When Attacked

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10 thoughts on “When Attacked”

  1. How frustrating to be “supported” in this way. In addition to Ben’s excellent suggestions, I would give a student a story you’ve been working on and have them translate it aloud for a parent or admin. How could they say that learning isn’t taking place at that point?

  2. I would suggest two simple things for the teacher in question:

    a) do your exit quizzes every other day (M,W,F). Your kids should be getting 80+% or higher esp if it’s an IB school. If they are beginners, after say 3 weeks have them not only write meanings in English but also sentences you dictate in TL.

    This will give you Numberz. It will also make the kids feel good– they like to clearly see how they are doing.

    b) Have them do story re-writes starting in 3rd week. If they can pump out say 5-10 sentences that you’ve circled the crap out of– including say 2-4 lines of simple dialogue– they will also feel a storng sense of accomplishment plus you can show this to your Head.

    c) Get your Principal to go to a Blaine workshop (admins attend for free) in your area. After 2 days he/she will be able to tell and write a 200-word German story. If that doesn’t convince her, nothing will.

    d) For the f**king textbook, pick 2-3 most important verbs and 5-6 vocab items, build story around these (or throw em into background). Kids won’t remember 80% f vocab that trad teachers “cover” anyway. Numbers, weather, days, dates, colours, etc circle at start of class and throw in background of stories; do NOT build “units” around these.


  3. First of all, in the IB, our subject is called LANGUAGE ACQUISITION! If people aren’t teaching that way, they are not practicing the IB.

    I also teach Spanish at a middle school with IB. I actually do so much better than traditional teachers at this school because the assessment criteria is performance based:

    1. Oral communication (which is developed through CI in PQA, stories and MT)
    2. Visual interpretation (reading and MT)
    3. Reading Comprehension (oh my gosh, my kids own our common reading assessments because of all the reading we do).
    4. Writing (weekly timed writes)

    I use at least one of these assessments on a daily basis for formative assessments. Like you, we also have a textbook, thematic units and are required to have common summative assessments. I let the traditional teachers come up with a common summative assessments, and I just print out the review page of the chapter and have the kids memorize the words at home.

    While the traditional teachers spend all their class time preparing their kids for the summative assessment, I just spring it on them at the end of the unit (Pop test!) and so far, they have at least very similar results as the traditional teachers, but usually they are way better. Keep in mind that the other teachers focus all their time on preparing their kids for the assessments.

    I think IB is great. It is forcing the traditional teachers to focus on getting their kids to acquire the language (there is no grammar or linguistics assessment criteria. WOOHOO!) Our subject is actually called LANGUAGE ACQUISITION! HAHA!

    1. Good to hear that IB is working to move teachers away from grammar and linguistics criteria, as you say. I venture to presume this is happening because of your influence, Kyle, more than anything. I certainly didn’t see how the IB framework could help me teach comprehensible input last year when I worked at a school getting IB certified. It seems that you are the one that is making CI instruction fit into the IB framework with your knowledge and expertise on CI. Bravo! And because of the gains you see your students experiencing, they are on their way to read and critically analyze text in the L2 when the students exit the Diploma Programme, as IB wants them to do.

  4. So I wanted to give everyone an update to my situation which was posted back in September 2013.

    First, though, I want to thank everyone for their support, kind words and advice. This PLC is definitely a safe haven and without a doubt my go-to for resources, advice, etc.

    So, as you all know the main concern my supervisor had with me using TPRS/CI was that my students weren’t going to be exposed to enough of the thematic vocabulary as the students in other classes. However, thanks to the advice I received from Ben and many others on here, that issue as been tackled. They get the lists that everyone else gets, but I only focus on the high frequency stuff in class and they use my website and quizlet for exposure and practice with the other vocabulary. I have to assess them on those words so I do.

    Since I am a new teacher in the district, I meet with my supervisor once every week. Over the months since September I have been slowly educating her on TPRS/CI. Because of those conversations and the few pop-ins that she has done she now trusts me that I will get my students to where they “need” to be based on the district requirement.

    Fast forward, last week I invited the principal in to observe a TPRS/CI lesson – it was story creation day. He was an English teacher in the same building for about 14 years. He is very educated (including educated about language acquisition and language acquisition research), nice, approachable – just an all around nice guy.

    I had my post-observation meeting with him today and he really liked the lesson. He said he could see the techniques, which are supported by research, being used by me to help my students acquire the language. There are many other good things he had to say, but I won’t bore you with that. The important thing here is that he supports me, understands WHY I do what I do and teach the way I teach. He is even interested in me giving a presentation to my department on the TPRS/CI method.

    So thank you everyone for your support through what began as stressful beginning of the school year. You have helped me not to give up on CI and to push forward to do what is right for my students!

  5. Robert Harrell

    Great news, Joe. You deserve the credit for sticking with it through all of the tough time. It’s definitely a bonus to have your principal on board. My only caution would be that if you get the opportunity to share, do so from the perspective of “I’m no expert, but here is what I have been doing and why, and these are the results I see.” Louisa did that in her session at the CLTA conference last weekend, and it was powerful. If you can reach the teachers who are open or at least not antagonistic, you have a good chance of seeing tremendous changes in your department and school – but it will take time.

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