Basics: Current Ideas & Summary of Recurring Blog Posts

All Of My Daily Activities, etc.
– input-based strategies & activities
– how to get texts

Now, here are the practices fundamental to my teaching, making the daily stuff possible:

Grammar
Textbooks
Curriculum
Grading
Course Grade
D.E.A.
Assessments
Speaking & Writing

Continue reading for explanations of each…

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“to be” Task Template

Tasks are becoming popular these days, though I’m not a fan.

The way I see it, a task itself must be so well-constructed that something else—something probably more beneficial—could’ve been done in the same amount of prep time as well as class time. Otherwise, low-prep simple and short tasks tend to lack compelling purposes. After all, there are purposes, and there are compelling purposes, right? For example, most of the Tasks that Bill VanPatten mentions on Tea with BVP are appropriate for self-selecting college students, yet leave the K-12 public school student saying “who cares?” Still, if you’re interested in early input-based Tasks, try using this template…

To Be
This task focuses on all conjugated forms of the verb “to be” in the present, and possibly other tenses. It answers the general questions “who am I?” and “who are we?” and could be used to determine a number of qualities shared in the class, and then to compared to some other source, like a target language-speaking culture. Get creative! In the first few steps, students pair up and rotate briefly to get some data. Then, the teacher elicits data in the final steps, compares, and summarizes the findings. Note how students aren’t speaking in the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) Output sense. They’re saying words, sure, but all the words are provided, and any response options are listed. This is not Output since students aren’t generating any of the ideas, which means it could be done very early on given the appropriate level of scaffolding. The first few steps of input-based Tasks are designed to get information, NOT to “practice speaking” like some might refer to, though it will look similar to observers if you are being asked to have students speak more, or interact more. Most of the input will be provided by the teacher in steps 4+.

1) Student A asks:
Quis es? Who are you?
Quālis es? What are you like?

2) Student B replies:
sum [     ] I’m [      ]. **chosen from a provided list of words—the only prep**

3) Students record responses, switch partners party-style, and get more data:
Student B est [      ] Student B is [      ].
etc.

4) Teacher asks students to share details::
Student A, esne [      ]? Student A, are you [      ]?
Student A, estne Student B [      ]?
 Student A, is Student B [      ]?
etc.

5) Teacher tallies/graphs results, and makes statements:
discipulī trēs, estis [      ] You 3 students, you are [      ].
discipulī quīnque, estis [      ]
 You 5 students, you are [      ].
quattuor discipulī sunt [      ]
 4 students are [      ].
duo discipulī sunt [      ]
  2 students are [      ].
ūna discipula est [      ]
  1 student is [      ].
etc.

6) Teacher compares class to something:
multī Rōmānī erant [      ] Many Romans were [      ].

7) Teacher summarizes results:
discipulī, sumus [      ] Students, we are [      ].

 

Again, I don’t necessarily think students care a great deal about these kinds of Tasks, but if you find that something piques their interest, say, who is the closest to turning 18, or who takes the longest naps, break out this task template and see how it goes!

 

Mid-Year Check-In: Brain Breaks & Brain Bursts

Teachers fall into a routine, often focusing on a particular strategy for a while because a) they want to hone their skill,  b) it’s magically engaging for students, or c) both. During that period of focus, however, other teaching practices tend to get left behind. The holiday break is good time to take a look at what has NOT been going on in the classroom. For me, it’s been Brain Breaks. Annabelle Allen would be ashamed of me!

It’s true, though. Looking back to just before the holiday break, I’ve been doing just one Brain Break, and there were even days when I did zero due to an activity involving somemovement. There’s no excuse for neglecting Brain Breaks, though, and there’s no rationale behind substituting them with other activities. I need to get back on this horse…

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What CI Isn’t

CI is not optional.

For language acquisition, CI is necessary, and no one disputes it. For full inclusion of all students, no one can deny that tapping into what every human is hard-wired for (i.e. language acquisition) is the more universal practice and responsible choice as educators.

CI is not a method or strategy.

The messages students listen to or read are received as Input. When students understand those messages, they receive Comprehensible Input. Continue reading

A Definition of “Output” from BVP

“Output is when students, or language learners actually use language to create a message of their own, from scratch.”

Yep, that would rule-out Sentence Frames (e.g. My favorite food is _____), and any other scaffolding when it comes time to creating a message. The result is “traditional language practice” which has not been shown to lead to acquisition. A single genuine utterance (e.g. “pizza”) as part of a communicative event (e.g. “Charles, what’s your favorite food?”) is more beneficial in the long run.

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5.5.16 Tea with BvP Takeaways

Today on the show, Bill did not give the same definition of Forced Output from Episode 18 when he told a caller that anything more than one word responses (e.g.yes/no, either/or, fill in blank) was considered “forced” (listen to that brief definition, here). Why? He was thinking about that term in a new way, referring to what happens when you make someone speak in an activity or task, which may not have anything to do with what has been acquired (e.g. “I am teacher, you are student, do this.”). The definition of Forced Output was expanded by Karen Rowan on Mixler to include any “Output beyond the level of acquisition.” Bill’s previous definition along with Karen’s mean that although acquisition rates vary, all students can give a single word response, so it is the only thing we should expect. Anything else is a bonus.

We also got a definition for Output as “any learner production that is embedded in the communicative context/event.” Martin Lapworth noted that this immediately rules out  a lot of what’s been going on in classrooms involving certain acts of speaking and writing, which some teachers have misunderstood as Output for the sole reason that something is coming OUT of their head that other people read, see or hear. Here’s how we can categorize Bill’s take on some examples of exercises, activities, and tasks within the context of Output…

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Proficiency Grading FAQs, and New Rubric Option

**Updated Expectations Rubric**

I’ve had many questions when it comes to implementing my complete grading system, or proficiency rubrics independently from DEA. As a result, you’ll find minor adjustments in their appearance, as well as a few changes that highlight the FAQs.

Proficiency Goal Rubrics
Independent Rubrics (when NOT used in complete grading system along with DEA)
Simplified Rubrics (for exploratory, middle school, or less-prescribed high school programs)

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