New Protocol

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26 thoughts on “New Protocol”

  1. Bryan Whitney

    …and then use the other half of the time for reading, I assume? Have your thoughts changed any on what non-targeted reading strategies look like? (I’m thinking that it may look a little different since we’re not going for 100% transparency, but more for students being able to get at least the gist/backbone of the stories…)

    1. Well Dr. Krashen objected to about half of the 21 in the Reading Options list. But Bryan I didn’t pull them out. He is right in terms of the theory on some of them, but we are right in terms of the practical need to have strategies that hold kids’ attention in the mental war zones we have chosen to make a living in.

  2. I remember not too long ago when I would say that this PLC is my safe place, a place that I can escape the More TPRS list and all its negativity. Then it seemed to me that the More List pretty much died. Like it went days and days, weeks and weeks even, without any comments of substance, despite having 7600 users on there. And so I started thinking, “Someone should get on here and write from the heart and give some inspiration, maybe some guidance, some support, and a helping hand to all these people.” But I thought that person could never be a person like me. It was just too scary to think of putting my name out there to be dragged through the mud by the meanie pants on the list. For twelve years I had seen them tear each other apart, so I thought, no thank you.

    And then in January, I posted my first writing on there when someone posted wrote in asking, “how the current wave of ‘story-telling’ rather than ‘story-asking’ fit under the heading of CI. […] So much of what is being said about TPRS and even TCI is simply does not fall under the heading ‘CI’. IMO, many who proport to be doing ‘CI’ are more likely doing ‘UCI’ or ‘I’ . Let’s go back to our roots. Go back and reread Krashen. Remember that the most efficient and effective path to acquisition in the classroom is through ‘Comprehensible Input’. Yes, it’s hard work. But story-asking, done correctly, need not be exhausting. Get some coaching! But at the end of the day, TPRS, is the best use of your class time and the most satisfying. Susie Gross, my beloved mentor, says that you can do anything you want in the classroom. Of course, you are the teacher. But know why you are doing what you do and whether it is LEARNING or ACQUISITION based.”

    Then someone else posted in response to this, saying that Story Listening was comprehensible to her students, and then someone else responded to her, and it just got to be a crap-fest. So, having known Beniko and having tried story listening, and since people were all calling out for more information on this mysterious “club” of story listening teachers (as they called it), I felt like what the hell, I will get on there and say what I have experienced. So I did, I dashed off a reply before school and hit send before I had a chance to re-think it.

    And then even though people wrote things that seemed really rude to me, I found that I really did not care too much what people said to me, or about me. And so even though seemed to go out of their way to be insulting and insinuate that I was less-than-professional and none-too-intelligent, I just figured, might as well just keep on posting. No one else seemed to be getting on there and sharing from the heart, so I figured the thousands of readers of the list needed some heart.

    And then for my trouble I got called a troll, I was told that I was just trying to sell tickets to my conferences…and then censored. A post I sent in to tell the list about the workshops Ben and I are presenting this summer, was cut down, the description of what we are covering in the workshops removed and the list of cities deleted.

    And then just tonight I noticed that another trainer sent in a description of a workshop she is doing, and it looks like it was not edited or censored or cut down or whatever.

    It just seems real personal. It is hard not to take this personally. It seems to me that there are people out there who see that maybe there is an alternative out there to TPRS with all its steps and rules and thing to think about as you work. Something easier. A lighter system, an easier delivery method. And maybe they want to keep that out of the mainstream. Is it because they want to make things complicated? They might believe that they need to teach teachers how to target words, so that they can deliver the curriculum. As if we are mindless robots who just deliver curriculum. As if using CI is not already a leap, and for many, a fight. Why not just leap all the way? Why not just fight the big fight? Against slicing the language up just like they do in traditional teaching? Against bringing the conscious mind into the picture by having students focus on targeted language?

    I am feeling raw. I am tired. I am angry. I am tired of taking it personally. I am tired of wanting to NOT take it personally, fighting to not take it personally, and then being reminded, again and again, that is IS being MADE PERSONAL by other people. If I ddi not believe so deeply in this work and its potential, if the adorable stories that are possible with the Invisibles were not saving me, if telling stories with Story Listening were not saving my ass here in early April 2017, when we just came back from Spring Break and seven days’ absence by Hargaden…if the work were not so different, so much lighter, then I would just give up. But this work continues to save my ass, and so I work to save its ass.

    Ben Slavic you have saved my ass countless times. From the first time I read your voice, and I started to understand that it was OK to care more about the kids than the lesson objectives…you have been constantly saving my sanity. Your inventions and strategies are what CI is to me. Your relentless rummaging in the unconscious mind and then dragging the treasures you unearthed down to the CI garage for some heavy-duty tinkering-with…that is what has saved my ass again and again. Your inventions that let me feel closer and closer to my students.

    I wish people would leave us alone to spread this happy work in peace. One day we will know why we had to slog through this period of time. We will look back and it will all make sense, or at least we will be able to see some sense in it. Right now i am just mad. Tired of being censored and excluded just because of who we are and how we think. Also tired of fighting back.

    I want to take a break for a while. Then I can come back strong. Maybe i will hang out here for a while and just see if you guys can help me pull myself together. All I want to do is explain this work to others, and inform them how to learn more. That is all. I just want to help others to find the ease I have found thanks to you Ben.

    1. Carmen Suarez

      Tina, I have been absent from this page the last two weeks (work and personal responsibilities related) But I don´t want to pass up your comment. I feel you, you are brave and such a passionate educator. I am not sure if I get why this discussion around TPRS-CI, StoryListening TI an NT input has evolved into this nasty slime of subtle and not so subtle insults in my view. The whole thing is just sad. So grita, mujer, grita. My CI journey, which was full of kindness and good vibes, now starts to reveal the different factions within the teachers and those who advocate TCI. I just keep following and practicing whatever shows me love, kindness and a rigorous commitment to a comprehension based classroom. You are there, Ben and this PLC are there, and I feel so grateful for all the learning I am getting here.

      P.S. I found ironic within this current state the title of one of the sessions of Carol Gaab in the coming CI Mitten conference: ‘The Honeymoon is over! Maintaining that loving relationship with the Target Language’.

      1. That was a 30 year honeymoon. I guess all good things must come to an end. Except it wasn’t such a good thing. I never did figure out TPRS. The author of four books on it now comes out and admits that TPRS, or what it has become, is, FOR HIM, not manageable. My new thinking? Go align with the research or go home. Such heart-felt kindness in your words, Carmen. Thank you. I almost get those kinds of soft unexpressed tears in my eyes when I read your words to Tina: …grita, mujer, grita… If those trashing Tina right now had any idea of the quality of her heart, intellect and determination, they would immediately ask for her forgiveness. I have never seen an educator who is so focused on changing things for the kids. Not even close. Others I have known say it, Tina feels it and works towards it every day. So when we decided to make a little company – CI Liftoff – and I mean little compared to the Goliaths, our little CI Liftoff company dedicated to sharing ideas about strategies that work in the arena of non-targeted comprehensible input, the Goliaths have a cow.

    2. Ben and Tina:

      I do not follow More list. I followed a list 13 years ago and found it helpful for getting me started. I went back to one a year ago. I read comments by CI teachers mocking another CI teacher who held to a different philosophical position on an unrelated topic. I was disenchanted and have not been back.

      I look forward to meeting you in Brattleboro.

      I also plan to be at a two-day workshop, either the New Haven option or the one in Portland, ME. It is a matter of deciding which will best fit the schedule.

      Keep up the good work.

      1. Not once in ten years here, since I made my then-blog private for similar reasons (then it was fighting with traditional teachers on behalf of TPRS and that really got ugly as one might imagine), have I allowed venom and name-calling into the discussion here. But what is now going on with the old guard in TPRS and Tina and I re: non-targeted input has taken a nasty turn. Old friendships are dissolving left and right. Tina just kind of had had it when she wrote that and so have I. Luckily, I have a precious email from one of our group members whose guidance for ten years has ever been sure, Robert Harrell. Tonight I will take the time to read it slowly and digest it, and act accordingly. How Tina and I respond to the concerted attacks on us will be in line with what Robert advises, I am sure. And how will that be? If I know Robert, it will be in the way of self-effacement. We will learn not to attack back. So Carmen and Nathaniel your comments are like balm on wounds suffered in battle, and they are appreciated as much as one who had been in battle would appreciate the healing balm. Words are that powerful. In fact, we HAVE been and ARE in a battle, and it is, after the four decades of non-stop effort for me, almost too much. But we will continue to keep this site sealed off from the venom, and trust that all is happening for a reason. I will say one thing – there are some mean ass people out there. Breaking with TPRS should not be a crime. Tina and I have never enjoyed this work more. It’s like night and day for us. TPRS was at best a C+; what we are doing now is an A+. FOR US. God is behind these events, behind the game, and I am sure He is enjoying it all. It’s part of His divine Leyla. Seen in that light, it is bearable. We need not talk about it anymore here. We have too much work to do!

  3. I think it’s important to remember that what we experience as new (Story Listening) is old news to Beniko, who has been doing it and researching the best approach for decades, with too little recognition.

    She kept going because the results don’t lie and here we are, excited to follow her work and spread it. To dismiss it, is to dismiss the current research. You would never let a doctor get away with such negligence, but teaching gets so personal. To some an attempt to educate is understood as an attempt to tell them they are wrong. Many teachers are very sensitive about this, and when they find a group to support them, they will support the group in return to fight off “threats.”

    Beniko kept doing what she knew worked and what research supported. We can do the same. It’s hard to feel very passionate about something and not have other people see the beauty of it. All you can do is offer to educate. Good things take time.

  4. Tina, I think you have been very classy on the moreTPRS listserve.

    I was also happy recently to hear Anna Gilcher describe the depth of story and meaning that is possible with Invisibles — in a webinar in March (“Upending Bias through Language Learning,” Carol Gaab sponsored), she spoke about your classes and very warmly described the kind of depth possible with those student-created characters. She illustrated with the example of chocolate that was labeled bitter but was actually sweet inside, but no one could tell. I hope you already know about her sharing about that. People were impressed, and I think it illustrates that it’s not simply making up a character with the class — there’s more possible.

    Having played with whole-class One Word Images with all my classes one week early this semester, I can see that potential. There was silly & surface stuff, too, but some developed into stories that probed deeper issues. Ex: one class chose a dog for their creature. The dog’s background was all polished and nice at first, with money, good looks, girlfriend… but then it turned out the girlfriend only liked him for his money, and he didn’t know, so it was a sham. (Created by a class of wealthy kids. What fear was being touched on there, eh?)

    1. We just did a one word image in my fourth period class that I just put on YouTube and it at first was very silly but when I asked the class if it was intelligent or dumb they said it is usually intelligent but sometimes it makes bad decisions. And so then we were able to talk about how that is normal most people are usually intelligent but sometimes we make bad decisions. So yes the kids really do come up with some pretty deep and universal truth while just ostensibly creating these silly characters.

      1. Yes, that happens. The students want to have fun, but there can be deeper stuff that happens in the midst of that.

        The webinar got me thinking even more about changing my adjectives poster (which would be a hassle because it involves a lot of printing and then getting student drawings). I took suggestions from students years ago for the words there, and a lot of them would stay. But I’d add words like hard-working, patient, kind, humble… also words good for Chinese cultural reasons. I’m also going to attempt to stop using famous people (well, except occasionally, for a comparison to the really important people who are student-imagined or are the students themselves). No major revolution there, I suppose, since most classes haven’t suggested famous people in a while. 6 weeks of school left!

    1. Thanks.

      I think you all might also still want to consider MovieTalk (which can easily be done without targets) as another possibility for auditory input. The untargeted, big story, original use of MovieTalk hasn’t yet got as much attention as I feel it deserves. I really like using good films and videos that way, and I feel like that approach is not getting appreciated enough yet. I think it’s also fairly approachable for new people to do — and it’s an excellent (comprehensible) way to use authentic materials for those who really want that.

      1. Ditto Diane. Last year i used MT to give the major events of the Little Prince, the new version dubbed in French. But i was targetting or reading along. This time, ill try a more NT type of way, with the story arc in mind.

      2. I just tried it for the first time recently. It was fun. It was unplanned and untargeted. I’m sure one could plan it out more but I’m just lazy. I used to think MT was too scripted. That the kids would lack ownership cause the plot was already set. But SL changed that. I saw that kids are simply enchanted by the sounds of the language. They just enjoy sitting back and understanding.

        1. …they just enjoy sitting back and understanding….

          To us, their just sitting back with zero pressure on them is no big deal. To them it is. It is the same as when they get to watch a play without having to participate in it.

  5. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    While I sometimes find it hard to resist a good fight, I have not had the stomach for the morelist wars. Parts of the debate I found extremely enlightening – the part on noise, non-Romanized alphabet languages, what transparency (or ‘the illusion of transparency’) means, etc. But the personal attacks and one-upmanship pissing contest I found embarrassing and lame!

    I do think certain members of that list feel entitled to have their ideas reign supreme, and cannot/will not entertain a challenge.

    Best of all, Tina has the cojones to video-record & post herself each and every day, which speaks louder and more eloquently than any reflection or post. How can any teacher NOT see the amount of rich language that her students are consuming and eagerly comprehending?

    Maybe others get great results with the way they were trained/continuously train to do TPRS. Good for them! I am ever on the lookout for tools and insight to help me meet my young & unique population’s needs. I have never used ‘straight up TPRS’ because it’s not appropriate for 1st through 4th graders, and I don’t condemn it for older students; it’s just that the work I’ve tinkered with this year, based on OWI, Invisibles and SL are ABSOLUTELY appropriate for my students! And, teaching an average of 8 groups a day, these strategies simplify my life! All 12 of my groups create content that I can share with the other groups! And I can re-use the SL content and level it as appropriate.
    Tina and Ben you have made your point, whether the keepers of the keys want to hear it or not. Continue to share your ideas and strategies – good teachers will spread the word and they will find you. Don’t give the more list or other censors a second thought…You will see, open minded and research-aligned teachers will find their way to you.

  6. Tina and Ben,
    I hugely admire your work and as Alisa put it: “Open minded and research-aligned teachers will find their way to you. That’s how it’s been for me.
    Ben, thank you so much that you made this supportive warm-hearted community possible, I’ve never come across any thing insulting and I know you will keep it this way.
    I somewhere read that until “new” truths are acknowledged by most poeple, it can take up to 20 years – so let’s get on with it!!!

  7. I was and am completely dumfounded by the massive amount of energy that goes into externalities and competition. I may be naive, but I really do not get it. I believe we all want the same thing, which is to be in a nurturing relationship with our students, so that we can create an atmosphere in our groups that will lower the affective filter and allow all of our students’ unique talents to shine. And the by product of this will be that they happen to acquire a language. Basically aren’t we all trying to live joyfully and bring that joy with us into the classroom?

    Whenever I find myself straying into the intellectual zone, I know I can come here and feel grounded. The beauty of this work is in the connection. The miracle of connection we can find with our students and with each other is the reason we keep going. The focus of this group always points back to the connection. This space in the PLC is my safety zone. Has been for years.

    I feel the pain and overwhelming fatigue that Tina expresses. It reminds me a lot of my last years at my old school, trying to shout from every rooftop I could scramble up onto. Except Tina multiplies the energy and effort by a jillion zillion. I am cautious now about my energy expenditure. I want to keep some for myself. I am not good at it because I can’t seem to find the middle road. I tend to have 2 speeds: on and off. I worry a lot about Tina and am also in complete awe of what she does, which can be a double edged sword, as it tosses me into that comparison mode and I end up feeling like I suck. Which I do. I know that and am fine with going in every day and starting fresh. Some days are a $#%^ show. Usually the day after “the worst day ever” is really fun! Hm. Interesting.

    This post makes me feel sad and angry and excited and vengeful all at once. In the big picture I believe it is a natural part of evolution with something dying as something else is being brought to light and it’s all part of a huge shift. I really love everyone in this group and hope we can all continue to lift each other up as everything is tumbling down around us.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ben when he says: “We need not talk about it anymore here. We have too much work to do!” Of course that does not mean we can’t process with each other but in terms of talking “out there” and all the defending and convincing, I do not find it fruitful because it detracts from our energy that we need to put into our own lives each day so that we can be present for ourselves and our loved ones and our students.

    I have a lot to process these days. I am in a training on trauma-informed schools and it is blowing my mind (not really) how much everything we are “learning” is all contained in the CI practice, especially the practice that has evolved with OWI/ Invisibles and SL. It’s pretty wild! I have always felt that what we do could almost be a “healing modality” and here I am learning all the neuroscience that proves what we do is healing. Not that we need a double blind study to know this, but it is kinda cool when the “official experts” confirm what we see every day.

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