I read this statement somewhere recently about researched teaching practices:
“X is at least as supported as Y.”
Since we’re talking about something that affects students, I’d begin by asking the kind of questions Eric Herman includes with each of his memos. Then I’d move away from data, and instead consider practical classroom applications, as well as personal observations and reflections (of both practices X and Y when applicable).
The show on Focus on Form, though helpful on many topics, somehow left me missing a major point of Bill’s Principle 6. Yes, I was part of the Mixlr crew who wanted more examples, but I wanted more examples for the wrong reasons. The major takeaway is:
There still isn’t enough evidence to suggest students need a focus on form at all. Even if it were beneficial in some way, it’s still not necessary to focus on form.
So, although Principle 6 states that “any focus on form should be meaning-based and input-oriented,” it’s not clear whether students benefit from it. I wanted examples because I was concerned that I SHOULD be using meaning-based input to highlight language features (via Recasts and Textual Enhancements). It was a relief, then, to realize that such effort isn’t necessary, and might not be of any benefit whatsoever (at least while students are acquiring the language).
For teachers who prefer to focus on form (expect only short-term gains), or have a required test to prepare students for, you should focus on form by keeping things meaning-based and input-oriented.