So now that is it almost OCTOBER!! ¡AY! I am finally sitting down to write out what I learned at NTPRS this summer in Chicago. Here are the first 3 things. In no particular order because I can’t begin to rank the importance of each thing.
Número UNO- TIME
I teach Kindergarten through 8th grade. That is 9 classes. I see my students when they are 6 years old until they turn 14. It is definitely an advantage compared to other schools. However I have let that fool me into to thinking I have lots of TIME with them. (Thanks Jason Fritze!) I see my K-6th grades twice a week. That’s 8 times a month for 45 minutes.That’s 6 hours…a month.
I see my students for 2.5 days per school year.
WHAT?? ¡Qué ridículo! When I really thought about it, I realized I was wasting so much time. I was taking a whole 9 weeks to build up to a story. A story. Why was I waiting to move forward with the things I know help us learn language. What was I thinking? I needed a push (kick in the pants) to reevaluate the whats and whys of my curriculum.
How much TIME do you have with your students? Do the math and leave a comment.
Número DOS- Props
I consider myself pretty outgoing. I love a performance. However my storytelling was starting to be a chore, a burden, and worst of all BORING. Step one- PQA, Step Two- Story, Step Three- Read. Rinse and Repeat. All it took was one story from Leslie Davison to realize the potential of a story with PROPS.
PROPS are good. PROPS in a students’ hands are AWESOME!!
For example- I was helping a teacher get a chair down from her closet and noticed these dusty fabric bags. BAM! 3 fabric bags full of stuffed sea animals including 15 red fish and 1 black fish. So when a student told me “Quiero un pez”… Boy, was I ready for him. I had 1st graders enraptured with every word I said for 15 minutes circling “tiene” “quiere” just by having a mysterious bag of fish that got passed out to different students except of course the one student who wanted one. Oh props, where have you been all my life?
Número TRES- PQA leads to story
OK, don’t you hate when you realize that you know something is good practice, but you forgot about it and haven’t been doing it. I am confessing right now that PQA was a chore. It was the necessary evil of my day. Until I realized…
PQA is a treasure hunt.
I was hunting for the story. PQA was not the separate activity to the story, it was the backstory. It was my sales pitch to investors… my students, to create a story that meant something to them. Bryce Hedstrom, Ben Slavic and countless others have been making this point for years. Why didn’t I listen before?? The inside jokes and references to all that we discussed are PRICELESS to my students. You can’t force it, and you can’t plan it. You have to let it happen and trust that it will. Does that mean every story is a home run? No, just like every treasure hunt doesn’t end with gold. But when you find it…man, it is sweet victory.