A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about backward planning and tprs. Check it out if you get a chance. It is entitled Backward Planning Ideas. In that blog I outline what I have been doing with it, but here I will give a little more clarification. Here is what I do:
1. I read a chapter from the novel that we are reading in class.
- I do this a week or so before we actually read it in class
2. As I am reading, I think about words or structures that I know my students will either need to acquire or will need more repetition on.
3. When I find a structure that I want to write down, I write down on a template specifically designed for backward planning. The template is arranged according to the question words [interrogatives] so that I can easily use them spontaneously in class. I will put an example of the template at the bottom.
- The structures have the most powerful effect when they are used as the class supplies a need.
4. As I write them down on the template I designate which words I will use first, according to the order that they come in the chapter.
- I may do this by highlighting them, circling them, underlining, or using different colored font. Each color is associated with a different page in the novel, so I know which words I should use first.
- This allows me to know how far I can read in the novel without getting into territory that the students haven’t encountered. I don’t want to work on words that appear later in the chapter if we will be reading the beginning of the chapter because the students won’t be familiar with them yet or may need more repetition. If I get into incomprehensible territory, the motivation for reading the novel decreases. Nobody wants to read books they don’t understand. It makes you feel stupid and as we know, “Nothing motivates like success.”
5. I look at the words for a few minutes and think about possible stories or situations that could be interesting.
- This gives me a few ideas before heading into class, just in case the class doesn’t come up with anything. I don’t stress out about it. Just whatever seems natural and mostly believable.
- It provides me with a parachute and also frees me to go with whatever the class creates that day.
- I mentally group the words into possible scenarios. For example: learns, course, and movie could be a story about a guy who goes to the university, takes a movie course, and learns about something. There is the usual interesting problem that needs to solved. Maybe the course is full or he can’t concentrate in class because Megan Fox is sitting next to him, etc. It should all revolve around whatever the students are interested in.
6. I print out the template and place it on my podium, ready for action.
- I choose three structures from the specific color I am using that day to put on the board.
- These are the three structures that I brainstormed about earlier when I was looking at all of the designated chapter words.
- We do some TPR to make the structures familiar and establish meaning.
7. After I establish meaning, I go into the story with my backward planning words ready to insert wherever the action makes it meaningful or creates a need.
- It is planned, but also has a spontaneous feeling because you never know where the structures will end up in the story. It could be anywhere.
Here is an example of the template I have been using:
Pobre Ana – palabras importantes
PA capítulo 1 – palabras importantes antes de leer
come pone quiere camisa ayuda ropa comida le gusta busca encuentra contesta compra
le dice tiene chocolate fruta se ríe toma le da va a
¿Cómo? / ¿Cómo es?:
alta pelo largo[castaño, rubio] azul se llama
toda hermano se ríe está triste
vive centro comercial
¿Cuántos? / ¿Por cuánto tiempo? / ¿A qué hora?
tiene __ años
también con siempre/nunca su
* I just pasted this from the word document I created it on.
I am not saying that this is perfect or even the best way to do things. I have only been trying it this year with outstanding results. I always wanted to be a tprs teacher that did not have to use a script and had a program that was focused around reading. This is where I am at for now. The backward planning allows me to not need a script and just ask students questions. I don’t have to worry about going too wide from the script and trying to figure out how to get back. It gives me a plan, while at the same time allows me to be free with a story line. I can just go with whatever the superstars bring for the day. The great thing is that more and more superstars keep sprouting everyday. This makes the class much more involved and excited about what we are doing together.