iFLT Lesson Plan Notes

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16 thoughts on “iFLT Lesson Plan Notes”

  1. Hey Ben,

    I promise that I will read your presentation plan and comment by tomorrow… The bottom line is that you rock presentations. You connect with your “audience” in a special way — as if you are friends with each one. Your mastery with the method leaves them grateful. You are calm, confident and are always a wonderful model for how we as teachers should be in class.
    So, I am sure what you have is perfect, but I do feel bad about the 0 comments til now……

  2. I know! Zero comments. Sheesh. Oh well, I will just use it and thanks for the kind words. I am in the process of putting together many of the articles that have been published here over the years in one single Word file on the two topics I am presenting on in Breckenridge and Las Vegas – Circling with Balls/Starting the Year and Moving from PQA into a Story. That will enable anyone who can’t attend the conferences to at least get some reading on those two topics. I will try to get some video on at least the Breckenridge instruction to share with group members here as well.

  3. What you have outlined is in the spirit of your simplify mantra. Looks planned in an unplanned kind of way. I think a rank beginner would have a ton to think about while those with more experience would be reminded that the method requires few extra bells and whistles. I am intrigued by the two boxes idea.

  4. Yeah the two boxes. I’ll probably chicken out, not ever having tried it. But could you imagine a classroom routine that occurs almost every day in which kids are focused on winning a prize like at a county fair if they can just decode a few sounds in French? And what if that routine, which would take only a few minutes to do each day, included the near future, present, command and past tense forms of the same verb every day? My thinking is that the pattern achieved in hearing, daily:

    is going to choose

    would quickly establish a pattern in their minds which, when they heard it in any CI, PQA/Stories whatever for the rest of the year would somehow carry over and they would understand those forms of whatever verbs more readily. Anyway, it’s something to chew on.

    In the totally unrelated department: I found out today that English has five times more words in it than French. And I found out why. How cool is that?

  5. I think your lesson plan looks great, with the greatest part being that you understand the real classroom– you got to go with the flow. That will be an important part of the debrief session, I imagine, and for me, one of the scariest parts of TCI when I first started–okay, true today also.

    I also am intrigued by the two boxes idea and think it will be so effective in terms of acquisition. If you don’t present it in Breckenridge, please keep us posted as you use it in your classroom.

    See you next week!


  6. I also love the box idea with the verb tense sound pattern! I think you should try it (ok, admittedly a selfish request) because couldn’t you bail to a dictee(or something) if it flopped? Would it be worth trying to see how you might tweak it for your classroom? Just throwing out questions here. No pressure or attachments, just a sense of wonder & curiosity. Maybe be ready to roll with it if the vibe of the class is right? You will be able to sense the group energy and you will either feel compelled to try or compelled to stick with something tried & true. Can’t really lose. That way you have the option to go for it or do the basketball instead.

    When I first read the plan, I thought it seemed like a lot for very few days, but that is because I realized I am thinking in terms of 45 mins per day and how could you possibly fit all that in? But with the larger chunk of time you will be able to model most of the techniques like dictee, the short quiz, the reading, etc. I think it is valuable to take us through a “cycle” so we can see the progression.

    1. …I think it is valuable to take us through a “cycle” so we can see the progression….

      OK now this is a big point to raise. I wrote those plans thinking basically of spending one day each on the Three Steps, so Tuesday is PQA with a simple story, then the kids get more stories on W and then on Th. they read. If you read the plans you can see that that is the general plan that would stretch out over three days. That would be best for the students in terms of their acquisition.

      But I don’t think that it would be the best in terms of what the teachers would see bc they are sending me three groups of 20 different teachers each day, and so they would only see 1/3 of the cycle each day. So should I change the plans and try to get a complete cycle (the Three Steps) in each day? What should I do?

      Thank you skip for prompting this discussion. This is fairly important bc people have busted their asses to get up here to Colorado and the learning is going to have to be fast and furious those three days.

  7. Bailin’ to a dictee. Them’s fightin’ words. Hee hee.

    I have to show so much about trusting the flow to these teachers that I couldn’t bail. Maybe if there is time we could just tell everyone it is an experiment. Now I have to make the boxes (I think of birdhouses with doors) and what little reward to put in them. I was thinking of $1. Maybe you can help me set it up and talk through it with me on M/T and we could try it on W/Th?

  8. I had forgotten that there will be a different group of teachers each day. I think working the cycle each day would be best, and maybe each group could see a different way to establish meaning/PQA (word chunk, one word image) but then each group could see one way of doing all 3 steps. Very different from being with the same people all 3 days. You’re the master, so you can see what feels right.

    Did I ever tell you what Karen Rowan said about you? She said the great thing about Ben Slavic is when you’re in his room, you learn French. She said she loves to sit in on your classes b/c she gets to learn French. Isn’t that the highest compliment ever??

  9. I am already thinking about those boxes as part of either Kindergarten Day or Kindergarten Day when we have birthdays. I envision as many boxes as there were birthdays that week, with something Russian-oriented (a Russian keychain, pencil, piece of candy, etc) in each box (maybe two if there’s only one birthday that week, and maybe more than one prize in a box if there are too many kids). Then we’d have to have the actors holding the boxes and demonstrating them, as well as the code words and maybe even some music introduction. “Choose a box!” Then the kid gets thirty seconds to think, while I’m asking, “Class, which box will she choose?” and the kids start saying, “Choose the red box!” Then the student announces that she will choose the black box, and everyone chants, “OH NO!” and then ….

    Anyway, I think it could be really fun. Love the idea of one more dramatic thing to add to birthdays.

  10. Thank you. And I agree with you. I think each day should take a group through the cycle. I think jen just invented a new term by the way. Why say The Three Steps when one can say it shorter by saying The Cycle. Thanks jen and thanks dori I feel the truth of this idea.

  11. jen you said:

    …you will be able to sense the group energy and you will either feel compelled to try or compelled to stick with something tried & true….

    dori you said:

    …you got to go with the flow. That will be an important part of the debrief session, I imagine, and for me, one of the scariest parts of TCI when I first started–okay, true today also….

    So now – in my opinion – we are talking about the real deal. We are talking about the way a true comprehensible input class actually and truly really works. These comments get to the absolute core of comprehensible input. Why?

    Because in your two statements, jen and Dori, there are these phrases:

    …sensing the group energy….
    …going with the flow….

    then jen said:

    …you will either feel compelled to try [something new] or [feel] compelled to stick with something tried & true….

    Now how can a lesson plan address this? Do you see how key this idea is to an understanding of what we do, especially for new people who are just beginning to realize that they have stepped into a much more vast arena than they ever suspected?

    It’s like NASA planning a flight to the moon and telling the scientists who program the orbit technicalities, so that the spacecraft doesn’t miss the moon, to just wing it. Let the feel of the spacecraft and the vibe of the astronauts just fly the damn thing up there and see what happens.

    But we are not scientists, we are teaching artists, and if we plan too much, as scientists must, we squeeze that human element (Beauty) out of it (after all, language is a very very deeply human thing, a deeply beautiful thing) and we can’t squeeze it like scientists can. Our classes have to be beautiful with the personalization and the humor pieces or they are boring.

    And we can’t legislate personal things and humor that would be of interest to the class. We can’t plan an interesting conversation and we can’t program in humor, as per:


    So we have to “go with the flow”, which used to seem such a hippy thing to say, but now that expression becomes the very lifeblood, within a practiced framework, of a good comprehension based class.

    It is amazing how we are being asked to be completely loose with the entire class and yet work within a framework. This is what jen and Dori are saying. They are basically telling me that I need to frame my lessons with these kids in such a way that I honor the Cycle – and that term is a keeper, by the way jen, it’s perfect to be used in place of the Three Steps.

    What does it mean to honor the Cycle? It means to calculate the general path of the spacecraft but not squeeze the life out of the flight so that the astronaunts become robots. Krashen has said that robots don’t converse and that idea keeps popping up in our discussions here so it must be a powerful indicator of the change we are creating as we speak about what real teaching even is.

    Honoring the Cycle also means creating space within a framework that does not go so wide that the spacecraft goes to another planet instead of the intended moon, which would really confuse the student/passengers who thought that they were going to the moon.

    Honoring the Cycle. I love that. Odd images pop into my mind to allow me to grasp what this means as I plan a two and one quarter of an hour class with an odd mix of twelve kids ranging from 6th to 10th grade most of whom are girls and whom I have never met in front of 20 teachers. Hmmm.

    An image, prompted by what jen and Dori said, keeps coming up in my mind. It is an image that supports the main point we are discussing here, which is that we need to teach such a class with enough flexibility and yet strength (describes what we do in yoga) so that the content of the class remains flexible and changing and therefore interesting.

    We don’t want the class to go so wide that we run the train off the tracks and confuse everyone (by using too many words and going too fast and doing all those things that we aren’t supposed to do when we do TPRS/CI. Here is the image:

    There is a fountain with various jets of water that, in whack-a–mole fashion, shoot up a word at odd moments and support that word up in the air until it the jet d’eau suddenly stops and then the word falls back down onto the concrete floor of the fountain.

    Our classes are like that. Words come up that have energy and we have to go with the flow of that particular jet d’eau and not with some word that is lying on the concrete. If we succeed in our game of Fountain Whack-a-Mole, we have a good class. If we try to teach the words lying on the floor of the fountain, we quit TPRS and start going around telling everyone how ineffective TPRS is.

    What we do in comprehensible input classes is stay with the word that is being supported by the energy of the water as that particular jet d’eau holds it up in space. Then, when, because of the particular nature of these fountains, these TPRS classes, the word then tumbles back to the ground, we have to get over to the new word/word chunk that has come up and talk about that one until the interest is lost on it and thus make our way through the class in that intuitive way.

    Doing that, which is the art of teaching, requires responsivenesss within the framework of the Cycle. We have the framework of PQA/Story/Reading, we have absolutely no idea where it will go, and we yet have to respond to “what is happening” (what jen called sensing the group energy), and be willing to trust our own teaching ability to create a class from that, but not just create it, co-create, as Jason Fritz says.

    Anyway, I am sure that I have over-intellectualized this with some fairly wacky images, but I don’t apologize for that, because I at least for myself have conveyed here, once more, what I feel TPRS/CI to be – a loose framework in which we avoid squeezing the life out of our classes like we used to by having an overly rigid lesson plan and, through faith and trust, let the lesson develop on its own, yet sticking to certain words (can they really be pre-planned?) and making it all interesting, meaningful and even compelling for our students.

    So this long ass ramble has helped me. I can have fun this week hanging out with my family instead of getting all weird by over-planning my classes for the conference. I have to trust the method to work for me, just like everyday during the academic year. I have a strong framework, the Cycle, and it rarely fails me if we trust in it. It totally fails when I don’t trust it, though, because then the squeezing need to control happens and I am basically screwed.

    And so what Katherine Burke said about this stuff having a metaphysical side holds true again, as we talk here about space travel, trust in something greater than ourselves, fountains and yoga. It’s a blending of science and faith. TPRS is the God particle. OK, now I’ve gone too far. Hee hee!

    Thanks to jen and Dori and skip for telling people to get off their assess and help me get ready for these classes so that we make maximum use of our time together.

    By the way, we really need to talk about invisible teacher discrimination against boys in our schools. Is it because most teacher are women? I won’t go there, but why do all the AP classes have mainly girls in them? I want to explore what Grant called civil rights for students but boys in particular.

  12. Hi Ben,

    Interesting post/comments..

    I have finally read through all of them…. Here are my thoughts.

    1. You ask ‘So should I change the plans and try to get a complete cycle (the Three Steps) in each day? What should I do?”

    I think you have to do a cycle… ideally it would be the same teachers each day…. Any way you could make that happen? If not, I think it really important to do the cycle… abbreviated.. The question, though, is how to fit the reading in…. get it typed and ready to read in the same session??? The reading piece is SO important and so difficult to grasp for a person new to TCI…

    Also, how will you read.. will the story be projected on a screen with you pointing with a laser? I think that is ideal….

    2. The other thing I wonder about… Is French going to be a Foreign/second language to the group? I hope so… One thing I have found is that sessions are MUCH more powerful if the audience does not know the language you are “teaching”

    3. I noticed that you have no mention of your “playing with words” like “mais” the blurting like a lamb and other sounds… SO helpful in a level one class because it breaks the formality of the “language” (kids are given permission to/and shown how to play with the language AND with the class….. it is okay to sound silly in front of others. Not to mention the value in helping kids learn the difference between two separate words with similar meaning…

    4. Will you be doing this at NTPRS as well and, if not, what will you be presenting on. I would love to “peer coach” the box idea…. I would also benefit from doing the work chunking activity again and even the pqa’ing words from the word wall thing..

    That’s all I got…but, like I said, anything you do will be helpful… just stay in the language and demonstrate all of the wonderful ideas and it will be very helpful to folks…

  13. I don’t think Diana or Leslie will allow it. They have put a lot of thought into it. So then your question about fitting reading in becomes a key point. Doing an abbreviated Cycle in only a few hours all the way through a reading is almost impossible but after Dori suggested it I have thought about it a lot and am determined to make it happen. I think that I will have to just talk really fast. Just kidding.

    I will read from the LCD and I know that I can count on one of the French teachers to write up the reading as it happens and then when I need it just flash drive it into the LCD. I differ with Susan Gross on this. She is o.k. with giving copies to kids but I prefer the common focus to be the overhead screen so I can see their eyes and so I agree with you.

    The only thing is that then teachers won’t get a chance to practice with the kids. I wish they had set up four hour morning sessions.

    I am going to cut and paste your point #2 and send it to Diana and when she responds I will get back to you. But I will need a French teacher in there to write the reading.

    I can’t find the mais bleating file where I explain all that stuff you refer to. Not everybody will resonate with it anyway. But it is all in TPRS in a Year! anyway.

    At NTPRS I will do sessions with Circling with Balls and Moving from PQA into a Story. My prayer is that Laurie will be my teacher talk person.

    I think that at NTPRS we will have to grab some time, just a few of us, and work together on the box idea and then I could coach you on the Word Chunk Team game and the Word Associations. We would need an evening. So many people blow off the work at NTPRS to go out to dinner. I just don’t see that we have that kind of time to waste. So tentatively let’s reserve Tuesday night for a small group of us to do a working dinner thing from 6:00 p.m. in one of the conference rooms until we can’t stand up anymore and you will get to be in charge of what happens. We can repeat Wednesday nite if we want. People who want to get coaching should be able to get it. Priority to PLC members. I owe you that from Maine when I went on and on and on about reading and all you wanted to do was get some coaching. You were ready to be coached in front of 79 teachers and I ignored you and apologize for that. So Tuesday night is Skip Night at NTPRS. If we can find time at iFLT let’s do that too, coaching and such, but I think time is more limited there.

  14. And skip I just got an answer from Diana on your other question:

    Hi Ben,

    I agree that for true beginners in learning these strategies, a demo in another language is necessary. That is why the beginning workshop on Monday is with Linda Li teaching Mandarin.

    The labs will be a mixture of teachers and we are asking that teachers attend a different one each day but the intent is for teachers to “take away” tips, strategies, etc. from all labs. In DPS, learning labs fulfill many needs. French teachers can learn a ton from watching you. Teachers who don’t know French can learn the language which will further affirm why this method works so well.

    We are not going to control who goes where. Our only requirement is that they watch someone different every day.

    You can structure your classes however you want…just deliver tons of CI.

    (By the way skip, I was nervous when Krashen was in my classroom in March and so I told Diana and she said the same thing to “just deliver tons of CI” and it really helped bc my focus shifted from “doing TPRS right” to just doing CI. It is a very important distinction to keep in your mind if you ever get observed. Unfortunately I won’t be able to do that next week bc I have to model the techniques but what the hey.)

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