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Do You Use TPRS? Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

Larry Ferlazzo is a high school teacher in California who hosts a very active and informative education blog. Larry asked the question: Do You Use TPR Storytelling In Teaching ESL/EFL?

so I answered. :o)

I’m sharing here so that you can see where my education journey has been. Please stay tuned to Larry for more interesting posts and questions!

Dear Larry,

I have used TPRS in a variety of classroom situations. Some might see me as a high school Spanish teacher. I have been seen that way for over 32 years. However, I see myself as a person who helps students to learn about and navigate life using the Spanish language. (or if I am teaching English to local farmworkers..English) TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) has been my primary approach to teaching for over 15 years.
I know that working through of lens of teaching via TPRS® has allowed me to improve my interactions with students on a daily basis, thereby increasing their abilities to comprehend and communicate in the language.

How? There is a more detailed explanation below, however, here is basically what is happening:

A. The teacher interacts (as a role model and guide) with students on a topic that students are connected to.

B. The teacher’s job is to structure the interaction so that students will acquire new language, successfully contribute to the interaction, feel valued, and ultimately have a high level of comprehension of the material.

C. The teacher believes that LANGUAGES ARE ACQUIRED through comprehensible input rather than “learned” through lessons. Because the human brain has a natural ability to understand and to develop language, teachers should make classroom conditions as ideal as possible for acquisition to occur.

On the surface, there are three “basic” elements to TPRS :

1. Introduce any new language in context.
2. Interact verbally with students using the new language in context so that all language communication is completely comprehensible.
3. Incorporate the new language into a literacy-based activity.

Below the surface are multiple layers of understanding, interpreting and integrating:

1. The unconscious and conscious functions of the brain in the area of language acquisition.
2. How a student’s emotional state affects interaction, attitude and memory.
3. How a student’s levels of social, emotional, physical and cognitive development affect nearly everything.
4. The value of relationships in any setting, particularly educational.
5. The relationship between emotion and language.
And much more…

Keeping these layers of knowledge in mind, TPRS teachers plan lessons using one or more of the steps and deliberately incorporate any number of specific teaching skills that most stellar teachers incorporate. It is not a big mystery; it’s simply good teaching.
Skills such as:
1. Eye contact
2. Appropriate pacing
3. Checking for comprehension
4. Constant interaction with students as a means of formative assessment
5. High-quality questioning strategies
6. Repeating, reusing and recycling information and skills
7. Asking for and encouraging responses that use higher-order thinking
8. Creating situations where students interact with each other
9. Connecting curriculum with the interests and needs of the students
10. Personalizing and differentiating instruction

I believe that TPRS is less about “learning a language” and more about Life’s natural growth processes in the classroom, for the teacher and the students. I have been involved with the training, coaching and mentoring of teachers for over 20 years. The knowledge and skills that I work to develop as a TPRS® teacher help me to work with teachers of all disciplines.

True TPRS instruction is about knowing what is going on below the surface, not just planning what activities are occurring on the surface.

Good TPRS training is ongoing. No one incorporates TPRS well after a two hour presentation, just as no one becomes a good teacher after one Intro to Education course. Each teacher using TPRS® will come to the concept, acquire the knowledge, and work on the skills in his or her own way and time.

TPRS teaching is about being part of the educational community. TPRS was originally developed by classroom teachers and shared by classroom teachers. It continues to evolve through the contributions of classroom teachers. TPRS® belong to coaching groups, listservs, Facebook groups, Twitter, wikispaces and more. They write numerous blogs, host websites and continually invite teachers into their classrooms to observe and to give feedback.

Every teacher using TPRS has his/her own challenges. In an ELL/ESL classroom there is often not one native language to rely on for comprehension checks so additional teacher skills are required. Languages that do not use the same alphabet as English have different approaches to incorporating literacy in order to address that challenge. Some languages rely heavily on cognates in early instruction, while others, such as Chinese, cannot. The more that we communicate with each other, the more we help each other address our challenges.

Despite the variety of challenges, certain things remain constant:
1. Clearly comprehensible language in context
2. Scaffolded student interaction
3. Oral/aural confidence tied to literacy-based activities
4. Positive classroom relationships
5. Continued growth and development for teacher and students

Thank you for asking for input. We believe strongly in what we do. We see it change the lives of teachers and students every single day.

With love
Laurie Clarcq

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.

Where are the comments?!

Thank you everyone for your patience as we work on transferring information to its new location. One of our new issues is the disappearance of your ability to make and read comments. We’re working on it! If you want to make a comment, please send an email to lclarcq@yahoo.com until we get this resolved. Thank you!

Trustbuster #2 Archived Post 8.11.10

(Originally posted 8/11/10)

This is a tough one. Nearly every teacher I know SWEARS that they don’t have favorites. And nearly every teacher I know has them…..and the kids know it. Kids are not only perceptive, they are smart. They not only observe, they watch, and they see.

Which students are our favorites?

The students that make us feel like good teachers. (they do the homework, ace the tests, produce amazing projects, sit in the front row….you get the idea.)

The students that think like we do. (they like the same sports, the same teams, the same t.v. shows, the same jokes, the same colors…..you get the idea.)The students that suck up. (they notice when we get a haircut, offer to get papers from the office, answer the phone, pick up books…whatever makes our lives just a little bit easier)

The students that like us. (they laugh at our jokes, say hi in the hall, wish us happy birthday, tell their parents they like our class…whatever makes our lives just a little more pleasant)

The kids don’t mind so much that we HAVE favorites. That is life. They get that. What they mind is when we PLAY favorites. When we show by our actions and our words that some students matter more than others. It may be natural, and it may be human, but it is (although I put it #2 on the list) the number one way to alienate students and destroy any chance of building strong relationships in the classroom.

When we have “relaxed” conversations before class with the kids we “like” and not with everyone….we are playing favorites.

When we allow some kids to “get away with” smart remarks, sarcasm, eye-rolling etc…but reprimand others for putting their heads down or using headphones….we are playing favorites.

When we go to football games and don’t go to see the musical….we are playing favorites.

When we have a participation point system that rewards the hand-raisers….we are playing favorites.When some students are allowed to come in late without a pass and others are not…we are playing favorites.

When we only get physically near some students when they are disrupting class…we are playing favorites.

When we allow students who are “unpopular” to hide in the back corner of the room….we are playing favorites.

When we reward our friendly students with smiles and wait for our quieter students to smile first…we are playing favorites.

The best way to see how teachers play favorites is to watch another teacher teach. You will notice it as easily as the students do when you are on ‘the other side of the desk.” The best way to see if you play favorites is to videotape yourself and watch…..your tone of voice, your facial expression, your body movements will tell you a great deal.

We all have students who warm the cockles of our heart…kids we would adopt in a heartbeat or let date our daughters. We also have students who, if truth be told, make us grit our teeth or make our hair stand on end. If we work hard, our students will never know the difference. It might actually be the hardest part of the job…it might also be the most important.

With love,

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.

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