Conversation with Annemarie

I would like to share a few interesting points made in recent discussion with Annemarie. Of special note and usefulness to us is the Abbey Parks comment:

Annemarie: I had a  question regarding gestures. Does anyone out there in the TPRS world use actual ASL for their gestures? It kind of makes sense. I watched a video of Erin teaching (the DPS tech woman – wow) and it seemed like she was using ASL. Of course it takes away from students’ creativity in coming up with the gestures. 

Ben: I tried it. I even bought two books on ASL. It didn’t work, got too complicated. I just let the class make ’em up after that. I think it gives more ownership. Plus, every time you gesture a structure during the flow of the class, you can look at the kid who came up with the gesture with a nod of approval. It  honors that kid. There is no one way to come up with gestures, however, as is true in most of what we do as long as it is comprehensible input.

Annemarie: I’m deep into getting my PLC presentation ready on student-engaged assessment. I’ll send you some reflections when I’m finished.

Ben: The group may want a big piece of that presentation.

Annemarie: In the meantime, I’ve had a great time with my 7th graders with reader’s theater. We acted out chapter 6 – the sword fighting scene and used big plastic crayons as swords.  I’m really enjoying PQA while reading. It seems to be working well.

Ben: Yeah it switches where the kids are in their brains. Back and forth from reading to speaking. Could do it forever.  But I always go back to the reading because the PQA tends to take over if we’re not aware. If we ever get ourselves an RT template that we all agree on, we are going to have to be realistic about how the aural diversions during RT can really take away from the real goal of reading the novel.

Annemarie: I’ve switched to asking stories in the past with my 6th grade and it’s working well. One of my students noticed the change in the verb endings and pointed it out. Then she asked the difference between era (was) and estaba (was). Yikes. She’s scary observant. I don’t know whether to encourage her in this realm or just say not to worry about that stuff. Answer it in four seconds. Then, get back into the language. Say “this means that’ in L1 and move on. And then yesterday she asked me after class the difference between por (for) and para (for)! I told her it will come clearer as we start reading our first book next week and she can see the words used in context.

Ben: That is the best, like with estaba. If it can’t be answered in four seconds, tell her what you told her about por/para. That was a great answer.

Annemarie: The Abbey Parks method with the domino effect of the stop signal is working well.  I can’t believe I haven’t been doing it up to this point.

Ben: Dude that was brand new to the entire world wide TPRS community. It was a big moment when Abbey shared that gold nugget last month. [ed. note: find that post at]

Annemarie: One more thing, I’ve been debriefing storyasking with my classes the day after and I’ve been using thumbs up, middle, and down for the relevant items on the student and teacher checklist. I’ve been getting some important feedback (or formative assessment, as you could say.) Some students think I pick the same students for actors and the truth is that I do! And I told them why I do this – because they can act! 

Ben: Yes. Actors must show some of the behaviors that your preferred actors are showing. Theyshow good will and you that you can count on them to follow rule #7 in the 2010 Rules and that that they bring good energy to the process. Point to the metacognition poster if it’s up and let them make some connections. Tell them that you know that the students you choose to act will help and not hurt the story by causing distractions. Invite anyone who can do these things to act, and sit them down the minute they drop the ball on the awarenesses described in there.



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