October 3, 2016

An Important Juncture

October third was an important day for us.  First, we change seats every month so we got our first assigned seats of the year.  Second, today we began telling stories with Invisibles!  So, we had a loooooooong Town Meeting as Ben Slavic calls it – a time in L1 (for us, English) to discuss classroom needs.

The classroom is an ecosystem.  And it needs tending, to make all the inhabitants (including Profe) happy and positive contributors.  So spending time in L1 is an INVESTMENT.

Jobs are of the utmost importance in a CI classroom – they share the power in an environment where the teacher is usually the center of the attention, being that she is providing the input.

Right before this video in French One, telling our first story with a Invisible – a character created by an individual in class, in this case an eyebrow named Edward – we set up the Story Driver job.  This job, designed by Ben to support stories with the Invisibles, is one of the most important and coveted jobs, right up there with Profe 2 and the Artists and Actors, in making stories run.

Part One (in which you will see me explaining the levels to the Story Driver and how I will move from spot to spot to cue her that I am moving on to the new
Part Two
Part Three

In this story, our hero, Eddie, an eyebrow that lives on Jessie’s face, is at the beach in Hawaii with Jessie, but sadly the weather is not cooperating.  It is snowing and cold on the beach!  Oh no oh no oh me oh my!  So they go back to the hotel.  It is super cold in there too, in fact it is not the Hilton but rather the Chillton.  Jessie is upset seeing how she paid $3599.00 for this doomed beach getaway. I mean, we are Oregonians, man, if we wanted snow we would just head up to the Cascades, NOT to Hawaii.  So Eddie and Jessie go to Spain, where the weather on the beach is perfect, and Eddie does some surfing while Jessie stays on the nice warm beach.

One thing I have found about stories with the Invisibles is that they do not always develop weird plotlines, but the element of the character that someone in class created, it makes even a simple story like this one more compelling and personal.  Because the base is a character one of us created (n this case Jessie) and none of us knows where the story is heading, so it seems fresh even when it is a simple story like this one of the weather in Hawaii.

I like having two characters because it helps expose kids naturally to the plural forms of the language.  Tomorrow we will write and discuss this story, and read and discuss.

French Two told a story today about a UPS box named Carl.
This is Part Two.

In Spanish, we celebrated Profe Phillips’ birthday and talked about the jobs and so we did not shoot video.  It was a “slow entry” into October.  Tomorrow we will tell stories!

For these first stories, we are using characters that I had the kids draw during the three days at the start of the year while I was at a workshop in Mike Peto’s classroom in California.  I had the sub tell them that we would be using lots of art this year and I wanted to see their creativity so to make “pets” or “imaginary pets” with backstories.  As we do Town Meetings this week and next, I will be training the kids subtly on the kinds of characters I want – big, bold, and bizarre.  As I talk through the pile, they will start to internalize the expectations for an Invisible that makes it big and breaks into a story.

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About Lanny Ball

For more than 23 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy and reading consultant in Northwestern Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on Twitter @LannyBall, as well as his literacy blog: lannyball.com or lannyball.blog.

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