Report from the Field – James Hosler

James has some good thoughts here in his field report today:

Ben,

Last year I struggled a lot during Step 1 of TPRS, the PQA step where we introduce what everything means and get reps before the actual asking of the story. Of course we write the target structures on the board with English translations and ask questions about our students using those target structures. That’s where the personalized reps come from. But last year it felt boring and like I was working too hard to pull teeth, oops, I mean reps from my students.

It still feels like that sometimes, even often, but I have experienced some relief by using actors during PQA. But they aren’t actors, really, because they play themselves. So today I had the word “went” we were working with and I wanted to talk about how a student “went to school today” and whether he did so “slowly or quickly” and “happily or sadly”. It helped a lot to bring the kid to the front of the room and model a slow, sad walk to school in front of everyone. That’s just one example, but I hope it’s clear what I mean about actors during PQA. It feels like it gets the kids more in the their bodies, if you know what I mean.

And sometimes it ends up feeling like one or two of my three structures turn into One Word Images (OWIs). So I bring a kid to the front of the room and we keep adding details about how he does this or that, when, maybe with whom, etc.

Anyways, PQA has never felt this good and I thought I would drop you a note about it.

James

My response is that this is really a good idea. Just standing the kid up is helpful. (Actors never do anything, and that is a good thing – they just help us “see” what is going on). Plus, the fact that a fellow student is up there brings a jump in class focus.

Jody Noble has a version of this that most readers here probably don’t know about because it was posted a while ago but, like so many older posts, should be posted over and over because many of those posts contain lots of power to change our classrooms for the better.

Here is the link:

https://benslavic.com/blog/jody-noble-the-special-chairla-silla-especial/

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6 thoughts on “Report from the Field – James Hosler”

  1. Susan vanbronkhorst

    This year I started giving my actors something to do. Every time I say something about the actor I check with him or her in 2nd person to see if it is true. They answer in first person– I have the words they need written on a board where I can point to their correct response.

    The actors love to be in front– I think because they have a job to do. Last year they just sat there while I talked about them but they seldom did anything, and they wondered aloud what was the point of that.

    Plus the whole class is hearing the first and second person conversation I have with my actors, (They have to answer in complete sentences.), besides the third person verbs
    that I use with the whole class when am talking about the actors.

    It seems to be working! For the present anyway.

    Susan

  2. Having the student come to the front works great for me with elementary grades. It helps them connect our discussion to the actual person. They all love it when it’s their turn! I definitely agree with James that focusing the discussion on one particular kid turns it into a mini OWI.

  3. This is good, James. Anything to make it all more real makes it better for the kids and for us, too. That feeling of being boring and pulling teeth just takes the wind right out of my sails, that’s for sure. This way it’s even more about them.
    Plus, the associations that the kids make between the words and the real person are (must be) so much stronger than the words just floating in the air. Thanks for posting this.

    1. …that feeling of being boring and pulling teeth just takes the wind right out of my sails….

      This is refreshingly honest, Ruth. Thank you. By working together we make sure that there is plenty of wind in our sails. We hoist, but the beautiful wind is given.

  4. I, like Jody, have a special chair – which I have not always used to my benefit, but sometimes a simple idea like getting an “actor” up is a fine idea and all it takes. I agree that sometimes PQA can feel stilted. I overheard one of my French ones expressing a desire to get up in the special chair. Today may be the day! Thanks, James!

  5. I do this for things like clothes, food, etc. I bring them up, and we just q&a about, say, what they are wearing. I pick a kid and write “wears” and 3 clothing items on board. Then I circle each item. For extensions, we add weather (for “when?”), where (do you wear _____ to swim? To a party?) etc. Works even better when you have two kids to compare. Mostly I ask the class but I have the models answer questions with “I wear _____ to _____.”

    Another cool way to do PQA is to google an image– Simpsons very useful– put that onto LCD projector and ask away. Once they have got quick recoognitn down, I can bring a model up andnwe can PQA them too.

    Bottom line: if there is clear visual (and/or auditory) support, you are helping slower processors.

    Chris

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