Two Strategies

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29 thoughts on “Two Strategies”

    1. I teach high school. This year I teach Spanish 3 and Italian 3. My Italian classes are all juniors and my Spanish classes are a mix of freshman and sophomores. This method, by far, seems the most effective for me. Even without the light on or their “Pay me” cards out, we still stay in the target language and expect the kids to as well. However, there is no penalty with the light off if they happen to speak English. They know by now that one of the most important things we do is communicate and I need to make sure that everyone is on task all the time when we do this. So, as soon as I tell them to clear everything off their desks and take out their “pay me” cards, they know the light is coming on and that the high expectations I already have for them have just become even higher. The light comes on primarily during “PQA” and “Story asking”. We do PQA almost every class-I PQA a phrase or two of songs we listen to, I PQA when I am reviewing parts of novels with them, etc. so the light comes on almost every day. They know the three main reasons that I will take away a card from them are (1) speaking English…at least more than two words at a time, (2) not letting me know that a word is not understood, and (3) not actively paying attention (no eye contact/doodling, etc.) I’ve only been doing this method for a month now, but I did take away two “pay me” cards from two different students for this third category. One was simply not looking at me during our acquisition activity. After about two minutes of me noticing this, I just said the students name and “Pay me”. After class we briefly spoke about why I took away the card and she said that she understands. Another student was scribbling on the back of his “pay me” card. I told him that was unacceptable and he should be doing nothing else other than actively listening to me. This is another language and, therefore, like no other class of his so he needs to listen that more intently. I think the key with these cards, like anything else, is to be consistent. Most cards are taken because students accidentally speak in English. Inside I feel bad taking them because I’ve had no student that is really consciously doing it. Most have taken their “pay me” card back because of the handshake that I had mentioned. However, they are not able to use the handshake again until marking period 4 even though each month begins a new participation list. So, if they get another “pay me” card taken from them, then they will have to take that loss or else do some type of writing assignment to get that back. I’m glad some of you like the light idea. This was not my idea either. I originally had a velcro sign on my board that was used with the same purpose but I liked the light idea better myself. I wish I remembered who’s website I found this on to give them credit.

  1. Keri, your first strategy defines how I do PQA now!!!
    PQA for me, is just a story with the structures about a student in our class. I can literally do this about every student in the class. I usually create “personalized stories” around 3 students as part of Step 1. I’ve had way more engagement when I do this as compared to trying to PQA without pulling the 3 structures into a story about a student.
    Then, we create a story with those structures about a fictional character as Step 2, i.e. “customized story.”

    1. Keri and Eric,
      Do either of you have a video of you doing this type of PQA. I haven´t really been doing this well lately and I need some inspiration. So you basically just establish meaning and jump right in to using 1 structure to create a story based on a student? So for example tomorrow I´m going to use ¨hace tonterías¨…so you´d just pull out a kid and talk about what foolish things they like to do, etc? Do you usually do this all Monday? Does this get boring by the time they get to Step 2? Any videos or advice on how to do this PQA as you describe would be awesome…I know it´s not much different than what Ben has in PQA in a wink…but just curious
      – Brian

        1. I don’t have video . . . yet.
          I now believe the 3 structures should stand alone to tell a story. This is what we were calling “super mini-stories” but it is now how I organize every script.
          Example: (4 structures)
          wants to be able to
          teaches him/her
          met at
          _Student_ wants to be able to _(ASK)_.
          _(ASK) teaches him.
          They meet at _(ASK)_.
          _Student_ (did or did not) learn in _(ASK time).
          ASK = teacher asks a single student for a real/fictional response OR says the name of a kid in the class and asks the class what that person wants to be able to do.
          In my 7th grade class that became:
          James wants to be able to pole dance. Nicky Minaj teaches him. They met at the school flag pole. James learned in 3 hours.
          And I re-ask this of a few different students. I probably spend 20 minutes of PQA on this in 1 class, but there’s no rule here. If I’ve picked my structures right, then it should be easy to ask a personalized story and the students will want to share. Any time in the year I can pull those 3 structures back out and ask another mini-scene.
          Then, in the next class, we read our PQA as well as any PQA from other classes with the same structures. Then, I ask a story with the same 3 structures and only optionally about a student in the class. And now I add more recycled language, e.g. There was a boy. His name was . . .etc.
          Then we read it, freeze frame it, and then re-read it again with the subtitled photos. Lastly, we quickwrite it.

          1. Eric, this is a brilliant way of putting the pieces together. Thanks for sharing. Or should I say, thanks for clearing the path!

          2. Oddly, the loose plan Eric describes is the original TPRS format. It was all based on using a story to teach three structures. Students couldn’t understand an entire story, so early on we taught them small pieces of it and assumed, correctly, that the other words would be learned/absorbed/processed by the deeper mind as per Krashen’s research. Over time people went to conferences and, in my view because most teachers are more heavily left brain dominant and were confronted (in the 1990’s) with a plan for teaching that was very whole brain/right brain dominant, asked for and received rules. The Three Steps were born, three locations were needed, a whole system of making something intuitive and right brain into something intellectual/academic and left brain was put into place. The need to have a method/system took over, and we have been looking for rules and regulations ever since. So for the past twenty years people have been going to conferences to learn “how to do it” even though Susie just said, “Can’t we just talk to them in the TL?”. We couldn’t. Too many of us needed to make what is a simple thing complicated. That’s what teachers do. The Google Images piece now factors heavily in to this ongoing development of what we now call TCI, because TPRS as a term has failed amidst massive misrepresentation. Power Point slide shows will change everything. In the past, they were done flatly, but that is changing. The overall approach is certainly changing and it can’t come a moment too soon, because stories haven’t worked for the vast majority of teachers. What do we tell tall people who are new to this work and want to learn to talk to the kids but in a safe teaching plan? That is my question. I hope we can keep the focus more on those new people. We haven’t been able to in the past. My prayer for this site is that we simplify things for those who are new. We can’t be mad scientists with this stuff. Too much is at stake. Too many kids think they can’t learn a language.

          3. Let’s also throw Blaine a bone here. I have stated over and over that the Three Steps or variants of it like what Eric describes above provide the sequential key to this work:
            1. PQA (used to be quick, now with vPQA is going to dominate the sequence)
            2. Story
            3. Reading
            4. Follow ups like writing output, etc.
            That is the pulse of this stuff, the heartbeat. No matter what we call it, it’s going to be some form of those Three Steps or it won’t work. All the fantastic strategies that we have created here together are nothing more than one or more aspects of the above steps.

          4. Oh, for sure. Nothing unique to my approach. The only thing I may do differently is PQA the 3 structures together as if it were a story about a student. PQA small talk 1 structure at a time was always such a fragile, hit-or-miss step for me. Stories, stories, stories!
            And I think we can create the PPTs for Step 2 Stories as well! All we do as teachers is ask questions, so we pre-plan the BIG questions that drive the story forward and advance the PPT when we’re ready. The LICT curriculum writes out every question for every story! Of course, this could put a restraint on the free-flow, but just like the vPQA, what we get back in terms of safety and security makes it worth it, especially to new teachers!
            Imagine the classic TPRS story as a PPT (each # is a different slide):
            1. Is there a . . . ?
            2. What is he/she like? (physical & personality characteristics)
            3. Where is . . .?
            4. What does he/she have?
            5. What does he/she want?
            6. Where does he/she go?

          5. Very important comments from you Eric, as this thread unrolls, telling me that you are very much aligned with what I have seen over the past few months in DPS and especially in Julie’s classroom. This is big, because up to this point I haven’t been clear about how you align with what all of those young rock stars are doing in DPS. But you are on the same page. What you do and think in your classroom is huge for a lot of us here, so it’s important. In a sentence, it’s all about our expanding the first step of TPRS to include lots of PPT before doing the story, and personalizing it. Correct me if I don’t have that completely clear. I am so happy to read this, because I need simplicity and for us all to be going pretty much in the same direction. I need for us to all be able to know how this thread is pushing us into an entirely new place with our work with CI. Ruth and I will pull all of this vPQA together as we are able. Then it will be a new day, and we won’t have the vagueness of stories as we have for so many years now, this vague feeling that we can’t do stories and it sucks. Now it will be different, due to the shift of our focus to PPT PQA. Stories will take a position that is less imposing and less dominant in favor of the power and grace and stability of the PQA PPTs. This vPQA will help new people to a significant degree. You rock the house, Eric the Jackal. I am also happy to delete a lot of posts as they come up in the queue that have to do with pure theory. We don’t need that anymore. Of course, you have carte blanche to share your genius reading of the research with us any time! But what do you do when you run out of tattoo space on your arms for SLA research? I’m just happy to see the group now moving together shoulder to shoulder towards best practices for our classrooms. That is where our work is. Everybody have a rocking week! Don’t look now, but we just all opened up a major big can of Whoopass on the winter. It’s been a hard one, no doubt, and we think of Leah as she goes in for her meeting with that asshole this morning. She will prevail, because she is right. We have so much to look forward together. We will do this thing!

          6. Eric, for some reason this PowerPoint is making me want to try this Visual PQA/PowerPoint thing next year. Great work. Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention to this idea over the past couple of months.
            New Job: Slide Switcher. Presses “next slide” when prompted. As a bonus this would give the teacher a chance to get a ton of casual reps of “Please change the slide…. next slide, please, etc.”

          7. Oh, is that what that is? I thought it was kind of a “TPRS for newbies” kind of thing.
            I haven’t been following the PPT PQA stuff much, as the tech component requisite has kind of turned me off a bit (not to say I don’t think you guys are onto something, but for me it isn’t what I am looking for right now… I’m open to being convinced as always though.).
            Whatever it is, it breaks the whole process of storyasking (with PQA interspersed, which is what I’ve always found myself doing naturally anyways, to shift gears a bit) down to a certain suggested step/question sequence. Why is the PPT component necessary? Is there a certain overload point with all the different forms given at the same time? (I realize I’m asking this question without having read the thread on Visual PQA… so please ignore/forgive if that addresses my ?)

          8. Jim I’m right there with you on being cautious of technology but vPQA is not only an exception but in my view the next best thing to come down the CI river since circling and possibly stories themselves.
            It is because of the visual piece that it brings. Images. That huge piece.
            James I love what you said about the Slide Changer. I will add it to the list of jobs as #63. And no it’s not only for new people. I can’t wait to learn how to do it. It will make my background with stories that much better.
            On the tech piece Jim, Ruth wrote brilliantly about how this is an exception to the rule on technology:
            …Visual PQA supports our personal communication with the kids, face to face, looking them in the eyes, connecting, talking. This is how we want to use technology. It’s not really a ‘slide presentation’ that we have to do in the way that may Power Points are done, where the audience just stares at the slides. Rather , in this kind of PQA, the screen isn’t the main focus. It’s part of it but does not take over. Screens have a way of pulling us away from each other, but in Visual PQA the technology bells and whistles do not detract from what our work is really about – human communication….

      1. I don’t have a video yet either but it is definitely something that I would like to do. I didn’t ask Ben yet, but I wanted to video my lesson and then ask if he would be so kind as to give me feedback since I have never taught using CI or TPRS before this year. This will definitely be something that I will do and hopefully it will help someone out here as well.
        So, I teach 84 minute block classes and meet the kids every other day. As far as PQA is concerned, I will introduce the structures, establish meaning and do gestures. This lasts for about 5 minutes. Then I will take each structure and PQA it for 10 to 20 minutes each. Before I begin, I hand three different students a counter used in baseball and assign each student a structure to count. Then I begin with structure one. I will start out small just to get as many reps in as I can. For example, the last structure I did was “Nadie te ha amado como yo” (No one has loved you like I do). I started by saying “Have you ever loved someone?” “I have loved someone., etc.” I make small talk and ask individual students questions at this part of my initial PQA lasts about 2-3 minutes. Then, I start with an interesting fact…and I act extremely interested as well. “Some one in this class has loved someone! Who in this class has loved some one?” Now, we are in March so my students hands shoot up in the air, they have huge smiles on their faces, because they can’t wait to share their answer and know who to play the game. Whenever a name of someone in the class gets thrown out there, I then turn to that student and ask if it is true. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a “no” because they all understand the what we are doing by now. I just still confirm with the student because I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable. So, then we start creating a mini story about this student. I go through basic questioning such as “Who has s/he loved”, “When”, “For how long”, “How did this student say ‘No one has ever loved you like me’ to the other person, etc. Again, this process takes a good 15 minutes because I ask a lot of yes/ no questions before using the interrogative “Who…”? For example, I’ll say “Has this student loved…Michael Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Adam Levine, etc.” This is in order to get a lot of reps. One of the funniest things to do is to ask “how”. Did this student say it loudly, softly, slowly, fast, as if s/he were angry, sad, nervous, etc. The students get a kick out of one student screaming to another one across the room “No one has loved you like me!” And then in the end of the first PQA structure session, we usually have some type of ending to our story. We then do the same type of thing for the second and third structure.
        I used to try to incorporate all the structures into one bigger story. This worked well with one exception…I wasn’t getting enough reps for each structure. I then felt that I had to circle that much more the following class when we did our story. I find that the kids just want to get on with the story and not be asked so many questions. They never said anything, but you could just feel it. So now, not only do I not have to circle as much (I still do), but I see that the kids are really remembering the structures from the previous class because they’ve heard them so much (like at the very least 70-80 times!)
        I used to do PQA and story in one class since I have 84 minutes but I recently found that if I want quality PQA, then it is way to much to do both. It’s a lot for me and the kids. So this works well for me now and we have time for a Free Write after our “Story asking” session the second class.
        The class after our “Story asking” session, the kids read a story about one of their classmates (or two) being the main characters. They really love this idea and makes the story much more interesting to them. After we spend the class reviewing meaning, doing more PQA while going over actual content of the story, reviewing grammar in story, etc,, then we act it out. The kids really get a kick out of it and, of course, I always make them the heroes in some way.
        Also, what Eric said is so true…if you pick the structures right, it is very easy to create a story out of PQA! I have found that nothing is quite as interesting to teenagers as “love”! I, of course, do not want this theme in every single story but lately I’ve found that theres’s something about this that just never gets old and boring for the kids!!! So, my advice is to give structures that lend themselves to relationships, dating, etc. if you are struggling because this is a hot topic for teenagers!

          1. I couldn’t remember. Thanks Catharina.
            Elementary school: blood, teeth, and selfies.
            Middle school: slapstick.
            High school: love.

  2. Keri on behalf of the group I congratulate you. Can I put this in my new book in support of my new chapter on PQA? It’s spot on and supports and aligns with every point I make in that book.

  3. Keri I find what you said here very important in particular:
    …I then felt that I had to circle that much more the following class when we did our story. I find that the kids just want to get on with the story and not be asked so many questions. They never said anything, but you could just feel it. So now, not only do I not have to circle as much (I still do), but I see that the kids are really remembering the structures from the previous class because they’ve heard them so much (like at the very least 70-80 times!)….

  4. Keri you also said:
    …if you pick the structures right, it is very easy to create a story out of PQA!…
    Eric made this point and it has resurfaced at various times. We need to lock onto this point and apply it to the data base of vPQA slide shows. In other words, if y’all make a PPT based on three structures (you can use the DPS high frequency lists if you want), please choose structures that “work together”. In this way, those of us like me who are insecure people can be guaranteed that the structures will dovetail naturally into a story in the way Keri describes above.
    I remember when Eric first said this about structures working together. It was about five months ago. I knew it was important and here is it surfacing again. So if you contribute to the PQA data based write your slide presentations using verb bundles that contain verbs that like each other and play well together. I’ve never thought of verbs as children who need to learn to play well together, but there you have it.

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