CI Program Checklist: 6 of 13

Classroom MGMT
✔   Rules (DEA & CWB)
✔   Routines (RRoutines, Student Jobs, Interjections & Rejoinders)
✔   Brain Breaks

✔   Inclusion (Safety Nets, Gestures & Question Posters)
✔   Shelter Vocab (Super 7, TPR ppt, TPR Wall, and Word Wall)
__ Unshelter Grammar

Total Physical Response (TPR) is a great way to shelter vocabulary, but it’s limited to a) 1st person present during modelling, b) imperative mood during the command, and c) 3rd person singular present during the statement to class. If we want to cast a broad net of language, which we do, those verb forms don’t quite do it. This is why a good mantra of a CI classroom is “shelter vocab, unshelter grammar.”

This is easier said than done, especially given language teachers’ own language learning experience, their “methods” training, and the multitude of textbooks all designed according to a grammatical syllabus following the supposed “simple” to “complex.” This isn’t very conducive to language acquisition, so we need to consider how we can cast that net full of rich and varied language while still keeping a check on our sheltered vocabulary.

TPR Scenes
I’ve been working on a way to unshelter grammar without launching into a full class story. Why? It’s not because stories are too hard, it’s because students need a ton of different activities. Carol Gaab has said, “the brain craves novelty,” and she’s right. Even the most effective things we do in the classroom get old, and it’d be a shame to kill CI because class feels too predictable. The result is what I call TPR Scenes. These scenes require only a motive (that students co-create), and there’s no conflict to resolve. TPR Scenes are a little more involved than TPR commands, and less involved than a traditional story along with all its details. This means that it’s possible to get kids moving, shelter vocab, and unshelter grammar all within the last few minutes of class instead of waiting for a whole other class day in order to create a story.

The following PowerPoint presentation will train you to let go of thinking certain verb forms are too complex, and use verb form that are appropriate for what’s going on. This seems antithetical to what language teachers have been trained to do, but it’s actually just genuine communication:

TPR Scenes

Use the presentation until you’re comfortable with ex tempore language use (a surprisingly difficult thing for language teachers to do), or if you just feel that students need some visual stimulation. This presentation is certainly more involved than the TPR one. Just remember that you don’t have to click on everything that shows a link (e.g. ellipses, colors, etc.); those links are just there for when you need some support. You could download this presentation and just start clicking away by using the first example verb, loquī, which includes purple help tips like the rest of my presentations, but here’s a walk-through of what you’ll find for each verb:

– Model (1st person form) <- modeled “actions” could be gestures used for more abstract verbs (e.g. wants, hears, reads, etc.)


– Command for the class/a volunteer (imperative form)


– Statement about what the volunteer does (3rd person)

Everything above appears in the TPR presentation, but new stuff follows:

Choice of motives explaining WHY the volunteer does what they do (3rd person). N.B. some of these motives include “ut clauses” and other ways to express purpose. THAT is how to unshelter grammar right from Latin 1.

– Questions for the volunteer (2nd person past)

– Questions for the class about what the volunteer did (3rd person past)

– Links to details for PQA and keeping things Compelling


– Open-ended follow up questions about images

Like everything we do, if there’s a verb form you need, just write it on the board along with an English equivalent, Point and Pause when you use it, and engage in the interpretation, negotiation, and expression of meaning (= communication).

8 thoughts on “CI Program Checklist: 6 of 13

  1. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 7 of 12 | Magister P.

  2. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 8 of 13 | Magister P.

  3. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 9 of 13 | Magister P.

  4. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 10 of 13 | Magister P.

  5. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 11 of 13 | Magister P.

  6. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 12 of 13 | Magister P.

  7. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 13 of 13 | Magister P.

  8. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: Summary | Magister P.

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