GuyInTaiwan wrote:ironlady: I don't have any sentence patterns on my wall. I will also probably get rid of most of what I do have on my wall and replace it with the 100 highest frequency words in the English language.
I also think you misread part of what I wrote. I wrote that they should be able to work things out at an unconscious level (i.e. they wouldn't have to think about it).
There is one thing that I find frustrating. There are certain weaker kids in every class who are kind of gaming the system, so to speak. They know that there's a high likelihood that I will check them personally to see if they understand. When I ask if anyone doesn't understand, they put their hands straight up. In theory, that's great. However, I suspect that with some kids, they're doing it to deliberately slow the class down and actually do understand because some other kids give them grief about it, and they amazingly get it the first time I go over it again. In the most egregious examples, right at the start of the lesson, I introduce the three new sentence patterns for that day. There is Chinese next to them. Some kids claim not to understand them. I'm sure they're taking the piss. Or, it's often preceded by them not paying attention. Likewise, there are kids who don't pay attention, and when I do directly question them to see if they understand, they openly admit that they don't know (and don't care). I'm not talking about kids who are paying attention and really do want to understand. I'll give those kids all the time in the world. However, in all of the real problem cases, there's absolutely nothing I can really do to discipline them so they don't screw around while everyone else is paying attention. The most I can do is move them elsewhere, but then they either distract other people or it becomes very confrontational and they deliberately don't pay attention and seek to undermine me at any opportunity.
I know that in theory, they should be engaged in class and classroom discipline should deal with all of this without having to take it beyond that to other discipline, but some kids simply aren't engaged, and I doubt whether they can be. Whether it's poking the kid next to them or having a chat about something, that's much more engaging, and probably always will be. This seems to be a point at which the theory of CI/TPRS and the reality of some students simply run up against each other. I can beat myself up about not engaging everyone. I can blame the kids. I can blame the administration and their former teachers. I can blame their parents. I can blame society. None of that solves this really fundamental problem though. Last year, I used to really get stressed about all of this. This year, I have simply let go and I'm all the less stressed and much happier for it. I'm still trying to get everyone but the most disaffected 10% of the class, but I just don't think I can get those guys and will only drive myself to an early grave trying. Maybe I really am a pretty mediocre teacher at best (and maybe I'm just really bad). I've gone through a fairly long period of introspection, and I've come to accept that. Maybe this is defeatist. I think this grave dilemma I have (which I discussed last year) is an insurmountable problem that is endemic to compulsory, mass education though. I think it also leeches a massive amount of time away from those kids who are willing or capable of learning. As such, I wonder if, after a month of classes, once you've figured out who the bad kids are, it's better to just work on sidelining them so they take as little time away from everyone else as possible.
I know you have read Slavic's book and remember that he says to have a barometer student or two. In the beginning it was hell for me when it looked lke two or three kids were F789ing around, but you will be surprised (or at least I was) how they eventually do come around (granted not all of them). I am also in the position where I let my kids choose. Want a story? YES. Fuck around and it's textbook and writing. Got it? YES. By the time they have figured out we are doing less and less textbook it's a lot easier.
Peer pressure works like a charm.