To Clarice – 1

Clarice the thoughts here about PQA are just my opinions. I hope they help even a little. They are those water wings I talked about.
– it is a good decision to videotape; it’s painful but you will see things.
– the more you PQA the more it shifts from your brain into your body where real teaching occurs. Think of each drowning session as a shutting off of your mind and a trust in the cells of your body to do what is instinctual and therefore best.
– do as much PQA as you can. You learn it by doing it, not by talking about it or thinking about it.
– ask three kids to count how many times you say the structures, one kid for each target structure. Try to get at least 25-30 reps on each one in a 50 min. class period. Stay with the target structures at all costs. Don’t ever say even one sentence that doesn’t have a target structure in it.
– after you tell the kids what each structure means and gesture it, start in with questions. The mechanics of PQA are simple – you use the question words to ask kids questions about anything you can think of connected to the target structures and see where their cute answers go. If the discussion is not in some way connected to the target structure, you don’t talk about it.
–  follow the energy thus created with a kind of respect for the very concept of language. Don’t shout it. Vary your tonalities.
do Jody’s chair thing. I don’ t know where it is but I bet Carla can find it.
– if the structure is “smells bad” you look at a kid who can “go there” and ask him if he smells.
don’t introduce new words – use only words that they know.
– go slowest. Now go slower than that. (The Teran Principle)
– go ahead and drown. The kids won’t know you are drowing. Then come up for air. It will happen. It is like a miracle. Follow the direction the questions take you in, saying at least one of the structures in each sentence. Now go slower than slowest.
– consciously be appreciative of the things they say.
If I had to say it in a few words, in my opinion you are drowing for two big reasons: you don’t respect, none of us does, SLOW, and you also sneak too many new words into the PQA. Don’t do that.
We’ll get this. Maybe this will help a little for tomorrow. Bon courage!



4 thoughts on “To Clarice – 1”

  1. Hey, I wish you’d posted Clarice’s email, so I’d know where this is all coming from.
    But instead, I’ll tell you about my very recent decision regarding PQA. My 7th graders this year have a tough time with it. And as I think back, my students have often had a tough time with it. So I decided this week to jump right into a story, and do PQA AFTER they had heard the words 33.76 times. Today was that day. It worked! We had lively discussions! Next week I’ll try it again with 3 new structures. If it works again, I’m switching the order for good. As I’ve gotten better and better at going SLOW, our class stories, with the target structures in context, are followed by all. Then, when I put those same structures in different contexts in PQA, they already understand the words and can figure out the rest.

  2. Diane here is what started all this, from a comment C made on the recent blog entitled “Since January”.
    We are on a 4×4 schedule, which means we have an 88 minute block every day for half a year and in January we start again with a different group of students.
    Today, I felt like I was floundering in deep water. I was trying to get the repetitions in PQA with circling, but I felt like everything was falling on deaf ears. What works first period often doesn’t work at all second period.
    The feeling of drowning was very strong. I looked around at their faces and saw overload in all of its different manifestations, then I looked at my boards and saw that information, uf. I want to learn how to put my head back and float when the drowning feeling hits. Actually, I want to get there before that feeling hits. So, I’m charging the digital/video camera and working on floating on the 3 structures tomorrow.

  3. What works is whatever indelibly imprints a CLEAR and COMPELLING image of that phrase in their minds. It can be PQA first or story first. Who cares?!! Once that imprint exists, they can’t get away from it. It can be pretty, funny, horrible, discordant…whatever. It becomes an image that comes back to them, and that they CAN’T HELP BUT GO BACK TO again and again and again. Sort of the way you can’t eat too many Lay’s potato chips or keep yourself from the sore tooth that you have to keep poking at….
    A great image creates a great imprint. Reps make it clearer and cleaner and deeper. It can’t be wiped away. So then the next step…PQA or story ….is a natural, facilitated step for your students.
    with love,

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