Thursday, August 31, 2006

That's What I Remember

My favorite episode of The West Wing is one from Season 3, where the fall-out from Bartlett's MS announcement finds Leo facing the gamete of a congressional hearing. A republican senator is angling to force Leo into revealing a lapse in his sobriety as part of the general smear. Leo recounts the incident by telling us how much he "loves the little things"; the way an ice cube falls from just the right height, the value of good scotch, how Johnny Walker Blue is very good scotch. I remember watching on a rabbit-eared TV set in my college newspaper office with my long-lost friends [Victory] and [T. Anderson], and being floored, because this was the best of writing, with Leo holding the glass in over-eagerness, imbibing and sighing out "That's what I remember."

Last year's group of the criminally under-educated was an anomaly in many ways, as it had relatively little to do with their CELDT level (that's the extent to which they were fluent English speakers, listeners, readers, and writers for all you non-Californians). Most of them were fairly well off -- a lot of 3s, 4s, and 5s. They had the foundation to achieve, but struggled to shut the hell up long enough to realize it. An oasis then, educating that combination of low-CST and high-CELDT.

We're back on familiar sand again, with the weak, weak English speakers. And yeah, there's a fair amount, maybe 10, who were born in foreign lands, but most of them were born in the U.S. and educated in its school system their entire life. Seven years of school and they're still early intermediate. I think immersion works. I think a bilingual program that teaches ESL while building literacy in a primary language works better, but immersion works if done well. It's obviously not being done well. I've got kids who've been in the U.S. 18 months and still cannot name twenty things in the room. Maybe, just maybe, those kids shouldn't be thrown into a heterogeneous classroom environment and left to fend for themselves.

The upshot of all this?

Pair-shares. All day long. Pair-shares and then forced share-outs cuz I got to get em talking. I think I'm averaging 19 pair-shares an hour. I defy you to top that.


Blogger posthipchick said...

My favorite episode of the West Wing is the one with Mrs. Landingham's funeral. Where President Bartlett screams at God in Latin and smokes a cigarette in the church. And then he decides to run for re-election and 'Brothers in Arms' is playing and it is everything that television should be.

You, of course, had a reason for discussing West Wing. I just wanted to share.

10:15 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

19 pair shares an hour. Love it.

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Among my favorite West Wing quotes is "Toby, tell me, these people don't vote, do they?"

I hope I put it to good use (in reference to teacher-bashing charter school ideologues) at JennyD's.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

um.... "congressional gamete" --? Congress has all kinds of opinions about gametes but methinks you meant gamut... lol

3:18 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Well, we learned I can't spell, nor can I spell-check.

Other things I struggle with:
1) Opening boxes
2) Ironing clothes
3) Hitting the jumper after a hard dribble/ jab-step

3:48 PM  
Blogger Marco Polo said...

"pair-share". Can you elaborate? I guess you mean a dyad, timed conversations "OK, you got 2 minutes to talk about...", right? What topics did you use? Did they stay with the same partners, or get a new partner for a new "share"? Thanks. (A non-Californian, non-US TEFL-er).

9:09 PM  

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