Facebook

I’ve been getting into Facebook lately but everything scrolls out so quickly and the group is so large there it’s kind of a blur. I see it as a shallow and wide thing over there and a narrow and deep thing here. Both groups, of course, strictly avoid any discussion resembling arguments about which pedagogy is better or anything involving politics or personalities.

Rather, on both sites our focus is and has been on (1) strategies that build community, (2) our mental health, (3) non-targeted instruction (which for me and Tina is the Invisibles Star Sequence, and (4) classroom management.

So if you are on the CI Liftoff page on FB you may see occasional posts from me over there, but when we need to talk about something deeper affecting our group members and what they may have experienced in the classroom that day, some problem they are having and simply need to talk about, then here is where we do that. (Send me those problems at benslavic@yahoo.com and I will post them to the group.)

The goal of this site has always been, for ten years and a lot of blood, sweat and tears mixed in with a lot of laughter and good will and trust and 6,000 articles and 70,000 comments, to help each other in a safe place that is beyond the incredibly prying eyes of the internet.

There are no experts in this work. We merely want to use the combined insights of the group to become better at language teaching via honest and open dialogue, laying our egos at the door, to perhaps address as a group one group members question, etc. – the day to day grind things.

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50 thoughts on “Facebook”

  1. That’s the great thing about this PLC; I feel safe to talk about things.

    Our schoolyear just started three weeks ago and after a StoryListening workshop with Beniko Mason in August I decided to give SL a definite go and your advice of teaching to the eyes and going slowly was so helpful. In my grade 5 all the slower students were involved when we did a retell in German.

    I haven’t read anything about SL lately on the PLC. Is there anybody who is using it?

    1. I tried a 20 minute story telling session a couple of times at the end of the year last year. I look forward to telling more stories where students are just sitting back and not having to respond. We’ll see. They’ll have to be stories I really want to share. The story of La Llorona would be a great one to tell before Halloween and Día de los muertos. I’ll have to have some sort of back up in case admin walk in because they are not ready for it.

      1. Sean, what if the “back up plan” is some sort of in the moment interaction with kids as you tell the story. I am thinking of building these in myself, for that reason. I don’t know exactly what yet, but something quick and interactive. could be a turn and talk or turn and gesture to your neighbor as I tell the next part…quick “stand up with your group (show aDMIN YOU HAVE GROUPS!!!) And then you fire off a question or something.

        Could be a chant or “every time you hear blah…group says blah…” ????

        I don’t know exactly but thank you for mentioning this bc I also love SL but need to mix it up a bit.

        1. “Show admin you have groups!” Salient point, jen!

          You’re probably right, just some kind of in the moment interaction is probably all that is needed. I like what I call Line Up, where students create two lines, standing shoulder to shoulder. Line A is facing line B. They have 20 seconds to talk. I ring the bell and Line A moves down one person. 20 seconds to talk. I ring bell. Repeat.

        2. I use some TPRS style Call and Reponses during Story Telling (SL as an activity not a system). I use: “all of a sudden” “A secret” and “and then” etc… I little to no comprehension circle type of questions.

          1. Steven you should have been with us in Atlanta. The Call and Response thing was enchanting. When you get to about QL #5 of the Invisibles story sequence you can have the kids speak dialogue by repeating your short sentences in the dialogue and whenever the kids see their classmates up there speaking the language (or synching the words Susie Gross style) it just is so much fun. Then also you can throw in the Director’s Cues and bam those stories end up being a gas from start to finish.

      1. They’re 10-14 years old. Some have never had French and others have taken French classes for 5 years. There were a few who enjoyed the stories but not too many. I’ll do one a month and see if that helps. Maybe it was too much too fast.

        1. I wonder how any teacher would be able to bridge the gap between newbies to the language and kids who have had 5 years of some kind of French tuition. To me it seems to be asking the impossible of a teacher.
          How can they ask you to do that?
          How do you manage to stay motivated?

  2. I am using it! I got a bit off track. But after watching Cecile Lanes most recent video I want to commit to one SL per week. That said, next 2 weeks will be very off kilter since I will be away 1) for a conference this week and 2) for a wedding the following week.

    IN the first week of school I did a couple SL to show kids how easy it is to understand Spanish. I did Goldilocks story in a very shortened version. Then I did the “Suppenkasper” story that Kathrin Schechtman has on her website. I understood it in German and then I told it in Spanish!

    My students LOVE October and halloween and such, so I will probably focus on scary creepy things in the next few weeks.

  3. I have not been talking about it much cause I would rather do OWIs and Write and Discuss and Reading Options for the first few weeks. My kids are still clamoring for more “art time” which is what they call OWIs. We haven’t even really told stories with them yet. Sometimes a little plotline will develop in Readers’ Theatre. I also have some mixed feelings about SL…Cécile recently posted on FB that people should say “telling stories with the SL Toolkit” that Beniko and Steve K developed. Maybe that is a good idea. Seems a little wordy to me. Plus, it’s been said about me online that I “never even took a SL workshop” despite working closely and even presenting and organizing workshops with Beniko here in the Pacific NW last March, which was, I surmise, before the first “official” Stories First Foundation approved SL workshops took place. I am hurt, and angry, to be quite honest. A few messages have gotten back to me, defaming my character as a “educational consultant”, stating that I attempted to plagiarize Beniko’s work and implying that I am offering SL trainings (for what is apparently imagined to be massive dollar amounts) without understanding the technique, or method, or whatever it is called. I am sad, hurt, and not at all sure what will happen when I see Beniko and Claire at COFLT next week in Eugene, OR.

    Someone (I forgot who) said why not call what I am doing “Picture Stories”? That term has been around for a while. I was calling it “Visual Storytelling” to separate from SL, as Beniko asked me to do. (After, I must say, telling me in no uncertain terms that she wanted to work with Ben and me to present a combined Invisibles and SL training to help equip teachers to provide more non-targeted CI…so I am, like, SUPER confused and not just a bit let down.)

    To answer the question, I like to save activities to spice the year up when things start to feel stale. My kids are perfectly content these days to do Small Talk about the weather/calendar, Card Talk, OWIs, Write and Discuss, and Reading Options. I will ride that pony till they want more different new stuff.

    PS
    If anyone has seem my alleged massive cashflow, please let Mary Ann, our bookkepper know. I am sure she would be very happy to see our fledgeling company turn a profit after all the work everyone has put into it…

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about the drama and the behind-the-back naysaying… Ugh! I seriously don’t get why people can’t just do their best to support each other with trying to implement CI, and create more caring environments for other teachers and their students. Seriously, teachers, and even teacher consultants are only very, very rarely going to be raking it in. There are about a million and one other ways (that are probably easier anyway) to make much more money. I’m glad to help support you, Ben, and others who add so much value to my life as a teacher and as a person. You definitely have my support!

      1. Absolutely! I echo Bryan’s thoughts. I wish people would be more supportive to others who have the same goal rather than be divisive. It does no one any good and it can seriously damage the end goal.

        Tina, I’ll be sending you hugs, positive vibes and whatever else you need for next week. I’m praying that things work out instead of getting worse when you see Claire and Beniko.

    2. I have used the Natural Approach method to develop a OWI in my classes with a designated artist. We have maybe 3 done per class, and we even jumped into stories with them. I remember Tina mentioning at the CI conference in Portland that sometimes she will allow students an art day just to give them some space to create their own OWI. Later, the teacher can look through these and see if any characters would “work” for a story. I am interested in learning more about this format of doing a OWI. Has this been talked about here?

      1. Not formally as a strategy Jeff but yes in the general dialogue about the Invisibles. The idea is simple. Take a day every now and again either is you are absent of just don’t feel like teaching of have determined that your class needs some time to do the most important activity of all – building community – and just let the kids draw their own characters. Some like to draw in pairs and that is great. You just walk around and comment. That’s how they know you like them, and if kids don’t know you like them, don’t try to teach them. Even neutral behavior from their teacher is perceived by them as negative, so we must go out of our way to show that we like them. Drawing days do that.

    3. I like to save activities to spice the year up when things start to feel stale. My kids are perfectly content these days to do Small Talk about the weather/calendar, Card Talk, OWIs, Write and Discuss, and Reading Options. I will ride that pony till they want more different new stuff.

      This has been my approach too this year. I’m hoping that come April and May doing stories still feels fresh.

      1. Sean I will follow this w interest. I never could get stories past March testing. I always went to reading and projects in the later spring. Tina will write about the details of how to do this in her new Cycles of Assessment book.

        1. We do testing in April. However at my school most teachers are still in “beast mode” and are spraying and praying to cover their whole curriculum. By comparison, creating a story is a perfect way to relax in my classes — that or an interview. I do only a few of the reading options these days. I am saving the others for later on in the year.

    4. Tina, that’s so sad to hear what you have experienced bc of some other teachers. I just don’t understand why some colleagues can’t be more supportive (must be the ego-thing) and if they think sb got sth wrong, then why not talk about it in a respectful manner and not start critizisingor even worse, defaming.
      At the SL workshop with Beniko and Kathrin Shechtmann I came to know that Kathrin is no longer involved with the PLC bc of some “misunderstanding”. Makes me think after what you have said.
      Tina, I’ve watched quite a few videos, that being the next best thing to meeting you in person, and I love your humor and your outgoing personality. I can also see that your heart is in it. So please just carry on the good work!!!!

      I only once gave a workshop myself, ages ago. It was about TPR, and their was especially one guy with many years of teaching under his belt, who kept asking in a very aggressive way, “What is this TPR all about. I’ve never heard of it. Give it to me in a nutshell.” I got a kind of blackout and could only do the most simple commands and then of course the group told me that they knew this already. I felt horrible and have never attemted a workshop again.

      1. …I felt horrible and have never attempted a workshop again….

        Uno you remind us again of why we have this group. We are actually honest when we share ideas here. We leave our egos at the door in the interest of honest discourse. I would like to suggest to you here, in terms of your story with this hater, that in the very fact of his aggressive and unprofessional and UNKIND comments to you lie the seeds of his eventual failure. When things do not align with the research and the standards, they eventually fail.

        Related: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7qQ6_RV4VQ

        1. Thanks Ben, your kind words touch my heart. I thought that with that workshop I could help other Waldorf teachers to shorten the length of struggle I had until my own language classroom was not just enjoyable for the kids and me but effective as well.
          The first years I did tons of action poems, songs and games (elemetary school) but after three years my own class (I was their class teacher too) had not enough comprehension profiency by far, let alone vocabulary in the L2!
          James Asher with his TPR and other TPR-experts saved my teaching career bc I got so very different that is positive results from it and the kids enjoyed it very much – they still do! But with OWI, the Invisibles and SL I’m sure I can reach even higher levels and keep up my motivation and that of my students. So thanks again for your and Tina’s work and thanks to all those committed teachers on the PLC.

          PS: The wound fom my failed workshop hurts still.

          1. …the wound fom my failed workshop hurts still….

            We have to try. If we believe that our vision can help others, we have to try. There are so many blow hards out there confusing people. We have to try. I am proud that you tried.

    5. Tina, to me you are a great inspiration and a life saver. You are an extremely talented teacher. You not only understand deeply how CI works and implement it in class, but you have great organizational skills, you with Ben are doing something that our community needs which is create a format for NT language that is truly CI that together with classroom management will allow us to grow and stay in the profession. All this work you are both doing is what will protect us as teachers, make us be more effective, and happier people and hence allow us to turn out a better “product”.
      Your cycles of instruction make me feel that I might be able to make it through the year in a positive way.
      The work I see you developing in the CALP group is something I see as essential in advancing the upper level classes, something I have been missing all along and couldn’t get a grip on before. I am close to start implementing something in class and posting in the group.
      You have been extremely generous in sharing your deep thinking, your sense of humor, your excellent teaching skills with us all during the summer workshops from which you might not even have recovered yet. You keep sharing your work in your ci liftoff videos that I always watch for inspiration.
      I don’t find that there is ANYTHING to justify the criticism and negativity you are receiving. Whoever they are, whatever they are saying is from a petty selfish place. “When they go low, we go high”.
      PLEASE don’t let them get to you. You should really be getting the National Best Teacher Award in FL.
      And if you can make some money from all your talent and giving and efforts, so much the better. Just be proud you can.
      From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!!

      1. WHAT LAURA SAID!!!!

        Oh my heart hurts to witness these extreme levels of misunderstanding. I will venture to say, only because I just have been reading in my Thich Nhat Hanh book, that the seed of the alleged conflict is a lack of “deep listening.” By this I mean true “listening with intent to understand.” Not in the specific SLA sense, but in the larger sense of truly being open to the perspective of another. Or as Brene Brown says “having a hypothesis of generosity” aka believing someone’s story because we cannot take off our own lenses.

        Was just reading about a very specific listening practice for this “deep listening” which is also practicing the art of staying present, really focusing on what the person states from their own experience, refraining from interrupting, comment or debate, advice, etc. What if we actually practiced this?

        I feel like this group in this private space is listening deeply. I for one am going to bring this into my classroom in L1. I don’t think we can practice this enough.

        I’ve been hearing percolations of this stuff for several months and honestly try to avoid it. But it is in my face because people I love are getting hurt. Sigh.

        Tina keep yourself safe in yourself. Ashwagandha to help you build a shield around your force field! Sleep! Stay curious! Keep sharing from your abundant heart!

        Do not over think the upcoming meeting / interaction. Try to stay grounded by unpluging from those dialogues and toxic thought cycles. Be truly present in the moment and open to a shift.

        I do not have words to express the gratitude I feel for you and Ben in this work. We do not have time or energy to waste on who said what when and who is right or wrong, or who is “really” a CI teacher or whatever. For real. Our life is now! It’s happening right now under our noses! Why fritter it away with soul sucking externalities? We are all suffering! How can we move through that together to find the joy in our days? Saying this as much to myself as anyone else, of course 😀

        1. Jen said:

          …We do not have time or energy to waste on who said what when and who is right or wrong, or who is “really” a CI teacher or whatever….

          Sounds like a social change advocate statement to me. All I can say is amen to that and to that entire last paragraph.

        2. I can tell you and Laura that Tina in Atlanta was as steady and strong in her vision as always. She is aware of the truths that you two and other have made about this situation. She gets it and it won’t push her down. On the contrary, she uses it as fuel.

    6. Tina, there was a fuss made about you presenting SL. It was in response to a post someone made about an upcoming workshop you were doing. A couple of us made it clear that you were very clear about distinguishing what you were doing from what Beniko was doing, even though you expressed appreciation for her expertise and time. You clearly distinguished it from Story Listening and we pointed out that it was called Visual Storytelling in the workshop description. The person who raised the fuss had pointed out that the blurb used the term SL. After we pointed to the “visual storytelling” label, said person relented a bit and wrote that the abbreviation SL that was still in there must have been an oversight. I went back to check on that thread and it was gone. At least, I could not find it. I think that it was a wise moderator move which recognized that issue had been cleared up and that it was not helpful conversation for anyone wanting to take a stab at or learn more about SL.

      Your VS and CALP were very helpful this summer. You whetted my appetite for more SL and SL-like applications. I met you and observed you (and Ben) at the end of a long summer and appreciate your stamina. In fact, you rate high in stamina on my Habits of Strong Presenters (which, as you might guess is still an invisible, learner created image, awaiting the talent of our 1st and 2nd artists).

      Smiles and blessings.

      1. Nathaniel it helps so much to have read what you wrote above about the SL Shitstorm of 2017. You are so observant. You curate facts in a world where making things up about others has become a national sport.

  4. I recently posted on CI Liftoff because I love the support from the community of CI teachers. There are so many great ideas floating around that I need to remind myself to try just one thing at a time. Maybe just one new thing per month. I did that last week with La Persona Especial interviews and it shifted the feeling of the class for the better. I know that it takes time and experimenting with a new idea in the classroom to become better as a teacher. I also know that in the meantime, we can easily blow it. I had a bad day last week and I felt like all the hard work I had put in since August just crumbled apart. So now I have to start again, hit the reset button and get back to building community. I have good intentions, however, I am reminded by this post that we need to be careful about what we post online. In our day to day struggles we want to be able to express ourselves freely and honestly. This PLC allows me to do so without worrying about the “prying eyes of the internet”.

    1. Jeff, I wonder if it was the full moon. Seriously. I had a bad meltdown last week too. So ugly. Thank you for your candid sharing. I am uplifted by this group! I need to resist the urge to post on FB. It is really detrimental to my mental health most of the time.

      It’s enticing to get caught up in the flurry of ideas, but that makes it worse for me, as it fuels my insecurity about “doing it right.” Silly. Yet we are in a culture that continues to feed our perception that we are not enough just as we are.

      I think is was you who pointed us to the Thich Nhat Hanh book “Happy Teachers Change the World.” I have been wading through it, soaking it in since July. slowly slowly. I am now in the part where it talks about all those deep listening practices and it’s so resonant right now.

      If I am incorrect and it wasn’t you, oops! But I think it was?!?!

      1. Yep! I appreciate all your comments here and there. I am reading Thay´s book too, but need to dig deeper into it. My meltdown set off a bit of a cold for me, but feeling better and ready to w0rk. Cheers!

    2. That’s why it exists, exactly, Jeff.

      By the way, I know you were here years ago and only now have returned. I want to say how happy I am with your open and frank comments about what is going on with you in the classroom. I know it is being noticed by many of the old timers here. It shows courage. The courage to fail. We value you here. We want you to keep posting. When you post you may think it is just about what you are experiencing. This is far from the truth. You are just expressing what many of us here are feeling these days. Thank you for being Jeff. Can’t wait to see you again next summer at a training. If you can’t get funding, Tina and I will give you half price to one of the institutes. Special price for winemakers.

      1. Thanks for the encouraging words. I am going to need more training that is for sure. I´ve been laying low as the only CI teacher in the world languages department, but our department met today and we now have to share our unit plans (with assessments, projects, etc.) for the year at the next meeting later this month! Uhg! I suppose the extra work to put these plans together will make me a better teacher, right?! Luckily, I´ve seen some CI unit plans in our groups that will help. Winemaking is cake compared to this.

  5. I’m thinking of starting my own blog for teachers of Spanish heritage learners.

    Mike Peto helped start, with Adrienne Brandenberg administering, a Facebook group by the same title. It truly is the only place a teacher with Spanish heritage classes can share some ideas and get some help. The problem is that we have teachers asking the same questions, like, “What placement test do you use?” Or, “What books do you recommend for your fvr library?” They pop in and ask the same question that has been asked over and over again. And you can’t easily find where people discussed that topic in a previous post.

    I’d like to have a blog like this one where we can organize and categorize articles, making it easy to see what people have said and what ideas have been fleshed out already regarding certain topics.

    While the Spanish heritage classes look very different, the issues we face are similar to ours as foreign language teachers. Some examples are, 1) input is foremost, though it’s more about reading input than oral input, 2) textbooks don’t help unless you have an homogenous group of literate and academically talented students, and 3) we too have to calm down the grammar turds.

    We’ll see. I’d love to co-administer a blog with someone. Please let me know if you’re interested (seanmichaellawler at gmail.com) I doubt Mike Peto would be since he moved to North Carolina and doesn’t teach heritage classes anymore, at least in the near future.

      1. I’d love to give it a shot, Ben.

        While I was suggesting a blog instead of a Facebook page a couple of days ago, Mike Peto started rounding us (teachers of Spanish heritage classes) up to submit essays for the 2nd edition of the book he spearheaded, Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish.

        https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Teachers-Heritage-Learners-Spanish/dp/1540343375

        There is so very little out there for Heritage Spanish teachers, except the handful of textbooks published by the big cartels. I feel I’ve come a long way since I started teaching Heritage classes 2 years ago. And this year, with my super small classes, I’m hopeful I’ll have the time and space to refine to a large degree a sequence of classroom activities for Heritage classes that align with language acquisition theory.

        How long is a Bite Size book?

        1. That’s good work there Sean. I no longer teach a Heritage Speakers class but my situation has MANY heritage speakers in a Spanish 2 class with non-heritage and very shy native speakers. I only had 1 year of experience in teaching but a lifetime of experience as a born-again native speaker.

  6. Well, I don’t care whether it is called visual storytelling, story listening, picture stories … Last month I had no idea what any of this was, and on a whim bought two new books on Teacher’s Discovery because I so desperately needed a change. The books led to videos, way too much time on Facebook, and a much more relaxed, happier me. I can’t believe you post all of your YouTube videos for free, because they are exactly the tools I used to implement CI in my classes when I didn’t have the patience to wait until I finished the book. For a new to CI teacher like me, they are a gold mine! Both you and Ben have been huge inspirations. Your heart and souls are in the right place. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. One month in. Way to jump, Ann. I am glad that Ben went ahead with Teacher’s Discovery. It gets to such a huge audience. Ben and Tina are great. Hope you get to a workshop with them. In the meantime, you cannot un-experience teaching with CI. There is no going back.

      1. I would LOVE to go to a workshop, and will do my best to fit one in. I don’t mind flying if I have to. I just have to work it in time-wise.

        Today I was at the gym (I do CrossFit in my free time) and my coach asked if I still planned to quit teaching — which is where I was last year. I thought this was an odd question and asked her what made her ask. She said I have always been so stressed, but this year seem so relaxed. I will take that to mean that I am doing the right thing for me. If I am more relaxed, my students must be happier, too.

  7. I’m back from Atlanta and I woke up this morning and for a good long moment I was like where am I now? I went to school like a zombie, on the bus, Despacito on repeat. Trying to wake up on my 80% decaf coffeelike drink. Heart aching from the burned out teachers on Facebook. Body aching from the plane and disoriented from the rapid time changes recently and the absolute lack of downtime and privacy. I played the Count to a Hundred Game and the Write Write Pass Game and the Categories Memory Game with the 18 or so kids who weren’t gone on the seventh grade makerspace field trip. I ate leftover chili from last Friday’s staff luncheon that I kinda missed for some reason. I called the Lincoln primcipal’s Big Boss during prep to inquire about how to fix the West Sylvan Kids Repeating First-Year French Debacle. I waited on hold for a half-hour but they were very concerned so I think it was a good idea. I bumped into three former students on the bus who are all back in first year class after two years with us at WSMS. They said they’re rocking it but it “moves slow” and they said the teacher is mean. Well, he’s not exactly MY bestie that’s for sure. I got soaked on a deluge after chiro and am still on a bus inching my way to home at 6:24 pm. The amount of time we give to our jobs, our service, and that doesn’t count the endless hours of thinking, learning, reading, dreaming, literally dreaming of teaching, waking with our callings all twined into our hearts and sleepy tangled heads. It’s a hard life. It’s a labor of love. It’s a wringer. It’s a cauldron. A forge. A wringer. I have given so much, because I’ve been compelled to. It’s been squeezed out, drawn out, like some fever I’m tryna sweat out. It’s just feeling like such a big sacrifice. Worthwhile and noble but huge and draining. I just read this thread and it was a balm for my heart. Thank you. It’s a gift to find your life’s work and the people to do it with. Thavk you all y’all.

    1. It’s amazing what we can do — and what you are doing, especially, Tina — when we feel deep down to our core that our work is good work and that we have a community of colleagues standing with us, shoulder-to-shoulder.

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