Sometimes I feel a bit confused. I really respect the results that I have seen in my students with comprehensible input. I also have seen them progress so much more this year as we have implemented Integrated Performance Assessments- especially the spoken portions even though that is forced output. At times, this seems like two opposing views when I go to conferences or read blogs. But I feel really good about how my students feel in addition to how the class is going. In the end, that is what I believe that this is what is important- that I am seeing valuable results in my students and that they are enjoying the class. Also, in the end, I am not sure if you always have to choose one “camp” to belong to. I have found valuable lessons in learning about IPAs in addition to all of the PD that I have done with comprehensible input. I feel that you can find YOUR own ground and path to follow. In the end, I have found that for me there is a season-slash-class-period for CI, there is a season for IPAs, and NOW there is a season for untargeted CI.
Today (and tomorrow), I am working with Ben Slavic and Tina Hargaden about one word images and the invisibles. They practice a lot of untargeted input. I think that this can be alienating to many people (me included to start!) However, it means that you don’t ALWAYS have to create a story around three structures. You can create a story with a basic outline that works and is effective for many teachers. As unsure as I was about untargeted input, I have become more excited to incorporate elements of this into my classes.
One thing that Ben pointed out that I felt was really valuable. He said that to start one word images with 5-10 minutes left in class. A teacher should not feel like they have to fill the WHOLE class with this. I have never been a teacher who could fill the whole block with a TPRS story, so this felt really do-able for me. (Also when people don’t finish the story in a whole class period… that was also never me!) Ben even limits the stories to 20-25 minutes. This also felt really freeing to me. He also was a big advocate of making this your own. You will never do something exactly like another teacher, and you should embrace what you are doing.
I am a visual person, so it helped to see how this worked though the workshop. As a “class,” we created the one word story with an object. (We chose glasses.) After that, we had a few decisions to make: big or small, what color the object is and happy or sad. Ben and Tina explained that these steps are crucial to help the artist (who is drawing the whole time) craft the object. They stop after this for a level 1 beginning student. Later in the year, Ben mentioned to add some other choices- rich or poor, intelligent or stupid, nice or mean etc. You could come up with other characteristics that you feel are important for your students. These characteristics help to craft the one word image. Then at the end of the time, there is a big reveal of the picture that the artist created. What I loved is that this can be tacked onto any class and be successful!
Since I have not tried this out in a class (yet!), I wanted to direct you to a few blogs who have used it more successfully than I have:
- Brett and Erin are here with us and have provided great insights for everyone!
- Scott wrote an excellent post about this recently.
- Mike Peto has also written many valuable posts about this.
Hopefully, you feel like you could make this work in your own classes!