How Comprehensible Must Reading Be?

Marcos Benevides’ Slideshare PPT has been floating around for over a year now. It’s a powerful illustration of how unknown words affect reading fluency (speed + ease), especially for anyone who thinks students will be OK reading anything that’s less than 98% comprehensible.

Still, the syntactical clues in Marcos’ PPT helped native speakers. In order to simulate a student’s reading experience more accurately, I removed those clues. Here’s the result (download, here, for sharing):


Negligent Motorist = 1, Lance = 0

Yesterday, the following events unfolded while riding my motorcycle:

  1. I notice a car rolling towards towards the road at a TD Bank exit driveway—the driver isn’t looking left (i.e. my direction).
  2. The driver doesn’t look my way, keeps rolling, then suddenly turns left into the road directly in front of me.
  3. I stop short. The momentum sends my motorcycle down on its right side, and me forward, also on my right side.
  4. I’m on the ground now and can’t move, but it’s for an OK reason—I realize that my helmet is stuck between the pavement and bumper of the driver’s car.
  5. The driver gets out of the car and tries to move me (idiot!).
  6. I take some time to watch horrified rubberneckers looking downward at a motorcycle on the ground and its rider partly under a car.
  7. After the disorientation dissipates, I get bored not doing anything under the car, extract myself, take off my gear, and take in the situation.
  8. Motorcycle doesn’t start (it won’t shift BELOW 3rd gear—the one it was in before going down).
  9. I wrap things up with the officer, get the moto towed, start calling insurance companies, and text Bob Patrick. No, Bob is not my emergency contact, but he just happened to have caught a typo in Discipulus Illustris, which led to a nice suggestion (i.e. Quō in annō es? for Quō in gradū es?)

I’m fine. I have a sprained wrist, and was told that I’d be quite sore in the coming days. Yeah, that seems about right. I predict that it will feel like I hit the ground going 20, and then got stuck under a car’s bumper. On that note, I’d like to thank HJC for making their helmets that do their job, and Dainese for their textile jackets with armour inserts—both considerably sexy-looking as well. I shake my head at the fools in NH and CT who ride without a helmet, and anyone who thinks it’s OK to ride wearing just a T-shirt because it’s 90 degrees out. Shame!

Why is he writing about this? <Jim Gaffigan voice>

Since I was doing curriculum work at the high school just before this all happened, I’ve been thinking about how all that work seems less important—like waaaaaay less important than just about anything else I’m interested in doing. Even making sure I get another pint of those wild Maine blueberries they’re selling right now seems more important than planning what grammatical feature Latin IV students should know after 12 weeks of instruction. Naturally, my first thoughts were to just let go of every intellectual pursuit and head-to-head I’m currently involved in or that’s heading down the pike, do things I enjoy,  and just teach out of the book.

That last part is troublesome. Why would I consider following a textbook syllabus as some kind of professional surrender after a brush with serious injury? For me that’s exactly what it would feel like. Other teachers can do whatever they want because their experience and learning aren’t mine (i.e. I cannot unexperience, or unlearn what I know about teaching languages).

The truth is that teaching for acquisition with CI is hard. Abandoning it and using the textbook is a lot easier than co-creating stories, limiting vocabulary, creating embedded readings and parallel stories, asking personalized questions, defending why we need CI, and convincing others to just let us do our thing. Keith Toda frequently mentions how he bailed after a few weeks…look at what he’s doing now! It all does sound like too much, but the daily workflow is still less work and more enjoyable than conventional language teaching. I still have a better classroom experience than if I were to assign translations, give incessant corrective feedback, quiz grammar, mark based on correct/incorrect, and watch the slower kids drop out or feel unsuccessful. I don’t want that.

If you’re feeling he pressure of teaching with CI, just relax a little bit, do something you enjoy at home, try one new thing at a time in the classroom, and feel better about coming to school each day knowing that more students will feel successful.




“Classically Attested” & “Latinity”: The Latest Buzz

Teacher-written reading material for Novice & Intermediate language learners is not new, at least for modern languages. TPRS Publishing and TPRS Books frequently add more to their roster, so teachers have their choice of topic. 2015 saw the publication of the first two of these novellas in Latin, [self-]published by Pomegranate Beginnings (i.e. Pluto & Itinera Petri). Since then, there has been a wide range of reception amongst Latin teachers (or Classicists, or Linguists, or Scholars, etc.). The general consensus regarding the positive reception has been something like  “this is helping our students feel successful and have a positive experience in Latin class. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.” Regarding the negative reception, most of it revolves around two buzzwords:

  1. Classically Attested
    This is used to question the use of Latin in a way that doesn’t appear in our extant sources (e.g. we don’t know if someone ever said or wrote mihi magis placet because it doesn’t exist in the literature that has survived).
  2. Latinity
    The “style” of one’s Latin (speaking, writing) in terms of conforming to grammatical norms, which could also include word choice.

These buzzwords matter. For some teachers, less-than-superior style and unattested Latin appear to be a threat to The Classics as an insult to intelligence and knowledge, or the work these teachers themselves put into translating and parsing over the years. For other teachers, less-than-superior style and unattested Latin appear to be a disservice to students who wholeheartedly embrace the canon, take the AP, enroll in college, and then complete the cycle to teach Latin at the secondary level (or remain in Academia holding a variety of positions). The reasoning is understandable—fine, even. I get it. I feel you. I hear this, yet I’ve just moved on.

Latinity: An example
I recently overheard a professor slam Oxford as being “bad Latin.” Wow, really? The same professor claimed that “bad textbook Latin” is the reason students can’t transition to reading authentic texts. This is unsubstantiated. A more probable claim is that students can’t transition to reading authentic texts because most students aren’t READING Latin to begin with (re: reading vs. translating textbook passages), and that they haven’t built mental representation of the language, being held accountable for memorizing far too much vocabulary, and/or grammatical knowledge. There are many types of reading tasks, but fluent reading—the kind of reading when you read for meaning so easily that you’ve finished a passage/chapter/book without realizing how long it was or how long you had been reading—is one of the better, if not best experiences to have as a reader! I never had that experience as a Latin student, and I was exposed to superior Latinity. It’s a miracle I’m still here after struggling with Latin for so long, but this isn’t about me. I’ve seen how most students aren’t willing to endure what I did, and there’s not much glory for the few who do.

Classically Attested: An example
mālō (I prefer) expresses preference, but unfortunately looks like malus (bad), or mālum (apple). That is just one reason not to use mālō. Another might be that I don’t want to add a new verb. The reasons don’t matter as much as the decision. So, lets say I decide that I just don’t want to use mālō. The suggestion to use mihi magis placet (I like __ more) is reasonable. My students already know mihi placet, so this substitution is probably more comprehensible, AND we have the added bonus of sheltering vocabulary to what students know without adding a new verb, mālle. So, I did some research and found that mihi magis placet doesn’t appear in the literature. Ugh, right? Now the choice is to use an attested word (mālō) that might be more difficult to comprehend (adding another verb to the students’ vocabulary), or to use an expression the Romans would probably understand even if it’s not found in the literature, but one that I’m positive that my students would comprehend. The criticism is that if something isn’t used in the literature in the same way, or isn’t found in the literature at all, we shouldn’t bother giving it to students to read. This is valid, but only insofar as those students—all of them—will end up reading the literature at all. Very, very few students continue reading Latin, and those who do tend to become Latin teachers. Furthermore, if my experience is anything like other Latin teachers, I can say confidently that I cannot READ most of Latin literature. Give me a couple hours, a dictionary, and some notes, and I’ll be able to tell you what’s going on, or maybe even translate a passage or two, but neither of those are enjoyable experiences for me. What about our students?

So, the basis for questioning the use of Latin in a way that doesn’t appear in our extant sources breaks down because the reality is that most students’ experience doesn’t match the goals of teachers making this claim. An argument could be made that less-than-superior style and unattested Latin that enables all students to feel successful would actually get more kids interested in The Classics (where there is no dearth of Latinity). It certainly wouldn’t result in fewer kids considering it, right? I cannot imagine a world in which Little Johnny is pissed when he finds out that mihi magis placet is nowhere to be found in his M.A. reading list. I can, however, imagine a world in which Little Johnny doesn’t have to think upon coming across the phrase mihi placet, or just the word magis while he’s fluently reading what his peers are parsing (because they were never given material they could read). In the end, we can’t predict what students will do with Latin, but we can focus on their experience with us. I don’t intend to be dogmatic about this. Just make sure you’re holding true to what it is you want your students’ experience to be.

Language classrooms are filled with tourists—the kids who have dreamed of visiting another country since age 8. There are other types of tourists, too—the kids who take our language course because it seemed cool, their friends are in the class, or they’d rather not take another elective. The argument for using only superior style and attested Latin also breaks down for these students. In fact, it breaks down for just about every student we have (minus those very few students we send to college as Classics majors). When using these buzzwords, we need to recognize our audience, examine the experience of our students, and evaluate whether OUR goals include all, or exclude most. It can be tricky trying to reconcile being true to the literature while also recognizing that most people can’t read the literature they’re given—because that’s all we’ve had to give. This doesn’t absolve the author of including egregious errors, or inventing syntax, but should encourage discretion when creating reading material that positively contributes to the feeling of success, and overall experience in Latin class.

Forget about the Fossa: [Textbook] Embedded Readings Done BETTER

After attending Michele Whaley’s presentation on Embedded Readings at NTPRS, I was convinced that we’ve been playing a game of Telephone since she and Laurie Clarcq began sharing the concept back in 2012. It turns out that it’s “yes and no,” but there is an important distinction that is being made in current Embedded Reading practice. Whereas many of us THINK we’re creating Embedded Readings, most of us might be just adapting authentic texts, class stories, or textbook narratives. Those products are fine, but aren’t necessarily Embedded Readings. Most of us are missing two key features in our adapted readings that make them better:

  • Parallel Stories
  • Withholding New/Tantilizing Information (not just more words)

Parallel Stories
Don’t read the class story you just co-created as your Embedded Reading. Wait, what!? It’s true. There’s no point to reading the exact same story that was asked via TPRS the day before when everyone already knows the ending. In Bill VanPatten terms, these readings would be partially-communicative activities because they lack a purpose. The most-likely purpose is cognitive-informational (i.e. obtaining information for an immediate or future task), but another might be psycho-social (i.e. relationships, team-building, bonding). To set up an Embedded Reading to have a purpose per se (i.e. without other purposeful follow up activities), you must, must, must use a parallel story. This is also just good practice, and upon reflecting, that’s exactly what Blaine Ray TPRS Workshops encourage. Again, a game of Telephone over the years. Take the language (i.e. phrases/structures) that was used in the class story, and then change the details…maybe even the whole plot, and there you go! This is a simple yet crucial fix.

I’ve adamantly had students read what they heard, but I forgot about the idea of novelty, genuine communication, and how important it was to use parallel stories. I’ve probably been focused on getting the story in print form so everyone can read. From now on I might have someone type up and project our class story in real time and do a quick read on that very day, but otherwise my work (prep) will be to create a base parallel reading and embed it into 2 or 3 additional tiers…Embedded Readings.

New/Tantalizing Information
Don’t forget to WITHHOLD information from that awesome new story with new details. Once you have an ending, save it for the final version, or reserve space for an surprising twist. An Embedded Reading might be 3 versions of the same information that grow in sentence length, complexity, and use of adjectives/adverbs, but a better Embedded Reading has new/tantalizing information. Include new information (e.g. plot, background info, etc.) with each version you read. Otherwise, the final reading would just be read for the sake of reading more complex language. This hints at the type of “monitoring” that isn’t as helpful for acquisition, at least for the first few years, or the “classic” adapting that Michele mentions below.

Textbook Implications
I put a call out for some Embedded Readings to use with the textbook used at my new school. Some were “top-down” Embedded Readings. Considering the new information that has come to light, the lack of 1) parallel stories, and 2) withholding new/tantalizing information seems to make them less effective. Some of them weren’t even adapted, and instead contained sentences directly pulled from the textbook passage. Many of the latter would still be considered abridged/edited readings, but certainly not anything to make the reading vastly more comprehensible, which is a major point to Embedded Readings.

So, do students REALLY have to read about that fossa in Ecce Romani? No, not really. It’s better to use key language (i.e. phrases/structures) from the passages and create your own parallel readings that are far more personalized and compelling. Once done, the textbook passage, if deemed necessary/desirable, will be a breeze to read. If it’s not, don’t read it!

#authres Implications
Ballestrini et al. have done an amazing…aMAZING job creating tiered versions of Caesar and Virgil. These are adapted texts that make the authors’ works more accessible. If we were to do nothing else, we would still win Latin now that these resources are available, so hats off to them and others doing similar work. The tiered readings were created by following the “top down” approach to Embedded Readings as shown in an early PPT. However, we can take it one step further and use the language within each Tier to make an Embedded Reading that’s more personalized and compelling. That’s right…we could create Embedded Readings for each of the 3 Tiers of adapted texts from Caesar and Virgil! Our students would have no problem reading Caesar after a story with a twist using the same language. Here’s Michele on what might be considered adapted readings, how she does “top-down” Embedded Readings:

Dear Lance,

Embedded Readings have two forms: bottom up and top down. Both are to help students read a text that could otherwise challenge them so that they might then give up on without trying.

Adapted readings might be a way of describing the top down kind of ER, but usually the “classic” adapted readings haven’t focused on whittling the text down to the core information. Instead, they change the language to make it easier to read and often shorten the text.

When I do a top-down ER, I reserve some of the tantalizing information (if there is any!) until the later versions so that students maintain interest. And typically I do also use a parallel story, because that gives me more of a chance to repeat those structures I think are important or that the students are in the process of acquiring. A parallel story is also much more interesting to kids because it’s theirs. Parallel stories slow down the progress of the class if it’s curriculum you’re trying to get through, but they improve student acquisition.

There’s a chance that after years of Embedded Readings, our students might actually read Caesar and Virgil more easily. If that’s the case, the adapted versions could suffice. If not, looks like we need to create more personalized Embedded Readings with 1) parallel stories, and 2) withholding new/tantalizing information.

Grading vs. Reporting Scores: Clarification

In the recent sliding scale scheme, Proficiency is given 0% weight at the start of the year. This doesn’t mean that students see “0” in the gradebook. What this means is that their 95, for example (which they see in the gradebook), holds 0% weight because in the sliding scale scheme we’ve placed all 100% weight on DEA for first quarter in order to set expectations and establish routines. By the fourth quarter, 100% of the weight is on Proficiency, and whenever possible, we manually change the entire course grade to that final Proficiency number/letter so nothing else averages throughout the year.

NTPRS 2016: More Changes, More Thoughts

After attending iFLT, I spent another week in Reno at NTPRS. While iFLT offered more opportunities to observe teachers teaching students, NTPRS offered more opportunities to actually BE a student for those of us in the Experienced track. I appreciated the short demos that most presenters gave, even when the workshops were not titled “___ language demo.” There are some game changes here that warrant their own posts  (e.g. embedded readings straight from the source, Michele, Whaley), but I have much  else to report on. Like last week’s iFLT post, this one includes more of what I intend to think about and/or change for 2016-17. They’re organized by presenter:

Alina Filipescu
  • Talk & Move. Teacher says statement (e.g. “I have lived in Europe”), if the statement applies, the student moves (e.g. sits or stands, whichever isn’t happening) & talks (e.g. “it’s me”).
  • Student Jobs – Posters. In addition to posting questions and rejoinders on the wall, also give them to students as jobs. I’ve done The Who (e.g. “quis,” “whoooo”)  as a single student job, but now will make copies of question posters and have students hold up their card when I say the word while pointing. Engagement.
  • Guess/Suggest Signal. Alina’s kids know when she wants a detail vs. discussing.
  • Class Password. When kids don’t know the password, they just get back in line (vs.waiting in the hall or something).
  • Seat Assignments. Tape one set of playing cards to backs of chairs, then hand duplicates out at door while doing Class Password. Could be repeated daily.
  • No Desk Name Tags. No desks? Wear name tags/Circling With Balls paper around neck with some string.

Mike Coxon
  • 3 Ring Circus. I’ve never been interested in doing this until I got to feel what it was like as a participant. Conceptually, it helped me think of 3 Ring Circus as a “TPR loop.” Set up a few kids with a their own sequence of at least two actions (I saw it done with 4). Be sure to include at least one action as a sound, (e.g. whisper like a Parseltongue, the Harry Potter snake language), and vary speed of actions.
  • Selfie HWFor reading homework accountability, students take and email selfie with adult at home holding the reading.

Mira Canion
  • PQA 4 All. Full class thinks about their own Answer to a Personalized Question. From time to time, actually ask class to think of their own answer. This could help re-engage students, and also remind them the point of PQA comparisons.
  • Actor as Professeur. For variety, student actor chooses detail instead of the teacher (e.g. “it’s MY story”) or Le Professeur, a student job.
  • Students Limit Vocab. Get detail from students in order to limit vocab (if they offer, it’s already comprehensible!).
Blaine & Von Ray
  • Teacher as Character. Include self as another character for sake of comparison and exposure to verb forms. In TPRS MovieTalk, the character might not even be in the video clip. This is totally fine.
  • Actor Speech. Actor speech other than the initial one-word response is NOT forced output. Why? We guide actors by whispering what to say, or pointing to the board. They are not expressing their own ideas. They are our prop so the rest of the class hears input from their peer(s) instead of from us all the time. Just remember that they NEED support, and won’t be able to respond in complete sentences without guidance. THAT would be considered forced output.
  • Comp & Con. Check BOTH comprehension AND confidence. Comprehension is about understanding what’s going on. Confidence is more about processing speed and amount of hesitation. Not the same thing, but important for us to know.

Bryce Hedstrom
  • Reading Time. During Silent Sustained Reading (SSR), or Free Voluntary Reading (FVR), Bryce makes a circle and reads to kids who don’t want to read on their own.
  • La Persona Especial (Discipulus Illustris, in Latin). For the first few easy Qs at the start of the year (e.g. name, nickname, age, grade), he asks several students within a single class period. They all just sit in their chairs. In fact, none of the students need to come to the front of the room if they don’t want to throughout the year.
Betsy Paskvan
  • Vary Speed! When students know the first part of your question really well, say it faster, but then slow down for the new stuff. It’s actually insulting to go TOOO slow if everyone gets it. Check on that barometer student for this one.
Michele Whaley
  • Bill VanPatten Dictogloss. Listen to an audio clip (length varies according to level), then retell/recreate as best they can in groups. Repeat. Groups get competitive with this one.
  • Quizlet Live.  This knocks Kahoot out of the water. It automatically groups students who join and there is a series of questions. Each group member has their own (different) response options so the group must work together to find who has the answer, and select it on that device. Groups work at their own pace but race against each other to finish first. You can also import from vocabulary lists.
  • Embedded readings. This requires its own blog post later, but key points are to ALWAYS use a parallel reading (e.g. not just the class story you co-created, or an adapted textbook narrative, but a new one the kids don’t know that includes the phrases/structures from class), the name “embedded reading” is derived from the fact that the lowest version is embedded within the next higher version, and the versions should include new INFORMATION, not just details to make sentences longer/more complex.
Justin Slocum Bailey
  • Yes/No Variation. Instead of asking “does he have X?” which requires “yes/no,” Justin often asks  “he has, or he doesn’t have?” which works really well for Latin, a language that often repeats the verb to affirm or negate without adverbs (i.e. “habet, an nōn habet?”).
  • Non-Targeted Input. This is NOT about “winging it,” or not having a plan. It’s more about context. Talking about Harry Potter because you know kids like it is non-targeted, but choosing that hat-sorting scene from Harry Potter because it has particular verb forms that you want to expose students to is targeted.
  • Spiced-Up TPR. Set up a Harry Potter wand “duel,” or create an obstacle course.
  • Embedded Reading Twists.
Susie Gross
  • Sub Plan Output. Susan Gross knew that her kids wouldn’t get quality input from their sub, and that her kids woudn’t be able to negotiate meaning when reading on their own (even if it’s a “known” story). As such, she planned for output activities during sub days.
  • Trust Actors. USE actors and wait for THEM to do something funny…it’s doesn’t have to always be up to us.
  • Reading is KEY. Reading is one way, or perhaps THE WAY to bring together colleagues who disagree about teaching methods.
  • Delay Gesture. Wait a second after saying something before using that favorite gesture of yours. Give the kids time to process the word, and then use the gesture to confirm in their minds, or jog the memory of those who are slower.
Amy Wopat
  • Picture Predictions. Obscure part of a picture (e.g. edit in MS paint, or place half of it off-screen) for predictions.
Michelle Kindt
  • Tourists. Some students might be in your language class because they intend to travel as a tourist and not pursue it academically. This is totally valid. Others might even be interested in just being a tourist…in your class! There’s nothing wrong with taking a language because it’s fun, even if students have no intention of ever continuing it beyond high school. They should be allowed to take the class just as much as the more academically-focused students.


iFLT 2016: Immediate Instructional Changes, and Other Thoughts

I just went to my first iFLT conference. I got to chat (live) with Bill VanPatten and Stephen Krashen, saw master teachers teaching with CI, and went to some awesome presentations. I don’t take detailed notes during presentations, but as you can see there’s plenty to take away from a few ideas I emailed to myself over the week. This post includes what I intend to think about and/or change for 2016-17, and would recommend others considering as well. Some of the ideas were ones I’ve seen before but just haven’t gotten around to implementing them, while others were completely new. They’re organized by who inspired me:

Justin Slocum Bailey
  • Expect the Unexpected. Justin presented about maintaining the CI Flow by “making lemonade out of [the] lemons” that the typical school day gives you. I’ve always found that saying strange because I would totally accept free lemons anytime, but the saying refers to dealing with things that sour your mood. So, when that startling sound interrupts class, incorporate it as a new element in your story, or instantly break into Good Idea/Bad Idea after a lengthy annoying announcement from the office. I need to react sooner, but another take is to actually create those moments, like setting an alarm to go off at some point during class just to keep everyone on their toes, or planting surprises for students to encounter.
  • Rewind/Restart Gesture. This indicates to students that information in the next statement isn’t going to be new and/or isn’t some kind of trick. This is helpful when there’s been a compelling diversion, when you’ve parked on something, or when you simply forget where you were in the narrative after some Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA).
Carrie Toth
  •  Story Retell Q & A. Instead of just retelling a story to a partner, a more interesting option is questions and answers between each other (e.g. “Did Luke live in Mos Eisley, or visit Mos Eisley?” or “Who fell into garbage compactor 3263827?”). This requires higher proficiency.
  • Silent Conversation. For any given topic, students write a question, pass paper, answer question or write follow-up, then continue. Do this to slow down the pace, and/or when energy is low.
Donna Tatum Johns
  • Listen & Draw White Boards. Instead of illustrating an entire story, students draw simple phrases, or short sentences on white boards, then repeat. This is particularly helpful at the beginning of the year.
  • Same Words Different Ways. When students say aloud a new word and find it difficult to do so, or just ask how to say a word (i.e. pop-up pronunciation), or when you feed lines to an actor, TPR the phrase to the whole class in different ways (e.g. “now say it like you’re mad,” or  “whisper, be happy/sad”).
  • Be Quick! Brain Break. Circle up, right hand palm up, left hand point finger on next person’s palm. Play music, when music stops try to grab finger. Switch hands (i.e. left palm up, right finger point).
Martina Bex
  • Bar Graph Q & D. Instead of just discussing a topic, students write their response on a Post-It, then you collect and arrange on board in a bar graph (e.g. 10 kids like vanilla, 4 kids like chocolate, 1 kid likes mint chocolate chip, and 1 kid doesn’t like ice cream). A prep-intensive follow-up would be to take a pic of the board, and create a doc with comp questions about the graph (e.g. what percent of the class likes vanilla?). Otherwise, it just stays on the board as a visual to discuss a topic (see Kristy Placido’s Physical Organizers, below).
Keith Toda
  • Sentence Flyswatter. This one is so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. I hate flyswatter games for their lack of messages. Keith puts a block of 4 student drawings on the board, then says something in Latin represented by a picture (student/teacher drawn, or found) that the students slap for points. Genius.
Linda Li
  • Like/Dislike slides. Linda shows images and has students move from one side of the room (likes) or the other (dislikes). She also has a space for indifference. I intend to start adding this to Circling with Balls (CWB) in order to get everyone more engaged, and/or can instantly bring it back throughout the year to get the whole class moving once we find out someone likes something.
  • Multiple Students as 1 Character. Self-explanatory way to engage more than just one student actor.
  • Rewind/Restart Gesture. This worked in a second context other than Justin’s class. Need to add this.
  • Non-Verbal T/F Quiz. Hands up sparkle finger motion for T, stomp for F.
  • EZ Cloze Blanks. NOT structures, but easy names and English words. This builds confidence.
Carol Gaab
  • Phrase Cloze. Carol likes using phrases instead of individual words. So simple!
  • MT Concept.  MovieTalk (MT) is about interacting, not actually talking about the movie. The movie is a prop, so distract students by asking many, many personalized questions inspired by a still image from the movie. THIS is how to avoid getting yelled at when kids get sick of you pausing so much. Yes, they will want to see the movie, and you definitely should play it, but keep them interested in the topic/discussion for as long as you can, and not the movie itself. The movie is the pay-off.
Kristy Placido
  • Move Your Class. Get out of the room and go to a new location just for novelty.
  • Physical Organizers. Bring organizers into the physical realm (e.g. giant hula hoops for venn diagrams, table-size timelines, etc.).
  • Numbered Group Responses. Numbers are assigned to group members, everyone in group writes answer to questions, teacher calls out number, only students with THAT number show their paper. Super easy way to hold each group member accountable.
  • VERBA as Station. I don’t do many stations, but VERBA would work really well as one.
Grant Boulanger
  • Read-Along Cloze. Read aloud to the class as they follow, when you stop students say the next word.
  • Rejoinders. I saw Grant’s students begin to learn when to use expressions like “I don’t believe it,” or “how cool,” or “seriously?” in a very natural way at an appropriate time. These are huge, and I MUST start posting them.