Shifting one’s practice towards providing more input can feel like it’s a daunting task. All of a sudden, certain routines and practices don’t seem to make much sense, especially after looking at how few messages in the target language there might have been on a daily basis! The big picture of what a CI year looks like should be liberating and alleviate concern. Still, there are questions about what happens daily throughout the week…
– Telling/Asking stories, then reading them
– Learning details about students
– 1-3 unannounced “open-book” Quick Quizzes
I have a new daily routine. If I taught more than 1x a week, I would probably have something specific on certain days, like John Piazza’s Monday routine, because students get real bored real fast when every day is the same. With my current schedule, I immediately launch into Total Physical Response (TPR), or Wall Talk if nothing particularly exciting happens during the new daily routine. If, however, a student wants to share something with the class, I’ll probably skip TPR & Wall Talk, moving onto something with more substance.
I always have something to read from the last class, even if it’s a short message or two. This could be used for that popular “Do Now/Bell Work” that’s been buzzing in education, projected before you begin the routines, but discussed more afterwards. Otherwise, we read an embedded reading of last class’ story, or typed up/edited new ending that a student wrote, or that new story about some detail learned (e.g. something from a daily routine, Special Person interview, or just an event).
Aside from reading shorter texts, you can build in your Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) time. I’ve known people who do this 10min daily, and others who reserve a particular day or two for shorter (5min) to longer (20min) FVR time.
Besides FVR, and the whole class Read & Discuss of a short text, use any other reading activity; there are 100s. Now, I don’t repeat an activity until I’ve worked through all of the ones I already know. Then, I’ll search for a new one, try it out, and only then begin to repeat activities. This way, I slowly build up the repertoire while keeping things novel for students, but not so novel for me that I feel like I’m off the rails and a complete noooooob at teaching, which is often what new-to-CI teachers do. They burnout, and fall back to whatever their teaching was before they noticed some kind of problem, or changed for whatever other reason there might have been.
There are structured activities that allow you to learn about students, like Special Person, or Card Talk (formerly Circling With Balls), but Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA) is an independent strategy that accomplishes this at any moment. You ask questions, listen to students, as more questions, ask other students, compare responses, etc. I’ve learned quite a bit just by asking questions, reacting to what happens and what students say. Card Talk from day 1 was important for establishing routines and MGMT, but at this point we could use another day of finding something out, though with a specific prompt (e.g. What countries would you like to visit?).
This is when you tell stories while drawing (i.e. Story Listening), read from a book (i.e. Kindergarten Day Reading), storyask via Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS), narrate a MovieTalk, create a One Word Image (OWI), or whatever. These can last 10min, or span class days. You’ll have a text after doing any one of these for any amount of time, which you then read the next day in class. voilà!
The Week – Quick Quizzes
These are the simple things you do to get numbers for the gradebook, provide more input and immediate feedback through self-correcting as a class, but then really get back to the bulk of input and interaction. Right now, K-F-D Quizzes are slightly outweighing Quick Quizzes for me, but alternating is a healthy way to vary “assessments” beyond the authentic assessing you do throughout class.
Why is the schedule not more specific?
It might not seem like a lot of structure, but there’s soooooo much in there. I’d be surprised if you have much time left in a 1 hour class teaching 5 days a week after using ideas from the above schedule. There’s flexibility here, and I encourage building that flexibility into the week, and even your day.
At this point, I don’t plan more than a single class ahead. Why? Because when I do, there’s often something I’ve planned that no longer feels relevant when the day comes. For example, since I’ve found that all you need is one thing to get class rolling, a lot of my texts are very short statements/stories about what happened, or what we learned in the previous class. Just this week, my students read a story about our English teacher wanting a screwdriver, and the saga involved a few of the students’ pets. Why this? Because our English teacher came into class asking for a screwdriver on the same day we learned the names of student pets—that’s it. This would’ve been a great way to begin the next class, however, I waited too long to give that story to the students because I had some other activities planned that pushed the story onto the next day. By the time students read the story, only a few remembered those events from class!
I look at the next day, type up my text(s) based on a story and/or details learned about students, think about reading activities we have NOT done yet, then plan for that.