the day and sit in a haze wondering why I was so upset.

    *because I’m not doing the talking and the thinking anymore, but rather letting the paper do the talking and the kid do the thinking, the atmosphere in the class tends to stay more peaceful, more respectful, and has more quality thinking going on. And less time is wasted.

    *those same kids that disrupt have to find some way to get their energy out and sometimes choose to pour it into class participation! Sometimes they sit and quietly sulk (without disrupting) and then I can have a quality conversation with them where they actually listen.

    *Parent phone calls have to be handled skillfully. This was one of my downfalls in the past. If you call home and just say “your kid was talking,” it sounds as if you are tattling on them as a whiny older brother/sister, even though it’s destroying the class. The special ed teacher who gave me the system said that she just tells the parent that the student is disrupting class, keeping kids from learning and she doesn’t have time to deal with it every day. She asks for their support.

    *Knowing that I gave the student 4 chances, I can say with confidence that the student was disrupting the class and I don’t have time to deal with it every day. I know that I’m not nitpicking their behaviors. Inside, I prefer to be hopeful and let others control themselves, and let little things slide. So holding the students accountable for little things creates a bit of cognitive dissonance in me. In the past I just haven’t been sure of myself. I waver between “that’s so petty!” and “that’s ruining the atmosphere in the class.” So when students or parents oppose me, I crumble. But not with my papers listing behaviors. Armed with my paper, it’s easy for me to speak with confidence to kids, parents or whoever I need to talk to.

    *If a kid decides to push the limits every day and come just shy of a detention, I will still make the parent phone call.

    So I am sharing this with you in case it might help. The changes in the classroom have been so dramatic compared to the past. And kids are taking far more responsibility for their behavior, because the problem because theirs instead of mine as soon as the paper hits their desk. I still sometimes see kids with a hard smug attitude… but I have seen way more contrition over problematic behavior, attitude change, thinking, respect, and overall positivity from challenging kids than ever before. I hope it lasts all year.

    1. Carla this is great and we are both doing the same thing basically and we both have experienced the power of such an approach. Yea for us! The physical existence of the paper, as you make clear, is the game changing move.

      My own paper is my own class roster in which I note the behavior when it happens to be transferred to the conference atom during my planning period. Key aspect of this approach? No speeches, no talking. Just keep on teaching.

      I wish to state that without this kind of plan (one that is concrete, automatic, the same for each kid, and that is machine like in the way it operates), those general warnings and redirection and talking to the kid moves that teachers typically do, are weak moves.

      In my view they just don’t work. That is why, like you Carla, I make the note in my Three and Done policy, and after three, that’s it, it’s a referral and bam it’s out of my hands as long as I make the phone call.

      Like if a kid is talking, I stop and stand there and do not teach until the talking kids notice that I have stopped. Then I look at them and in a firm voice in English I say, “Do not talk in my class!” Then I write the offense in the little box on the roster to be transferred into the conference atom in the gradebook and when there are three of them, as the kids know, it is a referral.

      I don’t understand, now after doing it the other way for 35 years without success, why people still think that warnings and redirection and talking to the kid actually work. They don’t. Why do them? Why not do something that works?

      These kids have seen teachers all through their years of being in school who do those things without results. They are IMMUNE to such correction. So three offenses and a phone call and the school machine kicks in and I’m done.

      So far, keep fingers crossed, my classes this year have been a dream re: behavior. It’s how I know that God has a sense of humor, to give me this solution at the very tail end of my career. Hey, I ain’t complaining. He blessed me. The problem, for me and in this way – I can’t speak for others – is so much less of a problem so as to not even be one.

      Here are links to my new Three and Done policy for those who may be interested:

    2. Do you write their name on the piece of paper? or do you lay out the paper AND make a note in a behavior log? Or do you just know whose is whose because of where they’re sitting?
      Thanks for all the suggestions, I’m devouring all of this advice.

      1. I only write their name on the piece of paper (or have them do it) if I have to go back to it and make a check. Otherwise they just hand it back to me blank and it’s ready for the next class. Now that I think of it, though, the teacher who gave me the system writes their name at the top when she puts it on their desk and that is their warning.

        I have a behavior log that i made on the iPad in Numbers. It’s wonderful because I can go in and tap on a behavior and the ipad types it into the square for me, taking almost no time. But I haven’t actually used it because that takes so much more time than just grabbing the paper. Sometimes I will take a blank copy of the paper and write the class period at the top and make a record of all the warnings so that I can see where the interruptions/ problems are coming from (type of behavior). I guess I handle that part kind of haphazardly because I’m mostly okay with letting a warning go undocumented and giving the kid a truly clean slate the next day. But if I get the sense that the problem behavior is becoming a pattern, I try to make note of it. I have thought about keeping extra copies of seating charts for quick log of warnings. Those would be really easy to mark with symbols (or even just a date) and it would give me a map so I could see physically where certain kinds of problems are developing. And it would also help me to make sure I get all the papers back from students at the end of class.

    3. “I waver between “that’s so petty!” and “that’s ruining the atmosphere in the class.” ”

      That describes how I have felt many times in the past Carla. What you’ve written here was good to read.

  7. I’m glad that people find this helpful! What I forgot to say in first post was that I haven’t had to give a single detention yet (after 3 weeks of school). The papers are getting worn because they have been handed out so many times and handed back blank because there’s no trouble past the initial warning. In one class, I gave out about 10 warnings in one period and one near detention, and the next day, the whole class was perfect.

  8. I am SO excited! My department head is going to go to the Maine workshop, featuring guest presenter Joe Neilson, in October!!!! We are only a dept. of 4; so now that’s two of us ….at least he will understand what I am trying to do!

        1. Yes!!! I just have to send Skip my paperwork and money!!!!! (I was able to get Thursday and Friday off but not Tues/Wed for travel and visitations, so I am flying in to Portland early Thurs. am and picking up my rental car…will be there soon as I can)

          see you there!
          with love,

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