Just Start In

This is just a note to myself I thought I’d share here:

“Ben, if you are going to start some PQA or start a story, don’t bullshit around with all that “start-class-with-announcements-in-English-bullshit”. The kids don’t listen to it anyway.

“Just start in with the CI. It sets a different tone. If it’s general PQA with no story targeted (as in Circling with Balls cards or One Word Images), just start in with the TL. If it’s a story, write your structures down and just start in with the PQA.

“When you do this, you will feel the difference. It sets a tone. Just start in. You will notice something.”



8 thoughts on “Just Start In”

  1. Ben, you’re absolutely right. I used to think I had to get them quieted down and take attendance and make announcements in English, etc. But the more English I speak, the less attention they pay, it seems.

    Now I start class with a call and response or a short, culturally appropriate children’s song.

    One technique I use with my wordwall is to work on accent by over-exaggerating (is that redundant?) the typical gringo accent, which I refer to in class as “al estilo minesotano”. I never end on the gringo accent, but rather by reinforcing a more authentic accent with nice crisp sounds. It’s them hearing and repeating so I know it’s not leading to them actually acquiring the words. But it also reinforces their use of the word wall as a resource by helping them locate and remember the location of the words.

    They like exaggerating the sounds sooo much that I can just start class with this and let kids join in as they get settled. Works pretty well.

  2. You rock. Nobody does this. We all forget. And yet what better time than when you are cranking up a class to play with sound? The kids learn accent when it’s a game like you describe, when they are just having fun, but if you were to set out to teach a class about accent, they would zone out on you.

    That’s because play is a whole brain/right brain activity and analysis of anything is over there in traditional left brain boring land.

    Love this. Now, how do we remember to do this? I will time stamp it for a few dates, one later this spring and one in the fall, like I just did with Lynn’s comments on discipline.

    I really don’t want to forget this one. Talk about a way to set a mood of play. Setting the tone of a class is everything! And I would assume it’s just a matter of a minute or two, so you can then get right to the fun stuff of step 1 – the PQA!

  3. Grant the play with sound isn’t just play or reinforcement. Ben is right you are jump starting their brains for acquistion. You are having them read the wall in play and this IS the brain start way of getting the language aquistion ball rolling. I LOVE it!

  4. Well, wouldn’t you know that today, as I’m starting class with this very activity, my principal walks in. I am so lucky to have a principal that has worked in an immersion school before. She doesn’t pretend to know what she doesn’t know, but she understands a lot about why a grammar-centric approach doesn’t work. She’s curious and friendly.

    Anyway, here she is walking in. We’re laughing hysterically because I had just gotten done saying to the class “Class, say “quizás” in Minnesotan style”. The quiet ones were turning red with embarassment. The goofy boys were eating it up. “Quizass” they say. “Good class, now in Spanish” and they all say, “Quizás” beautifully, showing their understanding of the accent by slashing through the Z like the tip of Zorro’s sword. In the future, they’ll have to actually TRY to mispronounce it!

  5. We actually have to stand in the hallway and greet the kids as they walk into the room (something I would do even if it wasn’t mandatory). Therefore, I always have something on the board for them to do as soon as they settle into their seats. This could either be a translation of a short section from a story, T/F questions or open-ended questions. Sometimes, they are just questions about them. I also have music playing loudly during this time. As soon as the bell rings, I turn off the music and we start right away talking in German about whatever is on the board (which, by the way, is also in German). At this point, the kids are so used to only speaking German that they don’t even think twice about it anymore.
    And you are right, it totally sets the tone for the rest of the period.

  6. I completely agree that students pay so much more attention when you are using the TL, provided that it is all comprehensible. This is what hooked me on using spoken Latin in my classroom: student engagement was always improved whenever I did. Now I still think that using English for important instructions, discipline, etc. is necessary. I also like Ben’s idea of taking roll in the middle of class, once they are ready for a brain break. So much time gets wasted at the beginning of class doing so-called productive stuff.

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