Three Week Backwards Design Plan

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10 thoughts on “Three Week Backwards Design Plan”

  1. Wow Ben! Glad you are taking today off–major effort here!
    Re Week 1, Wednesday: I give my kids only 2-3 minutes max to write a story outline, because that’s not TL. They have to use the structure(s) I give them so that we get the reps of the same structures in every story.

  2. Yeah I thought so. That’s better than giving them the choice of what structures to target. I like the (someone or something) wants/tries to ________ and fails but then wants/tries to ________ and succeeds deal because they need something concrete – otherwise the stories that they come up with are way wacky. Do you agree with that point? I also agree with the 2-3 minutes deal. Otherwise they dally.

  3. Phoebe Abrahamsen

    Hi Ben,
    Can you please explain this activity of SGS’s. I need more details – it appeals to me, I think, but don’t know how to carry it out. The backwards design idea is excellent – I have been using it while reading Pobre Ana. I go back and forth between novel and class stories.

  4. Ben, I agree about the idea of the structure of solving a problem in regular stories, but when I’m giving students the structures to use in a skeleton story, I don’t insist. It could take them too long. I’m going to give mine these three tomorrow: participated in, not knowing about this, and was arrested. If I wrote it, there might be a kid who was participating in a game, didn’t know it was illegal, and got arrested (we’re reading about Russian writers who were exiled or sent to labor camps for various reasons). I’m sure there will be some wacky things that they come up with, but I can edit and choose the ones I want to use. When we ask the stories, we almost always do come up with a problem, and there is almost always a destination. And yet the kids will come up with stories I would never have thought of.

  5. I agree with Michele on identifying the phrases. It helps my high school students to know that we are working with high-frequency phrases. I will usually put 2-3 up but they only have to use one. Sometimes they get so caught up in trying to connect the three phrases that they get no where at all!!
    The ideas that they generate on one day can become a base for PQA, can remind me of the chorus of a song that I can use, can become a chant a la Joe N., …all kinds of things….but the fact that they are their ideas is golden to them.
    By choosing the structures we put them down on the right path going the right direction.
    with love,

  6. So we just give them the structures and two or three minutes and just take what they give us and go for a chant, some PQA, a story that may or may not go to the level of a problem. Is that it? Then, Michele, we go from there quickly to another story if it fades, I assume? Just want to be real clear here….

  7. Ben, you are getting exactly what I always intend to do. But I absolutely love the idea of what Laurie does with including more phrases each time and also weaving in more details. I just can’t change what I’m doing too fast. I’ve got a delightful embedded reading that I’m going to have for all my classes on Pushkin tomorrow–starting with his being a political fool. The tsar will send him away to Romania and he will dance with the gypsies (we even have a gypsy song to sing) before he comes back, meets his beautiful wife, gets incredibly jealous and eventually dies in a duel. It’s about as sexy and violent a story as you can get.

  8. Thanks for evolving this discussion all of you (sorry I’ve been absent lately). I tried an SGS (in groups of four, after we had TPR’d and PQA’d the structures for a half a day) in L2. Just 2-3 sentences, gave them 3 minutes, they seemed to understand what I meant by “skeleton story” so I didn’t even have to explain it. I read each one to the class, and then picked the best one for the next day’s class. I felt very confident because it was THEIR script and not MINE!! So, if it sucked, it’s their fault right? 🙂 Is this a common feeling?
    Re the song. I play it for the kids twice (besides it being background music at the beginning of classes or during a brain break while we are working on the structures), once the first day or two, and again right before reading the lyrics, and have them write down familiar words/phrases they hear. I really think that the more familiar they are with the song (without being sick of it) before the lyrics are read, the better. Then, for a repasito the following day/week, we CLOZE the lyrics.
    BTW, I am getting lots of mileage out of CLOZING readings, especially as repasitos the following day, and from Jason Fritze’s “Question word blocks”. Other ideas for getting reps on the readings?

  9. You get some small cubes (2″ or so cubed) from the shop room or wherever you can. Write 6 question words on the cube (Who, What, How many, etc.). After a story or reading, pair or group the students and have them play with the cubes. One student rolls the cube, and whatever question word it lands on, they have to ask a question using that word. I prefer doing this is pairs, so you’ll need quite a few blocks. Our shop teacher was happy to do this for me. Then my kids sanded them down before I wrote on them. I think it fun for the students to keep score too (1 point if they stump the person, 1 point if they answer correctly), but from there it’s all personal preference.

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