Tuesday, July 22, 2014


This is the first in a series of blogs about the wonderful experience known as NTPRS. It might be especially beneficial to those of you who are like me--I don't often get to go. The last time I went was in 2006, and MAN have things changed!

The first thing I'm going to talk about is the improved way in which we can get present and past in at the same time. It was presented by Blaine and Von Ray, and it's called "Events." Events can take place in the past, present or future, and they give you the opportunity to show the students rather than tell the students. Events are not to bring in new words; they give you a chance to get more reps on the words they already know. Anything new will be written on the board. I teach Spanish 1 and 2, so I will show you how I intend to use this with students in Spanish 2.

The idea of events is quite simple.  Let's say you start with a simple premise. There is a girl named Hailey. She used to live in Goose Gulch, Kentucky, but now she lives in Miami, Florida. An event will take us back to the past and let us understand why she moved.  So you could say, "Hailey, where do you live now?" She will answer, "In Miami, Florida." "Hailey, where did you used to live?" "I used to live in Goose Gulch, Kentucky."

"Class, why doesn't Hailey live in Goose Gulch Kentucky now?" You can get as many answers as you'd like. If you like one of the student answers, you can go with that. If you don't like the answer, you can go with one of your own. Let's say that a student said that there was a monster in Goose Gulch. I would say, "Almost.  Class, there was a giant goose in Goose Gulch!"

The difference between a normal story and acting out an event is that now you go back into the story and dramatize. You can bring up more students--townspeople, friends, relatives, and the giant goose--or maybe 2 or 3 giant geese. You can have the students talk to each other about the giant goose--where does it come from, what is its name, how big is it, etc. Of course, you bring in the info either by questioning or by introducing more info, then you feed it to the students.  Finally, Hailey and her family decide that they can't stay. They are going to leave.  Where do they decide to go? You can get as many answers as you like, but the final answer has to be Miami, since you've already introduced it. Your point in deciding is to explain why Miami instead of Lexington or Tucson or Bakersfield (It's obvious--the geese don't like Miami--it's too hot!).

Events, to me, do many things.  They give a story more interest, they give you lots of opportunity to use your students as actors, and they allow you a chance to use the present tense, to name just a few.  I'm planning to try this right away in my Spanish 2. In my Spanish 1, I might wait a few days, but I'll definitely use it in the first week.

Thanks, Blaine and Von, for your great workshop!

Next--reading with Carol Gaab.


  1. I attended a workshop with Blaine last November and one of the things he presented that stuck with me was the idea of backstories. I am glad that these backstory events are being formalized into an explicit technique because it is so tempting for me to launch straight through a story getting to the end too quickly. Thanks for writing this entry!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was excited when I saw it, too.


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