SL, continued

It was such a pleasure to teach the adults the other night that when we were done with testing the other day, I asked the kids if they would help me videotape the language orientation of an SL lesson. We used a couple of sentences from a book that we’ve finished lately. They know the context, and they’ve read it fairly quickly, but I liked the way these sentences supported the “world” of the text and reflected what the hero had just experienced.

I’m going to put it up in ten-minute sections, posting it onto MSU Clear. I use their (free) Rich Internet Applications for Language Learning. Here’s the first ten-minute segment. I started to get the hang of adding subtitles by the end of the first part.

I forgot a few things. First of all, I didn’t have a copy for the kids to annotate, and I didn’t have some key words on the board. And I realized by watching this how messy my room is!!

Megan, are you reading this? If so, could you comment? I know you don’t know Russian, but you do know SL a lot better than I do.

When I watched this segment, I was struck by how reticent most of the kids were to begin with. By the end of the lesson, they had gained a lot of confidence, and they were answering together.

Part 2 (you have to click on the subtitle name to see the subtitles). By the beginning of this part, all the kids are answering together. It’s a big difference from the beginning of the last segment.

6 responses to “SL, continued

  1. I thought of yet another issue…in all, we spent 27 minutes on this pair of sentences. Any SL folks out there…please comment. Is this going to run my kids into the ground? How long do you typically allot during the course of a lesson to this kind of content?

    Usually what happens is I use it for really wonderful sentences that come up in the course of our reading, and it takes several days to mix it in with everything else we’re doing.


  2. I asked Susie Gross to watch part of this, and she cautioned me…said that it sounds good, but wanted me to remember that the most important thing is to talk with the kids comprehensibly in the language to get them to acquire it; for that we need nothing special and no tricks. I am going to keep remembering her wisdom! She also said that we all need to be using authentic texts as we get into upper levels, and that seems to me to be the place where this method is critical, in tandem with embedded reading.


  3. Michele,
    I don’t really understand Scaffolding Literacy yet but I am impressed with what I see happening in your class room! The kids seems very engaged and comfortable with expressing themselves and answering your questions. You can never go wrong with Susie’s advice but don’t doubt yourself and the wonderful job you have done (as I doubt myself I guess!)! My highest level class is only second year due to the configuration at our school and I never feel that I get to the point I want to get to with my kids. I just love to hear kids speaking the language so well and so confidently.
    Bravo and thanks for sharing. It’s really helpful to see other teachers in action!


    • Believe me, I don’t understand it very well yet either! I’m just hoping I’m representing the method in a way that is close to correct. I have found that my kids grow by leaps and bounds when I use it, and the effects last.

      Today I took those kids through word analysis, and Monday we’ll get to Patterned Writing.


  4. I understand what Susie is saying. In terms of language acquisition, she is spot on.

    However, it sounds to me that you have dual objectives in your classroom: language acquisition AND literacy skills acquisition (compounded by students needing proficiency with the Cyrillic alphabet). If that is the case, and you are aware of when, why, etc. you are spending time on literacy skills, AND you have decided how much time you want to spend on literacy skills activities, that awareness should be enough to guide you.

    I think the danger comes when we do a bunch of “good activities” in our classes and haven’t looked at our overreaching goals. I do appreciate her caution in this area. It is so easy to start rushing downstream with the current and forget to give that “critical” look at our goals, etc.


    • Jody, it helps a lot to hear this. It is true that our FL department keeps explaining to the powers above that we are supporting literacy goals in the rest of the school, and I think that could be the one thing that saves us as the budget gets chopped. When I started using SL, it was actually the first time that I understood how to share with kids what the pieces of a sentence do to convey meaning. It seems so obvious I start breaking it down which words give us the overview, which ones add details, and what kinds of information those details give us.

      The “cycle” of exercises in SL reaches the kids with reading issues as well as the kids who want to be able to “chew” on the language. And then, I guess that the narrow focus for a while on just one piece of text means that I follow that TPRS rule of limiting vocabulary.

      But even if an “activity” follows part of the TPRS rules, looking at my classroom goals and allocating classroom time appropriately is a great way to make sure I’m on track. Whenever I am learning something new, the danger is that I focus too much on that skill and either kill it with enthusiasm, or overuse it to the detriment of the learning process.

      I’m going to go take a look at the articles you posted! Thanks!


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