NT Video

Keri Biron used to work from targets and has over the past year been testing out non-targeted instruction. Here are some clips that she shared with us and thank you Keri, for your openness to new ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN6T0FQkuVQ&t=10s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdOo2cv4Wds&t=7s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_bCkuXZ7dA&t=1s

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34 thoughts on “NT Video”

    1. I love not having the pressure of trying to fit in or forcing certain phrases that I had predetermined to be part of the story. As I had said recently in another post, half the time the targets never ended up in the story anyway. Since I’ve been exploring NT, I have done an OWI in all my classes twice and student interested has been consistently high. I’ve also done a NT story with each of the OWIs we’ve created. The first round of NT stories went ok – two of my classes were content to just listening to the story as Tina had suggested to me. The other three I felt that they may have been a bit bored without giving me much input although they did give me some.

      This time around each of my five classes had a homerun story. The difference was that I did offer them a couple more open ended questions so they had the chance to drive the story in the direction they wanted. I didn’t stick with the story scripts that I had written. (Yes, I actually wrote out a story script for each of my classes based on a proposed problem.) That actually took quite a bit of planning on my part and then in every single class, the story was totally different based upon the information the kids gave me. I went with it because they were totally into it. Maybe there’s no right answer. Maybe some classes are just content to listen and others want to be more in control.
      Anyway, this time around with the NT story, student engagement was higher than it had ever been during my targeted stories this year. I plan on having them draw their first invisibles after we are done doing practices with the written story.

      1. …I didn’t stick with the story scripts that I had written….

        This is epic in the sense that I know that you like to have a script with you at all times. So no there is no right answer to this we each do it differently. As long as I had a Matava script in my hand I was happy. She never targeted anything, just pulled targets and put them over her scripts to make it look like she was targeting, which made many hard liners confused, but when you start straying from your scripts and getting good stories I see this as a significant change in what you are doing.

      2. “Maybe there’s no right answer. Maybe some classes are just content to listen and others want to be more in control.”

        Yes! Honoring the SLA process by having to listen to your students does wonders for their self esteem and takes the class community to another level. You also interact much more rather than going top down.

  1. …I love not having the pressure of trying to fit in or forcing certain phrases that I had predetermined to be part of the story….

    This is what I had hoped you would say. This is huge and yet many teachers seem to be o.k. with accepting the pressure of having to teach certain things as part of their job. They couldn’t pay me enough and yet I did it for fifteen years.

    Keri I noticed that your kids and you as well were more relaxed than in the older video as well, another result of your being relaxed. If they can’t relax and focus not on form but on meaning then they can’t learn. Those kids in there were just relaxed, all were involved and I could see that not one of them was feeling as if you were going to come after them unexpectedly with a question, which makes them even more relaxed, and they can then get from the discussion whatever they can get on that day in their own particular stress filled lives.

  2. There was a video from awhile back where the kids are all sitting on the desks and you are teaching Italian and you ask them something about Jerry Springer and I could tell that it wasn’t that interesting to them. Now, with this image of the basura, which I assume you made before this video with the kids as a one word image, it is more “their” basura then anything to do with Jerry Springer. I felt more unity in the class with the basura than with Jerry Springer.

  3. …two of my classes were content to just listening to the story as Tina had suggested to me….

    Tina is taking some heat right now for saying that. But we talked about it last night and she is sticking by her guns, in close contact with SK these days and also Beniko Mason. I mean, if those two researchers think that students will pay attention if we just tell them a story (Beniko’s new book on Story Listening is coming out soon), if their combined research of over 70 years crunching numbers is not enough to send us the message that it is ok, that students should just be allowed to listen with no pressure at all on their young scared hearts, then we perhaps need to pull the concrete from our ears and listen a bit more before we go back into our classrooms and ask our students all sorts of inane questions to push our agenda of high frequency vocabulary on them. But the thing is Keri you are to be congratulated because you are actually making these changes in your instruction and have been working to these ends for years. Most teachers know that SK and BNM are saying these things, but they are not actually making the changes.

    1. … student engagement was higher than it had ever been during my targeted stories this year. I plan on having them draw their first Invisibles ….

      I just wanted to say that I feel that if any of them want to draw any of their own Invisibles that you could project up. You can do this in class, give them a class period to draw but those drawings have to be full of color and be drawn with heart or they will treat it as any other in-class assignment like how kids do in school. Or maybe some might draw some at home. I know that sixth graders will do this – develop love for an Invisible that they created more than one done by the class as a one word image – a lot faster than a high school kid. But it would be nice to follow up on this if any of your h.s. kids do make up any of their own Invisibles and if the images are of quality and get into any of your stories I would very much like to know.

      Thank you Keri for this fine work and for being willing to share it with us!

    2. I am very anxious to also try Story Listening! I’ve watched some of Tina’s videos that she has posted and this is such a great way to also give the students some culture. I may do my first one after we have finished with all the Reading Options and activities for our current story. I feel it’s a nice “break” between each story we do. After the kids listen to the story, is it suggested to do a reading as well? I probably will but I’m wondering what others do.

      1. Keri, I had trouble with doing reading after SL. Here’s how I solved it:

        When I would find a text like Tina’s Haitian story, I would read it then rewrite it with words and organization that my students know. Then When telling it it would get cut down A LOT! So, I have had my jittery blurter (a fast processor) write the structures that I write on the wall. These are abstract words or ones that require complex drawing. After, the student gives me the structures on which I write my story for their reading. If you teach multiple levels, you can adapt as you go along eliminating some details because there may be too many new structures which can get out of hand. There is more opportunities to get lost.

        Then we do the reading slowly. This is where I also do what I call embedded PQA while we read. This means that I just respond individually to students reactions or when I see opportunities in the text to relate students to the actions, descriptions or events in the story. I have been doing this more and more and it gives me an opportunity to bring in some more shy students and I celebrate them for it. I do not do choral translations as much nor do I circle as much. I move on into a special chair interview or play a game of Simon says.

        1. Thank you, Steve, for your answers! I plan on doing my first Story Listening in a couple of classes. I am eager to try it. I feel that this will be more relaxing for both me and my students. I’m hoping that they enjoy it. I will do a reading afterwards but I don’t think I’ll spend as much time on it as I typically do the NT stories…we’ll see.
          Thanks again!

          1. That’s for reading my comment. My limited experience is that SL is very efficient at providing CI. Also, it very effective at differentiation because it provides noise and new words plus recycling former vocab all at once.

          2. I am going to be doing my first story listening in a couple classes and I was wondering if I should have the kids draw during this. I think I remember watching Mike Peto having his kids drawing out parts of the story while they were listening. Does anyone do this or recommend doing this? Or should I just have them listen?

            Thanks!

          3. I have them listen. And retell in English afterward. Sometimes I retell in l2 while they write their retell. I sometimes erase the board too. So I can be sure they understood and aren’t just copying from the pictures.

          4. Ok, thanks! That makes sense. I was leaning more to just having them listen. That’s what I’ll do. So, when you say “they write their retell”, how much of the story are they actually writing?

          5. I have them retell in l1 as a break from the story to create suspense and to clarify anything they may have missed. I do not erase the board because I want them to get the message. If I have them write a summary, I erase the board. For management, I have a noisey fast processor write the structures in l2. This helps for typing up the reading.

            Keri, they retell in writing as much as they can. You can then look at who is with you and who isnt. Who is getting the main events and who is completely lost and un motivated. I ask students to show me with their fingers how interesting the story was.

          6. Thank you, Steve. I appreciate the explanation. This is very similar to what I do with our other stories. We will be doing our first story listening soon. I’m eager to see how they like it (and how I like it).

    1. These kids came from two years of traditional Spanish classes and will most likely end up back there after this school year. It’s a shame to see all their progress and then have them lose it later. This particular class has really come a long way since the beginning of the year. It’s a fun class. They’re outgoing and like to talk. Today, in this class, we spent the first 65 minutes of class on our opening conversation! We only had 20 left of class to start looking at their story but that’s ok. This is a class that was not so content with just listening to the NT story the first time around. They like to be more involved in creating the story but it worked-at least this time.

  4. Keri describe what your workload feels like to get something like that going with all that CI. How does the planning feel and how does the teaching feel in terms of energy outlay? How did the targeting work feel vs. the non-targeting work that you are doing now feel in terms of energy expenditure? How about the “mental stress of teaching” part? (Only teachers can understand what that term means….)

    1. Well, to be honest, I over planned for all my NT stories! I think I need help with that. I’m sure this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, Ben, but I spent way too much time on writing out scripts for each of my classes and I never used any of them. If I am brave enough, maybe I won’t plan out the next story…we’ll see. The classes after creating the story are easier to plan because it’s just coming up with activities to practice the CONTENT of each story we do-not the GRAMMAR. The kids spend the following 2-5 classes reviewing the oral/written story they created by playing games and doing a bunch of different activities.

      Since I do have 84 minutes in each class, I do end up creating class warm ups such as a PowerPoint, for example, in which the students see 7-8 actions from the story in the target language and they have to put them in order similar written practices.

      As far as how the teaching feels…it’s great! I just have a natural conversation with the kids about a story just like I would with my own kids at home. In fact, I had a formal observation and my assistant principal said “You do exactly in class what I do with my own kids. You just talk to them”. He was very impressed. I feel like I don’t have to work as hard to keep their interest in what we are doing because they are already interested in the content.

      As far as energy expenditure for planning… I feel that it’s easier to plan in one sense because I do have all the ROA and other activities to choose from and I just need to tailor them to the current story. However, the fact that I have five different stories does make it more time consuming. Again, hopefully one day I won’t need to plan so much but I’m not there just yet.

      1. Keri, when I first started my teaching career my son was born the first month of the school year. I needed to be there. So the less planning I had the better. I told myself, I can think on my feet. If I fall, I will get back up. And I did. Yet, no one noticed except for myself that I made mistakes. This is a whole new skill set for sure but it is so liberating once you feel grounded. I even did this for an observation. It was an NT story about a slice of pizza with Snowflake Syndrome who was looking for his lost cousin in a haunted house. Homerun! We had ended early and I was thinking “Ah crap. This never happens.” So I had them retell in partners. Then I told I referred back to my objective and asked the students if we succeeded. Finally, I had them fill out their self-evaluations with 2-3 minutes to spare. Afterwards the principal was now asking me questions about the various jobs. He now wants my colleagues to follow what I am doing in the class.

  5. …If I am brave enough, maybe I won’t plan out the next story….

    The worst that could happen is you say, “Well, this isn’t working!” and give a dictee on everything up to that point. Or they read. Or you give a quiz. Or you start out another story w another better character. You can always blame them for not coming up with a fantastic character with great colors and a great back story that they all love before even starting the story. I mean, if they give you a “meh” quality character, whose fault is it that the story doesn’t fly? I think that you are going to stop planning so much in the next few years. Tina is equally big on no planning. We don’t need to if we align with the research. Planning is a thing teachers made up to make it feel like they are teachers, and planning is necessary in all subjects, I suppose, except ours. Planning too much messes up the quality of what we are doing with the kids because who wants to hang out in the classroom with a know-it-all? Where’s the mystery? Where’s the spontaneity. Oh. I forgot. None of that hippy stuff in schools! Ad hoc loc, and quid pro quo! So little time, so much to know!

    Related: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi2TIV3rYzc

    1. I’m going through the gradual release of responsibility in planning myself. I’m experiencing a nice feeling of letting go. It has come, however, with careful study of what to do with stories to keep the momentum going.

      Today we extended a story from a previous class about a ballet shoe (the creator loves to dance) who struggled with her friend, a foot, because the foot wanted to dance modern dance. I really didn’t want to start a new character and was feeling kinda lazy about that so I though we’d extend the story of this ballet shoe, especially since we had a good time with it the last time. Going into the class period I didn’t know how we would extend the story. I just felt like winging it. Or rather, I felt tired of trying to come up with scenarios on my own. Perhaps it’s a reflection of me getting older but I’m getting tired of fussing about lesson planning outside of school (Sundays spent with the wife and kid without the weight of a lesson plan dragging me down and making me grumpy) It’s a liberating feeling having that mental stress of teaching flitter away.

      So, even though we could have said, “Done and done,” I decided to continue with it. Mostly because we only spent like 30 minutes on the story previously and it seemed that students could easily get caught up in the story again. So, in the moment I decided that the ballet slipper and foot still had a problem, that the slipper wanted to dance ballet and the foot wanted to dance modern dance. I asked the class, “Where do they go.” The creator of the character said, “Chicago.” We went on to describe how and ended up creating a whole scene in the airplane with the mean captain who wouldn’t let them dance on the plane.

      Who woulda thunk?

      Having some positive experience extending the conflict in the story is helping me let go even more with planning.

      And like you guys (Krashen & Mason via Ben & Tina) have been saying, extending the conflict successfully depends mostly on what I, as the teacher, have genuine interest in wanting to know is going to happen. Or, if I loose interest, then ask the students for details until something interesting comes along.

      Anyways, I’m going to watch your videos right now. Thanks Keri!

  6. Thank a million for sharing your video, Keri. I learned a lot! Perhaps I’ll get my butt in gear and start videotaping too.

    I loved, and so did everyone else in the video, how that one students came up with “en el burrito, en la basura, en el baño.” Slam dunk!

    I’m learning from you how to have student actors repeat what you say. Just hearing their tone of voice and pronunciation is compelling, right!?

    The basurero was a great addition. And it was great timing to add a new character. Lots of suspense going on with the addition of that new character. If I’m right, that was a suggestion from a student you didn’t plan, right?

    Your use of the word “después” to keep the story line going. Also how you had the class describe what the basurero saw when he entered. Makes me think about how we can pause on what new characters introduced in a story see in addition to what they feel, or what they hear.

    Then, the idea of picking up a used burrito from the trash is, I think we have to admit, compelling! But especially with how this story played out. Imagining the sensation of picking up a used burrito from the trash. Gross!

    I guess like what I was saying with having new characters describe what the see, hear and feel, pausing on sensations that come up in stories, whether gross, or painful, or joyful, or relaxing, and fleshing those sensations out a bit add to the compellingness of it all.

    Ben & Tina, is your new book, by chance, titled “Compelling Yet Easy TCI”

    Good show, Keri!

    1. It’s called A Natural Approach to Stories – the Invisibles. Teacher’s Discovery was happier with that title sans the TPRS term. And by the way when they publish it I will send it to anyone who owns the original TPRS – The Easy Way copy, of course at no charge.

        1. Thank you Nathaniel. Your professional courtesy and expression of support is not something Tina and I have seen much of lately. If you know what I mean. It shows that there are still gentle people in the profession. I cannot express my appreciation enough to you.

          1. I agree. We thought that these new ideas that brought us so much happiness and evoked such enthusiasm in us would be greeted with cheers or at least curiosity and professional respect. However, perhaps we underestimated at first the depth of this change. Unfortunately, we quickly found that it has been very difficult to others to hear the excitement for a new approach without also hearing the criticisms of our old practices, which are likely being used by 95% of storytelling teachers, as some kind of harsh personal attack. It is nice to be involved in a discussion of ideas with someone who is willing to listen and think about the ideas, not the offense that could be taken by seeing colleagues grow and change.

    2. Thanks, Sean. I’m glad you liked it.
      When I first started with TPRS, I rarely exposed kids to 1st and 2nd person forms. It wasn’t until the last year that I started forcing myself to use dialog. Not only does it help with different forms, but it is more entertaining I think.

      Right, I didn’t plan the new character. The students came up with the answer. I was relieved when it worked!

  7. … I was relieved when it worked!…

    However, if it doesn’t work, we throw it out and start again. The class begins to see that they are trying to impress you and not the other way around. They work harder, draw better images. It becomes more of a back and forth with them. You are no longer the one responsible for all the fun. They come out of their shells when you hold them responsible for better images.

    I prefer individually created characters for that reason. When the class creates a character via a OWI it reflects those five to seven kids who dominate the class. We go deeper with the Invisibles when they are individually created.

    1. OWI are just the opening of the door. I agree that the best way is to have the kids draw their own. I have been incredibly touched by some of the depth that my students have brought to their drawings. We got a note this weekend from Mike Peto who was giving a presentation at CCFLT in which Bryce Hedstrom said something to the effect of, “Your class [with the Invisibles] is like a masquerade ball. Your students wear these characters like a mask and express their deep fears and feelings more freely through these characters.”
      I found the same thing in my classroom too. It is like the emotional timbre of the stories has expanded from just pretty much silly/funny all the time to a much wider spectrum: touching/fun/sad/bittersweet/deep/funny/surreal/hyper-real/therapeutic/maddening/hilarious/always kid-centered. ALWAYS.

  8. I can’t wait to start with Invisibles! I hope I see that in my classroom. My kids are asking me when they can draw their own.

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