Can’t get to a workshop, or conference? Well, first try Comprehensible Online, which starts tomorrow! Otherwise, have you watched every CI YouTube video out there, and want more training? Take a step back, be a CI ninja, and realize who’s in front of you each day. Our own students are usually an overlooked source for training us to provide comprehensible input (CI)! Sure, we hone our questioning skillz every day, but students can provide something more…
Stump the Teacher & Stump the Class
In groups, give students 2 min. to generate a list of 5 words in the target language on a piece of scrap paper. When the time’s up, collect the papers, and randomly select one. Now, tell, or ask a brief story featuring all 5 words (i.e. not limited to just the 5, silly, but definitely including them among others). If you can’t do it in X minutes (5? 10?), that team gets a point (or wins if you run out of time, and/or the novelty wears off to continue onto another group’s words). Have a fast processor write out the story for you, go type it up, then read the next day with students. Upgrade? If you have time, write a parallel story based on the one you told/asked. This is CI training in storytelling and/or storyasking, which itself requires a host of strategies. This also will get you practice writing for the novice when you type it up, and/or make a parallel version.
Turn this into “Stump the Class” by following the same as above, except students swap papers and then write their own story including the words. Treat this like One Word At a Time Stories (OWATS) just with all words at once. If students can’t write a story including all the words, the team that originally generated the 5 words gets a point, moving to the next round. Then, the teams with points generate a new list of 5 words for all the other teams (share words with all groups if fewer teams get points and are generating the lists). Continue until there’s a team that has stumped the entire class. Note how this is neither input-based, nor CI training until you take this collaborative output activity to the next step…
Output to Input
Any written output is just one step away from becoming input. For example, take “Stump the Class” above. Even if you get something completely incomprehensible from a particular group of students, that’s enough of a start for you to go edit, elaborate, type up, and read the next day. While we aim to provide massive amounts of input, just 5-10min of student writing in one class can provide you with enough different stories to begin other classes the whole week, and/or add to the Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) shelf! This is also CI training on writing for the novice.
What are some other ways our students could help us train?