Balance

How to get structure and still retain what one might call an “intuitive” curriculum? So let’s say we have a choice of our basic types of non-targeted strategies, for example Small Talk (Calendar/Weather), Card Talk, Word Chunk Team Game, etc. – the kind of things we do with beginners. The old thinking is that we devise a lesson plan to follow – X amount of time for the different activities, all following a nice thought-out plan, etc. But what Tina and I recommend is to not have a schedule and simply teach using one strategy for as long as the mojo is there. The idea is that it is not best if the instruction is tied to the old idea of what a curriculum is – pieces of the language delivered in packages at the right time. There is no right time, if the research is to be believed. The brain gets what it gets in no predictable sequence. So it is best, in our view, if the instruction is tied to the true curriculum – the language as a whole and not broken into little pieces. We just keep the CI flowing in ways that many of us are finding to work pretty well these days. So no planning. No resultant stress of trying to “teach something” and so all we have to do is just enjoy the flow of the conversation, which allows us to enjoy the kids. When they know that they are more important than the curriculum, then a tight, well-planned out instructional plan that is connected to a chapter in a book, a high frequency list, a thematic unit word list, all those things become less important than making genuine human contact with child. Then they learn.

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2 thoughts on “Balance”

  1. ….”But what Tina and I recommend is to not have a schedule and simply teach using one strategy for as long as the mojo is there. ”
    When I saw Krashen at an SL workshop there was one thing that stood out to me the most.
    Follow the Flow (no acronym needed)
    And in my memory of seeing you, Ben in Moraga a few years ago, I noticed that it was so vital to be aware of your body. Because we were teachers in the room, I noticed that at first there was SLOW being practiced; demoed really but as the excitement grew you paced a little quicker, spoke a little quicker with a change in tone… you “Followed the Flow”.
    So while I am not slamming against SLOW, I am saying that SLOW and FLOW are complementary. We set up stories slowly by creating excitement, suspense and interest in our learners. Then as we launch, for me WHEN the problem is announced, we keep a steady FLOW at a rate appropriate for our learners.
    So with CI, the biggies are rarely ditched–mainly for sanity.

  2. Steven said:
    …SLOW and FLOW are complementary….
    I would like to have a week long seminar on this one topic. We wouldn’t get bored. We could work on moving speech slowly into our bodies via the concept of flow. All of it is like a dance that occurs in our minds and bodies when we are teaching. We respond to the music of the words as you suggest happens, Steven. So much to explore here!
    And the effect on the classroom dynamic of a teacher who is conscious of slow and flow, the “dance”, etc. is powerful. It’s not just about getting them focused on meaning over the vehicle to deliver it; it’s also about riveting their attention on the dance of sound as it relates to meaning.

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