Star of the Week – Step 4

Throughout the week the teacher can share with the class a Power Point presentation of the child with his or her photo taken when the student came up to be the star. On each slide is the photo of the student, along with the question, as well as a picture of what the questions represents.
If there are ten questions, ten slides would be prepared. Each would have the photo of the child, the question, and a related picture. The stage is set for all kinds of questioning, comparing/contrasting during the process.
Stay in bounds. How? Well, since each question has a verbal core structure, all you have to do is remember to repeat that core every time you ask a question or repeat something that the star has said. Don’t leave that verb. (This is one of the true keys to successful CI instruction. Repeating the target every time you say something is your only hope to keep from going out of bounds.)
So this strategy is wide open, in a way, because of all the different information being shared, but those are only nouns and such. The verb is always the same, which allows  the kids to be able to track the discussion as long as you do that repeating of the core in everything you say.
If you think about it, you may be asking the same question to up to 35 kids – that’s hundreds of reps. Just stay in bounds by repeating the core verbal part of each question. With ten questions, ten structures on each sheet, that is a lot of in-bounds CI. Good stuff.
The Star of the Week can be an amazing journey for a class. The teacher must be working from a place of trust, obviously, because personal things will be discussed. It is imperative that the teacher avoid overly personal questions, obviously, just like in the Circling with Balls activity, keeping things lighthearted at all times.
Of the many CI strategies discussed in this book, it is possible that the biggest students gains are achieved in this activity. Sabrina and Nina feel that that statement is true, and both are masters of most if not all the other strategies available to us in this work, so that is a pretty strong statement.
One option in this process is to ask the students to come up with some questions they’d like them and their peers to be asked. From these, a new questionnaire can be created. By asking the students what they want to be asked, you further open up the already wide pathway of interesting communication with the kids.
In this work the CI:
1) is personalized, the students get to be a star for a day, they get to shine , and their peers get to know them at a deeper level.
2) builds community at a level that most teachers would not have thought possible. For example, as a result of a set of questions that included students’ birthdays, the students quickly learns each others’ zodiac signs.
3) provides tons of repetitions needed for acquisition.
4) is highly compelling, not just interesting, because it is their questions that are being discussed.
It is entirely reasonable that an entire curriculum could be based on the Star of the Week activity.



8 thoughts on “Star of the Week – Step 4”

  1. I love this! Is the questionnaire completed by all students when you pass it out? You mentioned taking it up, so do you use a different questionnaire each week? Would the students write something for each student on the back of the sheet? When you interview the star, do you ask all 10 questions?

  2. Q. Is the questionnaire completed by all students when you pass it out?
    A. Yes all students fill it out as the first part of the process. This could take up to an entire class period but probably it’s less.
    Q. Do you use a different questionnaire each week?
    A. I think Sabrina goes through one or two of these in a semester. Technically, if you have 35 kids that would be one Star a week for the entire year. So only one set of questions would get done all year. But of course there are no rules.
    Q. Would the students write something for each student on the back of the sheet?
    A. They only write their own answers down on the back (and while they do this the questions are on the screen so they don’t have to keep flipping their papers over). They should try to write in the TL but if they can’t it’s fine – what you need is the information. You can just translate on the spot when you go over the questions with the kid in the chair. The notes about the other kids are put into their composition books, which are kept in the room with the questionnaires at all times. This is for schools where kids can’t keep up with their comp books/binders. If the kids are good with their binders and bring them to class, they would take notes on the information shared in their binders.
    Q. When you interview the star, do you ask all 10 questions?
    A. The interview has as its goal to go through all ten questions by the end of the week. It’s the kind of thing where you decide yourself how much time each day you want to spend on Star of the Week, maybe ten minutes one day, or no time, or the whole class period. As long as the kid has been talked about using all ten questions by the end of the week it doesn’t matter. One thing I know about these kids – they won’t show it but if they all – even the shy ones – don’t get their time they will not be happy. This thing is like personalization on steroids. It can’t fail.

  3. Thank you for the details. I’m excited about trying this. I had some great classes discussing pets after reading Bryce’s Some Pig article. Since the pet story line is about to fizzle out, this will be a great next step.

  4. Ben, these details are helpful, thank you.
    For the first week, would we only be focusing on the first star of the week, since there are no previously featured students to refer to? And later start comparing and contrasting as we have more past “stars” to reflect back on?
    Would this be a time in which we allow classmates to come up with silly answers to questions that can spin off of the original questions: If Susan likes to go Domino’s Pizza, the class decides whom she likes to go with. Or do most people stick with the star student’s answers? (I know there aren’t any rules: ideas, please, of what has worked for others).

    1. Mix the personal and imaginative. I don’t require my students ever respond with the truth and encourage the silly from the beginning. Starting with the detail from the student questionnaire and then storyasking a scene or a one-word image with the kids is a great way to do it!
      We can also do ourselves – compare and contrast with the Professor. Or compare to a celebrity. Or even try a student BE the celebrity in the special chair and answer questions as if it were an interview of that celebrity.

  5. Is there a Star-of-the-Week Powerpoint in Spanish on the site somewhere? I can’t remember. (I have the French and Latin ones.)

  6. One thing I have done with this is to break it up into fewer questions. Shorter interviews per student and more students per class worked for my groups better than staying with one student. You never know what works until you try it. Maybe this semester will be different. I look forward to see what happens.
    I had them write up questions they wanted to find out about, as per Sabrina’s Maine presentation. This was a great way to generate more questions and to make it even more student-driven. I was initially attached to the construct of having every student interviewed and answering every question. Then I asked myself “who said it had to be that way?” So I let it go, rotated questions each week, rotated kids through as they wanted. Not all of them wanted to be up there, no big deal.
    Did a”holiday version” of this in December that was also really fun. We talked about candy and movies and songs and food and cookies. So many possibilities…seasonal, cultural, etc. i.e., we have a HUGE winter carnival that is “a thing” and since I am new, it will be great to elicit the info about this cultural tradition via these interviews.
    In an upper level class, one of the kids wanted to be the interviewer. Does he have a perfect accent? Nope. Did I care? Nope. It was the first time that kid got fired up about something so I wasn’t about to squash it 🙂

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