24 October 2012

PACEE: PACE grammar method needs another step

My basic P.A.C.E. layout
(yes, I constructed the rule wrong here)
I have developed a very specialized structure for giving grammar notes now:

  1. 1. I make a powerpoint slide titled "Presentación" with a collection of sentences that have a similar pattern from an authentic text related to our theme (e.g. children's book, first aid manual, recipe). Please note: it should only be ONE pattern at a time. And at least 5 examples are ideal. HINT: Students like it when you indicate how many lines they should number for examples and how much space they should leave.
  2. Students need do nothing more with this slide than affirm that those sentences are kind of familiar and get ready to look for a pattern.
  3. I duplicate the slide and change the name to "Atención." I then draw a rectangle over a word or phrase that demonstrates the pattern I'm emphasizing. I animate this rectangle to appear on my click. I copy the animated rectangle and fit it to all of the other examples of the pattern on the slide, like so:

    Then all I have to do is click on the textbox containing all the words and "Bring to front."
  4. On the "Atención" slide, students write down the rectangled parts straight from the Atención slide. When we are studying a verb form, I also have them indicate the infinitive of the verb to show the contrast. They might do the same with adjectives or articles (el-->los) if you're showing agreement.
  5. What do the original/infinitive verbs all have in common? 
  6. How have these verbs changed in the sentences? 
  7. Are these verbs narrating or commanding?
  8. Then comes the Co-construcción slide. I have been writing it in Spanish for Spanish II--very, very simple Spanish, but I cannot bring myself to do that in Spanish I. Either way, I have students write out the rules in English at these levels, because the processing of the pattern is complicated enough without trying to add production of L2 to it. I structure this slide with questions, very specific questions to get them to notice the pattern and the reason for the patterns, for example:

    *What do the original/infinitive verbs all have in common?
    *How did these verbs change when they were used in the sentences?
    *Are these verbs narrating or commanding?
9. Also on this slide, I have found I really need to come up with sentence starters, like "Use -í when..." and "Use -é when..." to make sure they break down the parts they  need.

10. At this point, if you want to differentiate between two patterns, say -AR versus -ER/-IR or yo versus él/ella, go BACK and make 3 slides just like the others with the sentences for the second pattern. I think you could probably get away with doing it for 3 or 4 patterns in the same vein this way, at least at the Spanish II level, but be sure you do not overload their little minds.

Now here is where I think P.A.C.E. needs a new step.

Spanish II got very frustrated when I tried to introduce yo and él/ella forms of the preterite. I had to go back and do some re-teaching, which kind of amounted to letting them try to detect the patterns in still MORE sentences themselves. After they had this step, with a repetitive children's book from Spain, they felt much better about it, so I inserted it with my Spanish I as they learned informal commands from recipes. I call this step Experiment, hence PACEE.

11. Once students have had a chance to experiment, THEN they should try the "Extensión," some sort of authentic(ish) activity where they apply the pattern. For example, Spanish II described all of the calamities that had befallen this guy, and Spanish I explained how to make pancakes.

Now, Sra. Placido recently questioned the idea of having students pick out stem-changing verbs as unrelated to the standards, and she has a point. P.A.C.E.E. Of course, goes beyond this with the Extensión, having students write or say something using a structure, so its goal can fall under Communication as well as Comparisons if addressed properly. But in truth, neither P.A.C.E. nor P.A.C.E.E. exists to fulfill ACTFL standards. I believe they serve an important function, however, in helping students process what they see or hear, perhaps not in a way that is necessary for all learners, but for those that Sternberg would call "analytical" to be sure. In short, P.A.C.E.E. may well be a vestige of the way I learned languages 10, 15 years ago, but I think it is also a useful tool to have a class about the target language largely in the target language.

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