Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Supporting TPR - quick suggestions to change it up!

This is a follow up to my previous post on the First Ten - TPR in the first two weeks. Total Physical Response (TPR) can often seem monotonous to the teacher and even to high flying students or students who have done it before. This post is all about quick ways to vary what you do that were not included in the first post and ways to make TPR more compelling to level II and above students:


  1. Write a story! In Latin I last year, and Latin II this year, we are including short, very easy stories to support 3-4 days worth of TPR. Last year, the stories revolved around students in the class and things they do in the classroom. This year, I am writing stories inspired by children's books about school and teachers, to, hopefully provide some comic relief after the first week or so in school.
  2. Interview your kids! Some colleagues of mine are using Bryce Hedstrom's La Persona Especial (Latin: Discipulus Illustris). Before I dive into that, I experimented today with an impromptu TPR assignment that turned into mini interviews in the class:

    * I "ordered" students TPR style to take out a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Then, I told them, in the target language, to write their name and their favourite book's name on the paper.
    * I then "ordered" students to give their paper to a friend and accept a paper from a friend.
    * I went around the room and asked students: "cuius chartam habes?" (whose paper do you have?) and then, "et quid est nomen libri optimi?" (what is the name of the best book?)*
    * Then I turned to the student whose paper it was and asked things like, "qualis liber est?" (what kind of book is it), "quis est heros libri?" (who is the hero of the book), etc.
    * Finally I told a brief story or asked the class comprehension questions using similar, but not the same information... For example: a student's favourite book was a graphic novel about a war. I then asked what other books about war kids knew about and the provided titles. This allowed me to check comprehension while engaging students in a deeper, higher level discussion in the target language. 
  3. Play with stuffed animals! While playing with words like give, take, accept, etc. I pulled key stuffed animals for us to pass around. Inevitably, someone who wanted one of the animals would steal it from another student and we'd have fun talking about stealing vs. giving. In one class, the entire class refused to say they say a student take the stuffed animal from another, leading to a rather hilarious discussion in the target language about giving, taking, and sharing. In another class, when it was clear that more students wanted to be the "star", I allowed them to tell me what they wanted and to go and pick an animal from the shelf. This was all done, of course, using TPR, commands, and in the target language.
  4. Send the kids on a scavenger hunt! At the end of the TPR cycle, you can put kids in groups with a list of descriptions. They must collect images of each item (through drawing or pictures) from around your classroom and their belongings. The vocabulary, of course, must be comprehensible, but it can serve as an activity that gives the teacher a break and serves as an assessment. If you use descriptions that are vague enough, this can serve as a higher level activity in that you could then discuss which objects fit that description and the variety between groups.
  5. Mix it up! Sometimes, I'll throw something really weird out there. I don't do it too often and, when I do, I make it really obvious what I mean. This mixes things up and lets kids have a little fun. Today, at the end of class, I had students put their supplies away, in Latin, and then I told them to take out their phones (which they loved) "et date magistrae" (give to the teacher). It took a brief second before they realised and we all enjoyed a laugh.
I hope these quick suggestions help liven up your room and I'd LOVE to hear about other ways you do this. 

* we learned the phrase, "liber optimus, in mea sententia" (best book, in my opinion)