Variety Pack 4

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7 thoughts on “Variety Pack 4”

  1. One argument would be that the level four group needs group dynamics to get them to participate more and that the level three would learn so much from the more “advanced” group that it would be a win-win situation. And surely the costs of paying two teachers for such small groups must enter into the question somewhere.

  2. That older group is hopeless. Just sayin’ based on my own failed attempts in a similar situation. Once they get enough years of easy grades based on worksheets, they would rather fight than switch. I inherited a 4th year group of 4%ers who, at the end of the year, knew significantly less French than my level ones. They had the grammar all amess – it was astounding since they had had 3 years of nothing but grammar. And their interspersonal skills were nill. Three kids, all sophomores, “went there” with me and we basically had our own CI class. The rest, all the juniors and seniors, were just so bad. So this discussion about setting rules, norming the class, making sure that they all know what rigor looks like, is not a casual discussion for those teachers who will inherit classes like that. Unless you want extra sleepless nights.

  3. I remember reading in the green TPRS book about some statistic on mixed classes saying that actually the more advanced students make bigger gains. This seemed counterintuitive to me, but I have read this in more than one study. Of course I can’t remember where I read it besides the green book. But does anyone have any supporting evidence for this? I think the benefit to the level 3s is something DH would get, but she is too rigid on the “fact” that the level 4s “know more.” I still say “so what?” to that. I know all of the kids. I had them last year. They are not so different from the ones I have now. Each child has a different strength. That is why the world is magical. Anyway, I guess this is not something I want to put a lot of my life force into (the argument and convincing part). I might make one fierce statement and then let it be. I have way more important children (whichever ones I happen to be working with in any given moment) that I need to channel my energy and presence into.

    I am so grateful for this group! In my former life I would just stew about this. And then spin. And lose sleep and whine. Now, I can read your thoughtful responses 🙂 Yay!

    1. This was a study done by Meredith Richmond at East High School in Denver which Blaine was involved in. That was in about 2002-2003. The conclusions supported the assumptions in general.

      However, whenever I personally observed the class, I saw in the few level one kids significant discomfort. It may have been the presence of observors, however.

      I remember reading here recently that Jody said that she doesn’t believe in mixing ones with twos (correct me if wrong!). I intutively feel that truth, even thought Paul claims that it is a piece of cake right now at Thomas Jefferson High School in DPS.

      I did observe the teacher (Meredith) having to slow down significantly for the ones and twos which, of course, since it was all slower, resulted naturally in higher gains for the upper level kids. Was it multi-level grouping or just the super slow pace that the grouping required that accounted for those gains?

      Then Diana took the district coordinator job and Meredith was soon alone with nine colleagues who diparaged the method. So that study was a lone wolf. I think Krashen has written on this very encouragingly, however.

      We sit here and turn it into a discussion and turn to research and all, but the fact is that, if you think about it, multileveling is just a natural thing. It used to be called the one room schoolhouse.

      We are all wired to learn languages at any time. I don’t recall Chomsky talking about any age restrictions on the Language Acquisition Device. Maybe he did – I don’t know. I don’t think so.

      Why we think a kid who is 13 should be separated from a kid who is 17 when they both have had next to no experience hearing the language, and they both are wired in pretty much the same way by the Super Design Guy*, seems slightly goofy and an indicator of how out of balance our system really is.

      *a.k.a. Master of All Things Neural and Otherwise**

  4. Starting last year we made several changes in our program:

    1. We allowed students to skip a level based on teacher recommendation, student motivation and parental approval.

    We moved up 8 students this year. They did no preparation beforehand. Some from Intro to Level 2 (skipping the 9th grade year), some from Level 1 to Level 3, and some from Level 2 to Level 4. They felt a bit lost for about a month. Nearly across the board they are the highest achievers in their new level. They are all going on next year. Next year we are tripling the number of students who will skip a level.

    2. Levels 2 and 3 (it’s their 3rd and 4th year…) are taught on two-year rotating curriculum. In this way, Levels 2 and 3 are doing the same curriculum each year. It allows us to focus our prep time, gives guidance more scheduling options, and has given us, along with the first change, a much richer and more dynamic student population in every class.

    The two-year rotating curriculum is fantastic. I’ve had one in Level 4/5 for years because although our district does not offer language classes before 8th grade, many districts do. Students move in to the district and end up wanting to continue language their senior year so I created a two-year program to accommodate them.

    Mixed levels are taught all over the country. In the CI community they are highly successful…for all of the reasons that have been stated.

    My guess is that the most compelling argument will be the money angle. :o) In our district they are asking for an enrollment of 12 before a class will run…and they would really prefer 15.

    but your attitude rocks girl….worry not!!! What will be will be. You and the kids will enjoy it either way!!

    with love,

    1. I’m very interested in this, Laurie–can you explain the 2-year rotating curriculum in a little more detail? What is the difference between the two levels?

      Right now at our school, we only have an independent study for 4th year Spanish because only 1-2 students sign up for it. I would like to have a combination class of those who have taken either Spanish II or III to get our numbers up enough that I could teach a real class for Spanish IV.

  5. Robert Harrell

    I do a two-year rotating curriculum for my combined 3-4-AP class. For it I do the following
    Year One
    -First semester is a virtual move to Vienna: learn about Austrian culture, students role-play older versions of themselves at the University of Vienna and UNO City*, readings based on Vienna, get to know the city. (*for example, Monday chats revolve around where they went and what they did in Austria over the weekend; did you take the train to Munich and visit Oktoberfest? Did you go skiing? Did you go to Danube Park with friends?)
    -Second semester study fairy tales and poetry; enjoy a “Viennese coffeehouse” experience

    Year Two
    -First semester is a virtual move to Berlin: talk about modern Germany, Re-unification, Cold War, interwar years. Similarly to Vienna, students talk about where they went and what they did “in Berlin”.
    -Second semester is a trip back to the Middle Ages; my medieval book is the organizing principle for the semester, and we use it for jumping-off points to explore medieval history and culture

    As far as grading is concerned, I simply adjust expectations for “level” of German. Students in the upper levels can do a bit more independent work, so I put AP or level 4 students with level 3 students for interaction. This year I have one class that is combined 3-4-AP and one class that is a straight 3 class. I can tell that the 3s in the combined class are making faster progress than the students in the single-level class, and the 4s and APs are also making progress because they are getting “review” from my accommodations to the level 3 students.

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