Erica McCurry sent this today with my response below:
Hey Ben –
Today would have been a perfect day for my principal to observe but alas, he did not come AGAIN. This has been going on for 3 weeks now. He just came and told me that now he will be observing me Friday. I was going to do the Textivate in class but since I’ve not done it before I’ve decided to go ahead and start the Christmas Story that was on your PLC page. Do PQA tomorrow and hopefully the story and then do R and D on Friday when he comes to observe. Any pointers?
[Be sure at the beginning of class to hand a copy of this to the observer:
The principal doesn’t know how much trouble he is causing you. When I know when someone is coming in I have it ready for a story, that is, the PQA is all done and I do the story like I did when Krashen came in. I just did a story and didn’t do a reading for him. So then if someone cancels it’s hard to adjust. What I offer below is an attempt to help you get your class ready for Friday with only the one class you have tomorrow to do so.
I guess the only thing is to take a fairly simple script, so that the kids understand, and PQA and create a story tomorrow to prepare for Friday. So find a simple one. Maybe chopping down the xmas tree, the one I wrote that’s in Anne’s book, because then it will be interesting to have a kid be a tree and another be the chopper downer.
BUT drag out the PQA for up to twenty minutes tomorrow and ONLY START the story so that by the end of class tomorrow you have a story that you have done for about fifteen or twenty minutes, so you are still in the first location, and then for the observation on Friday you have the class continue the creation of the story. The benefits of doing it this way, half the class for PQA and the other half of class to start the story, are that the kids will know the structures well from the PQA and they will know what the story is all about so that it goes well on Friday. Leave out any part, any detail, of the script if you think it is going to confuse the kids. I don’t know what level you are working with, but I would pare that story down if it’s a beginning class.
Now, it would be nice half way through observation on Friday to R and D the story. How can you do that? Well write it tomorrow night after you start it. Again, if it’s a level 1 class definitely make the reading simpler, even simpler than usual, because they you will actually see the kids showing off for the observer. Just write out what you get in the story tomorrow for Friday. Have it ready to project. You see, the story is in three locations and you can take the personalized-to-your-class information you get tomorrow and write up whatever you get, and pull that out for the reading on Fri. so that the Fri. class looks like this:
1. To start Friday’s class, after you make sure that the principal has the checklist, just mess with some PQA a bit more, using the same PQA structures you will do at the beginning of class tomorrow. Enjoy that, and when it wanes or after five minutes then continue to build the story as discussed above for another 15 min. and then after that pull out the reading that you write tomorrow night and then work R and D with that for ten minutes and maybe leave yourself time for a dictée and a quiz, or at least a quiz. DON’T do a dictée if the kids have never done one. They have to be very trained on that, with not a word out of them for the entire dictation period as described in detail on the TPRS Resources page. Then end with the usual quick quiz. So to review for Friday:
1. PQA just like you did on Thurs. to loosen them up – 5 min.
2. Add on to the story info you got on Thurs., either by reviewing or extending the already gathered details for location one and staying there, or by moving into a repeat of the first location information in a second location with new variables. – 15-20 minutes.
3. Pull out the reading you made from the story you created with the kids on Thurs. and do R & D with that. One thing on the reading to prepare for it you may want to watch these video links:
In it you can see some R and D done. Notice in the videos how I used the rolling white board to roll the story right up to the class. I don’t like smart boards because the closeness I get to the class in reading with the rolling white board is important to me. I can literally reach out and massage a word that is right in front of them. 15-20 min.
[Note that by now you have shown the observer PQA, a story and a reading, which is something observers always are looking for, a varied lesson plan.]
4. Move to a dictée only if you have time and if the kids know how and are thoroughly trained in it and have done it several times before. If they are not trained you will wish you didn’t ever start a dictée as when they are not fully trained the kids think that they can keep asking you for repeats. You probably won’t have time for this anyway unless you have a 90 min. class (dictées are real time eater uppers). If you only have a 50-55 min. class, you may try to give a short dictée but dictées aren’t short so your call on that. – 10-20 minutes.
5. Collect the quiz from your superstar quiz writer, who started writing the quiz at the beginning of class based on the PQA a little bit but mainly the story. Remember to remind the quiz writer to make each question a yes/no question and to make the questions very easy. This exit ticket (call it that so the observer hears the educationese term), always makes you look good because the observer is not only trained to look for exit tickets but also will enjoy seeing all the happy faces on the kids while they take the quiz. – 6-8 minutes.
Another thing to do at least twice during the observation is the ten finger comprehension checks.
You can get further information for this observation in general from:
You can calculate from the above that if you did everything you would end up needing up to 75 min. so monitor and adjust on everything listed above and dump the dictée probably.
Good luck. It sounds as if the kids are in a good space with all of this. You may want to relax a bit more than usual and avoid feeling as if you are putting on a show. Observers don’t like that. You are just talking to the kids and reading with them.
And go slower than you feel is right. Go so slowly that it is painful for you to go that slowly. And then slow down from that pace. And you still won’t be going slowly enough, so slow down from there.