iFLT15 St Paul – The first day – Tuesday the 14th of July

IMG_3402Today iFLT15 started in Tartan High School in St Paul, Minnesota. How great to meet so many nice colleagues again and to be able to talk together ‘life’!

Carol opened the conference and then Darcy Pippins told about the succes of her students at the AP exams. The worry of a lot of teachers concerning TPRS is: will the students meet the requirements? Darcy showed that her students did very well at the AP exams, without any verb charts or whatsoever.

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Then Kristy Placido and Carrie Toth talked about Global competences through service learning. They told that lathough they’re living far away form each other they’re cooperating a lot and that their students are in contact with each other. They promoted cooperating with other colleagues.

They talked about their cultural units and how they backward plan them and how they try to find people in their town who can make it more personal.

They’re teaching in rural areas where the students don’t see the need for world languages and like most adolescents are mainly focused on themselves and so Kristy and Carrie tried to make the students aware of their own power: “What can I do to make a difference?”

IMG_3433Activities Kristy and Carrie performed are Kids helping kids by raising money and with this money helping other kids in Spanish speaking countries to be able to go to school (Kristy) and a Spanish snackshop (Carrie) and the money they raise with the snackshop goes as donations to different projects. They talked about microfinancing at Kiva.org, loans that change lives. Empower people around the world with a $25 loan (I wrote about this last year too, when I was in the workshop of Leslie Davison; I wanted to use it last year and I looked up things for Frenchspeaking countries, but finallly I did not use it in class and I definitely want to use it next school year). All this was done to raise the awareness of the students of important things outside  their own lives and towns and that it’s useful to be able to communicate in another language and to know about other cultures and how you can make a change by acting.

IMG_3434I was happy to hear what I also always say: “With TPRS we’re trying to break down the idea that only a few students can learn a second language: everybody can do it. anyone can learn a (second, third, fourth etc) language if there’s no brain deficiency.”

They also gave some practical tips. I liked the “Wordle battle” Carrie mentioned: you make a wordcloud at Wordle.net of a song you’re going to use in class. You work in pairs and you give each student one wordle. You start the song and the students have to encircle a word when they hear it in the song. The one who has the most encicrled words wins.

IMG_3442Carol showed the reading action chain. 5 persons had received a small piece of paper and on it was written a sentence. They had to show the sentence – withhout telling it – and they could use dialogues. We had to guess what was written and give a chorus answer. With it Carol had written an UNparallel story : more details to the story, which gave e.g. information about the way things were said, or why or how.

Unparallel_Story_Tarzan_Jane_GaabAfter the lunch break Carol Gaab did the session for the experienced TPRS teachers. She talked about and showed examples of staying in flow with CI Strategies, differentiated instruction. How do you create & keep input comprehensible and compelling? Define – Refine – Combine.

High frequency vocabulary, relative to your students needs & interests, situationally appropriate vocabulary. Content based CI.

Carol showed a lot of examples of what she does with the baseball players she’s teaching. She can not do plain stories with them; she adapts what she does with them; somehow it made me think of the traditional way of teaching. It’s the repetition that counts and the way you can keep your students interested, although you’re repeating.

Days 1 – 4 – Beginning Workshop Handouts
Day 1 – Afternoon Experienced Workshop Handout

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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!