Sunday, October 13, 2013

Adventures in Acquisition: Week #6

So it was week #6 this past week and oh, what a week! There is just so much excitement in the classroom that I don't know where to start. I could write about my two points systems, one for individuals and the other for groups...but I think there's something even more exciting. If you'd like to read a little about my individual points system, visit my previous blog post here. If you'd like to read about the excitement during week #1 of class, visit here.

For this blog post, I will focus on what I see as a huge change from my past experience teaching with traditional methods. This is my first year where I am fully implementing the Accelerative Integrative Methodology a.k.a. "AIM."

I have never had more fun teaching than I am now that I'm using AIM Language Learning. We are just six weeks into the year, and I am already able to hold whole conversations with my students entirely in the target language. I have never had results like this...I am, in a word, "AIMazed!" My students are in their first full year of French. Last year they had 10 weeks of introductory French (& Spanish) in the Exploratory Language program I also teach. What I am witnessing now is so different from what I have experienced with traditional methods. The learners are so much more willing and able to speak spontaneously! Some students are even coming up with full statements and questions to ask me in the target language. I mean they are creating comprehensible language about things that have not been directly taught in class!

I had my first absence this week and I was able to explain to them (as they spoke with me as I gestured) why I missed their class one day this week. I also explained why I was very tired the next day. I used an AIM technique called TLSE (Teacher-Led Self Expression). This is used in AIM to promote spontaneous discussions in the classroom but instead of having the students listen and then ask questions at the end, they speak for the teacher as s/he gestures for them to speak. As we were talking about how we were doing that day, I gestured silently (for the most part) for them to say on my behalf: "I am very, very, very tired today. I am so tired! (I gestured with a lot of expression!) At 4:00AM today, my little boy wakes me because he is sick. He wakes me and he says: Mommy, I want to sleep with you. I am very sick. But he doesn't sleep. He says he wants to watch a video. So at 4:30AM, my little boy is watching a video and I cannot sleep. I am so tired today! I want to! But we have a lot of work to do and it is going to be so much now let's work!" The students are able to interject things like "Oh no, that's too bad" and ask pertinent questions like "Is your little boy alright now?"

We are also joking with each other, every day...I feel I am truly meant to be a middle school teacher...I love their goofiness and I adore that we are able to joke around entirely in French. For instance, at one point this week, one of the boy's heads was blocking a girl sitting behind him so she couldn't see me. I gestured for the class to say: "You know, (boy's name), your head is like a door...not like a window. (Girls name) cannot see because your head is like a door." The boy seemed confused like he had not ever heard the expression: You make a better door than a window. So afterwards he questioned, in disbelief: "My head is like a door?!?" I explained, "Yes because it isn't transparent and she cannot see." It doesn't sound so funny writing it down here, but the whole class was in stitches due to the boy's statement of disbelief that his head was like a door.

These are just two spontaneous communications that happened this week. There are so many more but now I'd like to write briefly about the feedback I received this past week. Never before, have I received feedback like I am now that I'm using AIM! Within just the past week, I have had a few different comments from parents and other adults observing my students outside of school.

First, a parent told me about her daughter, that I'll call Véronique:
"Véronique has been going around the house speaking and singing French constangly!!! Starting to drive me crazy! Should make you happy though."

Second, I saw the parents of one of my students today. The dad told me that his daughter, that I'll call "Simone" read the entire AIM play to him in French because she wanted to...just for fun. (It was not homework). The mom told me that she is amazed by what Simone knows so far at this point in the year.

Thirdly, another teacher in my school witnessed two of my students in a home she was visiting. She saw they were working on French. They were watching videos and practicing their vocabulary. She said they are speaking out loud in French and they were giggling and laughing and having a blast together with it.

If I started blogging about all the things that amaze me this year with AIM, I don't think I would have any time left for eating or sleeping! There's just way too many wonderful things....but then again, there can never be too many wonderful keep 'em coming, AIM! Keep AIMazing me! :)

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