Lots of little new changes. Nothing big because who can change the power of the Three Steps, right?
1. The space I am teaching in doesn’t have any students sitting up close to me so that there really is an acting/teaching space that is open and inviting. I’ll get a pic real soon of my classroom set up which is very much like Linda’s. That space is for movement, deliberate walking to words or to people with my hand extended/placed directly on a word in a deliberate and slow way. No laser pointer. The walking from word to word creates gaps that the kids need.
2. Word Wall put up in strips of ten or so words at a time. Not all up at once. We haven’t even started using it yet.
3. The only poster up besides the first ten words of the Word Wall is the Classroom Rules poster.
4. That poster, the Classroom Rules, completely dominates the class now in the first weeks so that there is no confusion about behavior.
5. This is very interesting here: I have never been able, as in never, to take the last five minutes of class to self or group-reflect on what we did in terms of how we learn languages, the rules, and in terms of the identified school learning habits of respect, responsibility, perseverance and collaboration, which fit nicely with the rules. There was never any time for it. However, here is the little change but it is really a very big one: when the kids come in at the beginning of class, I am seated comfortably in an armchair. I know I could be shaking hands and bumping fists at the door but this is India and just an hour ago I ran by a bunch of monkeys and I’m not talking about the little kind but the ones that sit on their butts kind of like a baboon but smaller and have huge teeth and watch traffic and intimidate joggers. Sorry for the digression but those monkeys scare me. Anyway, we start class, not end it, with the self reflection piece in L2. It’s awesome. They actually talk. It’s like an informal discussion about how they are doing and what they are feeling as we learn before I signal that it’s time to start class by standing up and going to my structures or to the reading for the day. Yes, there are tons of other options for starting class in the Big CI Book but hey we only have 85 minutes and so we all are designing our class sequences right now and they will vary. (Isn’t it nice having too many options in teaching a language rather than too few with the old way?)
6. I don’t have the question words up in any form. For one thing, I’m tired of those pictures. They always make me think of the tyranny of Circling and how I can’t do it right. (I’m even trying to stop using the term Circling in favor of “repeated questions in context” which I think I got from jen. Those posters are just another list to them and to me. When I use any word/question word – any word – that they don’t know, if they don’t know it, I write it down in both languages. The reason for no longer using the laser pointer and the question words is that they get me going to fast. I also think that the posters thing in TPRS has gotten out of hand.
7. So the only things posted in the classroom are the daily targets and the Classroom Rules.
8. I will keep a list of the verbs we have done in class (my in-process created daily Scope and Sequence) but won’t write it down on the (currently empty) new Verb Wall of blank butcher block paper near the Word Wall. I will at some point test summatively by presenting all the verbs we have worked on (maybe 10) after three or four weeks and see if they know them. If they do, up they go on the Verb Wall. The kids will have had to have opened up a big can of Whoop Ass on a verb for the verb to make it up on the Verb Wall.
9. This way of doing CI, just totally focusing on whatever verbs come up in the story scripts I choose or as they happen in CWB later in class if we have time, is simpler and I like simple. Don’t we have enough to do than worry about what we’re going to teach when if we focus on the how of how we teach then the what gets done automatically?
10. I have three whiteboard areas behind me that really work. I use them to keep everything separate. So behind me and to the right is the tripod huge sticky note place where I put the new words as they come up, lots of them now of course as the year starts, fewer later. Behind me are the target structures for the day (or the reading projected onto that same area if it is not a story but a reading that day). Behind me and to my left is a space for words that are actual out-of-bounds words. It doesn’t get used much.
11. High school kids enjoy being fired. But now I’m teaching middle school. So this year I was thinking that, since these middle school kids might not see the humor in being fired, especially since many don’t know our man Donald Trump, this year I will probably hire a person for the length of one story each for the three big jobs, and then just pick the best one after a month or so.