I once visited a Montessori school where 3rd graders were doing vocabulary worksheets. They weren’t overly enthralled, and probably would be more enthralled by this story from Alisa:
Superman calls Sponge Bob (SB) and says, “There’s a party.” (Hurray, I love parties!)
SB called Minnie Mouse (MM). He says, “There’s a party.” (Hurray, I love parties!)
MM calls Barney. She says, “There’s a party.” (Hurray, I love parties!)
Barney calls Superman. He says, “There’s a party.”
Superman says, “I KNOW!”
Is this targeted CI? Most emphatically not. It is what Anne Matava has always done: create a STRONG script but not in order to teach any words, just to have a general pathway for the train to go down, one with rails of gold and not iron. (Don’t worry, Anne’s next collection of stories won’t have three “structures” over them – those were put there to make it look like TPRS, but she wasn’t pulling them from anything connected to a curriculum – she was pulling them from the story that she made up.) Do we need to go through and make certain that any words that we use in this story have already been taught/presented? No. If anything is unclear to the students, we make it clear during the story, and there is no one way to do that. Then, if we want more “reps” on the word to lead to greater “acquisition” (both words are in quotes because they have never been adequately defined in our community and remain a blur to a lot of people), all we have to do is some of the 21 reading options, as many as we want, but certainly options 4-7. Why weigh our train down with too much planning, too much coal, too much drudgery? We should plan if we want, but we don’t have to. There is no one way to do this work and many are making this case more and more in our community that it is just fine for us to do stories using no targets. People don’t seem to like it, but Tina and I like it. All we really have to do is enjoy spending time with our kids, talking with them about stuff that grabs them. Too much for some teachers? Don’t kid yourself and don’t insult their intelligence. It’s like learning how to ride a bike. Why prevent them that joy?