October 26, 2016

Spreading the Word!

A friend of mine went to NTPRS this summer and came back saying that it is a lot like a tent meeting – like a religious revival.  I am from middle Georgia so I know all about those!  I understand her perspective because we can get pretty zealous (some might even say overzealous) about CI.  So today it was funny that I literally told my seventh graders to go forth and spread the word!  We need some zeal around French and Spanish class!

Personally I think that class is going pretty well.  I mean, check out this French One story about Carl the Bottle of Bleach!  Too bad we ran out of recording power because the story turned out so cute.  It was raining so much that the white tablecloths in the elegant Taco Bell got all muddy.  Being bleach, Carl likes things clean.  So he got sad, started crying, and his tears (made of bleach, mais oui!) cleaned the whole world!  And then there is Goldfish la Galleta Salada who almost gets eaten by a very hungry 19.5 year old woman.

Despite the fun times in class, comprehension-based teaching needs better PR in my school community, it seems.

file_002-2My principal informed me that there is talk in the community about my program, that kids are not learning anything.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, in their freewrites from last week, in which they were able to write paragraph-length discourse in French after two months of work, a number of kids reported to her that it feels like they are not working hard enough in class (they shouldn’t;  language acquisition is unconscious and they should feel relaxed in order to lower their affective filters) or learning anything.

Of course, they are acquiring a ton of language, as seen in this freewrite by a first year student at the end of eight weeks of French.  This freewrite, done in ten minutes with no reference materials, not even the word walls, as we went to the library to write, is at least Intermediate Low writing. (Novices cannot crete with the language.)  This was completely randomly-selected and is neither the highest nor the lowest word count nor was it chosen for its accuracy or vocab usage.  It is literally the one that I found first in the list of pictures I snapped that day.

After our SLA Talk Show yesterday, I had the students make brochures and posters to educate the school community.  I will put these up during conferences in two weeks and also during a Parent Language Night we are planning for later in the year.  We are going to keep spreading the word!  These kids are getting the best language instruction ever developed, and I believe this firmly.  I want the community to see the results and start advocating for more comprehension-based teaching in our area.

Notice the one that says, “It’s Lit!!!”  Gotta love seventh graders!


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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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