Upper Level CI – 1

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51 thoughts on “Upper Level CI – 1”

  1. Thank you Skip, Ben, Mb,

    I really need this conversation to get started as I too will be teaching upper levels next year. I actually am looking forward to teaching upper levels b/c I’ve had these kids for the last two years now. So they have acquired a hopefully solid language foundation thanks to CI. It’ll be brand new for a few of us, including Mb.

    But we have many pioneers who can lead the way . Robert and Chill come to mind right now but I m sure there are plenty more on this blog!

    I hope San Diego will bring novel ideas and strategies to address many of these questions.

  2. What are these well selected texts? In Spanish three I used “Las aventuras de Juan Bobo” with great success and “Cajas de cartón” with limited success. I read bits of La casa en Mango Street with the kids too.
    I’m not sure if I’m a good reading teacher, though. I always default to “translate that paragraph with your partner” then clear up confusion and circle a bit. I see the kids get bored though. Bobo was fun because we could do readers theater.
    I will follow this with interest.

  3. I would also be interested in Upper level literature for Spanish although my students will only have 1 year of CI and 2 years of grammar, so I know I cannot expect as much. Still, the traditional 4th year is literature and other authentic texts. I’m wondering how the AP “themes” might work as well.

    Hope for lots of fodder for next year from those attending San Diego. Thanks in advance.

    1. I just noticed Ben’s remark, “…but also kids going on to other careers – kids with more sides to them than four percenters…”

      This makes me wonder if there is upper level CI besides literature. I have students who are not at all interested in college lit Spanish but would like to become more fluent in everyday/relate-to-people Spanish. Are there non-fiction possibilities here? How do we find them?

      If we’ve taken away FVR books and the novels and stories…what is left? I am just not that good at extending PQA for an entire class period or more. I need something to build around…something as the source of those structures.

      I need this whole summer to wrap my mind around the bare essentials…

      1. …are there non-fiction possibilities here?….

        I am certain that there are. You could taylor the course to the clientele. That’s what businesses do and we are now officially a business, it appears. Seriously, though, it is a great question and we should address it in this new thread.

      2. I think the answer is in movies. Movies are authentic, designed to be so compelling that you want to watch them over and over, the dialogs are usually conversational, rarely using very complex grammar. I think we can plan an entire semester around one really great movie. Find a movie that can hook your kids and you, then study it as deeply and thoroughly as you would a book. You can use cloze exercises to get the your students to Really listen to a scene, over and over and over again. You can use embedded readings. You can talk about the characters, their problems, predict the future, guess at motivations, etc., etc. When I run into former students, the one thing that they always remember about my class was the movie we studied. And please note, we studied the movie, we didn’t just sit and watch.

          1. Ooh yes! A personal fave and very popular with students. I have worked with this film for many years. I am talking about pre-CI, but it is compelling, tons of great scenery, issues, etc. I am really intrigued with Judy’s idea of studying one single film. “Study it as deeply and thoroughly as you would a book.” Wow!

            Judy, I think I get the basic process you describe, but could you elaborate a bit? Like maybe just give a basic outline of how you would do the very first week. I think after you get going, the “lessons” probably create themselves, but how do you pitch this process to your students and how do you start it out? Do you really do a whole semester on one film?

          2. I let the film dictate what I do with it. With The Mighty I show them a picture of the painting American Gothic, we talk about it and the fact that the people don’t look happy. then we watch the opening shots and describe what we see, the city, the bridges. I ask them where they think it is. Is it a rich neighborhood or a poor neighborhood? We work on the word “knight” because it comes in throughout the movie. Then there’s the shot of the grandparents and they recognize the painting. then it goes right into Max at school and with the Doghouse Boys. After that i give them an embedded reading that summarizes everything we’ve seen so far and I work on “looks like” with some PQA – who do you look like? So about 3 minutes of film takes up an entire hour. There are many ways of dealing with film and I just take whatever works best with a particular scene. Sometimes it’s just reading the subtitles, circling the structures I find interesting. Other times I switch off the subtitles and give them the script with blanks to fill in. Basically this is a listening exercise, so all the blanks correspond to words that are clearly enunciated and which I’m sure are acquired. You can’t expect them to recognize a word which is not yet part of their acquired vocabulary. What’s great about this exercise is that they keep asking to listen “one more time.” If there’s a lot of new vocabulary in the script I will have explained it and I give them a crossword to do as homework saying that all the answers are in the page of script. I may include in the clues where to look for it, or who says it, etc. This means that they go back and read the text through several times to find the answers. More repetitions. the preparation is a lot of work, but I use the same films over and over, so I get my money’s worth. And I don’t do it all the first time, I just keep adding on. The trick is in choosing the film. It has to be something that will not bore you to tears when you see it the twentieth time. And it has to be something that will hook the kids/students. Which is not necessarily their “favorite” movies. When you hear of a film that kids are going back to watch over and over, it’s a good candidate for class. I’ve had boys suddenly click onto English by using The Lord of the Rings. They knew the French dialog by heart, so the English was immediately comprehensible.

          3. Good ideas, Judy; I think it would help to see what you do with other films as well, as you said that the approach depends on the film. I’ve used popular songs in Spanish quite a bit this year as a listening activity (I cloze the lyrics and they fill in the blanks)–you are right about how they ask to “keep listening.” But I hadn’t tried circling the structures this year; I’d tried that before and it just took so much class time. Perhaps that is a good thing.

            I agree that movies (and songs) have authentic phrasing and dialogue. I can see that it will be a lot of work to begin with, though.

          4. Judy we need a Movie Talk template and you are the one to make it. Please send something resembling the flow charts on the Templates hard link at the top of this page to James at James.Hosler@sjsd.k12.mo.us.

            I know you said that there is no set formula, but my take on the entire acronym rampage is that they represent are our most important articles and they need to be most at our fingertips as we start the year.

            That is to say, you have shared great stuff with us about working with films over the past year, and when Carol came to Denver she did some great modeling of Movie Talk, but, even if there is no set formula, I’m sure more than a few of us in the group would appreciate something that we an grab as a template when working with films next year. It can always be revised.

            From the looks of the discussion here lately, it is going to be done a lot more next year as many of us see our lower level classes suddenly in flower form at levels three and four next year.

            It doesn’t have to be definitive, just something on a card to look at during class like the other acronyms James and I are creating in flow chart form for those of us who need that kind of direction.

            I wish you were coming to San Diego. But chill is and she’s been doing Movie Talk. I can come to Agen in 2014 as I plan to be there anyway just to hang out with my kids.

          5. I’d like to respectfully suggest that if you’d like the template for MovieTalk, you go to the originator of the page: Ashley Hastings. Here is his page, which explains everything, including giving you sample talking scripts for two different film pieces.

            The parts that Dr. Hastings keeps emphasizing when he watches me and others use MT are:
            use 1-3 minute scenes
            play the scene first (gives you a break and lets the kids see it)
            explain to the kids that MT is not for entertainment, but to develop listening comprehension
            don’t depend on dialogue; pretend you are telling a person who can’t see what’s in the picture.

          6. This is valuable new information to me and thank you Michele. We absolutely must credit folks. I will post this as a Movie Talk article and link it to the Movie Talk category.

            Michele just that little synopsis you gave above should get a lot of use next year in upper levels. James take note of what Michele wrote if we end up doing a Movie Talk template, and make sure you credit Dr. Hastings on it. We should credit the originator of every template we do.

          7. I guess I should have said, “…the originator of the technique.” Ashley Hastings is a friend of Stephen Krashen’s, and he developed Focal Skills, a system of teaching language that brings students from zero to able to participate at university in one calendar year. MovieTalk is the initial stage of the program; it takes students from beginners to about Intermediate Mid in listening acquisition. They don’t focus on any of the other skills until hitting Intermediate Mid in Listening. The number of hours required is substantial: would cover most of the time we have in a high school curriculum. Dr. Hastings really gets it. It is my suspicion that Focal Skills is really the next step that Blaine has mentioned he would move to if “something better” came up.

          8. …MovieTalk is the initial stage of the program; it takes students from beginners to about Intermediate Mid in listening acquisition….

            Now we have no excuse not to explore this MovieTalk. I think it will bring the compelling piece in hugely.

          9. Just in case someone wants to hang out with Dr. Hastings, you could come to our 2013 AFLA (Alaskans For Language Acquisition) Conference in the small town of Whittier at the end of September, or you could go to the MovieTalk website and send him a note. He’s in Oregon now, and almost came to a MovieTalk presentation I made in Bend last month. He Skyped with our Anchorage group and made us all feel as though we were MT experts. He is amazingly enabling, and I mean that in a good sense. Anyone who is friends with Dr. Krashen is a good egg.

          10. Judy we need a Movie Talk template and you are the one to make it. Please send something resembling the flow charts on the Templates hard link above this page to James at James.Hosler@sjsd.k12.mo.us.

            I know you said that there is no set formula, but my take on the entire acronym rampage is that they are our most important articles and they need to be most at our fingertips as we start the year. That is to say, you have shared great stuff with us about working with films over the past year, and when Carol came to Denver she did some great modeling of Movie Talk, but, even if there is no set formula, I’m sure more than a few of us in the group would appreciate something that we an grab as a template when working with films next year. From the looks of the discussion here lately, it is going to be done a lot more next year as many of us see our lower level classes suddenly in flower form at levels three and four next year. It doesn’t have to be definitive, just something on a card to look at during class like James and I are creating for those of us who need that kind of direction. I wish you were coming to San Diego. But chill is and she’s been doing Movie Talk. I can come to Agen in 2014 as I plan to be there anyway just to hang out.

      3. I think even most 4% ers (at least in my school) are NOT going to study languages as a major in college. They just want to max out their course loads to get into the competitive colleges. I’m in the middle of this very argument at school. I keep asking the question “why is our culminating experience in language dept all about testing and literature?” I know of many students who don’t continue after level 4 because they know level 5 is SAT prep and literature. I have nothing against literature, but in 25 years of teaching I can count on one hand the number of students who have gone on to major in a language. Many more have gone on and studied it in college and/or have traveled, done a year abroad, peace corps, etc. Why are we designing our program for 2 kids per decade?

        On one hand I feel like I have sabotaged the program by not preparing level 4 students for the SAT so they don’t have to cram it all in in level 5, but hey that is what the level 5 teacher wants to spend time on, so go for it. I am not interested in that. Sometimes I make myself try to go there, but I can’t. So I don’t prepare them. But that is also not good. This year’s class was an epic fail for a lot of reasons, including me getting really lazy and complacent.

        On the other hand, I know of several students who would have continued Spanish if we offered something similar to my level 4 class. I have balled up this argument into the whole multilevel also, because since I never “repeat” anything I do, I don’t see why a kid couldn’t take two years of my “level 4” class. One kid did last year bc he had a schedule conflict spring of his junior year. But he wanted to continue Spanish so he took “second semester level 4” in his senior year and it was awesome. Lots of stuff clicked and it certainly was not “retaking” the class. Nobody gets this. You just keep going from wherever you are. My dept. head doesn’t want to combine the 2-3 kids per year in level 4 + 2-3 kids per year in level 5 because “the level 5 kids know more.” Not really. But hey whatever. So this year I had 3 massively introverted kids first thing in the morning. And we couldn’t combine with the 2 she had in the next room. 5 kids vs 3 kids is a big difference. Last year I had 8 in level 4 and only 2 went on and then one of them dropped out bc within the class of 2 they were too far apart (happened to be a .00001 % er huge literature buff and a much weaker yet sincerely interested kid). I feel like we did the girl a disservice by not accomodating her or allowing her to join my group, which would have been perfect. But I suspect she didn’t want to feel like she was “retaking” or whatever. This makes me CRAZY!

        1. This really resonated with me, Jen: “Lots of stuff clicked and it certainly was not “retaking” the class. Nobody gets this. You just keep going from wherever you are.”

          Languages aren’t packaged in neat little levels, and yet that’s what we try to do with them in a school setting. I don’t repeat, either, and have had students request to take my class another year (as in “can you flunk me so that I can be in your class again next year!” –half-joking, of course).

          “You just keep going from wherever you are.”
          I love it.

      4. When I took my conversational Spanish class at the university, it was the next in the rotation after Spanish 2. It was so useless (and I told the teacher! – bad me!!!! funny….I only got a “C” in the course. ooops) she only had us read some boring 3-act play and do lots of grammar work from the back of the book. The “conversations” that she had us do was debates that she told us to pre-script.
        HOW ON EARTH is that conversational???? the whole class was complaining when she was not there, so I thought I would take it upon myself to speak with her privately in her office (instead of acting juvenile and bitching about her and the class) So, I met with her in her office and politely asked her if we could please read NEWSPAPER ARTICLES and discuss them in class — that is good spontaneous conversation!!!! But NOOOOO — I was told that SHE was the one who was trained, NOT me!!! (hence I got a bad grade!)
        But I got nothing out of that boring reading and grammar work and scripted dialogues.
        I agree: listen to the clientele…..they know what they want to get out of the class. If you gear it to THEM, and their needs, then you will keep up the retention numbers!!

      5. Magazine and news articles! It’s what I do in my IB Spanish classes. I admit I am pretty bad at it, but I am getting better at building PQA around the structures.

    2. …I’m wondering how the AP “themes” might work….

      Oh yes I forgot about the themes. Too bad I don’t give a shit. My students won’t be prepared for them. Three years of CI and they won’t be ready for the themes. Oh my oh my.

      (Those wondering about this comment are invited to read the recent thread, three weeks ago here, called “AP Thoughts”.)

  4. I tried very hard to include the themes this year. I used German magazines and had them read articles and do 2 minute presentations for the class with discussion questions. I do not think it is actually possible for me to prepare them with all the vocabulary necessary for each theme. They have to learn to read and derive meaning from a text with substantial vocabulary missing from their repertoire.

  5. …they have to learn to read and derive meaning from a text with substantial vocabulary missing….

    If we can’t prepare them for all that vocabulary, and they can successfully turn that back around on us, like there is something wrong with us, they win. Hmmm. I’m not buying it.

  6. I teach French I/French III/French 4- AP. All of my current and past AP kids skipped a year of French, with the intent to take the French AP exam after 3 years of French, in order to pass the test with a 3. Most of our students get into state university, and they do get credit for a ‘3.’ My French is rather limited, but I teach AP because no one else wants to teach upper-level French. Weird, huh? Just little ol’ me, struggling to learn the language alongside the kids.

    Ben, I could not teach literature if my life depended on it! The fact that the French AP format switched to non-fiction works for me on so many levels. Not that I don’t like French literature, it is just so hard for me to understand the sense of the words and phrases. How hard it must be for kids, some of whom are still thinking concretely, bless their hearts!


    My students and I read ‘Les Clés de l’Actualité/Un jour + un actu’ every day. Sometimes we would read the comments and find some slang, but my students would not be able to incorporate these words into their active vocabulary b/c they did not get enough reps from me.

    BTW — Ben et al, could you all take a look at ‘Les Clés’, before San Diego?

    When the kids got tired of ‘Les Clés,’ then we did the Ladd AP prep book, which my school purchased last year as a class set, at the request of a student. So boring– but they *wanted* to do it. Almost all of my AP kids were taking the AP test, and the book *is* good prep.

    My students did not want to read literature.

    My conclusions are similar – Next year, Mon-Wed, I want to do CI with tons of reps from the reading, and then read on Thurs/Fri, with some writing.

    Side note : Film is hard for me, b/c I can’t understand it! My friend uses ‘Film Aerobics’ but I am not a big fan of most of the films…

    Fascinating topic. Cannot wait to hear more in at the San Diego conf.

    1. Oops, I take it back! Some of the ‘Film Aerobics’ choices are to my liking. But, would I pay to use the material? Don’t know about that…I could just do my own thing and save some $$$.

    2. Q. Ben et al, could you all take a look at ‘Les Clés’, before San Diego?

      A. My relationship with CI has changed so much this year as a result of our discussions. I now appreciate so much sBI – the idea behind that – that we need thousands and not merely hundreds of reps. The idea that a kid could read Les Clés after 300 hours of exposure to the language, therefore, is a long shot in my mind.

      When choosing materials for next year for my upper level kids, I will always remember how important it is to shelter vocabulary and not grammar by going narrow and deep and not shallow and wide. So that’s my initial reaction to Les Clés – it just looks a little shallow and wide to me. I wouldn’t know how to work with it. It’s the same reason I don’t care about trying to address the AP themes with my AP kids next year. I don’t care. It’s all too wide and random.

  7. I suggest that those who want to be able to use some literature consider using Scaffolding Literacy to approach it. It’s some more preparation than I usually like to do, but it takes a long time to go through the cycle, once you’ve picked it. It was developed to get Aboriginal children to be able to attend regular English classes in Australia, and it worked so well that most of the “regular” teachers used it as well. I presented my version of it last year (not very well, sadly) at NTPRS, and will be happy to talk with folks there again this year. Every time I use it to help make complex reading accessible, the native speakers in the room say that’s what they need; meanwhile, it helps me reach all the other levels too. Look it up on line, or look on my blog under categories. I absolutely love it as a reading support in the upper levels.

    1. Michele I was at your presentation in Breckenridge, also at Laurie’s embedded reading and I think these approaches are the keys to this. I did not really incorporate them to the full extent that you do, but even in the small ways it really worked well. Of course I only did it a couple of times, but I can see myself having this as the backbone of level 4 next year. It works with anything–film, story, articles, etc.

      Just yesterday I thought to check out embedded reading.com where from time to time I have found stories that others have submitted. They are really helpful to see / use. Several months ago I used the Alma ones that I think Martin did.

      Anyway, a guy on there, Mike Peto, did a whole embedding / scaffolding (sorry, I know these are probably not interchangeable but I am still not exactly sure of the difference) on “La Prodigiosa Tarde de Baltazar” by García Marquez.

      Here is the link to his blog: http://mrpeto.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/la-prodigiosa-tarde-de-baltazar/

      I wish I had seen this earlier or I might have tried it. I might still try something similar for my level 4s for their final exam. It is very cool. Anyway, it gave me a feel for how to do this. It is easier for me to understand seeing examples from actual stories and films (Alma) rather than building up from an invented story.

      Check it out 🙂

      1. That is a great link! It’s a fine example of how to use ER to scaffold for reading comprehension.

        Embedded Reading is not a part of the Australian Scaffolding Literacy method, though I definitely use it with SL. SL is not a personalized method of CI, though the teacher does work to connect the vocabulary to the kids. The teacher assumes almost no background knowledge of new vocabulary in an a section of authentic text (as short as a paragraph), and makes that comprehensible to kids to begin with (often easiest to do through ER). The text piece itself is chosen for its quality and function/meaning in the piece as a whole. For example, when I was teaching (English students) how to write essays, we used SL to examine several introductions, as a way of seeing how the intro sets up the reader to continue.

        This “function” part is why it’s easier to use SL at the higher levels. You pick a piece that you admire, and explain to the kids something like, “This paragraph shows how Russians support an opinion.” Then you do something resembling circling, making sure that the kids are going to be able to answer correctly. You say, “The phrase X introduces the topic of the paragraph. Underline the phrase X in your copy. Now, class, which phrase introduces the topic of the paragraph?” Then, “The phrase T explains why the writer wants to give her opinion. Please highlight the phrase T that explains why the writer wants to give her opinion. Which phrase explains why the writer wants to give her opinion?” And so on. You can also ask, “What don’t we know if we take this phrase out?” You want them to hear and end up saying the phrases over and over. You work with just one little part of whatever you’re reading, and then go back to whatever you’d ordinarily be doing.

        The next lesson, you come back and focus on words. “The word Y helps you understand how strongly the author feels. Circle the word Y. Which word helps you understand…?” Or, “The word V makes the paragraph flow more smoothly. It shows us what happened next. Put a box around the word V. Which word tells us what happened next?” Then you can ask what difference changing or taking out words makes.

        This process can take several days, and it goes from broad to narrow in reading (you can even go to grammar and punctuation as they affect meaning). The cool thing is that you’re not dealing with grammar and punctuation rules. You’re looking at how those endings and commas make a difference to the reader.

        We have a visual (which, if you don’t use Cyrillic, you can do on a SmartBoard) of the piece that keeps getting cut up, first into phrases, later into words, and finally into parts of words and pieces of punctuation. We can remove or move things around, and in the end, all the pieces go into a ziplock baggie, and the kids come in early at lunch to have races to find out who can put “used” sentences together fastest. When they started doing that (and especially when kids started coming in to do pieces from classes they weren’t even in), I knew I had a winning method on my hands.

        The process now follows from narrow to broad in writing. The kids do a model of the piece (this is where I always have a hard time remembering that this is not a grammar lesson), and then they include their new paragraph in a longer fast write.

        I have been focusing on learning MovieTalk this year, so haven’t done as much with the writing end of SL, but next year, I intend to try to pull everything together for my upper levels. I went through an entire cycle of SL only four times last year, and only twice this year, and what I noticed was that the reading and writing skills shot up, because kids had a depth of understanding from the focus that I’d never known how to get to before in reading.

        SL essentially gave me the tools to have meaningful discussion about reading with my language classes.

    2. Hi Michele,

      Will you presenting on scaffolding again this year? I did see it last year but I think I came in late… that doomed me! I would love to learn SL…


  8. I have a kind of odd-ball situation. Well, maybe more common than I think! I teach the same children for years in a row — now beginning in Grade 4 with exploratory stuff, but really beginning in Grade 5 and continuing through Grade 8.

    So I have upper levels, of a sort, with my 7th and 8th graders, and yet they are also still quite young and immature. Lots of discipline issues; lack of focused concentration on a single task; mainly unable to handle acting except in short bursts of OWI (which usually works great). So I feel like what I’m looking for is upper level content with young-age adaptations. Sometimes this means spending no more than 10 minutes on the same task; also finding ways to get kids out of their seats frequently and structured yet fun brain breaks. Also, finding real ways to include games that are CI-reinforcing and finding a lot of that “illusion of novelty” that Carol Gaab apparently talks about.

  9. My mixed 3rd /4th year class was a big experiment this year. It was my first year teaching with CI and I knew I wanted to fill gaps in what they had learned from the textbooks. I chose “family relationships” as my main governing idea since this is hugely important in Chinese culture and we ran from there. We started with a clip from the Chinese version of “the Voice” where the contestant introduces herself and her relationship with her family and then we did part of the song she sang (which turned out to be too long with too much vocab). We did a story using the terms but what really worked best was lots of reading. We read the script, a summary of the script, and parallel readings. I wrote lots of material. I also learned this year to have the students write and then use their writings (with tweaks) as more readings. Lots of questions with each reading and also PQA.

    I also used a one minute movie clip, a kids song, short animated film and finally a reading of a famous tale about Mencius in his childhood.

    So here is what I learned this year. Stories don’t go over that well at this level. If your video/song/reading is too long, it will take months to finish and the students will get tired of it. Ben is totally right about the one paragraph idea, especially for Chinese. I also learned that in spite of everyone saying Chinese characters are hard to read, if you give the students opportunities to read every which way, they will become great readers (duh!). I believe these kids are better more fearless readers than most college students of Chinese I have met.

    I also learned that I have to limit the material down, way down. I didn’t finish hardly any of the materials in their entirety and would have been better off letting the students know from the start that is how we would be approaching the material. I just moved on to something new when the students seemed to be getting tired of the topic.

    My only disappointment is that their listening skills are not as good as I want them to be. They are better than they were last year but not as good as I want them because I included too many structures. I also need more ways to recycle the structures.

    The good news is every student came out of the class confidant and all of those who graduated have registered to continue Chinese in college. Those who didn’t graduate signed up to continue Chinese next year. That was my big experiment.

  10. OK – I *REALLY* need help this summer conceptualizing my upper levels – and everything for that matter!
    Just met with my colleague who is being eliminated (non-CI) and she told me that since she told her level 2 kids that she was leaving, they all said that they will drop Level 3!!! They said it’s because they don’t like my teaching style!! BUT I get the same from my kids about HER!! she told me that I will probably have about 3 or 4 kids sign up for Level 3 and all the rest will drop. WOW – really makes me feel good! NOT.
    Then she went on to say that our French colleague who is remaining has already told her that she WILL NOT do CI, that she squished her face up about it.
    We are getting a new principal in July, while I am out West at the conferences. She is meeting with him before I can, and my Spanish colleague “warned” me that she will be “getting to him” before I am, so I better come prepared with my rationale for CI.

    1. Feel free to have him/her contact my principal, ms principal, former principal and present superintendent at Marcus Whitman MS/HS Rushville NY. They would be happy to discuss how CI has formed and transformed our language program.

      with love,

  11. I am also going to need help on pre- and post-assessments, and “common” assessments, since that is what the French colleague is going to be pushing for. I know that some of you do pre- and post- as well as common assessments. If you have any examples, insights, please share at mbt719@yahoo.com. Thanks!
    Also….we’re being told that we need to align with the ELA Common Core Standards — does anyone have any insight into this also? My question: if the kids in our district start L2 in 7th grade, then where on the continuum do we align them with ELA Standards? Cognitively they are in the 7th grade, but linguistically they are not.

  12. I am wondering if we ever came up with a template for movie talk? I’ve looked at the Ashley Hastings website but am overwhelmed. My Spanish IV class (only one year of CI till this year) is floundering–no, it’s on life-support–and I’m ready to try anything, anything at all.


  13. Lori, maybe this can help. I have posted this to the moretprs listserv:

    A MovieTalk strategy:
    1. MovieTalk* a commercial or super short short, but don’t show the ending
    2. do a class reading of what was just watched
    3. then read/narrate (approximate) script in real time when movie plays a 2nd time and this time show the ending
    4. Put the reading into folders accessible during SSR.

    *By “MovieTalk” I mean that you should play the clip and stop every few seconds to Look and Discuss the scene. Gesture, point at the screen, translate, etc. do everything you already do during TPRS to make the clip comprehensible. Use circling, clips with repetitive scenes, PQA, and parallel stories to get the repetitions.

    MovieTalk can be viewed as step 2 of TPRS (story). You could choose the structures and PQA before the clip or during the clip, paralleling your students with the characters in the clip. After, the kids read what they saw. Of course, the 3 steps don’t have to be in that order and they don’t have to all happen.

    You can also MovieTalk through the entire clip and do the reading after. I am more likely to MovieTalk straight through if there is not a suspenseful ending to the clip. Some teachers show the entire clip first, without saying anything, just to give the students the background knowledge. I find that engagement is highest the first time through. If there is time at the end of class, then I’ll replay the entire clip, sometimes without narration, and I ask the students to tell the story to themselves in their heads as the clip plays.

    You can also MovieTalk the screenshots. This is more prep work. These screenshots can also be used for the reading. By subtitling the screenshots it should make the reading more comprehensible.

    I’m still experimenting with doing embedded readings of the clip. So far, I have had success when having the kids do a base reading before viewing the clip and a higher-level reading of the clip after.

    I prefer clips that are 1-2 minutes long. 3 minutes is pushing it for me and I’d have to rush my CI train if I wanted to finish in a 54 minute period.

    Here is a link to my (Spanish) living document of MovieTalk clips and readings:

    Here is a link to a video demo of MovieTalk. You will notice that it took me 12 minutes to MovieTalk 12 seconds of video:

    1. Quick Spanish question for you, Eric:

      Why did you choose “está gordo” for the dog? Are you emphasizing that the dog looks fat (also could be “se ve gordo” ) instead of actually being fat?

      if you see this, thanks.

        1. Thanks, Eric. By the way, the dog clip is the only one where the video is blocked (at least it was when I checked it yesterday.) I found it on a different site at YouTube by searching “Fat dog Volkswagen” Just thought you might want to know.


  14. Lori thank you for reminding me about my intent to create a MT template. I don’t think I will. I think that all we have to do is put up a cartoon or whatever and just start talking about it using the ideas Eric has laid out above. My thing with MT is that I have found it to be too easy to go out of bounds with unless, as Eric says, we limit the clip to just a few minutes. But even then it can be out of bounds. We lose classes when they don’t understand. Now, what I do with my upper level class is they read with the calming music for ten minutes in a Blaine novel that is below their level* so they can read without much effort for those first ten minutes of class (for me it is a crucial routine with all my classes except level one) and then we do R and D with it and then after about fifteen or twenty minutes we do that recently discussed cRD with the Little Prince until we have our quiz at the end of the period. That is pretty much all I am doing with my upper level kids. My own answer to the upper level quandary is just that – reading and R and D and cRD and more of the same the next day. I feel your pain. Upper level classes can suck in a way that lower level classes, still fresh for stories, don’t.

    *I like the verb tenses presented in Le Voyage Perdu in particular, as a review with more reps of past, future, conditional and even pluperfect forms.

    1. Well, what do you know–I went to the other Spanish teachers’ room today to return one set of Blaine Ray readers and saw that she had a spanking new class set of El Viaje Perdido–thanks to the teacher who came before her (TPR, but not a good teacher, from what I’ve heard). So now I can start class with that for ten minutes and then R & D before we move on to movie talk.

      I think I can maybe breathe again. I owe this blog’s contributors so much–I seem to read just the thing I need at the time.
      Lori Fiechter

  15. Thanks both Eric and Ben. I don’t have time this month, but this sounds like something to start a fresh new year. I tried a short Mickey mouse clip earlier in the year, but I had my upper levels write a critical analysis on it (after the cloze activity–which was challenging because of the audio) The clip was short enough and they filled in the script, but I didn’t do any sort of Look and Discuss.

    I already have the easy-reader ten minutes but I just am not smooth enough for read and discuss. I fall flat. The biggest problem with this class of seniors is that they have had “senioritis/just want to be outta here” from about week three. I know they are under a lot of pressure with college applications, etc. and I wish class could be “fun” for them again as it was two years ago when I had them the first time.

    I have one copy of the Spanish version of “El viaje perdido.” And nine students. Unless I read it aloud; when I showed pages onscreen of a different book, my students complained that it was too hard to read.

    thanks again; I will give it a try–especially not to lose my upper level by going out of bounds.

  16. Eric–I just noticed the google doc link–oh, that’s just what I need to get started. You’ve done all the work! Maybe I can create my own after I’ve used these. That needs to be a separate link somewhere on the Movie Talk page.

    lifesaver! I’ll try that fat dog on the couch first.

    many thanks,
    Lori Fiechter

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