Poems and connections

Another random ideas post here.

First, I wanted to share a “stand up and practice” activity. This is just getting kids moving with the side benefit that they will practice a poem and maybe learn most of it. It’s not CI! They should have already done prep stories or vocabulary and they should understand it well and be able to say the lines if you gesture them–in other words, they should be ready for output. This is not a beginning activity with a poem.

First, give the kids the text of the poem, either in a handout or (better in my case) on the projector or wall. Assign each student one line of the poem. It’s okay if more than one kid has the same line. The students write the lines legibly onto 3×5 cards. Run through the entire class for pronunciation checks. Then each student passes the card down two kids, and check again to make sure that the cards are legible and that a new kid can pronounce the lines. Rewrite if necessary.

The class stands in either inner/outer circles or facing lines. The complete poem is still accessible, on the board or projector. Half the kids read their lines to the other half. The opposite group tries to recite, but is allowed to look for, the following line (this teaches scanning). Then the second student reads his line and the first one says the following line. If a student has the last line, her partner responds with the first line in the poem.

The class rotates so they have new partners. After five or six rotations, everyone passes their cards to the right or left, and the class begins again.

This can be a two-minute activity, once the kids know the drill, or it can be a longer one, if you’re working on memorizing. Pretty quickly, students learn the line that follows, and you can challenge the group by turning off the projector. Kids can help their partners.

I haven’t tried, but it could possibly be used with pictures from a storyboard if you want kids to just tell one piece. Hmm…

In other thoughts…

This AP brief talks about how parents don’t need to limit their sentence length for young children. The idea that we talk comprehensibly, but above the level of the speaker, is exactly what should be happening in a world language class.

I thought about the idea of being ready for information while my book group discussed The Good Earth this morning. I read it in high school, taught it in my first years in high school, and yet found it to be a completely different book now that I’m an adult. The process of taking in as much as you are ready to comprehend is not limited to language, but to ideas and experience as well.

And (after a too-long FB search to find the post), I am waiting to hear the “con” side of this story. I love this post! It’s a typical TPRS story, if that exists. I admit to being jealous of those who learned about TPRS before having taught 23 years, but am glad I did at that time. The correct link to Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell’s blog is now on the right column, under Musicuentos.

Now I’m still trying to fit all the various CI pieces together. I’m realizing that different parts of CI work in different situations, for different purposes, and with different sets of kids. I was trying to force Movie Talk and TPR and Scaffolding Literacy and TPRS stories and Embedded Reading into every lesson. The down side to pure TPRS is that it can’t work for everything, with every kid, or in every situation.

Anyone who used to think I’m smart is probably dumbfounded by how obvious that statement is, but I’m a slow learner. CI is king. TPRS was the tool by which I learned (and keep learning) to do CI. TPRS is magical at the beginning levels, but isn’t necessarily the only way to teach the beginning levels.

The main “con” for me is that “TPRS” puts off so many language teachers. I’m sad that people are offended before they even hear the rest of the story, or before asking questions about how TPRS teachers address reading, writing, speaking, or the biggest target, grammar.

TPRS is what we do with our own kids. “Let’s tell Mommy where we went today! First we got into the …. CAR! Then we drove, and drove, and then we stopped at the…ZOO! And Katie made a…funny face…” Every time I think about how we retold our together time, either for someone else or at bedtime, I realize that we were telling stories.

Enough said. I could go on, but if you’ve read this far, you’re part of the choir. Happy belated Valentine’s Day. In Anchorage, we spent Valentine’s Day on three hours of Danielson training, first in a series of five. ‘Nuff said on that too.

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5 responses to “Poems and connections

  1. Can’t believe I’m just now seeing your blog! Thanks for the reference – mind if I quote this in my “con” side?

    “Now I’m still trying to fit all the various CI pieces together. I’m realizing that different parts of CI work in different situations, for different purposes, and with different sets of kids. I was trying to force Movie Talk and TPR and Scaffolding Literacy and TPRS stories and Embedded Reading into every lesson. The down side to pure TPRS is that it can’t work for everything, with every kid in every situation.

    Anyone who used to think I’m smart is probably dumbfounded by how obvious that statement is, but I’m a slow learner. CI is king. TPRS was the tool by which I learned (and keep learning) to do CI. TPRS is magical at the beginning levels, but isn’t necessarily the only way to teach the beginning levels.”

    just as a note – the link in your blogroll is to my (now defunct) blogspot blog. My blog is regularly updated now at musicuentos.com/blog. 🙂

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  2. Of course you can quote me. I’d appreciate your including that people get offended just by the initials, then don’t hear that good TPRS teachers do include grammar (writing, reading, speaking) in their lessons, even if they don’t teach them to the same extent or in the same ways as teachers who use other methods.

    Now I understand why my search for “minicuentos” blog wasn’t returning any results. I saw the post I mention on Facebook, and totally misread (speaking of reading).

    Thanks for the link!

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  3. Have you tried this with song lyrics? Might be interesting.

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  4. Pingback: Valentine’s Day | The Comprehensible Classroom

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