I’m posting this so as not to lose it.Thanks for the suggestion, Jody!

Diana is going to sent out an e-mail of the ideas from yesterday, but I wanted to share this first. I’ll post any e-mail she sends in the comments.

It was fabulous to get together with a bunch of colleagues at this stress-filled time of the year. We spent time talking about frustrations and brainstorming ways to reel in the non-performers and to re-run all the structures that some kids hadn’t “got” yet. Then we talked about who’s doing what for finals. Finally, I threw myself into being coached and taught a song but forgot to do what I said I wanted to work on. That was dumb. Luckily Betsy was there and took over as a coach.

Anne talked about hearing a “chant and rhythm” group at ACTFL, so Yan got up to do a chant in Chinese with us. Wow! That was powerful! As Diana said, it was the clearest Chinese we’d ever heard! What was truly amazing about it was how Yan used her whole body to dance out the rhythm, and how much that helped us get the sounds. Then Betsy shared a grammar gesture “battle” she’d learned about, and we got those Japanese phrases down lickety split. I got inspired by all of this and practiced a chant to teach a difficult line from the Russian translation of “Jingle Bells.” When we sang it, the whole group boomed out that line. Again, I felt the power of the rhyme and chant combination. Yan had done it with snaps, and she changed the rhythm pattern up part-way through. I wasn’t having much success, at first, but then changed to fit the rhythm of the song, and that’s when it really clicked.

Anne shared a structured sharing that I thought would be good for Mondays. It went something like this: I was at (x) on (x) and guess who I saw! (Class says Who?) I saw (x). (Class says Ohhh.) S/he looked really (x). (Class says Why?) Sample: I was at Maxim’s on Saturday night. I saw Britney Spears. She looked really sad. She had just broken up with…

Then obviously a story could start–Anne suggested that it could be a way to start some gossip.

2 responses to “Coaching/Ideas

  1. Michele,
    How lucky you are to have such a great group of colleagues! I am in the process of helping one of my two dept. colleagues to do CI/TPRS. I’m happy and proud of her for being willing to jump into doing this (with only a one day workshop with Carol as her basis) but I feel a little like I have to keep myself afloat while making sure she doesn’t drown or give up! Are you at a big school or did you organize some kind of area wide support group? You are so good with people and organization!

    I’m trying to figure out what “Then Betsy shared a grammar gesture “battle” she’d learned about” means. “Grammar gesture battle?” Can you clarify?

    Our snow melted two weeks ago but I like your “snow” on the web page here!
    Thanks for sharing all that you do!


  2. Hi Ruth,

    I am indeed very lucky. Two and a half years ago now, after I’d read Ben and tried out some TPRS, I found out that another Russian teacher in town had been to a Von Ray workshop. We sent out a message and found three other people who were interested. The first meeting was very tentative, but we were happy to have someone to talk to. Corinne came up to do a presentation for our AFLA conference, and ended up keynoting on TPRS at the last minute, so we continued and built up strength by inviting other teachers once a month. We had some Skype presentations from Susie, Ben, Piedad, Scott, Terry and others. Three of us went to NTPRS. Then we wrote a syllabus for a university class to explore TPRS over the course of last year, but that was just so that people could have extra reason to come — our monthly meetings were still open. Katya came up twice–partly for our Russian immersion school parents, and partly for a demo. Blaine came up once, and taught a bunch of folks for three days. Last summer about eight of us attended various conferences. This year, we had Susie and Laurie for AFLA, and added a great Alaskan TPRS teacher, Abby Augustine to the mix. We have continued a one-credit course this fall, and now we’ll go back to regular monthly (no-credit) meetings for the spring. We applied for a grant to allow teacher observations and to buy some more materials. Keep your fingers crossed for us! “We” are now a group of about 75 teachers, all of whom participate to a certain degree in sharing and teaching with TPRS. (None of the other language teachers at my high school are interested in TPRS particularly. There is one teacher at my middle school, and he brought a French program from 13 kids last year to over 60 this year with his TPRS fun. But now he’s too busy to come to meetings!)

    I’ll try to explain Betsy’s grammar battle. She put up two complex structures, taught each group to pronounce one of them, then told us we had to come up with gestures to match them and prepare to do them for the “rest of the class.” It was rather like chanting in that then we had to say the phrase in unison as a group, facing the other group, meanwhile gesturing. Then she “directed” us to say the phrase to the other group, making us be louder and softer.

    Maybe someone else knows what I’m talking about and can comment a little more completely. It’s hard to explain it, just having participated one time. Maybe I’ll ask her to correct this version of her presentation.


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