24 July 2017

4 CI Strategies from CI Liftoff

I don't think anyone would call me a TPRS teacher, though I've certainly dabbled in comprehensible input for years, and I will gladly sip some CI Kool-Aid when offered a fresh serving, whether through organized national conferences or a workshop conveniently passing through my home state.

I recently got the opportunity to see Tina Hargaden and Ben Slavic in action, and the enthusiasm was beyond contagious. What's more, I walked away with four solid strategies I know I can add to my tool belt/toy box to make class time more fun and a little more effective.

Card Talk

Sr. Slavic has long been famed for "Circling with Balls," but this is an update that is both simple and ingenious. Art was a big hook (Dave Burgess would be proud) to engage students in creation and collaboration, and in this case works a lot like when I would collect student interests with Nearpod--only even simpler. At the same time, it also taps into some of the best parts of my successful first day last year, when I did a little PQA to tie into student interests--but again, even simpler.

Basically, the kids get a card, write their name, and draw something they like. Bam. Done. Yet again, even simpler than the first-day homework collage (which I still might do, mind you). If they have trouble thinking of something, maybe try steering them toward food or pets or sports.

Then I start not with the questions but with statements in the TL, observations based on the cards. I remark on something one kid likes, find another kid who likes the same thing to point out, point out a kid who doesn't have the same kind of thing on their card and maybe ease into questions with ¿no? on the end.

SUPER comprehensible and engaging.

Hub Jobs

I could totally relate to Sr. Slavic's lack spatial alacrity. I often tell my students, as Spanish is to you, so all things spatial are to me--absolutely foreign. So having four hubs around the room so he would know where to look when working out his story (which he also worked out spatially by physically walking a path that represented separate steps of the story) made perfect sense.

So on one side of your room, you have the artists--#1 and #2 so one can sketch and the other can fill in--and writers who can write down the story--in English or TL if they need a challenge.

On the other side you have your actors and Teacher 2--the one who gets to make the final decision when the class can't seem to decide.

In the middle of the crowd, you have your reader leader to get choral reading/translating started, your videographer (and assistant) for countdowns and recording to review, and finally your storydriver who keeps track of the timing of the spatial story path to be sure you're moving on!

There's another hub involving longer term responsibilities, like the archivist, publisher, and documentary director who are responsible for taking all of the videos, stories, images, etc. and putting them into a final product for review as the embodiment of what the class was about. (Perfect PBLL project??? Just maybe.)

I have to tell you, I started going through the list of all the sophomores I'll have this year to start picking out roles (yeah, I know, I'm a cheater who already knows all the kids before the first day).

One-Word Image

I confess, this is why I showed up. I saw Grant Boulanger do this at iFLT and Haiyun Lu at ACTFL. I still felt there was more to grasp about how to set it up and make it work. I already knew:

  1. The "one word" is the name of an object you start with--any object (that's interesting)
  2. You build on the one word by asking questions to let the class choose the description
I just...I just didn't know where to start, how, or why. Now I know you pick an image you know will connect with the group--possibly based on the cards, possibly based on suggestions. And you start with basic dichotomy descriptions every time: big/small, happy/sad, this color/that (Maris' post helped me nail this down a little better after the fact). THEN you can create a conflict to lead into a story about the image!


So they start out as student drawing, so I don't know how they're actually "invisible." I guess it's because they become part of the class, even though we don't see them there with is? Anyway, this is more of the art hook, and let me tell you, it worked on me. I roped my daughter into coloring my character for me, too, to make it extra special (she gave my pizza green olive eyes). The kids create an object character (again, Maris' post helped me understand why it couldn't be Beyonce) and begin listing its characteristics, including

  • name
  • job
  • age
  • family
Plus some sort of conflict, like its "big secret" or likes and dislikes.

And then of course you can work these into stories too! I can see how this could fit into the invention unit EASY.

So those are my biggest takeaways from the experience. Of course I also have detailed tweets--collected for you here.

There are also some questions still gnawing at me after this latest sip of Kool-Aid, but those, those are for my next post.

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