Request

This question is for everybody. Is there anything we can do to make the blog better? Things we need to change? What are your end of year observations and reflections? Have you had time yet to formulate any thoughts on the new Forum initiative? Is there anything that we could add here that you feel would improve your learnings? If you have time, just jot a few lines in a comment field below. We are in a time of change and can take criticisms as well as compliments. Your learning how to get better at TPRS is the single goal here. Be honest!

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33 thoughts on “Request”

  1. I like the forum coming back. It’s much more responsive as well as specific. I also like that you can attach a link within the post.

    The thing that helped out the most with the blog were the videos. I also enjoyed the reposts of strategies like ROA and Student Jobs etc… ROA, helped immensely as I honed my skills with stories, PSA etc…

    I am a newbie and I had to search for strategies. I had trouble in the beginning.

    I hope to see an updated “new members” link up above. There were acronyms i never seen but the community was awesome by responding.

    I would like to see a procedure of working with scripts. I have not gotten enough “air” with them. Maybe there is a post but having to search it is bothersome because I forget about that feature.

    Other than that there is no other comments I have. It’s an awesome place here and I hope to grow and contribute further.

    1. I agree about the forum. And adding the links on the main page here to the right. I agree the forum is a great place to pick and choose the discussions that matter to you and throw around ideas and get feedback.

      Also, I need more Invisibles. Actually, if you could just write a book about that, that would be nice, Ben. Oh, wait you did,! …you’re just keeping way too quiet about it. TPRS The Easy Way is the best kept secret on this blog.

        1. PROMOTE YOUR BOOK, BEN!! You need a big announcement. Don’t be shy. People need to read this book! Chapter 7 is my favorite for obvious reasons.

  2. I am a long-time member of this PLC (saved my career many years ago – THANKS AGAIN), therefore a total believer in the underlying philosophy/Krashen research that our work is based on. I would love less discussion on why our approach is better v. the traditional textbook/grammar-based approach, and more practical discussion about how our approach works best in the classroom (I teach French 1-5, grades 8-12). I do understand that we justify our practices based on the research and our unique approach, but the practical side of things is what I need the most (e.g., the Interpersonal Communication Rubric was huge for me, and now the discussion about not targeting structures/no lesson plans). That kind of thing is most meaningful to me right now in my work.

    1. Yes, thank you, Ben for asking. I consider it no small service to this PLC that you are actively seeking what will help us, and the hours, years, and thousands of posts you spent here creating a healthy community for TPRS –they are greatly appreciated by us and the many children we teach.

      On the 10 year anniversary of this blog, Ben made some difficult decisions. People asked for more practical discussion and less theory. Ben listened, even though it cost him some louder voices on the blog. Even now, Ben is seeking to improve this community in this thread by asking for our input. He’s starting up a forum to encourage discussion for those who want it, but keeping it out of the way of those who don’t.

      I imagine it’s hard to strike the balance between healthy intellectual debate and not allowing people to shout over each other and talk themselves in circles to no end. I understand that’s the case on MoreTPRS and most other places. Ben’s dedicated to weeding it out so the discussion can move forward…always toward what’s going to help teachers and children be bullied less and enjoy stories more.

      What I appreciate about this blog is that Ben listens. When there’s something to celebrate, we celebrate. When we have a dilemma, it gets addressed, even if Ben has to flash the Robert batsignal or find some other way to figure it out. He makes sure people carry each other’s burdens.

      Information here is adaptable, practical, and based in solid theory, though that theory isn’t used to shame or intellectualize. He has worked hard to keep the theory in the basement (now organized more fluidly in the forum), so on the main floor we can enjoy teaching.

      Ben is validating the work we do while offering compelling calls to fix what’s broken around us, and speak to our children in L1, L2, or just the language of trees. That’s a beautiful thing and a rarity in education.

      Thank you, Ben.

      1. Something I really appreciate about Ben’s blog is that it is a community with a vision. Over the years it has been Ben’s unique vision that have made him my TPRS – no, my education – hero. He is my hero in education, because he sees it as a process of connecting authentically with others. Connecting authentically with kids, and also with adults. But not in some loosey-goosey way. He is like an iron fist in a velvet glove.

        Ben stands for something – putting kids above curriculum, Johnny’s new haircut above the past participle of -er verbs, Sir Dave’s new shoes over saying “he was tired” 85 times in 48 minutes. I love it how Ben is not afraid to guide us, call us out, and shape our thinking, and how he does it all in such a way that it almost feels like you had that idea or that stance inside you the whole time, just waiting to be uncovered. He helps us uncover our lighter, happier teaching selves so that we can help guide our own students to uncover their lighter, happier learning (or acquiring, sorry Dr. Krashen!) selves.

        It is Ben’s vision and the fact that this is a curated space that make this community so special. I appreciate Ben’s leadership ad his understanding that not everyone is going to find what they want here. Sometimes growth is not easy, and I just want to say thank you Ben for sheltering us here and making the tough calls to keep this a supportive community of like-minded people with a clear vision and a solid focus on the kids, and good mental health for everyone in this crazy mixed-up world we call school.

  3. My thoughts are very similar to Kelly’s. I like to hear about strategies, techniques, and applications and how those work out in the classroom. I love to hear about new story ideas and what made them successful. I also like hearing about good questions for “star of the week,” and reports from the field. And Ben, I like your opinion pieces (rants).

    Most recently I loved the idea (from Keri?) about giving donuts to the class that stays in L2 the longest. This is really helping at the end of the year. (I have told some classes that the judge -moi- may decide to give more than one prize if classes are giving their best efforts.)

  4. Are you going back to Denver? I think it would be amazing to have more videos from DPS’ teachers in action.

    I also really liked hearing about what DPS’ teachers are doing in their classrooms, for example Julie’s Visual PQA.

      1. She’s too beautiful. From Ben’s descriptions, her teaching is even more beautiful. Recording her teaching would break the internet.

          1. I am also posting this to the Forum under General Discussion so we can, like, discuss. I think it would be awesome to all watch a video and then discuss. Especially in LCTL like Mandarin. Linda does so many awesome things in this video! But, yes, maybe when Ben gets back he will be able to post a video of Linda in her classroom. THAT would be so great, to see her working with kids.

          2. This is a great idea Tina! Already checking it out when I really should be printing the students’ (easy) final.

          3. Linda Li teaching kids in Beijing a few years ago: scroll down for video listed alphabetically. tprsforchinese.blogspot.com/2015/11/chinese-teachers-on-video-how-does.html

          4. Wow, Diane, that is a nice collection of Chinese videos you got there. I am going to send the link to my pal Marilyn who is the Mandarin TOSA for PPS. Thank you for this!

          5. there’s a complete set of DVD’s of Linda teaching Mandarin. I bought it in Minneapolis years ago. It must be available on Blaine Ray’s site.

  5. My reflections:

    I appreciated the theme this year of simplicity, mental health, and just enjoyment of talking with our students instead of worrying about planning every little thing. My dad was (and still is) seriously ill this year. There was a week when he was in the hospital and I literally could not plan like I usually would. It forced me to connect with my students and pull from their energy in order to go on with my classes. I used less French on those days, but I was able to get by from really communicating and opening up to my students (and actually listening to them) like I haven’t in the past. This experience taught me a lesson this year, which I knew before in my head, but now I really understand: French comes second. I really appreciate it when Ben reminds us about mental health, especially in the thick of the year!
    I would like more: Ideas for lowering students’ affective filters and grow as a “classroom community”—especially in classes of 35 or more. In my smaller classes, it’s easier to build community and chemistry for stories and CI through interviews, etc. Once this chemistry is built, I don’t have to do the work to make sure everyone is engaged—they engage each other. This year I have seen an increase even more of electronic devices and students’ need to “hide” while wearing earphones and looking at a screen. I know most of them are afraid to truly communicate. Actually, just today, as my student was leaving class, she told me as she was putting on her headphones so no one would talk to her in the hallway. She was not kidding. This is not a shy girl. In our large school, students go through their days feeling unconnected and I would be interested in hearing more strategies for connecting students to each other in the classroom.
    vPQA changed my teaching and helped me to stay more in the target language while getting to know my students. I know we’ve talked about getting away from target structures, but I would like input on the structures teachers have had the most successful vPQA with?
    I admit I have not yet tried the invisibles with my high schoolers. I might try it next week? Maybe I missed it, but has anyone had success with this with older students?
    Movie Talk was a big success this year. It helped and saved me a ton of time when a few people shared powerpoints with screenshots prepared.
    I agree also that videos of Ben teaching were a huge help to me. I like his comments that he has on the screen where he is reflecting on his teaching.
    Thank you all for all you do!

    1. Emeka, I agree that MT has saved the say for me when things were thick. Also, Ben’s videos with captions helped alot. I can’t quantify how much they helped.

      Im also in the same boat with big classes. Also, I would like to develop classroom community as you described and step up my relationship with students. .. freak flags were rare but its on for next year.

    2. Emeka,
      I would be interested to see the results if you do try the Invisibles storytelling with your high schoolers and so would several high school teachers in the forum who have been asking. I would highly recommend reading the book before trying. Or at least reading the forum posts under the new Invisibles category. It is an amazing system but it is a system and really does need to be implemented together (the characters the jobs and the levels of questioning) to truly see the results. Also I have some videos of my classes and Ben has some of his, if you email I can send you a link. My gmail is tinahargaden.

    3. I was going to try it with HS, but am currently reading the book and it feels like I don’t have enough time left in the year to do all the preliminary stuff. I will definitely post if I do anything with it.

      1. The preliminary stuff? Do you mean the beginning of the year activities? You could just have them draw and tell a story. It might be rough since it is the end of the year and such, but if you set up the jobs, the levels, and wait till you have an awesome character (I just kinda sense it, that there is energy around a student’s creation), you might squeeze in some awesome stories here in the almost-home-stretch. I was surprised how fast it seemed my classes got good at this. They LOVED the Story Driver kid job. It was like they sensed that I was willing to totally share power with them. I say go for it, but that is the selfish part of me talking judt because I want to hear you report back! 😉

        1. Ok will do! I will read up on the jobs over the weekend. This group is up for whatever I toss at them, so it makes me wanna try it at least. It’s exploratory 8th grade and I only get them for 5wks total. But what the heck I’ll give it a go. We had a drawing day earlier this week that evolved from some critters that were on the white board drawn randomly by my advisory kids. I used that to sort of riff off, just to see if they’d be into it.

          We got 2 of the drawings up today to learn a bit about the characters. I was just going to do one, since attention span is low at this time of year but turns out the one I chose was friends with another kids character. I didn’t notice but when I asked if the guy “Ellen Degenerfish” had any friends, the kid pointed to the corner of the page where there was a tiny blue lil’guy who turned out to be Ellen’s BFF “Señor Electrolyte!” So then of course the other kids thought we should get his drawing up there. 😀

          We’ll see what happens!

  6. This spring, I’ve been unable to keep up as much as has been my habit. I really like the links newly provided at right to the Forum topics — if I can this summer, I will be over there more. I’m especially interested in assessment & would like to see how to deal with the requirement to provide grades. It seems at odds with how it is best to assess: descriptively.

    I love seeing video clips of people teaching, as that’s been so helpful for me. Reports from the field are always favorites to read. I’m interested in bios of members (and they often feel like reports from the field to me).

    I am looking forward to meeting a number of people in person at iFLT in July!

  7. My reflection: I agree a million% with Emeka on this:

    I would like more: Ideas for lowering students’ affective filters and grow as a “classroom community”

    I did not do this well at all this year, but am not beating myself up. I was new to the community so most of the year was extremely turbulent for me. My class sizes were not large, so I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t even make it work with decent class sizes. I’m sure I’m not alone in having groups who cling to their stuck patterns in social dynamics, etc.

    That said, I did the best I could. Next year will be better if I get reinstated. I had a fairly consistent routine of mindfulness practice in most groups. There was one group that could not handle it at all. Of course that is the group that most needs it, but I could never get them to try it so I stopped. That seemed better than to get crabby and force them to do mindfulness practice. I had to let it go, and I’m ok with that. It’s the older group, juniors and seniors that have been extremely resistant all semester.

    Today in the 9th grade group we did a “deluxe” version, longer time in silence, option to use mats/blankets. One girl said this at the end: “We should do this more often. It calmed me. At the beginning I was like ‘why are we doing this?’ but after awhile I gave in to it and it was very calming.”

    Most of the “issues” for me are rooted in self doubt. When it kicks in, I panic and bail. So that is work I always need to do: resist the urge to run 🙂

    Aside from the community building / trust (which, DUH IS EVERYTHING!) I love seeing everyones videos, reading reports from the field, and just the open candid space we have here that is so nurturing and ass kicking at the same time. I always find just what I need, it seems.

    I’m super pumped about the assessment discussion / revolution. And I also echo Diane re: “translating” that to a grade. Which doesn’t’ work, but if we are in a place where we have to do this, then it will be good to have something “official.”

    I have not tried the forum yet. I plan to get that going over the weekend.

    THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING A LIFE LINE!!!! <3

  8. Jen said: “Most of the “issues” for me are rooted in self doubt. When it kicks in, I panic and bail. So that is work I always need to do: resist the urge to run”

    This sums up the cause behind many of my “fails” this year. Still 2 weeks to go, but once Summer hits, I’m excited to reflect on this school year from a distance, and be able to make some improvements for next year.

    I agree that members sharing specific practices in the classroom are the most helpful for me. Diane’s movie talk slides and links have saved me a few times this year, and inspired me to create/adapt my own PPT movie still slide shows. Let’s continue to share what we do, post materials, pictures and videos, and help support each other in this important and difficult work we do.

  9. Hmmm. I am having trouble registering for the forum. I followed the directions, but it told me that my user name was already taken. When I changed my username it told me my email was already registered. Then I tried to log in and get a new password, but that told me my email was not registered.

    Very confused :0

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