Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Variety is the spice of routine (speaking/writing)-Craig Sheehy

These are ideas of how to get students speaking/writing the story in a low-stress manner.

10. Tell is to the Wall/Walking in a Circle:  Craig says that his kids find a spot on the wall to re-tell the story to or they walk in a circle.  He points out that some scientist says that walking 1.8 mi/hr is the optimal speed to get oxygen to the brain, which helps with learning.  We brainstormed that you could set up culture posters that the kids tell it to...maybe a poster of a monument or of a famous TL-speaking person.  Then, they switch spots every so often to get them up and moving.

9.  Talk to the Hand:  In this exercise, students draw a face on their hand and then tell the story to their hand.  You can also have them sing it to their hand in a particular style (opera, rap, country, etc)

8.  Balderdash: Retell to a partner and you try to sneak in a lie about the story.  If the partner catches you, they yell Balderdash and correct the lie.

7. I must have missed the name of this one: Start with a person and have them say the first sentence of the story.  Student number two repeats the first sentence and adds the second sentence.  Student 3 repeats the second sentence and adds the third and so on. 

6.  Unnatural selection retell: Use PowerSchool or some other randomizer to pick a person to re-tell.  If there are certain kids who will shut down, you can "choose" yourself.

5. What do you remember?:  In this exercise, students volunteer to tell the class things they remember from the story.  It could be a sentence or a detail or whatever.

4. Sing Off, Rap Off, Tell Off: Pick two volunteers to go head to head to try and out perform the other. 

3.  Harry Potter: Students are asked to add or subtract details (redux or addux).  This is a great activity to train kids to summarize information and give only the essential information.  A very high level skill that is hard to teach.

2. Retell charades: Either the kids re-tell the story and the prof acts it out or they do it in pairs.  Or both!

1. Around the world in 80 words: Kids retell the story one word at a time.  For example: S1: There S2: was S3: a S4: boy S5: who......  They have to say the punctuation marks, which count as a turn also.  Students are also allowed to add details not included in the original story.

Phew!  Soooooooo much goodness in 3 1/2 hours.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Variety is the Spice of Routine (Reading)-Craig Sheehy

Craig made sure to point out to us that all of these strategies MUST follow our normal routines of PQA, parallel characters, circling, etc.  These are ways to spice things up and get more reps.

This was probably the most helpful list to me because I always think of choral translation and volleyball reading...but that's it.  BORING!  Especially if I try to do that every week.  So I can't wait to do these things!

10.  Speed Read:  Another strategy that MUST be modeled for our kids.  Craig gives the kids one minute to read as far as they can out loud.  Some kids will just read the words and not try to understand (but remember, they should already know the story if we did our first job well), so Craig challenges them by saying "You don't have to try to understand if you're not good enough yet." and then he asks them how much they understood.  You can ask questions here about the text and get more reps too...

9. Speed translate:  Do it once or twice alone and then do it with a partner for two more reps (once as they listen to their partner and once as they read it themselves).

8. Volleyball reading:  Craig does the volleyball reading with a twist...making it a hot potato game in groups.  I love this idea too...

7. SSR w/ dictionaries:  This is to be used for longer embedded readings where most of the words are already known.  This is awesome to help kids learn how to use language dictionaries or 

6. Reader's Theater:  I like this because, unlike how I've often thought of Reader's Theater, they do this in small groups, and then they either volunteer to perform or are chosen to perform.  And each performance is an added rep!

5. Papas Calientes (Pass the buck):  In groups of 8 they do popcorn reading in TL or English (popcorn reading is where the person who just finished chooses who reads the next line).  Set a timer for a random amount of time and they "race."  Whoever is supposed to be reading when the timer goes off is either out or gets a strike.

4. FBI Decoder: use Textivate to create sentence strips of the story and put them in envelopes and the partners have to put them in order.

3. Narcolepsy/Amnesia: Teacher reads the story and "falls asleep."  The kids have to yell the next work of the story to wake the teacher up.  You could also do this once as a big group and then in small groups with a student falling asleep.

2. Silly profe: Teacher translates the story wrong and the kids yell to fix it.

1. Speed dating/airplane:  Put kids in partners and have them do volleyball reading.  The difference is that you try to re-create the travel experience.  In Craig's example, he set the partners up so that they looked like an airplane.  Then, as the kids were working together, Craig became the flight attendant and asked them if they'd like a drink, some peanuts, etc.  When it was time to change partners, they would "land" at a layover city and then "take-off" again for the next destination.  What an excellent way to teach that travel vocab that is so hard to make come naturally but is so important for our kids when traveling...

Variety is the Spice of Routine (Teacher Retells)-Craig Sheehy

First off, it's pronounced Shee-high.  Just FYI.  Craig is a super awesome, amazing dude who was in Blaine's first TPR class...the one that he uses as an example of how he moved beyond TPR to the stories because his kids got super tired second semester of just standing up and sitting down in weird ways.

I was terrified that I had lost my notes from this session (I always forget paper, so I was using the tiny hotel pads of paper and kept dropping them on the floor throughout the week).  Thankfully, I found them tonight!  This session was so awesome.  Craig said that he was only going to give us ten ideas per skill, even though he has a ton of others.  I literally groaned out loud, thinking he was holding out on us.  Trust me, ten per skill was more than enough...

Okay, so here are the ten skills that he shared to get listening reps (other ways for the teacher to re-tell the story and not bore the kids). 

10. Sleep-talker retell: Kids close their eyes while the teacher re-tells and asks questions.  We did this, and it was amazing to be able to really visualize while he was talking...also, while he was talking, he was adding details so that the kids were adding to the movie of the story in their head.  For example: the original story is There was a boy named Jim.  In the Sleep-talker version, it might become There was a handsome blonde boy named Jim.  He looked like Luke Skywalker.  Or something like that.  As long as the language stays in bounds, this is cool.  Then, he would ask questions also that the kids would answer.  I've slept since then and am trying to remember what type of questions he was asking, but I'm imagining that it was the general circling questions: Is there a boy or a girl? but the kids answer with eyes closed. 

Craig used the phrase CRI-keys (imagine Croc Dundee or Steve Irwin saying it) to determine if a retell was valid.  Comprehensible, Repetitive, and Interesting.  On some of these activities, the only interesting thing is the name....but he says his kids beg for them BECAUSE of the name.  I've got to get more creative in the classroom...

9. Dream, Dream, Dream: like the sleep-talker re-tell but without questioning the kids.  Just a re-tell and you could add some details.

8. Fact or Crap: Like an oral true/false quiz but the kids get to yell something funny in the TL if it's False (ex. Caca in French)  Then they have to chorally fix the false statements.  Another teacher in the class said they have used this same activity, but made it a game by playing it in small groups/partners with spoons or post-it notes.  (imagine the game spoons...where the students grab a spoon when they hear a false statement...the student without a spoon gets a strike against them)

7. Retell with no questions (Just the Facts Baby):  I'm thinking you could add interest to this by having students give the teacher an accent/emotion/type of song to retell the story in

6. Rewind: retell backwards.  You can ask the students questions to help with memory (it's really hard to do...even with a five sentence story), but it doesn't work to add details with this one.

5. La secretaria perfecta: this is basically a dictation.  Craig has them star every third line (because they will be correcting errors on the second line) and they write as perfectly as they can the story, while the teacher re-reads the story THREE TIMES!!  Then, at the end, have the kids read the story and correct only the words they misspelled.  The person with the fewest errors "wins".

4. Artista Magnifico: Drawing the story as it is retold with added details.  Note to myself: I've tried this before and have had a humdinger of a time because I forgot to MODEL it.  So, this next year, I will make sure that I model it before and tell my more artistic kids that I just want it sketched out so that I don't have those kids who want to spend 45 minutes on one scene. 

3.  Silly Profe (Profe Stupido)  Like Fact or Crap only the T tries to sneak in lies/false statements and the kids yell out "Profe Stupido!" when they hear a false statement and then chorally fix the false statement.

2. Charade re-tell: Kids gesture the story to remind the teacher of the sentences and the teacher re-tells.

1. Profe el Director Loco: Choose your actors and then decide a style for it to be acted out.  For example, we acted ours out as an old Western, but you could do a Kung Fu movie or an anime film or...  This requires must modelling and coaching, but the coaching can also be added reps as you tell your actors "no, the guy is ANGRY...try it again" and then you re-read the line from the story.  Then, you can say at the end "Oh shoot, I forgot...this is actually a horror movie.  Let's do it again."

Whew!  Those are only TEN of the THIRTY ideas I got from Craig.  I decided to split these up so that it's not such a long read for anyone.

Roommate musings-with Andrea Schweitzer & Julia Stutzer

My first year of NTPRS, I went with my husband and we made a week of it, taking off every evening to see the sights and meet up with friends.  My next year, I stayed with a friend in St. Louis to save on hotels.  In Dallas, I discovered the wonder of having "strangers" as roommates and really eating, breathing, and living TPRS for the week.  At this point, I think even if NTPRS is in KC, I'll get a hotel room.  I've made amazing friends by sharing a bed!

So, this year I had two awesome roommates...Andrea from Dallas and Julia from Anchorage.  After day one, we were too jazzed up to sleep, so instead we sat up talking about what we've learned, what we do in class, etc.  Even after we turned off the light, we would get an idea, and start to share it...turning the light BACK on, even though it was well after midnight.

Here are a few of our favorite games to use in class:  Andrea said that she uses a game called SOFA, which we practiced with real people in the War & Peace room the last night.  In this game, chairs are set up in a circle with one empty seat.  Four seats are labelled as the SOFA.  This works best if you have equal number boys and girls so that teams are obvious, but you could give them necklaces or hats or something to distinguish between the two teams.  Starting with the sofa and going counter clockwise, alternate team members (boy, girl, boy, girl for example) until the empty seat is to the right of the sofa.  The person to the left of the empty seat calls someone over to the empty seat.  So, in French, it would be "Pierre, viens ici" and then Pierre has to move to the empty seat and the person to the left of Pierre's old seat picks the next person.  The goal of the game is to get all of one team on the SOFA.  It really helps to see it in action so you can see the strategy of the game.  Andrea says that once the kids get that, she'll add to the dialogue so that they are always practicing new stuff.  I love this game because everyone is engaged at once and nobody ever gets "out".

Then, Julia piped up with her favorite game...The Newlywed Game.  She sets up partners and then basically plays the Newlywed Game, asking level-appropriate questions.  So, it might go like this:  Students are paired and Mike is student A and Johnny is student B.  T asks "What is student A's favorite color?"  Johnny, as student B, guesses what Mike's favorite color is.  After every B student has made their guesses, the A students (who have been in the hallway??) show their answers and points are awarded for matching answers.  I love this idea!  Just imagine the possibilities: Who would your partner say is their biggest celebrity crush?  What do you normally do on a Saturday night?  What will you be doing in 5 years?  Some of those would be hard to match, probably, but you could be kinder with the judging on those. 

I'm so glad that I got to meet these two ladies and I can't wait to see them again!!  (although the chances of me making it to Alaska are pretty slim...)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cool Stories & Techy Tools-Rodrigo deGrau

My district is going one-to-one next year, so I was excited to go to this and get ideas of CI-friendly tech tools.  This is going to be less of a blog and more of a list of tech stuff...

Wordle: This is one way to use Wordle that I just love.  Rodrigo tells his students: start typing everything you think of when I say Mexico (5 minutes) to me...  Then, he put into wordle and showed it to the kids.  At the end of a unit, re-do and compare.

Tagxedo: like a wordle, but it puts it in forms (letters, shapes, etc)

Lipdub contest: Rodrigo takes those awful days where there's too much going on to actually teach and gives the kids a project.  Every class creates a video song and lipdubs...students then vote on the winner.  If you want to see what they ended up looking like, you can go to Youtube and watch them.  He gave each class 4 days to make these films. a way to get quick responses by having kids text their answers.

Kahoot: I think everyone has used kahoot, but Rodrigo had a great idea.  Make them use their own name and “theme” like your favorite color in TL (BessBleu)

Find odd true stories and then use those as stories…  Then kids can watch the videos or answer Kahoot quizzes on the stories.  For example, the boy who doesn’t want to eat octopus.  

Have kids make PowToons (a quick online way to make animated videos) as a re-tell.

Then, we ran out of time, so these I don't know much about:

Scribblitt: Create stories, illustrate and share them.  Can print off hard cover book for $20.

Apps for phones: Charades kids, PurposeGames, Lens2, Kaizena


How to Expand a 1 Day movie talk to 1 week-Alina Filipescu

I didn't know, but this is a continuation of the story that we did in the read my post from the morning all of that...and then continue on with this, using the same structures.

All of these are ideas of how to plan an entire week off of one movie talk.  I've been very bad about using movie talk because I get lazy and I think "Oh man, my kids are getting bored with X, and I haven't done a movie talk in a let me find a movie talk."  Luckily, I have this shared database of TONS of movie talk resources, and I'm pretty comfortable flying by the seat of my pants, so I just pick one and go.  No real planning real structures that I'm planning on using...  And then AFTER I've done it with all of my classes, I figure out what I taught them and then create the extension activities.  It works, but if I'm busy or have a Dr appt or something after school, then I'm screwed for the extension activities.  Anywho....

Alina showed us another brain break/PQA again that I had forgotten to write down in my notes from the first session.  She says "I am________" and then if that sentence is true for you, you stand up and say "That's me!" in the target language.  It works as a brain break because it gets kids moving, adds some PQA, and gives kids a low-stress way to practice saying That's me! several times.  While teaching us this, Alina said that she spends at least 10 minutes a day doing some sort of PQA.  I love that idea.  I feel like I compartmentalize my teaching too much.  Like "Oh, today is a reading day, so we're going to read and translate."  I'm so dumb that I don't even remember to circle or PQA or do anything with the reading besides a "reading activity."  That's one thing that I saw over and over this week: all the skills that we are building should ALWAYS be happening.  We just flip from one to another.  There's NOTHING saying that we can't stop in the middle of asking a story and just park on something else or pop in a music video and sing.  Duh!  I'm sure I'm the last person on the planet to have this realization.

My next AHA moment came when Alina talked about how she uses her "getting to know you" surveys from the beginning of the year.  I had been using them for "circling with balls" and then throwing them away when I was "done" with a student.  Hello!  Seriously...who knew I was this dense??  She looks for interesting information and then uses fun answers for her details in stories throughout the year.  Her example was a student who had a dog named Agent Fluffybottom.  That struck her as so funny so she threw it in the next time they needed an animal name in a story. 

She also used celebrity photos as PQA to ask opinions of each student.  I need to remember to do stuff like this and then have kids move around to show their responses.  Great way to get kids moving while still getting input.  AND it will be so much easier next year as I get rid of my desks.

Alina then continued on with a 3 ring circus.  I have never been able to pull this off, but I hear from others who saw it in Linda's class and from my experience with Alina that it allows for SO MUCH repetition because it is funny to watch your classmates doing something non-stop, even when I'm not talking about that person.  So, going back...  Alina picked 3 people too act out our 3 verbs that we were working on.  But she personalized it.  So our first volunteer was acting out looked at.  So we talked to her about what she wanted to look at (circling...circling...repetition).  Then, our 2nd volunteer had fought with as his structure.  So we had to figure out who/what he was fighting with.  Continued this with the 3rd person...  Then, once we had established all that and had about a billion more reps, they did it.  The actual 3 ring circus didn't actually take that long, but Alina got so many reps just setting it up.  Awesome.

Okay....after the PQA, the 3 ring circus and all those reps, we were ready for the Movie Talk.  She showed the movie up until the "joke" without saying anything.  Then, she stopped at the spots with the target vocab and we talked about it.  She asked questions...circled...etc.  Then, you've got extension it again and have them blurt out anything they see.  I've done something like this before, but I prefer using screen shots instead of watching the movie again.  We looked at the still and they told their partner everything they could say (or we used white boards and they wrote it), while I walked around and then said things like "Oh class, I just heard someone say (I try not to call people out) THIS and it was awesome!  I hadn't thought of that..." 

Then, we did an embedded reading of the "text" of the movie talk.  Alina pointed out that for the first versions of her embedded readings, she tries to use a larger, easy to read font and centers each sentence on its own line.  Love this idea!

Other ideas that Alina said she uses in class are sentence strips of the story, dramatize it, or have them read it in different funny voices.

Anther thing that I have done as an extension activity that I stole from someone's blog:  I took my screen shots and made copies so that I made decks of cards and they played Go Fish, describing the photo to ask for the cards they wanted. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Luncheon with Dr. Stephen Krashen

As usual, Dr. Krashen is inspiring and helps me see the scientific reasons why what we do in class works.  Dr. Krahsen himself posted his version of his presentation on the moreTPRS listserv, but here are my takeaways from what I heard. 

We are awesome...  So that might not have been his exact intention, that's definitely what I took away.  What we are doing or trying to do in our classes is far and away the best method that exists for teaching a language.  So my question is: Why in the heck are more people not doing it?  (and it's what Richard Baker is currently researching)  In my opinion, there are several contributing factors.  One: It's's a skill that takes many years to be comfortable with...and one can never truly master.  Two: Lack of support from administrators or colleagues and, in some cases, outright bullying of people using the method.  Three: Lack of mentors in the area.  It's really hard to learn to do something if you don't have an easy way to ask questions, see it modelled, or be coached (someone is trying to remedy this by creating a database of teachers willing to be observed, coach, etc...but I can't remember who...maybe Karen Rowan??)  Four: Misinformation.  I think this is the reason a lot of the teachers in my district, which was once an all-TPRS district, has moved away from the method.  Most of those teachers had been trained in TPRS a long time ago or during a short 3-day training.  There is so much innovation and collaboration that you just don't get if you're not constantly learning and seeking PD.  I don't know how teachers do it without a place like Ben Slavic's PLC or the moreTPRS list...

Dr. Krashen said that he's not a big fan of the timed-writing because it is a forced output...but I feel like the benefits that I see in my class (and, as Janet Holzer said, having the data to show admins) far outweigh any affective filter that might occur.  And I could have misunderstood his meaning.  He said that he would like to see it used occasionally, but not on a regular basis.  Definitely not once a week...

What he would like to see us do and/or continue to do:

1. Try to find a research topic and try to find someone to help you get it complete/published.  I'll blog more about my dinner with Richard Baker later and our ideas for research topics.

2.  Try to avoid focusing so much on target structures and instead focus on content.  Perhaps we teach a history class in French or teach kids to do yoga in Spanish.  Or perhaps we teach a class on popular literature.  This is, of course, pie in the sky dreams because most of us have objectives that we are supposed to meet or particular vocabulary that we have to teach.  However, I did find some WONDERFUL ideas for striving for this in Carol Gaab's curriculum class that I will blog about later. 

I love Dr. Krashen because he makes me feel like an innovator in my field and like what I'm doing in my classroom and what my kids can do might be interesting to the rest of the world.  So...if you have an idea for a research topic, PLEASE try to find someone to help you do it!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Blaine & Von Ray Spanish Class-day 1

I always love being in Blaine's was a little slow because there were a LOT of true Spanish beginners...  So I didn't learn a lot of new Spanish, but I did get a couple of things to pass on:

1-The longer I was in the class, the more my Spanish class with Blaine from 6 years ago came back...  Words that we weren't using, but that just starting popping into my head because it was Spanish that I knew.

2-Blaine told the "class" that the goal was for us to all answer his questions AT THE SAME TIME!  I don't know why I've never done this.  He specifically said to the class "So you faster processors, I want you to try and BLEND IN.  Wait just a bit before you answer and don't just blurt out."  Awesome.  I've never heard that before but what a great thing to say to our students?!  It validates the quicker kids because it tells them that I know they exist, but it gets them on my side in helping the rest of the students.  Instead of trying to blurt out the answer quickly before everybody else, those students will now be trying to wait a bit (giving them more time to process as well)...  And for those slower processors, it allows them to answer without fear of looking behind the quick kids.  Great stuff.

It amazes me that I've seen some of these master teachers teach the same story a handful of times, but I always get something new from them....

Alina Filipescu-How to expand a 2 day story to 2 weeks

This was my first time seeing Alina in action and I got so much just from watching her.  The first thing she did was establish her expectations for her "class."  As a class, she expected us to react to certain phrases with words and gestures.  (I'm pretty sure I've  blogged about how bad I am at gestures...)  For example, when she said Excellent in Romanian, we would give a double thumbs up and say Excellent.  She also had gestures for How sad, ridiculous (this one took a lot of practice for us to meet her expectations), Secret, and There was a problem.  This immediately put us all on the same page as classmates, created the culture of who was in charge, and gave us things to be paying attention to during the story.

Two other things that we were required to respond to were Do you understand and Bless you (when someone sneezes).  In those cases, we were taught how to say I understand or Bless you in many different languages (Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Romanian, and "Alina" language, which was to snap twice and say click, click).  I never thought of creating a love of OTHER languages in my students....but how cool is that?  I love the idea of getting kids to appreciate the sounds of other languages. 

Once we had the classroom culture established, we began our story.  When asking the story, there were times that Alina would have us turn to our partner to guess the answer.  While we were doing that, she was walking around, listening for interesting answers, and giving us a chance to process the language that had just happened.  For the lower students, Alina gave us/them many opportunities to rest our brains and catch up with the higher students.  She would tell us to raise our hands before answering so that the quick kids weren't just blurting out the answer, leaving the slower kids behind or to disengage.  We also had brain breaks in the TL.  Alina didn't have a chance to show us her song brain break or what she would do with that, but I would imagine maybe taking 3 minutes to sing a song or watch a music video in the TL.  One brain break that we did get to do was to play Pancho Camacho.  Alina had like five cards with different objects on it from our story (ex. motorcycle, beard, extra hair, etc).  One student held each card.  An audience member would then say "P.C. wants a beard."  Whoever has BEARD on their card would then say, "No, PC does NOT want a beard.  PC wants a motorcycle (or some other object)"  And so on.  The teacher has a timer going for a weird amount of time.  (like 18 seconds or something that changes each round so that kids can't guess the amount of time)  Whoever has the spotlight when the timer goes off is out.  The last person standing then has to go against the teacher.  Compelling input for all of the audience (because we couldn't wait to see who got out and the volunteers try to speak faster and faster) and repetitive speaking practice for the volunteers. 

Then we continued on with our story.  We had parallel characters so we were getting more reps and it was a great story. 

Once our story was over, we received our reading.  In this case, Alina had a skeleton story that she was working from, so our task was to read for comprehension to the point where we could fill in the blanks to create our class story.  I LOVED this idea.  It made me as a student feel super smart because I was "writing" half the story (which was mainly names and cognates) after only about an hour of input. 

Then, we did a volleyball reading in partners before we ran out of time.

A great session that was super fun with nuggets that I will try to remember in February when I'm all out of gas and need some encouragement (would somebody please help me remember all this then??)

btw-as I write this poolside during our lunch break, Alina is directly across from me enjoying the sunshine...with no idea that I am blogging about her.  A bit strange, yes??

Also, I got a photo of the three of us (from L-R, me, my roomie Andrea, and the beautiful Alina) at the closing luncheon.  I find it helps to have a visual of who I'm reading/talking about.

Monday, July 20, 2015

NTPRS 2015

Well, I'm back at it!  As usual, I will be blogging about the sessions I attend throughout this week.  Stay tuned for gems from all the usuals, and hopefully a few new!

Speed dating

I've been awful about blogging this year...  I think it's because I feel like I do the same-old, same-old every day.  But after a month plus of absences and family illnesses, I jumped back into the classroom ready to try some new stuff.

One of the things that I tried:  I started talking to my students about something (might have been some movie or a book series or something) and really worked on I agree, I disagree, and in my opinion.  We talked like that for a whole hour, but I decided to extend the activity (something I haven't been great about in the past) by creating a speed dating activity. 

I'm not sure if I've explained this activity before, but I create concentric circles and then have a PowerPoint of discussion topics ready.  I set the timer for 1-2 minutes and let them discuss the question.  When the timer goes off, the middle circle moves over and they have a new partner.  Not life-altering, I know.  If there's an odd number of students, I join the circle, which gives me a great way to informally assess students and their speaking skills. 

For this particular speed dating, I started with basic opinion statements:  Miley Cyrus sings well, The Walking Dead is the best series on TV, Wendy's has the best fries...  and then slowly ramped it up to more controversial statements: Women are smarter than men, violence is never the answer, All Muslims are terrorists.  Ooooh, those kids were jumping out of their skin ready to answer those questions!  They were so passionate that their affective filter was almost zero as they spouted anything in French that they thought would convey their perspective.  It was wonderful!  And the best part?  It wasn't just wonderful for me, the teacher...I had parents contact me about how much their children enjoyed that lesson plan and I had a student work all weekend to draw me something based on our discussion of power of non-violence.