What is Working and What is Not – Spring 2017

Hi, everyone. It’s been a while, so I thought I would share an update on how things have been going in the classroom this year.

What is Working

  1. PQA (Personalized Questions and Answers). Just talking to kids about themselves in Latin is where most of the magic happens. Student-centered, compelling, simple, easy, conversations with young people. This is a must-do for virtually every class period.
  2. Story-Asking. Good old-fashioned TPRS is still the crown jewel of my classes. This is the main event for most of my kiddos and is always the most requested classroom “activity”. The input doesn’t really get more compelling than this. Even when things get chaotic or the story isn’t that great, it still beats every alternative that I have.
  3. Movie Talks. I have always enjoyed movie talks, but my first 20 attempts or so were not very enjoyable for my students. I would pause the videos waaaaaaaaay too much, ask meaningless questions and just drag them out too long. This year, I have finally started to get the hang of it. The main improvement has been keeping the pauses down to about 10 or so per video. I swear I used to be up in the 50’s.
  4. Story-Listening (Teacher tells a story in L2 to the students). This Beniko Mason developed practice is working a lot better than I thought it would in my classes. My 8th graders especially seem to enjoy it because it allows them to enjoy a story without interruptions, comprehension questions, or excessive assessment. This also doesn’t really require much or any prep!

What isn’t Working?

  1. Novels. To be clear, the novels themselves are great, I just struggle to use them well in class. I am taking interesting stories and making them dull to kids by dragging out the process and not pre-teaching enough words. I need to rethink my entire approach to using novels in class. Right now, reading feels like work instead of pleasure for most of my kids.
  2. Reading Activities. I have to rethink this concept entirely. Re-reading a story multiple-times seems to help acquisition, but I’m not sure if this is ideal. Perhaps recycling vocabulary and using multiple different stories would work better. For now, my kids see right through most reading activities and it just feels like work.

Overall, this has been a fairly strong year and I have learned a ton through my successes and failures. My main focus this summer will be on reimagining the role of reading in my classes. I hated reading when I was in school and I don’t want my students to have the same experience. I would like to include more choice, less accountability, and less reading novels together as a class. I’ll keep you all updated throughout the process. I hope all of you have a great end to your school year!


One thought on “What is Working and What is Not – Spring 2017

  1. I love that you are trying both TPRS and Story Listening. I agree, Story Listening is so easy! Dr. Mason has amazing insights on how to use extensive reading (the opposite of intensive novel studies) also called Free Voluntary Reading. Dr. Krashen’s research supports this as well.


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