Gesture Fully in PQA

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17 thoughts on “Gesture Fully in PQA”

  1. Thank you for reminding me. So often I gesture to establish meaning, but forget about it later during other classes. Just because it gets old, or is slightly bothersome (like speaking slooooooooowly), doesn’t mean the kids don’t need it.

  2. And Lance another thing that I remembered this week in my classes that I find that I forget easily is the idea of big space between words. Gesturing, big space between words, insistence on not even a wisp of a cloud of English being allowed into the language space, all those things make it work. Yes, the strategies we have are all great, but unless we implement the skills properly when we use them they lose much of their value.

    1. Concerning the use of English in addition to gesturing and big spaces between words as great tools to make great CI happen: The big weapon I have against blurting these days is the timer on a 30 minute no English thing. (Used to be the 10 minute deal.) I am very conscious of STOPPING CLASS as soon as I hear one word of English from them and signaling the timer to start again. If they want the 10′ brain break they have to go the 30′ perfectly first. I am intense about it. (If I personally need to speak English I just ask the timer for a time out and she stops the timer and I say what I want and allow them the same but those little timeouts MUST BE QUICK.) CI instruction DOES NOT WORK IF THEY ARE ALLOWED ANY ENGLISH WHATSOVER. The no English on their part must be respected. We can use English and they can too but only during timeouts CALLED BY THE TEACHER. End of story. Or we could just go ahead and give a big hug to the concept of mediocrity and chaos in our CI instruction.
      (The blurting thread, by the way, might just be the most common thread over the nine years we have been talking here (we are almost to 40,000 comments) and the most annoying aspect of our work. WE JUST CANNOT ALLOW THEM TO SPEAK ENGLISH. WE JUST CAN’T DO IT. Circling, once looked upon as such a key skill, pales in comparison to our ability to show up as the adults in the room and insist on no English and stopping and and requiring the timer to restart the clock and repeating and repeating and repeating that over and over until we train them to do class in the way we require.)

      1. Coincidentally, this week I initiated the “Continuous Flow of Spanish” challenge. I will need to work my way up to the 30 min. mark but so far it has done magic for focus and buy-in, not to mention confidence.
        When we are “on the clock” it is pretty amazing because it creates this parallel time and space where you can slow down, because everyone is tuned in. Because you can slow down, everyone understands more, more understanding = more responsiveness = more confidence.
        I’m totally diggin’ it. Still have a long way to go, but it is night and day compared to everything else I have tried. It is also funny (to the level 1 and 2 classes) that they are both “beating” level 4! I know sad, but true. They are very chatty and so we just keep on stopping the clock.
        I am especially proud of the level 1 class because I thought it would be impossible to ever deliver any input in this group.

          1. I am timing it myself. Have not found a reliable student timer yet. I stop when I see someone whispering or hear someone talking. The kids are clear that me seeing whisperers is the same as someone talking. WE already went over the whole
            “what if I am whispering in Spanish” scenario. Basically I tell them that when we are on the clock we are in “continuous flow of Spanish” AND we are practicing rule number 2 “one person talks others listen”. Because nobody can do rule number 2. Not just in Spanish class 🙂

          2. Thinking of trying this next week. My level four group would easily win every day, though, since there is no wrong use of English in there. They rock! We have a great time. But I may just invite the level 1, 2, and 3 classes where blurting and whispering are sometimes issues. I’m thinking of aiming for it to be a fun thing for a week rather than as I was thinking originally, which was that I’d be trying to set up some kind of new system that would become a big pain for me to administer and be unpleasant to students. I really don’t need that kind of hassle!
            So, I’m looking for ways to keep unnecessary English out and also to make that feel more light-hearted. It’s become a burden to me these past couple weeks, possibly now that the school year is really settled in. I really want the flow of CI to happen, so I keep at this. I am not a type of person who easily coerces people to do things they don’t want to do. I am also not a dominant, energetic, extroverted person, so it fatigues me to have to manage people who are not especially willing to go along with what I’m asking. I have been exhausted these past 2-3 weeks, and I don’t want that to continue.
            However, I can be inspirational to those who are open, and sometimes have inspired kids to find joy in another language or at least in what we do to acquire another language. I want to build on that in how I treat disruptive blurting and off-task conversation. I think that most plans for classroom management are made by extroverts. Most people are supposed to be extroverts, too. I feel like I keep writing about this topic here, but it’s still something that I need to learn about 9 years into teaching.

          3. Wow, what a big, heavy boulder of an issue you bring up, Diane. I totally consider myself an introvert. Becoming a teacher for me, in a way, was to challenge myself to become a better communicator in my life. I’ve heard that many truly inspiring leaders in our history were introverts, including president Barack Obama. I’d like to think that as an introvert we tend to be very thoughtful and deliberate about what we say, and being that we have such limited time with our students, all the better.
            To get to the topic of the timer, I’ve found that there have been always a couple of students in each of my classes that like to hold onto the timer and announce, with conviction, how long we stayed in the L2. I used to document the times on a poster, as James Hosler once talked about doing, but stopped doing that because it seemed enough for just that one student to announce the time. When the class hears that at least one student cares about how long we stay in the L2, they buy in more. I find it tiring to keep track of the time, as well as keep track of the count of repetitions of targeted vocab for that matter. The more we put that in the hands of students, the better. We should not let these details drag us down like a ball and chain around our ankles!
            I am also not a dominant, energetic, extroverted person, so it fatigues me to have to manage people who are not especially willing to go along with what I’m asking. I have been exhausted these past 2-3 weeks, and I don’t want that to continue.
            Amen to this, Diane! This is why kids, and I mean all kids no matter what degree of ADHD or what not in a large class of 35+ students, MUST face forward, square shoulders, and clear eyes when you give the signal to do so. At the same time, I’ve learned to appreciate the frustrations that many of our students have with being told what to do by adults in school when adults out in their real world may be treating them awfully. So, when I give the signal for attention, I do it with joy and love. I think Carol Gaab is, like, our superhero in ways to signal for attention with joy and love.
            My go-to signal lately for getting attention is to clap my hands in some rhythmic sequence and have students repeat to the rhythm. I’ve been doing some combination of palmas claras (clear clap) and palmas sordas (muted clap)… flamenco style. The kids love it, well, except for some snooty Sophomore girls I have.
            But, when you’re in the middle of a CI session, that’s a different issue, right? It just reminds me of how much patience we CI teachers need. No wonder so many teachers go the traditional route.
            Side note: I am so grateful that I have classes this year where my students respect my signal for attention in ways that I’ve never experienced before.

          4. Children have long been given permission in our society (in America) to be rude. The culture is that way due perhaps to a long absence of actual adults in the adult population. We indulge our children, allowing them to do things that are harmful to them. It has become the norm in our society, and yet it is very twisted and harms them. So also we in our classes allow children to get away with breaking our rules. We sit there with those eight rules on the wall and ignore them. Better to take the rules down, because when they are on the wall being broken it is a kind of unofficial recognition that they are in charge of the classroom, that they get to do what they want in spite of the rules*. And then we turn around and wonder why we can’t teach the language. They aren’t letting us. They will never let us until they understand that they won’t be allowed to break the rules, esp. rule #2. But few of us seem to have the personal core strength to teach our class with the patient enforcing of the rules that CI instruction requires. There are many reasons people don’t use storytelling – this lack of being a real adult may be the most common. After all, a lot of teachers never left high school buildings because they didn’t want to grow up. Columbine High School is an example. Most of the teachers of all ages look like cheerleaders and football players. The culture hasn’t changed. Some day our country will produce adults who are really adults, politicians who do things on behalf of the many and not the few. This is a wider war and we are in it. Enforce the rules. Sorry for the pontification but I mean this. We need to grow up.

          5. …nobody can do rule number 2….
            I just stop when they break this rule. Every time. I am getting there. Not perfect, but I see it as possible for a class to follow rule #2. I do. I just have to stop the class every time. The Sufi master Inayat Khan has spoken to this here:
            http://www.akhira.com/3p.htm (esp. Chapter III).
            Don’t give up on rule #2 jen. We have come a long way from the Ten Minute Deal and the fact that we are both now trying for 30 min. of pure uninterrupted CI is a sign that we are moving in some good direction. Let’s keep trying. It’s honestly working for me as per what you said above about it being “night and day”. It is. Kids are stuffing their hands in their mouths and writhing around in their chairs but it’s working.

          1. Yah, I was already thinking ahead and coming up with something like “interval workout” where we would do 20 mins on and 2 mins “recovery” then hit it again til exhaustion. ahaha!!! Or maybe we do long sessions 1x week and the intervals in between???
            I have no idea…but trying the clock in a variety of contexts…story, look & discuss, gestures & TPR, etc. At least for now stopping and starting the clock gives them a bit more urgency.

          2. …we need an endless bag of tricks….
            This is not true for me. Working from our normal CI bag of tricks is exhausting enough. We shouldn’t need a bag of tricks to prevent blurting. What we need is the firm core centered resolve to stop the class each and every single time a rule is broken, repeatedly over and over in class, with a smile, strolling to the rules if necessary and putting our hand on it and looking at our students. We need to become adults.

  3. I am recently telling my class “When I gesture, you must gesture.” Of course, I don’t continue the story until I have 100% participation. I just repeat the phrase over and over until the groaning begins. I have told them, in English “The more you move the more you’ll learn.” and “You will learn twice as fast if you move.” etc.

    1. Ben this is just do true about the gesturing. I can only remember to do it during PQA and not stories. Oh well, I should just be honest and say I can’t remember to do it during PQA either. I can only remember to do it during word associations.

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