One Word Images – 7

Elena Overvold, a high school teacher in Portland who uses the Invisibles, has said this:

…just add a few characteristics at a time—maybe 1 or 2 or 3. No need to get a ton of details. I saw a one-word demo in Korean. We added very few details but the presenter went slowly and… it was just difficult enough for me that I didn’t get bored. I appreciated the few details asked by the teacher. My advice is to keep it simple. Go slowly…

This is incredibly important information. In this work we must learn to ask only as many questions as our students can handle and at the proper speed. We cannot let our desire to make the story interesting derail the need of the students to understand without effort what we are saying to them.

We can let go of that fear anyway – the fear of not being interesting enough. When we build characters and stories that are based entirely on the students’ ideas, it is far more interesting than when the story is based on pre-selected targets that “need to be taught.”

When there are too many new sounds, our students get very good at faking comprehension. When we speak too quickly, our students get frustrated because we do not respect the fact that we know the language and they don’t.

Frustrated students quickly are off-task as they seek ways to escape the discomfort of not feeling smart and capable. Then the issue of classroom management rears its ugly head.

Simplicity in the amount of new language that we include is key. But how we use our bodies and voices are of the utmost importance as well. They are our tools to help stay comprehensible, despite not aiming for 100% transparency in our word choices and despite not repeating target words and structures over and over.

If time permits, and it generally does after the students have some experience in building One Word Images, the following questions are almost guaranteed to ramp up the fun considerably.

5. Intelligence Level – Smart or Dumb
6. Rich or Poor/Kind or Mean



1 thought on “One Word Images – 7”

  1. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I have been thinking about a kernel of this post for a long time, especially when I go in to newbie classrooms to observe.
    I believe one of the most difficult and under-taught CI teacher skills is monitoring student response. Especially for legacy Ts migrating away from a grammar or vocab driven approach, they assume that the story or other content ‘drives’ the class. I believe that mentor feedback, self video (of T AND of class) with rubric, and other gentle forms of feedback are critical for moving such teachers along a continuum of effective teaching. T’s can get so caught up in what we’re doing – did I ask XYZ questions? Did I set up the next activity or assignment? that we may not be focusing on student response! I have seen this again and again.

    Last spring I led a video self-reflection project with a faculty (about a dozen Ts). Almost to a teacher, they answered the prompt questions and reflected on their own ‘performance,’ rather than noticing their students’ responses to their instruction…
    Perhaps this is an essential developmental step for the teacher. First they have to play with the new skills. They have to fully comprehend that it’s abou thte conversation they create – not about the one-sided teacher performance.
    Only when their skills are automatic and effortless enough can they let go, and REALLY focus on the engagement and needs of their conversational partners. Once they get to this point (and we can help them to it), a coach/mentor can be invaluable in helping guide and improve practice by informing them of class response (and showing them how to ‘see’ it), viewing video footage together with them, asking questions, and making (neutral/gentle!) suggestions.

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