Report from the Field – Corinne Bourne

Corinne Bourne is a long time member of our community. An interesting fact about Corinne is that she is the master of, to my knowledge, at least four languages. She is in Northern California and has sad news about the effect of the Carr fire on her community.
Everyone is encouraged to send in “reports from the field” on how their year is going. We value these reports because they help us get to know each other and then if perchance we see each other in the summers it’s pretty cool.

Now and again as time has permitted I have checked in at the PLC and watched the evolution of ideas. Thankfully I am free to teach as I feel best and even at levels three and four we are still enjoying taking the natural approach and we are definitely still having fun with the word chunk game, including the seniors! (My honors class is not officially AP but a few decide to have a shot at the exam each year and come out with a pass. So proud of them and all those who go on to work or study in France or using French, especially if they were not my absolute stars.)
Today, our first day of classes, everyone was reacting in some way or another to the effects of the Carr fire. Several of our families lost their homes and everyone feels that life has changed. Students were discouraged from going outdoors at lunchtime due to the smoke.
My French classes just picked up the threads again pretty seamlessly, but the Spanish 2 students will need time to trust me and to learn to play the game. I had them draw their best vacation memories of before the fire and looking through their pictures there’s lots that we can base new fun stories on. I’ll send you a report as they start to spread their imagination wings.
Here’s to a wonderful school year for teachers and students!
Thank you again,



4 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Corinne Bourne”

  1. I had my level 2 French draw out their summer memories, fiction or otherwise. We had an awesome one with a student who was recovering from surgery. She drew herself with a sparkler in hand. It was the fourth of July and she could only see the lights from her hospitable window. So she drew an alternative reality. At the end I said that next year she will have one in her hand.

  2. A lot of teachers would have been fearful of “going there”, as you went fearlessly (as you always have) into the sparkler discussion.
    Why? It is because of a lack of trust and confidence that the kids have the vocabulary, even if it is severely limited, to communicate in, at the very least, a basic form to a sufficient extent that the child is involved. That is the big rap against non targeted work, and Greg’s response to my question earlier this week was refreshing.
    Let’s review it:
    I asked Greg:
    …Greg, what do you think about the idea that I have heard expressed with venom at me (by some of my now estranged colleagues in the Denver Public Schools), that some people simply cannot do non-targeted bc it is so random and right brain? Do you see any truth to that?…
    Greg responded:
    …I don’t think that’s true. The OWI is a very specific process as is the Invisibles prompt the students create and the 7-step story process. Also each process creates a reading and there are 21 reading options- seems pretty systematic to me! It’s just organized according to a process and not according to targets….
    So what Greg (and you) are saying is that when there is an existing PROCESS for the “random” communication. But it’s not random at all; it’s the nature and fabric of human communication, which is determined by factors that are so subtle that we can’t even measure them and therefore say they don’t exist.
    The Invisibles PROCESS that I created in India, that, with the more advanced and intuitive sparkler discussion and hundreds of pleasant communication experiences with you students that have not happened yet, this PROCESS provides shiny golden rails for the NTCI train to go down, and not the iron ones of TPRS.
    But my prayer is that everyone reading in our PLC community here knows that they are really being called to eventually create their own process.
    This is something you have done Steven. The Invisibles process provides the training wheels and can and should be used much of time, because it’s so easy compared to TPRS (I can say that bc I’ve written five books about TPRS and still it never worked for me), but my goal here in this work we are doing now is simply to provide the (golden) rails for each teacher to develop their own version of how to communicate with their kids, so that their classroom belongs to no one but themselves and reflects nothing but their own teaching personality to such a degree that they have an entire career of stress-free enjoyment of communication w the kids, with the fantastic results that we have come to expect as normal.
    I believe that you have done this, Steven. You have applied all the discussions here for ( at least 5 or 6?) years and now you can accurately be called a Master of Communication with your students. A master of the standard. My hat is off to you, sir.

  3. Thanks Ben. It means a lot but I do not considered myself a Master. It makes me think of “When the student is ready the master arrives.” So I am always learning. We are constantly trying to reach out even if I am not used to. I used to think that I was an introvert and I exhibit some of these traits but I remember back to when I was a kid. I always made others laugh. We get a bit of that with this kind of work– with your kind of work. It’s healing. Maybe cause of the imagination, maybe because we can be open and vulnerable as we connect with students. I am not sure. All I know is that today, My French II class, could have been considered a flop if judged by adults who want super strict TPRS/CI or it could have been a FunFest if judged by the kids. We all couldn’t stop laughing during a Matava script. The blurts were just complete engagement and twists on the story and the INPUT was STICKY. There was no need to check for understanding… all things were in place. Anyway, thank you for recognizing my efforts.

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