Narrow and Deep with Strategies

How is it that just a few favorite strategies like Questioning with Balls (formerly Circling with Balls) and One Word Images can be used over and over in all our classes if the “brain craves novelty”? It is because it is not the strategy that gets boring, it is the content, and with the strategies that we have come to use routinely here, although the strategy may be used in the same way from class to class, the content will be new each time. More importantly, the content will come from the students or be tailored to their needs and interests. Thus, lesson planning will become far easier – it will become just a matter of filling the strategies up with different content in each class and asking “the next logical question” not for reps but because we actually want to know the answer. Thus, we learn the art of enjoying class, and our cortisol levels go down, because we are not bowing down at the high frequency altar and its twin, the thematic unit altar.



2 thoughts on “Narrow and Deep with Strategies”

  1. As a kid I spent hours playing basketball. I was never bored–worn out at times–but never bored. We do not change the rules and the parameters. We insist that all players follow the rules and stay within the parameters. We play a new team our focus is on learning the team, getting to know them as players. This is what happens with an activity. The structure and procedures of the activity become second nature and we focus on the new encounters with the activity rather than on learning the activity.

    If we learn a new sport, say football, we have to learn new rules and new parameters. There is a new structure and a new set of procedures. We are not able to focus on the game as much because we are learning the new activity.

    (This is but one of the problems with textbook activities: students spend time trying to figure out the new activity following those “modelos.” Of course, they are mostly a bunch of grammar-specific manipulations of parts of speech which have a certain semblance of communication. But the idea is the same: we spend our time trying to figure out what we are supposed to do that we get frustrated (unless we are one of the 4%’s) and teary-eyed.)

    QWB is one sport. OWI is another sport. Story Asking is different sport. And Story Listening is another sport.

    And like real sports, each has a different goal. For QWB it could be to find out about one another. For OWI we co-create a description. For SA we co-create a narrative. For SL we entertain with a story.

    As is so well stated, it is the changing content which is the life of the activities. The content corresponds to the new teams we face and levels of challenge that we face on the court and the field.

    1. Love the sports analogy Nathaniel. And something I have always thought about but rarely seen is the athletes smiling, even laughing, when a good play happens for or against their team. Congratulating the dude who just gave us a facial on a monster posterized dunk. Competition, “my students are the best”, is no longer welcome in this new way of teaching language that we are all developing together (not without falling into some holes on the way). It’s now about fun and community. The language will then follow, right? We are all being let out of the competition box right now. Only good things will happen once we are all out of it. Judgement of others, get behind me!

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