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Our Changing Role Archived Post 10.4.11

Thoughts on our changing role…. (Originally posted 10/4/11)

Teachers are individuals and as individuals bring their own goals, experiences and perspectives to the profession. Around the nation, more and more of us are feeling compelled to discuss our profession, and our individual roles in it.

What troubles me is that these conversations are limited to rare faculty room exchanges and blogs. These conversations should be taking place in schools on a regular basis as part of professional development.

A school environment is frequently a reflection of the present administration. For a number of reasons, teachers often are asked to, and agree to, adopt programs and attitudes that the present administration puts forward…regardless of their own knowledge of the community, the students and pedagogy. If the new principal believes in an emotionally-distant ‘professional’ approach, then the teachers are required to “perform” under these guidelines. If the new administrator is a proponent of a particular character ed program then the staff is required, without discussion and often without sufficient education and training, to “perform” under this approach. Rarely does the administration choose his or her “pet project” based on his or her knowledge of the school and community.

Teachers complain, however, this can be EXACTLY what we do, or are required to do, in the classroom. Curriculum is written years before students enter the room. Lessons are planned so that all students are literally on the same page, not so that we can meet students where they are.

I realize that some folks are tired of these articles. They perceive that teachers are whining. The truth is that we are aching to be heard. The other truth is that our students are hurting even more than we are in this regard. Now that we finally have a bit of the media’s ear, we should be also listening very closely to the signals that our students give us about school.

Ten years ago, even if all else failed, we could count on the fact that we knew more about a subject than our students…and that they had to rely on us to get that information. That is no longer true. Any information at all is at the world’s fingertips. We cannot expect to be respected as fonts of information and knowledge. We no longer have that role and it’s time to realize that.

What students need are teachers that can and do help them to find, sort, understand, assimilate and apply the incredible amount of information that is out there….in ways that they cannot do themselves.

The only way to do that is to do everything appropriately possible to know our students. It is a new role for us. It can be an uncomfortable one. There are no clear “rules” yet. It requires communication between teachers, students, parents and administration….communication we haven’t developed the skills for yet.

Truth is, if we combine our life experience and knowledge of how the brain works, with our students’ youth and drive (yes…they are driven…just maybe not about our subject areas), parents’ desire for the best for their children and administration’s desire to create effective schools, we just might have a chance.

Thank you for the chance to share my thoughts,
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.

Pop-Up Grammar SWIFTLY Archived Post 8.13.11

Originally posted 8/13/11)

Think of the acronym SWIFTLY for identifying the different kinds of “pop-up” grammar statements/questions we can use with our students:

See/Hear Pop-ups

These are the first pop-ups I heard….and in the early stages storytelling. the most frequent.

(do you) See the English word in the French word?
(do you) See the “r” on the end of bailar? That makes it “to dance”.
(do you) Hear the English word in that?
(do you) Hear the “o” on the end?

These “pop-up-points” that will help students better comprehend what they see and hear as well as introduce them to, and give them practice in identifying and understanding cognates.
What if ? Pop-ups

This was the second group I noticed. These were based on the fact that the students were “getting” the See/Hear pop-up questions right.

What if I added an “r” to baila? What would it mean?
What if I wanted to say he dances instead of I dance?

These moved the students up “Bloom’s taxonomy”, required students to be familiar with a “pop-up-point” and required them to manipulate the language in order to change the meaning of the word/phrase.
Individual Pop-ups

This is when we ask an individual a pop-up question rather than the group. This is ideal for checking in with barometers, pulling in a daydreamer, challenging a “superstar” or giving a little extra love to anyone.
Find the word/phrase that says…..in French

I identified these when Susie was reading with the students. Susie read a sentence or two aloud in French and then asked them to
Find a certain word/phrase.
Sometimes it is a familiar word/structure….but often this was aimed at the “superstars”….chose a phrase that they are able to find using their upper level abilities or more expansive vocabularies. The barometers can not always identify it on their own, but they are able to recognize once it is pointed out.
Timing Pop-Ups

Obviously when and how often to do pop-ups is a tough skill to master….and if you are a master…please share your pointers with us!!

This is what I have observed/experimented with that seem to work:

*no more than one pop-up per sentence when reading
*no fewer than every 5 sentences when reading
*more frequently when a “pop-up point” is being introduced.
*fewer when we are reading a story for the joy and excitement of it (like the choking scene in casi se muere!)
*focus on only one or two “pop-up-points” per class period for best results …especially with beginners!
Love Pop-ups

These are done purely to connect with a student. If a barometer suddenly “gets it”…and you see the eyes light up…it is time for a Love pop-up.
Hey Martin….I saw that sentence show right up on your face …tell us what it means!

A student comes in after school for help and you work ahead on the next day’s phrase. Call on him early on in class for a pop-up!
A student “owns” a particular word or phrase…
You Still Got It Baby!! Pop-ups

These are when we go back and pop up a point we know.,…or we hope…that they have already mastered…just for the confirmation (hey…maybe they still need it!!) or the sheer joy (ours and theirs!) of it.

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.

Thoughts On Sharing Archived Post 7.27.1..

(Originally posted 7/27/11 )

I am always gobsmacked by the willingness of TPRS/CI teachers to share information, ideas and materials. I’m thankful to all of you. The Pay It Forward principle is part of the success of this methodology. Ideas get put out there for others to chew on, digest and utilize….and in doing so we are constantly improving, not only our own techniques, but the “method” as well.

However, there are a number of teachers out there who react almost violently to this method. MANY of us have been accosted personally and professionally because we use Comprehensible Input methods in our teaching. Sometimes the reaction is simply disbelief and rejection…but other times it is confrontation, insults, nasty emails and more. Sad, but true.

OUR presentation of the concept, the method and the materials matters. Teachers can be proud and protective. We need to be especially gentle now, when all teachers are being attacked for things beyond their control and are feeling (justifiably) defensive.

Perspective is reality. What they hear affects their perspective. What we say affects what they hear.

When we say “This way is better”, they hear “Your way is bad.”
When we say “This method makes you a better teacher”, they hear “You are a bad teacher.”
When we say “Output activities don’t work”, they hear “Your lessons are useless.”

It really doesn’t matter what we think…we will never open eyes and hearts to a different way of seeing language and students if that is what they hear.

THE BEST WAY for teachers to believe in the power of CI is to experience success as a CI student. Barring that, we need to offer them changes that they can make in their program that are manageable. Once teachers have ‘flipped the banana”, so to speak, there is no stopping them…they are hungry for all there is to know about CI. But before they’ve actually bought in to the idea, we need to let them have the time they need to make the paradigm shift.

Others may have more advice for those of you overflowing with CI love and needing to share. Here are a few things that have helped me:

NUMBER ONE!!!! A quote from somewhere that I keep on my desk: “People can change. You can’t change people. People can only change themselves, when they want to or need to. Be willing to let them do it.”

#2: Show off your students, not yourself. Statements like “I’m so happy with what they have accomplished.”, “I’m blown away by the caliber of their writing.” , “It’s so exciting to see their confidence when watching a movie in the TL” “She was able to express the most beautiful thought in class today.”

#3: Invite people to observe. Seeing is believing.

#4: Offer the information as a gift, a way to use the talents and strengths that the teachers already have. Pop-up grammar is FUN! A knowledge of the culture can be incorporated in a beautiful way. A sense of humor is a gift.

#5: Roll out the numbers. Not yours first, but be ready to put your money where your mouth is. I’d like us to consider a place to collectively post results on AP (ie Michele Whaley’s third year students scoring 4s on the AP Russian test!!!) so we can show people the data that schools demand these days.

#6: Roll out the supporting research. Ask on the list if you need it. Get the names you need to throw around so that people see that this is legitimate.

#7. Learn to speak Krashen. Read Krashen. Visit his website. He’s got the research.

#8. Keep in touch with anyone who shows interest. Let them know that TPRS is a collaborative approach rather than competitive by your actions.

#9. Don’t take disbelief or rejection personally. Or at least try not to. If you have presented in a clear, kind manner, then the reaction is not about you at all.

10. ENJOY THE SHARING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been fed and filled by every conversation I’ve ever had about TPRS.

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.

Thinking About Themes Archived Post

(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 :

personal opinions/feelings

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
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,

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.

On Perfectionism Archived Post 1.9.11

(Pat Barret asked a question on perfectionism in January of 2011…and of course the post with that question has disappeared. The answer below can stand alone though I think. Originally posted 1/9/11)

Just my thoughts on this one Pat…

Perfectionism is the perfect mask (pun intended). It creates a wall between us and others that is nearly impossible to break down. If I am building the wall, I will choose to be a perfectionist about the things that I am best at. (and I learned to do this so that I would be loved, appreciated or at the very least not punished. I have built my entire sense of worth and self-worth around it. )

I can appear to be in control (and I think I am) I can be better than others. (because I learned early on to divide the world into two categories: those who are good enough and those who aren’t). I instantly know how to deal with others. ( see last parenthetical reference lol) If you are perfect also, then I am right. If you are not perfect then I am right. Life is perfect; I’m always right. I never have to deal with my fears and I never address any inadequacies I might have hidden deep inside.

Perfectionists are, at heart, scared to death. However, the longer you live as a perfectionist, the less you remember and deal with those fears. It is also a very lonely, lonely life. But for most perfectionists, it is a price that they are more than willing to pay. Their paradigm is self-fulfilling. If I have high standards, then that is why people don’t like me…because they don’t have high standards. If they don’t have high standards, I don’t want to be around them. I’d rather be alone….at least that is what their paradigm tells them…repeatedly.

Perfectionism is extremely hard to cure for that reason alone. I truly believe that most perfectionists are petrified and miserable, but living in a self-created world that controls not only their own lives but seeks to control the lives of others so that no one, ever, will put them (the perfectionists) in a position to have to address any of their fears. What they fear most is not being good enough.

Because they have put people into two distinct categories: good enough and not good enough; the perfectionists are completely alone. The other ‘good enough” people are not really, inside, like them at all….because perfectionists never ever let go of the inner realization that they are not perfect (have I said that this is primarily an affliction of folks who are intelligent by nature?) They will gravitate towards other perfectionists (hence the poisonous atmosphere at lunch in the faculty room…) but only long enough to remind each other that their way of life is the best.

Spending too much time with other perfectionists is dangerous…it makes people worry that they aren’t as good as other perfectionists. (perfectionists rank EVERYTHING. it is how their paradigm functions….hmmm life within a grading system no?) They will spend time with lesser mortals to remind themselves that the lesser folks are just that..somewhere underneath them in the ‘system” ….but extended time has negative consequences as well: a) they are reminded too often that imperfect people exist b) it tries their patience to have to deal with lesser/lazier/dumber/fatter/poorer etc. folks.

I humbly admit that I have my perfectionistic tendencies. :o) TPRS has been a saving grace for me (as has flylady.net which is where I really started to understand perfectionism…) My heart goes out to perfectionists…and to those who have to survive living with them. :o)

Sadly, schools are a haven for them. Schools create, honor and perpetuate the myth and hand out masks as rewards.

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.

Believe In Me Archived Post 11.2.11

(Originally posted 11/2/11)

I tried not to, but I have gotten pulled into Oprah’s Life Class on her new network: OWN. It’s become addictive. I haven’t signed on to the website and started my own private journal or tweeted but I find myself looking for the next show so I can learn more. I channel-surfed looking for another channel but landed back on OWN. You see, sometimes the world aligns so that you hear the absolutely perfect message.

It didn’t really start with the Oprah class. It started with the program preceding it: The Rosie Show. Another show that I didn’t really plan to watch. It was a tribute to Phyllis Diller. I was too tired to move and just let it play. Until Phyllis spoke about a comedian who gave her a compliment when she first started her career. She said, ‘For the first time, someone that I believed in, believed in me.” And Rosie repeated “Sometimes that is the turning point, when someone you believe in, believes in you.”


As adults we have two jobs. In order to be a person that can better the lives of children is to a) Be someone a child can believe in. b) Believe in the child.

That woke me up and tuned me in. And kept me so focused that I stayed awake to watch the next Oprah class…which…as God or the universe…..whichever you prefer….would offer…is about

The last hour has been so aha-producing that here I am writing a post before it is even over. It started with a quote by Toni Morrison. A question actually. She asked, “When a child walks into the room, do your eyes light up? Does that child know that you care that he or she exists?”

Now there is this man talking to his abusive parents (who aren’t there but his wife is standing in to be a person who actually hears him). Listen to the things he says :

“You didn’t have children because you wanted children. You had children because you thought they would make you happy. We can’t and now you punish us every day. We are not people to you. We are just one more thing that you hate and you can punish us for it.”

Oh my. How much of the reason that we do our job is because we love how being good at a language makes us feel? How important is it that our students “respect” us by following our rules(write in black pen, don’t hand in pages ripped out from a spiral notebook, don’t be absent on test day)? How bent out of shape do we get when a pep rally or field trip or Honor Society induction get our perfectly constructed schedule out of whack? How frustrated do we get when they don’t do homework, fail tests or don’t come in for extra help because it destroys everything we’ve tried to do? Or did we get into teaching because we truly love our students?

Is teaching about us? Or is it about them?

If I’m being honest.

Then I have to ask myself… Do I communicate my joy in my students and in teaching? Or, am I transferring my own frustration about not being seen and heard as an educator to my classroom?

Am I, while I am in front of my students, forgetting to put people before points and relationships before data?

I think it can be very easy for our students to become the targets of our own anger, about situations that they have no control over, because they are our captive audience. Sometimes there is a fine line between keeping them informed of how the world works and keeping them informed about how the world works us.

“What I need is for you to teach me how to love. How to show love, how to receive love, how to appreciate love. Show me how to treat other people with respect. Show me how to make other people feel precious. I want to be able to do that but I just don’t have any idea how. All I know is what you show me.”

What if, just what if, I am the only adult that will hear this message from a child? What if, just what if, I am the only adult he or she might be willing to listen to about this kind of learning? Am I there? Am I doing what I need to do?

Do I hear my students asking, “Do you believe in me?”

And what answer do my actions give?

Thanks Ms. Diller. Thanks Rosie. Thanks Ms. Morrison. Thanks Oprah.

with love,

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.

Relationships Not Candy Archived Post 10.25.11

(Originally posted 10/25/11)

This was written in response to request from a teacher who had written her with classroom management struggles. The teacher felt that her best day had been when she brought in candy as a reward. She didn’t want to continue that practice, but was desperate to find something that works.

My heart goes out to anyone struggling with classroom management. At one time we have all had a group or groups that made us want to tear our hair out…..and praying for the magic formula to make a group ‘work”….or at least not be the stuff our nightmares are made of. We try any number of approaches…..including attempts to win them, or at least their behavior, with rewards like candy. If you haven’t been there, at least once, you’ve lived a blessed teaching life.

There is no magic bullet, no simple answer, but this teacher and I can tell you that candy is not the answer. Candy works only when it makes a rare occurrence…..and it is presented as a gift. “I thought about you today and brought this to show you my appreciation of your spirit and willingness to be a part of this class.” This is love. This has nothing to do with classroom management.

When candy is a reward it can lead to an ever-escalating “Me me !!” situation. What happens when a teacher can not afford candy, when the principal says no candy, when students start to get angry because it isn’t their favorite candy, etc.? In my case it turned into bitter and angry and resentful feelings IN ME!!! because they were ungrateful….when in reality I had set them, and myself, up for it by bribing.

Classroom management is so hard. It once was governed by clear rules and boundaries, parental and administrative support, and a general respect for the institution and adults.

None of those things are guaranteed today and it truly is about the relationships in the classroom.

THE most influential relationship is the relationship that each student has with him/herself. If the student values himself enough to want to have self-control (even if it is hard to attain) the student has the most valuable tool in the toolbox.

The most important relationship in our classroom is our relationship with our students. Whenever possible treat them with love, with love, with love. When we do that, and make our decisions because of that, everything else comes much more easily. When students know that a teacher cares about them, more than anything else, they are willing to collect and use tools in the toolbox. Caring about our students will not, however, eliminate our challenges.

The next most powerful relationship is between the student and the language. When that is strong and positive, discipline problems virtually disappear. But that takes time, and the erasing, for many students, of many years of negative conditioning about school and language “study.” That is why, as Susie so often says, “Success is the best motivator.” They need to know, and to see, that their tools, and skills work!

The next most powerful is the relationship between the students themselves.

Again, they come to us with their own histories and we must handle what already exists. We could try to make them “behave” a certain way because they like us as teachers, but in middle school and high school, the opinion of peers FAR FAR FAR outweighs the opinion of any adult. What we can do is to establish very clear boundaries about the language, facial expressions, gestures and interactions that we believe will help to create a positive relationship among our students.

The least important relationship is the one between the teacher and the language. Sadly, in many rooms around the world this is the strongest relationship in the classroom. Our passion for the languages and cultures so dear to our hearts is a lovely thing….but it is OURS. Not our students’.

It should be our tool that we use to help strengthen the relationships above.

How does this help with classroom management? Make a list of what you do as a teacher to “manage” your classes. Which category do they fall into? The most energy and effort should go into the first two categories….finding ways to connect students with the language (using CI +P) and helping students to be safe with each other. By conducting ourselves in the most caring, professional way possible in the relationship with have with our students, and by not letting our own interests in a topic erase our efforts to connect kids with language, with each other and with us …we can really improve our classes.

In time. In our own way. In small steps. In a way that allows for dignity.

With patience. With optimism. With appropriate boundaries. With consequences.

By being honest. By being appreciative. By being kind. By being responsive.

and never, ever giving up,

with love,

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.

Grading Questions Archived Post 8.14.11

(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

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.


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,

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.

What Really Matters Archived Post 8.14.11

(Originally posted 8/14/11)

The final piece of the puzzle is to continually focus on my students as people who are acquiring language, not students fulfilling requirements under my watch. I do not need to know all of the personal details of their lives, but I do try to remember that they have lives. In a few short years, they will be out in the world working with my future grandchildren, helping my generation to pay for retirement, defending our country, earning a living and each of them already affects a world of folks around them.

I try to remember to ….

Treat each student as if he or she has the potential to change the world.

Because they all do.

I’m not sure that that answers all of Laura’s questions, or yours…so keep in touch.

with love,

Less Homework, More Participation Archived Post 8.14.11

(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,

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