We have three reports on “what worked” when having to teach classes that are not our own. Obviously, if people come into our classrooms and our kids are properly trained, most of us would do stories. But the point came up recently about what to do (probably not stories) with kids whose classrooms we must go into to teach kids who are untrained in the method and with whom we have not bonded. Stories would just not fit in that kind of a setting, since they often require up to four days with kids trained in comprehensible input instruction.
So the first report on such a demo class is from Michele Whaley. I hope we can get one from Angie, for a 85 minute demo she did with kids she didn’t know as part of a job interview process, and also one from Greg, who has a report on his 49 minute class demo from this week, also as part of a job interview.
Here’s what worked with the seventh-graders.
1. Kids write their names and draw a picture of something they want on a name tag. I circle, making sure that I comment on every single kid’s picture at least briefly, while they’re drawing. This starts to connect us and gives me ideas for what I can draw.
2. Establish norms for responding. Let them get it wrong and self-correct a couple of times.
3. TPR a few verbs or structures to get them moving. This leads into a three-ring circus.
4. Three-ring circus. Yesterday, the first class chose “she is going.” It turned out that Sydney was walking to Africa like a penguin. I could ask “who,” “where to,” and “how.” Dillan was singing quietly. (“who,” and “how”) Melody was sleeping loudly at school. Applaud the actors.
5. Explain norms of answering again.
6. Pick the best kid-and-wanted object combination. Have one student draw three of them. (Whisper your request, and then when you get them, hand them secretly and mysteriously to the three who were in the three ring circus.)
7. Ask who wants what…end by announcing that Robin-Anne wants chocolate. She goes to Sydney, Dillan and Melody. The first two don’t give it to her, because they are otherwise occupied. She takes it from the sleeper. Drama ensues! Applause.
8. Give the kids a quiz (true/false).
I didn’t have a quiz writer or an artist. It turned out okay in the first class, and I should have taken the time in the second class to talk with the kids instead of hurrying into a story.
It’s amazing to me that such a plan can fill 45 minutes. I feel lucky that we have two days each week of 85 minute classes! That gives me lots of time to start vocabulary, to do a song, to add dictation, drawing, pair work, write a quiz, and still connect with the kids. On our two short (50-minute class) days, time seems to fly.
Kids in the demo classes went home and told their parents about the lesson, and by the time I got to school today, students whose siblings are in the other school were bursting to tell me that their brothers and sisters wished I could be their teacher. I’m sad for the school but pretty much knew that would be the case if the teacher was just doing rote memorization of poems and demonstrating verbs, hoping the kids would remember them. I feel incredibly lucky that I “discovered” Ben’s book on line six years ago. I am sure that I would have been retired with the feeling that I had never really succeeded by now. Instead, a kid who had six years of Russian in another program (and is now in my Russian 1) told my class today that she can’t believe how much they know already. I forget how awesome comprehensible input is sometimes.