We created a “beginning the year” category here a few months ago. Here are a few quick additions to that list, which I will time stamp as well for August.
First, there is no doubt that TPR is in for a renaissance in my CI classroom. A lot of us seem to have been thinking along these lines in the past five months, judging from that thread here about three weeks ago. I will push the TPR/gesturing because at the end of last year my students clearly missed the early year five words a day – which I kind of let go after I could see that they had a big strong active vocabulary after the first three months or so.
One detail I will continue to do to start each class next year is not simply laser point to the five new words on the wall for translation/gesturing/fun (all of this is described on the resources/workshops link of this site), but often to move the kids’ eyes physically away from the list at the beginning of the class and ask them, once they have been taught and gestured/TPR’d, to identify only their sound when I say it, without looking at the list.
The other detail I wanted to add about starting the year is to vigorously encourage my students to take full responsibility for providing cute answers. In the past, I have always kept some of the responsibility for personalized cute answers, trying to think of cute stuff from the questionnaires and the CI on top of everything else involved in getting CI off the ground.
But now, for this coming year, I am thinking that this is fully the job of the kids and if they don’t clearly know that, then they won’t do it, so I have to really change from previous years and actually demand their cute answers as per my rule #5 (see updated rules poster on resources/posters link on this site).
It is worth adding here, of course that, most of the time, a lack of cute answers is due directly to the fact that we simply go too fast, and they don’t understand, so we must always bring up SLOW in these discussions. Without SLOW, we have nothing.
But I feel intuitively now that I must relinquish that control of the cuteness factor and give it fully to, place it fully on the shoulders, of each and every kid in the room, not just a few of the them, the superstars. No small group of kids should ever take over a class, no matter what method is being used.
How do we do that? We must go so slowly that all the kids feel moved to add suggestions. Also, we must learn to wait them out. This is skill #22 in my book, which to me is supremely important in getting the CI to flow properly with total class participation. Waiting them out, staying in the moment, is an art form.
Occasionally, English suggestions are offered into the CI. That’s fine. At one point I thought that no English suggestions should be allowed, then I favored allowing them to suggest two words in English in recent years, but now I just take what I get in both languages, but strongly encouraging suggestions in the TL all the while, and not making a big deal out of it if I hear an occasional suggestion in English, because some of them can be so funny. It is the flow of CI that counts, and as long as that is there, the little bit of English that may occur in their suggestions as well as in Point and Pause is negligible but somehow keeps the class moving along just fine.
Robert recently mentioned that some classes have that kind of energy – the energy to maybe create a Realm and be cute often no matter what – and some don’t, but my point here is that it is my active responsibility to make space, to find room for, to demand, really, cute answers not just from four of the kids, but from all of them, in all of my classes. Ambitious? Perhaps, but I’m going to try it.
So those are two things to add to what I want to do next year. Fine tuning, one might say.