Chunk Dictation 1 – again

I’ m feeling that I need to republish these two posts from about a week ago. (Unless I am the only one struggling with kids who just won’t stay focused in their restraining devices). Again, this is for discipline more than anything else. It’s the best way I know to get the classroom quiet and the kids focused in a few seconds:
Sometimes, teachers feel that they fail at comprehensible input methods. That they simply can’t get on the CI train. Blaine and Susie and Jason can run that fast but we can’t, is the feeling.
But look around. Schools now are on the verge of collapse. Kids have been trained in the current system to cheat almost as a matter of course. They use drugs more than we can see because they are good at hiding it.
Parents or peers, even other teachers, have conveyed the idea that disrespect for a teacher is not a big deal, that endless bathrooms trips and texting during classes are normal. The culture at times sends the message that teachers are a nuisance, something to be put up with until school is out that day.
We who are trying to implement comprehensible input methods into our classrooms are particularly affected by this dark setting, because what we do is so completely different from the rote learning that darkens the hallways of so many schools today.
In that darkness, kids expect the same kind of instructional services that they are served in their restraining devices at the education troughs that are their other classes. Show up for class in a participatory way and then show good will, making eye contact – are you kidding?
What planet is that teacher from? When a kid understands that she can’t memorize her way through our class, that she has to show up as a human being and learn the art of conversation (not really required in middle school and sadly long forgotten from the magical universe of early childhood classrooms where teachers actually use words to fly with their students), it literally blows her texting little mind.
Upon being thrust into the entirely new setting that our comprehension based classrooms require, some students show up, but many, their minds pretty much blown away by the social piece required of them, either withdraw or act out. This causes problems for us.
We not only have to learn how to teach using the method, we also have to deal with the social emergency that the kids experience in our classrooms if we do our jobs right by following and fully implementing our rules into our instruction.
This is a herculean feat. So why internalize a feeling that our failure to implement this method is our fault? It is ridiculous. The proof of that lies in comments like those recently made here by Jim and Michele, both of whom commented about how much they value and appreciate their adult classes.
That is because the adults in those classes are motivated, have been trained in the social arts, want to learn, are not as afraid as kids are, are not as just plain beat up by life as American kids are these days, and are not being graded.
So, if we are completely busted and broken right now in April, just crawling to the finish line, I offer a writing activity that kicks ass. It gets squirrely kids quiet and focused. It is like dictée as described here:
but is slightly different. I call it Chunk Dictation. Read the next blog for how to do it.



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