Just came across a blog post from Justin Slocum Bailey over at IndwellingLanguage.com. It proposes some ideas to help boost teacher energy with a series of no-prep activities to roll out in class. Truly a great idea as that is not only something all teachers need, but it is especially important for those of us trying to alter our teaching practices and get on the CI (comprehensible input) train.
For example, his Good Idea/Bad Idea activity is flexible. It demonstrates the kind of thinking needed to be a CI teacher and that is one who is comfortable with improvisation. You have to be comfortable and confident enough to talk with your students in the TL (target language). After all, that is the goal of a CI classroom – to get those reps in. Remember, it also isn’t necessarily the goal to get students to produce output until they are ready – so you have to be sure that students are ready for output if you are asking them to provide feedback as to why they voted good idea or bad idea.
Good Idea/Bad Idea does allow you to get those reps in and touch upon that sense of novelty that the mind craves. You can ask each student if a given scenario is a good idea/bad idea and the other students can get to hear the phrase again and again. The student could respond with a simple ita/minime binary type of response. Maybe even incorporate rejoinders (“certe!”) as well to change it up. You can also ask the “shadow” of the given statement to offer students the opportunity for repetition and revision of their ideas.
Exemplum: Bona Idea an Mala Idea – Ulixēs ascendit in equō Troianō.
You could ask the whole class this scenario and have them show their choice as a group (show of hands, etc.) and then ask each of them at random individually. You could also circle with this scenario, focusing on those who opted for good and those for bad. When doing so, you could even then ask the opposite (“shadow”) to see if the student still feels that way.
Ulixēs non ascendit in equō Troianō – bona idea an mala idea?
This not only gives you another vital rep, but also invites a new situation into the mix. You could continue to circle and change out variables.
Ulixēs ventrī malō ascendit in equō Troianō; Ulixēs ascendit in equō Troianō solus; etc.
This also can create for some potential hilarious moments in class as you extend the scenario with ridiculous ideas to really challenge a student if they still think it is a good idea.
Ulixēs ascendit in equō Troianō nudus!
So if you are only starting out with CI, it would make sense to have a modified level of expectation when considering returns from your students. A simple binary response would work and achieve the goals needed – getting reps in, exposure to the language with comprehensible messaging.