White Space Potential

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6 thoughts on “White Space Potential”

  1. I just had an insight after thinking about the above: the jazz very often comes from the dialogue. Today, working from a script and reflecting on that class (which I have on video on an iPad), I saw that the funniest thing was when the girl was served 111 very small glasses of orange juice but wanted bigger glasses but when the waiter brought them they were too big, and so here was this actor complaining “Those are too big!” The actor got it, owned it, said her lines with power and feeling. (I used the director’s cues – see below – to have her say it first to the left, then in an irate way, then in a cuddly way to the waiter.) That is when the story had it’s best liftoff. For me that is kind of what you and Jim were getting at above, Ruth. It’s like we really are directors and we really do need quiet on the set and actors who can take good direction so that we can bring in the exaggeration so necessary to bringing the humor to this work. And yes the potential in the pauses, in the white spaces, must be exploited because we create scenes and timing is everything in acting. So I hear you saying you just want to give more precise direction this year, Ruth. If that is true then the big question here is what exactly do we need to do to make our instruction compelling? These words come to mind: slow, bizarre, exaggerated, focused, clear, personalized, human.

  2. Leigh Anne Munoz

    Ben — This comment starts off a little off-topic, but ends on point…
    [Some background — I teach 35 kids per class, one hour per day, two sections of French I, two sections of French II, and two sections of French III (H) in a large, public suburban setting in Southern California …. I’m beginning my fourth exciting year of script-oriented TPRS and in my 15th year with CI… ]
    I’m spending 75% more time on ‘yes/no’ questions this year than in the past, and the result is beautiful accents almost immediately. My objective of my initial hypothesis was to confirm one of your/someone’s thoughts that I remember reading this summer….right before all the summer conferences —
    the hidden power of more Y/N to create more comprehension. I do think that comprehension has skyrocketed b/c of this new focus. However, lovely accents showing up in week three was a real surprise.
    You all probably get beautiful accents in week three, but I usually have to wait a good, long while to hear such things…
    Question — Is anyone else using the interrogative words minimally, and trying to maximize ‘Y/N’ this year? Has anyone found similar results with increased comprehension and lovely accents right away?
    Back on topic:
    My classes need scripts. I milk Anne Matava’s scripts; they provide a nice balance of constant exposure to pre-selected, high-frequency verbs and student input with cute ideas.
    Cheers, everyone — have a great year!

    1. Leigh Anne, I’m really glad for your thoughts and reminders about the so basic and important yes/no questions. Thanks! And I’m going to learn to milk those scripts, too!
      I would love to hear more about the y/n questions. Are you packing the story-asking with them? The ROA? Everywhere? How do you see them leading to lovely accents in three weeks? What kind of speaking are you talking about? Actually, I would love to sit in on some of your classes, but you are toooo far away.

  3. Leigh Anne I was hoping you would comment here because I know that, besides you and me and of course Anne and Jim, few use scripts. I don’t know why. I fully agree with Anne’s observation above that the upper level kids may not need them (their world is about reading and more reading and spin off discussion) but the younger kids benefit from the scripts. I am not saying that we can’t teach rockin’ classes without scripts – of course we can because over the years we have collected so many awesome strategies that are not stories here.
    Anyway, I wanted to agree with your y/n observation. Another thing I just observed with a group of 6th graders is how powerful Step 7 of ROA is. Have you experienced that? It’s when you physically make them turn toward you and you are the only who can see the projected story. Lots of y/n and you can almost feel the CI being observed into them like sponges absorb water. You can almost hear the soaking in of the language in that step.
    And we can never repeat enough our basic foundational premise for this work – that input must precede output. Sponges have to absorb water before they can give out water. And yet many teachers try to get their students to give output before enough input/water has been absorbed. That makes the kids feel dumb.

  4. Well I did “Nice to Meet You” with an 8th grade class this morning, and it worked a hundred times better than the other times, thanks to this conversation here. I’m sure this is all so basic, but I just have had a hard time getting a handle on it consistently. I still have a ways to go, but it’ll happen I’m pretty sure.
    What worked:
    – I chose the extended version with “forgets”
    – Better PQA
    – I bought into the story with more guts
    – Created an image with the actor (shades/very cool) in lieu of a photo
    – Spent time on creating the setting – what city? where?…
    – Spent time moving the story forward instead of jumping to the end (will do better next time)
    – Played up the nervousness (will do better here next time)
    Et voilà!
    Emmanuelle went to Chicago and met Liam Hemsworth at Panera. He was so nervous when he saw her that he said he was Taylor Swift. Then Alfred donned the shades, went to Hollywood and met Michele Obama, etc. etc.
    I hope it will be even better in the next class. Practice, practice!
    Thank you Jim, Ben, and Leigh Anne!

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