We use the term “teach them how to play the game”, but what does it mean? Teaching someone how to play seems a bit of an oxymoron, especially if, as teachers, we’re not used to playing in the classroom. Teachers are not the most laid back surfers on the beach.
And what is the game? Blaine, being a natural surfer dude, plays it naturally, but what about us humans? To me, the game is when we instill in the kids a sense of mystery about the next thing in our PQA, with a smile, and with the implied look on our faces that something ridiculous is about to happen.
A big factor in playing the game is to get kids up and moving, but always as per the rule that states that actors must move only in synchronization with our words. Then, when kids are getting used to standing up during PQA, it is much easier to get them to stand up for stories when we start them.
I start my level one kids off with little 60 second long extended PQA scenes to get them used to standing up. We are doing a lot of that now, setting up a natural feeling for (synchronized movement with my words) stories later, when they are ready, which they are not now.
I remember how freaked out at first I was about getting a kid up to do something silly as I described it, using class input from circling. I even remember the first time I asked a kid to stand up. There was something about a train, so I just stood next to the kid and asked him and the class to imagine a train there in front of me and the kid, there where the wall was. It felt so weird. But my fears went away instantly when the kid could “see” the train coming towards us. I never felt nervous about asking kids to imagine stuff like that after that. The kid had a good heart and a good imagination, and didn’t know how scared I was.
Getting kids to stand up is actually very easy, I can see now. It is like riding a bike, once you get that first kid standing next to you and ready to roll into a little scene and then quickly sit down. It’s easier for kids to imagine stuff that we “paint” together in class than it is for them to imagine object pronoun agreement and spelling changes in certain “er” verbs, especially when they haven’t heard the language very much.
To summarize, teaching our kids how to play the game means, to me, that I have to be willing to play myself, in a spirit of mystery and fun about what is going to happen next, while I follow the unraveling non-targeted comprehensible input generated by them in response to my circled questions.
When I used to follow targeted CI, things flatten out quickly, because I put the curriculum over the students. That’s the old way.