Using the StarChart™ at the Elementary Level

Not too many teachers have tried to use the Ultimate CI™ approach (UCI™) with very small children. I guess the assumption is that it’s a middle and high school thing. But a member of my current Book 2 UCI training group asked the other members of the group if anyone is using the StarChart™ in grades K-4.

The following response is from group member Karin Trouyet:

Hi Cynthia,

My name is Karin and I used the STAR with all my elementary grades last year in person with great success. I did skip some of the STAR steps for the younger students in grades K-2nd because I observed that the writing piece and drawing piece caused a cognitive overload. I used a lot of scaffolding, I would be the one illustrating the image either with them or ahead of time. I realized that the writing (even simple) or drawing really stressed them out and took away from their listening focus. Children are no longer taught how to just listen so you will have to work hard to make this shift, but it pays off long term. I had lots of props (hats, masks, stuffed animals, visuals) to keep it lively for the little ones. I only did tableaux for K-2.

I did do the classroom expectations poster together with them ( simplify language), I spent an entire class time just doing this with them.

For K-2nd grade:

*Town Meeting – check-in in L1 (no jobs)

*Create Tableaux options:

– Image created by you ahead of time


-One word image, use the steps suggested by Ben, but you will be drawing the image for them (use one whole class for just this step) then continue with the STAR cycle.

*Basic retell

*Quick Quiz (only yes or no / thumbs up or down) – No writing – too stressful for them – creates cognitive overload. Add lost of silliness here and it was their favorite part!

*Grammar discussion (only when students asked a question, like: why is there an S there) stick to “this means that”. Very rare in these grades, but once in a while, a heritage speaker might ask.

*Choral translation

*Teacher reads in L2

*Class closure routine – very important to have closure, as important as the Town meeting.

Keep all the stories in a digital slide presentation with the drawings and if you can start making paper booklets with all of them so that students can bring home at the end of the year “Spanish Class Stories”, children loved that, parents and administration too! And you get to keep one for your FVR library in older novice grades.

Use the digital version to revisit a story when the class energy (or yours) is running low and you want to just read together, remember, laugh and enjoy. So much INPUT!

For 3rd, 4th and 5th grades:

I did the full version of the STAR with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade with no problem. They loved it! My only suggestion is that for 3rd, 4th and 5th you have to be relentless with your classroom expectations and Ben’s Classroom rules, every time.

With 3rd,4th and 5th grades I did not move into stories until the second semester. It took me the entire first semester to create the classroom culture/ behavior expectations and listening skills to where I needed them for the stories to have flow. It is worth being patient until the entire class is ready.

The STAR is the best way to teach children languages. The joy you will have in your class will be enormous, and you will have great relationships with your students because they will feel like active learners with a voice, something they don’t get to feel often in their other classes.

If you need anything else now or throughout the year, please don’t hesitate to contact me, I have tons to share.

Best of luck,

Karin Trouyet

My (Ben’s) comment:

And there will be more on this important topic as we go along. I am collaborating with Karin as she sets up data collection instruments and works with school curriculum teams this year to investigate putting the StarChart™ Curriculum into all the language classrooms in her school. Somebody (admins or parents or both) have observed something in Karin’s classroom that they want  to see in the other language classrooms of their school.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

CI and the Research (cont.)

Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could

Research Question

I got a question: “Hi Ben, I am preparing some documents that support CI teaching to show my administrators. I looked through the blog and

We Have the Research

A teacher contacted me awhile back. She had been attacked about using CI from a team leader. I told her to get some research from

The Research

We don’t need any more research. In academia that would be a frivolous comment, but as a classroom teacher in languages I support it. Yes,



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben