Monday, February 25, 2013

alternatives pt 2 (or is it 3)

This will be a fairly short post, I think.  I forgot (again!) to bring my stories back from school.  Sorry about that.  Today I will update you on some of the responses that I've gotten from people who find that acting doesn't (always) work for them.

Jody Ford teaches using books.  "I've been using Mira's "Agentes secretos". I PQA with that. And I just finished Houdini with my 2s. They have to draw the story pictures and retelling from them. It just works better or me. We're reading Felipe Alou real quick in my 2nd year, kind of like Suzie Gross suggested. We read 2 chapters one day and 3 the next. Then itook a break. I do biographies with my second years. They have to research someone and we present the last couple weeks of school. That way I don't have finals to grade the last week of school. I show them Selena, La Bamba, Stand and Deliver, and PBS Frida during the year. It works for me. My first year students see the globe trekker travel series and they create power points of dream vacations they present the last week of school."  She says that she also uses "Cuentame", but they don't act from it.

Sara Chronister says this:
 I almost do all PQA with very short stories. I have started moving away from actors; or at least having them come up front. I seem to lose control of the class very easily when I have actors!  They don't seem to get it quick as quickly with PQA as they do with a story but they get the material with PQA better than when I use the textbook and workbook. I force myself to tell a story related to the vocab in the chapter at least once during the unit and I try for 2 times. Even though I feel like I'm doing a horrible job they always catch on quicker and seem to retain it better with a story. I even had data to back me up. I will give a pre-test after using the textbook; see what they need the most help on and create a story centered around that, give them the actual test and they always ace whatever the story was about.
I'm always working on keeping them focused. Since a TPRS room is so different from all their other classes they tend to think "Oh, it's just Profe's class. I can talk to my friends and do what I want and she won't care." At least once every 9 weeks I have to crack the whip and get them back in shape. I don't seem to have that problem when I'm using the textbook but... they learn less with the textbook… lol
Sara's post reminds us that acting is probably the best.  Blaine wrote quite a long post on the morelist to that effect. I don't think that anyone is questioning that.  But I want to be realistic here, and I think that we have to admit that many people find that there are just too many problems connected with acting to be able to use it with consistency.  As Sara mentioned, classroom management can become very difficult if the students don't play by the rules.  
Alicia Flores had this to say:
No more actors for me. Though I know that it helps comprehension tremendously, many of my students couldn't handle the fun. Even over time their self control was not improving. So, I do some pqa, short grammar explanations, mini readings and some independent practice that is much more "old school". I had to find a way to enjoy my students and feel happy about my profession. Maybe I'll go back to actors one day.
Again, it's better with actors but you have to work with what's best for you.
This is from Kristy Placido:

To be honest, I use actors infrequently.  I find them rather distracting.  I only really have actors come up to act out brief vignettes and then they sit down.  If I need them again they come back up.  One way I do really enjoy using actors is in reader's theater when we are reading a novel.  Jason Fritze showed me how to effectively use reader's theater and I love it!

This might be a way to get back into using actors:  using them infrequently and for specific reasons.

Jeff Klamka states:  Having actors works very well in some classes and in others it can be a real negative. I'm struggling with some students who just don't want to act, and they're some of the best students I've ever had as far as their writing and speaking skills.

Brian Barabe, my good friend in Arizona (yay, Arizona!!) has this to say:

Here's something I've done when a group was too small to make acting practical or made it unnecessary.  I would first ask a story from beginning to end--trying to reach nearly 100% comprehension.  Then I would have pairs of students draw--in this particular process:  I would read one sentence at a time, and one of the partners would represent the sentence in a drawing.  Then I'd read the next sentence, and the other partner would draw.  Note that this is following up after asking a story; my purpose was to give a quick global view of the entire story while engaging the students in a way that showed their comprehension.  I would frequently coach students to be economical in drawing:  If the magician grabbed the rabbit by the ears, the drawing could show as little as a hand wrapped around a pair of long ears.  Note that this served the purpose of taking the pressure off the drawer as far as producing "masterpieces" or being criticized goes.  A further step could be asking the partners to retell the story in the TL, taking turns, going from drawing to drawing.  I think most on this list could expand on this indefinitely.

In a large class, it might also work in three's or trios, but I think four are too many for everyone to stay engaged.
So it seems clear that at least for some of us, acting is difficult or impractical. In the coming weeks, I'll be including ways to do PQA and oral stories that don't use actors.  I'll also be including ways to bring in actors, at least in a limited way, for those of you that do want to use actors but just can't seem to get the hang of it.

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