The Toolkit

Stephen Krashen recently published the Story Listening Toolkit, a summary of supports for language learners.

The purpose of the Toolkit is not:

  • to teach word lists; “Teaching vocabulary lists is not efficient” (Krashen, 2004, p. 19).
  • to make words or targets “100% comprehensible, with students being able to understand, and translate, every word” …but the goal is rather to make “the input appear to be fully comprehensible” (Krashen, 2013, p. 3).
  • “full mastery of the rule or vocabulary in a short time frame” (Krashen, 2016) Note: weekly tests of targets create pressure to master targets.

The purpose of the Toolkit is:

  • “partial acquisition, enough to understand the text. Full acquisition of the targeted item develops gradually.” (Krashen, 2016)
  • to provide rich input : “the best input for acquisition is input that contains maximum richness but remains comprehensible.” (Krashen, 2013, 4).
  • to “Just enjoy the story” (Mason, 2016).  Enjoying shared stories builds interest in reading.

 

 


Cited:

Mason, B. (October 13, 2016).  COFLT conference presentation: Story Listening.

Krashen, S. D. (2004). The power of reading: Insights from the research. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Krashen, S. (2013). The Case for Non-Targeted, Comprehensible Input. Journal of Bilingual Education Research & Instruction 2013 15(1): 102-110. Retrieved from http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/nontargeted_input.pdf

Krashen, S. (2016, July 26). Targeting 1 and Targeting 2: Working paper [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://skrashen.blogspot.com/2016/07/targeting-1-and-targeting-2-working.html

 

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Broad Curriculum: Part 2

Backwards planning or “unpacking” standards into discrete skills focuses on the end, like sprinting to the finish line.  “Race to the Top” tests standardize and narrow curriculum; struggling learners get left behind.

Teachers should focus on curricular goals (where we want them to go),  but equally consider instruction (how we get them there) and assessment (where they are now). Curriculum, instruction, and assessment should all align (Biggs).

 


 

constructive-alignment1

 


Baker, E. L. (2004, December). Aligning Curriculum, Standards, and Assessments: Fulfilling the Promise of School Reform [Scholarly project]. Retrieved from https://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/r645.pdf

Biggs, J.B. (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32: 1–18.

 

Broad Curriculum: Part 1

There are essentially two types of curriculum documents: 1) those that narrow curriculum with a focus on unpacking curricular goals into discrete skills; and 2) those that align curricular goals with differentiated instruction and assessment for various phases in the Scope and Sequence of SLA.

  1. Narrow, Unaligned Curriculum

In traditional models, curricular goals are obsessively teased out as standards are  mapped out in rigid detail.  The focus is only on the “finish line”: rigidly pre-planned, standardized student outcomes.

“Teaching with the end in mind” is important, but so is teaching to the students here and now in the four walls of our classrooms.   Rigid pacing guides leave no room for differentiation through ability-appropriate instruction and assessments.

This is particularly troublesome for language education.  Language is acquired by receiving comprehensible input (Krashen, 2004).  To provide comprehensible input, teachers should not “teach” target structures, or allow themselves to write, talk, or think in this way.  Otherwise, there is often pressure to skill-build in order to master language skills demanded by a rigid timetable (Krashen, 2016).

 

  1.  Broad, Constructively-Aligned Curriculum

Broadly-written curriculum documents offer road-signs to keep teachers on the right path.  Teachers walk steadily toward curricular goals on the horizon, instead of ploughing through overly-detailed pacing guides or curriculum maps and leaving students  behind.  Teachers have autonomy to use professional judgment and fair formative assessments to meet children where they are at with ability-appropriate comprehensible input.

 


Baker, E. L. (2004, December). Aligning Curriculum, Standards, and Assessments: Fulfilling the Promise of School Reform [Scholarly project]. Retrieved from https://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/r645.pdf

Biggs, J.B. (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32: 1–18.

Krashen, S. (2004) The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Krashen, S. (2016, July 26). Targeting 1 and Targeting 2: Working paper [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://skrashen.blogspot.com/2016/07/targeting-1-and-targeting-2-working.html

My Classroom, My Curriculum: Post 2

I like Dr. Krashen’s curricular model for its simplicity:


First stories.

Then Free Voluntary Reading.

Finally academic language.

simple

 

I believe in simplifying and lightening the load for teachers.  Yet, sometimes writing curriculum out for stakeholders can show teachers’ intentionality and expertise.  This gives teachers increased professional autonomy to use the curriculum we know is best for students.  It is not for everyone and is just one tool to reclaim our craft and protect students with ability-appropriate programming. Continue reading My Classroom, My Curriculum: Post 2

My Classroom, My Curriculum: Post 1

Administrators like to shove all ESL students in one class with no ability grouping.  To argue my case for better scheduling, I wrote out a set of Scope and Sequence documents that align back-to-back on a continuum so administrators could see how each phase of learning is distinct.  Here is more information on these documents.

However, I prefer Dr. Krashen’s simplified version.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-49-21-pm

1.  Stories

Continue reading My Classroom, My Curriculum: Post 1

Pressure

 

Stephen Krashen writes, “If there is major pressure to ‘master’ a given rule so that it can be used in production, and when this cannot be accomplished in the amount of time/comprehensible reps provided, teachers may be tempted to force production, resulting in pseudo-acquisition: either highly monitored or memorized language, not genuinely acquired language.”

Pressure.  I’m so glad that word is out there.  Thank you, Dr. Krashen, for saying what every teacher surrounded by traditional, targeted curriculum is feeling right now.

“Pressure to ‘master’ a given rule” is intensified by targeted assessments and targeted curriculum maps.  The real problem is a focus on individual words or points of grammar that must be acquired within a given time-frame.  This creates the urgency to memorize parts of language.

Though it has been “pseudo-acquired,” on the surface (test) it looks like “mastery.”  At our data meetings, we are asked why we aren’t doing the same.  “Where is your ‘data’ to ‘prove’ your kids ‘mastered’ this point of grammar or that word list?”

Get rid of the tests.  Get rid of the grammar and word lists. Get rid of the pressure.

You knew you hated pacing guides, but Dr. Krashen is spelling it out in a scholarly way for us to explain to administration:  plotting out when students will be able to master given structures is not how language acquistion works.

 


Krashen, S. (2016, July 26). Targeting 1 and Targeting 2: Working paper [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://skrashen.blogspot.com/2016/07/targeting-1-and-targeting-2-working.html

 

Curriculum. Simplify, Simplify.

Curriculum “experts” are constantly making the process of curriculum planning more and more complicated.  They are always adding items to teachers’ to-do lists with little or no evidence as to their necessity.  Of course, it must be complicated…otherwise the “educational consultant” might not need to be consulted.

Here’s a list of some of the things to scratch off your curriculum to-do list:

1. Forget “unpacking standards.”

Continue reading Curriculum. Simplify, Simplify.