What’s Next?

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15 thoughts on “What’s Next?”

  1. Maybe some embedded readings? There are some great ones on Laurie’s site, and on my website (linked in my sig) I’ve posted something I came up with a couple weeks ago, “Problemas en el cine”. (For Spanish, there’s also “El Cuco,” which is based on a nursery rhyme that I’m sure other languages could adapt.) I love them because they are so good at building up suspense towards a surprise ending. Really great for spinning out predictions, too. My novice-level kids surprised me the other day when I asked prediction questions. They were chiming in with grammatically-correct complete sentences in Spanish! And I hadn’t fed them choices beforehand!

  2. Free writes, writing narration of slides/pics.
    Then look them over, pick out errors the kids made, (no names), retype them and project them on the overhead/smartboard and have the whole class work together to “correct” them.
    I did that today and the kids were actually quite engaged!!! Everyone was paying attention (cause each of them had a sentence up there! — but nobody knew it was their’s)
    I pointed out that I was looking for comprehensibility over everything. As we corrected a sentence, I pointed out that it was comprehensible enough that we could figure out HOW to fix it, but other sentences had vocab so “out there” that none of us could figure it out …..they then could compare these examples to the (new and ‘lighter’) rubric I created ….. thanks to our Maine PLC last week! –thanks guys!!!
    I then gave them back their tests from last week, with my marks on them and let them grade them themselves based upon the whole class corrections. Surprisingly, they gave themselves the SAME grades I would’ve given.
    I’ve never done this before, and standards based/proficiency is new for me to wrap my head around ….but you guys are helping me!….so I was very pleased with today’s outcome.
    (I also allowed them to then make corrections to their original papers, and will take that into account by adding some points.)

    1. I need to add that many of these students are new to CI, and are trying to remember rules instead of what sounds right — I was pushing the “sounds right” to them today. Like, several said, “El hombre llamo es …..”

  3. For writing:
    Following up on the idea of using embedded readings, give them three spaced-out plot points from a chapter or a story from earlier in the year, and ask them to fill in details, thus writing their own embedded reading. They could make the details more interesting than the story was, or add to it, or simply put in what you left out.

    You can take some of those and make the next level of an embedded reading, leaving space again on the copy and repeat.

    You can also give them a word bank or phrase bank as back-up in case they can’t think of anything. That provides some differentiation.

    Listening/Reading: use some of these writes as readings; they can draw pictures (six-block pictures). Then copy or scan and project a good one and read the prompts, out of order, for them to identify.

  4. Annemarie Orth

    Have you done any movie talk?
    I don’t use it very often, but it’s effective when I do.

    Also, would your students be ready to retell part of the novel you’re reading? They can each pick a scene (or you give them several scenes to pick from), illustrate it-even with a partner, and retell it for the class, I had students do this today-one was retelling in T2 and the other was doing the gestures of the main structures. IT was pretty cool and engaging for the rest of the students bc they had to do the gestures, too.

  5. I stumbled on a great brain break during a faculty meeting (engagement) activity the other day.

    The book Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov described an activity called “pepper” I am sure most are familiar with this. I had forgotten about it. It is a wonderful way to review structures covered earlier in the year.

    1. Class stands up
    2. I have a small ball.
    3. I ask a question in the L2 and toss the “VERY HOT BALL that you can’t hold on to” to a student. If that student knows how to answer they throw it back to me and sit down. IF they do not know how to answer in the L2 they remain standing and have to wait for me to come back to them. We are done when everyone is sitting. I accept one word answers like when I am PQA in or asking a story.
    4. There are a lot of variations of this
    5. The students REALLY like it
    6. It took about 12 minutes to get everyone sitting…

  6. To add to the comments about the unmotivated . . . I have two 8th grade sections and it’s like teaching 2 totally different classes. 1 class has enough motivated kids that the culture is to learn, while the other class has a higher percentage of apathetic kids who have poisoned the class culture. I want so badly to reach ALL my students and TCI definitely reaches more kids than any other method. Maybe I’m asking how to do the impossible: how to motivate the unmotivated. I could continue on teaching the kids who want to be there, but I don’t want the rest to get away with their apathy. I guess I need to crackdown on ICSR, make the Quick Quiz more difficult and more frequent, and call home when necessary. I’m thinking that next year, I may need to include “Unit tests,” which include dictations and readings with the previous 4 weeks of structures.

    I also gave them some boring CI today in order to remind them of the alternative to paying attention and responding: readings from LICT Student Book and questions to answer. Done independently and silently. Like expected, they hated it. I told them this would be a great way to become more fluent and that I was ready to just give out readings and questions every day until the end of the year. I said that I was not going to try anymore if they weren’t going to try. I can’t wait to see that class again tomorrow (if we don’t have a snow day).

    Paying, motivated adults are so much easier to teach than apathetic teenagers! I teach an adult class and it is amazing how much CI I can deliver them and how much fun we have doing it! I had an adult say to me today after class (mind you, his wife is a retired Spanish teacher!): “This is the first time ever that learning Spanish has been fun for me.”

    And Ben, you know, the solution to getting kids to write more is to read more. If we want more real output, then we need more CI. That said, sometimes these tests aren’t “real” and can be “gamed.” Writing results can always be misleading, unless time-pressured, since it’s more monitor-friendly.

    I keep thinking of that research article “Explicit and Implicit Second Language Training Differentially Affect the Achievement of Native-like Brain Activation Patterns” (2012) in which both learning and acquisition led to similar test results, but how the brain functioned, i.e. how language was felt and experienced, was totally different, and only acquisition led to native-like functioning. That the students scored similarly probably has to do with the way the “learning” was assessed. If true communicative competency were to be assessed, you’d see the native-like brain responses kicking butt! The “training/lesson” in this study was only 13.5 minutes long! That’s how short a time needed to show native-like cognition! I wonder if there’s any budget in the Common Core standardized testing frenzy for electrodes. Then, we can plug in our students and really test their learning/acquisition. 😉

  7. As much as it’s not CI, giving students a brain break where they can get up and socialize with each other in ways that are not so heavily directed by the teacher I find are essential to keeping kids engaged throughout a class period. In my 90 min block I have to do this at least twice. Skip’s activity sounds great though because it actually serves to give more CI.

    1. This semester I have tried brain breaks in a new way. Each Spanish 2 class chose a word. One has the word Piña and the other Pepinillo. One student gets this job. When they are overloaded and I have not given a brain break they remind me by saying the word. As soon as we come to a spot that we can stop we take a brain break. Sometimes someone else will say it if they are struggling to stay focused. It’s fun and gives the students some control. After a song or something we focus again.

    2. Sean, I would not be able to stand planning an activity for every brain break every single day. I need the break, too, and it’s the best time to take roll, anyway, or get out books or a pen/paper or whatever we need to transition to something else in the middle of a huge block class.

  8. Dennis Gallagher

    When we have read books in class, my experience has been that some student (usually of the kind you describe) will inevitably say “Are we ever going to finish this book?”. They equate learning with finishing something and moving on. I can’t remember who said “Salt and Pepper”, but that’s what we have to do.

    Some ideas:

    1. I think it was you Ben, who said to discuss the parts of the chapter that are the richest in terms of discussion and quickly get through the rest. Move it on.

    2. Have students make story maps of different chapters, photograph them and show them on a screen . Use it as a basis for writing or whatever mode you want.

    3. “Write, Draw and Pass” activity as Martina Bex has described. A kind of “telephone” game on paper. Students usually love the outcome of how the sentence has changed.

  9. I have also done “write your own ending” type of thing, or
    what happens in chapter X (next chapter to be read). This can take different forms, but the quickest is to have the kids write 1-2 sentences very quicly in English to predict (or in most cases spice up) what happens next. Then I read them out loud…editing to stick to key structures/ not let language get too wide and shallow. You could actually pull the structures from the chapter and feed it to them, have them “fill in the blanks” with what they think / want to happen

    Tons of things to do here…read out loud, actors, guess who wrote what??? Then if it is a critical / compelling chapter, have them read silently or read as a class. If it is not all that compelling I have given them the “spark notes” version. You can even spice this up by making up your own believable alternative and have them guess which one is the real one.

    When I have been very stuck, I’ve actually written “spark notes for chapters 5-7” etc…and then moved on to the last couple of chapters to wrap it up. There is definitely a time to just wrap it up and be ok with not having read every single word in the book.

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