Kursi Luar Biasa for Junior Primary

It has just occurred to me that I have only posted about how Kursi Luar Biasa works in middle primary and upper primary classes. I also use it successfully with very young students in a much simpler format. I initially began incorporating it into my younger classes for several reasons and they are threefold: to introduce the concept of a special chair for a special person, to introduce the language ‘kursi’ + ‘luar biasa’ and as a sneaky yet compelling way to review target structures! The exclamation ‘luar biasa’ (awesome) is such a positive one that it is beaut that students are provided with the opportunity to hear it repetitively in their first year of school. It is also useful that the word for a common item of classroom furniture (kursi/chair) is introduced at this point too. Having a Kursi Luar Biasa also provides me with a designated ‘teachers helper’ in my classroom. As most junior primary teachers incorporate student jobs into their class routines and due to the fact that each class’s procedure & system differ, it is considerably easier for me to have my own system specifically for the Indonesian classroom.

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Who wants to sit in the awesome chair?

I choose the student using my paddle pop sticks using the language, “Siapa mau duduk di Kursi Luar Biasa?” following it with a comprehension check; “Bahasa Inggris? Siapa mau duduk di Kursi Luar Biasa?” and then after a student correctly translates, reply with, “Ya!! Bagus!! John pandai. Satu poin John! Who wants to sit in the awesome chair?” I repeat the English for my reception students to ensure they hear the translation clearly. I then dramatically choose a stick. I also check that the letters KLB are not written on the stick yet (this is my record system to ensure everyone gets a go) and if all is good, I make eye contact with the student and ask, “Susie mau duduk di Kursi Luar Biasa?” Naturally ‘Susie’ will nod yes and I will restate, “Susie mau duduk di Kursi Luar Biasa!” I do not circle this with reception (prep) students because of the disappointment factor, I just repeat the sentence several times as I write KLB on ‘Susie’s’ stick before returning it to the container. At this age, young’uns are still learning to understand turn taking and I strongly believe in the importance of ‘social skills pop-ups’! When I get comments along the lines of “I haven’t had a turn.”, I answer this by asking the entire class in English, “Who hasn’t had a turn yet?”, emphasising the word yet. The beauty of this question with very young students is that they either can’t remember if they actually have had a go yet or even more likely, want to sit in the chair again so much so that they pretend they haven’t sat in it yet, and also raise their hand!  This gives me the opportunity to show the student who blurted out in English that they are not the only one who hasn’t had a go YET, and then reassure everyone that there are still plenty of  weeks left in the year and everyone will get at least one opportunity. I do it in English; both to keep it short and snappy (pop-up) but also because I strongly believe in the importance of developing social skills and the necessity for this snowballs with each yearly student intake of reception students.

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The Awesome Chair: Boy or girl, Good or ok? Are you clever at running fast?

Once Susie is sitting in the Kursi Luar Biasa, I ask her a few questions based on the language structures their class has been focusing on. At the beginning of the year, the questions are simply “Susie baik baik saja atau Susie kurang baik?” & “Susie perempuan atau Susie laki laki?” With each answer (verbal &/or non verbal) I restate the answer in full. “Ya, Susie perempuan. Susie bukan laki laki.” I usually only ask 3 questions as that is as long as young students can focus. I like the final question to be quirky and incorporate the target structure. Sentences that have been successful include; “Susie mau makan hamburger?” (while holding up a huge hamburger cushion) or “Susie pandai berlari cepat?” (this awesome idea comes from Anne MacKelvie, however I highly recommend waiting till term 4 to introduce it so that you only have to race against a student for a limited number of weeks!! It’s highly compelling stuff for the students but eats into my energy reserves!) If ‘Susie’ says yes, I then wave the class back saying ‘Geser, geser’ (scoot, scoot) to create a running track along the front of the room. I gesture dramatically with my arms to ‘Susie’ saying “Ayo!” (Come here).  I then turn to ‘Susie’ and say, “Bu Cathy menghitung satu, dua, tiga. Bu Cathy berkata ‘tiga’, Susie berlari cepat ke kursi/Johnny.” (a nearby end point). I begin to count very slowly but for the first few counts, I change ‘tiga’ to a silly word. eg Satu, dua, hamburger!, satu dua Trent! Each time the student takes off I smile at them and cheekily say to them ‘nakal!’ I then count properly and pretend to run fast theatrically allowing the student to beat me. I then exclaim to the class, “Susie berlari cepat! Susie pandai berlari. Susie pandai berlari cepat.” Meanwhile ‘Susie’ is glowing with her success and struts proudly back to the Kursi Luar Biasa!

Once seated back in the Kursi Luar Biasa, ‘Susie’ takes on the role of ‘Teachers Helper’ and is my first goto person if I need help. This could be taking a message somewhere, collecting something, accompanying a student to buddy class/ the office or if we are playing a game, is automatically chosen to both demo a new game and be the first person to play!

Your Kursi Luar Biasa can be as fancy or as plain as suits you and your teaching situation. I prefer to lay my Batak weaving over a comfy chair as I do not use the Kursi Luar Biasa chair in every lesson with older classes. Sometimes, there is not enough time or it just needs to have a break to prevent it getting tired & stale. The beauty for me of using an Indonesian ‘sarong’ is that it can be whipped off quickly and is then easy enough to throw back on when you have a year 7 class sandwiched between two junior primary classes! This system is also very practical for mobile teachers as a sarong weighs very little in the ‘cart’.  Without doubt, the most impressive Kursi Luar Biasa chair I have ever seen is Ibu Anne’s. How gorgeous is it!! Her students absolutely love it. See the link below for the post I ‘stole’ (borrowed) the photo from!!

 

Have you tried Kursi Luar Biasa with your students? If you have or you just want to ask a question about this post, please write it in the comments below. All your questions and comments are greatly appreciated; not just from me but from everyone who reads this!

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Indonesian Folktale – Kancil dan Buaya

I have been focusing on this folktale this term with my year 1-3 classes. The first and last time I taught this story was back in 2015 and it has been fascinating looking back over my lesson plans from that time as it was the first year I taught using TCI.

I’ve been having so much fun with this story that I want to share with you a few of the pre story ideas I came up with for the story. Probably though, before I go any further, I should share with you the TCI version of the folktale that is based on the one that Annie, Sharon & I co-created in 2015.

Ada kancil.

Kancil tinggal di hutan.

 Di hutan ada sungai.

Kancil berjalan kaki ke sungai.

Kancil lapar.

Kancil lihat mangga dan mau seberang sungai.

Kancil tidak bisa berenang.

Kancil lihat buaya di sungai.

Buaya lapar.

Kancil berkata, “Halo buaya. Ada berapa buaya di sungai?”

Buaya berkata, “Kurang tahu.”

Kancil berkata, “Ayo buaya, antri. Saya mau menghitung.”

Buaya antri.

Kancil seberang sungai dan melompat dari buaya ke buaya dan menghitung.

 Satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima, enam, tujuh, delapan, sembilan, sepuluh!”

Kancil putar dan lihat buaya.

Kancil tertawa! Ha! Ha!

Buaya marah. Grr. Grr.

Kancil senang sekali makan mangga.

Kancil terlalu pandai.

Translation: There’s a mouse deer. The mouse deer lives in the forest. There is a river in the forest. Cancel walked to the river. Mousedeer is hungry. Mousedeer saw a mango and wanted to eat it. Mousedeer can’t swim. Mousedeer saw that there were crocodiles in the river. They are hungry. Mousedeer said, “Hallo crocodile. How many crocodiles are in the river?” The crocodiles said, “Don’t know!” Mousedeer said, “Line up so that I can count you.” The crocodiles lined up. Mousedeer jumped from crocodile to crocodile and counted. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Mousedeer turned and looked at the crocodiles. Mousedeer laughed. Ha! Ha! The crocodiles were cross. Grr. Grr.  Mousedeer happily ate the mango. Mousedeer is too clever!

Prestory telling:

My structures for this story have been:
Kancil- mousedeer
bisa – can/able to
seberang sungai – cross the river

Other structures that were covered through TPR & brain breaks include:
berenang – swim
tertawa – laugh
antri – line up

structures not covered; just translated whenever it was said;
kurang tahu – don’t know

 

To introduce the kancil/mouse-deer, I googled pics of them which I shared with the classes. There are also a few great youtube clips. This is one of my favourites:

 

Easily the best fun I had was introducing the structure ‘bisa’. My first lesson was a hoot thanks entirely to Ibu Anne. I added to my powerpoint, pictures of people doing things and then asked the class, “Siapa bisa….” ( Who can…?) When students put up their hand to indicate that they could do the said skill, I stated, “Bu Cathy mau lihat!” (I want to see it), Students happily got up and demo’d their skill in front of the class. The actions included playing violin, playing drums, gymnastics, singing (I gave them a microphone for this!), dancing (firstly waltz, secondly floss, thirdly line dancing) and then finished with flying! The flying was hilarious. In between 2 lines of  students, I placed a chair at one end and I stood at the other end with my arms out-stretched, asking, “Siapa bisa terbang ke Bu Cathy?” (Who can fly to Bu Cathy?) Everyones hand went up! Students  then one by one, volunteered to stand on the chair and fly to me! After each effort, I would sadly state, “Oh, tidak bisa terbang! (Oh, can’t fly!)” This was such a great lesson! The creativity of students to fly to me was awesome!
For the followup lesson focusing on ‘bisa’, I struck gold when I popped into the performing arts classroom and discovered receptions students learning how to do pair balances with our brilliant Performing Arts teacher, Natalie Bond. Here are a couple that I have used successfully:

https://twitter.com/chsinfantjunior/status/921033969570865152

http://year4sedgeberrow.blogspot.com/2013/09/enjoying-gymnastics.html

Google ‘simple pair balances’ and there are heaps! I have to add here though, that I was very fortunate in that Natalie did all the teaching of how to do each safely, how to work out who does what and that they each needed to take it in turns if one partner had to do a different action to the other.

My next target structure that I introduced was ‘seberang sungai’ (crossed the river). I intentionally added this into the story because it is a phrase that is so easily adaptable. It could become seberang {ruang} kelas (cross the class {room}) or even seberang jalan (cross the road). After much thought and research on the internet, I knew I wanted to have the students crossing a make believe river. Most ideas I found required equipment/props I didn’t have or would be bulky to pack up & store between lessons. I hit upon an easy yet successful substitute by fluke during one of the lessons. I noticed that as students stood up to move to one side of the ‘river’, there were cushions on the floor! Light bulb moment! I asked my star student (the one sitting on the Kursi Luar Biasa) to spread the cushions throughout the river and then told the remaining students they were all kancil who wanted to ‘seberang sungai’. I explained that they had to jump from cushion to cushion and if they fell in the river, they became a crocodile. (kancil melompat dari cushion ke cushion. Kancil jatuh di sungai, jadi (become) buaya di sungai). I add the English after words not yet acquired. This was so engaging, that students sat quite patiently waiting for their turn to seberang sungai! It also gave me heaps of opportunities to say ‘seberang sungai’ over and over again.

My follow up for ‘seberang sungai’ was to show a few pictures I found on the internet of Indonesian students crossing rivers to get to school which provided great opportunities for intercultural PQA.

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I also found a few pictures of crocodiles crossing rivers at Cahill Crossing in the NT and then cheekily finished up with this picture:

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Students were indignant when I circled ‘kancil seberang sungai’ and laughed when I explained that there is a make of car in Indonesia called a ‘kancil’!!

Look what I have also just found!! How cute! Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 7.32.11 pm.png

 

I enjoyed introducing  ‘berenang‘, ‘antri‘ & ‘tertawa‘ – via TPR & Brain Breaks.

‘Tertawa’ (Laugh) is in a great Indonesian song/rhyme that has been a huge hit with students of all ages. I found it on youtube originally but have adapted it significantly from a CI perspective. It goes like this:
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Here is my 2017 year 2/3 class demonstrating it:

 

Antri (line up):
For this, I incorporated ideas I learned while observing Annabelle Allen at iFLT 2019. I simply ask the class to ‘antri, tinggi sampai pendek’. (line up, tallest to shortest). This is very hard for students to do without talking, so once again, I used Annabelle Allen’s technique of stopping them and demonstrating ways in which they could achieve this using the Indonesian they know, then letting them go again. The first time I did this, I had to stop them several times to give kudos to those students who were using Indonesian – such a positive way of getting in those sneaky reps! Other ‘antri’ ideas include;
-hari ulang tahun (birthday months) – although I did have quite a few students who didn’t know theirs!
-mau punya buaya (wants to own a crocodile)
-nama, A sampai Z (by name, A to Z)
If you can think of any more – please add the ideas in the comments below. One I planned to do but abandoned because I anticipated too much English discussion was foot size. I think this would work better with older students!

 

Berenang (Swim) is easy to incorporate into TPR & mata-mata (spy). In terms 3 & 4 for mata-mata I have been trialling a variation of this to keep it novel. Students love this part of the lesson and woe betide if I forget it! It isn’t strictly great TCI as it is largely listen and repeat, but for junior primary aged students, I have found it a terrific way to begin my lessons and get them thinking in Indonesian and can also be an impressive demonstration for visitors of just how much these young’uns have acquired!
So this term, I have a slide in my powerpoint of the language we are focusing on currently. It looks like this:
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I limit the number of words so that it isn’t too overwhelming for the students with poor literacy. I then ask them each to choose one word for which they know the gesture. I remind them that they are not to speak, the class speaks. The mata-mata take it in turns to gesture and the class calls out the Indonesian word that it represents. Overall this has been a successful adaptation however there have been a few students, generally those with poor literacy skills, who misunderstand the instructions and make up their own gesture. Unfortunately this results in everyone calling out a random word, often in English! I am hoping that with lots of modelling and student demonstrations, this will gradually decrease!

Storytelling: 
I told the story towards the end of the term several times. The first time using pictures on a powerpoint and the second using student actors. The best thing about this story is that it easily accommodates an entire class of actors. I randomly choose the kancil using my class collection of paddle pop sticks, and the remaining characters in the story are acted out by whoever wants to. The remaining actor parts include:
hutan (forest)
sungai (river) &
buaya (crocodile).
I do not limit the. numbers of any of the above parts because any variation becomes an almost parallel story!! The first class acted out the story so well, I asked them to do it again the following lesson do that I could take photos of them to make a class book. The book looks amazing! My kancil was very expressive.

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It’s now the school holidays, and I am looking forward to planning fun activities based on this story for next term that will provide plenty of opportunities for assessment ready for the upcoming term 4 reports.

 

 

Compelling Pet Videos

I have had so much fun since Ibu Anne introduced me to the My Talking Pet app. Firstly I created a video using the orangutan and the tiger picture provided within the app and showed it to my junior primary classes. It became such a hit that other classes asked to see it as well.

 

I then followed Ibu Anne’s lead and invited students to email me a photo of their pet and from the steady incoming emails, I have created many more videos. I love creating these videos because I can get repetitions of a variety of language structures including those  covered in Kursi Luar Biasa (special person interviews). My scripts include a selection of the following language:
-a hello to both the students and a special hello to the owner of the pet,
– I am a (rabbit, dog, cat etc)
-My name is
-I am (students name)’s (rabbit, cat, dog etc)
-(Students name) is in year 1,2,3,4 etc
-I like to eat (cognate e.g. hotdog, hamburger – something really crazy)
-I am clever at singing, dancing.
-Goodbye

The videos are extremely compelling for all year levels. I even showed one to a year 9 student who dropped in to see me yesterday and she too was absorbed. You just can’t help smiling while watching animals singing or talking in Indonesian!!

I began by purely creating speaking videos and have slowly ramped them up so they don’t become boring and repetitive. The ways in which the videos can be ramped up include adding headwear, facial hair or eyewear. Unfortunately beards, moustaches, glasses, eye patches, monocles and necklaces are not cognates. However the variety of hats has been perfect for reps of ‘pakai topi’ (wears a hat) & noun adjective word order e.g. topi besar/kecil (large/small hat).

I then began investigating other talking photo apps to add another dimension and discovered one more that also include singing and dancing options. Morfo provides the option of 3 dances – rock, disco & toon as well as various costume options. Generally the costume options have not been that successful with the pet owners as they tend to obscure the majority of the animal and are quite dark/gothic looking. However the dancing has been a huge hit. Here is my dancing cat video.

 

Yesterday I did some more research and trialled every talking photo app I could find on iTunes. The next best one that I have discovered and can recommend is called Talking Photos. I love that this app also includes 2 singing options that are simply hilarious. So the latest photos sent to me by students, have been made into a video incorporating the sentence; “Saya pandai menyanyi.” (I am clever at singing). It is sure to be a hit also. Here is a clip I created yesterday with the la, la, la option!

Because the free version of the Talking Photos app has a time limitation, for the cat video above, I created two videos and then combined them into one using iMovie!

This idea then lead to creating a talking video using a hand drawn character and his biodata presented to me on Wednesday by Mani, a year 3/4 student. This is what he presented me with:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here is what I created from the above information! I hope Mani likes it!

 

If you like this idea and would like to see more of my pet videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel and you will get a notification each time I upload a new video!

 

 

Intercultural Understanding & TCI/TPRS

After writing the post about the South Australian Education Minister’s visit to my Indonesian language classroom, I sent both the minister, Susan Close, and the Premier, Jay Weatherill, a link to the post. Last month we received the following email from the DECD Chief Executive, Rick Persse, in a reply on behalf of Jay Weatherill.

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Isn’t it wonderful that as a direct result of us attending the Country Cabinet, all levels of DECD are now familiar with TPRS pedagogy! How exciting is that?

We decided to concentrate on his concern that TPRS does not completely address the intercultural understanding aspect of the Understanding strand within the Australian Curriculum: Indonesian. We began by taking up his offer to contact Maribel Coffey, which we did both by phone and email. She promptly replied to our email with a kind offer to put us in contact with Gianna DeLeo and Rosa Garcia, 2 Languages Project Officers from her team.

Gianna and Rosa readily agreed to come out and spend a day with us to help us identify the intercultural learning gaps we may have and then provide practical strategies that will help us improve our teaching practise in this regard.

In preparation for their visit, both Gianna and Rosa researched TPRS which we truly appreciated. They were familiar with Stephen Krashen; every TCI teacher’s hero. Having an understanding of Krashen’s hypotheses and TCI meant that Gianna & Rosa could focus specifically on intercultural understanding in a TCI context without needing a TCI 101 along the way.

We arranged that Gianna & Rosa would visit us each in turn to observe us teaching a lesson, finishing up at Victor R-7 where we would all gather to discuss their observations and feedback.

For my lesson, I demonstrated ‘Kursi Luar Biasa’ (KLB) – largely because Annie & Sharon encouraged me to do so – but also because it is one of the most engaging ways I know to cover many of the curriculum content descriptors. Because KLB involves asking students personal questions, it provides students with a platform to talk about themselves, either truthfully or not! I actually prefer it when students lie (suggest bizarre answers) because it ramps up the engagement a hundred percent and makes it totally compelling!

Thanks to the wonderful sharing community that TCI is, I have now incorporated a PowerPoint into my KLB lessons due to Ibu Anne‘s generosity. Last term I visited her in Victoria to observe her teaching (and co-present at the Victorian Language Teachers Association Conference) and was blown away with how much more compelling her KLB lessons were with the written and pictorial visuals. Here is a page from my powerpoint to give you an idea:

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Overall I was satisfied with the way in which I demonstrated how I incorporate intercultural understandings into my teaching. For example, the snake and dog pic in the above slide are included because they are 2 animals most of our Indonesian visitors have been significantly frightened of!

After the last lesson, I packed up my room quickly and raced over to Victor R-7 where everyone was already waiting for the conversation to begin.

Firstly Gianna & Rosa began by stating how impressed they are with the teaching that they had observed in our classrooms. They used adjectives like ‘exemplary’!! They both too commented on the high levels of student engagement in our rooms and the large amount of spontaneous Indonesian spoken by our students in class!

We then began to deconstruct ‘intercultural understanding’ using examples that Rosa & Gianna had observed in our classrooms throughout the day.  They firstly congratulated us on how well we already integrate intercultural understanding into our TCI lessons and then offered us advice on an additional aspect that if incorporated, would elevate our practise to an even higher level.

Rosa handed us each a copy of the Investigating Pedagogies for Language-and-Culture Learning (see link below) which aims to outline the relationship between the TeFL Framework, ACARA: Languages & The Shape document and “in doing so highlights  the intercultural orientation to language learning” (page 1).

This paper outlines the characteristics of language learning incorporating Intercultural Understanding – referred throughout as intercultural orientation.

Intercultural language learning is an orientation to language learning that represents a change in both the stance (the way we conceptualise language learning and the thinking that informs practice) and practice in the teaching and learning of languages and the pedagogy that supports such a change.

This intercultural orientation:

  •   respects the diversity of learners, teachers, contexts, languages
  •   focuses on the act of learning: student learning, teacher learning, community learning
  •   recognises teaching and learning as social (both intrapersonal and interpersonal), cultural (both intracultural and intercultural) and cognitive
  •   highlights both participation/action and reflection on the part of students as participants in communicating in the context of diversity
  •   recognises the powerful role of language and culture in learning; in fact, as  the foundations of all learning
  •   sees both the process of communication (as the major goal of language learning) and the process of learning as interactive processes that entail the reciprocal interpretation of meaning
  •   recognises the integral relationship between teaching, learning and assessment
  •   understands learning, teaching and pedagogy to support language learning as including processes of inquiry for both learners and teachers.This intercultural orientation shapes the three key concepts that inform Languages education: language, culture, learning, and focuses on developing capabilities that are essential in the 21st century.

page 2

 

The specific skill that Rosa & Gianna recommend we hone centres around providing students with opportunities for intercultural and intracultural reflection. Rather than providing explanations to students about differing cultural practises, throw it back at the students and encourage them to consider the reasons themselves. An example of this could be around Indonesian etiquette which requires objects to be received and passed with your right hand, never your left hand. My students have often commented on this and previously I simply explained the reasons. Rosa recommends that instead, teachers could ask deeper questions to encourage students to look beyond the difference and instead consider it objectively and rationally. Questions could include asking why Singaporeans use their left and right hands but Indonesians don’t. Is this practise practical and when would it be sensible in Australia? Is the use of toilet paper or water better for the environment? Why do Australians use a water based toilet system when we are the driest continent in the world?

In other words, asking rich and thought provoking questions that encourage students to develop self awareness and self understanding through honest reflections around not only the comparisons between different cultures but also the differences within cultures.

 

…reflection is not a simple process of commenting on things such as the enjoyment or not of an activity. Specifically, it involves reflection on such matters as:

  •   the processes of interpretation – how we interpret/understand things as we do
  •   the assumptions that provide the basis for interpretation – why we   interpret/understand things as we do
  •   our perspectives in relation to those of others
  •   our positioning in relation to that of others
  •   our expectations in relation to those of others
  •   our judgments in relation to those of others.

This kind of reflection is a necessary part of stretching students’ intellectual thinking and of ‘fostering deep understanding’ and exploring the construction of knowledge (3.2 and 3.3 of Domain 3 of the TfEL Framework).

 

Thus the teacher helps students navigate through multiple conceptions, assumptions, perspectives and personal understandings to help them arrive at new understandings that take into account the perspective of others in a productive way. This document acknowledges that this is an intricate process because student reflections happen spontaneously in the moment and requires engaging with specific student responses and ideas. as such it can’t be planned in advance but needs to be managed as it arises.       (page 46)

Rosa explained too about flipping information to help students look at a cultural practise from another perspective. The example she gave was the western tradition of birthday cakes. Imagine a culture that puts fire on decorated food and then gives it to a child who then has to extinguish the fire by putting it out themselves by blowing on it before it can be eaten by anyone! Sounds quite bizarre when stated like that!

We were assured that these classroom conversations do not necessarily need to be long and detailed but more like a grammar pop-up and in doing so would become an engaging brain break. I really like the idea of prompting students with ‘why’ questions to encourage them to consider the reasons underlying different cultural practises. It truly resonates with me and I look forward to impromptu opportunities whereby I can ask deep and meaningful questions to encourage rich reflective and reflexive student thought. It is definitely an expertise I intend to develop! Surely this is how schools create open minded and respectful global citizens.

Thank you so much Maribel Coffey, Rosa Garcia & Gianna DeLeo. We really appreciate the support and encouragement we received from you all. Rosa and Gianna are both wonderful ambassadors of the Languages team. The entire experience was invaluable and we are so grateful that both Rosa & Gianna could spend time with us to work on addressing intercultural understanding in a TPRS classroom context. The conversations we had were thought provoking because developing cultural respect and empathy in students is of a critical importance in relation to global relationships. We are all excited to implement the advice given to us and develop our expertise in asking reflective questions.
We also really hope that early next term, Rosa & Gianna can visit us again to provide us with feedback on our updated practise and understandings to double check we are on the right path.  We will also be scrutinising our school calendars to ascertain when our next Partnership Closure day is before inviting Rosa to again share her impressive expertise about intercultural understanding with the Fleurieu TCI PLN.

 

To finish up, I just had to share this quote from page 4 f the Investigating Pedagogies for Language-and-Culture Learning! If we could just tweak it slightly though so that the first ‘learn’ is changed to ‘acquire’……

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What has Changed In My Classroom Since Agen?

Anne asked me this morning this question! It’s a good one because so much has changed as a result of my week in Agen and yet it is hard to pinpoint exactly.

Spending a week in Daniel’s Breton class is one of the major reasons why I’ve adapted various changes into my teaching. Becoming a learner of a language as a beginner is something I urge all language teachers to try because if you are like me, I can’t remember what it was like anymore. Experiencing the importance of repetitions and needing EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I no longer begrudge saying words over and over again anymore. I am no longer concerned about a repetition being boring. I know that each and every time I speak, there is someone in my room who needs to hear that word once again.

One more change I am working on is speaking slowly. I am now even more aware of the importance of this. While I really like Robbert Harrell’s tip of tapping slowly on your leg,  like a metronome, I have yet to try it in class. One day, I’ll remember! As a learner, I really needed Daniel’s slow pace. It was vital for comprehension, it kept the affective filter low and also gave me enough time to scan the word wall when necessary.  While on the topic of slow, I also would like to mention how Daniel would occasionally challenge the fast processors by speaking directly to them at a slightly faster pace and then turn to us slower processors and repeat it slowly! Repetition followed by slow! We lapped it up!

Daniel would ask students for suggestions while story asking and each one was written up on the board if necessary. This practise differentiated and valued each and every suggestion. My suggestion of a kangaroo was a cognate and did not ever need to be written up on the board but dianvasou (stranger) definitely went up! I now do this too! Through this practise, I can point and pause which is a useful tool that helps to slow my speech down! Previously, in avoiding going out of bounds, I avoided incorporating new words into our story asking/ kursi luar biasa, but now I embrace it and have started collecting words that appear frequently and/or are useful for student engagement and would be great to incorporate into future stories!

Probably the biggest area of change is that I am incredibly more relaxed about my lessons. After watching Daniel, I have more confidence now following student led directions in lessons. With my older classes, since my return, I now spend each lesson focused on kursi luar biasa. One student sits in the kursi luar biasa (the awesome chair) and I interview them. I make it clear before we start that the student may choose to tell the truth or lie! As soon as that is established, you can feel the ripple in the air of engagement and immediately the rest of the class are on board. We start off with nicknames. I ask the student seated in the kursi luar biasa if he/she has a nick name and then ask the class what they are, checking after each if it is one of their nicknames. It’s hilarious! One class came up with 12 nicknames for Shaun – one of which was Sunday! It was so left field we all collapsed on the floor laughing! It is so exhilarating teaching like this! We incorporate all sorts of things into the interviews including grammar, pronunciation, intercultural comparisons (ACARA requirements) – it is awesome. Once I’ve done a few more, I am going to create a reading using the sekretaris notes and maybe incorporate one of Laurie Clarq’s embedded reading ideas and finish with an uplifting clip from youtube. Cool hey?

Another thing that has changed for me is that in meeting such an amazing bunch of people, I know there are many people in this world who have my back. It is the most amazing feeling being in and amongst CI/TPRS colleagues and feeling that sense of support and community. I definitely felt it with our PLC and online before Agen, but to feel it in another country was truly incredible. Knowing that I am a member of such a warm global community gives me the confidence that supports me each and every day before I step into my classroom! When you are amongst TCI legends who validate and encourage, you feel invincible. This is what gives me the confidence to incorporate all of the above into my teaching.

Kursi Luar Biasa – Jawaban Benar atau Kreatif? (True or Creative Answers?)

Usually in Kursi Luar Biasa, (literally – the amazing chair [special student interviews]), I ask students personal questions about themselves (age, likes, pets etc) followed by a quiz. The quiz is a benar/salah style quiz. I began at first by asking students to stand if the statement I said about the ‘amazing student’ was true or sit if it was false, however I soon discovered that this became a sheep following exercise; if one stood/ sat then the majority followed suit without any thought. So the quiz became, stand if it is true for you and sit if it is false for you – as this requires greater focused listening & personal accountability. So if I say, ‘Susan tinggal di Victor Harbor’ (repeating one fact that Susan had told us about herself), the students who also live in Victor, stand. If I say, ‘Susan tidak tinggal di Mount Compass’, then all the students who don’t live in Mount Compass would stand, while those who do, sit!

As Kursi Luar Biasa (KLB) is largely a short one on one conversation with just the occasional questions addressing or about other students (to ensure comprehensibility and/or to encourage listening), engagement levels from the older students have decreased noticeably this semester. I have racked my brain for ways to ramp it up. I scoured Bryce Hedstrom’s Persona Especial posts for suggestions appropriate for this age level as well as being suitable for Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language) and tried those that had potential (see past posts) but there were still students using this session as a zone out time. As they are generally quiet, I’ve accepted it because it has allowed me to focus on the ‘awesome’ person and to keep the spotlight right on the student who chose to sit in the chair! I also justify it to myself with the thought that while they are not listening with the intent to understand, they are still being exposed to Indonesian.

Yesterday, a year 7 boy, J, changed all that! He had us all following closely his hilarious answers and the entire class was 100% engaged and following the discussion closely! After The interview  had finished (stopped by the recess bell), I asked the class for a rating out of 5 (using their fingers) and 98%  rated it 5/5 while 2-3 rated it 4/5. I got exactly the same score for overall comprehension of the entire conversation!  J began by telling us where he lived and about the people in his family (great opportunity to revise one of the new target structures from the story that lesson) and then when I asked him about the sport he plays, we learned that he plays centre forward for Goolwa Hockey Club and is the leading goal scorer (dua juta gol!). A student who actually does play for Goolwa, was shaking her head and making it clear with body language that J does NOT play hockey for Goolwa!!  He started wildly embellishing (when asked what team he plays in, he stated the under 18’s – a grade that doesn’t exist in our local association), he had everyone’s attention.  We also learned that he plays in the AFL for Port Power and after pulang sekolah (another target structure from the earlier story – go home from school), he eats and then goes to Adelaide to train! He also claimed that he was a talented surfer, almost as good as Mal (a fellow student who is an extremely talented surfer and has participated at the national level). This last claim had his friends rolling on the floor with laughter!! He also made ridiculous claims about playing in the NBL! It was the most enjoyable KLB interview I’ve had in a long time and one I encouraged the students in that class try again!

Previously, I have discouraged students from stating fictitious information about themselves because I’ve always considered this part of the lesson as an awesome way for me to get to know my students better. However, my brain is generally on overload and I am finding, I’m embarrassed to admit, that unless a student tells me something really unusual or moving, my back to back lessons all merge into a vague hodgepopdge and I forget who said what. Yet I still see a value in beginning this way, especially with the middle primary year levels. It is a safe way in which to support students with repetitions of the vocabulary and language structures needed to answer personal questions or to talk about themselves to others. It provides them with a solid foundation upon which, when they are older, they can start being creative and quirky!!

I am so looking forward to next week when I can encourage the other year 67 classes to be wild and wacky.

Kursi Luar Biasa Update…

A few posts ago, I shared with you my adaptation of Bryce Hedstroms special person idea. Here is an update on how this has been going so far this term:

The kursi luar biasa (special chair) is definitely the most popular chair in my room! Students make a bee line to it when they arrive. They sit their expectantly, waiting for the spot light to shine on them and the 2 times I got carried away with other things and didn’t get around to interviewing them, they were soooo disappointed! However their frowns turned upside down when I promised them in front of the class that they would have first choice of sitting in the kursi next lesson!  

This week my questions finally began to gell and my peseverence is beginning to pay off. While the students in the kursi luar biasa love the attention, it remains tricky trying to keep the others engaged. Occasionally we get a student who has quirky answers to which we all listen avidly and intently but this doesn’t happen often mainly because I am still learning how to ask the right questions in the way that facilitates this! Then this week, I discovered that asking students to raise their arm instead of stand up keeps the discussion moving a lot smoother. Some students enjoy zoning out and regard it as passive defiance when I ask a question like, berdiri kalau tinggal di Port Elliot (stand if you live in PE) and then remain seated enjoying the quizzical looks of classmates. However asking questions like; angkat tangan kalau tinggal di Port Elliot, angkat tangan kalau tinggal di Goolwa etc (raaise your hand if you live in PE), has increased student focus while getting in multiple repetitions on key structures and has more students responding. Is this because I am trying something different or is it because it requires less effort from the students? For me too, it just flows so much better.  Try it!! 

Another positive has come with the introduction of the word ‘tahun’. This week I decided to have a subtle focus on the word tahun during kursi luar biasa when asking the student how old they were. I put it up on the board, and after asking the question, berapa umur? (How old are you) I repeated what the student said adding the word tahun. Using ‘tahun’ wasn’t a requirement for the student, I just wanted to put the word out there in case it came up in future coversations with Indonesian  (native speaker) visitors. Then I had a brain wave! With the word tahun, I could ask students a follow up question to tinggal dimana? (Where do you live?) with “Sudah berapa tahun tinggal di _______?” (How many years have you lived in ____)  With the older students, these questions that are a bit more challenging really keep them all focused. You  can almost hear the cogs turning in their heads and the satisfaction that comes with comprehension. 

I just love the way that kursi luar biasa covers so much of the Australian Curriulum requirements regarding student interests, family, pets, hobbies, etc.  It is such a great way to cover those topics in a personlised and meaningful way for students and also in a way that is narrow and deep! When I think of all the years I used to teach “kenalkan” (let me introduce myself) as my term 1 theme and then feel disheartened with how little my students retained from year to year,  it confirms for me the benefits made from making the switch to TPRS in my classroom.