Transcripts for impeachment and for learning about our teaching

As you know, I am an advocate of recording and with our students transcribing a few minutes of the recordings. One goal is to see ways what we do, think we do and actually do are different. For the past few months, lawyers, legislators and citizens in the US have another goal for analyzing transcripts: to see to what extent the President of the US said anything that violated any laws.

The transcripts that have been shared on TV are in fact not transcripts, as some commentators continually remind us. They contain periods . . . at various places to indicate that words were said that were not recorded.  Requests to make public not only complete transcripts of the conversations between the president of the US and the Ukraine but the actual recordings have not been answered. And with good reason probably as President Nixon had to resign when he was forced to release recordings and transcriptions.

Obviously a 3 minute transcript of our teaching is not as momentous as transcripts of presidents in the scheme of things. But to us who want to understand what we do and ensure that what we do is serving our students it is momentous. Teaching is our professional life.


Here is a transcript from a commercially produced video. As you read it, write down what you think the teacher believes learning and teaching are. As you might remember from previous blogs I think teaching is reminding people of what they already know and providing feedback to guide them from errors to correct use of language. And I think learning is predicting and using languages.

Of course cannot read the teachers mind. But just as lawyers and others are trying to understand the intent of President Trump in his conversation with the president of another country by analyzing the partial transcript so  you can analyze the transcript. Of course the visual actions of the teacher and her students would add a great deal more information, still the words provide loads of data to analyze.


                                    Vocabulary Role Play


T: All right, on this page, there is a word that tells what he did.


(Name of student.) Do you know what it is?


S: . . . found. He found a bean.


T: Right. The word is found. And you know what? I believe I have the word found right here. Let’s practice what that might look like. Found.

(Places a flash card with the word found on it on an easel showing Jasper in a reader.)

S: Found.                                                                                     9

T: If Jasper found a bean that was on the ground—Ah!

And he found it. Ah! Can you show me?

SSS: Found it.

T: One more time—Ah found it. (Moves hand along floor where there is a plastic stick.) I can find it right now! Now I’m not looking at it. I already found it.

SSS: Found it.                                                                           15

T: One more time. Show me what that would look like.

T and SSS: found it. (Moving hands towards plastic stick on the floor.)

T: Good job.

All right.

T: So we’re going to need to use the word found. Found. Let’s put it right here. (Puts the flash card on the easel.) Found. It’s an action word. It’s what he did.

T and SS: On Tuesday, he planted it. (Pointing to the line on the reader on the easel.)

T: What did he do on Tuesday? (Name of student.)

S: He planted it.                                                                             26

T: Could you show us what that might look like?

Come on up. You may even use the tool he used to plant it.

Can you find it?

Where’s the tool that he used. Now look carefully.

Which tool do you have in your hand.?

(Student is holding a lavender shovel.)

Does this look like the shovel?                                                  33

(Pointing to the tool on the page of the reader on the easel.)

Go take a look at the tools.

See if she can find the tool that matches it.

(We see the flash cards with the word shovel and rake on two toys

tools minus the article.)

Which tool is that?

S: Trowel                                                                                          40


T: Say a trowel, trowel. I’m going to borrow the label again. And I’m going to take it back again for now. And can you show us how he planted that bean?

S: (Moves trowel along the carpet.)

T: Nice Job. Everybody show me how Jasper planted his bean?

Say the word with me—planted.

SSS: Planted. (As they move their hands along the carpet.)

T: Oh, you have to put the bean in the ground too. Dig the hole again

with your trowel. (Said as students were patting the carpet with their

hands.)                                                                                      50

Put the bean in. Cover it up. Now, show me planted all by yourself.


He used that flashlight to help him do something.

(As one student takes the flash card with the word flashlight on it from

the wall.)

Reinforcing Action Words

T: Let’s look at the word. Let’s look at the words in our story and see

what he did with the flashlight. How he used it. He used it.

(Points to line in reader on easel which has the words)                     58

Read it with me. (Teacher points to each word in the sentence with the

plastic item that she had previously had on the floor.)



T and SSS: “On Friday night he picked up all the slugs and snails.”

T: What did he do?

SSS: He picked up slugs and snails.                                                 63

T: He picked—show me what that would look like, to pick up slugs and snails.

SSS: (Some students put their hands on the carpet.)

T: Where did he put the slugs?

S: In a jar.

T: In a jar. Good job.

Let’s pick up some slugs. (Gestures picking up something.)

Oh, this is a good one boys. OK (Said as she shuffles some flash

cards.)                                                                                    72

Close your eyes.

S: Somebody’s peeking!

T: I know. Take a look Freddie. Don’t tell. Do you know what it is?

(Holding a flash card with the word moved on it with ed in red and mow in green.)

Whisper in Freddie’s ear.

Now whisper in his ear.

Now do you know how you want to show that?                               80


Giving More Exposure to New Words

T: OK turn around. Say, what is our action?

S: Say what is our action. (Points to another student.)

T: Is that your action? Uhm. Show your action.

SSS: (Many raise their hands.)

S: I know.                                                                                    85

S: I know.

S: (points to another student and says a name)

T: I think I forgot to have you do that. How funny. All right.

S: (Pushes plastic toy lawn mower across the floor.)

T: All right. Now come back and say what is our action.

T: Is that our action?                                                                     91


T: 446 words               S/SSS: 37 words                Time: 4:15


I hope that at least a few of you will send your comments after reading the transcript a few times.


I addition to trying to decide what her beliefs about teaching and learning are you can of course ask other questions such as what habits the teacher is using that she might not be aware of, how what she is doing which she thinks is helpful might not be helpful, how she underestimates or over underestimates her students.


In a subsequent blog I will send along comments any of you make as well as the person who wrote the book the transcript is from and her conversation with the teacher.


Enjoy, enjoy.





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