La historia oficial

I am copying this from a comment that I made on Martina Bex’s blog: The Comprehensible Classroom

This is my brief history with TPRS and the transition to the textbook.

Hello! I am a former TPRS teacher and now a Realidades teacher (desafortunadamente- and I only say this because of the lack of results I am having with Realidades). I am working on bringing back TPRS into my curriculum. I am not the only Spanish teacher in my district (there are approximately 6 of us) and our district has adopted Realidades as our curriculum. We also have to give common assessments (final exams) that are the same across the district. These common assessments are currently 200 question scantron-type exams with about 50% vocabulary matching, 30% vocabulary and grammar use with multiple choice questions, and 20% reading and listening comprehension. This is my big hesitation/ roadblock because I know that my students are all required to take this exam and my evaluation is tied to their scores. I feel that they could be very successful with the vocabulary portion because it is very easy for most students. The multiple choice questions are more difficult. I think what Martina said about picking the most important, high-frequency vocabulary words and structures from each chapter is the key and then giving the kids the rest of the vocabulary to “memorize.” To be honest, the current method for teaching vocabulary in our department is to give the students the list on day one of the new chapter, translate the list to English, talk about the vocabulary words and structures, then start quizzing (translate from English to Spanish then Spanish to English). The words are drilled everyday orally and through rote practice like crossword puzzles, textbook activities, etc. The kids who “do school well” have them down in 2 days while the others never quite get there, which means KWDSW are bored for about 2 weeks and the rest dread the vocabulary quizzes. Ugh! Not a pretty situation for anyone involved. I would appreciate ANY and ALL ideas you folks have!

Also, just to be clear- I am not trying to minimize or discredit the curriculum and the hard work of my colleagues. I am just looking for ways to improve upon our curriculum. I think this is an essential part of education- reflecting and looking for ways to improve what you are doing with the goal of student success!

Martina- your site is absolutely fantastic and it is so awesome to have a virtual PLC thanks to modern technology.

First Week of School

I have developed a loose plan for how I will begin the first couple of weeks of school borrowed and based on the ideas of many talented teachers and teacher blogs out there:

Carol Gaab’s 2 week lesson plan is found here:

-Using her basic format for starting with the TPRS lessons and blending with my Realidades TPRS book so that I can cover the stuff that will be on the common assessment in our district as well (200 question scantron vocabulary matching and multiple choice).

The Comprehensible Classroom found here:

-I like her ideas for seating charts and pairing kids up into random groups later on.

Profa Baro’s Interactive Notebooks (yay, no more binders that fall apart) found here:
-I am totally going to try this out for next year with my Spanish 2 and 3 classes.

Also, I am going to give Standards-Based Grading using ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines a go for next year. See this chart created by Martina Bex found here:

I am poring over Profa Baro’s Curriculum ideas because her stuff is so well organized and she rocks the Interactive Notebooks. I will definitely be referencing her stuff a lot as well as Kristy Placido and Martina Bex. I hope that my curriculum in the end truly becomes my “own” and I know that I have some excellent master teachers to look up to for guidance in that goal.

Rethinking World Language Education

As we are quickly approaching the end of another school year, I have been doing some serious reflecting on my practices over the last nine (wow) years.

Basically, when I was hired to teach world languages about 10 years ago, my department was implementing the TPRS methodology of Blain Ray. This was incredibly interesting and was a lot of work over the past 6-8 years. Now, we are using the Realidades textbook series.

So, here are the problems that I can see at this point:
1) All student in Michigan are required to take 2 years of the same world language in order to graduate.
2) We have a lot of variety now when it comes to student learning, interests, background, etc.
3) I find it difficult to differentiate with a textbook that many students perceive to be deadly boring- they can learn vocabulary like there is no tomorrow but can they actually COMMUNICATE- not so sure on that piece.
4) We can’t scrap a program that we just put in place and are still writing curriculum for as we speak.

What is a teacher to do (especially one who has flirted with TPRS/CI and can see its benefits and disadvantages)?
1) READ, READ, and READ some more blogs by the talented teachers out there like Carol Gaab, Kristy Placido, Crystal Barragan, and many others.
2) Formulate some plans this summer to help blend the two together.
3) Also kick around the idea of Standards-Based Grading and Proficiency Assessments.

My question to the readers is, “Do you currently use Realidades and CI-Style Methods together? If so, how did you start the blend?”

I am not a new TPRS person and my personality is well-suited to it. Moreover, I love being able to shake things up and show kids the interesting parts of language learning.

Not finished yet with this post but this is a start. Help me if you can!!