iFLT 2018 “Take ’em Further, Farther, Faster” with Donna Tatum-Johns

Donna Tatum-Johns

Check out her website!      Check her out on twitter!

“Shelter vocabulary but NOT grammar”

** How do we talk to our children? We don’t use just simple sentences and only present tense.

When do I do what? “When I feel like it and think about it!”

Advanced Structures in TPR

LEVEL 1 – Start with Commands (TPR)

Do you want “John” to jump? (conditional) How many times do you want him to jump? You want “John” to jump 5 times?


Advanced Structures in PQA 

Preparing to read “Brandon Brown quiere un perro.”

The advanced structures are not a part of the ENTIRE class conversation. They are sprinkled in when it feels appropriate to use.

Discussion with Advanced Structures – If you saw a puppy in the park, would you take it home? (conditional) Would you tell your mom? Would you call the police? etc.

** Using conditional with FAMILIAR verbs

** Start with either/or questions then slowly build to open-ended questions. Those “super-stars” can shine. Maybe write a prompt on the board… Maybe you do a little pop-up grammar… but quickly and not using a complex grammatical explanation with grammatical vocabulary.


Advanced Structures in Review

“What happened in Chapter 3? Had he seen several dogs in the park?”

** You are exposing them to the language. You are NOT expecting them to then turn around and PRODUCE the structures. BUT they can understand it.

When he talked to his mom and said “I want a dog for my birthday!” what did she say to him? (not the first question you ask in class, you have to build up to it.)

** It is a sprinkling of more complex structures over the year. So when they see it and study it later they have been exposed to it.

** Her beginner students could talk as good or better than the higher level students (who had little to no exposure to complex structures and who knew MORE VOCABULARY) because the beginner students could understand important ideas with more advanced structure.

Predictions – (use the sign with the high-frequency word you are using in the question in the correct word) They don’t have to answer, but you want them thinking.

** You are laying a foundation. You may never see it in your class. BUT… the language is there.

** Have a WOW sign or sticker when a kid WOWs you. Put it on them or their paper.

Advanced Structures in High-Frequency phrases or personalized phrases

BE PLAYFUL!!! Talk about what they like. Do fun things. Don’t limit the advanced structures JUST the vocabulary. (How do you talk to a 6-year-old about their favorite movie? Do you stay in the present tense? Do you even know what tense you are in? But you know not to use the word “foreshadowed.”)

Advanced Structures in Novels

Predict for every chapter. Who will win? What will she do? What would you do if you were the character?

Advanced Structures in MovieTalk

We watched a scene from a French movie “L’argent de poche” DISCLAIMER- Video is of a small child falling from a high up apartment window BUT he does not get hurt and is fine.

She set up the scene using traditional Movie-Talk strategies. Then STOPPED and … made predictions. Asked for predictions. Reviewed. Recasted the answers.

The phrase “will fall” could be on the board. The teacher points and pauses while she discusses using the phrase.

“Do you think the mom will see the boy? Will the cat fall?”

“Are you upset that the people (in the video) are only watching? What would you do if you were those people? You would call the police? “Sarah” would call the police. Would you call the police?”

** Has high-frequency structures on notecards with magnets/putty on the board. When she uses the structure, she pulls it off the board. She shows the notecards.

“There are times I have pushed it too far. I dial it back.”


Advanced Structures “I don’t remember from class yesterday…”

“At the end of class yesterday, what had already (pluperfect) happened in the movie?” (write prompt on board “had already happened” in L1 and L2 on board)

“Had he already gone to the store? Before going to the store, what did Driss and Philippe do?”

Example from another text or movie – “What do you want Driss to do? Do you want him to go home? Should he call her?”

** No new verbs when reviewing but using the same verb in advanced structures.

** Sometimes (not all the time) you could give other examples of the advanced structures with other familiar verbs your students know.

“I do not assess these advanced structures.”

Advanced Structures & Brain Breaks

Turn to your partner and come up with potential predictions. (1 minute)

Come and get it – Stand up and get the answer off the board (cards on the board) then students sit together if they want the same answer

Vote with your body- It is possible… (4 corners) It is not possible…

Individual White Boards – individual answers (What will happen?) Might walk around with a colored marker to correct their answers on their boards. (You could have them draw as well.) Then, have a conversation about their suggestions.

Brainstorming – Write as much as you can about the question. Start simple with comprehension questions then build up to more opinion questions.



Who will catch the rabbit? Will the rabbit eat the carrot? Who do you want to win? What would you do to catch the rabbit? Is he stronger? Is he intelligent? Is her more creative?

** Obviously with guns in this clip, you would need to think about if you show this clip but we used it to formulate a plan to use advanced structures.

  • Sentence strips on paper for students to put together with advanced structures. Your students can watch the video multiple times.
  • REJOINDER POSTERS – To help expose them to advanced structures in phrases that are important.

Secret Tips

  • Sprinkle them over time (over the year or two years)
  • Focus on high-frequency verbs they already know
  • Limit their choices
  • Keep them visible
  • Create ways to manipulate the words
  • Don’t formally test the advanced structures
  • Have fun engaging students in an interesting conversation


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s