Compact R & D – cRD

I’m going to put this up right now as a sticky post. I shouldn’t. It’s too long and there is too much happening here already. Most readers of this blog will be confused. I can’t help it. It will need some editing so forgive the mess. It’s like a chantier and it is just going to be messy for a week or so here, since there are three major new ideas I want to present here all within this one work week we are ending today:

1. jGA – already presented a few days ago – an important new concept in how we relate to people who attack our work with CI because it puts them on the defensive. Thank you beyond words, James, I think it is genius and more than merely important. It is something that has been needing to be written for decades, something that Blaine or Susie or the other experts could not have written. As Angie said so well, jGA is astoundingly clear and as she also said, in a paragraph that made me very happy to read because it sparkled so much, your four points in jGR remind us to become a part of the magical process of teaching language instead of picking it apart. It also opens up a can of Whoop Ass on those who attack us. Mace. Badass mace. Right on, my brother. Right on.

2. sBI – Sabrina’s Brilliant Insight. That article will post in the next few days as part of this new mess, but a critically important mess in my own view of what is happening on this site right now. (The airplane is picking up speed, so strap in and read well this month. We’ll land it in June and take off again in the fall for another rocky ride but an exhilarating one after some R & R in the summer conferences.)

3. cRD – read about it here in this article. In my view, this modified approach to reading novels is just huge.

I know it’s a mess, and I know that it won’t make sense to lots of people. I have been told that this blog space, this PLC, should be a clear training place for people who want to get better at CI. And I think it is, if the person is willing to dig, like Hosler. But you won’t benefit from this PLC unless you read carefully and fight through it. That is why it is for the few.

This space is not for lazy people. And I don’t like it when people take ideas from it and represent them as their own. Really, what this space was originally designed for was to be a place where I could work personally work out ideas about CI, which I do via writing.

It was meant to be a place to just try to organize some of a storm of new ideas about language teaching, a storm lasting years. So deal. If it’s too messy, go read somewhere else. This method doesn’t exist yet in any final form and it never will. Feel the pain and move on. Freak out in your class and then change. We have to organize it and form it all up for ourselves. That is why we keep the group small. There is no one method, and, if I may say so without sounding like a haughty ass, few can do this work we are doing.

OK – just had to get that off my chest. Here’s the new article. It, like much of what I write here, is too long. Get over it. I’m trying to understand things, and I learn by writing….

What is cRD, or “Compact” R & D? For me in my own R & D world, I have been going too fast in an effort to get through the nevels. Or novels. Take your pick. Maybe some can relate. Narrow and deep – good. Shallow and wide – bad.

I have decided to  redefine and implement a brand new version of CI in my R & D instruction. As I stated above, this new idea is on the level of jGR, jGA, and sBI in terms of important new ideas here.

I hate to call it cRD, but what the hell, right? People are totally confused by all these acronyms already anyway and if James doesn’t bail us out on them over the summer with some nice flow charts we will get lost in the sea of acronyms that have overtaken this site anyway. (Hence the need for the new videos I am making, which are going to be a real challenge – how would you like to try to put everything you know about teaching onto video?)

Back to the point, Ben – the old  R & D is dead for me. Or, I should say that, again just for me, and I am not trying to present this idea as some special new breakthrough, but as something important to me in how I read novels with my students in the future. In my world R & D has evolved into something different and I think for my students it is far better.

How do I know that? When I had the breakthrough class yesterday, right in the middle of class, they told me as much. I asked them if this was clearer and even kids who never spoke to me all said it was much clearer and easier for them to understand than the old way of reading novels.

So, in this new different way to do R & D, in simple terms, I just go nuts with about three verbs from the novel, using TPR and RT and PSA to a ridiculous degree to build an entire class around just those three verbs and those three CI strategies. That’s the basic idea.

It is very much like how my very successful change to doing just pure and focused PQA/PSA on two or three target structures on Mondays for an entire class period and not starting the story until Tuesday works.

Both my Monday PSA program to set up the story and my new approach to R & D are all connected to sBI and the simple yet genius recent blockbuster idea presented by Sabrina that our kids don’t get enough reps in the CI that we have been doing up until now (May, 2013) and so we must change to offer a much more compact and therefore impactful version of CI in our stories and novel reading if we are to get the results we want with novels.

Keep in mind while reading this that there have been two dominant schools of thought on how to read a novel in TPRS/CI circles over the past fifteen years – one has been to plow through the book. That has been the position of Susan Gross. Then there is Blaine Ray’s position of reading and discussing and going much slower, with lots of spinning out of text, building of parallel novels, etc.

In 2009 Blaine asked me which one I prefer and I said both. But I never married the two together until now, as expressed below. I do not think that Blaine’s idea was a good one by itself to read novels. It had the critical fault of requiring too much discussion in the target language and not enough reading. People – and I did this for years – would spend most of the class period spinning discussion off the text and reading through only a few pages of the text – a disaster, since reading in my mind is more important than listening in language acquisition.

Here is the link to the old (current) version of R & D – one that I consider weak, watered down, and too shallow and wide compared to the new version, if you need a refresher on that first:

Still reading? Then you are a marine. A CI Commando. Let’s make hats for San Diego. With CI Commando on them.

So, among other things, in this more compact version of R & D:

1. I go slower. OK, that’s not new but I gotta say it and do it anyway. Gotta the walk the walk on SLOW.

2. The students need more time in quietude to read the passage before we translate it. In the old way, I would tell them to read the passage for ten minutes and then we would translate up to two pages all at once and that was just too much. I personally need to learn to cover much less text in class with my students. If I did this properly I would theoretically never need stories or anything else to get great language gains in my students – I could get them just from this new version of R & D alone. Narrow and deep, say it again. Narrow and deep, make it a chant.

So now what I do is make the entire class about no more than five lines of the text they read to start class, snowplowing through most of the text. In this new compact R & D, we would normally not even read a full paragraph – we would spend the entire class on about three or four verbs, and they would be the rebar for the entire class and nothing more. Just three or four verbs.

So they read it quietly and we then translate it – all of that can be done in five minutes to start class, and then – here is where the heavy lifting begins – we move into massive CI using three strategies we already use, but only on those three verbs. What are the three strategies? TPR, Readers Theatre and PSA.

Limiting the amount of text I cover and using those three existing CI strategies in my new version of R & D has the astounding result of raising reps from 50 to well over 200 in a class, reflecting and putting into practice Sabrina’s Great Insight – so new to us – that we need FAR more reps than we have hitherto thought for a structure to be acquired.

So let me restate this change in what I consider R & D to be in its most effective form:

1. We address much less text to start class, just one short paragraph that has action in it. Again, if the text lacks action and power, if it can’t be TPR’s very well and if it doesn’t lend itself to Readers Theatre and PSA, then we just snowplow through it and get it off the road and out of the way.

If it is a long paragraph then we break it into two pieces so that we are never dealing with more than three or four sentences at a time in this new kind of R & D class. We go line by line with this new form of R & D, which means that we truly go narrow and deep in this kind of CI.

2. As stated, the discussion thus would center around three or four verbs and no more. It could be as few as one or two verbs from one sentence only. This is important because it allows us to manufacture all sorts of situations in which we are able to get massive reps not just of the verb as written in whatever tense it occurs in in the text but also to create PSA where we can move into practice with other verb tenses.

3. As stated, doing this new R & D gives new meaning to the term “narrow and deep”. Currently, we only THINK we go narrow and deep in our R & D classes. If what Sabrina suggests is true, and I know it is and that is why I am boldly making these changes in the way I do R & D, then, by limiting the amount of text we read to just a few sentences in the new R & D format, we get to completely new levels of efficiency in our SLOW repetitions of the text in thousands and thousands of interesting ways, thus launching our students forward much further in one class than was possible with the old version of R & D, which I think many of us can agree was just too shallow and wide.

4. HOWEVER, and this would not come as a surprise, it’s got to be the right paragraph, one that clearly lends itself to RT or in some other way carries interest to allow lots of TPR.

5. To repeat an important point, in this new version of R & D we must snowplow through large amounts of less interesting text, because if we tried to do Compact R & D all the time it would take up to twenty years to read one book.

So, in this new version of R & D I just snowplow the boring parts of a chapter (Susie) and isolate and go crazy with the one or two paragraphs that lend themselves to RT and TPR and stuff like that (Blaine). As stated, I have always wanted to blend those two opposing approach to reading novels, which Blaine indicated to me, as I said, that he thought could never be blended into one reading approach – and so that is what Compact R & D does – it blends snowplow reading (through the parts of the novel that are just not interesting) with the narrow and deep compact reading of just one or two paragraphs per chapter as described in this article, and it does so in an effective way.

5. Obviously, to go narrower and deeper, we have to go line by line. I stated that before in this article. I am repeating a lot here because I learn by repeating things over and over until I get them. We have to be ready to spend up to a half an hour or more on one sentence if it is the right one, the one that has energy, the one that Jason Fritze would go off on in an RT tear as only he can. That sentence.

Clearly, Sabrina’s Brillian Insight has prompted a need for some of us now to go over much of what we have done with TPRS/CI and re-evaluate all of it in terms of the need for thousands and not hundreds of reps, so I am starting to do that here with R & D. This is just a starting point for a whole new kind of CI, a much more compact kind. The ideas presented here, I am certain, will apply to stories as well.

6.Sabrina’s great insight changes the entire equation of what some of us will do in this work, or at least that is my opinion. Put on your CI Commando hat. As I just said, but I need to repeat things, I would predict that the same kinds of changes that I am suggesting here for R and D will apply to stories – the scripts will be much shorter, there will be less than three structures, etc.

I have mentioned RT and TPR and PSA and how they will occur much more often as teaching strategies in this new version of R & D. PSA will be a big player in it as well. A big player. A really big player. Because PSA shifts the discussion from the text to one about the character in it to a student in the classroom, thus serving as a launching pad to even more interesting CI at just the right moment in class. So PSA should occur frequently in this new version of R & D.

Specifically, PSA takes over in the discussion when TPR and RT are exhausted. PSA is the tag team dude coming in the ring to take over the fight for his exhausted buddy at the right time. PSA functions as a second French horn on an extended note (like happens all the time in Wagner), taking over for the first French horn that has been holding the note for two full measures already so that the audience doesn’t even know that two French horns were involved in creating that one extended Wagnerian note. (Can you imagine? French horns in the service of German music? There is a God!)

Here is an example. On page 48 of Le Voyage de Sa Vie, the protagonist Jean-Luc is grabbed by the villain La Femme Insecte. The scene I would focus on lasts only three lines. It has only about four dominant verbs and is therefore perfect for a very compact R & D 53 minute class that is entirely focused on a few sentences. At some point in class, the tag team guy PSA will come in with great effect to spell TPR and RT (if RT even happened), and to bring in with it reps on another verb tense as well. How?

Here is the text in English:

…Jean-Luc cries “Thief!” in French and then in English and the old couple leaves discretely and quickly. The insect lady turns and approaches Jean-Luc. He can’t escape and she grabs his arm….

So now let’s do what we should always be doing when we teach using CI – focusing on, repeating, illustrating, demonstrating, TPRing, etc. the verbs. What are the verbs in this passage? Here they are:

  • yells
  • leaves
  • turns
  • approaches
  • can’t
  • escape
  • grabs

That’s way too many verbs. So, first, I ask myself what they already know – yells, leaves, can’t, grabs – and I throw those out. That leaves me with:

  • turns
  • approaches
  • escape

Three is all I can handle in one story, so why I should I try to handle more than three in an R & D class? I next notice that they are all pronominal. So that’s my lesson – a grammar lesson on pronominal verbs without once saying what a reflexive verb is (they never get it) or writing anything down. Finally, I’m teaching real grammar – correctly spoken French from which correctly spelled writing will emerge as long as everybody doesn’t get all jiggy with it too early, writing that can lay down in a nice rich bed of sound before coming to life on paper so that it’s not all ugly when it finally happens.

So the process is that the kids read the paragraph quickly, we translate it, all that in five minutes, and then off to the CI races with TPR as long as it goes, then some basic R & D about the text for major reps (“Who turns?” x 50 variations on that, etc.), then some nice PSA to parallel all the basic R & D questions, but where the kid with the good heart is willing to play the insect lady, and then, if it happens, some Readers Theatre for dessert, the sum of all those things together adding up to what I am calling in this article Compact R & D. All that could fill a block class but I do the best I can with a 53 minute class.

To say that again, the sequence of strategies for this new way of doing R & D is:

  • the kids read the paragraph quickly
  • we translate it
  • TPR as long as it goes
  • basic R & D
  • PSA to parallel all the basic R & D questions
  • Readers Theatre

Once we get to the PSA section, and Jasmine has indicated her willingness to play, she comes in as the insect lady. See what happens. Or don’t bring Jasmine in as the insect lady if it doesn’t feel right. Instead, ask Jasmine how she feels about what is happening to Jean-Luc. Just start asking questions using the verbs you have isolated:

  • turns
  • approaches
  • escape

Ask her if she approaches boys. Ask her if the boys can’t escape. If RT happens and she and a Jean Luc boy are willing to get up and act, go for it. We have decided we are all becoming experts at RT in San Diego this summer. Use the Annoying Orange technique. Bring Jasmine totally in. Ask her all sorts of questions relating to the book.

Go wide with previously taught verbs if you want. Ask her if, when Jean-Luc returns to Denver, she will pick him up at the airport. Go wide, but use only verbs they already know. If you find yourself using the future tense and they are resonating with that particularly singular sound in the French language, hit them with a hundred future tenses.

Just don’t go too far from the original targeted verbs from the paragraph. Learn to sneak new verb tenses in whenever you can. If it feels like this is the time to learn to bring in the future tense (you know by how they respond), go for it. Unless you feel it’s not supposed to be taught at this level. Then you are buying the book lie. Overcome the book lie about when things should be presented. Go into some heavy PSA using the future tense. Live a little! The book police will not get you, because they are not real! Get mega reps on the verbs from the passage in the future tense if it happens. Go with the flow of the language. This is not a hippy statement. This is good pedagogy. Search the word FLOW on this site for more on that concept, a crucial one if you are to really get CI working for you in your classroom.

That has been a preliminary overview of this new idea.



23 thoughts on “Compact R & D – cRD”

  1. Jeffery Brickler

    Wow dude. That was intense. There is a ton in there. I’ll need to read that again and again to digest, but I love the flavor. The concept narrow and deep is where we need to be. You got it right. Until I read it again…


    1. This came at a perfect time, and it is exactly what I was looking for. I am reading a novel (El Nuevo Houdini) for the first time with one of my classes after a year of doing stories. I am frustrated with the fact that although I am delivering plenty of CI, novels do not provide that same meaningful repetition as do stories (i.e. target structure in EVERY sentences). This makes so much sense though. It is almost as if this paragraph (for which we will go narrow and deep) IS the story, while the parts in between are connectors that provide less-targeted CI.

      One thing I would love to see, though, is a clip of this narrow and deep work with a short text. Since I started with TPRS, I feel I have improved considerably in this area, but it still amazes me that many of you are able to keep it going (and keep it interesting) for an extended period of time on just a few sentences. I’d love to see this in action. Great post.

      1. …it is almost as if this paragraph (for which we will go narrow and deep) IS the story, while the parts in between are connectors that provide less-targeted CI….

        That’s a deep insight.

      2. My record for this kind of reading – the biggest taffy pull of all if you will – happened on March 21, 2012, with basic R & D on a chapter of Houdini with parallel information being created by me and my kids lasting 27 classes in a row.

        Just kidding. But yeah, let’s talk about working on this in those afternoon sessions in San Diego. I hope I don’t forget because we only have about 12 hours over four days on all the other start-the-year stuff and the focus is on coaching teachers in those things. I will try to film those sessions and post that video here after the conference. I just have to remember to work on doing this and getting it on film. cRD really is fun to do because you get to use Annoying Orange so much, which drives the kids nuts.

    2. I’m glad you said that Jeff. Thank you. I agree. Narrow and deep is the future of this work. We have to start thinking in terms of thousands of reps and not hundreds. Or tens of thousands. It’s how we are really wired! The brain was not wired for 53 minute classes.

      We really need to make a list of the big ideas from this year, because they are transformative in nature. What can we add to what I have written below as Blue Chip ideas from this year?

      Two Weeks Weekly Schedule 2013

  2. Awesome. I love the focus on a few structures for real acquisition and the opportunities for the future tense.

    Two questions:

    1) By “snowplowing through the boring parts” do you mean “translate the text into English out loud while reading the French/Spanish/German/whatever text in the book”? Like all the students follow along while the teacher or a volunteer translates? Should there be a choral translation with the text projected on the board? I think this part needs more explanation. Does the text just get translated as quickly as possible so that you can get the good bit for the day?

    2) Do you think there need to be two versions of R&D, one for stories (from the third step of TPRS) and another for novels (by Blaine, Carol, et al.)? I think this has come up before, but we never really got to an answer. Or are the stories short enough that one should do cRD for everything in them?

    1. Your first question is exactly what I’m wondering. I’d also like to know how this fits into the new weekly schedule as of 2013. Ben is saying this can last a whole 50-some minute period…..

      1. The only thing is to make reading a novel a separate thing we do for a week or a month. Using this idea, we would do the two week schedule and then do cRD as a kind of snowplow thing whenever we want to read a novel (that’s what susie teaches – snowplow means snowplow; you literally plow through the book), but now with Compact R & D we would have those pauses for the one paragraph impact days and it would slow the reading of the novel down but there is nothing that can be done about that. I guess that is my answer on how it (doesn’t) fit into the 2013 schedule.

        If you are new here and don’t know what the 2013 schedule is, go read that category – Weekly Schedule 2013. It’s a nice thing to use. It’s boss. It’s fab. It’s rave. I think. It’s a big fat schedule that you can plug into that will take you through a nicely contiguous kickass week of CI with honestly very little effort. OK, I’ll say it even though I made it up – it’s B.A.

    2. I’m just thinking out loud here . . .

      If the stories are based on something the class creates, haven’t you already done essentially all of the discussion before the story is created? Then the story is the comprehension check with further transparent input. Students have an inherent interest in the story because it is their story, and it is transparent in meaning because it uses the language they have been acquiring through PQA, PSA, Storyasking, Acting, etc. I’m not saying that Reading and Discussing is not possible at this point, just that the story seems to me to be sort of an end product.

      With a graded reader, the story is new because it is not one that students have created. I understand Ben to be saying that, rather than being totally a culminating event toward which you have been teaching, the reader becomes another avenue for acquisition. There is vocabulary that is new, so it is not transparent. Thus, you have two ways in which you can deal with that new vocabulary. The high-frequency, interesting words in interesting settings can become the structures for compact read and discuss; the rest of it becomes “snowplow material” – just get through it and don’t worry about acquisition of lower-frequency words as long as students understand the gist of the story so that they are ready for the next time you do compact read and discuss. You might not even read all of the parts of the book but just summarize them for the class (in the target language).*

      *This fits very well with advice from Jason Fritze (just summarize the end of the book if you don’t have time to read it; don’t try to “cover the material” and push people) and with the “Rights of the Reader” from Daniel Pennac. Some of these rights are:
      #2. The right to skip
      #3. The right not to finish a book
      #4. The right to read it again
      #8. The right to dip in [i.e. just read a paragraph or page because it’s what interests you]
      #9. The right to read out loud
      #10. The right to be quiet

      1. Yes Robert this is an important point to address:

        …if the stories are based on something the class creates, , haven’t you already done essentially all of the discussion before the story is created?…

        New people here in our group, especially, should take careful note that the presumed way it worked for the past twenty years, and we would all be told to do this at conferences, was that the very reason for the stories was to get enough reps on all the words in the book and, once those stories had led to acquisition of the words in the book, the kids would pick up the book and read it effortlessly.

        But there are two issues with that:

        1. It would take 50 stories to set up one book and there would be some much cross checking of structures, writing stories and then making sure this and that structure was in a story before it got read in a novel (gag me) and as time went on it just got nuts. There were too many words in the novel! And yet this is still done, except for me, who worships at the alter of Matava and doesn’t line up structures to set up the reading of novels for diddly because I am totally into the Natural Order hypothesis.

        2. If Sabrina is right, that they need 2000 reps and not 200, that shoots that whole 20 year old plan in the foot anyway.

        So, what to do? Well, do ER like Michele said here in this thread, and/or do what you said here:

        …rather than being totally a culminating event toward which you have been teaching, the reader becomes another avenue for acquisition….

    3. Question 1:

      Susie thinks it is fine if the book is in their hands for the snowplow translation. It works fine. Sometimes the control freak that I am wants to see their eyes up where I can see them and grade them with jGR (an ongoing formative assessment process), which connects to your question, James, about the text being projected on the board via a camera. But, really they both work. Depends on the teacher.

      Question 2:

      I don’t use R & D for reading stories created by the class (Step 3). I created a different process – Reading Option A – for that about four years ago when I was at East High School. Reading Option A just seems to lend itself to more to readings of stories and R & D is better for novels. At least that is my opinion and is based on my own experience.

  3. Ha! I’ve been doing that instinctively with our first novel in year one. Realizing that only snowplowing wouldn’t work well and only going slow would bore them and not get us anywhere, I’ve created these islands of slow in the process.
    I can attest that it works well.
    In the poor Ana story, for example, you can stop in the beginning, circly hair color, etc. briefly, snowplow until the “her mom yells at her” and do some reenactments with yelling with the students.

    1. Good one, Charlotte, I am reading PA now and jumped out of the book to do a story using three structures that were getting a weak response in the choral translation. I need to slow down the snowplow a tad. Thanks!

  4. I would love to see some more on the PSA. Also – do you still suggest personalizing the same way as you do in PQA in a Wink?

    I am hoping to personalize my class to levels never seen before in south Fulton next year. I want to make it ALL about the students and hopefully get some more to buy in.

    1. Then just do PQA all year. Skip can attest to the results when all you do is PQA. Entire worlds can be built.

      There is a new edition of PQA in a Wink! being written with additions but they are not major deals. I’m going to try to have that out by 2078.

      Personalization is largely a state of mind. If you really care about your students, personalization and fun occur naturally. Personalization is an affair of the heart. The kids get it when you care enough about them to make up funny stuff with them and gloat on that funny stuff and exaggerate and imagine and compare with famous people and create more funny stuff on top of that as the weeks go by.

      Krashen’s word compelling is completely dependent on how much the room has been personalized.

  5. Another way to do this kind of repetition (for those of us who have only two novels written at the level we need in our language, and those are really at the year 2-4 level) is to use Embedded Reading (ER).

    Russian 1 has an ER that has gone from two inspired first sentences to two single-spaced pages . . . in its twelfth version! I challenged my students to take their HF semester vocabulary list and develop a story. It started: “Clint Eastwood wants a tall girlfriend. He drives to the beach.” After we circled and PQA’d that for a while, everyone looked at the HF list and helped add some details. In the end, CE turns out to have stolen the car, so the smart, pretty girl in our class whom he tries to pick up gets mad at him, and the police come to take him away. He escapes by buying police uniform at the gift shop in the police station.

    The final version is two pages of tightly-written (if silly) prose. We’ve added to it over an entire week, following Laurie’s mandate of doing “something different” with each version. We are simultaneously doing MovieTalk and giving the lone senior in Russian 1 her final…it’s that time of the year… but they have drawn story boards, acted, done reader’s theater, made add-on murals, done running dictation, done Betsy’s back-to-the-screen re-tell, translated, and read in funny voices.

    What I wanted to say is that it was cool to see how the kids worked to get the piece embedded, not really realizing that they were absolutely nailing down the structures that were being repeated in the progressive versions of the ER.

    Some of the biggest knuckleheads (and I say that word with absolute love in my heart) have been able to respond and re-tell this story in an amazing way, using a variety of verbs and verbs of motion unusual for first-year kids. I chalk it up to finally having had enough repetition with the same basic pieces. Usually I cave after three versions of ER, thinking that three is plenty and that the kids are going to get bored. They like it though. They like their increasing facility with the language. When the senior was doing her fast-into-English translation of the last piece (because I didn’t want to create a separate final just for her), she faltered on a couple words, and literally the whole class jumped in to help her so that the reading continued smoothly.

    I think you’re right. I love this new idea for reading a novel. A tight, hugely repetitive focus on just a little bit of information gets amazing results. I only wish I had more novels to do it with, but in the meantime, we’re going to create our own.

    1. Hi Michele,

      Your class sounds wonderful! I would like to know about these things you mentioned (I don’t remember them, and I would like to find more ways to process readings): add-on murals, running dictation, and Betsy’s back-to-the-screen re-tell.

      Thanks for links and/or information you add here!

      1. Laurie’s murals: as you tell or read a story, you draw a picture, but not necessarily in order. You make sure that you have everything in the writing presented visually. Then the kids can do a retell the next day, or the teacher can save the best drawings for unit or final exam re-tell options.

        Jason’s running dictation: you prepare a four-to-six-sentence dictation that is out in the hall or behind a screen. Kids work in pairs. One writes what the other reads on the dictation poster and runs back to the writer to dictate. (I like to do this on white boards so that they hold them up for being correct.) When they get one right, they switch roles and do the next sentence.

        Betsy’s back-to-the-screen re-tell: When there’s a story that the kids know well, put it up on the projector. Kids sit in pairs. One looks at the screen and gestures to the other, who speaks the words. The one looking corrects as necessary. The kids think that the person benefitting is the one speaking. Instead, it’s the one who is reading and processing. When the first one gets it perfectly, the pair switches.

  6. Ben, I would love to sit down with you in Dallas and talk about the Australian system of “Scaffolding Literacy,” because I think the SL idea of honing in on a small piece of the writing is going to resonate with you, now that you’ve written this post. It’s more work for the teacher up front, but it gives meaning in context at a whole bunch of different levels for kids, and with the personalizing that you would bring to it, you would have a powerful punch.

  7. Michele I deeply admire what you and Laurie are doing with all of the reading ideas but I don’t yet fully understand them and I find it hard to implement them into my teaching.

    I think that this is largely because:

    a) I lack whatever insight is necessary to wrap my mind fully around them.
    b) I am lazy.
    c) We are over the top in ideas here in this PLC.

    I wish I could read and study and implement your work, and read more at other sites/blogs for new ideas, because so many fantastic ideas are out there, but it would cost me my sanity. I can’t even keep up here. And I won’t be in Dallas. Oh well.

    Maybe this work is starting to splinter out into different directions, in the way one beam of light becomes many when directed through a prism.

    It had to happen. Blaine couldn’t control this forever. Maybe it really is prism time, where the original Krashen pure ideas, which are universal, start getting refracted in different forms depending on the personality of the teacher reflecting (on) them. I must say that Blaine’s original TPRS model is an excellent reflection, hasn’t it been?

    (Well I should say that I don’t think Krashen’s ideas are original . If you read a post I wrote about five years ago called “1963” you will see why. Find it here:

    Maybe some day I will understand embedded reading and SL, but my new two week schedule is just so packed now there is no room in it anyway. There is no room at the inn!

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