Wednesday, August 17, 2016

NTPRS day 3 - More Russian, Acting, Being quiet, Reading, Making a Movietalk & Russian Mafia

*this is my attempt to keep track of what happened while I was at my very first NTPRS in Reno, Nevada 

Russian - day 3
So day 3 of the conference and Russian. I think by this point, I was going in whenever possible for the Russian, but was trying to discreetly leave when it was time for coaching practice. This is nothing against the coaches or groups. I just realized that I could be doing other things (talking to other educators, just taking a break to think about my coming year and the vocab lists, etc).

So anyway, I was starting to drag by this time in the week. My roomie and I weren't averaging much of sleep a night. I was probably getting 4-5 hours a night and it was wearing on me. On breaks I was calling my family because I missed them dearly so I wasn't really getting a lot of sleep and I could slowly feel it more and more each day.

I walk into the class and Katya had chosen me the day before for acting, and I had really wanted to act on previous days because I have never been the main character in a story during a TPRS training workshop thus far.  But I figured that I had been chosen to be Lady Gaga the day before and I could just relax in the back.  For whatever reason, Katya just asks me to go up immediately and act out a story.

Basically I wanted a job and called different people on the phone begging for a job. Katya would stand behind me and have me act and move around. I appreciated her telling me quietly in English what to do. This helped me as the actor to know better how to be successful in my role. *Note to self: be more intentional with actors in subtle ways to bring out the best performance.*  I acted the best I could, but it seemed a little flat. I guess people were used to my overacting antics by this point. And Katya quickly solved the problem. I was fascinated by this and later asked if it was because the story was flat or because she had to get to the next activity. She said she was just pre-teaching the words/context for a reading we were going to do and so it wasn't meant to be a full 40 minute story.  But still interesting to see that I can set up a reading with a quick little scenario. I hadn't thought of that before. I always do more drawn out stories a day or two before a reading, but never a story right before a reading (in the same class period).  This is something I should experiment with.

Something else that ocurred, I really wanted to produce the language and Katya told me two things:
1. it's my story
2. (very quietly just to me) Jeremy, please be quiet.

I didn't take offense to the "please be quiet" thing and realized that I was being counterproductive. I wanted to produce so badly but she didn't need me to.

So something else for me to remember is that if my students aren't quite there in production, it's ok for me to just politely ask them to play along with my story and allow me to talk for them.

Afterwards we did a reading and it is very enlightening to understand the frustrations/difficulties for our kids. Russian, for whatever reason(s), wasn't as easy for me to figure out as French. Probably in part because it's not a Romance language. But not just that. There would be times that my brain would notice things and wouldn't be able to figure out the pattern!

And so I asked questions while reading. Katya very patiently would say (every time): Thank you for asking that...

And one time she responded, "Thank you for asking that. It's making me a better teacher."

While it might have been a stock response, it made me feel good as a student for trying to figure it out and for her to acknowledge that it wasn't a bad thing (even though it might have been a little counterproductive to the class).  But she would answer really quickly and move on.

I want to say we read an embedded reading later on that day and that was a very fun experience to do a volleyball translation with another teacher. He was better than me at it and yet we worked together and figured things out.  So maybe volleyball translation isn't as dull as I thought it could be sometimes for my kids (provided I don't overuse it).

Making of a Movietalk:
The previous evening, Señor Wooly gave us a rundown of different camera angles to use when filming our project. He wanted us to make a movietalk-able video in the hotel in about an hour or less.  My group was running late from dinner and so I was sitting there alone and had no cast for our movie. Our idea required them to be present and I thought, "Wow, I guess I'll have to do something on my own if they don't show."

I looked down to see my water bottle and came up with an idea involving bottles as my actors. When my group showed up, I told them the new idea and they helped me film the video below. I edited it on my phone in a free app called "Adobe Clip"

It wasn't as polished as I would have liked, but I think it turned out well for my first attempt at multi-camera angle video that tells a sort of story!

In addition, when we all showed our videos, people seemed to be impress with our low-budget techniques utilizing camera angles to make the bottles move.  All of the videos from every group turned out great though!

Here's the vid:

Russian Mafia:
So in the War & Peace Room the previous night, we had tried to play Mafia and people got kind of confused. Michele Whaley decided to do a demo of Mafia in super basic Russian and it was very enlightening as to how we could do something similar!

I liked how she limited vocab. She tapped students on the shoulder to let them know what they were (to avoid cards). And it was relatively easy to follow and super limited on language! Since I teach lower levels, this was something I could do as well. Although I tend to do it at the end of the year after kids have had a lot of Comprehensible Input and I can embellish the ways people pass from this life to the next in the game!

After mafia I was pretty exhausted so I turned in early!

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