First Week…err Day…

I live by the “low-prep/no-prep” mantra. Yes, there’s life outside of school (maybe not if you teach high school ELA, sorry folks), and I enjoy sharing with others ideas on how to regain their personal life back while also being a damn fine teacher. As part of this, I pride myself on having not taken home student work for a few years now.

This first week, however, is different…

I’ve been used to starting the year with a half-day devoted to essential rules, some routines, and that school-required housekeeping stuff. Then, in next 8-10 class days over about 2 weeks, I would get into Circling with Balls (CWB), Total Physical Response (TPR), Discipulus Illustris, not to mention the No-Travel Story Script I was looking forward to trying out. Not this year. I see my students just 1 hour per week, which means those usual beginning activities would take us up through Thanksgiving! That’s simply too slow for he brain craving novelty. Expectations must be lowered. I’m just now recognizing exactly how much lower, too. This first week—one class—had to combine all that housekeeping with only a little bit of Latin…very little. You know what we did? placet (= likes). Yep, that’s it, at least as the only verb, although eī, tibi, -ne?, an, nōn, et, harpastum, minimē, and certē also made appearances. The focus was on just one student, and another parallel student to compare.

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Picture Talk: A Discipulus Illustris Follow-Up

Adriana Ramirez shared videos of her and her students doing Picture Talk on Facebook. I apologize if you can’t see them, but the reality is that most of my professional groups have now migrated to FB, which is becoming THE way to remain current in the field, apparently.

Adriana used old family photos for Picture Talk topics of conversation (keeping in mind “conversations” with Novice language learners are interactive, yet require just a few words from students. The teacher—to the dismay of evaluators in the dark—SHOULD be doing most of the talking, here). Once her students developed a higher proficiency level by the end of the second year, she had them bring in their own pictures to talk about. I find it amazing that Adriana continued to provide input, and encourage interaction all throughout the “presentation” of the main student by engaging the class with questions, and checking back in with the main student—basically using Storyasking actor questioning techniques. In a more conventional rule-based language classroom, the teacher would be hands-off, and other students likely bored after 5 or 6 presentations. Not in Adriana’s class.

I instantly thought of how this could follow up Discipulus Illustris (one of 7 language versions of La Persona Especial). Although Adriana had second year students do the presenting, you could do this early on with students of lower proficiency—just be the one providing input and encouraging interaction. To do this, a student emails you a pic to use as a prop. Yes, students are great props, but something novel to look at should grab the attention of others just because it’s different, and fools the mind into thinking the activity is completely different while you could be asking the very same Discipulus Illustris questions about the picture!

I love how it’s no-prep. Actually, it’s can’t-prep, which is exciting on its own. Sure, you could preview the pic (especially if you have students engaging in tomfoolery often), but part of the fun is keeping it lively with unexpected, compelling diversions from what is likely a boring school day. Teachers need to feel energized as well, so try something new.

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?)

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Sample CI Schedule: The Year

**Use this schedule with the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) Updated 2.4.18**
**Read a post on the Week & Day Updated 12.9.17**

A major reason to ditch what you’ve been doing (or what others expect language learning to look like), and teach with CI is for the flexibility in planning. In fact, the longer I teach with CI, the less I plan, and the better the results. This is probably the least intuitive concept as an educator, especially for anyone still green from their teacher training that included an obsession over Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design, the push for posted objectives, a need for required lesson plans tied to Bloom’s, etc.

I’ve written 13 blog posts and a summary about what should be considered and/or put in place in your classroom in order to continue teaching with CI. Here’s a perspective on a full year of teaching that might help you see the big picture of how simple it is to actually make this happen:

The Day **Added 12.9.17**
– Routines
– Reading
– Students
– Stories

The Week
– Telling/Asking stories, then reading them
– Learning details about students
– 1-3 unannounced “open-book” Quick Quizzes

The Month
– 1-2 unannounced, no notes, 5-10min Fluency Writes

The Grading Term
– Students self-assess Rubric (but check these to see if they’re being too hard on themselves)

The bulk of “planning” then becomes varying how you tell/ask stories (e.g. One Word Image, TPRS, MovieTalk, Magic Tricks, etc.), what you do with them (e.g. Choral Translation, Airplane Translation, Read and Discuss, Running Dictation, Draw-Write-Pass, OWATS, etc.), and how you’ll learn more about each other (e.g. ask students for a new batch of  questions to use during La Persona Especial/Discipulus Illustris, etc.).

CI Program Checklist: Summary

**Update 4.26.16 See how the checklist sets up a Sample CI Schedule for the Year**
**Read a post on the Week & Day Updated 12.9.17**

Classroom MGMT
✔   Rules (DEA & CWB)
✔   Routines (Routines, Student Jobs, Interjections & Rejoinders)
✔   Brain Breaks

Comprehensibility
✔   Inclusion (Safety Nets, Gestures & Question Posters)
✔   Shelter Vocab (Super 7, TPR ppt, TPR Wall, and Word Wall)
✔   Unshelter Grammar (TPR Scenes)

Camaraderie
✔   Secrets (Class Password)
✔   Students (People)
✔   Stories (TPRS, MovieTalk, Magic Tricks, Free Voluntary Reading (FVR))

Counting
✔   Reporting (Quick Quizzes)
✔   Showing Growth (Fluency Writes)
✔   Grading (DEA & Proficiency Rubrics)

Community
✔   Groups, Blogs, Contacts (LPB, moreTPRS, Tea with BvP, Ben Slavic)

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CI Program Checklist: 10 of 13

Classroom MGMT
✔   Rules (DEA & CWB)
✔   Routines (Routines, Student Jobs, Interjections & Rejoinders)
✔   Brain Breaks

Comprehensibility
✔   Inclusion (Safety Nets, Gestures & Question Posters)
✔   Shelter Vocab (Super 7, TPR ppt, TPR Wall, and Word Wall)
✔   Unshelter Grammar (TPR Scenes)

Camaraderie
✔   Secrets (Class Password)
✔   Students (People)
✔   Stories (TPRS, MovieTalk, Magic Tricks, Free Voluntary Reading (FVR))

Counting
__ Reporting

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