Jason Kohl



9 thoughts on “Jason Kohl”

  1. Jason Kohl is in film school, and he has something to say about what makes a story, vs. what makes a situation. Knowing the difference and working from it can bring life to what you make with your kids.

  2. I glean from it that if we are bound and determined to complete a story, and yet the glue isn’t in it, the kids aren’t into it, then at least we can work with any situations that come up within the CI to make something happen that doesn’t feel so forced.

  3. This quote makes me think back to the great conversation here in January enlivening series of questions that Laurie asked regarding getting your hair cut: who do you NOT want to cut your hair, how do you do your hair before a championship game, etc.. https://benslavic.com/blog/?p=5616 Laurie’s core point is that you need to see a heart-situation that matters in THEIR context, and then the discussion takes care of itself. Of all the posts in the last few months, I find myself referencing that one the most.
    What I’m seeing from Jason’s discussion there is that the story has an overarching meaning, which situations lack. Situations may occur within a story, but to be a story there must be an overriding interpretive frame which gives the situations meaning. As this impacts us is that going into a situation we need to think strategically about what that frame is–as Jody mentions in the discussion above–and then keep tying back to it. Often when my stories go wrong it is when I put more effort into making the details bizarre or wierded out (tactics/situation) rather than getting my overaching motivation for that story be something that my students care about (strategy/story).

  4. “…0ften when my stories go wrong it is when I put more effort into making the details bizarre or wierded out (tactics/situation) rather than getting my overaching motivation for that story be something that my students care about (strategy/story)…”.
    This is what Matava knows – she writes her scripts with a very compelling overarching motivation (nice slip there above, Nathan – your wrote averaching – the kids have to ache to some degree on some visceral teenage level and then the story grabs their interest). And she only writes in one overarching motivation. Her stories’ locations are always repeats of the first one, which prevents us from rubbernecking the story into a series of disparate situations. As long as we avoid drifting too far afield by making the three locations’ overly dissimilar, we can keep the overarching motivation that the author of the story script originally put in there. A lot of people don’t think they can do stories because they forget to make the language of locations two and three basically the same language as location one. This keeps things speeding up in the story – no new language – and the reps fly and the kids get to the overarching motivation and stay involved. I know that sounds like I can actually do that. Falso! I can only say it, but I’m learning.

  5. Thank you, Nathan for this quote:
    Nathan writes, “getting my overarching motivation for that story be something that my students care about (strategy/story).”
    Sometimes when working with Piratas-an historical novel (he, he), I find it difficult to do a parallel story which compares a student’s experience with characters or situations in the novel. So, I have found myself avoiding doing them, even though they are what the kids crave the most.
    What Nathan writes is so key to me.
    Uh-oh. Requires thinking ahead. Experimenting. Possibly failing. Hmmm. Risky.
    Tackled it anyway because it’s been bugging me that I am avoiding the MOST positive CI opportunity that I have because “it’s hard”. Sat and thought of “a frame” for the 1st paragraph of Chapter 8–really just a question. Little did I know …
    1. Choose name out of class box. Kid comes to front. Sits on the special chair.
    2. I narrate the first paragraph dramatically gesturing as though we are really there in the scene. (Antonio slowly gets up off the floor after being knocked unconscious from behind during a sword fight. He is dazed, doesn’t know where he is.)
    3. I ask the class “who” hit him in the head?
    They answer the obvious–Raquel/Santiago.
    I say, “No, that is not true. That’s what the book says, but that is not really what happened. WHO hit Antonio in the head with the gun?”
    4. (Well, duh. It’s the kid sitting in the chair.) Smarty McGarty, in the back row, figures out the game, yells out the kid’s name, swears they saw it happen personally, and we are off!
    5. I ask, “OK, so Max hit Antonio in the head with the gun. Why did Max hit Antonio? ” (This is the question that connects it to them. In other words, why would YOU hit Antonio? OVERARCHING MOTIVATION.) Plenty of reasons to hit Antonio by the way.
    6. I could not believe the amount of excellent Spanish that fell out of these kids’ mouths! They were completely into it. Every piece of evidence they proffered was examined for veracity/logic and riffed upon ad infinitum. SLOW and FLOW. The back story was incredible, but believable, and so much fun! The book is forgotten. It’s all about “their story.”
    8. When I look into their eyes when ideas start coming like this, it is fascinating. I see the kids go to this fantasy place; their smiles widen; the brain duct opens; the ideas just rush out; real language rushes out; real time is suspended.
    9. Every time someone adds a detail, we retell the story in full. So much fun to hear YOUR ideas repeated in front of your whole CLASS class over and over. Makes those ideas/your language very important. More CI for all (my goal).
    Every hand is up in the class–the part I love the most.
    10. We didn’t get to the second paragraph, but we are thinking of writing our own book. 😉 They like their story better–as usual.

  6. Jody about six years ago you wrote on the list about the Special Chair. Can you write a blog about it for this week? It is something that we all can use big time. When the class “got” that the kid in the chair is the culprit in the book, like you said, it’s off to the races. The SLOW races, of course. But high interest like nothing else. How dare that kid knock that guy in the head? How is he going to explain himself in front of his classmates?

  7. Wow Jody. That sounds fun; I REALLY want to do that. The nice thing about that special chair technique is that because the class discussion is driven by student reactions to situations that crop up in the book, the students don’t have to particularly like the book to get some great reactions to it. I’m marching a class through “Hände weg von meinem Kopf” right now and my students get more of a kick moaning and groaning at the book and calling the “hero” Thomas a stalker than anything else (and they have a solid point). By inserting students into the storyline like that, I can use that energy to drive the class and slow things down rather than just swimming through a groanfest.
    I agree with you too, Ben, that Anne Matava has great models on sucking the students into a story. I’m always amazed at how few new terms I had to write on the board in order to get through one of her great stories (I particularly like one where someone annoys their mother; we just catalogued all the things that get on peoples nerves, and just yesterday–three months after we asked that story–someone dropped an unscripted “That’s annoying!” at someone who was drummming on their desk. When the students feel their way into the story, I don’t need to keep throwing up new terms in order to sell the story, but can spend my time instead walking around and working the room. The frequency of this happening is still hit or miss a lot of days, but I’ll take it.
    Thanks again for all the great ideas!

  8. So Jody has experienced what pertinent verbal riffing second-language learners can do upon written narration/description written in another language once they have worked out comprehension, regardless of whether they can sight-recite it well. Hey, even in English and more so in French or Spanish, when I myself try to sight-recite well and expressively some rather involved narration that I am reading for the first time I frequently don’t remember very well the “overarching” sense of what I just recited. So maybe I really didn’t understand its “overarching” sense.
    On Schoolsmatter.com, 4/24-4/25, S. Krashen has this to say:
    Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing
    Sent to the New York Times, April 24
    Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing
    A Florida State study of twins in grades 1 and 2 claimed that “Better Teachers Help Children Read Faster” (April 22).
    “Better teachers” were those whose students gained more on a test of pronouncing texts rapidly and accurately, without necessarily understanding them. Instruction that prepares students for these kinds of tests consists largely of intensive, heavy phonics. Prof. Elaine Garan of California State University Fresno has shown that heavy phonics will result in better performance on tests of “decoding” (pronouncing words) but has little influence on tests requiring children to understand what they read. Performance on tests of reading comprehension is related the amount children read, not heavy phonics instruction.
    Teaching children to pronounce words quickly does not mean teaching them to understand what they read. And understanding what reading is all about.
    Stephen Krashen
    Professor Emeritus
    University of Southern California
    SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 2010
    Submitted to Science
    Taylor et. al. (Science vol 328, April 23) compared identical twins in different classes in grades 1 and 2. The twin in a class that made better gains on a reading test made better gains than the co-twin in the other class. This shows, the researchers claim, that instruction is a stronger force than genetics for learning to read.
    The reading test asked children to pronounce texts rapidly and accurately, without necessarily understanding them. Reading is about comprehension, not pronunciation. Prof. Elaine Garan (2001, Phi Delta Kappan 82(7), 500-506) has shown that the kind of reading instruction that is aimed at improving pronunciation without understanding does not help children much on tests in which they have to understand what they read.
    Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing. The Taylor et. al. study does not tell us much about reading.
    Stephen Krashen
    Posted by skrashen at 3:54 AM

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