NTPRS14 Chicago – The First Day – Monday the 21rst of July

Blaine Ray, Lisa ReyesThis morning at 8 o’clock started NTPRS14 in the Sheraton in Lisle, Illinois. We gathered in the ballroom and Lisa Reyes opened NTPRS14. Blaine did a few words and Lisa presented all the teams and all countries and US-regions had to stand up in order to show with how many they were. The big group from Turkey is also present at NTPRS.

This year NTPRS has special workshops for :

  • the beginning TPRS teachers,
  • The intermediate TPRS teachers
  • the advanced TPRS teachers

So there is one level more: the intermediate TPRS teachers. The advanced workshop has, unlike last year, one presenter and the intermediates also have one presenter, one of which is my roommate Michelle Kindt. The workshops are longer now: there’s a part in the morning and a part in the afternoon.

Carol GaabI first went to the workshop by Carol Gaab: Reading, an advanced workshop. Carol’s workshops are always a delight to attend. They have a lot of variation, you learn a lot of interesting tips and tricks and they’re fun. I made a lot of notes and hope to use it all the coming schoolyear. See the link for her hand-out.

Diana NoonanDuring the lunch, Diana Noonan held her keynote speech. She told that she’s not the type for speeching and that she didn’t want to do it, but finally she gave in. She told us how she got into contact with TPRS and how she introduced it in her district. She started small, one teacher at a time. She invited a lot of TPRS presenters.  The teachers can choose if they come to the professional or not. The next piece was assessment, because you have to prove that you are improving the students. They had funds and the teachers came together and started writing.  They have the data: thousands of students did the tests. Diana filmed 9 teachers and put it on Schooltube. Teachers ahve to be able to observe each other. At the end Diana gave the message: Do what you know what is best for kids. If  you meet roadblocks, remember (she finished with a cute video): “don’t stop, don’t give up, keep trying, keep trying (sung by of a cute little girl).

After lunch Carol’s workshop continued and besides new tips and tricks she also gave us pages from TPRS novels in order to prepare a readers theater lesson.

Gary DiBiancaAfter Carol’s session I went to Gary DiBianca: Big picture planning: how to use CI to make meaningful; units filled with content and culture. He gave an overview of backward planning, how to reflect on personal and professional passions to engage students, how to present so that students acquire, learn and manipulate language. He gave the ACTFL 5 C’s: Communication, Connections, Culture, Community, Comparisons. He adviced to make cross connections within your lessons and units – do not isolate them.

What’s your students base knowledge in and with the target language? How do you adapt or retool your in-class target language usage? Is it all comprehensible? How do you organize instruction/content/language?

What is your passion that you could share as a teacher? CONNECTIONS. Think about “Teach like a pirate” by Dave Burgess, who mentions 3 passions.

At 6 there were two showcases by Blaine Ray and Michael Miller and after it a research masterclass, I’d have loved to attend to them, but I was too tired to attend.  It was a long day already…




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 – 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

#NTPRS 2013 – 22/7 t/m 26/7 2013

Het is alweer mogelijk om je in te schrijven voor NTPRS 2013! Dit jaar in Dallas, van maandag 22 juli t/m vrijdag 26 juli. Op zondag 21 juli is er een pre-conference coaching dag (om te leren hoe je TPRS docenten kunt coachen).

Hier vind je meer informatie en kun je je online inschrijven.

Via het Europees Platform bestaat er een mogelijkheid om een tegemoetkoming in de kosten te krijgen.


#NTPRS12 – vrijdag 27 juli 2012 – filmpje

Het zit er alweer op! We zijn zelfs alweer thuis, na een inspannende en leerzame week.

Hieronder een compilatie in chronologische volgorde van foto’s en filmpjes die de onvolprezen Michael Miller elke NTPRS weer samenstelt. (Hij is de auteur van de TPR/S lesboeken Sabine und Michael en van Caro y Lee en tijdens NTPRS is hij de technische man; dit jaar geen workshops voor hem, want het werd té veel om allemaal samen te doen).

We kregen deze compilatie te zien aan het einde van de heerlijke lunch die we na de laatste workshops op vrijdag kregen voorgeschoteld. Maar eerst kreeg Susan Gross nog een grote kunstwerk-wereldbol als afscheidscadeau omdat ze met pensioen gaat, spraken Blaine Ray en Contee Seely en de vertegenwoordigster van Panama nog een woordje en hield Donna Tatum een slot-speech waarbij ze TPRS’en vergeleek met surfen achter de jetstream van een boot en de verschillende stijlen die je bij beide kunt hebben.


#NTPRS12 – donderdag 26 juli 2012

Vanochtend hebben Bryce en ik voor de laatste keer onze workshop The art and Genius of Going Slowly gedaan. Elke keer was hij weer anders en elke groep was ook weer anders. De laatste groep kregen we de meeste complimenten, maar toen hadden we ook het meest aan kunnen passen.

Tussen de middag hadden we een bijeenkomst met alle duo;s. Susan werd en beetje emotioneel toen ze de aftrap moest geven; tenslotte is dit de laatste keer dat ze aan de conferentie meedoet en met pensioen gaat.  Ik had verwacht dat alle duo’s zouden vertellen hoe het de afgelopen dagen gegaan was, maar iedereen begon meteen met het opnoemen van tips voor verbetering voor volgend jaar. Misschien vanwege tijdsgebrek , omdat er ook alweer ’s middags sessies gegeven moesten worden. Het bleek dat we ons hadden kunnen linken aan een coach; dat had ik afgelopen zondag niet begrepen toen er over de coaches gepraat werd. Dat had ik wel gewild! Ik geloof dat alleen Scott en Carol dat gedaan hebben en dat die zelfs wel twee coaches hadden. Maar die moesten ook bij de beginners zijn, dus er waren ook weer niet heel veel coaches beschikbaar. Susan vertelde dat zij bij de elementary teachers – de basisschoolleerkrachten –  hen Skip heeft gecoacht bij contrastive grammaer, de nieuwe naam voor grammar pop-ups. Skip werd steeds door Susan gecoacht, maar nu dus door de hele groep en hij deed alles ‘fout’ in hun ogen. Zo zou een basisschoolleerkracht dat niet (kunnen) doen! De evaluatie was achteraf geweldig. Dit was de beste sessie geweest voor hen, zelfs ‘beter dan Carol Gaab’! De goeroe op dit gebied (én vele andere). Ze tweet veel over TPRS en nu ook over de #NTPRS12. Evenals haar duo-partner Kristy Placido.

Ik was gistermiddag in een workshop van Kristy en het was afgeladen vol. Heel veel praktische tips over hoe je internet e.d. in kunt zetten in je TPRS lessen, maar ook hoe je (semi) authentieke boekjes en verhalen kunt lezen. Heel interessante workshop, alleen de vorm had van mij wat gelikter gemogen. Daarna ben ik naar de workshop van Lisa Reyes gegaan, over het gebruik van liedjes in de (Spaanse) TPRS les. Die had een nog veel grotere zaal afgeladen vol.  Ik denk dat er wel meer dan 100 aanwezigen waren. Zij heeft in de loop der jaren 45 liedjes TPRS-lesklaar gemaakt en ze liet zien wat, hoe en waarom ze dat gedaan had. Ze doet in een week elke dag hetzelfde liedje als ‘bell-ringer’, opwarmertje voor de les en aan het einde krijgen de leerlingen het bijbehorende clipje te zien (mits aanwezig). Elke dag krijgen ze bepaalde oefeningen te maken en de laatste dag krijgen ze een test erover.