Sunday, January 4, 2015

Progress Report

A few months ago, I wrote up a posting here about what my CI goals were for the year. With 1st semester having ended and 2nd semester to begin in a few days, I thought that I would give you all a progress report of how things are going so far this year. Here are my reflections:
  1. Leave the textbook behind - I have not completely left behind the textbook, but rather I am doing a "hybrid" approach. As I have two other Latin colleagues who follow the textbook closely, I cannot just abandon it. Instead, I took a look at what needed to be covered for the semester and took my own approach at it: covering the material how I want to and in what order I want to. In some ways, I have been successful, but in other ways, there have been some "grammar" concepts which I did not get to. I am not concerned though. 
  2. Deliver understandable, comprehensible and compelling language to students in word and on paper - I have gotten better at this, but I still have a long way to go. On many occasions, I feel that I am indeed delivering messages, but they are not 100% comprehensible or compelling. As I have read on a number of CI/TPRS blogs: less is more. 
  3. Limit vocabulary - This is the one area where I start to panic a bit. If I were following the Latin 1 textbook, at this point, students would “know” 160 words. For me, I have only introduced 60 words, so part of me feels like “Wow, I am SO behind.” But I also realize that:
    • I have introduced lots of high frequency vocabulary first which the book does not until much later
    • in limiting vocabulary and lots of interaction with the language through meaningful repetitions, my students have truly acquired these words. They are not having to make flashcards to learn these words, because they are learning them subconsciously. My students truly know these words now, because they have ACQUIRED and internalized them. The proof: although my vocabulary quizzes are unannounced and cumulative in nature, 90% of the students are scoring 100s on them (the lowest score is around an 80). Plus, students are using these words on their own in their timed writes.
         I would much rather have that students acquired 60 words than "memorize" 160 words                 for a quiz and then forget them.

     4. Hit the high frequency words first - Wow, this has completely changed the way in                        which I teach language. I do not know why textbooks do not do this! Hitting high 
         frequency vocabulary first has given me so much freedom and for students to create 
         language. Here is a great post by Crystal Barragan about what high frequency verbs 
         should be taught first.
     5. Incorporate a Word Wall in my classroom - DONE! I love having a word wall, and I 
         do not know why I waited so long to do one. I will address this in a later post.
     6. "Point and Pause" more - I am doing a much better job at this. I have always written 
         new words on the board in order to establish meaning, but now I am deliberately 
         "pointing and pausing." In fact, I am pausing for a longer time than I have before. I
         slows me down in presenting the words, which as a result allows for added time for 
         students to process the vocabulary. At NTPRS last summer, when learning Japanese                     from Betsy Paskvan, I remember how much I appreciated it when she "pointed                                and paused." 
     7. Vary things up - I have adopted Carol Gaab's mantra "The brain CRAVES novelty." I 
         try to do 2-3 different strategies/techniques a day and not to repeat a strategy until 3-4 
         weeks have passed in order to preserve the novelty. I have written up an earlier post 
         addressing this. Even in circling, I have followed Carol's advice and vary it up every 
         4th/5th question by then doing a PQA and then after every 4th/5th question of that, 
         I will change it up again.
     8. Focus on student reading and re-reading - This seems like such an easy and given 
         strategy but gosh, we language teachers completely neglect this. Reading and re-
         reading is indeed where the "magic" happens in second language acquisition! The 
         key though is to vary up the strategies so that the re-reading has a different focus 
         each time, thus preserving the novelty.
     9. Read more CI/TPRS blogs - I have read some really good blogs out there! I will                               address this in a later post. 
   10. Attend CI/TPRS presentations at conferences - At ACTFL, I did not attend one 
         Latin session (outside of the one on Untextbooking as it was led by Bob Patrick, 
         Miriam Patrick and Rachel Ash), instead focusing on sessions which addressed 
         Comprehensible Input. There were many Latin teachers there who did not even know 
         that I was at ACTFL until the ACL reception, because they did not see me any of the 
         Latin sessions.

So far, I am very pleased with how my CI progress is going. It is actually very exciting seeing the acquisition process occurring in students - it is SO much different from the results which I have seen using past memorization/drill-and-kill methodology.

I am looking forward to this new semester - at the end of May, I will give you my final update.

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