Arizona – 1

This is the first Arizona article for those who may not have read it. The second report from Michael Coxon will appear later.
Hey Guys,
I realize we all live in different states but hear me out on this one…
I received this as a part of a mass email today from the state of Arizona. I imagine these will start popping up in many states fairly soon. Arizona renamed CCSS standards to College and Career Readiness as part of a strategy to silence critics. A real class act here. I have to say that when I moved to Arizona from Illinois almost 7 years ago it was like stepping back in a time machine in regards to education practices. This is actually a positive thing in a way because there is area for improvements.
Anyways…
I thought I would send this your way and see if this would be an interesting PLC topic or project. Perhaps we could contribute some ideas and make a lasting change. Education and politics in Arizona in general are pretty goofy but maybe this could be an opportunity to have some influence in our field at the state level.
It is not very often that actual teachers get asked their opinions and maybe this could be the first step of influencing other states when it comes to state standards. Ben, Eric, and Robert, you guys are the gurus for getting to the bottom of the smoke and mirrors of crap like this.
I am at least going to send some information that advocates for acquiring language and comment of some of their language and standards on their DRAFT. I may even go back to some stuff you three wrote on ACTFL and send it to the state of AZ. It looks like they are presenting much of the same things as ACTFL does.
Who knows, maybe they might even ask people like us to consult for the Department of Education? I imagine they already have their BS plans and this invite for feedback is another act of smoke and mirrors but we have already done most of this work in the BATTLE OF ACTFL. (By the way, that battle is an example when the word “EPIC” can be used).
You guys are great!
Mike
Here is the letter with the link to the survey:
January 30, 2015
Dear Education Stakeholder,
The Arizona Department of Education is pleased to announce the opening of a public review process for both Foreign and Native Language Standards. We are now seeking public comment from all interested Arizonans on draft versions of both sets of standards.
The draft standards and more information about the process, including five different ways to submit feedback for each set of standards, can be found at the following link:
http://www.azed.gov/standards-practices/foreign-and-native-languages-standards-public-review/
The public review period is scheduled to close on March 2, 2015, so please be sure to submit your feedback by that date.
Please share this information with any and all interested parties. We would like as many people as possible to provide feedback.
Our hope is to begin the same process for the Arts Standards in February. We will keep you informed of this as well, if approved.
Thank you for your collaboration as we work to develop the best possible standards for Arizona students.
Arizona Department of Education

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20 thoughts on “Arizona – 1”

  1. Michael I haven’t read very far. I was stopped toward the beginning of the draft document by this most alarming phrase:
    …the constant shrinking of the globe….
    They didn’t tell me about this. Is that like global warming? I’m alarmed.
    On a more serious note, for those in the group who don’t have time to read the document closely, could you or others please share a few ideas a la Eric that we might even be able to cut and paste right into our comments. No pressure, but January is one of those months where schools seem to get really silly about how much stuff they make teachers do. Eric, if you could send us a few zingers that might save us some time as well. I ask you because you are the original Mr. Zinger of ACTFL battle fame. You have more research based arrows in your quiver than their entire army does. So anything suggested below could easily be modified and written into our responses to the Arizona document. I don’t think it’s laziness; I really think that everyone I know is just under water with work and worry these days. I mean, with the globe shrinking and all… I didn’t think it could get worse than global warming. And of all places to find it out, from a state Department of Education! Those Arizona people constantly surprise me.

  2. Hey Ben,
    In Arizona it is more like shrinking of the brain when it comes to our leaders…
    After reading the standards I just thought to myself…same old same old. It is generic and vague and even though they said they worked with experts in the field I have my doubts.
    I also think that the big problem pops up when suggestions are made about how to implement such standards. The next piece that will role out after implementation will of course then be assessment.
    I am tired of this crap being slung around…be ready for the national/state standards to revamped in your neck of the woods because it is just around the corner.
    The talk of college and career readiness in regards to foreign languages is just a farce because it is the instruction that needs revamping not these silly standards.
    Okay… time for a beer!

  3. …they said they worked with experts in the field….
    You know exactly who those experts are. Grammar battle axes from a bygone era. And the fact that the doc is so vague and general is by design. Vague and general to them gives them room to interpret it however they wish. Can anyone say Realidades Table of Contents?
    Proof that this is a bogus document lies in the fact that that student outcomes in the Novice and Intermediate Interpretive Listening (IL) have been left blank. They don’t know what to write there. That is as big an indictment of this document and its creators as any indictment of “leadership” I have ever seen.
    To release it before they know what their students should be able to do in that one crucial input category shows what top down politics can do. They consulted experts. Did they consult you and Carol Gaab and the other central Arizona CI folks? Then they didn’t consult experts.
    No, and that is why your request that every single person in our community respond to this laughable doc is a good and fair request. What say ye in the group? And we also need to get up to St. Paul this summer because from what I can see that is shaping up to be a good conference.
    This document truly stinks on every level. Politics cloud the research. We should wind Eric up and turn him loose in your state. He would make Road Runner and Wiley Cayote look like well-behaved pets. Bam! Dust devils everywhere in the Arizona sands.

  4. OK I just talked to Mike. Disregard the above. We just realized that the doc is so bad that it doesn’t even give us anything to question. Mike, please keep us updated. We’ll wait until we get something that we can sink our teeth into. Not literally, Eric. Eric! Down boy! Down!

  5. I laughed out loud at these comments, which was really welcome at the end of the week. It
    caused my husband to ask me what was going on. Saying I was reading in the PLC told him all he needed to understand why. (It’s really nice to have such a supportive spouse.)

  6. haha. I need someone to wind me up. I’m pretty wound down. Or is it winded down? English anybody? School days feel LONG. I welcomed the snow days.
    I took a glance. Looks like a riff on ACTFL. I can’t imagine any state’s standards be any different from ACTFL. So expect more of the 5C’s. As if “Communication” weren’t enough.
    It would be cool if we had our own “TCI standards.” They’d be the first to use the term “acquisition” and the first to have standards for variables such as confidence and comfort. And the first to not make everything about career readiness.
    I bet the majority of classes I took in high school and many in college never helped most people in their careers and never will. I never needed that much math and science. In English class I never once was given SSR time in high school nor ever asked to pick my own book to read. It was all assigned. Then, in history classes, they tried to cover so much that the stuff I crammed was soon lost. And it wasn’t until an elective in college that I got the history that I needed the most: World History 1945-present.
    All across the academics we see the same problem: too much to cover for it to ever be mastered and for it to ever get enough reps to be given long-term memory storage. I remember I took a 6-8 week summer course in Anatomy in college. You needed a microchip brain implant to remember the names and rotations for every little bump on every bone and muscle in the body. I got my A, which meant absolutely nothing a few days later, once I’d forgotten everything I’d crammed.
    Sound familiar? Have a textbook teacher give the final exam in September when the kids get back from summer and then you’ll have your proof that the textbook curriculum stinks something awful.

  7. ….It would be cool if we had our own TCI standards….
    We will. Just not for a few decades or so. I suggest that what will happen is that, as teachers slowly realize that they don’t want to be identified in their buildings as a dinosaur any more, very slowly, comprehensible input will become the norm rather than the exception. This imperceptible change will cause new standards to be written every ten years or so, like happens now, but standards that are consistent with how people actually learn languages. Instruction, the kind we are doing now at the secondary and elementary (Greenberg, Davidson, etc.) classroom levels and not in college classrooms will drive the standards to be written up based on what is happening in the secondary and elementary level comprehension based classrooms of the future. So the new rewrites of all language standards will follow the change, not cause it. Short term change in education comes from the top down and fails, but long terms change comes from the grass roots up and results in success. Nothing good happens fast, even if you have an Eric Shepherd out there biting at the heels of all the sheep, trying to get them to run into the valley he knows is the most lush.

  8. Hi Mike, sounds like Arizona has stepped through the same Looking Glass as Maine has.
    I didn’t read the document after working down through all of these comments, but I do have this to say:
    Had anyone asked me for feedback on the 5 C’s, I’d have suggested a progression in the emphasis on the communication standards. To wit:
    Interpretive should be the first standard to address. Since you asked, I recommend focusing on it primarily for the first two years. This follows the way in which one learns one’s native language.
    Interpersonal should come next. This too could be expected in the first year, but only in the form of universal interpersonal communication skills (as in JGR) and simple one-word responses. Students can be allowed and encouraged to produce longer utterances if they are so inclined, but not asked or expected to. You will find, as I have, that the more extended interpersonal communication will come naturally when it is not forced, and will come to each student at his/her individual point of developmental readiness. Just like with your own children.
    Presentational should be last and only after at least 3 years of study. By then, if you have followed this sequence, you’ll also be in a position to address the other two standards (culture and communities) almost exclusively in your target language. So now if you want your students to do some kind of cultural exploration, you won’t have to take a week out of your world language curriculum to do it.
    Since you asked.

    1. Anne,
      I agree about the presentational standards…it should be delayed in anyway a teacher deems appropriate. I think many language teachers view modes of communication as equal parts 33.3% each leading to stressing accuracy before proficiency.
      I hate to sound like an anti-culturist but I question the importance for stressing culture when the purpose of a language class should first reflect respect to acquiring the language.
      I know…I know. You can teach both at the same time. I do it…you do it…it can be done. But how I have observed colleagues teaching culture usually puts culture in L1, thus sarcificing L2 exposure. Stressing culture in state and national standards takes the focus off TL (IMO).

    2. I’m not clear on whether the back-and-forth process of PQA, story-asking, reading as a class, pretty much everything we are doing with beginners other than FVR, should be called interpretive or interpersonal. To me, interpretive means reading or listening without having the writer or speaker there to help you negotiate meaning. Are we starting with interpretive or interpersonal? Or are we using interpersonal communication to develop interpretive fluency?

      1. I thought the same thing Leah, I call all this Interpersonal since it happens in the context of a two-way conversation, not a one-way lecture/passage.

  9. Anne, this is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I’m going to keep it and quote you whenever this conversation comes up!!!
    with love,
    Laurie

  10. This might bore people but the standardization of SLA is something we face as langauge teachers. I had just enough energy today after school to fill out a survey and also send a long email to the state of Arizona. I kind of sound like a jerk with some of these questions but it was kind of my intent.
    Other than any typos… 🙂 Any thoughts on these survey questions?
    1 Please comment about the organization of the Foreign and Native Language Standards
    I find the vagueness of the term “experts” around the state of Arizona to be misleading. Who are these experts? I also notice an inequity of the goal of language acquisition by mixing a focus of culture. Because of the way it is presented it leads the audience to believe that culture and language are of equal importance. Are they of equal importance? What experts say that focus on cultures lead to gains in language acquisition? Culture appreciation does have its place but I am not sure that it is necessary for the 21st century student to focus on studying cultures to meet expectations of speaking a second language. Arizona has an opportunity to change the results of student learning by making a stronger statement about these state standards. If we just reorganized the same ideas, won’t the results of teaching and learning be the same from 1997 standards?
    #2 Please comment about the clarity of the student expectations in the Foreign and Native Language Standards.
    The clarity of student expectations as presented here, are nothing new. If we maintain these expectations we then should not expect a different outcome. If we want to really listen to what experts in the field of language acquisition communicate we should see in these standards language specific to student OUTPUT to be the result of hours and hours of interaction with meaningful and understandable second language INPUT. Furthermore, the language that communicates student performance does not seem to include expectations for student proficiency. Are we only asking the students of Arizona to demonstrate a “performance” of knowing a language? Performance of knowing a language and being proficient in a language require unique criteria that should be determined and properly communicated to the public. Have the experts of the state of Arizona even asked students about what their expectations for learning a language are?
    #3 Please comment about the breadth of content of the Foreign and Native Language Standards
    If we are to really see changes in what students can do with a second language, (better and different than the past) we should include more language within these standards that advocates for high frequency language with an emphasis on creating classroom target language immersion. This is the one area where the Arizona committe did not emphasize enough of ACTFL’s language in regards to the power of immersion. That lack of emphasis on proficiency and comprehensible immersion changes nothing from the old standards in Arizona (1997). These standards have divided material from ACTFL’s modes of communication and have inappropriately passed them off as modes of communication that have equal importance. They do not. If the experts in the state of Arizona have all come together to agree on these standards, the conclusion must be that comprehension proceeds any and all presentational representation of that language. This is to say that it is inappropriate to ask students to produce language in early stages of learning a language. For this reason we have generations of students that believe they are incapable of learning a second language. Interpersonal and interpretive modes should proceed presentational communication and should be stated as part of an overall idea in these standards. ACTFL’s seem to not do this well, nor do these standards. I also shoudl mention that I have never seen “presentational reading” as a part of national standards and had trouble find these represented with in the chart.
    #4 Please comment about the depth of content and rigor of the Foreign and Native Language Standards.
    The term “rigor” as defined y Merriam –Webster is “the difficult and unpleasant conditions or experiences that are associated with something
    : the quality or state of being very exact, careful, or strict.”
    I think inflicting rigor on our students is not something anyone should advocate. Learning a language is as easy or as difficult as a school, a teacher, a parent, or a set of standards wants to make it. The state of Arizona can serve its citizens and Spanish-speaking neighbors well by making language attainable for all. Overall, the nature of these standards is hastily presented in this draft. They could have easily been copied and pastedin just a few minutes and prsented to an audience. I question the thoughfulness, skill, and aptitude of the the committee that has reused and recycled this information in a less complete package than ACTFL.
    As with any sound endeavors of pedagogy, these standards should begin with a backwards design. I don’ t see that they do. What is the vision of these standards? What are the desired outcomes for teachers and students in the state of Arizona?
    As both a teacher and student I can say I do not want to experience rigor! I want to love learning. I want to enjoy the process of the academic pursuits in the classroom. I want to be exposured to the new langauge happily so that I may use language in my own way. I urge these standards to protect the love of learning a language by using proper and appropriate language. At the same time displaying the due diligence required to follow the results of language acquisition experts. The depth of the content, I find is somewhat shallow because it is a parcial recycle of standards that already exist. If Arizona decides to use of the standards of ACTFL as its own, then we will have the problem of creating a “Package of Standards” that are to large that they too will create vagueness. There must be a happy medium that at least follows sound practice of SLA research and practices while maintaining what is best for the citizens and students of Arizona.

    1. You go, girlfriend! 😉
      I admire your participation and response.
      As with the entire “standards movement,” I wonder what real power they have to change anything. People will just find new ways to present old stuff in order to check off boxes. We all do it. New standards aren’t going to educate more people in SLA, nor in proficiency, nor give anyone experiences of TCI.
      As for that term, “proficiency,” much like “acquisition,” it means something different to everyone. I’m not even sure exactly what ACTFL means by “proficiency” and every test claiming to be a “proficiency” test measures to different degrees implicit and explicit knowledge. I prefer these terms, “implicit” and “explicit.” It’s the same thing as “acquisition” vs. “learning” but I don’t think the general SLA researcher community uses those terms like Krashen does.
      I want to build implicit knowledge – fluent, spontaneous, unconscious language use. Oral interpersonal communication is probably best suited for measuring this, since it’s the hardest for applying “explicit knowledge,” while also being the most obvious goal of our students: to have a conversation in L2! Now, if that is our goal, then that is what we need to measure!
      I agree that ACTFL wants us wearing too many hats, the study of culture being one of them. This is so vague and I feel like every teacher chooses what culture, what parts of countries, they want to teach. The study of culture for intermediates is more likely to count also as language study – like sheltered content matter teaching.

  11. I agree Eric. I am not sure what power anyone has because education nowadays is run like corporations where no individual can be tracked down to answer to any specific concerns. I think of shell corporations on some of these detective shows where the source of corruption is not easily found. I think this is apart of a strategy when we here of committees making decisions. It makes it sound like a democratic process has taken place when in reality it probably hasn’t.
    There are definitely several pairs of these contrasting terms, implicit versus explicit, deductive versus inductive learning, learning versus acquiring, etc. In the classroom they are perhaps not all bad and I think we continue to add to the mix by using Interpersonal/Interpretive/Presentational modes of communication.
    Perhaps someone will make an INFOGRAPH or flow chart of this stuff one day.
    I think the most important term of dichotomy has to be “input and output.” Once we determine and get ALL to agree that learning occurs through access to quality INPUT, now we have a starting point for creating standards.
    Everyone is getting lost in how they define educational terms. Many of my colleagues, years later still can’t get to conceptual conclusions about the terms formative and summative assessments.
    When I hear the terms explicit versus implicit, I usually think about how something is taught implicitly or explicitly. Direct grammar instruction versus indirect language learning of grammar through deriving meaning from CI. I like that you use implicit knowledge as way of expressing knowledge through CI. This is result based and it is has more to do with what students can do rather than the focus on teaching pedagogy.
    Maybe this is a term that we should make the next BUZZ term in SLA…
    Implicit Knowledge- fluent, spontaneous, (unconscious) language use. This should be on the TCI standards and guidelines document!

    1. Keep it up Mike, you’ll expose the “committee” if you keep probing. Your survey responses are right on!
      One correction: “Interpersonal and interpretive modes should *precede* presentational communication…”
      You said in your last comment:
      “Everyone is getting lost in how they define educational terms. Many of my colleagues, years later still can’t get to conceptual conclusions about the terms formative and summative assessments.”
      Chrisz recently called it “Edubabble”. This is my vote for the new eduBUZZ word.
      I agree with the native peoples’ adage that we say more with less, and Occam’s Razor, and so I try to abide above all else by Susan Gross’ simple line “Just talk to the kids!”. That being said, we have to understand the babble and even begin to produce it (yikes!) for those people who like to “know” how we should be teaching language.
      Also, I agree with Eric and want students to learn, and therefore I want to measure, interpersonal skills above all else in those first couple years. On that note, I’m really going to attempt to simplify grading next year event more so than I did this year, a la Ben and Grant going for 60% interpersonal mode for grading. One or maybe two interpretive grades (quick quiz/translation) per week. One weekly interpersonal grade (jGR) based on cumulative informal observation. A few timed writes over the semester. No punitive HW grades or projects. Maybe a 5% “miscellaneous” grade category, for housekeeping/discipline matters if need be.

  12. There is teaching, learning, and knowledge. Each of which can be done implicitly or explicitly.
    When we talk about this, we have to specify which we are talking about. Implicit teaching can result in implicit AND explicit knowledge. Likewise, explicit teaching can result in both types of knowledge.
    Dichotomies:
    learning vs. acquisition
    explicit vs. implicit
    declarative vs. procedural
    direct/intentional vs. incidental
    Inductive and deductive are both about learning rules and neither about acquisition.
    Acquisition refers to process. It means implicit learning (focus on meaning and form picked up unconsciously). The result can both be learned competencies (explicit knowledge) and acquired competencies (implicit knowledge).

  13. Eric and Jim and all,
    Thanks for feedback. I have created my own little war here in the state of Arizona. The ACTFL battle of November 2014 has well-prepared me with plenty of artillery to go to battle with a bunch unequipped department of ed people that attempt to dictate best practices in classroom using a 2oth century model.
    In a very a la Eric Herman/Robert Harrell/ Ben Slavic sort of way I have fired some shots on their poor excuse for copying and pasting ideas that have found online. They have put some crap out there for feedback and I have given them criticisms and suggestions about their incomplete POS document fueled by everyone on this PLC.
    Since I have fired shots to the general committee that is overseeing this project my next steps will be to start contacting directly individual “executive directors at the department of ed.”
    My overall goal is to…
    create inclusion (as Eric and others have demanded from ACTFL) for those that wish to teach for language acquisition,
    stir the pot against standardization and CCSS,
    truly make a difference in the lives of teachers and students in the classroom,
    and keep uninformed/antiquated/out of touch deformers honest.
    I will keep you all posted…so far I have spent the last few days ripping apart their draft and when I get feedback…if I get feedback… I will be sure to share it!

  14. A positive point: The last 4 standards (the other 4 Cs in ACTFL) all contain the wording “Use the target language to…” or “…while using the language to…” This is good because it puts the language first, and makes it clear that language uses require a language to be used.
    Suggestions:
    1. For Standard 3, instead of “Communicate…” use “Answer questions…”
    2. Change Standard 3 to first place. The reason is that language is learned in the interpersonal mode, whereas interpretive is one-way communication.

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