Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To Proficiency and Beyond!!!

I decided that this is my new motto - To Proficiency and Beyond!!!  

In fact, maybe I'll have to consider changing my blog name to "To Proficiency and Beyond".

Why? Because this year, more than any other year in my teaching career, I thoroughly scrutinize my lesson plans to assure that the activities I offer are those geared toward helping my students become proficient in the language.  Doing things like I used to, simply because that's how I always did it in the past, doesn't stand up against the scrutiny of the question, "Does this help the students to acquire the language?"

Through my intensive reading on how students acquire a language, and through my own personal experience of when I learned Spanish, and also how my students are progressing in my classes, it has become crystal clear that some activities I used to do, did nothing more than act as a vacuum, sucking up precious minutes of class time. 

I still catch myself at times planning an activity for class that is based more on the "fun factor" than on acquiring the language.  That's when I have to Stop, Review my Goals for my Students, and re-evaluate and make necessary adjustments to keep proficiency as the target.

Please don't interpret the previous statements to mean that teaching with TPRS isn't fun.  That would be a definite misunderstanding. Teaching with TPRS and CI has brought a breath of fresh air into my teaching because it involves the students.  It draws them into the story with their creative ideas for the story development, through acting, through class responses during storytelling, using their artistic skills, and a whole list of other ways.  There are days that I look at the lesson plans I made on the weekend and find myself looking forward to sharing a story with a class to see how they make it their own through their contributions. 

"Fun" has a new meaning.  

"Fun" is reading a chapter with the students in the mini-novel and students, that would have struggled in the traditional setting, volunteer to summarize what happened in that chapter.  
"Fun" is hearing a learning-support student say, "Hey, I think I'm getting this." (which I heard today and it made me smile). 
"Fun" is reading the students' endings to a story that they wrote without dictionaries.  
"Fun" is when I ask a series of questions to a students in Spanish, and they answer, whether in single words or full sentences without hesitation, and I point out to them that their comprehension of my questions was "spot on". 
"Fun" is when students say "awwww" when I end an activity such as creating more details about a person or describing, in Spanish, their classmates' sketches that I share w/ the use of the document camera.
"Fun" is hearing from students that graduated and say they're enjoying their college level Spanish classes and are considering minoring in Spanish.

The groundwork and formula for that fun always lies in providing CCI (Compelling Comprehensible Input) for the students.  It's not always an easy road, and certainly not without many mistakes on my part, made along the way.  It is a journey that demands a sincere commitment from me, every day, every class, personalized for every student.  It's not about me; it's all about them, and all about getting them "To Proficiency and Beyond!!!" 

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