Blaine’s new twist again+Michael Miller

(Michael Miller’s name is spelled differently somehow. I will eventually fix it.)

I think I mentioned that Michael opened up a world to me that I hadn’t ever considered at NTPRS this year. He basically doesn’t do stories with his middle school kids. He offers a concept, develops it, PQA’s it with kids, and then travels into the culture with it. An example this summer was “plate.” [This is already different from what I do; I use verb phrases.] He asked kids what was on their plates, so they all had imaginary plates. Then he asked what would be on their plates for different meals. From there, he went into what would be on a German’s plate for a typical breakfast/dinner/lunch.

I decided to do a lot more “real” stuff this year, mixing that with a few goofy parallel stories.

Add that to the Blaine technique, in which the teacher interviews a student in present tense, verifies the information with the kid (who is answering in full sentences in present tense), and then tells the class the story about the kid in past tense, with either perfective or imperfective verbs depending on the story line. The teacher tells some of the story in reported speech too.

I am having a bit of a tough time keeping all these balls of talking to the kids in the air, but I know I can get better at it with time. I am finding out about different kids and what their issues are. We had one kid today who felt sad, and while we haven’t figured out why, he is already able to answer that he is sad because something is missing. And the class is able to tell that he was feeling sad.

And…I did speak in English to explain to the groups that this is a change in format, but that it seems to work pretty well. We’ll be trying to deal with these new structures all week long, and I’m hoping that by the end of the week, they will feel pretty comfortable with them. One thing I can say for sure is that it might just take a lot longer to work through any one structure. My plan in the old days was to do the present-tense form and then a retell in past tense, and then go on. Now I think I’m trying to have them really get the structure, and the more advanced they are, the more they’re going to get out of the many uses of the verb.

The results seem already to be coming in. I wrote about the kid “Jay” who lived in a city yesterday. The city he lived in was called “Anchorage.” Well, today I hauled him up to the front to talk again, and despite the fact that he dropped out last semester and was looking shell shocked yesterday, today he said, “I live in the city that is called Anchorage.” He got the present tense “live” right, the prepositional case of “city” and “Anchorage,” the “that is” conjunction with the right masculine ending, and the reflexive present tense of “is called.” Nailed them all, as though he’d been saying it all his life. I high-fived him, and mentioned his success to the class.

Then we all played Laurie’s Class Volleyball. Laurie, my kids love this…I have to not drive it into the ground. How do you pick who answers? I’ve been letting an entire team answer at once.


4 responses to “Blaine’s new twist again+Michael Miller

  1. thanks for all the thoughts/posts… curious, what is Laurie’s classic volleyball?


    • I learned this IN our presentation at NTPRS this summer and tried to get it right. I’m not sure I remember all the pieces, but here goes.

      Class sits in halves facing. Rules: chair legs remain on the ground, cheeks remain on the chair. No hard hits! A large soft blow-up ball is thrown gently from side to side until one team misses (in my room, no ceiling hits, either). Then the other team must answer a question. If they don’t get it, the first team tries. As Laurie told us this summer, the kids enjoy the game and don’t really count points. I love how it gives a brain break but still has input possibilities. I got successively more tricky in my questions and requests for translations today. I also said things like, “The answer is angry. What is the question?”


  2. I just go up and down the rows, but anyone on the team can give the answer to the person I ask. This way if more that one answer comes up they have to decide which might be best. 9 times out of 10 they have the right answer which is what we want!! No trick questions, tough sometimes, but no tricks! Glad they like it!!


    • OH. I knew there was something I missed. I will start doing that…this way individual kids have to answer, even if they get the answer from different people. I like it.


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