Below are the 63 jobs kids can do in our classrooms. The list is always changing. If you notice and inaccurate statements or crediting issues, please let me know and I will fix it.
Understand that we must not “assign” these jobs before the need arises in our classrooms. Who gets what jobs when is an organic process. You may not have as many jobs, but they will be serious positions in the classroom community that are not ignored as some hokey thing that the teacher wants.
Use the jobs not just to make your comprehension based classroom run better, also use them to build community. Have fun with these suggestions. The kids love them.
Here are the jobs:
1-3.PQA Structure Counters* (3) (Monday) – The PQA counters do so much. They do things that we are not even aware of, functioning as a kind of social glue. They bring us together in pursuit of a common goal. Pure gold. On these PQA Counters also see below ****
4. The Timer – Many teachers have adopted a strategy of trying to make it in the TL (both teacher and students) for ten minutes at a time. But the student chosen to time those ten minutes must be chosen carefully. It must be a student who commands respect and can focus on the CI and do the timing both at the same time. For more on this important job, read the post on the Ten Minute Deal in the PLC category section of this site.
4. Quiz Writer* – I no longer have students write the quiz. I can write a good y/n quiz in three minutes from what the story writer hands me at the end of a story.
5. Story Writer* – The most important job of all by far. Records every detail of the unfolding story. I need but translate for the ROA Step 3 reading afterwards.
6. Story Artist* – described in detail on this site but I’m not sure where. Basically she draws the story on an iPad as it happens. She records the story on the iPad as well to get the facts straight and finish the drawing at home, then she sends it me and I put it on my school blog and the kids can do retells to their parents as homework.
7. the Creator(s) of the Invisibles. This student draws and labels our class invisibles with details like foods they like, favorite color, invisible sisters and brothers, etc. Specific details can include: species, job, favorite food or drink, home, despises, parents, gender and loves. This new job jacks up the interest in the classroom to an extraordinary degree. Below is a link to what one of my classes has created. I just give the job to one person and with middle school kids they all want in and start emailing each other ideas in the evening. Hey, does this mean that I give homework?
These new creatures who live in the French classroom are taking over my classes. Especially that horrible Ugly Unicorn.
7. Reteller – as per Eric Herman: “I tried this out with my adults tonight with success. I gave my most advanced student the job. Every time she was called on she had to retell the story FROM THE BEGINNING and as fast as possible! This is where having a student artist working on a board at the back of the room, really helped, and I’m sure made the artist feel more appreciated, because we’d all turn around and look during the retelling. In 25 minutes, she probably did 5 retells.”
8. Actors – will synchronize actions to teacher’s speaking or reading. It’s a job in that we always like to use our best, least distractible actors.
9. Professeur (there can be two of these) – they quickly decide on things like if the house is red or blue so that the teacher doesn’t have to take a side. Skill #36 in TPRS in a Year!
10. Bleater – see Skill #35 in TPRS in a Year! (auditions for this position are hilarious)
11. Où/Where Person (instantly lowers the kids’ affective filter in class) – This job instantly lowers the kids’ affective filter in class. In French, the word for Where is Où. Whenever I use the word in class, this student immediately calls out: “Oooo…WHERE!” It drives the meaning further into the students’ brains each time it is used. This person has to stay focused because the same word in French (without an accent) means something different, which leads to some amusing moments.
12. Quand/When Person (also instantly lowers the kids’ affective filter in class) – Huge. Again, I don’t know where it is described. Sorry about that.
13. Word Chunk Team (WCT) Controller 1 (this is the most left out kid in class who couldn’t even get into a group. He gets to pick which team raised their hand first – see resources/workshop handouts for Work Chunk Team details.)
14. Word Chunk Team Controller 2 (another kid in need of feeling needed – this one judges synchronicity of group signed responses.)
15. Word Chunk Team Controller 3 (keeps score and also watches – very important – to see if all the heads in the group go together to consult before the hands are raised. A group with one dominant member has to be broken up.)
[Note: WCT teams work best by far with four people on each team]
16. Master of Gestures – this is the student who takes over for you if you don’t feel like doing the gesturing phase of PQA.
17. Class Photographer – This student quietly take a few pictures of scenes from stories or anything else in class and then sends them to the teacher, who then projects them the next day for discussion and review. For example, if Jim rode a bike to the moon the day before, the photographer takes and sends the photo to the teacher, who then has the option of not only sharing it with the class the next day but also of choosing to create and share a short reading of the scene as well. Thus the scene from the previous day serves as a trick to get more interesting auditory and visual repetitions on the target structures. [Credit: David Sceggel]
David adds: I will also print these goofy pictures and their Spanish captions out and hang them in the hall outside my room. I love to see kids lingering outside my room reading Spanish and translating to their friends. (Or during parents night, their parents.)
18. Sound Effects Guru – either via a machine or actually produced by the kid, as per Nathan Black.
19a. Door Knocker Person (use of apps – this job and the one below are described on this blog site at http://www.benslavic.com/blog/2007/11/18/giants-vs-bots/ – both are big winners with the kids.)
19b. Door Ringer Person (use of apps – see above link for detailed description of how both door jobs work in the classroom)
20. Reader Leader. This is the kid who leads the class in the choral reading of texts. She reads slowly and loudly and literally brings the class along with her. This is a very important job because it removes the you-vs.-them dynamic in the classroom. Extra credit for that. Extra credit for all of these. Why? Because kids are lovers of extra credit and because we want buy-in.
21. Soudain Chant Leader
There are three fairly common words in French that mean “suddenly”:
tout de suite
…in every story something happens all of a sudden, so we’ve been doing the following and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve trained my class – every time they hear tout à coup – to snap their fingers twice, thump their feet twice and say soudain…
The chant in my classroom is “tout-à-coup! soudain! tout de suite!” clap clap or hit their desks with their hands twice. It just requires someone to start it and keep it loud so that is why it is a job, the Soudain Chant Leader.
This job is much like the Mais Bleater job, where the purpose of the move is to freak out observers, because, with both the bleating (coming from one student) and the soudain move (coming from the entire class), the thing takes about five seconds and it’s over and the class is trained to act as if nothing happened and so the observer gets a little wigged out, which is always fun.
22. The Sergeant at Arms. This is the big football player type of student who, usually because of their size, sits toward the back of the room. Whenever a teacher escorts a student from another classroom into our own classroom, which is how we deal with behavior problems at Lincoln High School instead of sending the kids to the office (too complicated), we ask the newly arrived visitor to sit next to this student, who then, during class, keeps an eye on the student to make sure that they do not cause a ruckus in the new classroom.
23. Instead of writing the objective for each day on the board, I have the four objectives above already written out on four big sheets of butcher block paper. When she comes in, the students who is my Objectives Person knows to put up the proper objective for the day. The student finds the right objective and puts it on the wall near the door so that it is visible to any administrator who may come in to observe. If we are doing a story, for example, the Objectives Person puts up the objective that goes with creating a story.
The Objectives Person chooses from:
Students will understand spoken French.(for a PQA class)
Students will co-create a story in French with the instructor. (for doing a story)
Students will view an image and understand the French words used to describe it. (for Look and Discuss.
Students will read and understand written French words. (for a reading class)
Each of the above objectives could be accompanied by any or all of the following statements about how the students will demonstrate comprehension:
Students will demonstrate comprehension by:
2. Hand Comprehension Checks
4. Yes/No Answers
6. Suggesting Answers
7. Scoring 8 of 10 points correct on the end of the class quiz.
23. Alarm clock/English Abuse – kid who can make the most annoying sound in class sounds off at the slightest sign that the teacher may be going into an English rant or when the class needs to take a quiz (sometimes we just need to stop the CAI and take the quiz. The kid sounds off and the teacher thanks her/him profusely and segues right back into Spanish. The message to the rest of the students is clear. We’re hear to listen to Spanish, not to listen to the teacher talk about Spanish in English.
24. The Master of Gestures, who stands next to us when we establish meaning by asking for gestures from the class. This student picks from the suggested gestures, and goes on to say the word in exaggerated ways while the class gestures it, thus helping to drive the word being gestured deeper into the minds of the students. This kind of exploring of sound and movement may not be something we feel doing ourselves, but the Master of Gestures certainly doesn’t.
26. Calendar Kid – This job is from Angie Dodd and thank you Angie! The Calendar Kid is the kid who has the job of writing up the day, the date, the weather, and “yesterday was…tomorrow will be…” Then the teacher would do some brief circling around each one, and then begin the class. The teacher wouldn’t have to do anything except start class by reading/discussing/circling what the Calendar Kid wrote down.
Here is an example. The kids writes down on the board at the beginning of class every day:
Today is Tuesday, March 30th, 2015. It’s cold.
Yesterday was Monday, March 29th, 2015. It was warm.
Tomorrow will be Wednesday, March 31, 2015. It’s going to be cloudy.
For those who could remember to do this every day (you kind of would have to if your enthusiastic superstar just went to the trouble of writing it on the board every day) it could be a totally great idea. Right there to start class every day (this would be particularly impressive to observers) you are there, with the help of the superstar who wrote it down, talking in the language yet again that day (talk about lots of reps!) about days of the week, dates and the year in three verb tenses of the nasty “to be” verb”, not to mention the weather.
Angie adds a detail for lower level kids:
…I’m planning to structure it so the Calendar Kid just has to fill in the blank. I have “Today is__________” up on the wall in the calendar spot , and the kid puts in “Monday”….etc. I think that will work best for novices, at least at the beginning!….
A highly recommended new job (2014) from Angie!
27. Official Timer – this one is from Carla Butler. This kid times how long the class can go in the TL. Class times are written on the board. The kids get competitive and class pride is often on the line.
28. Vanna White – he or she strolls along the word wall and points out words as the lesson unfolds, helping the teacher.
29. Clapper Kid – the Clapper Kid is the most important of 53 possible student jobs in the classroom.
Most of us have simply been incapable of making their CI classes work to full potential because we haven’t had the weapons. We haven’t been able to master SLOW, we go out of bounds, we allow blurting, we all know the drill.
But now I have created a tool to make SLOW, in-bounds, staying in the TL, circling, etc. actually work. It’s another job. The job is called the Clapper Kid and for me the idea is a breakthrough, if only in my opinion and in my classroom. The Clapper Kid is a weapon. The Clapper Kid is a bad boy.
The Clapper Kid is a weapon for classroom management that you pull down off the shelf in the discipline aisle along with various cans of Whoop Ass. The Clapper kid is students policing students. The Clapper Kid has an alias – Shut the Fuck Up in My Classroom.
The job description of the Clapper Kid falls short of being able to walk around the room and clap the plastic hand into the face of a person with their head down or who is otherwise not listening or showing up fully as a human being in class.
I’d love to allow the Clapper kids to do this, because some kids are such assholes, but it’s just too rude (I tried it with a class once and it just had too much of a bitchy edge to it).
Short of that rather extreme move, the Clapper Kid does in fact have the authority to clap loudly whenever there is a fail by the class BUT NOT AN INDIVIDUAL l to show up strongly in response to my questions.
I must learn to absolutely insist on a strong class one word response whenever I ask any question and stop the class if I am not getting the kind of reciprocal and participatory behavior I want. I’ll say that again. If the response is weak, I stop class.
But since I suck at that and keep on rambling like Old Man River, I have to employ this unique kid who is there to help me. A sidekick sitting off to the side of the class who can then see me and pay attention to the lesson but also see the class and enforce so many things that I forget about because so much is going on.
(When I say fail I mean in the sense of Blaine always cautioning us to be careful and look out for weak responses.)
What is a weak response? It’s a shitty response from the class. A non-enthusiastic response. A sucky response. A surly response. A pain in the ass response. A response that makes me want to put on my I Hate This Job tshirt. A weak response.
Because we have all, with very few exceptions if any, allowed to creep into our CI practices an acceptance of kids not responding, dumb asses that we are. We have talked about it here for years. The challenge of getting all the kids in the class to participate fully has been, perhaps, THE one big thread dominating the history of this blog, a thread connected in some way to every discussion we’ve had now for six or seven years.
Weak responses have spurred us to create jGR. Weak responses are why we have the Classroom Rules. Weak responses are why we go SLOW and try so hard to stay in bounds and get reps through proper Circling.
But we still get weak responses. So I don’t think that assessing a kid on their ability to “contain the urge to speak English” is going to work. Blurters are just rude and how many of us have stopped our habitual blurters so far this year? I would bet few if any. They aren’t going to contain their urge to speak English if we politely ask them. We need more.
I can only say that the Clapper Kid has brought me much much better responses, not weak ones. It is amazing. So who is the Clapper Kid and what does she do?
Job Requirements for the Clapper Kid
• is our most important hire of the 53 jobs in our jobs category. • must be a superstar who can focus on us and our lesson and on the class at the same time. • must be able to clap – on the class but not individuals – in a lighthearted way, bringing good will, but at the same time bring the authority. • reminds teacher about the Jump into the Space option, which should occur a lot in class.
Here is a template:
1. Teacher goes to Party City and buys one of those big hand clappers made of plastic that make a loud clapping noise when shaken. 2. Teacher hires a truly sharp student as per the above required job qualifications. 3. Clapper sits at the side of the room, looking at both the class and the instructor, fully aware of both. 4. When the teacher is delivering the CI, the Clapper looks at the kids and claps if even one kid is breaking any of the rules below*. (This clap is not directed at any one person – it is a generic clap.) 5. The teacher stops teaching, trying to determine who the offender is. 6. The teacher doesn’t call out the kid in front of the class, but instead just waits for compliance. 7. If the clapper calls out the teacher, the teacher must comply**.
*Rules on clapping at the class. The Clapper claps at the class if:
1. a student is not involved 2. a student gives a weak response 3. a student blurts 4. a student speaks English 5. a student is looking down at desk of if head is down 6. do all this while never singling out a student
**Rules on clapping at the teacher. The Clapper claps at the teacher if:
1. the teacher goes into extended English (sometimes you gotta – like in mentioning some outrageously cool historical fact connected to the lesson) without first asking for a time out from the Clapper. 2. the teacher uses more than the three full time outs allowed per class (as in a basketball game.) 3. the teacher goes over four seconds on a pop up grammar point. (i.e. the Clapper is not allowed to clap at the teacher for use of English unless four seconds have gone by.)
So the Clapper, not the teacher, is the one who watches out for weak responses. That is her job. The teacher just can’t remember to do that – there is too much going on.
So the Clapper is a kind of referee. A really great Clapper would also remind the teacher to use the Jump Into the Space option*** as well.
When the Clapper is doing their job properly, there is much less confusion and much stronger responses. It truly is a game changer.
30. Class Secretary – Judy Dubois in France has a student secretary in each class who gives participation points to students. She explains: “I give the secretary (who changes each class) a class list and their job is to tally the number of times students raise their hand and speak. When an answer or suggestion is particularly good or the question difficult, I give bonus points. If a student gets out of hand, they get a “yellow card” I rarely have to give a “red card”. Of course, this is France, so everyone knows that yellow card is a referee’s warning and red card puts you out of the game. The secretary writes yellow card or red card besides the student’s name. This system is much simpler for me because I don’t have to stop to write it down or give a lecture, I just say “yellow card” and go on with the lesson.”
“I came up with the idea of having the class secretary record the number of times students participated in the class by contributing to the discussion. The job rotated every class, so the secretary was always a different person. It helped students whose thoughts tended to stray to focus on the class. It also helped them to understand that it wasn’t an easy job and to be less critical if the secretary missed one of their participations.
I quickly realized that shy students would have a very low “oral participation” mark, so I came up with the idea that Attention deserved to be rewarded too, and is another way of participating. So the person who spoke up most often in class had a maximum of 15 points, and everyone who gave me the impression that they were listening attentively had five points. It worked out that shy students who were attentive and made just a little effort to speak once in a while got a passing grade. Chatterers and blurters lost points, and given the system where every point counts, made an effort to keep their full quota. What I liked about the system was that the students seemed to feel that it was fair.”
31. Story Ender Fairy – this is the student who, as we say the three sentences speedily that wrap up a story as per the “Petit Renseignement” skill (#31 in TPRS in a Year!), waves his/her wand to make the actors fast forward to the end of the story. The fairy’s prop would have to be within reach of the kid.
32. English Patrol – this student shouts “alto!” if English is used. Timer will go back to zero. [credit: Kate Marquez]
33. Memorizer of the Cards – this kid knows what everyone in the class wrote down on their Circling with Balls cards. Then, whenever I ask in any given moment in class, unexpectedly, what So and So does, he answers quickly that So and So does whatever. Then I ask where So and So does whatever and he answers where. Then I go back to the other CI. This is also an extra credit job. In fact all the jobs are extra credit jobs.
34. The Dialogue Bubble Kid, who runs across the stage with a big dialogue bubble with some key phrase written on it at various moments during Reader’s Theatre. [credit: Jason Fritze]
35. Cardboard Set Crew – this is a set of two or three artistic kids in each class whose job it is to instantly create – out of cardboard – a boat, a train, a tree, whatever is necessary during Reader’s Theatre or in a story. The admonition is to not have them create too many materials, and to do so only when some set object would really further the CI. Otherwise the crew tends to overbuild, as it were, when storage space is usually a problem and when the crew should be involved in the co-creation of the story most of the time anyway. This is Jason’s idea and it is a good one, especially for younger kids. Just go to Home Depot to pick up the cardboard – it’s everywhere on their shelves for the taking.
36. L2 Timer Kid – this student times how long we stay in the TL in a class period. [credit: Hayne Painter]
37. Capitaine Dictionnaire – Cheryl came up with this idea. It’s the kid who looks up the (very few) new words that the kids bring in via cute answers, words like “squid”.
The list continues with offerings from Kate. I include it here at the risk of creating a really long article but I want all the jobs in one place for ease of reference:
38. Appreciations — I am grateful to _____ who helped me by ______. OR I saw Betsy give Alfred a low five when he spoke French in the hallway to Prof. Slavic. She was really encouraging to him. We also have a person who calls on the other people to give their appreciation — usually it is an encourager and we limit them to 3 a day. I have 20 minutes to knock out a community meeting.
39. Kindness Recorder — a notebook or post-it notes (I like the hear ones) where a student records acts of kindness witnessed in the class. They are read once a week on your kindergarten day. They are not written in the TL (unless it is AP). This person reads at the end of the week a few of the acts of kindness they witnessed.
40. We Care Committee members — a couple of folks who write encouraging notes to absent students and kids who are in need of an “I noticed you . . .” Try to do at least two a week yourself per class.
41. Absent students — someone who writes or records the lesson of the day to share with anyone who is absent. They get together during the first few minutes to help bring the absent one up to speed or agree on a time when they can get together that day. Absent students should be greeted back into the class by you, but also recognized by someone in the classroom as well. This is important to say that “my peers care about my well being too.”
42. Moving students — a goodbye ritual that is designed by the class but says “you were a part of us and we wish you well wherever life takes you.” This could be a tiny notebook that the class puts together that includes things witnessed. I like the way you make me laugh, You were great at getting Slavic to giggle, I’ll miss your side comments, Lunch won’t be the same without you….”.
43. Cheerleaders – these are the folks that are responsible for remembering the gestures! You can use them for part of the class or all of the class, but they help get those gestures into our heads and bodies. Use kinesthetic learners!
44. Encouragers — these are students who verbally reach out to support students that might be struggling with the language or school. They don’t reach out to kids who are demanding attention inappropriate
45. Wish Wells — this is a time (only take a few each day) when you acknowledge students need to send positive thoughts to someone or something (the basketball team, the dad having surgery, the kids taking the history test down the hall cause it was HARD). A student can lead this and you set the number.
46. Celebrations— Everything and all the time. Use the announcer job for that. They can announce birthdays, that everyone got 100% on the quiz yesterday, whatever.
47. Techie — handles the computer or the dvd or the whatever needs a technician not a teacher to do.
48. Lights — Turns them on to signal you are ready for class to begin and out as they leave the room. Everyone should have lights at least once a year.
49. Announcer — any class announcements for the good of the class—ie there is a change in the schedule for an assembly at such and such a time, etc.
50. Greeter — if you give up this, you are giving up one of the most important opportunities to connect with every student daily. But, there are folks who just do once a week greeting and have a student do it all the other times. I do about 70 kids every day as they come through the door. It is important to me to have a connection. And that connection includes touch (cause that is what turns the brain on!). I let them choose the connector—we’ve done elbow touches when flu was flying, fist bumps, high and low fives, whatever. . . And train them to look at you when you do it. It is your first opportunity to teach to the eyes. Download love in that look.
51. Goodbye Wisher – quiz or paper collector at the end of the period at the door who says goodbye to each on their way out
52. Personal Secretary—responsible for seeing that your pointer, dry erase markers, roll book, water bottle, whatever are in place for you to do your schtick at the beginning of each period. They can also jump into anyone else’s job when they are absent. Be trusted to take stuff to the office, etc. “They is your BRAWAIN” when you are occupied in the land of a story. This is an honored and valuable position. Use it well. They are your future teachers. Train ‘em good.
53. Distributor/Collector of Pencils (I buy a ton at Big Lots as loaners – it avoids confrontations)
54. Signing Interpreter – stands in a corner of the room (away from the actors when we do the story), and he/she signs in, all the time, everything we do. So whether we do PQA, co-create a story, reading or whatever else, that person is always in front of the room, signing whatever is being said or read. Good for the kinesthetic kid to learn faster and better. However, many teachers including me who try it find that it makes the room too full of things going on and the kids don’t know where to focus. It might work in the right setting.
55. Master Vocab List Compiler – this kid writes down every new TL word that is introduced over the course of the year, and perhaps puts a check next to the ones that have been circled and/or included in the story. This way, it’s no mystery what words are fair game in each class. By having each section keep track of it, it gives them the ownership. Now, they have to prep us, and we come into class and stay focused on our unique job: keeping the CI train rolling. [credit: John Piazza]
56. Master Verb List Compiler – same as above but for verbs only cleaner.
57. Birthday Person – this is from chill: I have a calendar where everyone marks their birthday. The birthday person must check the calendar and write “BON ANNIVERSAIRE” + their name on the board in big letters. Then they will lead the “Happy Birthday” song.
58. Place Poster Holder – this is a kid who sits near a shelf or something where all the place posters are kept (see posters page of this site by clicking on TPRS Resources). She works with you whenever you ask the question “Where?” by lifting the card up so that the class can see it and so you can laser point to it. Good for teaching location vocabulary. Remember, if you download and make these posters for your classroom, localize them as explained (we personalize places to the neighborhood our school is in).
59. Welcome Reminder Person – this one is based on Bob Patrick’s idea about welcoming guests/observers into the room. I think that a student should do that because if I did it (said “Welcome!” to an observer) they would not want that since they are told to be unnoticed when they observe (i.e. they ask teachers not to “notice” them and to keep teaching, as if that is possible). So a kid could do it, which would be the reminder to the rest of the kids and the teacher to simply say a brief word of welcome to the observer to make them feel comfortable, the whole thing taking maybe five seconds, and then the class could go on with minimal interruption and yet the person could be welcomed into the room in a genuine way by the class. I think this is a classy idea.
60. The Weather Man/Woman. This one is from James Hosler. Get a flashlight for “it’s sunny” a little fan for “it’s windy” a little spray bottle for “it’s raining” etc., all controlled by the Weather Man/Woman and blamo! Instant weather effects for any story.
61. Instead of writing the objective for each day on the board, I have the four objectives above already written out on four big sheets of butcher block paper. When she comes in, the student who is my Objectives Person asks what we are doing that day and puts up the proper objective for the day, placing it on the wall near the door so that it is visible to any administrator who may come in to observe.
If we are doing a story, for example, the Objectives Person puts up the objective that goes with creating a story.
With the Objectives Person doing her job each day, I don’t have to worry about being “caught” by the administrator without having my daily objective posted. I can therefore tend to the other tasks I have to do at the beginning of my classes.
(end of jobs list)
One year we once had a group of kids – the Dog Barkers – whose jobs were to bark like dogs on certain cues, to mess with admininstrators, but that never really took off. I was all excited about, even had a theme song for them – a Ventures song in which hunting dogs actually bark as part of the music. Oh well. I got a little out there on that one.
Kids keep their jobs until the quality of what they have been chosen to do goes down or they choose not to do the job for some other reason. Kids usually jealously guard their jobs because they get extra credit (if they remember to remind me around the end of the grading period.) I have bumped up a grade by a full letter to some of these kids who were so helpful to me, so filled with good will because here was a class where they had a chance to play a role, during a grading term. If I am asked if I give extra credit I actually have an answer – I say only those who are good at their jobs during the grading term get extra credit. It really is a discipline ploy, and it works.
Giving a job to a kid who is in the bottom quarter of the class, or who acts like that because that has been his experience in schools up to the point when he walked into your classroom, goes a long way in keeping the class focused. The six most important jobs above, the ones that are necessary to drive my new weekly format (search “Weekly Schedule New (2011)”, the one based on Bloom’s taxonomy, are the three Structure Counters – knowing how many reps I got on each structure on Monday is very important to me. Then, on story days on Tuesdays I really need the Quiz Writer**, the Story Writer, and the Artist. Also, if you have seen a demo of the Word Chunk Team activity, you know that only a small goal of the game is to teach the language – the real purpose of that game is to take your three worst kids in the class and involve them positively, thus changing their entire experience of your class.
*Note: Ben Lev came up with a nice little set of instructions for the Quiz Writer. Here they are for those interested:
Querido/a Quiz Writer,
¡Gracias por escribir el examen pequeño!
- 1. Please write 10 statements in Spanish about the facts of the story.
- 2. Use the new vocabulary in the statements.
- 3. Write about half of the statements true and half false.
- 4. Write Verdad (V) o Mentira (M) depending on the correct answer.
- 5. Listen carefully to the spoken story to help you write in correct Spanish.
- 6. Please write 1-2 statements that can be inferred from the story: something that is not said directly but can be said indirectly, supported by knowing the facts.
Here is an article from way back in 2008 on a search that expands a bit on the above:
****Miriam Patrick started the following discussion about the PQA counters once on the PLC. I add here because it adds details – in red – about these jobs that make them even better, for teachers who want to get the fullest benefit from this excellent and highly recommended job that, in my opinion, is a must whenever we do PQA. Note in particular Diane Neubauer’s comment below. We should definitely do that as well, Miriam said:
One of my favourite jobs is the word counter. I had my ones count words from the previous day and today as well (total 4 old words; 4 new words). My goal was to beat my previous record. I found that I worked a few words over 20 times during the hour and it became clear to me where I had room for improvement and I think it was helpful to the kids to see the work I was putting into the class and that we were working together as opposed to me being the high and mighty teacher “bestowing” my knowledge. Miriam Patrick
I responded: This counting of words/structures during PQA and the resultant feeling of working together with the kids, facing together in the same direction to accomplish a common goal, is something I have felt as well. Just having three kids counting three structures (I give then baseball pitch counters – $10 each at Sports Authority) has a magical effect on the feeling in the classroom just as you express, Miriam. Daniel Navar added:
Pitch counters… brilliant! Sounds a lot less labor intensive than having kids keep track on whiteboards: i.e. what I’ve been doing.
Diana Neubauer added:
I just ask kids to keep tallies with a pencil on a notecard I give them. It’s worked fine for me, but I can see how the pitch counter would really be appealing to them. Very official; cool gadgetry. I did something last month with word counters. I likely read this idea somewhere else and forgot. We introduced 3 or 4 new structures, made up gestures, practiced with them for a bit, and before PQA students placed “bets” on how many times each new word would get used for the rest of class. Only times I said it counted — also any times spoken by students if any were brought up to the front of the room during PQA — not the general class. Each child who wanted to make a guess (and that was all of them) wrote their names and an estimate for each new structure on a note card. I told them that my aim was to get at least 25 times with each structure, 40 if possible. (When I saw some students wrote “4? and “7? I knew who was NOT listening.) I collected the notecards before we began. The student who came closest to the actual counts won a small prize which I delivered later that day. Who knew Botan rice candy was such a cool thing, but it clearly was. Calling it betting upped the excitement level, too. It also made clear that using the structures as much as possible in conversation with them was my deliberate goal. I think this was the first time I’d used word counters in class. The level of listening and engagement was considerably higher, and the counters obviously felt extra important. It’s something I’ll do again when kids act blah during Step 1. Doing it too often & they’d likely find ways to cheat. Actually, their attempts to cheat were usually trying to make me use a structure again because I wasn’t up to their estimate yet. Students trying to get me to increase reps? I’ll take it. Did they lose focus on meaning because they were just listening for the structure, not thinking about meaning? I was alert to that potential problem. Asking specific students questions (not taking volunteers) helped, as any of them could be called upon at any time.