Below is an option to the “Suggested Block Schedule A” posted here a few days ago. It is another way to experience 90 effortless minutes with the kids while staying in the target language. So how does it work?
It’s just one big ass One Word Image (see benslavic.com/resources/workshop handouts for how to do a one word image). It is always frustrating to be in the middle of one of these images and have the bell ring to signal the end of class.
So, with the block, we really go deep with the image. We just keep building it. A kid – the “artist” of the class – draws it all on the back of the rolling whiteboard to be unveiled later in class as indicated below.
In one recent class we took about an hour to build in our minds – while the image was actually being drawn out of sight on the back of the whiteboard – a huge house in South Africa (we had just welcomed a new student from South Africa that day) on the beach with three huge arms, (“like a lobster” was the chant) coming out of the right side of the hours, along with various other details.
After the requisite brain break about forty minutes in, the image got saturated with 30 minutes left in class. We added a small pink sombrero on top of the house (the artist rocked it!) after the brain break but we didn’t get too many details after that.
It doesn’t matter – it was CI with energy and that is all that counts. So when it ran out of energy we just wheeled the board around and discussed what we saw – a kind of visual retell of everything we had said. The artist was there to receive praise and add new touches that might be added during that visual phase of the CI.
Then, with about 20 minutes left in class, we played a rousing version of the Word Chunk Team game based on the image we just saw created by the artist. In the game, the instructor need only look at the image and make up sentences or chunks that the kids then translate.
I am not yet clear if this game can work with classes over 25. The kids have too much fun and it gets a little rowdy. It is up to the individual teacher to make that decision. If it works, it gives a nice needed change after the 60 minutes of straight CI with only one brain break. (Only one brain break is needed in this kind of class because the one word chunking game is a half hour long brain break in itself.)
So to repeat the process:
1. We take a noun (we always pick ours from the word lists on the wall) and build it as far as it can be circled until the image is saturated. If the word stalls, we just add in a new event or character as Blaine has taught us to do in stories.
2. During that first huge section of CI we take a brain break.
3. After the CI is finally done, we unveil the picture that the artist has drawn out of sight of the class during the CI and we formally discuss it as a kind of visual retell of the CI.
4. After that (generally about an hour into the block as in the above example), we play the Word Chunk Team activity based on all the CI we did that class period for the rest of the block. The kids are always surprised when the bell announces the end of class.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and
2 thoughts on “Suggested Block Schedule B”
DANKE, Ben, for sharing these reminders about keeping things simple, fun, clear, and connected. Even though I don’t have a block schedule, the description of how and why you divide up your time with CI coming from something other than stories, is very helpful.
This year, I’m experimenting with more ways to teach visually, using the wealth of pictures up on google maps—along with The Big Picture (Danke, Nathan). These authentic pics are amazing to discover, and highly recommendable for teaching with pictures. PLUS you get the added benefit of teaching geography visually as well.
I agree Bernie, that using images in whatever way we can in our classrooms is a guaranteed winner. It’s almost like we can now see the unfolding of Blaine’s work in a million ways, the use of images that Nathan and Jim and others started talking about this year being no small piece of that. And Paul Kirschling did that session in Los Alamitos about using google images to teach culture.
Many of us are using such images routinely now in our CI. I will use a hidden artist probably all the time now. It is just cool to be able to share with the kids, after a long time of creating CI, an actual picture of everything we just talked about during the class. Those visual retells that occur in preparation for the quiz are powerful and they shower praise on the artist.
However, we must use caution. We must not focus so much on the new developments in CI that they lead us away from the powerful sequence that Blaine created in suggesting the Three Steps, which can be used in/applied to/bent towards any CI activities we choose, not just stories. Are we not at some point in our classes doing at least one of the following things at any given moment? –
– establishing meaning (Step 1)
– gesturing that meaning (Step 1)
– asking personalized quesions about the terms we established meaning for and gestured (Step 1)
– applying those things to the creation of interesting CI in forms like stories (Step 2)
– creating a reading ideally from what was generated in Steps 1 and 2 (Step 3)
While doing an hour of CI in the form of a one word image this morning I was quite aware of stopping at various points in the CI to ask personalized questions around words that came up during the creation of the image.
For example, the word “hates” came up in class. I asked the girl who played Aicha in one of my classes if she hated anyone. Another kid immediately said in L2 that yes she hated the singer of the song because he did not see her as a person.
So we PQA everything we can whenever we can. We gesture whenever we want, to clarify. We chant if that happens. We play with the words if the energy is there. We don’t force this language. We let it all emerge. Naturally. We talk about the picture, yes, but largely in terms of the kids.
Remembering to do that keeps the wall between teacher and students from growing and blocking our bond with our kids, as we make the mistake of thinking that the language/image/story is more important than the interaction with the kids. The only thing that can keep our class going in L2 is the personalization that we constantly bring in at all times. The kids will lose interest if it is not about them.
(They will also lose interest if they don’t understand, so we always return to the bottom rung of our CI ladder – we go slowly and circle. We go more slowly than we want to. We circle more slowly than we want to. Only then can they understand.)