The Problem of Circling

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6 thoughts on “The Problem of Circling”

  1. Oh thank you wise and wonderful Ben. Ever since Krashen sat with me and talked about how reading influenced the adult learner’s brain I have toyed with the emergent reading process for my own learning.

    That has led me to composing my own conversations with the sweet little invisables living in a cultural based community in my brain. Good thing they are fluent in English so I can pull the story out o to paper and begin the translation to Mvskoke. Such deep dictionary dives I am making and discussions with my Elders when words like cell phone, electronics, and texting aren’t available in the dictionary.

    I’ve learned how language and culture adapt, about colonization, and politeness towards various ages in speaking. It has been fabulous.

    Because I am directing my learning I am never bored. That maybe a ticket to teaching older students but I remember from early childhood education classes that basing your lesson on your students’ I streets was the key to engaging them. Everyone wants to know how to open their own milk carton. Do they have milk cartons anymore?

    And drawing pictures! I love drawing the s end out to find the details.

  2. Creating images with my students, or having them draw them individually, has 99% of the magic of what I am doing personally. But if I try to talk about some image from the internet or whatever, something not created by the book, it just doesn’t work.

  3. I’m not a CI veteran by any stretch of the imagination, I only dipped my toes into the water last year and I’m still not exclusively using CI methods.

    But Circling seemed so artificial during my first few attempts of TPRS that I soon abandoned it. I had a piece of paper with all the questions I “should” have been asking during my story. But I, and my students, got so interested in the story that I soon abandoned it. I also soon gave up on trying to get my students to react with “ooohhh”s. I like to think that the stories we created (and those I created and delivered in a storylistening style) were engaging and naturally, by using storytelling and narrative devices, included the repetitions required.

    That doesn’t mean I never asked questions or asked my students to react. I just did it in an organic and natural way, much as parents do when reading to their young children. I felt guilty for “abandoning the correct methodology” and worried a little that I was prioritizing the stories over “teaching”. But reading your post I understand that such guilt was misplaced.

  4. Yes. I don’t know what happened to make people think that there was a “correct methodology”. That is not what Blaine invented. What don’t people get about words such as “organic” and “intuitive”? I’m beginning to think that Blaine’s vision has been seriously compromised, more than many are aware. If they haven’t sent the message that there are as many ways to do CI as there are teachers, then they have not served the CI movement very well.

  5. The big sources of pressure and confusion that the new CI establishment has put on novice CI teachers are:

    1. Circling
    2. Targeting (is NOT supported by the research).
    3. Making us think that we are supposed to be entertainers. Even the most quiet teacher can be a very effective CI teacher. All they have to do is ask questions, and it has nothing to do with entertaining.

  6. I think the most interesting Blaine moment for me was when he was trying to show an organic way to converse with the Hot Seat. His questions to the one on the Hot seat then telling the class did you know got reps in that were natural and we learned a bunch about the person. We even talked with the person outside the class later. But the routine can get old quickly as the pattern stayed the same consistently.

    The brain does want repeatition but also it needs novel as soon as it comprehend the pattern. So in circling the 4% are moaning to move forward and the barometer is wondering what did you say. An illustrated story allows the barometer to rest in reading the pictures safely understanding and the 4% to hunger for the details that they might add. That keeps the learning environment safe. It is key. Safety in the classroom creates safety in learning.

    It is a very rare storyteller who tells the story the same each time. That is what keeps them in business. In Indigenous cultures often people reject the actual writing down of a story because they say “it kills the story.” Stories in my mind need to be flexible to be relevant to the audience at hand.

    Scaffolding the story allows you to work with the same story over a long time. You can come back to favorite characters and create what happened next. Or as I watched an elementary teacher doing music a couple of years ago, the same lesson plan (story) increased in difficulty (adding more complexity in details) throughout the day of 6 different grades. It was beautiful! He was a 3rd year teacher who I had watched from his 1st year. His confidence in delivery and his classroom management improved immensely simply because he was actually meeting the students where they were with the same lesson but scaffolds for what they could grasp at their level. Brilliant!

    I learned as an old dog a new trick that I am using today in my retirement as I teach myself.

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