Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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.


  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to blog about what you're learning and experiencing at NTPRS. It is really helpful for those of us unable to attend.

  2. The Pancho Comacho Brain break sounds great but I am sorry, I need more detail. Sorry. Not sure how it goes after the second person speaks. If there are only 5 cards, does that mean that only 5 students are holding cards? How do they get out?

  3. Don't apologize! It's hard... Here is a tweet that Rodrigo sent out with a short video. Let me know if that doesn't help because I think there's another video out there somewhere... https://twitter.com/profedegrau/status/623956994316206081