October 6, 2016

Writing Days Are for Lovers (of sitting)

In a recent post in Ben Slavic’s PLC, someone was saying that they recently made a presentation on TPRS to their local or state organization.  They said their presentation was well-received, but that someone asked them how they keep their energy up.  This is a common perception of comprehension-based instruction.  I would call it a misperception.

Actually, I find myself pretty relaxed in teaching with comprehensible input, especially when I am using the students’ ideas to guide my teaching and not trying to get them to take a shine to grammar (good luck, teacher!) or to swallow a story that was forced on to the procrustean bed of repetitions of targeted language.  My job now seems less like coercion and more like channeling.  Less like tricking them into caring and more like uncovering their ideas and building together.

In French One, we worked on a story based on a One Word Image of a chicken named KF C.  This cute little five-level tale practically wrote itself, because we like the character so much!
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

But regardless, even though story creation seems to have gotten tons simpler with the focus OFF language slices and ONTO the kids’ ideas, it is still nice to be in the aural-written input cycle and come upon a writing day.  It is nice to sit and write with the classes.  It feels cozy, celebratory, like we have created something that we are proud of, that we created in collaboration together, and that we are now going to memorialize, to add to our growing storybook of class-created texts.

In Spanish One, we worked on reviewing the artists’ work and then Write and Discuss.  I love these days.  I really enjoy retelling from the artists’ work – I genuinely look forward to it – and I feel the same way about writing with the kids.  It is enjoyable, and also nice to take a load off and sit and enjoy what we created together yesterday.

Larry el Cerebro 

Bobrito Part One
Bobrito Part Two

Eminem Part One
Eminem Part Two

Spoiled on Stories?

In my French Two class, we have been telling stories for a year now. The class seems a little spoiled, maybe taking stories for granted.  In recent days, they have not been bringing the creativity that we need to CO-CREATE the story, not have Hargaden doing all the work.  I can’t be the one to bring all the energy to class.

We are also working through some issues of behavior management.  One particular issue is the abuse of the bathroom pass system.  Another issue is kids distracting each other with less-than-scholarly behavior.

We have therefore moved to a brief hiatus in which we will read some teacher-created stories.  In this class, we are reading and discussing a story about some school supplies who cannot get along (I wrote it to incorporate some of the vocabulary that I know my class’ future classmates in French 1-2 are working with at the feeder high school.).

You will hear several talks in L1 on engagement and behavior.  I thought twice about posting these, since they do not show us at our most beautiful, but then I thought thrice about posting them and concluded that they might help other teachers with similar classes.  Who knows?

In these three videos you will see the class be put on a diet of Read and Discuss.  On Monday we will do some further work with the story.
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

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About Lanny Ball

For more than 23 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy and reading consultant in Northwestern Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

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