Today was one of those mixed-up days in Russian 1. I’m a little scattered, thanks to being one of the organizers of our state conference this weekend (Susie and Laurie are coming!!!) and so I had decided to hand out questionnaires at last to this group. I mentioned that Jim Tripp (on Ben’s blog) and Nathan (here) finally explained how to use them so that I got it.

So I handed those out. Then there was a fire drill. When we came back to class, all riled up (because we all caught sight of the movie installation and someone thought he saw Drew Barrymore), some kids were done, some weren’t. I told the kids who were finished to redraw the mouse story in their notebooks with a twist or two. Then I paired them up (“walk around the room looking down until you see legs you recognize…when you meet that person’s eyes, if you can both say each other’s name, you are partners…then sit down and wait for instructions”) and told them to pick one of the stories and tell it together. A couple of kids were finished fast, and I asked them to tell the stories to the class. I put their names up on the board under “earned speaking grade.” We applauded hugely (a trick from Vera, whose kids always want to talk…I told them that we will always do that because it is supportive). Suddenly everyone wanted to tell their stories. We didn’t have time! I’ve never had a first-year class in which so many kids wanted to talk so early.

My native speaker aide came up after class and said she was surprised by what they could do. I told her that they were amazing for me too. She walked out with some of the kids, asking whether they’d taken Russian before. She didn’t believe a couple of them.

I didn’t remind her that this was a story that we have told numerous times, with vocabulary that has now been in their heads for four weeks, and in a way, they SHOULD be able to do it. But kids did things like have a gorilla open the door and come in and grab the mouse, or a boy take the mouse and jump into the ocean (where a shark ate them). They were using all sorts of vocabulary from songs and other odd places.

I guess I don’t have to tell you this…but TPRS works!

I probably don’t have to tell you this either. I didn’t follow my lesson plan, which involved TPR-ing all our verbs to date and then using “has” and “needs.” We were going to talk about how two kids have broken fingers (really, they do). By the time we get back to that story, the broken fingers will have healed. I guess we can talk about how they “had” broken fingers.


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