TPR & Safety Nets 2019: “We Will Rock You”

I’ve revisited my list of TPRable (Total Physical Response-able) words with way more entertainment in mind, made a PPT to follow along, and also rebooted my safety nets for 2019. This is all in anticipation of students returning from holiday break, forgetting absolutely every routine we established…

Safety Nets
I’ve observed that my students never really say “it’s not clear,” or do much to make Latin comprehensible other than raising their hand. In an effort to be even MORE streamlined with simplicity and clarity driving everything I do, here’s my updated safety net poster:

You’ll notice that students say nothing. They now just give signals. The first is a variation on one person stomps, everyone else does, too (thanks Eric Herman et al.). I did some thinking and realized that the stomping actually isn’t something I always notice with students late to the game not helping draw attention to incomprehension, etc. The result is that it feels kind of sloppy. Instead, we now do the classic “we will rock you” rhythm. What I like about this is a) it’s fun, and b) students can join in after a few reps until everyone, including me, does actually notice what’s going on. It’s almost a brain burst, even! Have a pop tune cued up for them to stomp/clap to, also!

The other two signals are fairly standard, using ASL for “write” and “slow.” Those are signals students SHOULD be using, but aren’t accustomed to, so I want to reestablish those as solid expectations once students come back from the holiday break.

Despite frequent updates over the years, Total Physical Response (TPR) has never felt as compelling as other things we do in the classroom. Recently, however, I realized it’s mainly because I never questioned the particular set of vocabulary I was working with. For example, “open the door” or “opens the door” is not fun. Honestly, who cares? That word doesn’t have much use in class. If a character must open something in a story, they just do it. TPR can be more entertaining than that. Let’s face it, “open” isn’t going to get us a) much global use throughout many contexts, or b) many laughs.

I think certain verbs are included in many TPR lists because the idea is to give classroom instructions in the target language. Not only do I often give instructions in English, but students don’t need to spend time with “aperī librōs!” to know what I mean when I say that while also opening a book. It’s self-evident. This almost reminds me of “teaching” the alphabet, or numbers. We can stop doing that kind of stuff now and actually communicate. So, I looked at the TPR verbs again, and chose ones I’d enjoy using in class, and that lend themselves to more entertaining moments. For example, if throwing and catching a ball is remotely fun, jumping, ducking, and kicking it is a major upgrade to compellingness! Here are some screenshots showing how my TPR Wall has changed:

Not only that, but I’ve also created a much, much, much more user-friendly and simplified PPT that I intend to use at the start of next year. It’s first appearance, however, will be once students come back from the holiday break as a sort of “OK, let’s get back into listening to Latin” challenge.

Whereas the old PPT had a ton of options, I’ve sequenced the verbs in order to take students through 3 batches of ~20 words. Why the PPT at all? I plan to treat this as a challenge for students to listen as best they can, then show (i.e. “demōnstrā!”) those word meanings. There’s even a built-in comprehension check slide of all previous words between each section. I piloted this with a class on one of those random days due to testing and we had a blast. Still, the class was really only to keep it together for the first two batches of words, with many already acquired (e.g. bene, male, rapidē, lentē, quiēte, surgere, cōnsīdere, iacere, capere, plaudere). Therefore, next year, I won’t move nearly as fast with the beginning students.

Here are some screenshots of the new TPR words so you can see the basic format. Basically, though, for each verb I model something, command (left side/right side, individuals, groups, etc.), and then start choosing different adverbs. The combinations amount to copious massed reps for this challenge activity:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.