Circling with Balls Q and A – 2

Q.  In Circling with Balls, what do you do if there are five kids in the same class who play basketball?

A. This has happened to me. I just make each one of them the best player in their region. I can teach geographical expressions that way. Each athlete has a region or a maybe a country that they are the best in. Connecting a place to a student is a powerful aspect of the overall personalization process that we use in comprehension based instruction.

Another thing is to compare the five players to major stars in real life, but never with each other. Leonard who plays basketball better than Tim Duncan is the best player in the Western Conference of the NBA and Landen, a guard, plays better than Eastern Conference guard Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets. Leonard is the best player in the West and Landen is the best player in the East. Leonard is never better than Landen; students in any activity are always better than someone not in class. You can see, just from the above discussion about only two students who play basketball, how rich the discussion can become very quickly, with so many facts that you could spend a week just talking about those five basketball players. It would be a good use of time.



1 thought on “Circling with Balls Q and A – 2”

  1. I must be missing something, because I’m gonna be totally honest and say that I could not turn that into a week of compelling CI.

    My understanding is that the main way to keep PQA alive is through circling – questioning for further details, gradually extending sentences. Then, there’s compare and contrasts (parallel stories and characters), but that’s also more questioning and lots of circling. . . fabulous if you can pull this off for sizable chunks of time and can extend it for weeks on end. I’m not doubting it would be great CI, that is, IF it’s still compelling.

    I can inconsistently (at best) keep the attention and maintain high levels of interaction of junior high students with PQA, and even when achieved, it can be tiring. We are good at managing 5 minute PQA bursts. But if I started the year expecting a full period of CWB or other PQA, then, I’d be shooting for the stars, IMO. That unrealistic mindset can discourage teachers and get them to start thinking they’re not good TCI teachers, and the doubts may eventually get the best of us.

    Maybe I should try to gradually extend that time . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7 minutes, etc. until students have better attention. But then, why put in that effort if I’ve found Step 2 and MT to raise student engagement? To answer my own question: the value of personalization – as long as you are still able to personalize the classroom.

    In fact, I wonder if we have held storyasking too high and need to wipe away that frown we have towards storytelling. That’s partly what Annoying Orange/PSA is about. Working with visuals is another easy way to include more storytelling, as is working with TPR.

    Storyasking requires tons of interaction between student and class, which honestly can be draining on the teacher and students. We both need a break, not from CI, but from storyasking CI. I also believe it can be easier to transition and learn to TCI with more storytelling approaches. Beniko Mason has had great success with TCI that is storytelling with very little interaction. Maybe we should be looking more through the Krashen lens, rather than a TPRS lens (the TPRS lens is one of many focused visions).

    Another type of break (form of novelty) I think we should consider is from the strictly targeted CI. If you find ways to maintain high comprehensibility without saying a target structure in every utterance, then sounds like a great way to achieve a better CI balance, perhaps even optimal for long-term fluency development.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

CI and the Research (cont.)

Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could

Research Question

I got a question: “Hi Ben, I am preparing some documents that support CI teaching to show my administrators. I looked through the blog and

We Have the Research

A teacher contacted me awhile back. She had been attacked about using CI from a team leader. I told her to get some research from

The Research

We don’t need any more research. In academia that would be a frivolous comment, but as a classroom teacher in languages I support it. Yes,



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben