My class enjoyed the TPR portion in which we had to perform different actions. But it got to the point where my brain just wasn't able to fill the class with things for the students to do or novel commands. At that point, Rowan starts adding in Personalized Mini Stories (PMS). Nevertheless, as I pointed out yesterday, those stories are very forced. They are forcing the students to follow a storyline so that the teacher is in control of the class and they basically just insert students' names into the story.
When I learned TPRS from the workshop this summer, we learned that it's about teaching certain structures. A teacher can throw in all sorts of vocabulary into the class as long as they keep in mind that the purpose is to give the students comprehensible input. The stories that Rowan had created were too detail driven to make sure students acquired the vocabulary. Instead, it is important to focus on the structures and the vocabulary will come more naturally. Today, I decided to start over (in a way of speaking) by starting to tell stories from the book Look I can Talk! by Blaine Ray.
The beauty of the stories in the teacher edition is that you can really open up the stories to whatever. Not all of the classes have to be the same.
For example, in three different classes I decided to teach the same structures. The levels of Spanish are 1-3 and I can tell already that the level of stories will be different because the students in the higher levels will have more words that we can play with.
The basic structure storyline is that:
There was a boy.
The boy's name was [Student's name].
The boy liked ____.
The boy wanted to have ____.
The boy was in ___.
There wasn't any ___ in ___.
The boy went to ___.
It's pretty basic. With just that storyline, we went for almost the entire class talking about what the boy wanted and adding details. In each class the storyline differed greatly.
There was a boy. The boy's name was Jesús. Jesús liked dogs. Jesús liked blue dogs. Jesús wanted 100 blue dogs. Santiago wanted a new television. Nacho wanted 50 dark-haired girls. Marcos wanted lots of money. Marcos wanted one dollar. Jesús was in the the mountains in Japan. Nacho was in the White House. Marcos was in a big box. There were no blue dogs in Japan. Jesús went to Marcos' big box. Nacho went to Marcos' big box. There were 900 girls in Marcos' big box. There was a party in Marcos' big box.
There was a boy. The boy's name was Pedro. Pedro liked cats. Pedro liked pink cats. Ana liked penguins. Rosa liked to play baseball. Pedro wanted to have 100 pink cats. Pedro was in the Colorado Mountains. There were no pink cats in the Colorado Mountains. Pedro went to Six Flags.
There was a boy. The boy's name was Burrito. Burrito liked cats. Burrito liked green cats. Burrito wanted to have 900 green cats. The professor didn't like cats. Catalina liked yellow penguins. Eva liked blue horses. Catalina wanted one incredibly small yellow penguin. Eva wanted small blue horses. Burrito was in Diana's house. There were no cats in Diana's house. There was one dog in Diana's house. Burrito went to Brazil slowly on a penguin.
There was a boy. His name was Diego. Diego liked cats. Diego liked green cats. Carlos liked gigantic squirrels. Ana liked tall African American boys. Diego wanted to have 307 green cats. Carlos wanted to have 11 gigantic squirrels. Ana wanted to have 16 tall African American boys. Diego was in the bathroom. There were no green cats in the bathroom. There were yellow cats.
So as you can see, each class had very different details that they added and they personalized the story to fit their needs. I tried to help them learn to play the game. Hopefully we'll get better about playing the game as we go.
Tomorrow I think we'll continue the story. Some students seem to just shut off for a moment and they do not signal me as we rehearsed. I need to be better about making sure I talk slowly enough for the students and to point slowly.
For assessment during class, I did try the 'show me your fingers' activity where the students are supposed to show their comprehension to you. If they show all 10 fingers, they did not understand. If they show you 9 fingers, they understood 90 percent, etc. You want to shoot for about 80% comprehension or more from the entire class. If there is less, review and make sure that the students understand the material. I also had the students write 15 words in the last few minutes of class of some of the parts of the story. This was to build their confidence that they could understand what we were talking about in class.
This method is much more entertaining than traditional teaching because the class can be so different based on their ideas and the story can still be compelling.