Erin Gotwal Part 1 & 2

Here I sit, planning my 2nd week of lessons for my junior primary classes. I must keep in mind that many students are preliterate, especially the brand new reception students (5 year olds)! I have been searching online for activities suitable for preliterate students and stumbled across these 2 inspiring videos.

While Erin’s students are definitely not new reception students, I love how she supports everything she says with text and/or illustrations. This reduces the cognitive load for her very young students by supporting comprehension. Ingenious.

Erin uses so many techniques that are perfect for R-2 students. Watch and enjoy!

https://app.schooltube.com/video/2a8bccee1acf1ede4018/Erin%20Gotwals%20Part%201

http://bit.ly/oZbYDO

PS. If the links don’t work for you, google Erin Gotwals part 1 & Erin Gotwals part 2.

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Week One Brain Breaks

At our school, specialist teachers combine to present a week one program. You can read more about it here. This will be the third year that we have done this program together and it’s such a great fun way to begin the year. The specialist areas at our school this year are Indonesian, Performing Arts & PE and also joining us next week will be our amazing counsellor, Karen, and librarian, Ruth.

The program runs over 3 days and each day is based around one of our 3 school values of confidence, respect & community. Again we will be based in the gym and in each lesson time, we will have between 3 – 5 classes to work with. Most lessons are singles, but we also have a few doubles and over the 3 days,  most classes will join us for 3 lessons. Consequently we have to have a few ideas up our sleeves each day that both fit the overriding theme for the day & are suitable for a mixed R-7 group of students.

I have been scouring YouTube this morning searching for activities that tick all the boxes and in doing so discovered the Ultimate Camp Resource.  What an amazing collection of fun activities! I have created a week one folder on my YouTube channel for activities that I think will be great for our week one specialist teachers program but they will also be super brilliant for tweaking to become awesome brain breaks too! Here are a few to show you what I mean!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I particularly love the Whoosh Game because the language could be tweaked so easily to:
Whoosh = kasih (give)
Whoa = tidak mau
Boing = melompat
Zap = zap (I believe strongly that only familiar words should be used & some fun words still incorporated!)
Freak out = Gila
Super freak out = Gila sekali

2018 Melbourne TCI Conference

I have just realised that this conference was my 3rd TCI conference in 12 months; Laurie is right; it IS very easy getting hooked on TCI conferences!! So as I reflect on this conference, I am also super excited about my trip to Cincinnati for iFLT 2018 in less than 6 months!

The presenters, Anny Ewing, Laurie Clarcq and Terry Waltz were brilliant. Anny contributed her knowledge & experience of TPRS in the primary sector, Terry contributed her prodigious passion for pure TPRS as well as her techniques for teaching a non-roman alphabetic language while Laurie’s upbeat thoughtfulness, joy and compassion together with her trademark embedded reading rounded off the team perfectly.

If I had only time to write about just one thing I loved about this conference (thankfully there is no limit), it would be the constant repetition of the following:
1. Make it comprehensible – establish meaning, support meaning, comprehension checks etc
2. Provide repeated exposure – ask questions, confirm answers etc
3. Keep it interesting – adding details, eliciting student answers, personalisation etc
4. Teach for success – go slowly, differentiate questions, pause and point etc
This was woven into each day, each session, each workshop. If participants take nothing else home with them from the 3 days but this, it will not matter at all because it underpins successful TCI practise.

Overall, this conference helped to clarify and consolidate my understanding to date of TPRS/TCI both from a student’s perspective as well as from the teachers perspective. The very first thing I discovered was that I could not listen to Terry’s Hawaiian story and count structures! It interfered with my processing! What a light bulb moment that was! No wonder students have strong opinions about the jobs they want or don’t want to do!

Laurie Clarq shared with us the following mantra which resonated with all participants:
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This is really important to keep in mind during your TPRS/TCI journey. Every teacher is working on a different milestone and each one is vital to that person. We acquire TPRS/TCI at different rates – just as our students acquire language at different rates. Wherever you are on your journey, it is where you should be. Comparing yourself with others is pointless. They are not in your shoes and visa versa. TPRS/TCI is not about the destination, it is entirely about the journey! However take note; the TCI road is rarely smooth and usually begins with an enormously steep learning curve.
Terry and Laurie also added the following gems over the three days:
– (TPRS) won’t get easier but it will get better.
– Build up your skills gradually. Start small. Choose one TPRS skill, try it and then keep doing it. Don’t give up!
– Don’t let details derail your TPRS.
–  Progress not perfection.
– Anything worth doing well is best done poorly at first.
– Students will only remember how you made them feel and quickly forget all else.

I can’t believe how many notes I took over the three days. I took the notebook I bought in Agen and followed straight on from my Agen notes to keep all my TPRS conference notes together. Unfortunately my notes from the Port Elliot conference are not in one place! Convening & attending a conference simultaneously is challenging!  Hopefully I remember to take it with me to Cincinnati in July.

Terry began her Hawaiian demo by reviewing the RULES which although I remember from last year, I had forgotten the explanation that goes along with each! I love them!
1. Naked desks – student learning habits need to be adjusted for language classes. They are used to taking notes but with TPRS, they just have to listen!
2. Listen – because that is how language comes into your mind.
3. Answer Questions – Everyone responds to questions. If your mouth is not moving, the teacher will assume that you don’t understand and therefore you will receive special attention to fix that! Also, do not answer on behalf of others. Answer in the TL unless I am looking for an idea.
4. Stop – If you don’t understand, stop the teacher. (Establish gesture: Terry used the windscreen wiper action) If you see someone gesturing that they don’t understand, join in to support the team. Think of an iceberg with only a fraction visible above the surface of the water. For each person who stops the teacher, there will be another 10 sitting silently/ motionlessly. Stop the teacher immediately you stop understanding. Don’t let the teacher continue because the teacher won’t know at which point you were lost. (Terry then demoed this with us to illustrate how disruptive this is)
5. 2 Words – Magic fairy dust means we don’t know the answer yet. Answers must be no more than 2 words of English!
6. Ohh/Ahh –  Class stories and answers are fascinating. Encourage students to respond to demonstrate appropriate responses which reinforce that all story details are fact! (Ohh/Ahh exclamations could eventually be swapped for culturally appropriate words. e.g. Astaga {OMG})
7. Grandma – Grandma is joining us in our room. She loves interesting stories, she will fall asleep if the stories are boring however she will get very cross if she hears anything inappropriate. So keep Grandma happy!

Terry then began her Hawaiian story which followed the typical beginners story formula. Character has a problem, character visits 3 locations to solve problem & the problem is solved at the 3rd location. While I used this formula often in my first year of TPRS, I haven’t lately because I found it too repetitive (sounds like an oxymoron – how can repetition in TPRS be a negative??) but while listening to Terry’s story I learned how to keep this formulaic story compelling. The secret is to use the i+1 principle. For example, if the character wants a large computer, (I’ve tweaked Terry’s story to avoid spoilers!) there are no computers at the first location, while at the second location there are only small computers. However at the 3rd location, there are large computers. The other technique Terry used to keep the story compelling was to invent quirky locations based on well known popular culture. e.g. Computers ‘R Us.
After the story, Terry recommended encouraging students to celebrate and acknowledge the amount of language they’d covered in the story. Due to the many repetitions through circling, fishing and the use of an actor, we (the class) found it easy to translate sentences from the story into Hawaiian! It was a blast! Terry did remind us that students are not expected to retell the story yet because they haven’t read it yet!
Terry next opened a PowerPoint which contained a parallel story. (A parallel story is an almost identical story incorporating exactly the same vocabulary (structures) but the who and the what are different. It is vital that the who and the what are words that are identical or almost identical in both L1 & L2. For example, if you want your character to be at the beach, use the name of a familiar beach rather than the L2 word for beach! Ensure 100% comprehensibility. Less is more.) The class read the story together with many comprehension checks & humorous brain breaks along the way.
What totally blew me away was how much Terry covered in a short amount of time, yet at no time did I feel lost or rushed. There is no way I could have achieved that pace with either my primary classes or my adult class! It was so impressive. Terry explained afterwards that the pace was too fast however as the demo is so powerful (experiencing TPRS as a student is the only way to fully understand how a student thinks during our classes) and sooo important that it just had to be done that way. I noticed there were many more interruptions (comments/questions) this year compared with last year and no doubt they ate into her allotted time. We referred back to aspects of this demo over and over throughout the conference.

After the demo, the group was divided into 2 groups – those who have attended a TCI conference previously (Tier 2) and those who haven’t (Tier 1). It was heartening to see not only the numbers of people returning for their 2nd Australian TCI conference but also so exciting to see the large group of teachers who were at their first ever TCI conference. Fingers crossed we see them all again in 2019.

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On Day 2,  Laurie invited those of us seeking experience coaching Tier 1 colleagues to remain with Tier 1. Terry began this workshop reviewing  the basic TPRS skills and then explaining the difference between circling questions and fishing questions.
The basic TPRS skills are:
– circling
– 3 for
– comprehension check
– SLOW
– short/tall (restating student answers as complete answers)
– machine gun No’s – Parking on the No
– Point & Pause
Fishing – Adding interest, detail to create a new sentence.

This session provided participants with the opportunity to trial circling and fishing. Annie & I sat with a couple of Chinese teachers and were totally amazed with how well Joseph circled his structure (buys a coffee) and then how he fished for a detail (9 o’clock in the morning). IMG_5621.JPG

In the afternoon, the participants were divided into teachers of primary and teachers of non-primary. I followed Heidi into the non-primary group looking for tips to help me with my proposed 2018 adults class. We were paired off to create a parallel story based on a fairytale. I worked with Luci on our Indonesian ‘Cinderella’ story. Boy – was this a challenging and thought provoking exercise. We had to assume our students only knew the super 7, a few joining words (because, if, with, therefore etc), numbers 1 – 10, yes/no, pronouns & good/not good. In our stories, we had to limit our new vocabulary to 5; no more than 5 unknown words in the entire story! I got bogged down with this exercise and in hindsight realised we should have simplified the story hugely.  Other pairs rewrote this story using only 8 – 10 lines, whereas I filled in a page and a half! As I said before; an excellent writing exercise.

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Day three focused on reading; the 3rd step of TPRS. We began by understanding the importance of 100% comprehensible reading texts to enable students to see the story unfolding in their heads. See here for the slideshow.
While authentic texts are rarely 100% comprehensible, they still have value. However always remember to ensure that the task based on the text is of benefit to the student. It could be as simple has locating familiar words, translating using context cues or simply checking student’s proficiency level (although this focuses on what students can’t do; not what they can do).
A good CI text has connected ideas, is highly comprehensible, demonstrates a solid understanding of second language acquisition theory and is written by a highly fluent speaker. These texts enable students to enhance reading skills,
including:
– developing reading comprehension strategies
– tracking/skimming text
– visualisation
– stamina and concentration
– prediction/ infer to check meaning
– summarise i.e. draw own conclusions
Texts also provide opportunities to extend student understandings by applying vocabulary in new contexts. For example, with the structure Kevin’s ‘house’, in an Indonesian text, classes could be encourage to infer how to say 1) my house 2) Mr Jones’ house or 3) hospital (assuming students have already acquired the word ‘sakit’!
During text readings, incorporate TCI skills e.g. SLOW, pop up grammar, comprehension checks, English summaries.

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Reading activities I want to try with my students:
1. Jumbled sentences
Take 5 main sentences from a paragraph in the text and write them up on the board, in jumbled order, one underneath the other and each line beginning with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A. Together the class choral read the sentences with the teacher. The class then echo reads the sentences; the teacher reading in the TL and the class echoing in English. Students then gestured the meaning (keeping their voices in their head) for each sentence while the teacher read in the TL.  Students then turn to a partner and together decide on the order of the 5 sentences so that it makes sense. After a given amount of time, ask for a pair to read out their order of the sentences (accept lettering if given) and then as a class choral read the sentence order as given. Ask  for opinions from the class (does this makes sense?), ask if anyone had anything similar/different. Repeat and compare! I loved that Anny gestured while we were choral reading as this really supported my comprehension. I thoroughly enjoyed this reading activity.
We talked about the huge difference between partner work (as above) & partner practise (dialogues). Anny also encouraged us to ask questions such as What was tough but you worked it out? What did you notice in this text that was different?
2. Popcorn Reading/ Volleyball Reading/ Train Reading
Students in pairs take it in turns to say a sentence in either TL or L1. We began side by side working with a partner and then turned our chairs sidewards so that we were sitting side by side with a different person in 2 long rows of chairs to form train carriages. I’ve always expected my students to read the text sentences in both Indonesian  & English however I loved how we could either read the sentences in English or Hawaiian. Such a cool idea to give students the choice!
3. Listen & Draw
Students folds a page into quarters and then numbers the quarters 1 – 4. They then illustrate the sentences read out by the teacher. I loved how Anny read us 3 sentences together and we drew one illustration to represent all of the information. So cool. Usually I read one sentence per quarter which is great for junior primary, but for older students, this encourages closer listening! Afterwards, the teacher can show the class a students work and discuss it OR the teacher could reread 1-3 of the sentences from one of the quarters randomly and students hold up the number of fingers to represent which quarter the sentence or sentences were from.
4. Movie Strips
Hand students a strip of paper. Fold three times (makes 8) and then unfold. Students illustrate one sentence from the story in each segment and then roll up when finished. The paper then becomes a film strip which could be narrated either by the teacher or by the student should the latter have had enough input beforehand.
5. Express Acting
Have props representing each sentence of the story; either a location prop or an actor prop. With each sentence, students take it in turns to stand up, grab the appropriate prop and act out the next line as it is read out by the teacher. Should the actor need to speak, the teacher can help if the actor is not confident to do so. The teacher merely stands behind the actor giving the actor a voice. Beforehand though, explain quietly to the actor that “When I touch your shoulder, that means you have to pretend to speak.” This allows the teacher to use many students from the class, which for junior primary classes is sooo important. Something Anny did which I truly loved was that she circled the action in the story by talking to the actors. She asked the house, “Do you have…..”, She asked the actor, “What do you want?”, “Was there ….. at the house?”, “Do you want a big or small ……?”

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To finish up this overlong post, I am going to write random take homes I picked up over the 3 days that I’m looking forward to trialling with my students ….
* Menurut Saya (in my opinion) – Student states an opinion and all those who agree stand up. Here is Señor Wooly explaining a fun activity to introduce this language.
* Beginner language learners must focus on the super 7 (Top 10 + sudah/ belum for Indonesian)
*Ipad vs Paper is a great clip to movie talk.
*weighing the pig doesn’t make it fatter – if an assessment activity does not help the student learn, it is a waste of time.
*classroom management idea – raise your hand when you can’t hear the sound anymore.
*picture talk for an end of lesson filler should it be needed.
*Senor Wooly Tres Acciones – a great target structure activity for verbs
*Have 2 different gestures for words that have 2 different meanings. e.g. pakai – have a gesture representing ‘to use’ & another gesture to represent ‘wear’.
*Teachers must use strategies to restrict language (stay in bounds) & keep instructions short and simple.
*While fishing or circling, incorporate basic everyday language that supports conversation and communication into questions. Its also an awesome way of incorporating required curriculum vocabulary that doesn’t seem to fit in elsewhere naturally.
* If fishing and no one is biting, pair students off to come up with some suggestions. They keep a hand each in the air until they have a suggestion!
*When circling, incorporate the suggestions (whitebait) that were discarded during the fishing. This demonstrates that all responses are values and appreciated.
*Look at the teacher and smile if you could have answered the questions too!
*Wait time honours thinking time and encourages students to check their answer.
* tieing knot = ‘sudah’ gesture
* Student job suggestion – the parrot who repeats what the teacher has just said but only when appropriate!
*No point correcting student output in the first 3 years of their language learning – they are not ready for it.
* Develop a few strategies for rejecting fishing suggestions that didn’t make the grade e.g. impossible because he is in Bali today, I looked on Facebook and he is sick, Not  Bronwyn at Victor Harbor Primary? etc

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Year 1/2 Retells – Belle Mau Punya Teman

This week Vicki, one of my awesome colleagues and the one who owns beautiful Belle, fullsizeoutput_b14decided to show her class my video about her animals. Soooo clever. Vicki has spoken constantly about her animals to her students throughout this year and therefore was delighted when I created a video about them.

Before Vicki began playing the video to her class, she explained where the video was shot and then said added that there was just one problem; the video is all in Indonesian and Vicki doesn’t speak enough Indonesian to understand it! Vicki then played the video and afterwards asked her students to write a retell to explain to her what the video was about.

Most wrote in English but a few chose to write their retells in Indonesian!! For most students, this was the first time they had seen the video and their retells demonstrate high levels of comprehension. Those who chose to write in Indonesian also did an excellent job. One of Vicki’s students, Taylah, follows my channel and had watched the Belle video several times during the holidays. I bet you can pick which of the following is hers without even needing to read her name!

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Making TCI Videos

I have had so much fun making i+1 (at my students level with just 1-2 unfamiliar words) videos for my students. I was inspired to do this after watching Bu Anne’s videos on her YouTube channel Indonesian Fun For Juniors. Most of my videos on my YouTube channel were created pre-TCI and the language used is either English or incomprehensible (for my students) Indonesian. The final catalyst that resulted in me creating TCI videos was my 2017 trip to Agen when I backed myself into a corner by telling my TRT (substitute) that I would be posting videos for students to watch and Listen & Draw while I was away.

Before I left Australia, I asked a couple of classes what they’d like me to include in my videos and that really helped me include topics of student interest. Student requests ranged from pigeons to the Eiffel Tower! Taking the video was the easy part surprisingly; the most time consuming and challenging aspect is the narration.  Sometimes I really needed a word yet to be acquired by students, so I added it as a subtitle with its English translation.

I’ve since returned to Australia and have had fun exploring how to make videos from PowerPoints which are considerably easier to narrate but harder to locate appropriate visuals. My latest idea (which I will work on soon) is to use student illustrations instead, however this can only be done towards the end of a story. Then the next challenge will be to take a ‘leaf’ (cut?) from Alice Ayel’s YouTube videos and draw the pictures myself! For some reason, this is extremely challenging for me because I am the world’s worst drawer. In Indonesia, on our way home from the 2017 Agen conference, Annie & I spent a day with Ibu Mia at her school. In one class, I drew a camel – we were talking about speed humps (polisi tidur) – and my camel picture had the entire class in puzzled laughter! I had to ask for a volunteer to draw one for me!!

My latest video is called Belle Mau Punya Teman (Belle Wants a Friend). Belle is a gorgeous pup who belongs to a colleague and the idea of creating this video came to me while I was house sitting during the last holidays. Vicki lives in such a beautiful spot and has a variety of animals that it was a no brainer to collect video on my phone while I was there. Once I had the footage, I opened iMovie and started making the project. I had no idea of the video title while videoing; that came to me when going through the footage. When I make videos this way, I don’t have a script; I simply reduce the volume of the footage and narrate straight into the project and the storyline develops as I go. Consequently, the dialogue takes a lot of editing in order to keep inbounds (using only language my students know), staying SLOW and fitting the dialogue to the footage clip. Quite a tricky balance.

Have a watch and see how it turned out:

Seven Fascinating Things CI Will Do To You

Tina has summed up eloquently why I am an over the top passionate CI teacher. I also know that every CI teacher who reads her post will agree and maybe can even add to the list???

Nobody Expects the Spanish Acquisition!

Just went to the CI Midwest conference and got to spend time with old friends and make a good number of new ones. Last night in Jolly Spanish Teacher Jeanie’s gorgeous, well-appointed (two pianos!) vintage home in downtown Ripon, Grant Boulanger gave a moving talk to the organizers and presenters and then people shared their thoughts. I was so grateful, sitting in that room with all of these beautiful, heart-filled teachers on the same mission.

I had said to Bryce Hedstrom earlier, as we hovered by the veggie tray with some of the brightest teachers I can think of squeezing past us, that there would be no other house on the planet where I’d rather be at that moment. That house contained precious cargo – a good number of teacher leaders who have dedicated countless hours to developing their own craft to reach their own students so they can now…

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