Here is another part of that last email from jen (and, no, she didn’t drop the bomb in class so don’t get all excited):
I think that this group (the one with the fast processor in it) is ready to start the “input” homework a la Nathan Black. I did this last year and they liked it. I think they will look forward to each doing her own thing. That way these kids can push themselves to their heart’s content on their own time. I think I might even offer some of these kids a textbook if they want to take one home. I feel like I want them to know I hear them. At the same time, there is no fricking way I will waste class time doing anything remotely textbook related. I think I can say this to them (minus the F bomb) in a way that makes it clear that class time is for listening and responding to LIVE FRENCH. Ain’t no book or tape or CD or software that is gonna replace that time. It’s only 45 minutes a day so I don’t even want to open up that can of worms. I just wanna open the can of whoop ass and keep the CI going in my new and improved slow mode.
My response: I love that paragraph. It is a great paragraph. The last three sentences are fantastic. Does anyone need any more explanation to see where Jen comes down on this point about not using books and technology in her classes? No? I didn’t think so. I know a few teachers who could use some face time with jen. Maybe she could talk some sense into them. I’m not talking about those who use tech in the service of CI, of course. Just those who think that we can learn a language from a machine, like what seemed like most of the people at ACTFL. The acquisition car’s tires are CI tires, not tires from Activities-R-Us. Jen continues:
2) The second similar yet different response (this was to the reflection piece jen asked the kids to do as per the last email) was from a super quiet slow processor. She said something like “It’s frustrating when I know I am the last to figure something out.” I don’t remember her exact words, but she acknowledged that she noticed she was slower than the rest. I’m thinking that this might be partially true, but since I let things get out of control for awhile, what is more likely is that there was just too much noise happening which prevented her (and others, DUH) from processing optimally. This is just a hunch. I am fairly confident about this hunch, because in the last 2 days when I gave the translation exercise, and today a listening comprehension assessment and there was actual silence, she did just as well as everyone else. So I plan to say this to the group…just tell them what I noticed, and that although we are halfway through the year and I slacked off for the last few weeks, I will address each infraction of the sacred silence from now on. That is just how it has to be.
My comment: I think it is the noise and you absolutely have to address it and you will, but also, slow down. Slow down so much that you are in a weird kind of agony and all you want to do is speed up. But don’t. Slow down even more. She wrote that comment because she needs for you to slow down and enforce the discipline piece more. What a child – your slowest kid is your best teacher. How ’bout that?