Monday, April 4, 2016

Shhhh, we're secretly adding more reps

One of the main premises of TPRS/CI is that the students hear the structures multiple times. How does this happen? Using as many repetitions (reps) as possible in novel ways, circling the structures. While we can all improve our trade, I always felt this was one area that I needed to focus on...until last week. It dawned on me that students receive reps in ways that I didn't think about before, using strategies that I knew worked. In reflection, I see that there are numerous reps they hear each class period.

Last week we started a new book, El viaje perdido by Lisa Ray Turner and Blaine Ray. The vocabulary structures we focused on were:

El vocabulario útil:
le encanta(n) - s/he loves (likes a lot)
mareada - seasick; dizzy
ni siquiera - not even
tenían vergüenza - they were ashamed
se dio cuenta que - he realized
a pesar de - despite
prodrido - spoiled
una bruja - witch
una broma - joke

Gramática importante:
había robado - he had robbed
había leído - he had read

We took no more than 2 structures a day, and slowly reading the chapter, circling content that was important and using the vocabulary. I chose a couple vocabulary words that we would be using in the reading that day. Here's how this played out:

Opportunity #1
Bellringer When students enter the room, they see these super mini stories with their picture that I find on the Internet and pasted onto situational pictures also pulled from the Internet, like this one using some of our structures. Some are old, most are recent. Some are words that they struggled with the day before. Either way, they can't wait to get into class to see who is next on the big screen. Once attendance is taken, and other book keeping activities we do as teachers, we translate the story as a class. They see the vocabulary used again in a  different context and we circle the information and elaborate the story using additional reps. I have also been known to use parallel characters (a flipped idea of a parallel character to the actual story) that uses the characters in the novel we are reading. Sometimes I will stretch their problem-solving skills by adding in a new word to see if they can understand it through context. Usually they can!

Opportunity #2

1, 2, 3, ¡YA! Using the vocabulary structures from the previous day and adding additional vocab from the part of the novel we read the day before, or any previous structures. I call out a word from the list and say, "1, 2, 3, ¡YA!" On ¡Ya!, students hold the corresponding number of fingers to "post their answer". There are always 5 words to correspond to their 5 fingers so they don't need both hands. It's a quick check of their language acquisition, based on our previous learning.

Opportunity #3

New vocab & PQA To introduce new vocabulary, a few at a time, students repeat the vocab with me as I repeat it at least 3 times, more if they are struggling with the pronunciation. This means they hear it up to 6 times between me and the student repeating it. Then we enter into PQA conversation using the given structures. I try to give them possible other vocabulary that may come into conversation as we begin discussing. I am always amazed how kids will retain even this  FYI vocabulary later and use in their retells and writing (output), even the traditionally "low" students. Pull out grammar is vital in this stage as they need to be aware of está podrido/a/os/as using the different foods mentioned. Lately, I've been able to even keep this in the target language. Now that we are in the middle of the chapter of the novel, the students are familiar with the characters and basically what's happening in the storyline, we can start to make predictions about what the characters will be doing based on the new vocabulary. 

Opportunity #4

Character retell When we start any novel, it is uber important to understand the characters and some background on them. This is an opportunity to Q/A characteristics of the main characters. I first allow students to volunteer any information they may know/remember about them and I will repeat the statements - yep, there's more reps! Then I will ask additional questions to engage them in focused structures through additional brief circling of content and structures. Pull out grammar is ideal here, too, to be sure they are understanding basic ideas of the language.

This book gives great physical descriptions of these characters so earlier the students drew pictures of each one, adding to their collage of drawings every time a new character was introduced. Using their pictures, they partner with another student to describe each character. This gives them good listening (additional input reps) and speaking (output reps) practice. 

After the students have an opportunity to retell all they know or can about the characters, we come back together and I ask... Clase, ¿quién es alto? ¿quién está mareada? ¿quién es una mujer hermosa? etc so that they get additional reps of current and past vocabulary.

Opportunity #5
El viaje perdido by Lisa Ray Turner and Blaine Ray 
Next part of the novel We are now able to enter the novel again. In a 90-minute class period, we are now down about about the last 30 minutes of the block. Wow, that has been a LOT of reps up to this point. This is why if they don't completely have the structures acquired during the reading I know they will get more the next day. This will give them additional, novel information to add to what we are talking about so that we can expand their conversation.

Once we start into the novel again, we first have to review what we know so far, right? Yep, more reps at this stage. 

We will continue reading where we left off the day before. As we read, I continually circle the content and vocabulary that they struggle with to better understand it. Just as proficient readers continually ask themselves questions like: 
  • Does this make sense?
  • How does this new character relate to the other characters?
  • Why is this character doing/say/acting this way?
  • Is this in check with the storyline? Is something not logical here?
  • _____?
Proficient readers also take notes, summarize, review, reread, look up words they don't understand, and discuss what they have read. This is why when we teach reading in another language we have to directly teach students to do develop these skills. This pushes teachers to ask all kinds of higher order thinking skill questions. Acquisition plus HOTS? Woah. It also allows for more reps to be included! How clever are language teachers, right? 

Opportunity #6
Quick Write At some convenient stopping point, usually 5-8 minutes before the end of class, students do a quickwrite. The goal is 100 words in 5 minutes. Again, this gives them additional reps using the language and the new vocabulary. Sometimes I allow them to use their notes, vocabulary structures, or whatever they have at their disposal (just not their book because I don't want them to copy the book onto paper!). Other times, for the challenge, I will have them put their notes away and just go from memory. It is truly amazing what they can do; some will even surprise themselves!

Opportunity #7
Acting When there is time and we have a shorter chapter with lots of action, students will help the class visualize what is happening while someone narrates the story. This could be a Reader's Theater style, a skit, based on the novel, or simply me doing Q/A while the students act. I did not do this last week, but it is definitely in my toolbox to get more reps into the class period.

The reading of the novel is what I have traditionally called the "meat" of the lesson since this is my goal is to have students read in the target language, seeing the vocabulary in context, and having impromptu conversations with the vocab and content. I was elated when my students last year no longer had formal structures "taught" because all we had to do was read and they understood the structures, using the aforementioned strategies. They just picked up the content and vocabulary because the learning was uninhibited and natural. That was some really fun teaching! I hope to get my new students to this level, too. 

Giving students as many reps of the vocabulary as possible is the surest way to give the gift of acquisition. When they have truly acquired the language, know what "sounds right", and can output the language they need, when they need it, we have accomplished our goal of language learning. It's not about the stories, it's about the learning and acquisition. OK, I'll also throw in, having fun too. 

This was just one lesson on one day, but gives a structure to how I plan my lessons. I certainly do many more activities than just these. This was meant to be a reflection on how I (we as CI teachers) naturally incorporate reps into our lessons. It wasn't until I looked outside my "meat and potatoes" that I was able to validate the quality that I did have in my lessons even though we spent so many days on one chapter. 

What are some ways you get additional reps in your lessons? Please share in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. Love these ideas for more reps and I will be incorporating them as I start my new novels with Spanish I and IV!