This was posted on Michele Whaley’s blog,  Michele came to observe one of my learning lab sessions at iFLT a couple of weeks ago and posted her observations about it yesterday.

Bryce Hedstrom’s 2012 iFLT

by MJ

I’m finally going to follow through on my promise to tell about Bryce’s session at iFLT. It’s mostly notes about how he taught the class. This was the group that he got to teach for three days in a row. They were students from different schools and different levels. He had never met them before and he had to demonstrate a series of 2.5-hour lessons in front of 20 observing teachers. We were not allowed to watch the same person for more than one day, or I would have been in there each time if I could.

Before I paste in my notes during the lesson, I’d like to comment on a few things. First of all, even as a relatively green Spanish acquirer, I understood all but a few of the phrases Bryce used in the class discussion. I was pretty surprised by how fluidly he made it possible for the upper-level kids to learn (an AP kid in the group was quoted as having told the least-experienced kids that they were handling the stuff he routinely did in his AP class) while making it accessible for lower-level students as well, and he was totally calm about checking on the kids who needed confirmation of comprehension.

I may have mentioned it before, but another thing Bryce did exceedingly well was to wait for answers and ideas. He didn’t squirm, didn’t look anxious. He trusted that ideas would emerge. The kids were the ones squirming, and they eventually came up with terrific suggestions as needed. It was almost that the extended wait time allowed the pressure to cook up better ideas than would have happened if they’d come out immediately.

Another area I noted was Bryce’s enjoyment of the students and the situation. He loved getting to know them. He had a wonderful hearty laugh when something was funny, and he never rushed through to get wherever he was going. He let the moments live. I’m sure those kids would all have loved to get him for their teacher last year.

Yet another tweak on my usual idea of how a TPRS lesson should go was that Bryce limited both the number of words on the board and the number of suggestions that kids threw out. The first came up in Ben Slavic’s discussion, and the latter was just new to me. The fact that Bryce often took the first idea was part of why the word list on the board didn’t get too big. It was also a way to save time during a lesson. I can see varying that, depending on the flow of a given lesson or who is answering. From now on, I’m not going to wait for six to ten possible responses. If the first one is good or we need to keep the lesson moving, I’m not going to wait for more.

All right…the following is notes of what happened and occasional comments that I was able to write as it progressed. The vocabulary words are those that I either learned as the class progressed or wrote down to assure that I’d see them later, even though I’d understood them in context.

————- Advanced Spanish class at iFLT with Bryce Hedstrom

Beginning: Bryce getting to know students, asking questions, comparing them to one another, enjoying their answers.

Choral reading in English with students of yesterday’s stories.
escucha listens
mientras while
que han jugado who have played
despues after

Read story: ask the class: what did I forget to include? (OH…this helps get the kids back in the flow and reviews it for the ones who missed. I like the emphasis on teacher’s having forgotten.)

… after clearing it up,
“What was the important phrase we wanted to learn?…and it means…?”
“We’re going to continue to make a third version…and include more of the students in it.”

One student retells
newest student isn’t supposed to talk (I like this; it takes the pressure off him, and Bryce can watch to see how much he is getting)
“In a moment, you’re going to stand and take four steps to a new person and you’ll retell the story in pairs.”

“We need to finish this story.”

Work out the next part of the story. Stand up some actors to talk.
**almost an hour, and only 7 structures/new words on the board!
Then Bryce sits down to “try to remember” the story. He asks questions and the kids help retell it. “What does ‘Quiero que David vaya’ mean?”
“Who says…who gives…for how much time…”

Bryce: “So, kids, the teachers don’t know the number game with beans. It’s a brain break.”(Bryce explains that he noticed some kids have trouble with numbers and therefore chose this game.)

Double circles: if someone in one circle messes up, the group starts over, but that person goes to the other group, which doesn’t have to start over.  (Love this…makes it non-competitive and the receiving group is very accepting of the new student.)

(To set up the learning labs, the organizers are charging the elementary kids for the camp but paying the high school kids to attend.)

Continue the review.

At the end of the story section review, “Turn to a partner and retell the story from where Riley decides to become a thief.”
Continue the story
Talk about the kids a bit
Story writer reads the story out loud. (Wow. Was she ever on task! And correct, according to the Spanish teacher next to me.)
The kids retell the whole story one more time.
Then they will read a version that Bryce’s kids did.

Structure: wants to go
There is a boy named Marcus. Marcus has a problem. Marcus has a problem. Really, he has two problems. His two problems are named x and y. These girls both like the same person. They both like Marcus.

The girls both want to go someplace with Marcus. One girl wants to go one place and one wants to go another place.

(story develops where each wants to go and why)

Poor Marcus doesn’t know what to do. he likes both girls, but the girls want to go different places. M invites x to go with him and y to Paris.

There they are hungry, but they want to go to different restaurants (and why).

“I want you to create a (new? continuation?) story in small groups…
using the same structure “wants x to go” – one person wants to go … you’re going to create a story with actors … tomorrow someone will film your story.” You can then use this film as evidence that you’ve learned.

Wait time…dead silence…kids looking at one another … making a decision… and they start to laugh …

Start a new story but two boys and one girl

Then with five minutes left: did you understand everything today?
Was it fun? Were there parts that were hard to understand? Did it help seeing it written, in two examples? Do you have any comments or anything?

Tomorrow, we’ll finish the story and then film it (or maybe they’ll make their own in small groups) to send to your parents!

Debrief, especially at the end of a beginning class. (Loved this! I am going to make it more often a part of the class. I tend to rush up to the end of the period and forget tickets out or any sort of debriefing.)


Class is over; teachers start asking questions.
What are all your classroom jobs?
date and weather changer
point counter: points if all are on time, if all are prepared, if all quiet as class starts (have a review at the beginning of class daily)
also at end of class: they have to say a certain # of rejoinders and if no one spoke English without permission (and if the kids catch a mistake) … tally on wall, posted, and then they get preferred activity for one minute per point
(search on Bryce’s blog for PAT time)
counter for # of times teacher says structure…teacher assigns to a kid who understands the story and can count at the same time
quiz-writer (15 or so questions and answers about what we’re doing)

Absenteeism: read the story, go into the hall w/other to hear it, etc. or have them read in front of their parents

more jobs
details writer
(doodling increases a person’s attentiveness)
weekly jobs: PAT game MC … usually two responsible kids
cookie/snacks provider (Thursday is kindergarten time)
( search for jobs under daily routine

How to assess this?
Kids make their own story like it and tell.

We all have to work together…

Free reading time (upper level kids have to read a story a month) ask “What are you reading?” for credibility.

* Can’t do stories every day, all day. What does work is focusing on them.

Mondays: weekend day
Tuesdays: read most of the time
Wednesday and Thursday: stories; 15 minutes of Kindergarten time
2 boys get out the rug; snack provider gets snack out, everyone is on rug, teacher on floor with them; (The Wretched Stone, by van Allsberg) NOTE: can use stories in English; just tell them in TL.
Friday wrap-up story time and PAT time

How do you choose structures? Pick high-frequency, txtbook type.
Krashen: throw out the net and they’re going to get what they get.


Bryce is awesome! We all knew that, but it was a delight to see him in action.