In a recent comment here David wrote:
…when kids are writing things down it brings a sense of legitimacy….
Then Drew this morning suggested exploring adding into his classes this summer:
…a three sentence dictation in the form of notes that deals with the target structure and relates to the PQA….
I see this as a way to break up our classes, increasing focus. People are always talking about the importance of a sequence of short activities being the best in schools, and yet we tend to drone on and on in the TL via auditory or reading input. It’s great if the story or reading activity we are doing is interesting and compelling, but how often does that happen in a CI class, since we are all still learning how this stuff works? Would breaking up the auditory and reading input increase the overall quality of our classes?
What Drew’s idea does of having the kids take notes in the form of dictée is give the kids a break from all the input. It’s an idea worth exploring. Previously we have always thought of dictée as a process during which the kids write for an extended amount of time, up to fifteen minutes or more, which is too long.
Drew’s idea (correct me if I am wrong Drew) of neatly tucking three sentences into class would have the effect of providing a very SHORT dictée break for the kids, allowing them to briefly spend a few minutes in the part of their brains in which they feel most comfortable – the analytical part.
Short Dictée/Dictation as Notes would bring the sense of legitimacy David describes above while also providing a needed brain break for the kids from all the CI, while at the same time providing a huge break for us, as dictée is just about the easiest thing a teacher can do in a language class besides showing a video.
A caution would be to avoid drawing out the time taking notes into more than five to seven minutes. If we incorporated too much dictée into all our classes it would lead to a loss of overall CI instructional time over the course of the year. Dictée as a writing practice brings far less gains than freewrites, and the listening input it provides is of a lower quality. I would suggest Drew that as you test this you do three short sentences but, if the sentences are long, do only two sentences so that you can get quickly back to the CI.
One thing that comes to mind in considering this is that sometimes the CI can get going like a freight train and it would be very difficult to slow down or stop. In classes like that I wouldn’t use this idea, but in classes that are tending to drag I would use it in a heartbeat.
Please test this for us Drew, as many of us are finishing up the year now and can’t fit it in. It is a possible major change to how many of us run our CI classes, as we try each year to make it from bell to bell by doing listening or reading almost exclusively. This definitely needs our combined attention in the fall.
Actually this idea is very similar to: