Individually Created Images – 1

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29 thoughts on “Individually Created Images – 1”

  1. I am trying an individually created character drawing day next week for my mental health and to have a nice stack of images to work with after our February break. I created a rubric that basically gives kids an A if the image is large, clear, boldly outlined and colorful, and if the back of the page has details that work together to make a compelling character. I don’t know if it is a good rubric yet because I haven’t used it, but I am happy to share it if anyone wants to see.

  2. Carly this is something I wrote in ANATTY about drawing days:

    By allowing the students to have part of class or even an entire class to simply sit and draw characters. Why not? If you are tired one day, and what teacher is not, take a rest with a drawing day!

    Whenever the teacher feels like giving drawing time in class, the kids happily take it. In those periods, the classroom bursts with creativity. Connections are made, friendships grow, and laughs and smiles are the order of the day. The time “given up” to draw characters in class is repaid with generous dividends of student interest during subsequent stories. 

    While drawing, the students usually form little groups of two or three and the feeling is of lighthearted anticipation with heads together. Visible group pride takes over. English is used. That’s fine. The students are finding friends and the class is becoming a team with a purpose. Safety and inclusion are becoming normal in the class. 

  3. Here is the text of my document, I can’t seem to figure out the formatting for posting. Looking at it now I think I may have made things a bit too complicated…

    Character Project (MP 3)
    Image: On the back of this paper, sketch in pencil, then color in and boldly outline your character, following the guidelines of the rubric below.

    4 Has a bold outline, more than 3 colors are filled in, is neat and attractive to look at, is easily seen from the back of the room.
    3 Has a bold outline, is colored in, can easily be seen from the back of the room.
    2 Outline is not bold and/or is lacking colors and/or is difficult to see from the back of the room.
    1 Not complete enough, clear enough or neat enough to be considered for a class storytelling activity

    4 Fills almost the entire page
    3 Fills a lot of the page
    2 Does not fill a lot of the page
    1 Not complete enough, clear enough or neat enough to be considered for a class storytelling activity

    4 Shows facial expressions that are clear and exaggerated
    3 Has a clear face
    2 Has no face or it is hard to make out
    1 Not complete enough, clear enough or neat enough to be considered for a class storytelling activity

    4 Includes several details that clearly relate to the character’s personality or interests
    3 Includes one or two details that clearly relates to the character’s personality or interests
    2 Does not include details that relate to the character’s personality or interests
    1 Not complete enough, clear enough or neat enough to be considered for a class storytelling activity

    Autobiographical Details: Write in English the following information about your character
    Name _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Occupation or Favorite Activity ________________________________________________________________________
    Location (Where your character lives and/or works) _______________________________________________________
    Personality Trait(s) __________________________________________________________________________________
    Secret or secret power _______________________________________________________________________________
    Anything else to note? _______________________________________________________________________________

    4 Every line has an answer, some lines have a full sentence explanations or multiple details
    3 Every line has an answer
    2 Some lines have an answer
    1 Not complete enough to be considered for a class storytelling activity

    4 All details work together to give the character a cohesive personality
    3 Some of the details work together and some seem random
    2 Most details seem random or unrelated to one single character
    1 Not complete enough to be considered for a class storytelling activity

  4. As I look back on my 40 year career in the profession, I realize that, of all the strategies I ever tried in a classroom, nothing brought me more joy. It wasn’t even close. Remembering the characters created in India – Lintus P. Lint, – Sheldon, Bob Le Blob, and all the rest – I realize now that then I was really alive teaching my classes, not just pretending to be a teacher. OWIs were cute, but they weren’t teaching dynamite.

  5. Carly just FYI I use a different scoring system with six characteristics. I have found that when they all have exactly six blanks to fill out, in a certain order, the specificity makes the class’ consciousness about these characters “gel” and they compare/contrast characters more easily. This is the way I did it with the first Invisibles and I still find that those same six traits in the order they area presented, bring a nice organizational feel and focus to the discussions.

  6. Another nice thing about using the 4/4 (front) and 6/6 (back) scoring system is it gives you ten. I would never use it for a grade, only for choosing the character to be used in the story that day, because kids obviously don’t need shaming for their ability to imagine a tight character and draw it when some of them aren’t sure themselves of who they are yet in life.

  7. Thanks Ben, I have read the choosing process several times, and I still don’t quite get how it works. I always have difficulty with any sort of choosing, since kids’ feelings get hurt so easily.

  8. I let the class decide and that takes the pressure off of me and it actually is democratic. Pick images according to how many points they can accrue. How to do that? Here’s one way you can do it:

    1. Holding the stack of drawings in your hand, ask the students to get into groups of four and form two pairs in each group.
    2. Give two drawings to each group, one for each pair. DO NOT GIVE A STUDENT PAIR THEIR OWN DRAWINGS TO EVALUATE.
    3. Ask each pair to rate the drawing they have by awarding up to a total of 4 points for the art work and 6 for the six prompt responses on the back of the page. Obviously, a well-drawn and highly imaginative character would get 4 points for, on the drawing, bold lines, excellent colors and other details, and with 6 points for the back-of-the-page information, depending mainly on two factors: (1) how imaginative it is, and (2) how cohesive the character is.
    4. Once each pair has given a score to the two drawings you gave them, they meet with another pair to form a group of four students and that group of four compares scores and the group of four decides which one of the two drawings they chose in pairs will advance.
    5. Once the group of four has decided on the best of the four drawings, ask the groups to form into groups of eight.
    6. The same process of elimination happens in the group of eight students – one one drawing is chosen.
    7. This process continues until there are two drawings left, at which point they give them both to you.
    8. At this point the class arrives at the Great Deciding Moment, described here:

    Then you get to decide the winner. It’s like in the Miss America contest when the “First Runner Up” is announced and is THRILLED that she didn’t win.

    When you are standing in front of class with the two finalists in the scoring process just described. Of course, you already got a look at all the drawings before you handed them out, so you have your own favorites. But sometimes two drawings make it to the finals that you never really considered as all that great.

    No matter, just stand there with a drawing in each hand and look them over. Let the drama build while you choose. Read out the prompt responses while they look at the images. Put both drawings behind your back. Ask for a drum roll. Bring out the winner to a round of applause and immediately walk over to the students who drew both drawings and point to them proudly as the class applauds.

    They didn’t win a car; they did something better – the received the approval of their peers and teacher. In a world where the only way to do that is by scoring high on a test, it’s got to be an exceptional feeling for the child. It sets the tone for a good story. No one is resentful that their drawing wasn’t chosen, and kids who think that mediocrity has a place in your classroom are given something to think about.

  9. Chiming back in about ICI because we did our first round of storytelling last week with the selected characters and all stories were reasonably to very cute. It was tiring but fun (Ben, I am looking forward to your updated storytelling approach that will make problems and solutions easier!)

    Here is the real magic of ICI and stories and really of the Star Sequence – this week I got to sit back and bask in the video retells and it has been very lovely and relaxing. Each class got to read the write up of their story (I did that on my prep but next time I will do it Write and Discuss style in class) and then watch their video retell. The next day I did look and discuss of another class’s story and then showed that class’s video re-tell which they loved! I could do that all week with all the different class stories if I wanted to, the interest is there! It gives my voice and body a break which is very nice.

    Tomorrow we will end with a reading and drawing day where they will illustrate the comic strip version of their class story. High quality CI, lots of reps, low low low planning for me.

    1. Would any of that merriment and ease of instruction happen if you were tied to a word list somewhere? In my opinion, no.

      I had that new book about done and then when I woke up today I thought of about another month of stuff I wanted to say, so dang.

    2. Carly you said “I am looking forward to your updated storytelling approach that will make problems and solutions easier!”

      The thing is I don’t want to imply that I have the answer. I can report a lot of insights over the past two years on it. My thinking now is that as long as we have a problem – vague or not – “in our minds” when we start the story, we can make a story work.

      Like with our discussion a few weeks ago where instead of just an image (a snowflake) we have an image that has, like you said, either a problem or a fear – a snowflake who doesn’t want to melt. That has a lot greater chance of becoming a story. Having even a vague problem or fear in our minds from the start is an advantage. Frankly, I never want to start a story again w no problem or fear.

      I used to do that in national workshops and it was a crap shoot whether the story would get off the ground or not. Not worth being exposed like that in front of 100 teachers. We need to know that we can make a problem happen and then if we don’t have a problem by the time we get to where we want one in the story, we can just stop the story. That’s acceptable!

      The key for me is in asking my inner teaching self “Is this potential story going to happen or not?” I don’t put that on my own shoulders – too much pressure. Rather, I guide the story along to a point where either it makes it – because a problem or fear happened naturally or I had one to begin – or it craps out. I don’t take it on myself to be the wonderful problem creator. Only Blaine in his genius can do that.

      But that’s why starting a story like I saw Joe do in 2002 always worked for him – he started with a dog that wanted something or a TV that didn’t like to be stared at or a snowflake that didn’t want to melt. He always had both, a character and a problem, from the beginning.

      1. “My thinking now is that as long as we have a problem – vague or not – “in our minds” when we start the story, we can make a story work.”

        This if very helpful, Ben. I’m doing better at not getting flustered in the middle of trying to create a story in class, trying to think of a good problem, but it does still happen. I need to learn to feel fully prepared and relaxed by simply having a vague – or not – problem in my mind already based on the backstory of the character.

        1. Perhaps the idea of getting a problem is an aberration that came along, wormed its way in, to the general zeitgeist of this work long ago. I spent too many years thinking that part of my job was to be clever and lead the story into a wonderful place and then the kids would see how entertaining I was and everybody would find out how wonderful I am. Bless my heart. That burden is gone. I am actively rethinking everything I’ve ever thought about this work. It’s got to be better than the last 20 years of blotch.

          1. The amazing but scary part for me is that the “cute” stories seem to evolve from something totally random most of the time that I cannot plan. For example, we had a cowboy banana that lost a cow and my vague idea was that the cow wandered off in the wrong direction because he wasn’t that smart. But then a disruptive kid started singing loudly and to manage that behavior we decided that the cow wandered off to a karaoke bar because he loved to sing. That made the story so good and that kid who was disruptive was so focused for the video retell because he was waiting for his cue to sing. And I worked the singing into the story as many times as I could and everyone felt really good about it. But I can’t plan for that to happen! I just have to trust!

          2. Carly said:

            …the amazing but scary part for me is that the “cute” stories seem to evolve from something totally random most of the time that I cannot plan….

            What amazes me, then, if this is true and it is, is the reaction of most traditional CI teachers to this notion. It conveys a lack of trust that, as per Krashen, constrains interest.

            Perhaps it is because one has to experience it in the classroom before one can trust that what you say is true. So no blame. It’s like, sometimes you got to take a chance in life, right?

          3. Carly perhaps another reason that the story about the cowboy banana succeeded was that you brought that disruptive kid into the process. I don’t think we haven’t come yet to full appreciation of a kid in a class sending out negative energy all the time. It wears everybody down in ways that we don’t even know. And darkness in a person is so hard to squash. So the only thing we can do is to make the kid more and more a part of the group. Only love can do that, and a way of teaching that doesn’t favor the few. These are momentous times. The deepest recesses of our profession are being exposed to light. Something great is happening.

  10. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    So I am experimenting with some ready made ‘stories’ for our curriculum review and we’ve been doing a lot w/snowmen (SM) in 1st grade. I happened upon a level-appropriate story about a kid building a SM, but alas, the ‘story’ really has no problem. So I did a lil mini lesson with the kids on “What makes a story a story?” and gave some examples of non-stories in English. (Sra. Shapiro has a unicorn hat. The hat has a gold unicorn horn. She wears it in class. It lights up. The 1st graders think it’s silly. The End.)
    We talk about what will make it into a story…
    Then I go back to the Spanish problem-less snowman ‘almost story’ and ask for possible problems. The mini-lesson paid off. In the original story, the kid builds a SM and goes home, drinks cocoa, The End. But in the 1st graders’ re-write, the story kid thinks, “Maybe the SM wants some of the delicious hot cocoa? And goes outside to give him some. But since he only has a mouth made of chocolate chips, he cannot really drink…so the kid pours it on top of the SM, and he melts… OH NO!
    By helping scaffold the story creation – telling the Ss at what point there’s a problem; what kind of a problem (fear, etc.) we can still have collaborative buy-in – just more guided. For me this reduces the never-ending energy-sucking English-intensive problem asking phase…

  11. It’s brilliant. We can’t go anywhere with a story unless we scaffold. It was Carly who asked this question about getting deep into the “energy-sucking” problem asking phase and since then I have also been thinking a lot about it in my spare time.

    I think you put your finger on the solution in what you wrote above Alisa. Right here:

    …maybe the snowman wants some of the delicious hot cocoa… but since he only has a mouth made of chocolate chips, he cannot really drink…

    There are physical limitations that prevent the snowman from drinking the cocoa. It is always some kind of limitation that keeps a character from getting what they want that makes a good problem. It is very often physical and why my own path with CI has become so focused on images/Invisibles and less on the way it used to be, some kind of emotional limitation like they do so much of in TPRS.

    I remember in the early 2000’s how I used to marvel at Blaine’s ability in master classes here in Denver to just come up with a problem, but who else can do that besides Blaine? I think it’s a lot easier to come up with a problem from a physical image for us regular human beings.

    This is not to say that we can’t base a problem on an emotional limitation, of course. Among the six prompts on the back of the Invisibles individually created character drawings, there are fear, secret and problem. Those are rich sources of problems. They rock.

    So yeah, if we have something like no mouth on a snowman who wants to drink some hot chocolat, or some other fear or secret or problem, we can easily make a problem, much easier than I thought a few years ago. Honestly, I don’t see creating a problem as a problem anymore. I just take what comes and that’s enough. And as you know for years I am ever ready to just bail out (esp. when the kids are boring, which some classes are really good at).

    We are not superstar creators, we’re just language teachers.

    I’m so glad Carly has kept this discussion going here.

    1. I use a “brain break” and have students in a group of three come up with a problem. I give them 1 minute, sometimes a little more. Perseon 1) Begins with ideas Person 2) Adds, tweaks the idea then Person 3) finalizes and reports the suggestion out. It doesnt work in all classes but helps.

      I also allow the prof 2 to combine suggestions but nothing new.

  12. I don’t know if asking students for the problem, while co-narrating, is a good idea. Asking for students to think of a problem often ruins the flow for me. Rather, I’m learning how to build the story until we get to a place where a problem happens.

    Today I tried another Matava script, “You don’t recognize me?” for the first time. Matava has the problem built in to her script, that is, for the first scene. In her second scene she loosens up. And the third scene, more so. In one of my classes today I accidentally went off script then tried coming back to it a few minutes later. I floundered a bit. I was lost. I haven’t felt that way for awhile. In reflecting on the lesson, since I had gone off her script I should not have tried to return to her script but rather should have kept building the character and maybe, if a problem didn’t naturally arise, ask the class, “What is his secret?” or “What is his fear?” Then finished it up from there.

    1. Funny, I just noticed that you posted an article about the Matava scripts as a response to this thread.

      If I need students to think of a good problem, I want them to do so when they create their Invisible character by themselves. Perhaps I should ask them to identify a limitation, as you mention above, or a weakness.

    2. I just use the Matava scripts as a hook. Sometimes the problem itself flounders. Knowing your students helps as some of them may not get the problem/hook. Whatever communication goes into the story, I follow the flow. For characters, I do break the flow when the energy gets low but I try not to interrupt if its going good.

  13. Sean I used Anne’s scripts for so long in a certain way, the TPRS way with underlined variables and such, and they really worked. But then when I found the Invisibles, I had to use them in the way described in that post, where basically you just grab the characters and problem from the first paragraph of her script.

    There are so many ways to get a problem. The individually created Invisibles drawings with the prompts on the back are the strongest. The main thing that is needed w problem creation is to just let go of the need to create a cute story. Those days are over. We are neither entertainers nor playwrights. I’m ready at any moment to stop the story bc it isn’t going anywhere. Big deal.

    What counts most is that we are comfortable with what we do. There is no one way to find/create a problem. I’ve think we’ve shown that over the past month of discussion on this topic.

    It’s funny we both started thinking of mining those scripts at the same time. They have GOOOOD problems. It’s also funny that you bonked (cycling term) on that script. Once in a workshop I was trying to show off how great Anne’s scripts are but since I had been doing only Invisibles I actually could not use the script in the way I had for 15 years. I mean, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. We’re in deeper yet safer water with the Invisilbles. No water wings needed. Just courage.

    Such is the powerful nature of the shift that we started discussing here in 2015.

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