Upper Levels

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23 thoughts on “Upper Levels”

  1. If David’s coming to iFLT or NTPRS, find me and the session on Scaffolding Literacy. I’ve been using that to get to higher-level reading with my advanced kids, as well as with my lower-level readers in my English classes.

    Failing that, maybe David would be willing sometime in the next couple of days to be my guineau pig for a practice run through my presentation! (I still haven’t found a practice partner, and I’m getting worried.)

  2. David,
    First of all congrats on your Latin numbers…. That is incredible and very cool

    I am all over Ben’s suggestion that by next summer we have something concrete. This, I think, needs to be our next BIG project. We must nail this down “for the masses.’ It seems to be one area that has not yet been mastered by many.

    The names you mention, Ben, are important ones. Laurie has done a very cool project with the Spanish Amazing Race, Anne uses story scripts to bring authentic German Lit to her kids and Bryce (among many things) does jokes..(very effective – I used them last year)

    What is missing though is a systematic plan for levels 3-4…. Part of me wonder, however, if it is as simple as David says, just continuing with compelling CI?

    Any suggestions for how we arrive at a plan by next summer? Part of my Plan might be to try to visit Matava’s upper level German class….

    I am so glad to see this topic emerge…

    1. I agree that this is about extending compelling CI, of course, but how? It can’t be the same thing. There must be a different overall feel to an upper level class. Just thinking aloud like David. As long as we don’t let the thread go, we’ll have something by the end of the year. We handled at least two big, really big threads over the course of this past year – assessment as per Robert/ACTFL/Three Modes and Classroom Discipline – so there is no reason we can’t do this one too. My biggest interest area for the coming year is the self reflection/metacognition piece to get the kids as well as us tied right into the Three Modes. I will have one upper level class but they never had CI instruction so they will be like a French 1 class. Oh well. You guys figure it out.

  3. Melanie Bruyers

    I went to a short Krashen conference in the spring and he talked about content based instruction at the intermediate level, past the beginning levels, where the focus was not on the language, but on some other content and the quizzes would be not on language, but on the content. He also said that reading and discussing many articles about the same topic would help shelter vocabulary. I tried to do this after the conference, for example, I did one week with my German 4 (which was not my college in the schools class), where we read simple articles I found online (meant for kids in Germany) and in a textbook about Charlemagne and then had a quiz with an article about him and that seemed like it was on the right track. It is almost like graduating to non-fiction instead of fiction of all the stories.

    For next year, I plan on using TPRS for levels 1 to 3, with more reading of novels in level 3, and then in level 4, do more content-based stuff (which for me is a college in the schools class that already has that with topics like history of Berlin and student housing in Germany, but whereas they only provide one or two articles per unit, I plan to find more related readings and have more focus on reading about the topic.)

    If I didn’t have to follow the college in the schools content, for a level 4 or above class, I would alternate between novels and then non-fiction articles about different topics of interest and not do stories anymore, after my experience from last year and allow the students more output with presentations and essays.

  4. I agree with Melanie. Non-fiction reading. About important cultural topics (art, music, current events, history, etc.) I attended the Krashen conference with her. I am no TPRS expert, just an experienced colleague bringing TPRS into the mix of CI. My students are not to the upper levels next year, consistently. In Spanish, we have some TPRS and some traditional students. I don’t have specifics, as of yet, but will be working on this in the next couple of years as well.

    I’d love to be a part of any discussion at/after NTPRS.
    Michele, let me know if you still need to run through your presentation. I’d be happy to help. Email me at sklint@twintime2.com, if so. I am not checking the blog as much in July.
    See (many of) you in a couple of weeks in Vegas.

  5. And Melanie makes a additional important about output at the upper levels:

    …and allow the students more output with presentations and essays….

    When I suggested to Krashen that I think the first year should be entirely (I said entirely) listening, he agreed. I know – what about reading in the first year? Did I hear him wrong? But Diana and ten other teachers were sitting there and I think that’s what he said.

    (I’ll ask him next week for a clarification on that, but I will bet that he will suggest very limited reading in level 1 if any. I could be way off on this, however.)

    My belief based on my own experience in the classroom is that if we can just totally limit the minutes of output to almost nothing in the first two years, and none of it forced, we can then allow much more output later bc they would then have had so much extra input from the first two years to support any output that they produce naturally.

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about getting production early on – it seems like a really stupid idea, like forcing babies to speak or asking monkeys to do those big long swings between branches before their shoulder muscles are fully up to it. Early output early on just makes students wet their pants and have an affective filter as high as a Philadelphia Phillies catcher’s mask.

  6. I am excited that this is a topic others are interested in working out too! Thanks for the input so far; I already have some ideas about some directions I could go with an upper level class, especially with the non-fiction, cultural and historical topics.

    For Latin this is a rich area and I have devoted less time to these in the lower levels than I used to before I started using TPRS; but bringing these topics in later seems appropriate because the overall language maturity of upper level kids is higher (and general maturity), as well as their dedication to the class. My Latin 1s are just not going to find a cultural topic as interesting as my Latin 3 and 4s. I did something like this last year with my student teacher when introducing them to Vergil and Caesar: we did some short pieces on the Trojan War, gods and goddesses, etc. but I had to write most of these and it that was time consuming.

    And Michelle, I am happy to say that I AM attending NTPRS! (This is my first TPRS conference and I’m really exited about it!) So I will definitely look for your presentation on Scaffolding Literacy. This is a topic I am very interested in, especially since Latin texts, no matter what era they are from, are difficult and tend to need A LOT of scaffolding. And if you would like to run your presentation by me, I’d be happy to help. You can reach me at david.maust@wuhsd.k12.ca.us

    Looking forward to reading and talking more about this, David

  7. I think I probably qualify as someone who has done CI “all the way through”, but I will qualify what I have done as constant experimentation, and that continues to be true. My colleague and I teach about 350 Latin students between us each year, and we have agreed to try and move through with our students–meaning that I teach all the Latin 1 students one year and then move through with them. While we have not been able to do that perfectly, we have been able to do that mostly. So, for the last two years, I’ve been teaching levels 3, 4 and AP with students that I began teaching Latin 1. I’ve used CI and TPRS approaches with them all the way through.

    We have the Cambridge Latin course to use, and fortunately, it has good and compelling stories (for the most part). At the Latin 3 (second semester) level and beyond, I turn my attention to two kinds of material with students: a) topics that they want to discuss so that I can build thematic units, and b) accessible Latin material from the Renaissance, Middle Ages and the Classical Period, in that order. I find that the older the material, the more challenging it becomes. I let what they want to talk about become my guide to finding material from various time periods. So, for example, we always end up doing a unit on entertainment, including sports, board games, music, theater, etc. It becomes my job early in the unit to do PQA kinds of discussions in order to build interest and vocabulary. By mid unit, I give them news stories to listen to (A Finnish radio station broadcasts world news in Latin every week via the internet); fables and legends from the MIddle Ages and Classical period that focus on games, game-playing, trickery, etc and then finally classical material on Roman sport, games, and trickery. That could include both prose and and poetry (satire). Such a unit can last 6-8 weeks given all of this work and material. I ask them to engage in conversations, draw pictures, describe to a parterner and then to the class their favorite form of entertainment, do a show and tell about their game or sport or music. I ask them to listen to each other, offer feedback, and read, write and speak about Latin authors’ works–all in Latin.

    This next year, I will largely be teaching the Latin 1’s and 2’s as my colleague moves on with her original “babies” into Latin 3, 4 and AP. This next year, my experimentation has led me to focus on sheltering vocab and not grammar so much (an age old problem in Latin and all language teaching), and to move ever closer to 90% Latin every day. In two years, I’ll be teaching the upper levels again, and so it goes.

  8. Melanie said: I went to a short Krashen conference in the spring and he talked about content based instruction at the intermediate level, past the beginning levels, where the focus was not on the language, but on some other content and the quizzes would be not on language, but on the content.
    This is what I did with my better classes. I gave them lectures on a cultural topic. I’m fairly sure I’ve described this before, so I don’t want to repeat it all, but basically, I asked them to listen without taking notes, I spoke slowly and tried to repeat essential ideas, aiming at 100% CI, I put important names and dates on the board. Then I asked them to recapitulate, and at the end they made notes and asked questions for clarification.
    I then gave them related articles to read. I helped make the articles comprehensible by giving definitions for difficult words, paragraph by paragraph. We read the articles in class and after translating each paragraph I asked questions to be sure they had understood the important points. I circled useful structures.
    I also made up crossword puzzles using the vocabulary from the article. With each clue I put the number of the paragraph where the word could be found. This had them going back to reread the article several times. 🙂
    In the upper levels, where students can carry on a conversation, I’m not sure there has to be a routine. As long as it’s comprehensible input, everything is grist for the mill.
    What works really well is to invite a native speaker “expert” to the class to talk about something that is interesting to the students. They will need to prepare questions. I try to not let the native speaker just run on, because it won’t all be comprehensible, but to get them to answer specific questions.
    Something I did here in France that also went very well, was to prepare my students to act as tourist guides for visitors from Great Britain. Real ones, not somebody play-acting. It was very motivating and even the weaker students discovered that they could communicate in the target language.

  9. With my department next year (and being the only CI teacher) the 5 level 3 teachers are meeting to decide themes and readings that we want to use as a common curriculum.

    We have decided on this for first semester. (We meet on Tuesday for second semester)

    1. “El yo” (Me)
    Essential question: ¿Quién soy yo y cómo me relaciono con los demás? (Who am I and how do I relate with others)
    Reading: “Las aventuras de Juan Bobo”

    2. “Los otros” (The others)
    Essential questions: ¿Qué puedo aprender del mundo hispanohablante? (What can I learn from the Spanish speaking world?)
    ¿Cómo funcionaría yo en un nuevo ambiente? (How would I function in a new environment?)
    ¿Qué puedo aprender de las tradiciones de otros? (What can I learn from the traditions of others?)
    Reading: ¡Viva el toro! by Blane Ray
    Video/Reading: Start Amazing Race (2a temporada)

    3. “Aquí estás. ¿Dónde quieres estar?” (Here you are. Where do you want to be?)
    Essential question: “¿Cómo te estás preparando para el mañana?” (How are you preparing for the future?”
    AP/Interpersonal practice: an interview (can TPRS the hell out of this)
    Reading: “Cajas de cartón”
    Reading: news articles on technology, careers, costs of education, university

    As a TPRS teacher this makes me happy. I can choose the structures I want from the readings.
    As an individual this makes me happy. I can teach how I want.
    As a Pre AP teacher this makes me happy. They’re authentic texts.
    As the Department Chair this makes me happy. We have common units, common texts, and common vocabulary. I can collect data–because I have to.
    The principal will be happy. We have essential questions and common assessments in the form of writing prompts.

    From the Spin Class articles from this website and for actually participating in Spin to train for bike rides I learned that class starts before class starts. I am planning on having a short article on the board during our 8 minute passing period and start discussing it as soon as the bell rings.

    1. Drew, these ideas are really helpful to me as I’m teaching 3rd year this coming school year. Last year I struggled with using authentic texts in the upper levels because some were rather advanced. I’m beginning to question this whole idea of efficiency teaching. The other part of me knows that with a powerful and culturally revealing text, the time spent is worth it.

      I’m looking at also incorporating the mini-novels (like from TPRS Publishing) into my class. My students responded really well to a few of those novels last year, and I’m thinking of using them again but spending more time PQA’ing and front-loading the vocabulary.

      1. I think the translation piece and going slowly with authentic texts is a key. Here is what I came up with for Las aventuras de Juan Bobo. I broke it up into 6 parts so that we can spend a few weeks reading it and circling the high frequency structures before reading. I can email you a better formatted version. Where the numbers are is where I put a footnote. I chose to do footnotes for non-high frequency vocab.
        I really like this story because it lends itself really well to readers’ theater.

        Las aventuras de Juan Bobo
        Cuento folklórico mexicano

        Parte I
        Érase una vez1, hace muchos años, un muchacho tan perezoso que parecía2 estúpido. Tenía la mejor voluntad3 del mundo para portarse bien4, pero no hacía ni decía mas que tonterías. Por eso todo el mundo, menos su madre inteligente y trabajadora, le llamaba Juan Bobo.
        Cierto día la madre le dijo:
        –Vete al mercado del pueblo y vende esta gallina gorda. Con el dinero que recibas, compra una bolsa de arroz.
        –Sí, mamá, –dijo Juan. –Y sé cortés y obediente con toda la gente que encuentres. –Sí, mamá.
        Diciendo esto, Juan tomó la gallina y muy alegre salió para el mercado. Pronto se encontró con mucha gente que venía, la mitad5 en una carreta y la otra mitad a caballo. Venían de una boda. Andando, por la carretera, iban el novio, la novia y los familiares, mientras los amigos los acompañaban montados.
        –Tengan ustedes mi más sentido pésame6 –dijo Juan.
        En una ocasión había ido con su madre a un funeral, y como ésta había saludado a la familia de ese modo, Juan creyó que había que saludar así siempre que hubiera mucha gente reunida7.
        Naturalmente los recién casados, así como los amigos, se enojaron muchísimo y el esposo le dijo a Juan:
        –Cuando te encuentres otra vez con mucha gente, debes saludarlos diciendo: «¡Viva, viva!»
        –Muchas gracias, así lo haré8 –respondió Juan, triste por haber confundido los saludos.
        Parte II
        Siguió caminando el muchacho, y pronto se encontró con un carnicero y sus tres hijos. Volvían del mercado llevando algunos cerdos que habían comprado.
        Recordando las palabras del novio, Juan saludó así:
        –¡Viva, viva! –mientras agitaba9 su sombrero como el novio le había enseñado.
        Los cerdos, asustados10 al ver a aquel muchacho que agitaba su sombrero y gritaba, corrieron en otras tantas11 direcciones por el campo.
        El carnicero se enojó y le gritó:
        –¡Estúpido! La próxima vez que veas algo semejante12, será mejor que saludes: «Dios les dé13 dos por cada uno».
        Parte III
        Cerca del mercado observó a un campesino que quemaba14 un montón de malas hierbas que había arrancado15 de sus tierras.
        Acordándose de lo que le había enseñado el carnicero, Juan saludó así:
        –Dios le dé dos por cada uno! –¿Qué tienes, hijo? No debes decir esto. –¿Qué debo decir, señor? –preguntó Juan, muy confundido. –Otra vez que veas algo así, mejor será que ayudes en
        lugar de decir tonterías. –Muchas gracias, así lo haré –respondió Juan y siguió
        caminando, afligido16, pensando que él había nacido17 para equivocarse.
        Parte IV
        Pronto vio a dos hombres grandes y fuertes que se peleaban en medio del campo.
        Se acordó entonces de lo que le había aconsejado el campesino y corrió gritando:
        –Esperen, señores, yo los ayudaré.
        Al ver al muchacho, los hombres dejaron de pelear y empezaron a reírse.
        –No debes decir esto –dijo el primer hombre. –Pues, ¿qué debo decir? –Debes decir: «No se peleen, por favor, señores». –Sí, eso es lo que debes decir, –añadió18 el segundo hombre. –Gracias por sus consejos, señores. Los recordaré. Y diciendo esto, Juan continuó su camino mientras repetía: –No se peleen, por favor . . .
        Parte V
        Al llegar al mercado, Juan vendió la gallina y compró una bolsa de arroz, según las instrucciones de su madre.
        Entonces, ya muy feliz, caminó por el mercado. Observó a los alfareros19 haciendo y decorando hermosos jarros, grandes y pequeños. Muy contento y boquiabierto, contempló a los sopladores de vidrio20, y se lamentó por no tener dinero para comprar un florero para su mamá.
        Por fin, salió Juan del mercado y se puso en camino para su casa. Pero pronto se sintió cansado y subió a un árbol frondoso para dormir la siesta. Se acomodó en una rama ancha21, y en un abrir y cerrar de ojos le vino el sueño.
        Mientras el joven dormía, el cielo oscuro anunciaba un aguacero22 y al poco tiempo comenzaron a caer gotas gruesas. El ruido de la lluvia y el rumor de voces que se aproximaban23 despertaron al joven. Abrió los ojos y vio a varios ladrones24 que se refugiaban debajo del árbol. –Aquí estaremos seguros de la lluvia. Nadie nos verá mientras contamos el dinero que hemos conseguido. Así habló el jefe de la banda mientras depositaba en el suelo un enorme montón de monedas de oro. –¡No seas estúpido, Paco! –gritó uno de los ladrones. –No
        debemos contar el botín hasta la noche. –¡Silencio! –respondió el jefe golpeando con su mano fuerte al hombre que había hablado. –Alarmado, gritó Juan desde la rama: –¡No peleen,
        señores, por favor! –Pero, mientras gritaba, rompió el saco que contenía el
        arroz para su madre. –¡Socorro!25 ¡Socorro! –gritaron los bandidos. Está
        cayendo granizo! ¡El Dios de la tempestad nos ha descubierto26! ¡Corramos!
        Y los bandidos corrieron a toda prisa, abandonando su mal adquirido27 tesoro.
        Juan bajó entonces del árbol, y no tardó en recoger el riquísimo botín que puso en su sarape. Luego, silbando28 una canción muy alegre, corrió en dirección de su casa.
        Parte VI
        –Aquí estoy, mamá, y le traigo un regalo. Y abriendo su sarape, le enseñó las monedas de oro. –¡Ay, mi querido Juanito, somos ricos! Pero, explícame lo
        que pasó. –No hay nada que explicar, mamá. Es fácil hacerse rico si
        una persona es cortés y obediente con toda la gente. Así habló Juan Bobo, el rico.

      1. And Ben it is great to hear from you after a long break. I should tell the group that we have two Bens as well. Ben Lev is in the Bay Area and last year did some major shaking of the system in his district in a way that I am sure has not yet been done in terms of demanding change as a parent and as a teacher. I have to use the term bad ass on what he did last year. It challenged a lot of us to think about how we interact with those who teach our kids languages.

  10. Just dropping in again and didn’t read the whole thread yet. That will have to come later. Right now I’m in Córdoba.

    My quick comment on upper levels is that I think here is where “The Realm” can come into its own and be effective. It has happened for me a couple of times in a big way; students definitely developed characters that drove the action. One student who graduated about five years ago still contacts me occasionally as “Thor der Drachentöter” (Thor the dragon slayer).

    I agree, this should be the next big thread.

  11. I am thinking about course outlines from a previous recent post and am wondering if folks who have taught Sp 3-5 (Juniors and Seniors) would talk about differences in classroom management between lower and upper levels?

    I am wondering specifically about things like gum, food, drinks, etc – things that I do NOT allow in Sp 1 or 2. I have very little experience teaching the older students and when I have, have sensed that they resent some of my rules. Might any of you EVEN have a different cell phone policy with older students?

    I would appreciate any input you could give on this issue…

    Thanks so much

  12. Skip:
    First you should probably ask yourself WHY you have those rules. For me, I have them because …… I do not want gum in room because I don’t want to find it under desks, on the floor, ceiling, windowsill, etc. It also inhibits their speaking ability – if they have something in their mouth, they are less likely to blurt out a “spontaneous” Spanish answer. Same goes for food and drink (which is also a school rule now that the building has been renovated.)
    Cell phones are a done deal for me (besides being a school rule; because they always have been against my beliefs) but, thinking about other teachers….why do they need cell phones in Spanish class? who are they texting? they are not fully engaged in my class if they are texting, and the friend they are texting is not fully engaged in his/her teacher’s class either.
    But, that’s me. Consistency makes for simplicity. And it promotes respect — respect for you and your classroom and your time.

  13. Ok, waiting for people to comment on this…! I am just new and looking to do CI etc. with level 3 (and next year 4), and sensing it has to be different than for levels 1 and 2.

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