Invisibles Question

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19 thoughts on “Invisibles Question”

  1. Excellent post! I had used an invisible in one story and the aide character became the main character the next story when I was being observed by my principal. The kids ploughed through the steps because it was a 35 minute class. Enrique the goat had gone to two different countries but it was too cold. Finally he went to Mexico where it was nice and warm. I had time for a summary and asked for a student retell on the fly. Someeone volunteered and I coached the student through it with the artists drawings on the white board. Homerun eval!

    1. So Steven in your retelling of that story I notice a tone that seems familiar to me – like more engagement for the TEACHER, not just the kids – and I remember telling Ben when I first started trying this work a few months ago that when I would sit down to type the stories up, they just came back to me in a way that previous stories had never done. I would find myself not really needing the Story Writer’s work because I was just to tickled by the cuteness of the class’ work. This way of telling stories made me dust off stories and plop them back front and center and tell story after story with confidence and ease. It just took off the pressure and made it much less energy-intensive whereas prior I was doing one story a week, approximately, and doing a lot more just freeform discussion.

      1. Steven Ordiano

        Tina, I am confused (maybe it’s the lack of sleep from a commute Monday night).

        I am not sure if you’re saying that I am engaged or not engaged while doing it the way I described.

        Also, are you saying that it is helpful for you to type out the story? I have tried this but have left out important details. Oops. So I have a student write the story and send it to me via google docs.

        For my evaluation, it was an oral story with drawings.

    1. Steven Ordiano

      The students make up characters. These character do not exist. They only exist in the hearts of the kids as the year goes on. Invisible but meaningful. While, I think that I flopped it, the story were really zany and some students were REALLY excited.

  2. I’m so glad, Steven, that you are successful with your invisibles stories! I was behind, like Angie, on the whole invisible thing until last week. Now, thanks to Ben, I finally understand the whole thing. I want to start doing “invisibles stories” next school year however I don’t have any character drawings to hang on my walls (and to plant the seeds) which will attract the student’s attention and want to make the characters themselves…actually I didn’t until today! I am using my Italian I class to try it out. I started out class today showing them examples from Tina’s classes (thank you, Tina) and told them that it would be nice to have a class draw some characters for me that I could use over the summer in a workshop. I also told them not to worry about it if they didn’t feel like drawing because I have many other classes that would probably love to do it. They took the bait! They couldn’t wait to draw. So now I have about 25 invisible characters and I will do my first official untargeted invisible story Thursday using one of their invisibles. I am only doing it for practice for next year. I would like to get a feel for this and not do it for the first time at the beginning of next school year. Anyway, the kids were very excited about their drawings and many were very detailed. If for some reason the story doesn’t go well, I have nothing to lose. I am interested, however, to see if I notice a difference in their interest / energy level. This class is always pretty energetic during stories anyway but I am curious to see.

    1. Steven Ordiano

      Yeah, they can get blurting as well but you got that one taken cared off. For me it was a nice time to stay relaxed, in the moment and enjoying myself with the kids in the TL.

  3. Hello! Perhaps this should be posted as a new question to the forum, but it is related to this thread and I honestly cannot figure out how to post a new question…Anyway, the Invisibles. When soliciting the problem from the students, or any ideas about the story for that matter, I have a tendency to praise every student’s effort at a response, even if it is lame. Obviously, some ideas are going to work so much better than others, but I can’t help but feel conflicted when a student blurts out an idea that he/she thinks is awesome, and I know that we can do better. I usually nod and say something like, “peut-être…” to give the impression that I am thinking it over, when really I have discarded the idea immediately. Or, someone will blurt out an idea, several of his/her friends will say “YEAH!” enthusiastically, but I know that whatever this idea is just won’t lend itself to good storytelling. So, I suppose my question is, how do I walk this fine line between encouraging creativity and being a supportive teacher, but also gently saying no to ideas that aren’t going to serve the story well?

    1. You use Teacher #2. It is proven to work. Here is the description from A Natural Approach to Stories (Teacher’s Discovery):

      Whenever I ask the class for a detail in the story and we need to decide which student suggestion is going to be selected for the story, I simply defer to Professor #2 to make the call.

      Second professors are the quiet yet thoughtful kids who can discern the best answer to any question. They are the kids who are normally aware of everything going on but are just quiet people and thus often overlooked for their quiet support of the overall classroom process.

      For example, if we come to a point in the story where I simply don’t care what color the ag is, yet the class has gotten into an almost free-for-all ght about it, all I have to do is look at the professor sitting there quietly and ask, “Professeur, is the flag white and blue or white and red?”

      After an expectant pause during which she milks the moment, the Professor #2 then says in the TL, not without a little dramatic air, “white and blue.” Problem solved. No one can argue, for the Professor #2 has made the decision. The blue marker is immediately grabbed by the class artist, and the new fact is duly entered into the written version of the story by the storywriter, and off we go again with the story.

      With a potential argument thus ended with three words, and with precious instructional minutes saved, I praise the intelligence and wonderful decision-making of Professor #2.

      I go out of my way to make sure that the second professor gets a lot of perks in my classroom. After all, she is kind of a teacher, helping me. She is making all the tough calls so that the kids do not start to resent me for rejecting their ideas, or start to feel that it is unfair that their idea did not make it into the story. Because she is so important, she gets an armchair to sit in, for example. This is another coveted job, but I always go with the quiet and highly intelligent person.

      I actually place two armchairs next to each other in this hub to my left, along with the two actor stools. Why two armchairs? One is for Professor #2. The other is kept empty for any visitors. When a visitor comes in, they get a much more realistic feel for the action going on in class than when they slink to the back of the room, making everybody nervous.

      (I find that whether an administrator accepts the armchair reveals a lot about them. Those who gladly accept the armchair are the ones I want to work for. They immediately join in the fun and, with the help of the second professor, share in the happiness of the creation of the story. I cannot say the same thing about those who refuse in favor of a seat along the wall.)

  4. I think one big reason I kept bringing the Invisibles and non-targeted along was bc deep down I am a very lazy person. There is nothing easier in CI instruction than looking at something we created and talking about it, then launching a story based on the image, then reading it. It’s so very cake-like.

  5. I have a question. In a completely TPRS/CI department (my end goal for my department is to be CI-eclectic- each teacher teaches with the flavor of CI that attracts them most) how would you structure the Invisibles?

    So for example, I currently teach Spanish 1 and I am 90% doing Invisibles. When these kids go on to Spanish 2 should they still be doing Invisibles? How many years should Invisibles be done before you get into other stuff (novels, content-based, etc).

    My colleauge went to one of your presentations in IFLT 2016 and she remembers you saying that you don’t do storytelling in year 2 so that the kids don’t get spoiled/bored of the stories.

      • Greg I stopped doing stories back then in level 2 so that in level 3 they wouldn’t be burned out on them. But that was TPRS, so FOR ME those stories then were less compelling (a lot less!). Plus level 2 is sophomores. Do you know that the S stands for in (15 year old) Sophomores? Snark.

        Now after thinking about it I could see the Invisibles being used as long as they keep being fun into level 2 and then gradually (the entire purpose of all CI at the lower levels in my opinion) build toward the real goal of all CI instruction – reading.

        So my four year plan would be auditory input using the Invisibles for as long as possible up to two years, reading only the stories we create in class plus the ten min. of SSR of novels to start each class, and all of it building to reading and discussing authentic texts in fourth year.

        Of course, Tina’s new Cycles of Instruction book and her new focus on CALP (ready next summer) could change my mind on the above. Tina and I are hunkering down to create all this new upper level stuff over the winter and share it at our summer Institutes. (No Cascadia this year – we are focused on 4 one or two-week long institutes tentatively planned for Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Los Angeles starting in late June of 2018.)

      1. … the real goal of all CI instruction – reading.

        What about watching (short) videos and finally original movies in L2? Of course the kids wouldn’t see any spelling but I think it’s a good goal as well bc you can hear so many different
        native speakers.

  6. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Ride the energy and interest wave. Try new delivery trucks. I teach grades 1-4 – I don’t do a steady diet of anything…but I do have a limited # of tricks – my bag is open and has room for new ones that I create or adapt.

  7. My level 2 kids LOVE working with Invisibles. I just had them do a reflection and they journaled about their learning and most of them said that they learned best when we created characters and did stories with them. If we haven’t done it in a few days, they ask for it, and when they see the easel out when they come into class, they get excited!

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