NTPRS13 – Friday the 26th of July – day 5

Today already the last day!!! How sad! Time flew! IMG_1464Went to ‘The brain and reading‘ by Mira Canion. She talked about the book ‘Story Proof ; the science behind the startling power of stories’ by Kendall Haven. It’s only about 200 years ago that we started reading on a large scale. There is no dedicated area of the brain for reading; that’s why we have to teach kids to read.

Kendall proves that our human brains are wired for stories. Storytelling started 100.000 to 300.000 years ago, for archiving information. IMG_1486

What is story? What is the opposite? Is there an opposite? Is there a word for non-story?

Story is how content is organized. It is the most effective delivery vehicle for your content.

Haven says: “Teach all the content this way.”

Summarizing the text (Macon et al, 1991):

  • Somebody
  • Wants
  • But
  • So

IMG_1497The last workshop round I went to Gary DiBianca’s ‘Teaching Advanced Structures‘. It was a very structured workshop, I found. Gary showed us how to get a good personalized statement from your class by using a pre-determined structure.

Context: problems of teenagers/of your students – discussion about something moral. Gary used e.g.

  • I recommended him/her to watch and he talked about a tv-series/ film (would you recommend it to your parents; why ? would you recommend it to me?
  • Before someone is going out with a girl, what should he have done? What should he do the next time? What would you have done?

Here you can find Gary’s PowerPoint about ‘Teaching Advanced Structures’.IMG_1514

Gary, like all presenters stopped exactly in time and that was my last NTPRS workshop for this year…

The last part of our conference was the closing luncheon. Katya Paukova was the keynote speaker of this year and she told us her story of moving with her family from Russia to the US, of becoming a TPRS teacher in a dynasty of hardcore traditional linguists and that the news of her pregnancy seemed even almost a little bit less important because of the stunning experience she had in her first TPRS workshop.


Daniel from China gave us a power workout and he ended with the words: “If you canIMG_1552 dream it, you can achieve it.”

And finally Michael Miller’s traditional slideshow with pictures of the entire week; did we have a good time! And thank you so much Michael, for all the work you did all week and even presenting too! And of course thanks to Lisa Reyes, Carol Sutton, Amanda, Kristen and Thristy and Blaine and Von as our hosts and all of the presenters and coaches and the hospitable hotel!

NTPRS13 – Thursday the 25th of July – Day 4


My breakfast – and no, I don’t eat books for breakfast!

Already back in the Netherlands and it’s only now that I have time and energy to continue to write about the last two days of NTPRS13. Thursday evening we had Openmic night and I went for a swim afterwards, because I really needed to have some physical exercice after sitting for so many hours the whole day and all those days and I also wanted to be outside. (The swimming pool is outside, on the 9th floor).

We really should have more reflection time during NTPRS! Less is more! So much is happening at the same time and of course we want to do as much as possible (which we strictly speaking of course are not obliged to, but we only have this chance once a year… and after travelling so far and so long I don’t want to miss anything…)

Thursday the 25th I first went to ‘Reading Strategies for the Language Classroom’, although I also would have liked to go to Michael Miller’s “TPRS: the next steps“. You can find handouts of Carol’s workshop at the TPRS Publishing site, Freebies – Free downloads, Misc. Handouts,  Novel Novel-activities.

Carol_Reading_Strategies_ntprs13Grand Bryan A was packed ! Because guided reading can become boring, monotonous and predictable, Carol makes reading into a play, .e.g. by using 4 different colour groups and all groups get different tasks during the reading. She uses a laserpointer and it’s NOT just straight reading, but she shouts out colours and they have to perform, and not only going forward but also repeating, answering questions.

She recommends to implement just one fun-technique per week and perhaps wait a while still using them with the lower levels.

Carol told us again a lot about the sportguys she teaches English and with whom she uses a.o. these techniques; and who in fact mostly don’t like to read and don’t read. But this way they do!  Carol puts signs in the text where she wants to ask personnal questions, context questions, cultural comparisons and connections.

Assessments_Scott_Benedict_ntprs13After the morning break I went to ‘Fast and easy speaking & writing assessments‘ by Scott Benedict. Scott has online workshops about assessment at his website Teach for June. He talked about ‘Group Speak'(TM) : small groups tell a story in front of the class, using only group-drawn pictures, using only known vocabulary, multiple sentences. He developed speaking rubrics, in order to assess the students individually. Students are familiar with these rubrics and they get them long before they are assessed, so there are no surprises for them.

He wants the students to feel successful and so the rubrics are called: F = beginner, D = novice, C = intermediate, B = proficient  and A = advanced

He always writes one positive comment on the rubrics and adds one goal for the next time.

Scott also indicated that writing assessements are a pain to grade, but Scott’s secret: he uses the same rubrics as for the speaking assessments, only replacing ‘speaking’ by ‘writing’ and ‘speech’ by ‘spelling’. Scott has his students write every week and he starts with a 10′ timed writing and then it gets less in the year. Goal = 100 comprehensible words in 5′ or less (Scott arrives at it around spring break).

Scott stresses the importance of positive feedback.

Why are Team Speak (TM) and timed writing effective, according to Scott?

  • they are spontanous and not rehearsed
  • it’s fast – the students have them back the next week
  • it’s a quick snap shot of a students ability
  • there’s not time to edit on timed writings

IMG_1334After lunchtime again the choice for me between Micheal’s workshop and ‘Movie Talk‘ by Michele Whaley and Betsy Paskvan. The room was too small for their audience. Lot’s of us were even sitting on the floor!

Movie Talk was started by Ashley Hastings with ESL students and it seems to be 5 times faster than traditional methods.

It’s narration that explains a movie:

  • name objects
  • describe actions
  • explain characters
  • explain their emotions
  • dialogue

A few important points:

* Listening comprehension is a prerequisite for speaking

* Language students cannot speak above their own own comprehension level

IMG_1357I already used Movie Talk once with my CEF level A1 group (then last year’s beginners) and I used the price winning clip ‘Love recipe‘ of 5’ that Kristin Duncan put on her blog. The class and me talked for an hour about it! Lots and lots of PQA and lots to tell about the clip itself too.

Betsy and Michele showed several clips; Michele did it the traditional Movie Talk way with Russian and Betsy showed a TPRS version in Japanese (which I found much more comprehensible; but if you can not use e.g. translation or even written words, then it should be more TPR-like, I suppose).

At the end the showed us : the black hole (Kristin put it at her site too). Betsy and Michele asked us to make a Movie Talk lesson with this film, in groups.

A great workshop, with a good combination of interesting and practical theory, good practice examples and hands-on for the participants. BRAVO Michele and Betsy!


Señor Wooly

After the break I had the difficult task of choosing between ‘Backward planning’ of Carrie Toth and ‘Power PQA‘ by Scott Benedict. I chose the latter. Scott developed Power PQA on the original idea of Ben Slavic of Circling with balls. It’s described in Ben Slavic’s ‘PQA in a wink!’, chapter 2. He does it when a new school year starts. Scott adapted it. He utilizes student-drawn pictures as basis for comprehensible input and to get to know the students. It engages the students

Because there happened to be not much news in it for me, I went to Carrie’s workshop but also to Señor Wooly’s. Being a French teacher there’s not in much in it or me unfortunately, but I like music and songs and I was very curious, because I read and heard so many positive things about him. And it was great! I’m jealous! Of course we French teachers have Alain Le Lait and he is wonderful, but Señor Wooly is even better! How creative! So much humor/humour!


Carrie Toth

From the programm: Backward Planning- Incorporating Culture in the Classroom from End to Beginning  – Carrie Toth: “How can I help my students gain proficiency in the language while drawing on resources available to me through modern technology?  Many teachers ask themselves this question as they try to navigate the waters of language education in the 21st century.  Through  backward planning with Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design, participants will learn how to set appropriate and meaningful goals for their students and then plan the instruction needed to reach them.  Participants will be encouraged to find ways to incorporate culture and technology into the classroom as they design units that will help students achieve not only their language learning goals but greater fluency as well.  Examples will be given in Spanish but will be applicable to all languages.”

I also mentioned it before, I’m using a Multiple Intelligences scheme and that help’s me put in these resources in a really very simple way. It helps me addressing all 8 intelligences as mentioned by Howard Gardner and because of that addressing students ‘as a whole person’. Because TPRS also addresses students as individuals, a persons, as humans, MI and TPRS match very well!


The levels of the coaching stations with their own colours

Today I even went to the coaching session, together with Joyce, also from the Netherlands. You can see how filled this day already was; and then the Open Mic night was yet to come!

We went to a higher level station and we both observed someone teaching and being coached. Then the level changed to a lower level and we changed to a new station and there I asked Gary DiBianca to coach me when I would be teaching Dutch. Because ‘veryfying details’ is something new to me, I decided to be coached on that topic.

I wrote a Dutch structure on the dry erasel paper and several words more, I picked an actor and off we went.

Gary gave me good feedback afterwards and I was allowed to choose a small sticker to stick on my name tag. (He advised me a green one, which matched my clothing ;-).


Giving meaning – “likes”

Because I work a lot with adults, I did not use actors a lot, because I thought they might feel slightly embarrassed by being an actor and being in the limelight. But every time when I’m being taught Russian or Japanese or Chinese or any other language I do not know, I always feel the strength of the visual part of actors, of seeing a story coming alive, in combination with hearing this language in a comprehensible way.

I only went once to the coaching sessions, and that’s not because I think it’s not important, but because I was tired after all those sessions all day. And because there is little time to process everything you’ve heard, which also makes you forget easier.  So I think it would be a good idea if the coaching could be immediately after the workshops and then anouther round of sessions after that. Or even be more integrated in the workshops, like in Von’s & Blaine’s veryfying details workshop or Betsy’s and Michele’s workshop.

Before going to the Open Mic Night Joyce and I went to our favorite restaurant Zenna, (The Tai-Japanese one, where we went to the first night) and we happened to find there lots an lots of colleagues! And not only at this table, but everywhere!


NTPRS13 – Wednesday the 24th of July – day 3

IMG_1200Talked this evening too long with Contee and afterwards with my roommate Michelle. Michelle  showed me all kinds of very interesting websites to use, like Sylvia Duckworth’s Youtube channel for French teachers, Frenchified and Symbaloo, for organizing your preferred internet sites.

If you click the links underneath you’ll open the hand-out that goes with the mentioned workshop.

Went today to the workshop of Lynnette and Carmen about the Upper Level strategies.

If I compare they way my lessons are structured and the way Scott and Lynnette & Carmen do it, I have to say that what they do all fits in my “Multiple Intelligences scheme”. When Susan Gross saw it last year, she said “she does not like boxes”, but to me they are a help to have everything I do at a glance which helps me in fact to think OUT OF the box & the circle ;-). I’ll post this scheme later on. I noticed Gary also likes boxes and I like his boxes 😉 See his Advanced structures hand-out.

During lunchtime Stephen Krashen did his keynote talk and it’s always interesting and funny what he has to say.




Row, row, row your boat

Went to the afternoon part of Michele’s and Laurie’s literacy c.q. embedded readingsworkshop I enjoyed how they had us sing ‘Row. row your boat’ in groups and the group you see right above this words made a gorgeous boat as a form of great group work! Also the part where we learned Russian from Michele with the mice-actors. It’s the story of Susan Gross of the Back to school night ; see “Thursday night”

I was two years ago in Michele’s and Laurie’s embedded reading workshop, and it was good, but in these two years it has even improved to much a higher level! That’s the incredible thing about TPRS; it’s good, but it keeps getting better; also the conferences!


Mamamouse (left) and children mice (right)

The last sesion of this afternoon for me was Scott’s Culture pop-ups workshop. He had beautiful photo’s in his PowerPoint. Culture always play a very important role in my lessons, because a language can not exist without the cultural background. With my adult students every week we taste some French specialty (or a specialty from a French speaking country), and it can be something we drink, a vegetable, a sweet, cookies, herbs, herbal tea, spices,a special dish etc. etc. I always have a PowerPpout nthat goes woth it with authentic language and that can vary from the opening hours from a musee to the percentages concerning the use of a certain beverage to a poem to a song etc. etc.


Culture pop-up, Scott Benedict

NTPRS13 – Tuesday the 23rd of July – day 2


Von verifying a detail with Linda

Today I went to the workshop of Von and Blaine, ‘Verifying and dramatizing‘. This new feature of TPRS I missed last year, because Bryce Hedstrom and I were doing at the same moment the Going Slowly workshop. So I was really curious how and what ‘Verifying and dramatizing’ is, because I heard many positive things about it, also from my roommate Michelle Kindt (one of the coaches and she is the coach who is working together with Von and Blaine in ‘Verifying and dramatizing’). Last week she worked for three days with Blaine in a workshop and there he used German and although Michelle never practiced speaking German in this workshop herself, she nevertheless knew it all afterwards and she was amazed and even admitted she had been skeptical about this feature of having the actors giving output so early in the process, but it turned out to be very benificial.


Linda verifying a detail with Zach

Von started with an explanation how to work with actors and how you talk to them and verify details with them and then ask questions to the class about what they just heard about the actor. E.g. Teacher: Are you a girl? Actor: Yes, I am a girl. You ask the class for new details about the actor, because the collective knows more than the individual, so personalization goes through the class and not the actor. Von also said: Comprehension is the tip of the iceberg and the goal is speaking with confidence. The idea is new for us TPRS teachers to insist on production.

After talking for a while with class and actors you add another character and you start doing the same things as you did with the first actor, but you also start comparing them to the class.

Blaine: “Dialogue is so powerful! Don’t circle dialogue, move from the dialogue to the class.”

Von: “Working with actors and having dialogues between teacher and actors gives maximum visibility and it’s very entertaining.”

After the theoretical explanation and Von’s German demo (and later Blaine’s German demo) we practiced several times in small groups of three, where one of us was the teacher, one was ‘the class’ and one was the actor and later the actors (the hand was the other actor and ‘talked’. We switched roles about every 10 minutes in order that everyone could practice as much as possible. Tomorrow I’m going to practice it again in the coaching workshop. I think it’s a very interesting skill and I never knew very well what to do with the actors and with dialogues, but this really made it clear!


A Wordle of ‘Agentes secretos’ by Mira Canion

After lunch and the second part of our ‘Verifying and dramatizing workshop’ I went the session of Mira Canion ‘Reading strategies and materials’. She wrote several Spanish and French novels which contain tons of cultural aspects. She has many wonderful ideas how to make students want to read books, by making them curious to the subject. You can find Mira’s downloads at the resources page at her site ‘Mira Canion’.

Mira has so many good ideas about reading and she can think so well on her feet that it’s a great pleasure to be in her session. I’m already looking forward to Mira’s contribution to the open mic night!


Other teachers writing about NTPRS 2013:

Michael Miller : http://www.charoylee.com/Charo_y_Lee/NTPRS_2013/NTPRS_2013.html

Bess : http://mmehayles.blogspot.com/

Haiyun : She writes detailed reflections on the workshops she has attended.
1. on Coaching for Coaches:

2. on verifying details with Blaine and Von.


Another overview of the blogs above by Dick Detwiler: http://moretprs.wikispaces.com/NTPRS+2013

NTPRS13 – Monday 22nd of July – the first day

IMG_0931NTPRS 2013 started this morning! There were some technical problems and so we started a bit later. It was great to be there together again and to listen to Blaine and to Lisa’s enthousiastic openingwords. Lisa o.a. introduced the workshop presenters and the coaches. At the end they showed us the countries where all the participants come from and Lisa said it should in fact become an ITPRS in future. From Europe there were participants from Germany, the Netherlands and from Spain.

IMG_1001The first workshop I went to was the workshop of Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido : “Thinking on your feet”. They are a good team and always have higly interesting and inspiring workshops which are very well structured and have a good pacing and they are ‘compelling’ and they teach what they preach: “the brain craves novelty” and that’s what they take care of, not only in their lessons but also in their workshops. Carol calls the pacing something like “ebb and flow”, but I always call it “breathing in and out”. A lesson need variation between acitivity and rest.

This year the beginners learn how to TPRS and in the meantime they learn Russian from Katya Paukova and Donna Tatum. The advanced workshops are this year on three mornings instead of the four of last year, which I think is a pity, because now I have to choose between two workshops which I’d like to do both, but if it had been four days, I could have done both… New is also that the workshops take all morning and a part of the afternoon, which gave us more time to practice also ourselves. I liked it very much we had to discuss in Carol’s and Kristy’s wokshop in small groups which structures we would use for movie talk with a very funny film about a lady how is flirting with guys in a lunchcorner and how we would make a lesson out of it. This kind of thing we should do more often!

IMG_0971TPRS thrives on problems and today we started with a technical problem and during the lunch we had a problem of another order: our keynote speaker Dr Stephen Krashen had forgotten he had to take the airplane to go to Dallas… But now technics came to our help and we could follow his speech in the big room where we were having lunch, because he was sitting behind a webcam and we could see his face bigger than life on three big screens. Nevertheless, technics was not infallible. The sound was not too good, so unfortunately it was difficult to understand his speech very well…

IMG_1016After the teabreak I went to Contee’s workshop about TPR and he talked about some theoretical concepts and also did TPR with us and had Charlotte Dincher do TPR in German. We flew to the park and to Best Buy. Contee also showed the three ring circus of Berty Segal. She did a workshop about it at iFLT and you can find the hand-out at the TPRS Publishing website in the free download section – see the 3. Wed-Fri workshops – page 21 up to and including page 30.

After the sessions we could go to the coaching sessions, but Charlotte and I helped Contee to set up his table in the exhibitors room, so tomorrow I’ll go to the coaching room! There is also at least one self-coaching group that’s even coaching themselves in the evening! How about being enthousiastic!


NTPRS13 – preconference coaching-for-coaches workshop

Kristin en Michele als docent en coach

Kristin as a teacher and Michele as a coach of the coach

Today was the preconference coaching for coaches workshop. We were with a nice group and had lots of coaches. The coaches will also be coaching during NTPRS, so we were also a bit the guinea pigs for the coaches. But they also had to learn us how to coach. So it had many layers.

Lizette Liebold and Teri Wiechart organised the coaching for coaches session and they both did the introduction and then we quickly split up in homogenous language groups. So I was in the French group with Sabrina (French but living in the US), like Bernard (who was also in our group), Kristin from Canada, Joyce from the Netherlands, like me and our coaches were Michele Kindt and Janet Holzer, both French teachers in the US. There were also a Spanish teachers group, an English one and a Mandarin group.

NTPRS13_coaching_stationsDuring NTPRS the coaching will be organized in a new way and our workshop was a reflection of it.  There will be four possible coaching stations, with four different levels of mastering of TPRS skills and the stations have four different colours:
blue = novice skill A : “preparing for the journey”
orange = novice skill B : “taking the first steps”
green = apprentice skill C : “movin’ on down the road”
pink = expert skill : “overcoming personal roadblocks and detours”

After the introduction and features of coaching, all of the groups practiced four times, and each time it had to do with one of these stations.

Each part consisted of:

  1. demo and explanation of skill in a large group
  2. work in small coaching group with coaches learning how to coach the skill
  3. debrief in large group – tips for coaching it

IMG_0916At the end there were some final thoughts and questions. I think it was a very interesting workshop and I also see that with TPRS we are still developing things to make it more clear and to help teachers to use it with more ease and we’re all searching how to do it, because for a lot of people it’s not so obvious what to do.

Because TPRS is a skill, it needs practice, preferably in a real life situation. Those situations are reflected in the coaching sessions. A very important thing about the coaching is, that the teachers needs to feel  safe! So the mission statement of the NTPRS coaches has to do with that. See the picture on the left.

During our teabreak we registered for NTPRS13 and we received our programm, which will start tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock with an opening session.

After our workshop there were still rows of people who were registering and I saw a young woman and I thougt it could be Charlotte Dincher from Germany and I watched her nametag and yes! it was her! I wrote about her (in Dutch) on the blogpost of April 30 2013 . She started TPRS Germany. It was nice to finally meet after our emails. We talked for a while and we already wrote each other before, that it was a strange thought that our countries are neighbours and that we would meet so far away from them!


NTPRS13 Dallas – almost there ! Follow on this blog my notes about it

It’s almost NTPRS-time! Tomorrow, Sunday will start the TPRS coaching-for-coaches workshop. I’ll write here about NTPRS 2013 in Dallas and I’ll write it in English, in order that non-Dutch speaking readers can also follow it.

Today I’ll write about my travel and the people i met so far.

2013-07-19 20.05.05Yesterday I left from Schiphol Amsterdam airport and when boarding I happened to see colleague Joyce van Ruiten, who works for the International School in Amsterdam; recently as a french teacher in primary school and next year as a Dutch-as-a-second language teacher in secondary school and she works for TPRS Nederland as a trainer. I didn’t know Joyce was going, so it was a nice surprise !  Like me she will also go the coaching for coaches session tomorrow and it was really a coincidence we happened to have the same flight! We had a good flight; only Joyce got a problem with her left ear when we were landing and she started to have earpain. We arrived at the expected time in Dallas and under a grey sky and with some raindrops we arrived in a SuperShuttle at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Downtown.

My roommate Amanda Damon for this night already arrived – we unfortunately missed each other at the airport. Customs always takes a lot of time:  waiting in a big hall in a very, very, very long row and when it’s your turn handle in the documents, the making of a picture of your face, of your fingers of both hands and thumbs, answering questions about your stay etc. There was kind of a march music in the hall, probably to keep everybody awake and the officers keen but it made me nervous. This year I had a direct flight and so no new ‘body & things’ control again, which was quite a relief. It takes so much time waiting with hunderds of people and having everything checked.

2013-07-19 20.03.56

Vermoeide Joyce achter een heerlijke curry; op de voorgrond mijn mega-bowl

Amanda left a message for me at the frontdesk, which I only found much later by coincidence. Joyce had a room at the same floor as us and after taking a shower the two of us went for a stroll  downtown. It was quite warm outside; the rainclouds had gone and it was sunny. We wanted to stay awake until about 9 o’clock PM local time – a 7 hour difference with the Netherlands. Joyce’s earpain got worse, but fortunately we happened to pass by an enormous pharmacy near the hotel where she bought something to relief her earpain. Today it was already better, but she still felt there is something pressing in her ear.

Yesterday evening we walked to Westend, whith all it’s restaurants and we chose a Japanese/Thai restaurant; a special combination! In the meantime for us is was about 2 o’clock at night, so we were rather tired. We both ordered one dish and mine was incredibly big. After the waiter had brought it, I made a gesture as if I would dive in the huge bowl to take a swim in it. It was a delicious refreshing soup, with the sour taste of lemongrass and lots of crunchy vegetables.

We went back to the hotel and I plumped down on the bed; some time later Amanda arrived and now i know she is a Spanish teacher who teaches in boarding school and last schoolyear was her first year over there. She is one of the persons who are helping Lisa Reyes and Carol Sutton with the organisation.

I already awoke at 4.45 AM this morning, but somehow I fell asleep again and awoke at 8.13 AM again! That was quite a miracle. I must really have been tired… Joyce had been awake for hours and skyped with home, wtached television, looked up information on the internet about airplaine-pain-ears..

This morning I met Lisa and Carol just when they were leaving breakfast to start the preparations for today. Joyce and I went downtown again and visited town hall and again the pharmacy and a mega-expensive store, where they sell super expensive shoes, clothing etc.

I tried to put Whatsapp at my computer, because that’s seems to be the way to communicate with my son. I also succeeded to install it, but now I have to find out how it works…

To be continued