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.


    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!

    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.

  1. 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!

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