NTPRS13 – Thursday the 25th of July – Day 4

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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 ;-).

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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!

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