TPRS Step 3: Reading

Our Inaugural SA TPRS conference has just finished. It was 3 days full of information, explanations, demos and coaching. My brain is full to bursting and my body is absolutely shattered (note to self: participating in a language class is a physically and mentally exhausting brain workout) I am now in a particularly weird emotive state where I would just love to be heading back again this morning for another day of listening to Terry & Lizette and yet on the other hand, I am so excited to have some time to start thinking about the ways in which I can incorporate the skills that were demonstrated over the past 3 days into my teaching.

What an outstanding team Terry Waltz & Lizette Liebold are! They work together seamlessly and complement each other beautifully. Terry skills as a presenter dovetailed nicely with Lizette’s coaching skills. Combined they have countless years of TPRS teaching, in fact Lizette is one of the original pioneer TPRS language teachers who hopped on the TPRS train right back when it first began and has consequently attended all NTPRS conferences bar one!

Terry’s skills as a presenter are remarkable. While this was her 3rd consecutive Australian conference, delivering (I assume) exactly the same program, at no time did I feel that it was rehearsed or a repeat of a previous presentation. Terry’s manner assured us that she was genuinely enjoying her time with us and that we in no way compared poorly against previous cohorts. Which is exactly what happens in a TPRS classroom! While the target structure may be the same with consecutive classes, each class provides different details which lead us in different directions each and every time.

My brain is reeling with all that I heard throughout the conference and thank goodness I took notes, because right now it is still aching and overwhelmed. If I reflect on the biggest take away for me from my 3 days at the conference, it would without a doubt be the clarification of the 3 steps of TPRS. I now understand that the stories I’ve been using for the story asking are in fact the final reading text.

Terry demonstrated this with two very different languages; Hawaiian firstly and then on day 3 with Mandarin. Being unfamiliar with both languages, I was incredibly fortunate to experience the 3 steps of TPRS as a student twice. This really helped me consolidate my understanding and appreciation of the 3 steps which are:

  1. Establish meaning
  2. Story asking
  3. Reading.

Prior to the conference, step 3 for my classes was the story the class had created and revolved around various TCI activities to keep it engaging while achieving repetitions within that one story. I completely understand now the value of reading a different story (the original story or maybe another modified class’s story) for step 3.This enables students to consolidate the acquired language in a totally new setting. Depending on the level of your students, this final step also has the potential to provide your student with longer stories with a variety of the newly acquired target structures in it, each targeted separately prior to the final reading in steps one and two. This understanding is going to turn the way I plan upside down and I am sooo excited. Can’t wait to get started to experience it!

To clarify:

If the story is this one with the Lucy wants a jacket story
(credit Judith Dubois):

Ada perempuan.

Nama perempuan Lucy.

Lucy dingin.

Lucy mau jaket.

Lucy tidak pakai jaket.

Lucy lihat laki laki kecil.

Nama laki laki kecil Will.

Will punya jaket tetapi jaket Will terlalu kecil.

Lucy lihat Pak Hudson. (principal’s name)

Pak Hudson punya jaket tetapi jaket Pak Hudson terlalu besar.

Lucy lihat Jane.

Jane punya jaket dan jaket Jane pas.

Jane kasih Lucy jaket.

Lucy pakai jaket.

Lucy berkata, “Terima kasih Jane.”

Jane berkata, “Sama sama.”

The first task is identify the target structures your students will need to acquire to read and comprehend this story. When I do this story, the target structures are grouped and ordered like this:

Group One

  1. topi
  2. sepatu
  3. jaket

Group Two

  1. dingin
  2. panas

Group Three

  1. terlalu besar
  2. terlalu kecil
  3. pas.

Because my students have acquired the remaining language from previous stories, I can incorporate it into fun songs and TPR activities to target each group of target structures one by one. I usually begin with panas/dingin which is easily incorporated into the roll call if the weather is extreme and the students come in hot and sweaty or conversely wet and cold! My lessons generally begin with a roll call asking “Apa kabar?” This in itself is an awesome opportunity for circling. Kelas, Joe panas! Joe dingin atau joe panas? Joe dan Mary panas dan Betty dingin!

If you look back through this blog, you’ll find various songs that I’ve made up which my students have enjoyed singing and then acting out. The one I love the most is sung to the tune of baa baa black sheep:

Lucy dingin.

Lucy mau jaket.

Will panas.

Tidak mau jaket.

Will kasih Lucy.

Lucy pakai jaket.

Lucy berkata, “Terima kasih Will.”

(NB names are substituted with the names of the actors)

These type of activities are then repeated for each list of target structures. which are each targeted separately because each set may take several weeks till acquisition.  For target structures like the ones in group 3, I love looking for weird and wacky pictures on google images that incorporate familiar and popular characters from recent films/books/tv programs and then use them to create a powerpoint. Harry Potter is reliably popular and easily identifiable by all year levels at my school so one powerpoint had a page with harry potter wearing a tiny hat, the next page with him wearing an enormous hat and the following page showed Harry wearing a hat the perfect size! Thus I was able to consolidate ‘topi’ while introducing new structures! The following pages were pictures of familiar characters or cognate animals (orangutan, komodo) wearing oversized, undersized or perfectly sized jackets, hats or shoes. My students are generally riveted to the screen, wondering what kooky picture will be next. It also provides opportunities to circle using mau and punya. Billy punya topi pizza besar? Billy mau punya topi pizza besar?

After the structures have been acquired to my satisfaction, I move on to step 2 – story asking – using actors. The actors help in a variety of ways; they make the story engaging for the class (& me), they help me circle each part of the story (especially if the acting requires more expression – I love OTT acting – sneaky way to get reps), they can also be a tool for me to measure class acquisition. Story asking is incredibly important as it allow classes to create unique stories through collaboration, its how students buy into the story. Afterwards, the class story can be written up to be used in a variety of ways as listed on the TCI activities page.

Then finally step 3 (the one I will work on this year) is reading together the original story as printed above. I loved how Terry did this. She had a powerpoint ‘book’ that the class could read together and each page had a line of text with a quirky picture that provided opportunities for circling, popup grammar, funny stories/gestures to help students remember conjunction words (eg. tetapi = point to your but) or other useful words that need a boost. (imagine the ‘cultural’ story you could create for bercakap-cakap!!).

For me as a student, this final step was incredibly powerful. It made me feel super confident that I could read it and understand the story even though the characters and setting were not familiar. With those changes, the story felt foreign yet still achievable. Soo cool. It truly demonstrated for me the concept of  i+1. Fully comprehensible yet stretching my acquisition just the right amount.

With this text, there are a variety of reading activities that can be done with students to further consolidate acquisition. With Terry, we choral read the book on the tv screen, firstly in pinyin and then with Chinese characters. Boy, did this hit home for me how fortunate both my students & I are that Indonesian is a roman alphabetic language!!

Here are a list of the reading activities & games  that Terry shared with us:

  • kindergarten reading
  • whole class choral reading
  • group reading
  • Echo reading (teacher reads in TL and students read in English)
  • volley ball reading
  • paired repeated reading
  • readers theatre

Reading games:

  • Musical readings – students in pairs each reading a sentence each one by one with each student double checking the sentence was read correctly & if not, the sentence is reread. The teacher plays music and when the music stops, whoever is not reading gets a point.
  • Reading Bingo – each student has a 3×3 =grid. In each box, the student writes a different word from the story in each square. Students cross out the word when they hear it.
  • Stupid Teacher (Guru Gila?) teacher reads the story and deliberately says a word not in the story or changes one word. Students in pairs, competing against each other, tally up the mistakes and compare tally at end of reading.
  • Comprehension Questions – to measure comprehension, ask the questions in English. They could include true/false questions, short answer questions, multiple choice questions, cloze from story with multiple choice options for each cloze empty space.

Now all I have to do is decide which story I want to begin with this term!! What story are you using?

A Great Reading Activity For Pre-Literate Students

Have you seen the oral cloze retell idea by Eric Herman on my TCI/TPRS activities page which is found on my homepage up the top in the header?

Here it is:

On subsequent retells you can erase more and more words to give more advanced students a greater challenge and eventually erase the entire story and have superstars retell the entire story without any written support.

Example:

There is a boy. His name is Bob. He likes pizza.

There is ___ boy. His name __ Bob. He likes _____.

There __ ___ boy. ___ name __ Bob. He ____ ____.

There __ ___ ___. ___ name __ Bob. __ ____ _____.

 

I tried it today with a year 1/2 class as well as a reception class and it was awesome!

I began by asking 2 students to act out the story while I retold it. By now, I’ve lost count of the number of times they have heard it, but it never hurts to get in one more retell!! I then dragged over my mobile white board and asked the class to tell me the story again. It was brilliant how well they could retell the story! I wrote down the first 5 sentences on the board.

Buarlapar.

Buaya lihat Elsa.

Buaya mau makan Elsa.

Elsa berlari ke Horseshoe Bay.

We all then read the story together using hand gestures. At the end of the first reading, I rubbed out one word and in its place I drew a contrasting coloured line. We then read through it again together, however before we all read it, I explained that the next person to rub out a word would be someone who is both reading and gesturing beautifully. Boy – that ramped up the participation and engagement!!

We continued this until there was nothing left of the story and all that was there were red lines where the words used to be!! Both classes absolutely loved it and were so fluent by the time we rubbed out the last word!

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Reading With Pre-literate Students

After watching Carol Gaab, I tried something new with my junior primary students this week that I would like to share with you.

Last week with my younger students, I started the Carol Gaab story that Bu Anne posted about on her blog. I have tweaked it slightly to minimize the amount of new vocabulary. Instead of a harimau (tiger) I have a buaya (crocodile) because most students know buaya from our kancil and buaya unit last year. I also believe that tree, mountain  (&?) are very low frequency nouns in a classroom, so I changed it to Horseshoe Bay, sekolah (school) & kelas (class).

My version goes like this:

Buaya lihat Elsa

Buaya lapar.

Buaya mau makan Elsa.

Elsa berlari ke Port Elliot.

Buaya berlari ke Port Elliot.

Elsa berlari ke sekolah.

Buaya berlari ke sekolah.

Elsa berlari ke kelas.

Buaya berlari ke kelas.

Buaya makan Elsa.

To support this story and its new target structures of ‘buaya’ (crocodile) & ‘berlari’ (run), I searched for a well known rhyme that I could adapt. Browsing on Pinterest I found the 5 Little Monkeys rhyme! This not only provided me with the perfect vehicle for ‘berlari’ & ‘buaya’ but also gave me the opportunity to introduce ‘jatuh’ (fall) & ‘menangis’ (cry). Here it is:

Lima buaya berlari di kelas.

Satu jatuh dan menangis.

Bu Cathy berkata, “Kasihan!”

Tidak pandai berlari di kelas.

Thinking back on our conversations with Catharina, the various posts I’ve read & my recent talks with Bu Anne, I liked the idea of introducing jatuh & menangis which we hear often in the junior primary classroom, especially after recess & lunch!

On Monday, I began introducing the rhyme but students weren’t particularly engaged and I considered disregarding the whole thing but yesterday morning as I turned on my computer at school, I remembered something I had seen Carol Gaab do. She had replaced the words of the story with illustrations. I immediately did the same using clipart images. Not only did it look more appealing to me, but it did for my students as well.

buaya 1

buaya 2

Then when I added acting into the equation, I was blown away with the increased level of student engagement. I firstly trialled the idea with a reception class, most of whom are pre-literate. They loved it and all read along with me! I then asked them to ‘cari empat teman dan duduk’ (find 4 friends & sit) doing a comprehension check firstly that they understood that you + four friends = groups of 5 and then they acted it out in their groups. Sharons ‘mata-mata’ (spotter) concept was brilliant here because invariably there were a few students above the multiple of 5. They went from feeling rejected to feeling very special when I asked them to be my mata mata! At the end of each acting of either the first half of the rhyme or the entire rhyme, each mata mata could choose a new mata mata and swap with that person.

One more point I’d like to add is that of hand gestures. Our PLC members work at schools that are not particularly far from each other and we have a few students moving between our schools for various reasons. We have discussed several times how much smoother the transition would be for those students if our had gestures were similar. One idea that appeals to us all is the use of AusLan or ASL. When looking for gestures for sekolah, kelas, menangis & jatuh, I investigated several websites. I believe that all gestures mustache  be meaningful as they are clues which help students comprehend. The sekolah and kelas AUSLan & ASL signs were not useful at all.


So I asked students and we made up our own for sekolah & kelas. However I found great ones for jatuh and menangis.

Paper Airplane Reading

The following screen shot comes from a video which was shared a couple of weeks ago on the Ohio TCI Facebook page and seems not available anywhere else! 

image
As soon as I watched it, I was determined to give it a go. I love trying new TCI activities!

The first time I tried it (week 5), it became quickly apparent that I had not prepared my students well enough by providing them with sufficient reading opportunities because for this activity to succeed, students must know the story very well. So, to achieve this, students did a listen and draw and played strip bingo which provided students opportunities to hear the story repeatedly.

Then this week we attempted paper plane reading once again and it was a hoot. Giving the instructions was largely done in English, which was frustrating, however one class did not give me permission to speak in English, and we didn’t do too badly, even though with the final instructions and clarifications, we did use English!

The two best things about paper airplane reading, is that movement is interspersed with reading and that students are asked to make paper planes; something which has never been encouraged in my lessons befre!!

Here are the instructions that I used in my year 3 – 7 lessons:

Hand out a sheet of paper to each student with the class story printed on one side, as well as a clipboard & a lead pencil.

1. We first chorale translated the story together. My instructions to students were: Bu Cathy membaca pakai Bahasa Indonesia dan murid murid membaca pakai Bahasa Indonesia.  Murid murid ekho Bu Cathy. (Ekho – one of the new words I learned this week from our visitors Yoedha, Dian & Zvana!!) I then read the sentences one by one and asked the students to choral read once I paused. If we came to a word I knew would be tricky or if students were skipping a word then I broke that sentence up into a phrase.

2. I then asked the students to read the story and choose one sentence from the story that they could translate easily but not to mark in any way the location of that sentence on the sheet of paper. They then had to turn the sheet over and at the top, write in ENGLISH the translation for that sentence. I then gave an example using the first sentence in their story. I chose the first sentence (Ada perempuan dan nama perempuan Harry Potter) because students are often muddling up the word ‘ada’ (there is) with ‘apa’ (what?) and we translated it together. I then gave everyone time to choose a sentence and write its translation on the blank side of the sheet of paper.

3. While students were finishing step 2, I explained, “Kalau sudah, clip board dan pensil dibawah kursi” (clipboards & pencil under you chair) and then asked them to make a paper airplane from their sheet. It was surprising both the variation of paper airplane designs we got and that there were a few in every class who did not know how to make a paper airplane. It worked well to encourage those who knew how to make a paper airplane to help those who didn’t by demonstrating the steps with their own paper so that their friend could do the same with theirs. This way, we all finished about the same time.image

4. “Murid murid, berdiri kalau sudah punya airplane.” (Stand if you have a plane) I decided not to teach the word for plane as it is not a cognate and these days, the word plane would be largely understood in Indonesia anyway. While we waited for everyone to finish up and stand, I explained the next step in English to ensure that students understood completely and every lesson, there were a few who did not. I drew their attention to the loud speaker outlet in the ceiling which is in the very centre of the classroom ceiling. I explained that I would count to tiga and on tiga, students would launch their planes at the speaker and that we needed to do it together for safety. I pointed out that only those wearing glasses had eye protection (which chuffed those students!) so we needed to ensure we aimed upwards. Then, students had to find an airplane that was not their own. They had to buka kertas (open the page) and read the English sentence on the back before turning over the sheet and locating the Indonesian translation in the story. They then had to translate into English the very next sentence of the story before recreating the plane and launching again. image Continue reading

Week 3 Reflections

Week 2 is always a disappointing week for me. Students are usually amazing in week 1 when they are so thrilled and excited to be back at school which is always delightful. However I then plan lesson plans for those enthusiastic students only to discover that by week 2 they did a ‘Jekyl and Hyde’ over the weekend and my lessons do not turn out quite the way I had envisaged. 

Week 3, thus is a great week by comparison! I am prepared, in fact usually over prepared, but at least this time it is strategic over planning unlike week 2 where it was head in the clouds over planning. I can’t believe I tried to do a movie talk last week with the combined year 6/7 left overs that focused on entirely unfamiliar structures! What was I thinking?? Not surprisingly it was a huge flop. Still, I learned a huge lesson from it – doesn’t matter how engaging the video  is, if it’s not comprehensible, it will not be engaging.

This week with another group of year 6/7 left overs, I showed Laskar Pelangi which was far more successful for several reasons.  

 Firstly, it was purely an English culture break and considering the film went for 3 lessons and students were engrossed right up to the end, I was happy with that. I also have to confess that it was my first time watching the movie so maybe in future years I may consider using it as a MT now that I can see the potential. The lessons progressed well in that we began with a single lesson and then 2 days later had a double. I said very little before the movie started yet before continuing with the movie in the double lesson, I talked about several aspects including a little Belitong history and providing a bit more information about the main characters. Yet it was the discussion about the symbolism that students enjoyed the most and then commented on during the movie. I spoke about the symbolism of fences (dividing communities), crocodiles (obstructions) and rainbows (happiness, togetherness and positive hopes for the future).  

This term with the other classes (ie all but the year 6/7’s), we are looking at the kancil & Buaya story. At the end of term 3, our hub group met and we simplified the story to ensure the story only incorporated a few unfamiliar structures as well as revised many of our known structures. Last week I introduced the word ‘kancil’ and largely in English we talked about their body shape, their diet and where they are found globally. Naturally it was only their diet that lent itself to circling! Kancil makan apa? This week I introduced the word ‘buaya’ using both a picture of a buaya, a soft teddy buaya and a hilarious crocodile hat I found at Savers last Sunday. As usual, using Annie’s voices, I introduced the word encouraging the students to repeat buaya over and over in a variety of ways including singing, syllablising, weird voices and generally having fun. I then held up the buaya soft teddy and circled buaya.  
 

Buaya! 

Buaya? Ya buaya. 

Kancil? 

Bukan. Buaya. 

Kancil atau buaya? Buaya.

I then opened a bag of soft teddy animals including the crocodile hat. I held the buaya soft teddy in one hand and with the other dug into the bag. I pulled out random animals and asked, ‘Buaya?’ The students loved the suspense of not knowing what was coming out of the bag and all screamed with delight when I finally pulled out the crocodile hat!  

 The hat is great because of its large mouth and which allowed me to revise makan. Buaya makan sepatu? I walked around amongst the students stating sentences like that and then having the crocodile mouth the shoe. Or I would point at my nose and say a couple of times ‘hidung’ before saying buaya mau makan hidung Joey. They just loved it and were all begging to be eaten!! It was chaotic and loud with lots of laughing. I actually had a parent looking for their child, knock and put their head in the door while I was bent over a student ‘makan sepatu’ and I’d love to know what she made of what she saw! Hopefully she asks her son! It was strange though because I felt guilty that I was having too much fun! That I should have been more serious! Oh well…. 

I did a ‘kindergarten reading’ with the story with the year 4’s where I had them sitting on the floor in front of me and I read a big book version with large colourful pictures. They were totally engrossed yet when I asked afterwards whether they preferred acting out the story or listening to it, the majority said they much preferred acting it out!! Didn’t see that coming. 

This story incorporates the numbers 1 – 10 which has been a great. Early in the week I suddenly remembered a counting song from Languages Online. Unfortunately it goes way too quickly for my younger classes, but then I had a brain wave! Instead of singing satu, dua, tiga bunga (not a familiar word), I changed it to satu, dua, tiga buaya!! Then I got even more creative and sang about kancils, penguins, orangutans and finished with murid murid! The more repetitions I can get with this song the better to cement number acquisition. 

And speaking of songs, I also ‘wrote’ this song on the weekend for later in the term:

Kancil, kancil di hutan

Tidak bisa berenang

Datang banyak buaya

Hap! Tidak ditangkap!

Can you pick the tune? Lifted from cicak cicak di dinding!

Hope you had a great week too.

Indonesian early readers captivate kids and teachers

Ayo! Let's go!

Michelle Dudley, the Australian author of the Our Jakarta Series that was reviewed in an earlier post, graciously agreed to answer my questions about how her series of 30 books came about.

What inspired you to write the Our Jakarta Series? Had you written other books before (or since)?

Michelle Dudley, Yangon, February 2015 Michelle Dudley, Yangon, February 2015

Our Jakarta Series bilingual box setI taught at the British International School Jakarta (BIS) in their very first pre-school in 1993 and 1994 and again from 2003 to 2007, initially part time, then full time in Reception and in Pre-School. The school has a strong focus on early literacy and as a teacher of young children I was always trying to find ways to inspire, challenge and connect real life experiences and the printed word with the young children from many nationalities in my class. The school also had a policy whereby the classroom teacher had to listen to each child read every…

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