Thinking About Themes Archived Post 1.1.5.11

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Curriculum and Planning

(Originally posted 1/15/11)

So glad that this topic of discussion came up on the moretprs list !!!! First…I think what we are talking about (organizing by “Themes” such as Family, Work, Childhood etc.) is really TOPICAL teaching, rather than thematic.and I agree with several things already posted:

1. It provides a logical organizational sequence for whoever needs it (teacher, parent, student, district, state, etc.)
2. It provides a memory “link” for individual vocab…for people who are good learners (ie memorizers, “students”, left-brainers etc.)
3. It requires diligent recycling of vocabulary and…
4. Creativity and opportunity to do so.

For the last 5 years my freshmen classes drifted farther and farther away from the “traditional” NYS syllabus-directed topics (Personal ID, Family, Weather, Shopping, Sports, etc.) This year, for the first time in my 28 years of teaching, I am not teaching the freshmen…and I have been trying to explain to my wonderful new colleague, exactly how the curriculum we ended up with is organized!

What I have found out is this: We are organized by FUNCTION. We can use topics to provide a situation in which to use that function. Our Intro course is arranged in this way. The functions are:

Requesting/providing :

information
personal opinions/feelings
observations
items
behaviors
assistance

descriptions of or details about the above

This boils down to a fairly discrete number of phrases that students must be able to utilize. Our Intro teacher incorporates a limited number of typical “topics” in order to provide her students with opportunities to develop their abilities to function in Spanish in these ways. (Holidays, Family, Sports, Beach) Then…she utilizes fictional, actual, and personal stories (via story”asking” and reading) to put it all together. Pobre Ana is a pivotal part of the curriculum.

In our high school Level 1 (freshmen, second year of study) we have organized the entire year around a theme: POWER. Everything in that year comes back, in some way, to that idea.

The functions above still apply. To that we add:

Comparing and Contrasting
Starting and building relationships
Observing and responding to needs
Collecting and interpreting background information
Recognizing strengths and weaknesses
Choosing and implementing a course of action

Again…these functions lend themselves to a repeated “list” of functional structures. The curriculum itself revolves around several short readings, Casi Se Muere, several identified songs and movies that allow us to work with these functional skills and still incorporate the topical vocab required by NYS ( Food, Shopping, School, Daily activites etc.)

This year I am working on the Spanish 2/3 curriculum. I am creating a two-year cycle so that, ideally, students can be in a Spanish 2 or 3 class (this really helps with scheduling in a small school) and still get the instruction/practice needed to continue to acquire language and be successful on the NYS Regent exam. It is very much a work in progress…but so far so good. Our “theme” or organizational structure is the UN Declaration of Human Rights…and this actually also includes my Sp. 4 class.

Functions for 2/3:

Investigating a community
Investing (time, money, energy, emotion)
Evaluating risk
Initiating change
Exploring locations and opportunities
Getting others to adopt a course of action
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle/environment
Problem-solving
Making choices
Getting others to adopt a course of action
Planning for the future
Reflecting on the past

So far we have read El Trabajo de Roberto and I’ll be picking a second book for this semester. The Amazing Race on Discovery Channel has provided an incredible number of amazing opportunities as well. I frequently peruse the Regents exams on line to make sure that I am including vocabulary that is Regents “high frequency”..which luckily ..is pretty real-life high-frequency as well.

What has happened is that I have seen vocabulary recycle itself. For example lets take a simple word: tree. Without even trying we end up talking/reading about trees in so many situations: discussing people’s homes, favorite vacation spots, making plans for trips/picnics, discussing the weather, describing people (tall as, strong as), reading poetry,in songs, getting directions, discussing art/photos,talking about yard work and part-time jobs, reading about endangered species, sharing opinions about global warming.

And it works like that for more items than you can imagine!!

If you have gotten this far, I’ll share this with you….

When we ONLY organize by lists of items we deprive our students of the opportunity to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. That is why using TPRS is so powerful. It is as if barriers begin to melt away. Things happen in the brains of our students that allow them to make almost unpredictable LEAPS in language acquisition. Their abilities do not follow a (test-friendly) linear progression….and this makes their language-growth and language-use incredibly gratifying to see.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Flipping the Switch 2 Archived Post 4.22.13

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2013, Curriculum and Planning, Engagement, Good Days, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment, Musings, Output, Participation

(Originally posted 4/22/13)

The second time I saw the light bulb go on was with my juniors. Let me give you a littlebackground. We teach with TPRS, an approach that focuses heavily on providing large amounts of Comprehensible Input in the target language. From this input comes interaction, verbal and written….but production is the result, not the goal.

It is a leap of faith in many ways to take this approach, but the results have been undeniable! Our program has expanded to include so many more students and students of all academic “ability” levels are able to communicate clearly in the language. As a result of the changes in the program and several changes in staff, we have not had this group in a formal speaking test situation…..ever.

It’s not the first year that this has happened. This year’s seniors had not ever had a formal speaking performance assessment either. BUT, when I gave them the assessment last year, using the NYS Regents Speaking Assessment format, they did a fantastic job. What is the difference? That group had been my students for three straight years….and I administered and scored the assessment.

This year NYS Dep’t of Ed. has issued a series of conflicting statements about who will/can administer these assessments and how they will be graded. (I will not be allowed to.) So this year’s group needs to be confident. I need them to know two things:

1. They already have all of the language and skills that they need in order to do this, and do it well.

2. They need to know the rules of the game so they can get the scores that they deserve.

The challenge was, I thought, that they have never been forced to speak in unnaturally long sentences, which is what a high score requires. Well, apparently that is not a challenge in their minds. I explained that the answer to Where do you live ? could be a one word answer: Rushville.

But that wouldn’t be worth much. The more they could say in addition to that the higher their scores would be. I asked for a volunteer. Where do you live? “I live in the little town of Rushville in the state of New York.” Ka-ching!! “With my family and my dog, so the house is too small.” Another student pipes up before I can ask for another volunteer. “So I want to buy a bigger house” student # 3 “but I prefer one in the country because I like having a lot of space for my animals.” and student #4.

Okaaaayyyyy. I guess they get it. Over the last two days I’ve spoken to each student as part of a greeting at the door, a class activity/game etc. and each one can easily perform the task. I even gave them situations where I knew that they hadn’t had the vocabulary. It really didn’t matter.

They can circumlocute like nobody’s business.

Dang……all those years spending all of that energy to get kids to learn how to “perform” well on a speaking assessment and this group acts as if it is as easy as pie. They think it sounds weird to speak in full sentences when one or two words will do, but they are happy to do it and it is easy for them.One class even thought it was hysterically funny and highly entertaining to try to top each others’ sentences.

Here’s the difference: These kids already had acquired all of the language they needed to speak in longer, more complex, high-scoring (although stilted and unnatural) phrases. All I had to do was model how to use them to get the higher grade. Before TPRS I was teaching phrases AND teaching strategy AND teaching topical vocabulary AND grammatical concepts and it never, ever came together much less click for the long term…even for my most gifted students.

Will they all get high scores on the speaking assessment? Probably not. Some will get nervous, some will overthink it and some will pick those really weird questions that no student can ever do well on. But they CAN do it….I know that and they do too. That knowledge lit up our faces and our
hearts.

with love,
Laurie

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A “Reflection” As A Character!! 9.15.12

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Creating Stories, Curriculum and Planning, Engagement, Good Days, Participation, Personalizing Instruction, TPRS techniques, Using student actors, Using Student Ideas

(Originally posted 9/15/12)

I am so excited about the new students that I have!! This week they came up with a great idea…

I was just beginning to ask a story and we had a character, Mia, who was putting on makeup in the mirror in the bathroom on the second floor of her house. The class had decided that it was a full-length mirror. The actress was up in front putting on makeup and it was going fairly well.

In order to get to know the kids better, and for them to connect with me and each other, I have been trying to get as many students involved in as many ways as possible. So, I asked a girl who was similar in height, build and hair color to come up and be the reflection.

She was PHENOMENAL!! It was so funny to watch!! Then the class decided to name her Pia!!!! And now there were double reps! Mia puts on lipstick like Angelina Jolie and Pia puts on lipstick the same way. They put on lipstick like Angelina. (and with sing/plural!!) I thought it just couldn’t get any better than that! And then…..

At one point, Pia, the reflection, wasn’t paying close attention and missed doing something. I said to her in Spanish, “Pia, you are a reflection, when Mia does something you have to do it too.” I was just trying to get in a little more Spanish, but it backfired on me. I could see that she was embarrassed and felt that I had yelled at her. Suddenly one of her friends called out in Spanish, “She wants to be different!”

OH MY!!! A huge smile lit up her face and she said “Yes…I want to be different! I don’t want to be a reflection!” So it was decided, that when Mia was looking in the mirror, Pia did the exact same thing, but when Mia wasn’t looking at the mirror, Pia would do something different.

Oh the fun and the reps we got out of that one!!!! I am definitely bringing Pia back into stories again!!! (hint: at one point in the story, have the actor/actress get very close to the mirror…the actors/actresses end up nose to nose…hysterical!!!!)

with love,
Laurie

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R and E: Compass vs GPS Archived Post 3.19.12

by lclarcq on December 3rd, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Classroom Management, Curriculum and Planning, Engagement, Participation, Relationships, Starting The Year, Teacher Training

Originally posted 3/19/12

Transitions are tough for all human beings. Each one of us transitions differently. It’s no wonder that transitions in the classroom are a struggle.

As a teacher, it helps us to actively DECIDE whether a compass or a GPS is needed in our classrooms.

Every class has students that walk in every day asking the age-old question: What are we going to do today? They are not trying to be obtuse.

They need to know. They handle transition with preparation. If you have a lot of those students, you are one of those students or your administrators want evidence that you know about those students, the GPS system is for you.

G.P.S. Get a Plan. Post a Plan. Show the Plan as needed.

Keep the plan simple. Date, Period, Plan of Activities. Label the activities anything you want, in either or both languages depending on your goals.

Keep the details of the plan in your head. You need to know how many minutes,how many structures, where to PQA more and where to gesture less. All they want to know is what is next.

Put the “voice” of the Plan up for the students. “Turn right now.”

Get their attention. Point to the next step on the plan. Give them instructions and go.

But…teach the students and remind them that the plan is subject to change with just a little notice. ‘Recalculating…..”

I am a not a natural plan person. I love to make them, but can’t follow one happily. I’m always aching to go after a teachable moment, a great response from a student or a spontaneous road trip with the language. But

I have students who occasionally need to know the plan. I also became a much more skilled TPRSer by beginning with a plan and following it as closely as I could in order to improve my skills. Sometimes an activity is new to my students and they need to see the steps in writing. So…I try to teach my students that from time to time I’ll put up a plan and we will follow it. For a reason.

But most of the time I am a “compass” teacher. I know in which direction I want to go. I have enough knowledge to stay on a safe road or get off of a dangerous one. I’ve had enough experiences with flat lessons and overheated discussions to avoid them or fix them. If I’m tired, emotionally-drained, overextended, had too little sleep or need to rely on caffeine then I’d better pull out the GPS.

If we constantly remind ourselves and our students about the interactive quality of our classroom, then we can decide with each class if we are going to follow a GPS or a compass that day. Only three things are needed: a goal,a class that knows how to interact, and a routine at the beginning of every single period that requires them to find out from us what is happening first.

At the beginning of each class it is important that we connect with the class for at least a moment to them know that we are here, we are glad that they are here, and that we will be making the decisions that direct what happens in the room.

It really doesn’t matter if you post a “do-now/bellringer”, greet them at the door with instructions, have a starting routine (FVR, a song, PQA, calendar, etc.)or simply start with an attention-getting signal. What matters is that you use that moment to hold hold up the Maestro baton and give them clear direction. By starting each class with that moment, you make each class member feel welcome and important and safe.

with love,
Laurie

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Grading Questions Archived Post 8.14.11

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Curriculum and Planning, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment

(Originally posted 8/14/11)

The questions:
We live in the reality of having to produce a grade. How do you grade your students?What does your grade represent?

My answer:
First, grading has to fulfill the district, building and departmental requirements…especially in larger
districts.

In my program, we have a few requirements that are outside of my control ie how much each marking period is weighed, whether or not to give midterms and finals and how those exams are weighed. I worry about what I do have control over.

1. I give a quiz every Thursday. I do NOT tell students what is on the quiz. The purpose of the
quiz is for me to evaluate where students are so that I can plan for the following week. IF 80 % of the students achieve an 80 % or higher, I put the grades in the gradebook. If not, I don’t. The quiz may take 10 minutes or 40, depending on how much information I require. (they usually average 15…I hate to give up interaction time!)

This gives me between 6-10 quiz grades per marking period. I vary the quizzes so that at least three skills: Reading, Writing and Listening are evaluated at least once per marking period. Speaking evals are included in Levels 3 and 4.

2. I collect at least two assignments per week…FROM WORK WE HAVE DONE IN CLASS. This could be adding details to a story, a written translation, a picture drawn from a reading, a poem written from lines of a song or any number of different activities.

3. I usually have 1 homework assignment per week that I collect and mark as a 0, 50, 75 or 100.

4. Once each marking period, especially in the upper levels, students have a short “project” to complete: The requirements are broker down into steps and credit is given for each step completed. It may have an output component but always involved some form of input as well. (I’ll try to post some of these later ….)

This actually gives me at least 20 “grades” in the book for each student per marking period. I have tried all kinds of weighting systems only to find that none of them really makes a difference. I simply total them all (they are out of 100) and divide by the number of grades. If a “project” was really involved I will simply put it in twice. j

I put as little emphasis on grades as possible. I don’t go over tests/quizzes/homework in class.

Ever.

I will discuss things with students after school. My quizzes often involve choice: Here are 15 sentences,…illustrate or translate any 10. If I have planned well, conducted classes well, written quizzes well and designed projects well…it all leads to acquisition.

It does take some students (and parents) time to adjust to not knowing their own personal “point value” at every given moment. If it is extremely stressful for an individual, I will encourage him/her to meet with me after school and we go to Quia or another online format that fills that need for evaluation and quantitative feedback By the end of the first marking period however, they see that their grades are high and that they have really acquired a great deal of language and success.

It works for me. Keep asking questions about what is not clear…

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Less Homework, More Participation Archived Post 8.14.11

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Classroom Management, Curriculum and Planning, Engagement, Homework, Output, Participation, Starting The Year, Teacher Training, Tough Students

(Originally posted 8/14/11)

In the last 5 years I have required less and less homework…and instead grade all in-class assigments.

Inspired by research and exhausted by the battles which always seem to accompany homework, I have chosen to actively and clearly offer as little as possible. When I give homework (usually one day per week if it is a 5 day week) I make sure that it is accessible from the Internet and easy to do without help.

My students have NOT learned nor acquired any less. In fact, they spend MORE time outside of class using Spanish. They actively listen to music and watch programs in Spanish or read online in Spanish because it interests them. Yes…even in my little rural district. Parents often report siblings speaking to each other in Spanish at home.

By de-emphasizing homework I have eliminated several things:

a) an ENORMOUS battleground where no one ever won a battle nor a war.

b) frustration over who did it and who didn’t.

d) students entering class a failure before class even starts.

I can also frequently remind students that when we use class time well, I can continue to keep homework to a minimum.

Now, before TPRS, this really didn’t seem possible. What progress students made, they made because of the ‘memorization’ that took place via those assignments. Homework really appeared to make the biggest difference in gains.

With TPRS, those output activities are just a little decorative icing on the cake. A little goes a long way. It may go “against’ the “traditional” approach….but it has been working for my students for over a decade, so I’m sticking with it!

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Think.Feel.Say.Do Archived Post 8.3.11

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Creating Stories, Curriculum and Planning, Engagement, Starting The Year, Teacher Training

(Originally posted 8/3/11)

Here is a key element in our program: Creating readings/stories/conversations around THINK/FEEL/SAY/DO.

In a story characters will THINK, FEEL, SAY AND DO things. The first structure is something that Earl SAYS, “I need to tell you something.” The beauty of it is that it immediately implies a feeling. Earl NEEDS to. AND a future action: TELL. This is a seriously powerful structure.Not all structures are this powerful…especially in the lower levels. For example, I choose the structure “wants to eat”. That is what Earl FEELS. It will help things flow if my next structure is not about feeling. So I could choose….

Earl wants to eat.

If I need to park on “wants to” I can stay there for a long long time…but if I want to move on (for any number of reasons) I need to pick another structure.

THINK Earl thinks about his favorite food………….or

FEEL Earl is really hungry………..or

DO Earl goes to SuperWalmart……….

ALL of which are now connected to the first structure and make sense. Truthfully, teaching beginning students is such a challenge. Their language pool is pretty shallow…it’s hard to dive in deep!! Using the THINK, FEEL, SAY, DO model really helps.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website ©Hearts For Teaching and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

How Do I Plan? Archived Post 4.2.11

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Curriculum and Planning, Musings, Starting The Year, Teacher Training

(Originally posted 4/2/11)

Darn good question. I look for/try to create activities. I’ll base them on previous successes, find them on other people’s blogs and posts, borrow from a colleague’s brilliance, get an idea in the shower and I a constantly utilizing the Internet for interesting tidbits of stories, songs, headlines etc. I try to keep the majority of the activities geared toward the focus topic (like food for next marking period), but I’m not married to that. I keep this checklist in my head and review it to verify four things:

a) Is this activity GOOD CI or unavoidable output?

b) Is this activity going to connect with my students?

c) Is this activity connected to a function or too powerful to ignore?

d) Is this activity helping my students to develop/work on a variety of these functions/skills?

If so, then it is probably a worthwhile way to spend classroom time. Then I get feedback from the students. Sometimes it is feedback that I just observe; although I have learned to give an activity two or three tries before abandoning it. Some ideas just need to catch on. :o) However many times, because the students have gotten used to how I work, they speak right up. How long are we going to do this? Can we do more tomorrow? We’re not done with this are we? Can we do this again? And yes…I do get constructive criticism as well!!Is it standards-based? Yes….look at the functions…they hit all of the standards. But the functions work better for the way my mind works.

How do I plan long-term? Well…the same way anyone does. I put my plans on the computer.

Then I have the privilege of deciding whether what I planned five months ago has any bearing on where my students are now and what they need. If it does…proceed! If not…adapt!! Planning long-term gets my goals in order. Teaching short-term gets my students connected to the language. I need a little of the former and a lot of the latter.

How do I evaluate? Like I’ve always evaluated. By skills. Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking.

How do I fit in all of the topical vocabulary? I don’t. No one does. If they say that they do ,then they are doing one of more of the following:

a) Providing lists and asking students to work with them outside of class in some way.

b) Using too many of them too quickly for any significant long-term retention to occur.

Hence the never-ending frustration of “teaching” students who never remember anything that you have “taught”.

So I choose a core list of words that will help them to be understood and focus on those as production tools first. (another post….)

The truth is (I seem to be writing that phrase a lot this week!!) that IN REAL LIFE a variety of vocabulary occurs. So believe it or not, the organic nature of language provides what they need.

It really does. I am beginning to see this more and more. I am also able, in the level 2/3 to play a little bit with language. For example in this last marking period we did several activities using a huge list of cognates that end in -ion. Short activities that affirmed their ability to recognize and use cognates. It really was a confidence booster for them and I have seen these words appear over and over again in the students’ work.

Hope that helps a little bit…

With love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

A Theme Emerges Archived Post 4.1.11

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Curriculum and Planning, Musings, Starting The Year

(Originally posted 4/1/11)

My goal this year was to incorporate aspects of the U.N. document of Human Rights. What emerged was an unexpected theme. When “planning” this year, I have tried to think in terms of 10 week marking periods instead of units. It has really helped me to pull things together and yet provides some latitude for playing with the language. At this point, nearly three-quarters of the way through the year, I am looking back to see where we have been, and where I would like us to go:

The first marking period my student teacher (¡Hola Famoso!) and I centered on the theme of work. We started with what they knew how to discuss: school work, sports practice, music practice, play practice. This helped us to get to know what the students were involved with this fall. Here are a few of the structures that we worked on: had to, had the desire to, forgot to, will, planned to, therefore, Because this group is old enough to have had summer jobs, we then carried over the structures and dove into the work world.

We did this using stories in class and using the book El Trabajo de Roberto. I liked the fact that Roberto’s story also dealt with family relationships which a) is always a part of what we deal with and b) made the story more than one-dimensional. It will be a couple of years before I really like what I am doing with that book, but so far, so good.

In the midst of the marking period we got caught up in the story of the Chilean miners. It gave us so much to work with!!!! We could touch on types of work, worker safety, co-workers, working conditions and so much more. I actually had songs on tap, readings on tap, articles on tap….all of which got set aside because of the amount of great stuff available!! What emerged this marking period was an idea about working hard and never giving up. (cue the Luis Fonsi music please: Yo

No Me Doy Por Vencido)Early in the fall I found the Discovery Channel Amazing Race. ..perfect for the Travel focus I was hoping for for the second marking period. Truthfully, I could have easily built and entire year on that piece….the segments had my students riveted!! Little by little they got hooked on the adventure and most of all the couples and their relationships. The father and son team of Edison y Edison was the favorite and we all practically went into mourning and refused to watch the rest when they were eliminated!!! From a teaching perspective, everything you could ever want was available to talk about: losing passports, planes, trains and automobiles (taxis, trams and metros), hotels and tourist attractions.

And the unexpected theme persisted: Face your obstacles and never give up!

This marking period we have been focusing on the environment. There is just so much information out there for us to read and use that it has been hard to narrow it down. Because I work better with an organizational structure of some kind, I chose to bring in a project. Now projects are tricky. Projects tend to be output-motivated. So my challenge was to pour as much input to the output as I could. The project has been to create a book about an environmental Superhéroe.

I’ve tied in a series of stories about our Science department and their secret identities (the League of SuperScientists), several songs (El Progreso by Roberto Carlos is my favorite), articles from Econoticias.com and have danced around field trips, assemblies and the like. One level watched

The Tale of Desperaux (the hero theme AND the upcoming food theme) and the other group is about to see Fern Gully. The creation of the book has been a input then output activity (but that is another post…) So now we have a bulletin board full of books to read about a Superhero, a Supervillian and an adventure. And the theme continues: Earth matters….so treat it right andnever give up!!

Now here comes marking period number four. My original plan was for Food!! I figured that this was a topic sure to hold their attention even as the sun appeared. And it will…it would…but let’s see what develops…nothing has really played out as I originally planned so far…so I know that there are still unexpected and wonderful things ahead for the last few weeks.

And then there is that underlying and every-emerging theme: Never Give Up. I’m not seeing the food connection right now but I’m sure that it will come. Now how has that theme become a planning tool?

1. Vocab and structures:

a. Verb phrases like these: try to_______, should________, must_________, has to_______, refuse to _______________, plan to_____________, realize that___________,stop ___________ing, ___________again, able to overcome, has just survived, etc..

b. Adverbial phrases like this: without stopping, without a doubt, with courage, with hope, carefully, Un/fortunately, without knowing the reason, upon arriving at the scene, according to the victim, etc.

c. Key vocabulary like this: challenge, goal, decision, development, leader, partner, skill, ability, achievement/accomplishment, support, let go, change, surrender, vanquish, conquer, etc..

2. Material choice:

When I see a video, hear a song, read an article, choose a book etc. I keep the Never Give Up theme in mind. How does this connect? What lessons does it hold for students?

3. History and Culture:

There is so much out there to choose from. Having a theme has really helped me to narrow in on pieces that fit the theme. It makes the art/music/event more memorable for the students. The bishop did not believe at first that Juan Diego had actually spoken with The Virgen. Why would Frida Kahlo paint so many self-portraits? Why did Justo pursue a career singing to students? How can immigrants overcome prejudice? How many different tunnels did the Chileans try to drill?

4. Grammar goals:

Depending on your needs, there are many, many ways to go here (if you need to do that for your district, yourself, your students): I’ve spent a lot of time this year working with the past tenses….we have used so many stories! There have been repeated opportunities to use the future and conditional tenses…and it naturally leads to use of the subjunctive as well. Many of the“focus” verbs have reflexive forms so students have gotten a lot of practice in that regard as well.

Now I just have to keep the theme in mind as we roll towards the end of the year!!! Never Give Up!!

With love,
Laurie

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Homework…The Journey Archived Post 11.15.10

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2010, Curriculum and Planning, Homework, Starting The Year, Teacher Training

(Originally posted 11/15/10)
This is a response I posted on moretprs about my own personal journey with assigning homework.

Several people asked if I could put it here so….here it is. ;o)

1st year teaching: I thought that students loved me and loved my class so much that they would do the homework before class ended!

5th year teaching: I thought that although not everyone loved me or my class, at least they all wanted good grades so they would do the homework by the due date.

10th year teaching: I thought that although they might not like me nor my class, nor care about their grades, that their parents did and would MAKE THEM do the homework and hand it in on time.

15th year teaching: I thought that although they might not like me nor my class, nor care about grades that their parents might and COULD make them do the homework and hand it in if they wanted to.

20th year teaching: My own children were getting so much (ludicrous and unnecessary) homework that a) I didn’t have time to correct my students’ homework and b) I began to wonder if it accomplished anything anyway….

25th year teaching: My own children didn’t like some teachers, saw little purpose in homework assignments and I had already tried (and failed) to get them to do homework by grounding, punishing and several other measures. I saw that they did do homework under two different scenarios: a) the teacher publicly taunted them or humiliated them when work was not done b) the work was interesting, engaging and actually helped them to learn/understand something about the topic. I stopped giving work that was only done at home. Instead I began to collect the work that students did IN CLASS.

28th year teaching: Both sons are in very good colleges and receiving scholarships. I continue to give assignments that are done in class. NOTHING I EVER GAVE FOR HOMEWORK INCREASED LONG-TERM MEMORY OF TERMS OR STRUCTURES. It also never taught one single student to be more accountable or responsible….that was a myth that I attempted to perpetuate for two decades.

(yes…Alfie Kohn uses the term “myth” and I think he has it right…I’ve kept data on my students to “prove” it for administrators)

Are my students responsible? I think so…although you can ask the folks who have come in to observe me in the past five years if you would like a less-biased approach. They show up, get to work, work for as long as I ask them to and work well. They don’t bad-mouth each other, keep the room cleaner than I do and I rarely ever have a student skip class.

Are they scoring well on state tests? So far…very well. I have shifted levels this year so I can give you a better idea of that at the end of June.

Are they “life-long” learners? Are they staying in the program? Without a doubt. Since beginning with TPRS and stopping routine daily homework assignments we have maintained a 20 -25 % retention rate through level 4 (which would be higher if we could get scheduling issues worked out…) and have launched a half dozen Peace Corp participants and an equal number of language teachers…surprising considering our size. More importantly..to me anyway…is the number of students who have gone on to study language in college and participate in study abroad programs.

Even without homework.

Now..having said all of that…each of us should feel free to run our classrooms as we deem appropriate given the knowledge and experience that we have. We should be free to challenge our OWN policies at any time. The world is changing nanosecond by nanosecond. It’s hard to keep up.
We are all doing our best.

with love,
Laurie

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