Monday, June 12, 2017

Evolution of my TPRS teaching: example Alma

Someone recently asked me about how I plan out for the years. I generally do the following:

My first year with a curriculum:

  • fly by the seat of my pants
  • take notes on what works/doesn't (mental or written/typed out)
  • survive
Subsequent years:
  • hone different areas (not all at once)
    • assessments
    • activities 
      • stories
      • movietalks
      • guided discussion prompts
      • extras
      • games
      • classroom management
      • usage of novels
      • usage of SSR / FVR
  • continue to gather more resources to throw in
  • adapt resources to level of students that year (readings)
  • have more fun because it's way less stressful

For example, you can tell my 2nd or 3rd year of using TPRS, I saw Cynthia Hitz had used something called a MovieTalk about Alma. I was relatively new at this. 

So my first year with Alma (maybe fall 2012), I did the following:
  • Spoken story
  • MovieTalk (talked to kids, paused movie at key points to build interest)
  • Simple version of a reading 
    • I lost this over the years

Then the next year at a new school (spring 2014), I thought it would be fun to make an Embedded Reading. So I was comfortable with the movie and added different versions.

Then the next year at the same school (spring 2015), I thought it would be fun to make it even more immersive. I made Alma into a little mini-unit with el muñeco viviente as well before. So I was comfortable with the movie and added different versions.

I also added in elements of TPR to help remember some of the new structures.

  • "muñeco" mini-unit 
    • the hope was  to eventually talk about burning of los muñecos del año viejo as cultural extension. Haven't gotten to it yet.

The following year in Spring 2016, I continued to use Alma. But I tweaked the readings. I wanted to continue pushing their literacy and to really get more bang for my buck. I continued with Justin Jedlica's story because it was a hit the previous year. (Folder)

Then this past spring 2017, I was at a new school again. I was no longer in the block schedule so I felt like it could definitely be improved next year. What I did was pretty similar to 2016 because I liked how that turned out. But I added a phrase: "something weird happens" and tried to work on Direct Object pronouns a little bit. I also used it for Spanish 2 because it was a new school and they hadn't seen it. So I adapted the language to fit their needs a little bit.

So as you can see... my teaching is definitely a process. And I'm continually changing activities and adding to them/taking away from them. 

What I especially love about TPRS and CI is that with TPRS/CI, the same activity/text can be used with students regardless of level with a little bit of tweaking because that's the nature of language!

Hope that gives you some ideas as a fellow educator!


  1. I've wondered this for a while, do you do all embedded readings on the same day?

    1. Hi Megan! It will depend on various factors:
      1. how long your classes are
      2. what activities you are doing with each version
      3. how engaged classes are

      In block schedule 90 minutes, I might do 2 versions in a period. If I needed a break though, I might go through all three versions and have comprehension questions after each version. We wouldn't do that often.

      Another option is to differentiate if you're 1:1. Maybe students could read 2 versions based on their level and answer questions. So your lower readers could find success and your upper readers could find success.

      This last year, I typically would do 1 reading per day since there were other things we did in the class periods.

      But if the first version was REALLY short, we might get to 2 versions in the period with a brain break (get up, pick up the paper and sit down) type thing in between.