The First Few Days of Class 1

[Note, this post is about starting out with new kids, but note that it also morphed into a very productive discussion about PQA, started by Chris, way down below in some of the comments.]

This short series of blog posts is for teachers who may have brand new kids for the second semester. The focus of the first days of class with new kids is on getting to know the kids and making sure that they all understand the classroom rules (found on the posters page of this site).

No intent is made here to present this as the only way to start a comprehension based class out from the first day. This information addresses teachers who are new to the method only, but parts of it could be incorporated by experienced CI teachers if they have new kids now in January. The information given here is found in my other books , but there is some new detail added here.

As I have pointed out on my TPRS training site many times, addressing personalization and classroom discipline in the first few days of the year is vastly more important than actually trying to teach the target language. Doing that would be like launching a rowboat without oars. In comprehension based methods, the students ARE the curriculum, with the language being merely the vehicle for discussing it. So, if you don’t

– know who your students are, and
– make the classroom rules crystal clear and enforce them from the first day,

then no real learning can take place anyway. 

So, if you’re new to this, on Day 1 back with new kids, make certain that you get to know the kids, and let the kids get to know each other.

Suggested activity:

Make a big circle. Have the kids say their names and share one thing that they like to do. Do all this in English. The kids can either tell the truth or they can lie. Don’t let them lie about their names, however, obviously, because you don’t know their regular names yet, which is very important. A discussion about finding names for kids, making sure that this is done organically, can be found on the resource/workshop handout page of this site. 

Note that English should be used in this first day activity, with short periods of very slow discussion in L2 interspersed into the English. This is just for this first day activity, by the way. You will move quickly to full on L2, or 90% at least, once this activity is completed.

Encouraging them to lie about their activities, not their names, is important. Some will lie and tell you that they dance the hokey pokey. This represents a big victory for you on the first day of class – you are successfully teaching them to make silly stuff up for the good of the class. This suggests to the kids that they really will be the curriculum for the class. Doing that and making sure that they know the rules sets a tone of lightheartedness that is absolutely necessary if the fluency portion of your language program is to work.

As you go around the circle, learning names, hanging out with the kids in a relaxed way, it is very important to occasionally change into the target language and circle some of the information you have learned up to that point in the circle (“Vanessa eats sharks, class!”) going one hundred times slower than you think is enough – they have never heard the language before. Go to the board and write it down and translate it (Point and Pause) and do some very limited circling with each sentence. As stated above, there is a lot of English and a little bit of L2 happening right now.

Do not fail to explain the classroom rules over and over during this time, at every infraction. Yes, this is always done in English. Remember to stay primarily in English on this first day of class overall as you will never get another chance to hammer the rules like you will on this first day and during the first week. After that it will be too late.

Hammering the rules over and over in English at each infraction (and there will be many in these first days, as most level 1 classes are made up of 9th graders who are not known for their ability to listen to adults) is even more important than getting to know the kids on the first day. This entire lesson plan is secretly totally focused on the rules. Nothing is more important in a high school classroom than strict adherence to the rules. The only person who can make the rules happen is the teacher.

Make sure to explain both the finger rules and the classroom rules. Casually mention during class that, in exchange for their “showing up” in class and following the rules, in this class there will be

– no homework
– no big tests
– frequent easy little quizzes on stuff we do in class
– no notebooks
– no books

and that the goal of the class is to have fun. Tell the kids that, given the nature of the class, their being present and active (I use the term “showing up”) is the only way that they can expect to earn a passing grade, due to the constant short five minute daily quizzes given at the end of class.

Most teachers know some variation of this first day activity as a great way to start any class out in any academic discipline. One kid starts with “I’m Andrew and I ride a Harley” (in English) and the kid just to Andrew’s left has to say who Andrew is and what he does and then present herself in the same way as Andrew did, with the kids to Andrew’s right in the circle quickly hating it when they realize that later on in class they will have to describe thirty of their fellow students in this way.

The Big Circle activity:

1. changes the focus from you to them and gets them looking at each other instead of you the entire period, so that they can get that out “checking out the other kids” thing out of the way. This greatly reduces the stress of teaching on the first day, which, without this student centered kind of activity to start things out, can be debilitating, especially to new teachers. The kids are of an age to not be able to even hear what the teacher is saying because their social concerns override what the teacher is saying anyway.

2. gets the need to call roll taken care of.

3. personalizes your classroom from the first day by giving them their first identity of the year in your class.

4. teaches them that they have no books, notebooks, little or no homework and that they can succeed (because their teacher is going to walk the walk on the research for real and not do outdated shit from the past century on them).

6. teaches them that lying and furnishing cute answers in this class is important.

7. teaches them that a tone of lightheartedness will be the norm for the class and that having fun is very much the goal of the class.

8. teaches them the classrooms rules.

9. brings immediate classroom discipline. Since the kids are standing in a big circle, friends will stand together and start talking in those little side conversations that drive teachers nuts. Then, when those same kids are sitting at polar opposite sides of the room the very next day, they, your potential trouble makers, get it real clear that they aren’t going to be allowed to talk to each other in class. I think that was Nathan’s idea – to let them sit together right away as a way to find out who the kids who like to pair up and chat are. Make no mistake about it if you are a new teacher – those kids are not talking casually. They are doing that to see if you will let them do it. (You simply can’t let them do that in a comprehension based class and the only time you can teach them that is now.) So, cleverly, you let them do it that first day, but only to out them so that, on the second day, when you stick them so far apart it hurts, the rest of the class sees that you mean it about rule #2 that one person speaks and the others listen. If messages about discipline are not delivered in the first week, they never will be.

10. gives you a chance to give the first job out to “Kid Who Calls Roll in Class” (I look up GPAs before class and pick a high GPA kid for this job), which frees you to walk around and encourage kids to speak up and all those little things that you need to do for the real shy ones to feel comfortable, to be given special supportive attention by you so that they know that they are important to you, while the whole thing is going on.

11. allows you to explain your grading policy.

12. brings the immediate good will of the kids into the classroom as they realize how different your class is going to be from their other classes, in which they are quickly, within weeks, filed into a weird, inaccurate academic hierarchy of haves and haves nots. In this class, they are often shocked into knowing that they all count, not just the smart ones. This is accomplished when they realize that the class is going to be all about them and not about some fictional kids in Lyon named Pierre and Marie who are sitting having breakfast using words that, in the last century, messed American kids’ grades up on tests that made them dislike the language they were supposed to be enjoying learning. (How can your students be expected to like Pierre and Marie when they don’t even exist and when the croissants and forms of coffee and all that junk on the table on the page in the book have the potential to mess up their grades?). 

The Big Circle version of activities for the first day of class, done almost entirely in English, is a good way to start your program of comprehensible input out on a positive footing.

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60 thoughts on “The First Few Days of Class 1”

  1. Love this reminder, Ben! I’d probably better save it to read it again in early August, as well as paying attention as kids shift around in my current classes.

    I’m going to have a new challenge. I visited our Alaskan Native program classes and and told them that if they learned Russian with me, they would be able to help teach their own languages, so I now have a group of about five kids entering my second-semester Russian 1/2 class tomorrow. I believe I will do your circle activity above, using just the phrases “My name is” and “I love” to get those new kids into the group. Other ideas include giving each of them an “interpreter” for support in the first few weeks, and doing games with reading and the alphabet.

    I’m also going to be openly not only sharing the rules, but the techniques, and offering to coach interested kids in teaching for about five minutes (one a day). I think that will help my coaching skills, and will also help the kids who want to teach their languages learn to do it faster. I know that I learn a lot about TPRS when I watch someone less skilled (than Ben, for example). When I watch Ben, I start learning French. When I watch someone with less experience, I work at figuring out how to improve it. So I’m hoping that if the kids watch others teach, for one thing they might appreciate me. But for another, they’ll be able to see how to be better at this.

    Sorry…that got off topic! But this is a brand-new experiment, and probably the most important thing for me to remember is what Ben is talking about in this post. I can’t afford to let discipline issues interrupt learning.

  2. Ben–
    Where exactly is the Posters Page? I looked in the categories and tried a search, but I couldn’t locate it. Thanks for the re-cap of the basics.

    1. Trisha,

      Go to benslavic.com (home page, not the blog). If you put the cursor on “resources” which is on the gray bar near the top of the page, you will be able to click on “posters.”

    2. Thanks John, and also Trisha, if you haven’t read them, on the resources page also there is a useful link called Workshop Handouts. There you can find useful reviews of Circling with Balls and One Word Images, as well as a discussion about how names emerge organically, and also a cool game that the kids love called the Word Chunk Team activity. All are good ways to get things going in the way of personalization, setting rules, starting things out, etc.

  3. Thank you so much for this reminder of discipline and keeping the lighthearted feeling going in the classroom. I have been breaking my OWN rules in class: I let others speak when I do, I break out of TL too frequently, I go too fast and most of all; I have not been making it about them. I am dreading going back to school tomorrow because I have to clean-up the mess I’ve made for myself. I hope it’s not too late to turn this around!

    1. I’m so glad I get a new group on the 18th. I’ve done awful this 9 weeks with discipline. I too let them speak when I do, spoke WAY TOO MUCH English, etc. I just gotta get through this next week then I get to start over.

      I love the plan Ben outlined above. I have a question. This next grading period, when I get a new group of students, begins on Wednesday, January 18. I’m thinking about doing the plan outlined above on Wednesday. What I’ve done before is started with Circling with Cards as outlined in PQA in a Wink. My dilemma is….my first week with my students begins on a Wednesday. Would it be a bad idea to start with a whole lot of Spanish when the first week is only 3 days? What should I do on Thursday and Friday? (I have 47 minute periods, 7th graders) I fully plan on enforcing my rules this time around (I told myself that 9 weeks ago too) by actually calling parents early and often. I remind students of the rules when they break them but they quickly learned that there weren’t many consequences so I started getting walked on.

      1. My idea with that Big Circle was to have that as an introduction to the Circling with Balls. On the surface, on the first day or two days, you are just learning their names and, with a few kids, saying something like “Class, John plays soccer!” in L2 and circling that, but really you are establishing rules. Try it and if it fails to get to all the kids, even after five minutes of the first day, bail and go directly to the cards. There, in that Circling with Balls/Cards whatever one wants to call it, is your platform for teaching the rules. And yes, failure to make the phone call on every kid who tries to draw attention to herself in that way that only 7th graders can do will be your undoing – make the phone call! Then, each night, report back in here and we can follow your progress day by day here. If you do the cards and enforce the rules and make the phone calls and refrain from using English yourself (Hello!), then you should be able to say that you have largely fixed the errors you described above from earlier this year which, by the way, EVERYONE does and why most people at that point punt and go back to the book. It’s really all about the rules in the first week. Can’t wait to hear how each one of those days from the 18th to the 20th goes. You will find that you need not worry about planning ahead. Each day will drive the instructional decisions you make for the next day. We will help.

        1. So would you say do the big circle on Wednesday and go into Circling with Balls/Cards on Thursday and Friday while strictly enforcing rules?

          And by “enforcing rules” does that primarily consist of calling parents and documenting those phone calls? What about the parents that don’t do anything about it, is that when we bring the administration in?

          And…(one more thing)….on the first day do we have the students fill out a questionnaire as well as a card with their name and one activity they like to do, or is the card and questionnaire the same thing?

          1. Just commenting here to put it in the “Recent Comments” to get some suggestions and answers to my questions above. Just a few days til I get my new group of students!

          2. Here’s what I would do:
            You should allow at least two classes for the name game/circle, especially for larger classes. You don’t want to be rushed, but take as much time as you need to get to know the class, and have them get to know each other. Also, you are learning a lot about them during this time, which will help you later on, e.g. who the troublemakers are and who they like to sit next to.

            Enforcing the rules: mostly it’s stopping class and pointing to the rules or raising a finger if you do the 5 finger rules. During the circle game you are mostly observing what they do and then you can act on that info after a few days when you begin the PQA/Circling. Then if a kid is being a problem, you call parents right away.

            There is also the need to be very explicit about the rules, in English. I remember Ben said he actually demonstrated the different kinds of behavior for his students. Many of them, especially younger ones, need to have it spelled out for them. This will help you later, because many kids are not trying to defy you, they just aren’t clear on the expectations. And if you are this clear with them in the beginning, you will then know exactly who is intending to defy you once they start acting out.

            Filling out cards: I would probably have them do this on day two or three immediately when they come in.

            I hope this helps, and best of luck. It is nice to be able to begin with a fresh batch in the middle of the year.

          3. I agree with John here. However, if you want, go ahead and bail on the Big Circle instead of forcing it to go for two days. It may get boring, so you can get to know the kids in other ways later.

            As John implies, parents need to be contacted only after you do the hard work of lovingly explaining all the behavior infractions there in the first few days. That is the work, your entire focus, for the first few days. I cannot imagine a teacher trying to teach the language in the first few days and ignoring all of those little snot moved by kids whose sole intent is to draw attention to themselves in the first few classes. That creates immense problems for the teacher.

            The kids who test the teacher in those first few days, without being confronted, use the good will that all teachers exhibit in the first few days. They take advantage of it. And if they are allowed to do that, then, when the teacher has to confront the kid on their behavior later (because they didn’t stop it in the beginning), the mood of the class for the rest of the year is in jeapordy. Why would a teacher allow this? Why would the teacher allow the honeymoon period to ever end. It can go on forever, but first you have to stop the jerks from pissing on your fire hydrant.

            Remember, the Big Circle and the Circling with Balls cards are set up to accomplish three things in this order on the first day:

            1. Set the Finger Rules and the Classroom Rules, not by ‘splaining them but by enforcing them at each infraction during the entire first week. This is by far the most important thing on that first day. You absolutely must address each little line that the kids are so expert at crossing by:

            a. putting up your index finger for a backpack on a desk, for example, or l
            b. laser pointing to the Classsroom Rules each time a kid breaks one of those most important posted rules.

            2. personalizing the classroom, teaching the kids that THEY will be the subject of this class.

            3. maybe teaching some language, as a distant third goal.

            If you do (1) and (2) now, you can do so much more of (3) in a week or two, and on for the rest of the year.

            And on your last question, Chris, the cards and the questionnaire are two different things. I made up the cards activity and Anne Matava did the questionnaire. I have used the cards for 7 or 8 years now, and about that time Anne came up with the questionnaires. I used them both for a few years and found myself too busy to do both – combining the cards with the cards alone would take me one year at least. Anne still uses the questionnaires. Sorry it’s not clear in PQA in a Wink! but things change.

            This also points out that different teachers will resonate with different activities. The problem with this kind of teaching is one of limiting too many great ideas. This differs markedly with the old way. You know that feeling when you have 20 minutes left in class and you don’t know what to do? That doesn’t happen when you use comprehension based methods.

          4. Thanks Ben for clarifying my response. One thing I found very successful at the beginning of this year, was to combine the card and questionnaire ideas into one sheet of letter-sized paper. At the top in the center, there is a box for their name, about the size of those “hello my name is…” stickers. If I am setting the seating chart, I will write the students’ names in the box, and the rest of the sheet is blank. Then, I ask students to draw whatever they like or enjoy doing, real or fictional. This is incredibly simple, but it taught me so much about my students, and gave me tons of material for discussions. I wish I had spent more time on them at the beginning of the year.

          5. Recycle them. Spend some time now as you re-start the year. Or use them again during the achievement testing cycle when they are bone dry from the testing process.

          6. My idea was to put the questionnaire on the back of the balls card. It just fits, even as it is formatted on the posters page of this site.

            The problem was that there was so much information that it would naturally go into extended PQA for weeks and months.

            That is fine, and that is a way to do CI, but since Anne’s scripts are so effective I ended up just dropping the questionnaires.

            Also, I sensed that the questionnaires based discussion naturally excluded the quieter kids, and half the kids kind of took over and we talked about them all the time.

            But, yeah, it’s a great way to go with CI, no doubt. I just had other cups of tea to prepare and explore the taste of.

          7. Thanks Ben and John for the help. I will do my best to remember to report back on how things are going. Might even be a good couple of days to do a video? We don’t have any “first days of school” videos and I’d imagine that would probably be pretty helpful to everybody (especially me) to be able to dissect and criticize.

            I know what you mean about 20 minutes left in class. Last year I was more of a clock watcher than the students, constantly looking at the clock thinking “Shit, that activity was supposed to last longer than just the first 5 minutes of class. I’m going to have 20 minutes leftover with nothing planned!” I run out of time now!

  4. Good to hear from you Libby. You can do this. I know you can. Just slow down and let it work for you. There isn’t one of us that doesn’t break every rule ever created every day. Fight on.

  5. Wow! As I was reading other’s struggle with English use I had this amazing idea float up. Because this is my struggle too!
    My kids don’t really try to push me around. We have established that we are a community and I am the aplha dog. I don’t have a lot choose to take language (this next 9 weeks I have 12).
    Because we are a community of learners and they know that I am also learning the language I am teaching, they can help me stay out of English if I give them permission to help me. So: all that said–the idea is that I give them cards that say: “Heyvn Mvskoke ponihoyetos.” –Here we speak Mvskoke. The idea is for me not to collect all 24 cards. Each student gets two to use to help me remember. And as we see when I am using English we can strategize what words do I need to help me stay in Mvskoke. that is my learning goal each day until I am down to only 5 cards a session.
    I can do this! I have established trust with these students! And when they see I am okay with making mistakes and using their feedback to improve, they will be okay with me providing them feedback and they will take more risks. If I have to say something in English I can have a “Wagina” card I can pull out so we know this is something very important that I don’t have the words for otherwise. Rule Break and safety supercede Mvskoke.
    I know it’s crazy, but I need help not slipping into English with simple things like transisitonary thinking phrases–so, well, uhmmm, and with praise–great, way to go, yes and instruction giving. It just sets me up everytime to drift off target. If the kids help me, we are helping each other.
    I can do this. Thanks for sharing everyone. It really helps make a difference in our classrooms.

  6. So far so good. I’m on my lunch period right now, with one more class to go. My last class is always my biggest one and this one is 31 kids and it’s always my “bad” class so we’ll see what happens. So far, today’s been great. I decided to go right into circling with cards instead of the big circle. I don’t know if I would have been able to pull off the big circle. Two of my classes have really gotten the idea of “playing the game”, I told them that it is okay to lie in Spanish class. So far, we’ve established in one class that Mitch plays basketball in the bathroom with Dr. Phil. Another class, Jordan plays basketball in the pink basement with Jack.

    Maybe too many details for the first day, but hit a road block, not knowing how else to circle and drag out the “so-and-so plays sport” the entire period. I probably went a little too fast but when I saw when students were getting confused I slowed down and it helped.

    I’ve noticed my problem is circling. I start off with:
    Mitch plays basketball. Then I ask a yes question, ask a no question, ask a who question. Then I ask those question again changing “basketball” to a different sport. Then I basically hit a road block, not knowing what to say or ask next so I jump to where and if I run into a roadblock again, I ask “with who”. Probably way too much. When I run out of questions to ask should I go to another student or is it okay to ask “where”, etc.? I figured if anything I’m teaching them how to play the game.

    1. Dear Chris,
      I am totally with you on this. Having the exact same struggle with circling. Exactly. Not even kidding. So I want to thank you for sharing all the specifics, which are really helping me to re-focus.
      Animo, hermano 🙂

  7. Circling with Balls/Cards definitely has a shelf life when you don’t have the experience necessary to spin spin spin until you’ve created some kind of personalized novel with the kids.

    I would therefore stop the cards as soon as you get the basics on each kid plus whatever other little embellishments like playing basketball in the bathroom with Dr. Phil present themselves in a non-forced and natural way.

    In other words, don’t push it. You are doing wonderful work with the circling and now you want to find that sweet spot between not enough and too much information.

    Remember that this activity is only to set up rules and personalize, although some teacher with more eperience like Skip roll the cards deep into the year. You can do the One Word Images and the Word Chunk Game as well.

    Just don’t forget that there are bigger and better CI things waiting down the road when the kids and you have gotten to know each other and when they are clear about what is expected of them.

    Stories beckon!

    1. My 7th period class (the one that is always trouble) had a couple of talkers today. I closed in on proximity and laser pointed to the rules “one person speaks and the others listen” and “no English”. That got them quiet. I’m guessing I’ll probably have to call some parents tomorrow though. What I think I’ll do is tell the kid to see me after class and during our little “conference” I’ll tell them about the rule they broke, why it is important to follow the rules and let them know I’ll be calling a parent. Any suggestions on explaining the importance of rules? And does this plan sound good? I’ll report back tomorrow too

      1. P.S. I haven’t had the “No English” rule up until this quarter with this new group. One of the biggest reasons for my classroom management downfall last quarter was I have a tendency to speak a lot of English and get off topic. No wonder the students always talked and wanted to change topic.

        That’s changing, new rules for me to follow as well as the students.

        1. I don’t have a no English rule. It would too too hard for them to get it. It is impossible to enforce and there is nothing worse than an unenforcable rule.

          With that kid, I would, in a light hearted way, after making eye contact and then laser pointing to the rule, just let the class know what happened. I single people out. I don’t care. I just don’t do it in a mean way. Rather, I act incredulous that the kid broke that rule. It seems to work.

          1. Thanks for the advice, it’s always appreciated.

            Technically, the rule is worded “No English unless suggesting answers for stories”. Is that still impossible to enforce? Do you think I should change it?

      2. Chris I just thought of something that may be of real value to you as you “work the crowd” with the cards. As you keep circling new information with an internal attitude of patience and acceptance for what comes up in each moment of discussion, even if it dry and boring and your life sucks in those moments, keep an internal eagle eye out for those propitious little moments when you can do the following things with a kid who gets the game:

        1. exaggerate the fact you have in front of the class. Manny, who is a kind student and gets what you are doing and is ready to play. drinks 15 Pepsis, not the 1 per day that he told you first. The way you do that is you just say, “Class, a secret! Manny drinks 15 Pepsis a day!” (ohhhh!) Then stay with that and see if it goes anywhere.

        2. compare (“Class, Manny drinks 15 Pepsis per day but Eric drinks 300 per day!” (ohhhh!) and see if that goes anywhere – naturally.

        This process of exaggeration and comparing in a natural and flowing way has a process to it: the thing in your mind that you have to do is you have to keep focusing on the kid – the kids really are the curriculum, not the language (we can never “get” that enough as CI teachers!).

        That’s it, keep the focus on Manny. Your inner will as a teacher should be to keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny! Be playful! Think to yourself how outrageous some of the stuff that you keep repeating and circling really is about Manny.

        I remember how in a Maine workshop once we got skip – whose heart is kindness itself – snoring away next to a tent in the Maine woods (well, sleeping anyway, but there was a point in my mind – never reached in class – where I was trying to get there because my internal circling eye saw him loudly sawing logs outside that tent and it’s a great verb in French anyway, fun to say and fun to pull into taffy sounding CI goodness.

        In the extended PQA that we were building as a class together, there skip was, sleeping next to, not in, a tent. The idea, the image, was just so funny that now three years after that workshop I still remember it with fondness. The scene connects us. He, the sparkler in the scene, the member of the class who was “willing to go there”, together with those other kick ass Maine teachers, had built during that workshop morning something real – general human connectedness – from some innocuous verb that I can’t remember now, and all I had to do was just ask, focusing on Skip, using comparing and exaggerating to embellish every fact, celebrating the scene, literally a part of a group of people happily painting a big mural together.

        It’s an art form, this, one that needs to be free of clutter, paper especially. When people ask me about my work with CI, I like to say, “I’m going paperless!” I don’t mean that I’m using computers to teach languages, which is muy fucked up because, as Krashen says, “Robots can’t converse”; rather, I mean that, if I always have pieces of paper and books and shit around all over the place, pencils and lists and desks and all those things that collectively make up what really comprises the nightmare of school (schools are hellish, nightmarish places that have always scared the piss out of me since I was a little kid and someday God is going to let me heal from that and it will be because of our work together here), then my inner artist cannot possibly fly into the CI because paper can be very heavy and weigh us down, so instead just focus on Manny and make shit up sans paper, sans computers. Go beyond computers! Go beyond paper in your language class, Chris! Find the real! Become fully human! (this is a middle of the night rant here, by the way; I woke up just now at 2:30 with this explanation for you to make your Circling with Cards go better – rant just about over).

        So yeah, Chris, when you exaggerate and compare about Manny (the kid who gets the game), keep that internal eye ready to tune the class’ inner radio, which is that web of fun that connects everyone in the room, even the observor and even the kid in the back who got beat up by his dad last night, and tune up the frequency and slow your words down and tune up the volume and get that right CI channel which is the “let’s talk about the kid!” channel.

        Glorify the kid and generally stay with and make up shit about the kid. That’s what I am trying to say as a way to get through those unavoidable moments of learning how to do CI via Circling with Cards. Chris, your questions already reveal, in my opinion, your success. The work you are doing right now, the hard work of starting that many – most teachers – never will get beyond because they just are too weighed down by their own baggage as language learners and their fear that they aren’t good enough, all those reasons that cause at least 9 out of 10 people who start to quit within six months, that work is kick ass. Today when you go in to teach you are literally kicking the ass of all the fears you have ever had about yourself as a teacher. You are kicking the ass of all those moments of wondering weather you went into the right profession. You are overcoming all of that right now as you go to work every day and circling those cards! How wonderfully proud are Laurie and jen and Kate and David Young and Michele and all the others now reading this about your struggles with starting your new class off over there in Ohio. We are so proud of you because you are willing to stumble, fall, take the hit, and pick yourself up! No one who has done anything good in their careers has been able to do so without the stumbling you are now doing.

        So, getting back to Manny, besides exaggerating and comparing on Manny, glorify him. Compare him to movie stars and he is always better. Generally make shit up about him. The class you teach is about him, not about the language you use to talk about him. Love your work in this way.

        1. Thanks for the advice as well the pep talk, extremely appreciated. So far, so good today. Jake skateboards in a pineapple under the sea with Spongebob. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Nick plays baseball in a pink and brown elevator.

          The past two sets of kids I had I only circled and did the basics as far as what people did. It’s so much more fun to add a couple of details. The students are learning “to play the game” and this circling with cards is actually becoming fun.

          Here in about 12 minutes the bell is going to ring and I’ll have my last class of the day, the period that is always rowdy. I will enforce the rules and be prepared to call parents when necessary. Here goes nothing….

          1. First week—-done. I just got done calling the parents of two students. I find myself extremely nervous when calling parents, not knowing how they will react. But these two calls went well, one of them I left a voicemail, the other one I spoke to the mother and she said that she would talk to her daughter tonight. I basically used the little script that Ben gave us in a comment in the blog post “Most Difficult List”. Throwing in the whole “the standards require me to speak the target language 90% of the time” was a good call as it helps the parents understand the importance of the rules and helps us out a lot by showing that we’re not just a bunch of power hungry dictators that demand complete compliance from students, these rules are actually meant to help students succeed in class.

          2. Oh, and I must admit I’m having the most fun I’ve had so far this year by going a little further into the circling and asking for some details. Simply by asking things like “where” or “with who” I’m really training them on how to play the game. I have a student who plays basketball under his bed with El Cucuy. I have a girl who plays soccer in the library and our librarian yells at her. I have a boy who rides his pink dirtbike in Chuck Norris’s belly button. And I have a girl who swims in black Jello.

            I must admit though that I’m not circling enough. I circle the subject and object a couple of times, ask for a detail and circle that a couple of times then I’ve moved on to somebody else. I’m definitely not circling enough and I need to realize that while the repetition may be painful to me, THEY NEED IT. Easier said than done, I guess. I will work on that Monday.

            Another thing I’m struggling with is just figuring out this whole PQA thing. I read all of “PQA in a Wink” but I think I should read through all of it again. I’m having trouble differentiating between PQA and class stories, it almost seems as if a lot of the PQA I read about kind of turns into a story. It’s a tough thing to master. How the heck do you PQA all period Monday and then do a story on Tuesday? On Monday, that’s a lot of thinking off the top of your head trying to think “what the heck should I ask next?”

          3. I would need, to be happy, at least a ninety minute class to properly PQA the three structures. Then I would need another ninety minutes to do the story properly. Then another ninety for the reading class.

            Now, Chris, PQA is hanging with the kids and learning cool stuff about them. If, as you do that, you happen to compare John with Dakota and you decide to extend that further into a little scene, then you have what used to be called by Blaine a Passive PMS, but what I decided to call in my book Extended PQA, to be less confusing. You may have an actor stand up in an extended PQA scene, but it is not a story until you have an actor up and are actively working from a script as I describe in the sample stories given in TPRS in a Year!. That is the difference. Let me know if I made that clear enough and if it properly answered your question.

          4. You’ve made it clearer, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how to make it last for even just the 47 minutes that I have. Plus, the idea of PQA I’ve had in my head consists of asking generic, random questions using the structures…similar to the PQA questions found in “Cuentame Mas”. In your “Explore Empty Spaces” post, I have no clue how I would PQA the structures:

            steals
            takes out of
            escapes

            for an entire period. Here is exactly what I, with my limited ability, would do and hit a dead end.
            -“Do you steal?” -no
            -move on to another student “do you steal?” -no
            -ask a couple more, have no clue how else to PQA this structure and move on to the next one.
            -“Valentin, take out a pencil.” “did valentin take out a pencil?” -yes
            -“did valentine take out a pencil or ____? I would circle that a few times, ask about the color of the pencil and hit a dead end.
            -Then escape, I have no clue how I would PQA that. I’d ask a couple of generic, random questions and by the time it’s all said and done I would only have taken up about 15 minutes if I’m lucky and have no clue what to at that point. Plus by this point the students would be incredibly bored with my crappy questions.

          5. The key, Chris, lies in those two words that you used – generic and random. You have to focus on the kids and TELL THEM stuff that you know has already happened:

            “Class, Valentin stole!” (do that with a knowing, mysterious look on your face – the kids who like to play, usually not the four percenters). They say ohhh! when it is clear that Valentin stole Elmo. Teach them to do that, signal them like I do at

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H47hWgbAN6Q

            Now, ask:

            “Class, what did Valentin steal?’ Wait for the right answer. Then make up crazy shit about that via circling. Now the kids aren’t bored anymore because they, not you, are not talking about Valentin taking out a pencil in class, which really is boring, but rather that Valentin stole a dancer at a strip club and took out a pen to get her phone number but she escaped. This is not a story (no script was used) but is extended PQA.

            I tried to allude to the idea above in my other comment on this topic about Manny, reproduced below:

            As you keep circling new information with an internal attitude of patience and acceptance for what comes up in each moment of discussion, even if it dry and boring and your life sucks in those moments, keep an internal eagle eye out for those propitious little moments when you can do the following things with a kid who gets the game:

            1. exaggerate the fact you have in front of the class. Manny, who is a kind student and gets what you are doing and is ready to play. drinks 15 Pepsis, not the 1 per day that he told you first. The way you do that is you just say, “Class, a secret! Manny drinks 15 Pepsis a day!” (ohhhh!) Then stay with that and see if it goes anywhere.

            2. compare (“Class, Manny drinks 15 Pepsis per day but Eric drinks 300 per day!” (ohhhh!) and see if that goes anywhere – naturally.

            This process of exaggeration and comparing in a natural and flowing way has a process to it: the thing in your mind that you have to do is you have to keep focusing on the kid – the kids really are the curriculum, not the language (we can never “get” that enough as CI teachers!).

            That’s it, keep the focus on Manny. Your inner will as a teacher should be to keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny, keep the focus on Manny! Be playful! Think to yourself how outrageous some of the stuff that you keep repeating and circling really is about Manny.

            I remember how in a Maine workshop once we got skip – whose heart is kindness itself – snoring away next to a tent in the Maine woods (well, sleeping anyway, but there was a point in my mind – never reached in class – where I was trying to get there because my internal circling eye saw him loudly sawing logs outside that tent and it’s a great verb in French anyway, fun to say and fun to pull into taffy sounding CI goodness.

            In the extended PQA that we were building as a class together, there skip was, sleeping next to, not in, a tent. The idea, the image, was just so funny that now three years after that workshop I still remember it with fondness. The scene connects us. He, the sparkler in the scene, the member of the class who was “willing to go there”, together with those other kick ass Maine teachers, had built during that workshop morning something real – general human connectedness – from some innocuous verb that I can’t remember now, and all I had to do was just ask, focusing on Skip, using comparing and exaggerating to embellish every fact, celebrating the scene, literally a part of a group of people happily painting a big mural together.

            It’s an art form, this, one that needs to be free of clutter, paper especially. When people ask me about my work with CI, I like to say, “I’m going paperless!” I don’t mean that I’m using computers to teach languages, which is muy fucked up because, as Krashen says, “Robots can’t converse”; rather, I mean that, if I always have pieces of paper and books and shit around all over the place, pencils and lists and desks and all those things that collectively make up what really comprises the nightmare of school (schools are hellish, nightmarish places that have always scared the piss out of me since I was a little kid and someday God is going to let me heal from that and it will be because of our work together here), then my inner artist cannot possibly fly into the CI because paper can be very heavy and weigh us down, so instead just focus on Manny and make shit up sans paper, sans computers. Go beyond computers! Go beyond paper in your language class, Chris! Find the real! Become fully human! (this is a middle of the night rant here, by the way; I woke up just now at 2:30 with this explanation for you to make your Circling with Cards go better – rant just about over).

            So yeah, Chris, when you exaggerate and compare about Manny (the kid who gets the game), keep that internal eye ready to tune the class’ inner radio, which is that web of fun that connects everyone in the room, even the observor and even the kid in the back who got beat up by his dad last night, and tune up the frequency and slow your words down and tune up the volume and get that right CI channel which is the “let’s talk about the kid!” channel.

            Glorify the kid and generally stay with and make up shit about the kid. That’s what I am trying to say as a way to get through those unavoidable moments of learning how to do CI via Circling with Cards. Chris, your questions already reveal, in my opinion, your success. The work you are doing right now, the hard work of starting that many – most teachers – never will get beyond because they just are too weighed down by their own baggage as language learners and their fear that they aren’t good enough, all those reasons that cause at least 9 out of 10 people who start to quit within six months, that work is kick ass. Today when you go in to teach you are literally kicking the ass of all the fears you have ever had about yourself as a teacher. You are kicking the ass of all those moments of wondering weather you went into the right profession. You are overcoming all of that right now as you go to work every day and circling those cards! How wonderfully proud are Laurie and jen and Kate and David Young and Michele and all the others now reading this about your struggles with starting your new class off over there in Ohio. We are so proud of you because you are willing to stumble, fall, take the hit, and pick yourself up! No one who has done anything good in their careers has been able to do so without the stumbling you are now doing.

            So, getting back to Manny, besides exaggerating and comparing on Manny, glorify him. Compare him to movie stars and he is always better. Generally make shit up about him. The class you teach is about him, not about the language you use to talk about him. Love your work in this way.

          6. It actually makes a lot more sense now. I think I might get it. I’ve been forgetting that PQA can be made up, I’ve had this false idea in my head that by being called “personalized questioning and answering” that it had to somehow be true, boring. So PQA is kind of, sort of like a story but no script and…just like you’ve been saying, hanging out with the kids. I needed an example and you provided one. It definitely sounds much more interesting to, instead of asking “do you steal?”, to just say “so-and-so stole!” and then go from there. Thank you. I’m honestly kind of shocked that such a simple explanation and example has finally helped me see what PQA is about. I’m really looking forward to Monday now to try this out! This CI/TPRS stuff is seriously fun! I love my job.

          7. Chris we have a chance to get this PQA thing figured out. This discussion is close. Let’s look at it as if we weren’t teaching a language but just using English to make things up about the kids in the room. Maybe think of it that way. Put your mind on one kid, the one who best knows that you are fishing for stuff. Make one weird fact up and try to sell it to the class. Soon, more than just that kid will get in on the game. They will try to add stuff. You accept or reject. Like that.

          8. See what we do with PQA is we “turn” it on them. We start talking about them and we don’t ask a kid if they have stolen anything, if the target structure is “steals”, we just tell the class that Manny stole something and class what did Manny steal and after the first kid (who gets the game) responds “a forty ounce” and we say, “No, but thanks for playing” and the next kid says “Elmo” and we think oh that is good but not the right one and so we reject it and then a kid says “Mariah” and we react as if they had just won the game and we circle away on “Class, Manny stole Mariah” and then we SET OUR MINDS TO KEEPING THAT DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW MANNY STOLE MARIAH ON ONE OF THE THREE TARGET STRUCTURES for the rest of the class period. Remember, the goal of PQA is to personalize, yes, but mainly to get reps on targets to make the story effortless for them the next day.

            Thus, if the other target structures are “takes out” (like from a pocket) and “escapes from”, we start thinking a bit ahead and we ask ourselves “What is possible here?” and we start to extend the simple PQA fact that Manny stole something, which er made up, into a scene, into Extended PQA.

            And if the first thing that comes into our minds as we extend this one PQA fact about Manny is something about how Manny and Mariah escape from our school (we personalize locations, either local places that they know or that are nationally known – today two of my classes had them go to a strip club around the corner from our school, which I rejected – and how they go to the car wash next door and Manny takes out a key and opens a car door and steals a car and they drive away together but can’t escape the police. That is not a story, it is Extended PQA, because we worked that image without a script*.

            Now, that may not be what actually happens as you continue the PQA session, but at least the image above is there if things stay flat. But you let their answers guide the path of the unfolding images, and all you are really responsible for is to get reps on steals, takes out, and escapes from. You include one of those in every sentence, you keep asking questions, and things develop naturally. But you have to just relax in this process.

            Hope this helps even a little Chris. Once you get this, you will find it to be so much fun you won’t dread it anymore, but look forward to it, to what they will say, to laughing at some of the crazy stuff they come up with.

            *Then, when you finally do Step 2, the story from a real script, you really find out the joy of storytelling. I did today. They knew the three targets so well that the stories just flowed. They were the tightest stories I have ever done with the highest comprhehension I have ever seen. That is because the script is tight. Here is the tight script that Anne Matava wrote for us, part of the Beniko Mason study, just fyi (variables are underlined):

            Script #1

            steals
            takes out something
            escapes

            Debbie steals a BMW. The police catch her and bring her to jail. She takes out something sharp and escapes from jail.

            At school Debbie steals someone’s homework. The teacher catches her and brings her to the office. She takes out something heavy and escapes from the office.

            At home Debbie steals a cookie. Her mother catches her and brings her to her room. She takes out something explosive and escapes from her room.

            Note: the comment field won’t let me put in the underlined variables so I will post this story as a blog post.

          9. When you say you are having fun that says a lot. It tells me that you are on the right point on the learning curve. It doesn’t feel as if, with each class, you are learning. But rest assured that you are. This is a very physical/emotional way of teaching and not just a mental one, so you won’t be able to describe the changes you are going through. And it will, always does, feel clunky at first. Maybe that’s why 4%ers who went into the profession simply because they were really good at grammar in high school and college reject TPRS with such gnarly reactions. They are being forced way too far out of their comfort zones. You, on the other hand, are finding your comfort zone in whole body teaching, if I may be allowed to use that term.You, therefore, are a real teacher, not just a 4%er, whose future in 21st language education is not unlike that of big oil in business – doomed.

          10. Thank you for the kind words, it’s very encouraging. I really have had a lot of fun this week. I made two negative phone calls to parents and then I made a couple of positive phone calls….very deliberate positive phone calls. I have a couple of students this grading period that I have heard a lot of bad things about from teachers and other students and I’ve been dreading having them in my class. These are students whose parents are very used to negative phone calls home from school. But so far, they’ve been pretty fun in my class and they’ve been good….because I deliberately targeted them to start off the circling with cards. I’ve spent this week talking about them, they haven’t had a chance to act out. Now, since they’ve been good these first 3 days, I called their parents to let them know how awesome they’ve been in my class and I’m looking forward to spending these next 9 weeks with them. The parents, shocked, thank me and say how much they appreciate a nice call and tell me to please let them know if I ever have any problems. Now when little Jonny gets home, mom and dad tell them that Senor Roberts called to tell them how much much I enjoy having him in my class. I believe, I’ve won that kid over now. And if not, I’ve won his parents over. But I do believe that I’ve one those kids over now. Jonny knows I like him, Jonny knows that I called mom and dad to tell them he’s awesome. Jonny is going to want to continue being awesome for me now because I think he’s awesome.

            Is this logic correct?

          11. Bingo!

            What you did there was 100x more important than how to do PQA. Once they know you like them, expect lift off. No grammar teacher could have ever made that phone call about that kid. That adds to their shame as teachers and why I like to kick sand in their face. In fact, when a kid feels stupid because of a teacher, now I’m getting pissed. But look what you did. You actually changed the direction of a child’s life and of his relationship with his parents. All with a silly teaching method!

          12. It’s great. I was telling somebody today that I have a tendency to really like the students that other teachers don’t like because they’re fun to have in my class. For example, one of the kids whose mom I called with positive comments today, I was actually dreading to have in class because of what I heard from one of his teachers. This teacher referred to this kid as “a turd”, “a douche” and “an asshole”. I don’t think he’s an asshole, I think he’s an asset to my class. He’s creative, funny and knows how to play the game. Seems like the kids who don’t do well in other classes really shine in our classes and they’re really fun to be around. He does a hilarious impression of Dr. Phil too, must be from all the time he spends playing basketball in the bathroom with him.

  8. The true meaning of paperless. Yes! I once heard someone suggest that there be a 13th commandment, which is really a summary of the first 12: “never make a subject into an object” This is the true meaning of paperless, beyond paper, beyond devices, beyond any “innovation” beyond any OBJECT that threatens to objectify our students, to go straight to what is always cutting-edge and ancient at the same time: the heart, the soul. Any “thing” out there cannot possibly be a solution to our problem, because our problem is that we are constantly hindered from connecting with our students as people, but are encouraged, indeed mandated, to view them as cogs in the education machine.

  9. And then when the education machine rages against this idea of no paper, which it views as personally insulting, it ticker tapes students in a parade of useless data gathering. Why useless? Because so many of the kids take their pre and post tests with so much hopelessness in their pencils. Don’t hope and fun and curiosity and meaningful human interaction get to be part of education? When are we going to wake up, all of us sleeping beauties and rip van winkles?

  10. Circling with Cards/Balls is losing steam now. I switched it up a little bit today and did some Circling with Cards, then some TPR off of my TPR List and then we did a One Word Image with the word for “man”. I can see the students getting bored with the Circling with Cards; it’s losing it novelty and I may not be able to get through all of them before they turn on me. What should I do? I’d imagine that it is important to get to every student to show that I care about them but it’s going to bore them to death to do that with a class of 30 kids. I thought about ditching the Circling for now and maybe just circle 1 or two kids every Friday until I get through all of them. Being a one day a week thing vs. everyday would help it not lose it’s steam. But if I ditch the circling what should I jump to? The One Word Image went fairly well today, but I could see that losing interest as well after a while. Even though this is only 9 week exploratory and this was their 4th day in my class, is it time to jump to stories. If so, what scripts are best for very, very beginners? I have an old copy of LICT as well, is that an option? Just trying to figure out what to do tomorrow, not sure if Circling with Cards would be a good idea for tomorrow. One student asked today if “we can do something else, this is getting boring”. I told him that we can do worksheets instead. I’m going to be calling his mom today too.

  11. On the cards, just quit. No biggie. No need to come back to it on Fridays a few kids at a time. There are plenty of other ways to get to know them. Those two activities are meant to personalize and set the tone and make sure that the kids know the rules. They don’t have the power of stories. So move to stories.

    Yes, a lot of people cut their teeth on LICT, but more because there has been nothing else out there. Once you get to a certain point with LICT (many many people have said this) it just craps out and you don’t want to use it anymore. There is point where you have to fly on your own, and make the stories genuinely and authentically from the kids.

    So you will need some cool ultra simple scripts. Where to get them? I would write a few based on the information you have gotten about the kids from the cards. And dude I am talking simple as can be. Super simple. Sick simple. You get what I mean.

    Send some stuff about kids to us here tonite, without naming them in a return comment here. Maybe we can get something knocked out for you to use in the morning. There are gifted teachers on this site who might give you something. I can’t. I am not a script writer.

    Related from Anne Matava:

    https://benslavic.com/blog/2011/08/07/anne-matava-on-scripting-stories-1/
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2011/08/08/anne-matava-on-scripting-stories-2/

    and from Laurie Clarcq:

    https://benslavic.com/blog/2011/08/04/laurie-clarcq-on-scripting-stories-1/
    https://benslavic.com/blog/2011/08/05/laurie-clarcq-on-scripting-stories-2/

    Also, to address this:

    …one student asked today if “we can do something else, this is getting boring”. I told him that we can do worksheets instead. I’m going to be calling his mom today too….

    That may be a little harsh unless he did it in a whiney way. I assume he did, right? Yeah, call on all whining. Especially if he had his glass of whine in front of the class. That’s not allowed.

    1. It wasn’t in a nice way. Plus this kid is a talkative, jock, pain in the ass so the smackdown needed to be laid down early on him. His mom was not pleased at all and she said that “he was completely out of line” and that I will be getting an apology from him tomorrow.

      As far as information on the kids, I wish I had the cards and questionnaires with me right now. I will say that in most of my classes I have:

      – kids who play sports: football, baseball, basketball, softball, and a couple soccer players.
      -girls who dance
      -girls who like going shopping
      -some video game players
      -some people who swim
      -some kids who “hang out with friends”
      -some kids who play a musical instrument and a couple of singers.

      That is all I can remember, but that is the bulk of the card information for my classes. I used the questionnaire given by Matava and most of the answers given on it were run of the mill middle school kid answers, favorite store: Hollister, etc…

      As far as information gleaned from circling: It mostly consists of kids doing those activities above in weird places.

      Hopefully that’s enough information. Thanks for the willingness to help. If we can’t get a script, what should my Plan B be for the rest of this week?
      I’m guessing next week I’ll start the recommended TCI schedule with LICT stories and Matava/Tripp scripts. Just gotta get by this week!

        1. I have to admit, I’m very proud of myself for making so many phone calls (5 in the first 4 days of classes). That’s more than the previous two quarters combined!

  12. Now we need a script. Many of our group are middle school teachers. They probably have these lying around. Maybe we get one tonite. Put it right here as a comment. We’re in a hurry here.

    1. Four days in, are they ready for FVR? Most of the books I have are level 1 readers, a lot of words that haven’t been covered.

  13. I’m gonna try writing a script here bc of the time. Chris maybe you can use this:

    A Fight

    loves
    wants
    hits

    Jillian loves Brad. (get a girl actor up now and circle the shit out of that). Brad loves Sammie (get Brad up now and circle). Jillian hits Sammie.

    My computer won’t let me underline the variables but they are all the names.

    First PQA those three. As you know, the first part of any PQA session is establishing meaning/gesturing. You tell them what each target structure means in English (limit 2 min.) and then you ask them to suggest the gestures and praising them when they show and agree that “loves” is the hands held across the chest with the head at an angle (or whatever THEY come up with) and “wants” is two flat hands rubbing together (or whatever THEY suggest) and “hits” is one fist in the flat hand (or whatever their little hearts want to be a gesture for that word).

    Next, for the second part of PQA, the “just talking to them part”, your mindset should be, “I am now going to get as many repetitions as I can on each of these three expressions before starting the story.” Then, imagine that you have an invisible crow bar in your hand and you are going to PRY out all you can from these kids about the three expressions. First, you look at a kid with a mysterious look, and you say, “Class, Anthony (look directly at Anthony) loves ______”. LET THE KIDS fill in that blank with their cute answers. Laughter will follow as you reject a few and finally accept one. Go on like that for all three structures. Before doing that, of course, line up your three target structure counters as usual, and keep each one of them on task of counting the structure they have been assigned. Once you are up to 30 reps or so on each one, at least, and/or the PQA session is slowing down, get going on the story, which is, again:

    Jillian loves Brad. (get a girl actor up now and circle the shit out of that). Brad loves Sammie (get Brad up now and circle). Jillian hits Sammie.

    Now don’t go getting all wigged out that you are finally going to start a story. Just focus on the first line. You may end up spending the entire class on that one line (not likely with this script but it has happened with more complex first lines of stories). Milk that first line. Circle it. Have a kid write the story out as it develops. Have another kid write a short quiz for the end of class. Have a third kid illustrate the story as it unfolds. You will need the quiz and the illustration for the last 12-15 minutes of class (2-5 min. on the illustration and 5-8 min. n the quiz). You will need the story to write the reading for the next day’s class.

      1. And during the PQA, do the structures need to tie in with each other or is that the story’s job to do that?

        For example, when I’m done milking “loves” for what is’ worth during PQA, do I move onto “wants” with a different student and then onto “hits” and talk about something completely unrelated or do I tie them together? I feel like if I tie them together for PQA, I will have basically done the story.

        1. OH, and we’ve done some TPR like: walks, runs, jumps, stands up, sits down. Should I incorporate those into the story? Like Jillian walks to Sammie. Jillian hits Sammie?

        2. Anything can happen in PQA. Trust that it will. You may go through the three target structures in order, or you may not. I like to combine them, but that’s just me. You don’t care about anything but feeling happy and enjoying yourself as you get more and more and more reps. No plan. No order. No nothing, just hanging out and NEVER asking a question that doesn’t have a target structure in it. And, by the way, if you mess this up and they look at you like deers do when confronted with headlights, then you are so close to an easy fix – just slow down and use point and pause and don’t go out of bounds. That fixes the deer in the headlights thing right quick.

        1. I think I’m good to go for tomorrow. Thank you! So do you think Free write and Dictado would be a good option for Thursday then after all of this circling and Wednesday’s story?

          Thanks again for this script. I will report back to you tomorrow to let you know how it went. I’m excited about trying this.

          1. I can’t believe I wrote a script.

            As far as the order of when to do what, you are right in that you can invite them to do a free write or do a dictee AFTER you do the story.

            Can’t wait to hear how this goes.

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