Report from the Field – Michael Elsen-Rooney

Here is a nice field report from a newer member of the group, Mike Rooney:

I wanted to tell you about an awesome and validating moment I had last week in my Spanish 4 class. We have been working on our first full story together, based on Bryce’s suggestion for how to introduce the subjunctive through a story. The structure was “quiere que vaya,” or wants him/her to go, and the story was about two girls who each want a guy to go somewhere different. A simple but brilliant premise. The asking of the story was a ton of fun, and they got really into the textivate too. I did a retell based on some drawings that students had made, and told them it was completely optional, and that you could tell as much or as little of the story as you wanted. The makeup of the class happens to be about 2/3 native Spanish speakers, so even though the culture is very supportive, non-native speakers have been really hesitant to try to speak in any extended way, even the superstars. After the native speakers began the retell, one non-native speaker, Kayla, volunteered. She started, speaking slowly, but just kept going, and going. She threw in “quiere que vayan” even though I hadn’t explicitly talked about third person plural, and by the time she was done, students were erupting into applause, and I was beaming. One thing I love about this approach is that we not only give students the tools to contribute to the class, but when they do contribute it is because they want to. I definitely felt that when Kayla spoke, and that I think is why it felt like such a gift. Thanks again for all the thought and dedication you put into this group.


My response is that this sentence right here is music to my ears:

…we not only give students the tools to contribute to the class, but when they do contribute it is because they want to….



4 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Michael Elsen-Rooney”

  1. Attention, world! More light brought to kids in school!

    Great news. I lost 20 minutes of typing in response to this when I hit submit. I reminded myself to always be safe and copy text before hitting submit, then typed again for 20 minutes. AND THEN FORGOT TO SAVE AGAIN. That’s okay -the important thing already happened in your classroom. I had a very similar experience two weeks ago while being observed by an AP (can anyone say perfect timing?) and in my post-observation conference this week, the AP said he would love to see me present this to my department and to the whole school (uhh…). But it’s not because I’m some sort of great teacher (in fact, I’m downright horrible by most standards). It’s because this method works. The method refuses to bypass kids’ hearts on the way to their brains, and so do we. THEY are the focus. THEY feel good. THEY are acquiring the language. Therefore, THEY are having fun.

    Again, great news….thanks for sharing with all of us. Keep on rockin.

    1. I’ve done that inadvertent erase thing so many times, Greg, so at least you’re not alone. Now I hit control C a lot and then if it is lost – seems to happen once every few weeks – I go to Notepad and hit control V and there is my text. Notepad is very useful that way. Whenever I find myself writing in a comment field like this, now, I just copy as a reflex.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this moment with us Mike!!!
    and Greg, this is golden: ” The method refuses to bypass kids’ hearts on the way to their brains, and so do we. ”

    with love,

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