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A day with Blaine Ray

blaineToday I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Blaine Ray. I never tire of observing a true master teacher, and truthfully I suspect that I have not always been ready to learn from him. Yet these days what impresses me most is the call to simplify, to focus on high-frequency structures, and to repeat those basic structures until the flow of communication between student and teacher is confident, accurate and without hesitation. Perhaps it is the AP monster that I am currently teaching that makes me appreciate these basic principles. When I see errors on my students quick writes it is certainly because I have moved on when my students merely understand the structure, but they don´t yet exhibit the confidence, the accuracy and the lack of hesitation that is the mark of mastery. Today Blaine reminded me that I need to bring in more parallel characters, have more actors so that we can make more comparisons and, most importantly, so that students hear more repetitions of the target structures.

A few quotes that I wrote down:

On the essential role of a TPRS teacher:

I don´t teach rules, I just teach them to answer my questions.

My job is not to get students to figure it out, my job is to make them fast processors. If they don´t understand then write it on the board.

On how getting to the end of the story is not the purpose of a TPRS teacher:

I have a major bias towards going back in time (in the middle of a story to explain why a detail is the way it is), because going forward finishes the story… and I don´t want to finish the story!!!

On the few kids who process the language faster than everyone else:

Teach the fast processors to blend in and not beat the class in a choral response

And finally, on the role of hidden props:

I´ve got to get rid of this cow in my pocket.

8 thoughts on “A day with Blaine Ray

  1. Thanks for sharing…I love thinking about students as processors…

    1. Hey Mike! I hope everything is going well at your school this year. Tell me next time you come out to SoCal and we´ll get the gang to go out again!

  2. I don’t get the last one. What do you mean by “getting rid” of the cow in your pocket?

    1. Oh, nothing deep… that was just a moment of comedy when he was fumbling through the props that he was hiding in his pocket trying to get out a mouse toy but the cow toy kept getting in his way. I laughed because I have experienced that before in my classroom.

  3. I am also in the workshop and just realized I follow your blog! Ha! Sorry I didn’t recognize you…too busy trying to learn German! See you tomorrow!

    1. hahah I am sure you are going to dream in German tonight

  4. Great thoughts on his presentation! We had the pleasure of driving with him to Penn Station. Amazing blog you’ve got here, too!

    1. Thanks! Keep in touch 🙂

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