Ron Scott from Texas (there are a lot of really smart and creative people in Texas I found out this summer – I used to think all they did down there was play football – actually Ron did play football, and quite well, but now he is getting ready to talk to his kids about the sports and other activities they do in his Spanish classes), anyway Ron asked me today about the Circling with Balls thing and since some of us are going to be using that PQA technique this week I thought I would try to explain a few new additions to it that I just thought of this summer that can make this activity work even better. I tried both out in a workshop with teachers this summer and I know that they work.
Neither of these additions to the Circling with Balls activity is new. One stems from a conversation that I had with Blaine this summer in which I came to a deeper understanding of how circling works and what it is, and the other one comes from Anne Lambert’s questionnaire. They are just little twists that are designed to make the activity go better.
The first thing is that we don’t just have to say what the kid does and leave it at that, but we can take each thing that they do and draw it into a little scene as far as we can take it (= saturation of details). It is just PQA, nothing new at all.
But then, when we have gotten the one kid as far as we can into some little scene, we can then go to another kid and talk about them for awhile, and (this is the new part) we can then build a scene involving both kids. We know this simply known as “adding a character” in TPRS and again, it is not new, just PQA, but maybe applied to Circling with Balls it is.
Key point here (some may disagree) – YES, it can be done in L2 in the first few days of school if we follow the rules (resources/posters page of this site) and go slowly enough (we can do anything if we follow the rules and go slowly enough).
Like the other day I did a demo where a kid ended up in the bathroom at East High School. He was sitting on the crapper in there. So then I went to another student (actually these were teachers in a workshop), who was a runner in real life and who like to be called Queen Latifa. So I started asking questions about Queen Latifa because nobody in class really wanted to know what happened after the guy sat down on the crapper – we had gotten to a point of saturation with the details we had added on that first character.
So, after circling in enough details about Queen Latifa, I asked my favorite parking question “where” again, with this new character, asking where she ran, and some kid who was getting the game right away, said, “to the bathroom at East High”. Es obvio!
So, in that way of getting details and then, once we had enough details (saturation) on the second card, I asked “where” and we ended up with a little scene that was crafted from the information given on the two cards. I never one had any idea where the scene was going, but the students were interested because it was about them, and so they provided those details. It doesn’t matter where the scene goes. What matters is that you are talking about them using their names and doing things that they do, and being open and responsive to all of the wonderful things that they say.
The second change to the Circling with Balls activity is that I get the “name you wish you could have” from the questionnaire on the back of the card stock, as mentioned above. (I only allow the kids to answer one question per day, as part of the Repasito/Petite Révision, and the cards stay in the room – in that way the kids put some real thought into their questionnaires over time and the card is not filled up for a month or more). The question that I want to ask on the first day of school is the one that I feel is the most important one to them – a name that they would like to be called.
Note that the questionnaire on the back of the cardstock has two columns (you can see that on the posters page of this site). That is so that, when you fold the cardstock down the middle the long way, the card makes a little elongated pup tent thing happen, as described on the resources/handouts link of this site, so you can see the cards in front of each kid and just wander around the room loving teaching and getting to know your kids as people first at the same time you are laying down firm and clear rules.
So that is the second change, the questionnaire on the back of the cardstock, and the first one, to restate it, is to simply try to get a little scene (can be a mini mini scene) going with one kid and then adding the new character (as above) or even a new event, which is the other option we have whenever we have reached a point of saturation of details with any circling.
Oh, well, that’s probably about as clear as mud but I gave it a shot.