Grant's Proposal 1- Action Item

I know it’s a busy time of year but we need to round up the troops for Grant Bouldanger in the next week or so. Here’s the situation:
Hey Ben:
Last weekend in San Diego was phenomenal. Hard to say with my highlight was, but my lowlight was not getting to see Robert present on Sunday morning.
I have a request for you and the group. I have to submit my Teacher of the Year portfolio for Central States by the end of the calendar year.  Essentially I have just three weeks of classes left.  These video clips need to show excellent teaching, so I am gathering a significant amount of video. The problem with that is that when I record 20 minutes of video, it takes me 30 minutes to review it.
Here’s my question/request:
Do you think the members of the blog would be willing to crowd source this review of the video? I will put private YouTube links on the blog.
For Central States (IMMEDIATE NEED) I need clips that are SHORT and EXCEPTIONAL.
I will EMBED them into the portfolio to get ppl to click and see it in action.
IF I WIN CENTRAL STATES, I’ll need ONE, 20 minute section of video that is not professionally produced and has not been enhanced – i.e. unedited.
So, the 20 minute thing is NOT URGENT, but if ppl feel that there’s a segment that’s 20 minutes long that really rocks, I want to know about it to tag it for the future.
Grant adds: … if you are adept at the art of speaking in a way that helps others outside of the TCI arena to understand what we do and why, this is a time when that skill is helpful….
Here is Grant’s formal request of the group:
Hi All,
Here’s a great opportunity for you and a way to help forward CI in the greater community. As you likely know already, I was selected as the MN WL TOY in October. I’ll be representing MN at Central States in OH in March (and, with a great deal of luck, ACTFL in November!). YEA!
Even though there’s no video required for the regional competition, we all know that experiencing it is the best way to understand that TCI is different, effective, magical. I have begun collecting video with the idea of embedding links to 1 to 4 minute clips into my written reflections as a way of encouraging the committee members to see the engagement, the laughter, the authentic interaction present in class that is so hard for me to describe using my impoverished vocabulary.
Look for segments that demonstrate exceptional teaching. If you need guidance, search for sections that touch on the following topics:
Any of the 5 Cs (including discrete ways Culture is infused)
Personalization and customization of curriculum
High engagement, good classroom management
Quality example a particular CI technique, for example One Word Image or Look and Discuss
Sections that demonstrate collaborative leadership model – teacher directed but student driven
Sections that demonstrate culturally relevant teaching
TL 90+
Effective use of student talk
Then, simply comment on the thread with the name of the video, the start and end time you’ve selected, and a short blurb about why you’ve selected that section of video. OR, if you know how, you could even capture and edit that clip yourself and send it to me for posting ( I thnk that can be done).
But, these videos are not public yet, so any link shared here has to be viewed from the PLC and cannot be shared outside the PLC for the time being.
Here are two to start with. Note that in the video 11.24.15p6 I have just received a new student that very day. She’s the tall girl sitting up by me on the left. Look for good segments about how to incorporate new students by weaving them into the fabric of class from the first day.
Here are the links to my first two. I’ll add more at the end of each school day this week and next.
Thanks in advance, everyone.



37 thoughts on “Grant's Proposal 1- Action Item”

    1. Any of the 5 Cs (including discrete ways Culture is infused)
      Communities: You can say that Sr. B is creating a Spanish-speaking community. When he turns the N around and Spanish settles over the class, he is creating an intentional community of Spanish speakers. In this community, his students stretch themselves to communicate in Spanish. They negotiate meaning without the use of English. Sr. B has made this possible by teaching students gestures to signal lack of understanding and in equipping the students with rejoinders such as “lo que sea” and “qué lastima” that they can use to discharge emotions and make their voices heard, without breaking the spell that he has woven over the community. This intentional community is a training ground for students’ later interactions in the communities outside the school building that interact using Spanish.
      Students are also demonstrating the beginnings of life-long commitments to language learning, by already beginning to go above the expectation that they understand the messages Sr. B is giving them. In small ways, we see students using humor “Qué es esto” which is an indication that they have begun to take ownership of the languge.
      Personalization and customization of curriculum
      Sr. B has obviously taught the class some teen-centered words that they want to know: “Qué es esto?” from that weird viral video and “lo que sea” (whatever). He has a very kid-friendly way of making the students the center of the class, and always smarter and better-looking.
      11-24-15 p 6
      Imagine the difference as a learner between learning “la ropa” from a non-contextualized, non-student-centered textbook exercise and hearing about Sr. B’s clothing in the customized, personalized context of defending his right to be “guapo” in comparison to a peer in class. And knowing Sr. B this is not the only time in the year that students will encounter these words. He is engineering his instruction to provide repetitive, contextualized, personalized, compelling, and temporally-spaced repetitions of key vocabulary. Students will hear these words over and over in many contexts, spaced through the school year, aiding in true acquisition and long-term storage of these terms. Since the terms are in context, they are also accompanied by posessives: mi, mis
      Another example of Mr. B teaching in a personalized, contextualized something that textbooks expect teachers to cover: kinds of hair, the adjectives long, short, straight, curly, but in the context of other students’ appearances. This is directly in line with young adolescents’ needs for belonging, for being known to their community, and their natural tendency to take an interest in their peers.
      12:05 Sr. B is using rhythm to help students acquire the term ondulado.
      High engagement, good classroom management
      8:17 Liso: Using sound and gestures to help students acquire the word
      14:19 Sr. B asks kids who have blonde hair to stand up. The other blonde kids notice that there are blondes standing up and they too stand up. No English has been spoken, but meaning has been clarified in a non-threatening way.
      15:50 Another example of Sr. B modeling metacognition to the class, without speaking a word of English! The class signals that they do not understand the term “castaño” and Sr. B reviews the other hair colors the class has demonstrated: negro, rubio rojo…and a kid with briwn hair stands up, demonstrating, without breaking the Spanish-only agreement, the meaning of the word. I think this, and then going into the spelling, is a prime video clip! Sr. B goes from this masterful establishment of meaning without the use of L1, into a demonstration of how he uses ALL the brains in the class (Raise your hand if you know how to say R in Spanish) to share the work of making meaning, and right into a teen- and student-centered discussion of who is a famous person who has blonde hair, even using her character’s name (Katniss), and a famous person with black hair, and another spelling task. He writes exactly what the student says to demonstrate a particularly tricky pair of letters: I and E.
      22:00 When the class changes sets (brilliant move) I expected the topic would move on. However this discussion of hair and famous people has so much energy behind it due to Sr. B’s personalization and student-centered choice of famous people whom the students select, that the class changes seats and they pick up the same conversation.

    2. I am up for more videos (especially because I am getting lots of ideas to steal!) but I need to know when you need it. We are traveling all day Friday (an eight hour drive to go to my brother’s wedding!) and I can work on my phone to review and take notes. But I won’t be able to type them up and send them till the following Monday (the 21st of Dec.). If this is too late I will be totally useless to you.

      1. tina, I’ll try and upload more video tomorrow. I’ve been working on the written parts of the portfolio this weekend. but, I have more.
        Your comments are so incredible. sometimes when I watch myself I can’t see things the way you’re seeing them. I’m still reliving the moment. It’s so good to have your (collective your!) reflections and observations!!!
        thank you!!

  1. Yeah Grant send me as much footage as you like to add to the above list. We all want you to get Central States TOY and move on and if we can be even a small part of that process we will do it, plus not to mention that we get to watch you and learn. I think jen’s comment was a very good one and just what you want. If you want anything else along those lines let us know. Thank you jen! And I think “lovely” should be a criterion as well so you’re not alone! Otherwise, Grant, if you are good with what jen wrote we will all emulate what she wrote and you can cut and paste the comments into your TOY documents. That right there will be a mountain of work – is there any way any of us can help with that processing part of the comments?

    1. Yes, Jen’s comments are great. I won’t be cutting and pasting, so much as synthesizing. I insist on the words and sentiment being my own, but if you are adept at the art of speaking in a way that helps others outside of the TCI arena to understand what we do and why, this is a time when that skill is helpful.
      Categorizing clips would be helpful. Areas I of course have to address include the 5 Cs. But also I’m interested in addressing the 6 “core practices” that ACTFL adopted this summer:
      Use Target Language 90% + – Students AND teachers use the target language 90% and up as the vehicle (means) and content of learning, by creating comprehensible input, contexts, and interactions between and among learners.
      Design Communicative Activities – Teachers design and carry out interpersonal communication tasks for pairs, small groups, and whole class instruction.
      Plan with Backward Design Model – Identify desired results as functional, communicative goals THEN determine acceptable evidence (what learners can do) THEN plan learning experiences (lessons and tasks).
      Use Authentic Cultural Texts – Provide interactive reading, listening, and viewing tasks using authentic cultural texts with appropriate scaffolding to support construction of meaning and interpretation (without translation).
      Teach Grammar as Concept – Teach grammar as concepts and within meaningful use in contexts; learners focus on meaning before form.
      Provide Appropriate Feedback – Use a wide variety of corrective feedback in speech or writing so learners reflect on and self-correct their understanding or output.

  2. Grant, people usually relate best to stories and incidents from their personal life. (Of course we all know this; Ronald Reagan was considered a great communicator because he told stories; Obama is more intellectual and tells fewer stories, so he is not seen as communicating as effectively.) If you can either tell a story about acquisition through CI or find a way for people to connect with a time they learned something “on the side”, i.e. when they were doing something else, that would be good.
    If it helps, here’s my personal experience:
    Many years ago, I served a two-year internship in Germany. During the second year, I lived with a German family in which the mother was from Switzerland. She always spoke to her children in her native Zurich dialect, even when others were present. This went on for the entire year that I lived with them.
    Although Swiss German is a German dialect, it is unintelligible to people who do not speak it, because of differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. For example, the very name of the dialect is different: In Standard German, it is “Schweitzer Deutsch”, but in the dialect it is “Schwyzer Dutsch”. A cake box in Standard German is a “Kuchenkästchen”, in Swiss German it is a “Chüechechäschtli”.
    Shortly before I returned to the US, a local couple (native Germans from the Stuttgart area – about 2 hours from Zurich) came to dinner. While we were eating dinner, the phone rang, and one of the children answered it. He came back to tell his mother that one of her friends was on the line. The mother asked her son to find out what the friend needed. The son came back with the answer, and the mother told him to tell her friend that she would call back later because she had guests at the moment.
    After this exchange had occurred, the visiting couple (native German speakers from an area close to the dialect’s home and speakers of a related dialect) asked, “What was that all about?” I responded, “What? You didn’t understand that?” At this point, everyone at the table turned to look at me and said, “And you DID!?” Without trying to learn the dialect, without a particular interest in either the dialect or the subject matter, I had come to understand the Zurich dialect because I had been exposed to it in ways that I could understand. It was not until the incident I just described that I realized I had “picked it up” because I was genuinely surprised that the local couple had not understood the conversation.
    BTW, I told Dr. Krashen this story at ACTFL, and he said it needs to get wider distribution as another example of the power of CI. He speaks German and was highly impressed that I can understand Schwyzer Dutsch.
    My experience is one of the reasons that I find CI instruction compelling.

    1. This is a truly amazing story and just buries all arguments in favor of language instruction without CI, not that there are any. You “picked up” the language “on the side”, Robert. That is code for the fact that in that situation you were focused on meaning and not language, that your unconscious mind, focused on the meaning, was doing ALL of the heavy lifting, and that is why you acquired that dialect.
      No matter what we do in our CI instruction, we must orchestrate ways to do that. That is why stories work, in fact. All the excitement around the word “compelling” is simply because compelling input takes the listener even further down the road away from all conscious focus on the language and closer and closer to the place where language is learned and “just happens” and is “picked up on the side” – the unconscious mind.

      1. 100% agree – the power of stories is in the focus on the message, the movie in our minds (visualization) – co-created & personalized = most meaningful, compelling, and memorable. Whew!
        Some technicalities: there IS a conscious focus of attention. That focus may be on meaning, form, or both. In “focus on form” there is a focus on form in order to extract meaning. In the case of using form to comprehend the message, I’d think there’d still be potential acquisition. Thing is, it is very hard in real time to simultaneously focus much on form and meaning.

      2. I think my block 2 class is picking up Spanish on the side, because there is so much English side talking during class. I really hope Grant will respond with some comments about how he achieved the level of discipline seen in the videos.

        1. Hey Angie, thank you, and others, for the comments. I’m going to post more video as well. I’d be happy to share and discuss more after I get this portfolio done. I’m really sweating. I march forward as standard-bearer and my portfolio has to be over the top.
          Jen asked me similar questions over private email. Here’s my reply to her, which will have to suffice for now:
          thank you for your kind words and DONT beat yourself up. you’ve got tougher clientel then I do.
          I channel Ben with norming class and discipline.
          smile at offender (get their eyes on me)
          slowly walk to RULES, put hand on and look at rule.
          turn head back (keep hand there)
          make eye contact again, smile.
          firm nod, requesting a reciprocation of understanding of the situation
          smile again.
          continue from where we left off
          first week this happens anywhere from 20 to 40 times in aclass period
          I am swamped by this portfolio thing, but I’ll be freer to talk after jan 1 and we can tlak more about it.
          We hired a new French teacher yesterday. She said some thing that struck a major chord in my heart. She said her grandma always told her to “Begin as you mean to go on”. So, there you go. it speaks to our incredible agility in this group to find somethign that makes a difference and do it now. So, if there’s anything in that video that you think will make a diff for you, do it. Begin tomorrow as you mean to go on.

          1. Thank you Grant, for this response and I should have realized that you are supremely busy and preoccupied with this portfolio project, so your generosity is especially appreciated.

    2. Great testimony, Robert. I read that after getting started with Krashen/Gaab ACTFL 2015 Part 1. SK says that motivation is no longer to be considered necessary. The story is more important than motivation. His case histories were people who had no interest in learning language. They just wanted to know the stories.
      SK’s case histories were story-focused. There were movies/books they decided to enjoy. They had not further interest in Japanese or Chinese.
      How does this compare with your experience with Swiss German? It sounds like you were not consciously focusing on the different dialect. But were you attempting to understand what Mom was saying to the children? You apparently were not perceived to be paying attention to what they were saying to one another prior to that momentous night, since you surprised them with your understanding of the dialect. Were you aware that you wee hearing two different dialects?
      I often wonder about how much goes on in the brain with language that is not understood, but may somehow be preparatory to the in-take of CI. What is necessary for noise to turn into comprehension without resorting to L1? (Or in your case, L2?) Of course, maybe there was a great deal of language scaffolded for you in the presence of the Swiss German speaking members.
      This is also related to the “din.” The “din,” as I understand it, is noise that we are so overwhelmed with that we begin to detect it as words and wonder what the words mean that are swirling around in our heads. It is a tide of incomprehensibility that is eventually structured by the brain into meaningful messages. While this may be somewhat of a simplification, the “din” is one one end of the spectrum. At the other extreme is transparent CI.
      I look forward to your further reflections on your experience.

      1. Nathaniel said:
        …SK says that motivation is no longer to be considered necessary. The story is more important than motivation….
        This is the best argument for stories over everything else. Stories are more important than novels because they are more interesting. They are more valuable than all the other strategies we have for the same reason. They are more effective because they are the best din-creators. The readings that emerge from stories are by far the easiest for our students to read, regardless of the level of difficulty of the actual text. It is because they have just read it, have just created it, and so it is fresh in their minds, and they own it. There is nothing like that that we have and I doubt that we will never have anything better. So yes, reading is more important than stories, and so it must be true that readings that are connected to stories are the most powerful tool we have in CI instruction*.
        To embellish that idea and lend support to what Nathaniel says above, today we have this comment from Tina (re: the newest link from Grant) where she observes this in Grant’s class:
        … Sr. B personalizes the story for each class, and incorporates kids’ ideas….Kids are invested in THEIR class’ details and want their writing of the story to be accurate….
        Nathaniel further adds in this in his comment above:
        …[Krashen’s] case histories were people who had no interest in learning language. They just wanted to know the stories….
        This is neutron bomb stuff. Neutron bomb, Jerry!
        *Krashen has questioned my ROA strategy but I have to remind him that I don’t work in a theoretical void and must find ways to engage my students that may not be aligned perfectly with the research, because I teach in a school. My job is to get through class first and align with the research later. That fact has driven me to create strategies that I know aren’t the best for teaching language, but are the best for getting me from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which is far more important to me than teaching my students the most amount of language.

  3. Grant, thank you so much for posting video. I have found it to be one of the most valuable tools for me in learning to teach with CI. What stands out to me, besides your relaxed, personable tone and warmth, is the classroom management. When I see videos like this I fluctuate between awe and discouragement. Row after row of quiet, engaged, fully responsive kids, laughing politely and listening to one another. Actually USING the “I don’t understand” sign. (I don’t know if your reviewers at ACTFL will have any idea what a coup that is, to have students actually using the sign.) Refraining from English and using the TL. I get discouraged because it is sooo far from the reality of my classroom. How long has it taken you to achieve this? And is it really like that every day with every class? I love the pop-up spelling activity and the movement breaks where students switch chairs. Having all the blonde-haired students stand up, all the black-haired students stand up, etc. A great visual. Are you setting up for a story here or working some mandatory theme? Or just having fun? I can’t wait to see more. I love the line about how boys with long hair are more handsome, and the students’ response.

    1. Angie, I had the exact same reaction!
      “When I see videos like this I fluctuate between awe and discouragement. Row after row of quiet, engaged, fully responsive kids, laughing politely and listening to one another. Actually USING the “I don’t understand” sign. (I don’t know if your reviewers at ACTFL will have any idea what a coup that is, to have students actually using the sign.) Refraining from English and using the TL. I get discouraged because it is sooo far from the reality of my classroom.”

  4. When my kids were little, a Romanian babysitter came to my house to care for them when I went to teach. But she spoke to my kids in English. When she saw other Romanian babysitters at the park, or spoke to friends and family on the phone, or when my kids slept over her house, they heard lots of Romanian. One day she was making plans with a Romanian friend on the phone, and I guess she said something like (in Romanian), “I’ll bring the kids and we’ll come over.” When she hung up, my then 6-yr-old asked her, in English, “What time are we going to her house?” She was astonished that he understood her side of the Romanian phone convo, and couldn’t wait to recount that to me. Stuff like that happened A LOT.

  5. Hey! How come people aren’t commenting on Grant’s video? If we don’t give him feedback he’s not going to give us more video! Are we all just too busy or what?

  6. in response to watching the 11.24.15p3 video:
    Wow, Grant. It is truly a remarkable thing how you got your class to be so quite and attentive. Stunning.
    I love the whistling routine to start the CI session.
    At around 2:05 minutes, you directed a girl to the front of the room. Why was that? Is this standard procedure? I noticed she wasn’t not giving the eye contact we want. This could be a great example of classroom management.

  7. in response to watching the 11.24.15p6 video:
    Use of rejoinders: “Que es eso?” and “Lo que sea” incorporate student speak in a fun and engaging way.
    “Jaden, piénsalo.” And Jaden goes to the thinking chair.
    “Hoy” boy… running it like a machine.
    You said, “Clase, escucha, ‘liso’” And they all repeated after you. That might not have been your intention but students did it anyways cuz they love playing the game with you and jumped at the chance to speak.
    You have ALL students change sides of the room. Brilliant! If done it where on a random day they choose a different seat than they normally sit in. But doing it in the middle of the period is brilliant. What do you do if they don’t change in the 10 seconds you give them?
    You had the class applauding the new student for giving the stop signal: a great example of collaboration.
    Do these comments help you decide which clip to go with, Grant? It’s a little tricky to know since it sounds like we want to show a clip to people that otherwise don’t appreciate the unconscious receptive importance on the student’s part in teaching.

    1. Sean, thank you for your comments! This helps a lot. I know what I see, but I don’t know what others see. Also, when you’re running a class, you get in a routine and things that seem mundane to you, like switching the seats, can impact a viewer as a novel way to implement a brain break or smoothly transition to another activity.
      I’m going to upload some more video. But, I’m hesitant, because I don’t really know if people are viewing it, or if they’ll comment. It’s all unedited and I feel a bit vulnerable. There are 27 views, but only 3 or so folks have commented on the video itself. Not sure what to make of that.
      I guess I’ll post more here in a little bit.
      Thanks again!

    2. Sean, currently if they don’t make it to their seat by end of 7 seconds, the jump to the classroom door, touch it with their butts, and jump back while the rest of the class shouts “boing” with each jump.

      1. O.M.G. !!!! I am trying this tomorrow! “Boing!” Will be perfect (or not!) for me to try since what the heck…ain’t nothing else “clicking”! THANK YOU!
        I am definitely going to watch and comment. Please continue to share!
        Gracias / Maltiox Grant 🙂

  8. I think a lot of people are ending their semesters right now, which could mean they are super busy. Ours doesn’t end until Jan. 21. I’ll definitely watch and appreciate whatever you send our way, but I understand your feeling vulnerable. Do what’s best for you!

    1. Yes, Grant! Don’t hold back from posting the videos.
      I totally get how it’s hard to find the time to watch video and comment. It’s more involved than reading posts and replying. More time and effort. But oh so worth it!
      It may be a week from now, but sooner or later I’m going to watch this new video.

  9. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I’ve watched some of Grant’s footage but need some time to process my notes and respond. It’s because I get so caught up in what’s happening, I forget/need more time to reflect. I will try to provide notes soon – maybe when break starts. One quick Q – what’s that little device on the floor that looks like a fan? (do I need one?) Also is there a human recording you, Grant? Or did you set up a drone videocamera?

    1. Alisa, that device on the floor was the microphone. A great idea because we could hear him very clearly and it sounded like there were absolutely no students chatting.

    2. Alisa, the set up is as follows:
      Microphone in middle of room. it’s a good microphone. helps when it’s off the ground a bit.
      I am using a logitech video camera with an extension that is velcro-ed to the wall.
      I requested and received today a wide-screen webcam that works better. I secured it below my smart board and will post that footage. It works well!

  10. 1:00-3:00 Personalization of content (students’ hair)
    3:05 Classroom Management in a lighthearted way (“I am talking to JD, Max” when he spoke at “inappropriate” time. That’s a funny problem we have huh?… kids wanting to speak when the question isn’t even at them)
    3:10 Community building (Applause for JD)
    3:30-4:20 Grammar in context (conditional – diría)
    5:45 Restating of expectations without shaming (if only a few respond then the question was too difficult)
    7:20 Contextrual demonstration of rejoinder (yo tambien), and helping the student to feel good when class says he’s not funny
    7:30 Location change/students adjust focus elsewhere (to photos in back)
    8:55-9:05 Culture pop-up (big families are normal in latin america)
    (11:55 LOL!, but maybe not something you want to show off since a viewer may not understand the relationships and trust you have with kids)
    Stopped at 12:00 for now

  11. hey folks, here’s another one. In this video I’m doing what is referred to as Language Experience Approach. There was a thread on the MORE list about a month or so ago.
    We’re retelling a version of Matava’s LAZY story script.
    I LOVE that my kid spells Gertrude like this : gertruu0d
    In the previous class, the main character had one single hair coming out her nose that was long, curly and blue and they named it Poo. Well, that’s what it sounded like. When I asked how it was spelled a kid said, “pe grande, equis grande, te grande. Es todo.” So, /poo/ was spelled PXT. Got lots of good reps on a lesser used letter – x
    I need the best 3 minutes from this video. Ideally something that captures spontaneous student output, accurate output, minimal L1, maybe some spelling, etc.
    There’s discussion about tenses since we’re telling a story from last week. A girl corrects me and says it should be ‘se llamaba’ isntead of ‘se llama’. Then there’s also a point when a boy drops the imperfect tense like it’s old hat. “Toda la clase trabajaba pero gertruu0d no hacía nada.” That’s about half way through. what follows may be the best.
    What do you think is the best 3 minutes?
    here’s the link:

  12. My favorite segment here is where you ask if the girl’s father sells cars and she says yes, and you ask her how she knew that word, and she just inferred it. Then you give a little pop-up “comparisons” lesson with vende-sells, and go back to playing the game. Gorgeous.
    I also love the laughter around the photos, and the joke about one of the sisters being you.

  13. Hey everyone, Thanks again for all the help and insights! Thanks especially to Brian DiMaggio, Tina Hargaden, Sean Lawler, Robert Harrell and Bob Patrick for going above and beyond in their efforts to help review and refine things.
    My portfolio is submitted and I’m very proud of it. It’s 30 pages long and it’s tight.
    After this whole endeavor is over, I want anyone on the blog to feel they can ask me for help or guidance in their own efforts to represent CI teaching through the TOY process!

  14. Wishing you the best of luck as the process moves forward. Those of us lucky enough to have observed you in your classroom already know your solid qualifications for TOY!!!

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