Off topic: Fred Jones

A couple of colleagues and I have been working our way through the Fred Jones book, Tools for Teaching, and doing the related study guide. I may be in my twenty-eleventh year of teaching (really only my twenty-ninth), but my classroom management has not necessarily improved over the years. I have too easily been walked over. 

I can’t begin to say how much the seemingly little ideas have helped me. Today I was in the computer lab, and was about to be struggling with the usual hassle of reminding just the “helpless hand wavers” how to get Macs to work in Cyrillic font. It seems so easy to me, but I have many times ended up walking from computer to computer, directing kids all the way through. 

Jones stresses using Visual Instructional Plans. That just means that the kids need a clear set of steps to follow. As it turned out, there were eleven steps to getting a Mac to type in Russian. As Jones had predicted, with a VIP posted on the board, I was able to walk from kid to kid, point out which step they had missed, and keep on moving instead of hovering over any individuals. It made life so much easier! I was able to help with the content of the lesson instead of the nuts and bolts of the software. In the past, I’d just expected them to eventually learn by repetition. Hmm…I guess that wasn’t comprehensible repetition. 

I’m going to print up a poster for the computer lab so that I don’t have to take up SmartBoard space next time. I’m betting the same kids will still need the directions, but so would I, if I didn’t use Russian font all the time. 

In the same class, I also came up with the “project” idea for them to work on, once they were finished with our on-line (re-reading of course) quizzes. 


PS In case you want to know how to get to type in Cyrillic on a Mac, here goes:

1. Open System Preferences

2. Choose Language and Text

3. Choose Input Sources

4. Check box: Keyboard and Character Viewer at the top

5. Check box: EITHER Russian OR Phonetic Russian

6. Close the Language and Text window

7. Find the American flag on your menu bar

8. Select the flag and hold down

9. Slide down and select Keyboard Viewer

10. Select the flag again

11. Slide down and select the Russian flag.


2 responses to “Off topic: Fred Jones

  1. Fred jones’ book made a big difference for me too. I like his tip about watching where students’ feet are pointing to know whether they are serious about getting back to work. Thanks for the reminder.

    This could save me some time in the computer lab too. Posting a link to instructions on a website would be another way to avoid using smart board/projector space. Then students could look it up and use as needed.

    Have you found a good typing tutor for the Cyrillic alphabet?


    • I had forgotten about that “feet pointing” tip. Glad you reminded me!

      I haven’t found a good Russian typing tutor, but I’d like one.

      My future AP Prototype Russian kids need to feel confident of their typing abilities, since the writing section of the test is on line.

      We use this typing test:

      It can be set to practice typing in many languages, but it’s probably not as important for other world language kids to practice their typing, because their keyboards are closer to standard American ones.


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