R and E: Systems Are Not Rules Archived Post 3.20.12

by lclarcq on December 3rd, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Classroom Management, Encouragment, Engagement, Good Days, Not So Good Days, Participation, Starting The Year, Teacher Training, Tough Students

(Originally posted 3/20/12)

A classroom system is how we organize the nuts and bolts of the actions that are NOT part of language acquisition.

A classroom system organizes things like:

*who goes to the bathroom, how often and for how long

*how papers are distributed and collected

*how grades are assigned and communicated

*how the set up and clean up of activities occur

*how the room is decorated

*how and when evaluations occur

*if and/or how participation is tallied.etc.

You may not believe me, and it took me a long time to see this myself,

but….

Not one of these things will help your students to acquire language. Not even the participation piece.

There is no right way to do any of them.

They should take up as little of your classroom time as possible.

Therefore, discussion about them on lists, blogs and at conferences should also take up as little of your time as possible.

That is really hard for many teachers. We like those sweet little systems.

with love,
and complete knowledge that I could labeled as a heretic,
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.

R and E: Trust And The Rules Archived Post 3.20.12

by lclarcq on December 3rd, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Classroom Management, Encouragment, Engagement, Good Days, Not So Good Days, Output, Participation, Relationships, Starting The Year, Teacher Training, Tough Students

(Originally posted 3/20/12)

Rules are the first expectations that we communicate to our students.

Teachers who are new to TPRS, or struggling with TPRS often want to know what Rules work best. We have been taught that Rules=Discipline.

Rules are not discipline. Rules are communication. They tell students what we expect. From the rules students infer what we value. If there are toomany or they are too specific and we send the message that we value control. If there are too few or the consequences for breaking them are too spare, we communicate that we value the students’ admiration more than their cooperation.

What we should strive for are rules that set boundaries for the relationships that we want in our classrooms. So the question is: What boundaries are necessary for successful discipline and acquisition?

These are mine…

1. Pay attention when someone is communicating.

2. Ask questions when there is confusion.

3. Point out when there is a problem.

4. Make a situation better rather than worse.

5. Try not to offend or harm.

6. Join in.

7. Appreciate and honor.

8. Honor individuals.

9. Honor relationships.

10. When possible, do all of the above enthusiastically and creatively.

None of them specifically deal with language. Why? #8. If I make make a rule that specifically states how much language can be used, or what kind, then I have to make sure that it is appropriate for all my students,every day, at every level, in every situation and then keep track. I’ll never pull that off.

I keep my rules in mind for behavior. I keep the language in mind for the activity involved. Before we start, I’ll let them know what I have in mind for language. If I don’t, eventually rules # 2 and #3 come into effect and I have to address the issue.

When I have a rule that says “No English”, I engage the natural and instinctive teenage reaction to rules: Break ’em.

When I ask students to say something again in Spanish rather than English, they just do, if they can. If they can’t then I realize that they aren’t ready for production of that structure at that moment. I handle it in whatever way is best for that class at that moment and move on.

Are you wondering if they just answer me in English all the time? Some try. Most don’t. Why would they? If they trust me, if we are interacting in Spanish, if they are confident and capable, if they are engaged…well then, they speak to me in Spanish because that is what we do. Not because that is the rule.

Believe it or not. :o)

Does it happen instantly? No. But what we are focused on for the majority of our instruction and interaction is INPUT. INPUT leads to acquisition.

Output has other functions. If I have a heavy-handed No English Ever rule, then I give output another function: What to do to make the teacher angry.

Totally against all of my rules. :o)

Next question: So when might we “require” the TL from students instead of L1???

* When it is fun…like a silly signal response.

* When it is cultural, like after a sneeze.

* When it is easy, like thank you or yes.

* During lessons for acquisition.

We will get so so so much more L2 from students when we make it a natural, comfortable and confident part of our interactions and relationships than we will ever ever ever get from making it a rule.

The person who needs the rule is US. We are the ones who need to remember to communicate and to interact with slow, clear, Comprehensible Input in the TL.

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.

R and E: An Atmosphere of Trust Archived Post 3.20.12

by lclarcq on December 3rd, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Classroom Management, Encouragment, Engagement, Good Days, Not So Good Days, Participation, Relationships, Starting The Year, Teacher Training, Tough Students

(Originally posted 3/20/12)

In the last piece I wrote, “It is important 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.”

If I make a few changes, I can summarize what I believe about discipline:

“We must connect with the class in order to let each student know that we are here, that we are glad that they are here, and that we will be making the decisions that direct what happens in the room.”

When all three of those are present, we are on the right path. When even one of those is missing in a given moment, we are on a dangerous detour. It is when we have been juggling one or two of those instead of all three that we see our individual students and entire classes slipping away. With some groups it is the only way to keep everyone safe ( I have several of these groups this year!!!!!!). At this time of year it becomes very important. (I know that many of us are feeling it.)

As Susie has often told us, “Discipline proceeds instruction.”

At the beginning of the year, the beginning of the period, the beginning of the activity, the beginning of the conversation.

Connect first, then communicate: I’m here. I’m glad that you’re here. I’m making the final decisions.

Of course there are many, many other things implied: I’m here because I care. I’m here because I’m knowledgeable. I’m here because you matter.

I’m here because I want to be. I’m glad that you are in my world. I’m glad that you came to class today. I’m glad that you’re trying. I’m glad that you trust me. I’m glad that you exist. I will listen to you. I will take your thoughts and feelings into consideration. I will pay attention to you. I will see the good things about you. I will forgive the difficult things about you.

I have faith in you. I have faith in the adult you will be come. I will honor the child inside of you. I can see great things in you. I will not let you hurt yourself. I will not let you hurt others. I will not let others hurt you. I will help you to learn to deal with problems. We all have struggles.

We all have feelings. Everyone matters. I am the adult and will do my best to act like one at all times. I will remember that I may be the adult, but I am not always right. I will try to model all of the behaviors that I expect from you…especially forgiveness. I will be in charge. I will take the responsibility. I will walk the walk.

But only three need to be said on a regular basis…and with our actions as well as our words:

I’m here. I’m glad that you are here. I’m making the final decisions about what is best for this class.

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.

Start A Ripple..Or At Least Get Out Of The Way Archived Post 3.9.12

by lclarcq on December 2nd, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Encouragment, Good Days, Musings, Not So Good Days

(Originally posted 3/9/12)

It has been a typically hectic school week. You know what I mean: Five week grades were due, the juniors and seniors have big deadlines to meet for English papers, Spring sports started, the musical is just around the corner, two grades had class meetings, everyone is sick (I was out for two days myself), requisitions were due, there was a Dept. Chair meeting, etc. etc.On Tuesday, just before I left early to go home ill, I was reminded that there was a Color Guard show in the building and that one of the visiting schools would be in my room. When I came back on Friday I was trying to recoup from having been out and figure out how to visitor-proof my complete and total disaster of a classroom.

First period there was no time. I had to teach and help a student who was on home-tutoring re-enter. Second period there was no time. I had to negotiate a disciplinary issue that had occurred with the substitute. Third period I had to check on the re-entering student and meet with another who was in crisis.

By the time 4th period class got started finishing an activity they had started earlier in the week , I was looking around the room, completely overwhelmed by the idea of making my room usable. A student asked me what I was looking at. A student who is often off in his own world and not very sensitive to what is going on around him. I told him that I was trying to figure out how to get ready for the room to be used. He offered to start the process for me. I thanked him but said, “No, this is my mess, this is my job, I’ll do it after school.” That was true, but I also figured that he wasn’t in the mood to work on his assignment. :o)

He looked at me for a second and said, “You know, just let me move a few things to that back corner and then you can block it off with a table.” and he got up, moved a few things and the entire picture changed. “See…it’s not that big of a deal…and it will be easy.” He was thrilled to have pointed that out for me, and I was thrilled to let him keep going.” On the way out, after spending over 20 minutes cleaning MY room, he said “Thanks, Profe.”

OH MY. Thank you estudiante mío. Not just for moving piles of books and papers. For making a difference in my day. For reminding me that my agenda is often selfish. For wanting to be part of the classroom in your own way. For starting a ripple, and reminding me to get out of the way.

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.

Output for a Purpose (not Acquisition) Archived Post 5.18.10

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2010, Good Days, Output, Personalizing Instruction, Relationships

(originally posted 5/18/10)

It was a lot of fun.  :o)  A little background…this is the week that our seniors finish a year-long endeavor known as THE SENIOR PROJECT.  It culminates in all 120+ kids arranged with display boards explaining their research and results to the general public.  They are “on” for six hours, talking to strangers about their research and conclusions.  There are a lot of steps involved in being prepared and they are all about to tear their hair out before it’s done.

So yesterday, the day before the BIG EVENT, we had a Whiner Day to kick off Whiner Week.     I put about twenty-five “whining/complaining expressions” on the SmartBoard.  They each had about five minutes to create a mini-graffiti wall about the topic of their choice.   As seniors, they had a number of topics to choose from!    (I played some edgy rock in the background while they created)

Round one:

Each senior found a partner and stood face to face.  They showed their Whiner Wall to their partner.  Each student got sixty seconds to whine.    The partner had to respond to each complaint in Spanish with an “I know”  “Oh yeah”  “I agree”  “What a shame” etc.

Round two:  (you can change partners but my kids were just warming up so I let them keep their original partner)

Each senior took one giant step backwards.   They held up their Whiner Walls and had 45 seconds to whine again.  (of course, it had to be louder since now they were farther apart!)  They alternated with their partner using responses.

Round three:

Each senior took another giant step backwards.  This time they had 30 seconds to whine/complain…again…upping the volume.They alternated with their partner using responses.

Round four:

Each senior took another giant step backwards and AT THE SAME TIME whined and complained. for twenty seconds.  By this time, they were really comfortable and pretending to be really mad/upset…it got very very funny!

Round five:

Each senior chose a new partner and sat at at desk…face to face with the partner.   They alternated complaints……First one partner would whine one statement and the partner would respond.  Then the partner would whine one complaint and get a response.    They each complained 7 times.

Round six:

We repeated round five….except…..each time a student complained s/he would pound the desk with both fists.   Five complaints each.

Round seven:

We repeated round six…except…each time a student complained AND each time his/her partner responded, they would pound the desk with both hands.

By the end we were hysterical!  It was a great tension reliever for all of us.  :o)

Output?  Oh yes.  But sometimes you just have to let it out!!

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.

Personalization and Star Wars … Archived Post 3.12.10

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2010, Creating Stories, Good Days, Personalizing Instruction, TPRS techniques, Using Student Ideas

(Originally posted 3/12/10)

One of the things that we try to do is to get to know our students.  Ben Slavic has been posting some great pieces written by Bryce Hedstrom.    Bryce writes about talking with kids in the TL in class.

He says:  “One important point here is that we are NOT talking about intimate secrets concerning the actual lives of our students. We are not intruding into their personal space. We are “personalizing.””One important point here is that we are NOT talking about intimate secrets concerning the actual lives of our students. We are not intruding into their personal space. We are “personalizing.”  He says more, so when you get a chance, check it out.  It’s extremely well-written and very important.

Getting to know our students allows us to personalize stories and connect the language to our students.    And vice versa!

Today we were working with a skeleton story written by students earlier in the day.  The focus structures were:  had the desire to, just about to start, and without rest ( the last two from songs we have been using this week….the first because it is a high, high, high frequency structure in Spanish).  The skeleton story was this:

Two characters had the desire to win a race.  They practiced for a long time without rest.  Suddenly they realized that the race was just about to start.  Oh no!  Would they get there in time?

We had just finished an activity that had gone really well with the other two level one classes this morning…but not with this one.   It went…..but not well.   When we started with the skeleton story, I wasn’t really expecting bells and whistles.  Oh my was I wrong!!

Our skeleton stories often use “characters” so that each class can choose their own.    I took suggestions….Pee Wee Herman (how do freshmen even know who he is?!!),  Barney,  Terrell Owens (we aren’t far from Buffalo)…nothing seemed to click.  Then someone suggested Obi Wan Kenobi.

BAM!!!!! The class popped out of their seats!!   All of a sudden they were suggesting names for the second character….each one calling out their favorite Star Wars character and  using Spanish to explain why that character was a better choice for the story.  Three boys who rarely get fired up were falling all over themselves to get involved.

Then one girl raised her hand and said, “Nunca miro Star Wars”.  A very quiet kid YELLED, “En serio?” (sorry…I’m on the laptop and cannot do the upside-down interrogative!) Now they wanted to start to tell the story of all seven (?) movies in Spanish lol.

I had absolutely no idea that so many of the kids in this group were Star Wars fans.   Had we not started this story, I’m not sure if I would have ever found that out.   Now I have a topic that has united about 10 students who have been stubbornly resisting any kind of unification.

Self-proclaimed geeks, jocks, troublemakers, and three Twilight groupies are now uniting to make sure that the rest of the class learns to appreciate the Star Wars saga in all its glory.

So far Obi Wan and Yoda are training without rest on Tatooine, so strong is their desire to participate in and win this race.    When they realize that the race is just about to start, and that it is on Coruscant they must use the Death Star 2 to get there in time.

But look at what else we were able to do with those phrases via Star Wars…..

Has the desire to….be a Jedi, help Luke, find his father, join the dark side ( I knew we’d find a good use for “lo mas oscuro” this week!!!!), kiss Leia, etc., etc,

without rest….train to be a Jedi, fight the dark side, protect Leia, etc.  etc.

was just about to start…..the war, the search, the battle,

And that was just in the last 10 minutes of class!!!!

I started the activity thinking that they would want to talk about themselves as runners, or their favorite athletes….hoping to use personalization to “hook’ them into the story.  Well…it did…just not in the way I anticipated.     Personalization leads to great stories….and vice versa!!

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.

Laughter and Tears…or When Games Work Archived Post 1.29.10

by lclarcq on November 29th, 2014

filed under Games, Good Days

(This post was originally published 1/29/10)

Many of you know that Karen Moretti  and I have a series of workshops on games in the classroom.   I so wish that I could have shared a “fly-on-the-wall” clip of my class this morning with you to show you when, how and why games can be such a powerful part of the classroom.

This morning I divided (actually, they self-divided, I directed as needed) the class into several groups.  Each group had a different game to play.  The groups played for about 10 minutes and then we rotated so that each group got to play several games.

Below is an explanation of how I set things up….but that is not what I want to share.

First, there was the laughter.   Tons of it.  What a wonderful thing to hear first thing in the morning.   Not laughing at….laughing with.    They were relaxed and happy, enjoying the simple games and comaraderie of their classmates.    After a stress-filled midterm week, it was a refreshing change for all of us.

The tears were mine….and kept to myself until the class left the room.   Why?   Well…..first there is the student whose mother is very ill.    He is so exhausted that he nearly always falls asleep in class.   He likes to “hoodie up” and hunker down.   By himself.   He rarely speaks.   Today he was laughing and smiling for thirty minutes.

Second, there was the eighth grader, who is often set apart from the 9th and 10th graders in the class.  He comes up from the middle school and today he was totally in his element, laughing and silly and part of a group having a great time.

Third, the student who tries very hard NOT to participate was calling the Bingo game.  In Spanish.  Why?   Because, as he stated, he has the best pronunciation of all of the guys in the group.  (Did I mention that this is a class of 18 boys and 3 girls??)

Fourth, the student who likes to come in late, hide in the very back of the room, and dream about hunting and fishing was in the front of the room blasting his team through a Who Wants to Be A Millionaire game on the Smart Board.  Totally involved.   Having a great time.

Fifth, on the way out one of the girls said to me…”You know, inside, we are all still kids.”

Yes we are.

And who better to realize it than the heart of a child?

Ok…now if you want the “details” of game set-up, here is a little information:

The logistics of creating games that work is another post.  Actually it’s a book we are working on :o).  The quick story of this morning is this:

*We had played all of the games before as a class so they knew the games and the rules.

*They were short, simple and involved structures/vocabulary/information that was familiar.

* I let them, for the most part, choose their own groups….because they are at a point in the year where I knew that they understood the rules of the class and would PLAY the games without my having to be in charge.

* They switched games after 10 minutes….not enough time to get bored.

*I did not get all crazy about English as long as they were playing the games which were in and about Spanish.  (I’ll save that for later…this was the first time that they had played in independent game groups)

Creating the right atmosphere for games is the key element…..and I’ll try to get back to that another time.

with love,

Laurie