Here is a nice report from Tim:
Hi Ben –
This has gone better than I thought. Circling and PQA have always intimidated me. When I tried them years ago, I couldn’t sustain them. I would circle with one student, then other kids wouldn’t pay attention and side conversations would erupt. I always remembered Susie Gross saying, “Discipline precedes instruction” and it haunted me because I knew it was true. Part of the class would seem to grow bored and I would lose them. Last year was almost my last year of teaching. I couldn’t take it anymore, it being my feeble, sad attempt to do grammar and textbook and some of the TPRS stories and novels that truly did work for me. This PLC is unique because there are honest discussions. There are so few honest discussions among teachers. I swear I think it’s because everyone is so exhausted and numb sometimes.
But guess what? It clicked for me in both Spanish I and II. I am the only language teacher at my school so I usually have kids for two years. I wasn’t sure how they would respond to the changes but so far it has been good. New year, new journey. The rules are literally backing me up (I turn, smile a la Greg Stout, and point to 1 or 2 as needed.) My challenge is that sometimes I can’t get cute answers consistently. I also have to WORK at going slow as you all have said. However, I got an amazing story from one class. The follow-up reading on the smart board really was awesome.
Some students are feeling the creative possibilities and some aren’t. We did have a kid drive his yellow truck to Mt. Everest in search of a green pair of socks and another kid play baseball with lions in Madagascar in the bathroom. I guess not every CWB turns into a developed story but I want it to because I want each kid to feel valued. If the energy goes out of one kid’s story because the kids just aren’t responding well for a number of reasons, what should I do? The questions poster helps me and I also discovered if the kid drives a car, I work that in. I accidentally discovered this when Kaylee and Channing Tatum left the local Mexican restaurant in her “Toyota Corolla Negro” (drawn out dramatically) instead of his helicopter). That delighted them so I will keep using it.
P.S. Do I keep sending questions/reports to this e-mail or just add them to existing discussions?
(Answer is to send anything that would qualify as a “report from the field” to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can publish them as articles.)