George Lucas Educational Foundation

Integrating TPRS with PBL

Integrating TPRS with PBL

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Life is crazy busy isn't it!? Always a new challenge, and things to learn. And new alphabet soup words to figure out. In this case, FYI :-)... TPRS = Total Physical Response Storytelling PBL = Project-Based Learning I am not a TPRS addict, but I certainly admire the commitment to second language acquisition using natural methods upon which it is based, and I try to incorporate these ideas into my own teaching as well. We learn language naturally in the context of a language-rich environment. I think that one way TPRS intersects quite well with PBL is in digital story telling. If you love TPRS (many do, and I admire them - I am 54 now, and my energy level is not as high as it once was, so I find it challenging), then use TPRS and make your projects story-based. Have students create their own stories in response to the ones you are telling, and have them write their stories using the many Web 2.0 tools we have available as proof of mastery. Just another thought for your input, dear colleagues... I am not convinced (at least for now) that in WL we must follow all the steps of the PBL model. Other content areas create deep level questions for inquiry which require a much higher level of language fluency than our students have in WL classes, especially in levels 1 & 2, where they demonstrate novice level communication. In the early levels, our questions might be less complex than most PBL questions in other content areas. Our objective is language acquisition in the context of cultural settings. Once our students reach level 3+, and have attained intermediate fluency (if they do), we can create projects which include deeper level, more complex questions for joint inquiry, but still tailored to their level of L2 fluency. Even so, they could continue to tell stories, set in various cultural contexts which they could research and explore as background information needed to create the setting of their stories. This pattern is certainly valid for all our levels of WL courses. The difference between each course level, would be the complexity of the language task required in the project. Questions for our discussion: What kinds of PBL questions could we create for our WL students creating digital stories in response to our input through TPRS stories? How do you integrate PBL and TPRS in WL classes? This is a terrific question for joint inquiry! I welcome your input and collaboration on this question. Please post your ideas and let's figure this one out together. Also, if you want to collaborate in developing curriculum for PBL in WL, including ways to link it with TPRS, please join this wiki I started recently - let's build a set of great WL PBL projects together. Here's the link: Hope to see you soon, Don

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laurenbie's picture
Professional Services Coordinator at the Buck Institute for Education

Last year, I taught fables to students through TPRS. They were then responsible for using the structures we learned and some of the vocabulary to create their own fables using VoiceThread. They posted and recorded the story, then were able to watch and comment on others.
Looking back, I think this unit was what I'd call PBL friendly, but not quite a PBL unit. The objective was to write a fable for children that taught a lesson. With some minor tweaks I could have really refined the driving question and focused the unit more. What would be a good driving question? Here's a link to my blog that discusses what the students did: This is just one example. Would love to collaborate on more!

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