[TFLA-list] Textbooks / curriculum...

Michael Wagner mwagner at mcgregor-isd.org
Fri Mar 31 17:28:06 EDT 2017

When I was first introduced to storytelling (almost 20 years ago), it was
in it infancy. At the time I learned about it, I had started using but had
difficulty convincing the teacher that was here at that time that we should
look into becoming a CI department. Unfortunately, the teacher was very
content just teaching grammar and having students simply memorize rules and
vocabulary lists and doing worksheets and did not want to change. So, yes,
I did dabble in CI about 20 years ago and I wish I had stuck it and not
worried about rocking the boat. But that is water under the bridge.

Yes, TPRS has changed greatly and the process is way different from what I
was first exposed to. When I finally got back into the world of CI, things
with story telling had made a major shift and the process works so much
better. Instead of telling a story and the actors responding (which was
somewhat akin to TPR at that time), you now "ask" a story which allows the
audience to give suggestions as to what details make up the story (meaning
the story is not set script, but more organic and can take on the
personality of the class).

I currently have two Spanish 1 classes and four Spanish 2 classes and the
story, though the skeleton is the same for Spanish 1 or for Spanish 2, I
end up with very different and distinct stories (and yet I am teaching the
same structures/vocabulary and it is fun and refreshing for me because of
the differences between the stories).

Sounds scary and at first I would find myself losing control of the story
as it unfolded. But I now have learned how to control the story and still
allow the students to make their contributions which gives them a sense of
control and ownership. Do I get right every time? Nope.

Michael E. Wagner
McGregor High School
903 Bluebonnet Parkway
PO Box 356
McGregor, TX 76657

Tele. (254) 840-2853
Fax: (254) 840-2489
Email: mwagner at mcgregor-isd.org

On Fri, Mar 31, 2017 at 3:16 PM, Annette Lowry <alowry1 at sbcglobal.net>

> For me, TPRS is Total Physical Response Storytelling.  Times have changed
> that, I guess.
> Annette Lowry
> --------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 3/31/17, Michael Wagner <mwagner at mcgregor-isd.org> wrote:
>  Subject: Re: [TFLA-list] Textbooks / curriculum...
>  To: tflalist at list.tfla.info
>  Date: Friday, March 31, 2017, 8:22 AM
>  Many who responded to my email want
>  to know what is Comprehensible Input
>  (or CI). Over the the last few days I have pondered how best
>  to answer this
>  question since discussing teaching using CI strategies in an
>  email may not
>  convey all that one could get out of actually being able to
>  see and
>  experience it in action.
>  But this is good for me because it causes me to look at and
>  analyze my own
>  practices in the classroom. So, here we go...
>  In a nutshell: "Comprehensible Input is language that we
>  receive (read or
>  hear) that is comprehensible to us (we understand it)."
>  [Quote from Martina
>  Bex's website: The comprehensible classroom, May 8, 2015
>  <https://martinabex.com/2015/05/08/tprs-101-teaching-
> proficiency-is-really-simple/>
>  ].
>  Instead of me having to reinvent the wheel, I think that
>  reading this
>  particular page (be sure to scroll down past the picture of
>  the girls
>  learning to ride a bicycle) from Bex's website will give you
>  a better
>  understanding what CI is and a few of the instructional
>  strategies that
>  provide comprehensible input. Once you have scrolled down
>  past the bicycles
>  and have read what she has there, then you can scroll back
>  up to the other
>  steps she has listed and explore what else she has to say
>  about CI.
>  Here at McGregor we are a small department of three Spanish
>  teachers and we
>  all use CI as our guide for how we approach and teach our
>  classes. Starting
>  on the first day of class (yes, even with Spanish I) we
>  start our classes
>  using Spanish. We have found several different activities
>  that are CI
>  worthy and allow us to use the target language with total
>  understanding on
>  the part of our students starting with day 1 (if you had
>  told me this about
>  6 or so years ago, I would have probably rolled my eyes and
>  would have said
>  "not possible").
>  One of our goals is to be able to use the target language
>  90% of the class
>  time as established by ACTFL. Are we there? No. But as we
>  learn more about
>  CI and strategies that provide comprehensible input, we are
>  finding that it
>  is becoming easier to maintain class in the target language
>  and that
>  the students are much more receptive.
>  What are some strategies that we use? Here is a list of some
>  the more
>  frequently used one:
>  TPRS (*T*otal *P*roficiency through *R*eading and
>  *S*torytelling)
>  Please, please, please, do not confuse *TPRS* with *TPR*
>  (Total Physical
>  Response). TPRS and TPR are extremely different from each
>  other. The only
>  thing they have in common are the first three letters.
>  *TPRS* involves lots and lots of story telling (which the
>  students love) in
>  the target language followed by tons of reading that
>  recycles and supports
>  the target structures and vocabulary being learned.
>  I love TPRS, especially if the story turns out better than
>  expected. TPRS
>  provides the students with a lot comprehensible input and it
>  is all done in
>  the target language.
>  As a follow-up to storytelling, we usually have the students
>  write the
>  story (each student retells in his/her owns words). By the
>  end of the
>  school year, Spanish 1 students are writing stories that are
>  roughly 150
>  words or more in length, Spanish 2 roughly 200-300 words,
>  and Spanish 3 and
>  4 stories that are 300+ words in length.
>>  PQA (Personal Questions and Answers)
>  ​PQA is pretty flexible and something I am still learning
>  how to do. It
>  basically involves asking question and getting answers from
>  the students,
>  all done in the target language. It can be done anytime
>  during class.
>  Movie Talk
>  ​I love Movie Talk. It is so easy to do and can provide a
>  lot
>  comprehensible input​. You basically take a commercial or
>  a short movie
>  (3-6 minutes in length - YouTube is a good source) that fits
>  with the
>  vocabulary and structures you are teaching. You start and
>  stop the
>  movie/commercial and ask tons of questions and discuss what
>  i
>  s going on. All done in the target language.
>  ​Embedded Reading
>  This is another favorite of mine. It is basically taking a
>  story and
>  reading three versions of it (1st reading of the story is
>  brief and
>  provides the bare bones of the story, 2nd reading is
>  slightly longer and
>  has a few new details added, and the 3rd and final reading
>  is the full
>  version).
>  Again, as you work through the readings with the students,
>  you ask
>  questions and discuss.
>  And the wonderful thing is that after students get a lot of
>  input, you
>  begin to see voluntary output on the students part.
>  I know this has been a long email in response to the
>  question of what is CI
>  and now you probably have more questions. Trying to explain
>  what CI is and
>  how we go about teaching with comprehensible input in a
>  single email is not
>  possible. When you can see it in action and then can discuss
>  with that
>  teacher what was going on, it makes so much sense. I only
>  wish I had
>  started teaching using comprehensible input earlier on in my
>  career.
>  I am now in my 30th year of teaching, the other two Spanish
>  teachers here
>  at McGregor have just started their careers - one now has
>  been here three
>  years and the other two. The one teacher who has three years
>  experience got
>  to witness the difference between a CI classroom and a
>  traditional textbook
>  driven classroom when doing her student teaching. When she
>  was interviewing
>  with us and I asked her if she knew what CI and TPRS and a
>  host of other CI
>  strategies were, she became so excited and animated. She
>  related how she
>  was able to see the difference in ability to use the
>  language between the
>  students who learned under a CI approach versus the
>  textbook.
>  Anyway, I could go on, but I do need to bring this email to
>  a close.
>  I will do my best to answer any and all questions you send
>  my way.
>  Y que todos tengan un buen fin de semana (And may everyone
>  have a good
>  weekend).
>  Michael E. Wagner
>  McGregor High School
>  903 Bluebonnet Parkway
>  PO Box 356
>  McGregor, TX 76657
>  Tele. (254) 840-2853
>  Fax: (254) 840-2489
>  Email: mwagner at mcgregor-isd.org
>  On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 7:25 AM, Sisler, Susan <
>  Susan.Sisler at springbranchisd.com>
>  wrote:
>  > I haven't used a "traditional textbook" for many years.
>  But can you
>  > explain how you determine and agree what
>  "comprehensible input" is to be
>  > used and what the source of this input is? Depending on
>  the textbook, that
>  > can be a good source. I don't know any good teacher who
>  slavishly follows a
>  > textbook, page by page.
>  >
>  >
>  > -----Original Message-----
>  > From: TFLAlist [mailto:tflalist-bounces at list.tfla.info]
>  On Behalf Of
>  > Michael Wagner
>  > Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 3:54 PM
>  > To: tflalist at list.tfla.info
>  > Subject: [TFLA-list] Textbooks / curriculum...
>  >
>  > Dear Colleagues:
>  >
>  > A few months back several in LOTE community were
>  wanting feedback on
>  > textbooks. My question is not about which textbooks you
>  are thinking of
>  > adopting. My question is who approaches the teaching of
>  his/her classes
>  > with comprehensible input (CI) as the main deciding and
>  driving factor?
>  >
>  > Here at McGregor High School we have stopped using the
>  "traditional"
>  > textbook. Instead we have gone towards letting CI
>  dictate how we approach
>  > our classes and how we design our curriculum and lesson
>  plans. We have been
>  > using CI now for the last five (5) years and we
>  absolutely love it!!!
>  >
>  > It would be great to be able to share ideas and
>  strategies with others who
>  > also are using CI in their classrooms.
>  >
>  > So, who out there is using CI in their language
>  classrooms?
>  >
>  > Michael E. Wagner
>  > McGregor High School
>  > 903 Bluebonnet Parkway
>  > PO Box 356
>  > McGregor, TX 76657
>  >
>  > Tele. (254) 840-2853
>  > Fax: (254) 840-2489
>  > Email: mwagner at mcgregor-isd.org
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