Looking back to move forwards


I used to do a lot of different things in my teaching past. I didn’t just use worksheets and grammar (I did for middle school, because that’s what I thought they needed). In the lower grade levels, I did a lot of varied and interesting activities with the kids that I pretty much stopped doing when I started TPRS. I have found that after 1.5 years of only stories and timed writings (and games, for when we’re low on time) in the classroom, the kids are in search of something different. Because of the CI they get from our stories, they have never been able to do more with the language, so I decided to look back at the activities that I have done in the past to see how well they fit into our CI Classroom.

Turns out that many of them (some with a bit of editing and creative updates) will help the students to develop their proficiency in all of the modes of communication.

Continue reading “Looking back to move forwards”


Assessing Proficiency and Providing Feedback

SCOLT is definitely my favorite new conference. It is like ACTFL, but I can find my way around and recognize people. Take ACTFL and take away 5000 people and you have SCOLT: All the same kinds of presenters (Including me!) and ideas being promoted, but in a way that is more manageable.

For me, SCOLT was all about proficiency:

  • How do I get the students from one proficiency level to another (for me, mostly novice to intermediate)
  • How do I assess proficiency
  • How can I quickly and effectively give feedback?

I didn’t know that going in, but it was definitely a theme that I followed around the sessions of the conference. I will spend the next few posts discussing these things and how they will be implemented in my own classroom framework.

How do I move students from one proficiency level to the next?

I went to a workshop given by Paul Sandrock (@psandrock), who is a former president of ACTFL and currently the ACTFL Director of Education. It was all about getting students from performance to proficiency and how to get novices to reach up into the their next proficiency level. I didn’t have the vocabulary or expertise on the proficiency levels to really use them to describe my students or to figure out how to use them. I didn’t have a good working understanding of what they are, so how could I use them?

But now I do.

Novice level is all about memorized language. Novices are parrots, repeating what they hear. As Paul Sandrock and Thomas Sauer both stated: “Novices are full of answers waiting for the right questions.”

Intermediates, on the other hand, are peeking out from behind the memorized language wall. In the intermediate low level, they are using the memorized language that they have internalized and are beginning to creating with it. Additionally, they are not just reacting anymore, but asking their own questions.

So the question becomes: How do I get the students from novice into intermediate? How do I get the students to create with language and how can I get them to keep conversations going by asking more questions?

Answer: Always be looking at the next level. By that, I mean to keep an eye on the ACTFL Can-Do Statements. Once they can reach the novice benchmarks, start planning on how to get them to the next. Give the novice level students lots of input and phrases that they would use as intermediates—question words, transition words, phrases like “I agree,” “I disagree,” “How is it possible that…,” etc. Basically, give them the phrases to start internalizing the strategies you will be teaching them to move beyond the parrot stage.

Remember that Novice learners can’t really interact with each other because they can only react to input from an interlocutor, they can’t really produce original language. That’s why if we give them the strategies and phrases to begin to talk to others on their own, we can foster more student-student interactions and get them to move beyond the novice level.

What would this look like in my TPRS classes?

So all my TPRS friends out there are reading what I wrote above about getting the students to speak (aka forcing output) and are probably spitting coffee all over their computer screens. The whole idea of TPRS is to get students to proficiency in the most natural way possible: Input until the kids start producing. I am all for this, but at the same time, I feel like my students are ready to begin their output journey. They have had a lot of CI in the last year and a half and are anxious to get the language from their heads to their mouths. I also find it to be beneficial to get students comfortable with being in the uncomfortable position of speaking to others in the target language.

I know that focusing on output in the classroom will not lead to true proficiency. I get that. I understand that performance and proficiency are not the same thing. At the same time, I learned at the conference that things learned for use in performance activities (output activities with strict parameters and lots of support posted around the room) can become internalized in the same way that input can be.

In the realm of writing, we do timed writings and retells to assess our students in TPRS classes. I am thinking of applying my new deeper knowledge of proficiency levels to direct how I assess this output. I am not going to take off points for the grammatical rules that students break. I will draw students’ attention to their errors and help them to correct them. I will help them to get to the next level in their output all while telling stories and circling and doing movietalks and all of the other activities that I have learned how to do as a teacher in the TPRS world. So don’t think I’m abandoning my beloved TPRS to go to back to another type of teaching from the past. I will continue to be forward thinking and focusing on acquisition and proficiency.

Assessing students’ proficiency

Another thing I learned (or that I inferred, you could say) from the conference is that my assessment tools are really lacking. With the kind of assessment I am doing now, it is very difficult to let the kids know what they can do to improve. Enter Thomas Sauer (@tmsaue1) and Bethanie Drew (@lovemysummer). Both of them presented on how to use rubrics and provide feedback to students in a positive way that emphasizes their movement along the proficiency continuum.

At Thomas Sauer’s presentation, I learned about using rubrics and about what makes rubrics useful. Firstly, no number ranges! There is no reason that rubrics can’t use the proficiency levels as the criteria. This lets the kids know exactly where they are on the proficiency continuum for each assessment. They will know that on such and such interpretive assignment, they are at Intermediate Low and on such and such interpersonal assignment, they are at Novice Mid. This becomes positive for the students because they can see the requirements for the next proficiency level. Rather than seeing that they lost points for only including 3 verbs instead of 5 (which they already know because they did the assignment), they can see where their proficiency is and the exact kinds of things that they need to be doing to move to the next level.

These levels can be tied to letter grades, but Mr. Sauer was reluctant to endorse that, even while saying that it may be a necessity in some places. Even though it isn’t ideal, it is much more valid than the, “I can understand what you wrote, you get an A” style of grading that I have been using (for lack of a better alternative) since I started using TPRS.

This leads into the other thing I learned about rubrics and proficiency in general: Kids will be all over the place depending on the kind of mode they are using. Someone may show high proficiency in presentational mode (because of the ability to revise and practice the presentation) and show low proficiency in interpersonal mode (because they are nervous in 1 on 1 conversations with others). The only way to know where they are is to use these rubrics consistently.

Providing Feedback

Bethanie Drew’s presentation on “Fortifying with Feedback” was great because it helped me to see how I can do what she calls compassionate assessment. The idea is that we focus on the strengths of the students’ work, rather than marking up their papers with red ink. We can focus on what was good, then give them concrete ideas on what they can work on to do an even better job next time. instead of saying, “You did A, B, and C wrong,” we can say something more compassionate, like, “I like A, so keep that up. To do a better job on B, why not try ___, ___, and ___?”

SCOLT was so inspiring and there is so much to unpack (both physically from my suitcase and metaphorically from all the great sessions I attended). I will be working on that for a while, now that I am back in the classroom and able to throw more ideas into my teaching repertoire.

As always, thank you to all of you out there who share your ideas through conferences and blogs and tweets!

5 Things to Remember in Early Elementary FL Classes

Hi everyone, it’s been a while. I have been away from the blog for a little while starting with the rush to get trimester 1 grades in and then getting ready for Thanksgiving and all the things in between. This is the craziest part of the year (until the last few days, that is) and it feels like everything was getting away from me. But now I’m back on track and ready to write again.

And I have something to write about.

I recently received a comment from a reader asking for tips with K-3 storytelling and to be perfectly honest, that is the level that I struggle with the most. I have the least amount of experience teaching them and the least amount of time with them per week. So I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting and throwing ideas and methods against the wall to see what sticks.

Here’s what I have learned so far:

  1. Each group is different, we can’t just have one plan for all the groups at the same grade level

The individual differences of the kids’ personalities are so much more pronounced in the early grades, probably because they don’t have the ability to contain all their thoughts and emotions like older kids can. When they get older, they can reel in some of their habits that aren’t conducive to the learning environment, but early on, those habits are all out there for you to see.

This makes it difficult sometimes to plan for one grade. One group of first graders might be loud and wild, another might be quiet and unwilling to participate, another might be right in the middle. I have found that for some classes, I can get away with having activities where they sit still the whole 30 minutes, but others need to be up and moving. The biggest challenge has been figuring out how to get the same content in to the same grade level in different ways.

  1. For the most part, they want to be active

Especially the youngest ones-they want to be up and moving around. They love and really respond to TPR activities and to songs that have dances that go with them. And when songs don’t have dances, you can make up your own moves that will help them to get moving and focused. Remember that the goal is for them to be internalizing language. They won’t be producing much (if anything) in Kindergarten and 1st grade, so it’s ok for them to just listen and participate (especially if you only have a very short amount of time)

  1. The students can sit still and be quiet, but they need to have something in front of them 

This is why I used to rely on coloring sheets. They were “under control” when they had something in front of them and I didn’t have to constantly keep them on task. Some teachers and bloggers are against using coloring sheets in language classes at this level, but I think that they can be useful, if you are using them thoughtfully.

There are benefits to having the kids sitting quietly and focusing on something. There is only one benchmark every activity needs to reach: Does it help the students acquire? Are they getting good input in the TL?

If it is just a plain jane coloring sheet that you give them to do as busy work, then it’s probably not going to help them acquire much. If, on the other hand, you can have them working on something that forces them to listen to and comprehend the TL, then they will be acquiring the TL. It may seem difficult, but with a little thought and experimentation, you can adapt any activity to make it input-rich.

For example, I had great success with a reading and coloring activity that we did in class: I broke up the TPRS story that they heard in class into 6 boxes and they had to read it with me and then draw a picture of what was in each box. I read it with them and drew with them for the first two boxes so they understood what to do and then I just read to them and they drew their own pictures for the last 4 boxes. It worked really well—they were engaged, reading, and showing comprehension through drawing.

  1. The students might not seem to be paying attention, but they’re acquiring, so don’t stop talking in the TL

Sometimes the kids who seem like they are focusing the least are picking up the language right in front of you but you can’t see it. All of the sudden, one day a student who has been interrupting and disrupting class will start talking in the TL. It has happened to me several times and each time I’m still amazed. Even though it seemed like the student wasn’t interested at all, they heard everything I said and understood it and processed it and eventually acquired it.

Speak in the TL as much as possible and always have faith that it’s getting through to them. They will pick up a lot more than it seems.

  1. We can’t linger too long on one activity, no matter how compelling, interesting, or “good” it is

The activity needs to constantly change—I need to stay ahead of their attention spans and keep them hooked. They will get bored otherwise. And bored students are disruptive students.

This is why doing all the different songs at the beginning works well – they get to sing each song and then take a quick break, then sing another and do completely different actions (first song-“Buenos días”-has hand motions, cómo estás has faces to make, and then the students get out of their seats for linguacafé-style conversations)

In the past, after singing songs I would expect the students to be able to sit in their seats and quietly listen and participate for 25 minutes. I had great stories and great question and answer activities, but they took a really long time. I don’t know why I expected the kids to sit through it, though. Everything I have seen in my experience as a Spanish teacher has told me otherwise. If you look at what I just wrote above and think about why the songs work so well and keep the students so engaged, you’ll see that it is precisely because they have to keep moving and doing different things. Instead of just doing a chunk of activity at one time, I instead have started to keep the action going throughout the classroom by sprinkling in brain breaks and activities that get the kids up and moving.

The only requirement is for them to listening to and comprehending the language, so why can’t that be done while they are standing? Or dancing? Or jumping? Or spinning?

Sample Plan

Here’s a sample lesson plan (not the whole thing, just the list of activities that I will do in the 30 minutes) to give you an idea of what I have found to work in the youngest grades. Remember: the idea is to keep them peppy, moving, and loud (sure their grade-level teachers might not like that, but if you want them to acquire, they have to be engaged)!

I hope that this helps and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know!

Introduction activities – 4-6 minutes

  • TPR actions (stand up, sit down, jump up and down, breathe in, breathe out—I add some funny sound effects to this part, spin around, repeat nonsense words, etc)
    • These actions get them up and moving and get their blood flowing and get them into the mood for listening to and responding to the TL
  • Songs – with words and actions
    • Standard “Buenos días” song (to the tune of Frere Jacques) and I invented some hand motions (waving, shrugging, thumbs up, etc)
    • “Cómo Estás” adapted from a Basho and Friends video I found on Youtube called Cómo estás?
  • Conversations to get them out of their chairs and talking with their friends in the TL
    • (como estas and answers that they practiced for a few months with the song mentioned above)

Vocabulary review – 5-8 minutes

  • Back to the seats and stand up for TPR actions for adjective review (tall/short, fast/slow, etc)

Reading/Storytelling – 8-10 minutes

  • Then students sit in their morning meeting spots for story time – then we read “Perro grande…Perro pequeño” translated from the PD Eastman book
    • Lots of story-asking throughout the book
    • Editing the text of the book as I read it to make it more comprehensible
    • “Getting it wrong!”

Review story – 5-10 minutes

  • Students draw pictures of their favorite scenes
  • Or
  • Students tell the story to a partner in English
  • Or
  • Students draw a comic strip of the story (more for the older students)

Ending “Sponge” Activities (a term one of my professors taught me about the activities used to “soak up” the extra time in class and keep it all in the TL) – 3-4 minutes

  • If time after reading, students will play a game (veo veo or simon says – something to keep their brains working in Spanish and their production level low so that they don’t feel any pressure to produce until they are ready)

Promoting Student Success, Pt. 4: No One Does Poorly in My Class

The fourth part in the ongoing series about how I can encourage success and not set students (and myself) up for failure.

Student progress in a language is a very individual thing. Different kids who have had the same amount of comprehensible input might have significantly different levels of proficiency. This is just a part of language acquisition. As language teachers (and as teachers, in general), we must be willing to explain things differently for different students or to give alternate assessments that will allow students to show their individual proficiency. Kids who have not mastered all of the things we have discussed in class are not going to fail because they are on a different mental time-table than my course pacing.

If you checked my online grade book and saw all my grades for all my classes-kindergarten through eighth grade-you’d see that the grades are almost all As and Bs and maybe some Cs. You might be tempted to think something along the lines of, “well, this guy must not be grading everything;” “this guy’s class must be a joke–all songs and games and no actual rigorous content;” “this guy must just give everyone good grades to avoid painful meetings with angry parents;” or something else along similar lines.

But there is a really good reason that almost all of my students have great grades and it is none of the things listed above. Continue reading “Promoting Student Success, Pt. 4: No One Does Poorly in My Class”

Class-Created Stories

FLES is popular!

I’ve recently gotten a lot of views on my post about using CI in the fles classroom. I’m so glad that everyone likes it! I’ve just started using CI in all of my classes this year and it has been pretty great. Some things I still have to work on, especially keeping middle school kids interested, but the elementary school kids LOVE IT! I highly recommend using some CI methods in your elementary class if you haven’t already.

One of the most popular things I do with the kids is Getting it Wrong. In the lower grades, this never ever seems to get old. I’ve found that with the upper grades, I get a lot of rolled eyes and big sighs, but the little ones can’t seem to get enough of it.

Class Stories

Another thing that has worked really well is creating a class story together. This activity is described in the Sixth Edition of Fluency Through TPR Storytelling by Blaine Ray and Contee Seely. If you don’t have this book, I highly recommend* it! It is a great resource for how to do everything in TPRS. Continue reading “Class-Created Stories”

Hallway Conversations

Sometimes it is hard to determine where the students truly are in terms of proficiency. I am currently implementing a change in my curriculum from a traditional textbook-based one to a communicative one based on high frequency vocabulary and grammar forms. I use storytelling in class and I ask students lots of questions and they generally understand all the things that I’m saying.

For assessments, I have the students do several different types of things. for example, I have students write their own stories, rewrite stories they have heard in class, retell stories in English and Spanish (depending on confidence level), and draw comic strips of the stories that we have heard or read in class. Upon reflection, most of these assessments are very good at showing how well the students comprehend the language we use in class, but I’m not so convinced that they have great control over the language to use it on their own. Their stories are based on stories we have done in class, so it’s safe to say that they are just copying some of the forms and story structures and rewriting them. In other words, if they didn’t have the old stories to fall back on, I’m not convinced they could come up with the stories on their own. This is a challenge that I am going to face in the second trimester (which started yesterday) and I will keep you updated as I go.

Proof of Ability (in other words, Assessment)

In my search for authentic assessments that show students’ true levels of confidence and control of the language, I have been able to find one that is pretty accurate: Hallway Conversations. All I do is talk to the kids in Spanish outside of the classroom setting. It seems simple, but the way I see it, if the students are able to interact with me in Spanish outside the classroom, then I must be doing a pretty good job. And it works for all levels, K-8!

In my experience over the last few years, when I have spoken to students in Spanish outside the classroom, I got a range of reactions that went from blank stare to deep concentration while trying to remember how to respond to “hola” or “buenos días.”

Currently, though, things have improved. Students can generally answer when I say something to them in Spanish. Some of the more confident ones will even say things like hola, buenos días, or cómo estás to me without prompting. CI has built the students’ confidence outside the classroom. If that’s not a gleaming endorsement for teachers to use CI instead of (or along with, I won’t discriminate) grammar-based methods, I don’t know what is.

Building Student Rapport

Hallway Conversations have another, even more important benefit. Sure, they let me know (informally) who is feeling confident in using Spanish, but they also help to build rapport. The students feel confidence because they are able to communicate in Spanish. They feel a self-esteem boost because they have a teacher who is willing to meet them half way in their language. I never correct or tell them they are doing it wrong. That’s not the purpose of the activity. I just want to know how they are doing.

Only the Beginning

This promising development is one of hopefully many more that I will be able to implement that will show where they truly are in their ability to use Spanish in real world situations. I will be implementing speaking and writing rubrics that are much more formal and proficiency-based than I have ever used before. I will be drowning in data about the students’ proficiency (in a good way!). I don’t currently know definitely where each student is in their proficiency journey. I have a general idea about each one, but there is no direct evidence.

Now that the kids are starting to feel confident, it’s time to get more formalized with my assessments; it’s time to help them to branch out and reach the next level.

Hispanic Heritage Month Story 1

Hispanic Heritage Month began last week and I’m taking this year to do something a little bit different. I have been using TPRS methods in my 4th – 8th grade classes (two days a week, but they are picking things up well) and I am experimenting with a story that opens up the kids’ minds to the Spanish speaking world. I have started with the story below, about a boy who wants coffee, but there isn’t any in the USA. I started by going over the geography of Central and South America (where countries are located, what they produce) and as I tell the story, I show pictures of maps and the landscape of the country. The country in the first story is Colombia. The character in the story, Tim (subject to change based on the kids in the class), goes all over the country asking for coffee. In the spoken story, I include a lot more places in the US.

The character in the story, once he gets the coffee he is looking for from Colombia–from James Rodriguez, a Cafetero (Coffee Maker/Worker – nickname for the Colombian National Soccer Team–my kids are soccer crazy since the World Cup) and a cafetero (an actual coffee maker)

Any comments, corrections, suggestions are welcome!

Without further ado, el cuento:

Había un chico. Se llamaba Tim. Tim estaba en Orlando, FL. Tim quería café. Tim tenía un problema. Tim no tenía café. Tim estaba triste porque Tim no tenía café.

Tim fue a Starbucks. Había un chico en Starbucks. Era un barista. El barista se llamaba Colin.  Tim le dijo a Colin:

–Hola, necesito café. ¿Tienes café?

–Hola.  No tengo café. Tengo , tengo Coca Cola, tengo Chai Lattes, pero no tengo café.

Tim estaba triste. Tim quería café y no había café en Starbucks.

Tim fue a Walmart. Tim fue al pasillo del desayuno. No había café. Había cereales, había Poptarts, y había té, pero no había café.  Tim estaba triste.

Tim fue a Dunkin Donuts.  Tim le dijo al presidente de Dunkin Donuts:

–“¿Tienes café?  Necesito café.”

El presidente de Dunkin Donuts le dijo a Tim:

–“No, no lo tengo.”

Tim fue a Panera.  Time le dijo al presidente de Panera:

–“¿Tienes café?  Necesito café.”

El presidente de Panera le dijo:

–“No, no lo tengo.”

Tim todavía estaba triste.

Tim fue a Washington D.C.  Time fue a la Casa Blanca.  Había un hombre en la Casa Blanca.  El hombre se llamaba Barack Obama.  Tim le dijo a Señor Obama:

–“Señor Presidente.  Necesito café.  ¿Tienes café?”

El Señor Presidente de los Estados Unidos le dijo:

–“No, no lo tengo.  No hay café en todos los Estados Unidos.”

Tim estaba sorprendido y todavía estaba triste.

Tim pensó en los lugares en dónde se podía encontrar café.

Tim fue a Colombia. Había un hombre en Colombia. Se llamaba James Rodríguez.  James era futbolista para los Cafeteros. James también era cafetero. Tim le dijo a James:

–“Hola.  ¿Tienes café?”

James le dijo:

–“¡Claro que sí! Estás en Colombia, el hogar del mejor café del mundo.  Toma una taza ahora.”

Tim tomó una taza de café.  Dijo:

–“¡Es delicioso!  Muchas Gracias.”

In English:

There was a boy.  His name was Tim.  Tim was in Orlando, FL. Tim wanted coffee.  Tim had a problem. Tim wanted coffee. Tim was sad because he had no coffee.

Tim went to Starbucks. There was a boy in Starbucks. He was a barista. His name was Colin. Tim said to Colin:

“Hello, I need coffee. Do you have coffee?”  “Hello. I don’t have coffee. I have tea, I have Coca Cola, I have Chai Lattes, but I don’t have coffee.”

Tim was sad. Tim wanted coffee and there wasn’t coffee in Starbucks.

Tim went to Walmart. Tim went to the breakfast aisle. There wasn’t coffee. There was cereal, there were pop tarts, and there was tea, but there was no coffee. Tim was sad.

Tim went to Dunkin Donuts. Tim said to the president of Dunkin Donuts: “Do you have coffee? I need coffee.”

The president of Dunkin Donuts said to Tim: No, I don’t have it.”

Tim was still sad.

Tim went to Washington, D.C. Tim went to the White House.  There was a man in the White House. the Man was named Barack Obama. Tim said to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, I need coffee. Do you have coffee?”

The President of the US said to him: “I don’t have it. There is no coffee in all of the USA.”

Tim was suprised and was still sad.

Tim thought about the places where coffee could be found.

Tim went to Colombia. There was a man in Colombia. His name was James Rodriguez. James was a soccer player for the Cafeteros.  James was also a cafetero (coffee maker). time said to James: “Hello, do you have coffee?”

James said to him: “Of course I do! You are in Colombia, the home of the best coffee in the world. Have a cup now.”

Tim took the coffee cup.  He said, “It’s delicious. Thank you very much!.”

From traditional to TCI: Beginning a comprehensible journey

This whole internet as professional development thing is new to me, but I sure wish I knew about it when I started. When I started teaching at my current school, I had a fresh MAT in foreign language education, no experience outside of my internship (at a high school, I currently work at a K-8 Catholic school), a textbook from 1987 (seriously), a wish, a prayer, and several boxes of things from my methods professor’s 40 years as a teacher and administrator.

The principal, when he hired me, told me, “this is your room. Have a great time. Let me know if you have any questions.”

Any questions?!?!?

I was filled with questions, the most significant of which was, “what am I supposed to teach?” The teacher I was replacing, I’d find out later, left under bad circumstances and didn’t leave anything of her program–not any notes, not any curriculum materials, not any order of instruction. I came into a k-8 teaching position cold. I taught the standard things that are in the beginning of a textbook: greetings and goodbyes (“we learned that a long time ago”–6th graders), colors (“that’s the only thing our last teacher ever taught us–just colors and worksheets to practice the color words”–8th graders), present tense verbs (“we saw this last year and the year before and the year before that”–7th graders).

They had a comment for everything. Maybe it was just because I was new and naive, maybe they really did know that stuff; either way, it was a tough year filled with panic attacks, stress, and the strong desire to quit.

Luckily, I didn’t quit. Or to put it another way: Luckily, I never found another position that would hire me.

In retrospect, it was tough, one of the biggest challenges I have faced in my (short, at this point) teaching career, but it was worth it. I learned everything that I didn’t learn in my education masters program. Most importantly, I learned how to develop a curriculum. It took until the beginning of last year, three years in, for me to develop any idea of what’s appropriate for kids at the wide range of ages that I teach (no in-depth writing for kindergarten; no coloring sheets for 8th grade; that sort of thing).

Then, last summer, I attended a TPRS workshop. Now, just as it has begun to get comfortable, I have decided to change everything about my approach to teaching and my philosophy of teaching. I have had an epiphany about my purpose is as a teacher.

Before, if students could pass grammar tests, I considered them successful. I had a hard time squaring that with what I learned in grad school about proficiency, comprehensible input, Can-Do Statements, i+1 with what I was able to do in the classroom. I knew what all those things were, but I had no idea what to do with them or how to approach them. Until July 2014, I didn’t have the tools to even begin thinking of those things. Teaching grammar was easy (for me). Grammar was comfortable. Unlike most 9-14 year olds, I really like grammar. It was fun for me. (The content, not the getting frustrated or mad at students who were goofing off because they didn’t have the same enthusiasm that I do about verb endings and gender agreement)

It’s the story of so many language teachers: I did what I had always known and it didn’t work. Then I had the aha moment.

Since that aha moment, I have been experimenting with TPRS and comprehensible input in the classroom and I find that it fits my personality so much better than book work. I can be as silly as I want, as long as I am focused on making my input comprehensible. The kids are responding better than they ever have and they are enjoying themselves more than I have ever seen in my classroom. Oh, and they are speaking and writing better now, after 5 weeks, than they had in the previous 4 years!