Question

A question from Salema Jenkins in KY:
Hi Ben,
Concerning a mixed 7th and 8th grade class I received an email from a parent asking if her 8th grade daughter will be prepared for Spanish 2 in high school. I will be doing BICS, Invisibles, etc. in this class all year after your recent trainings in Louisville. It is up in the air as to whether they will move her to the other 8th grade Spanish class which is tracked for Spanish 2. If they don’t, then I want her to feel prepared. Advice?
My response:
This child should not be in your class if the mom wants her in the other one. Why prepare the child according to the research and standards if the next year program in the matriculation pathway is to study grammar? The best option, then, is if she gets out now.
The worst case scenario is that she stays in your class and you make her do the 8th grade curriculum silently by herself in the back of the room.
BUT this never works. It never works to place a student into a classroom where the Invisibles are being used when they have another curriculum to follow. She won’t be able to not participate in the fun because students who are isolated in this way for whatever reason never can just sit quietly and work alone.
In India I had a kid who was placed in a 6th grade Invisibles class but the kid was fluent in three languages, one of them French. The diplomat dad threatened me to make sure that I taught his son some French. Like so many heritage speakers, of course, this boy’s weakness was in reading and writing so I set him in the back of the room each day and told him to read and write and he just couldn’t. As soon as we got a good story going he glommed onto it.
And he added so much to the class! But he wasn’t doing what he was “supposed” to be doing. How we teachers can get into trouble simply by engaging our students well in class has always been a strange thing in my mind. It seems to happen with at least one kid every year.
But in spite of that reality with such kids who are so egregiously misplaced, the main thing is to make sure this student gets the 8th grade curriculum exactly, however you make it happen. Otherwise, you become a target.
This is one of those situations where counselors who randomly place kids in a class w/o really thinking it all through cause us headache after headache as the kids – no blame – just want to get involved because of the fun.

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1 thought on “Question”

  1. I have had 8th grade students in my level 1 French class. I had about 8 last year. I told myself that I wouldn’t bend to what the high school taught… the thing is I know all the HS teachers. They rely on me for helping out in the French camp every two years. So far there have been no complaints or concerns. I send them off with SLA tools to help them towards fluency no matter what language they choose to take. I also sent them off with their writing portfolios… the freewrite noting their progress. We’ll see what they say… I had a comment once about covering grammar but no complaints from parents because 1) I inflate their grades which helps their GPA and 2) I show off their best freewrite when open house comes.

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