Reading blues

Lesson structure today for advanced Russian: sing, find a quote in a song, fast-write using the quote, read, re-tell stories in first person.

The reading group I was leading was dead to the world. I could not get them excited. I knew they were wishing one of the advanced students was leading their group, because the other groups were laughing. Then, as though I had a coach in the room with me, two things occurred to me. First, if they aren’t responding, it is probably because they don’t get it. Second, do Susie’s “appreciation” technique. “Wow, that was a very complex sentence, and you got it.” Keep catching them at what they’re doing right. Do high fives. Be excited.

It turned out to be absolutely true that they hadn’t understood a word of the part where the thesis of the story was laid down. Not a word! That made it pretty hard to follow the rest of the story. We went back and circled and circled that first bit, and all of a sudden, when I was also congratulating them, they got it. Hurrah!! Of course now, after the fact, I can think of lots of other things I could have asked them to make the whole thing more interesting.

About the re-telling…we first re-read the stories that we’d written the other day. Then we re-told them, putting essential vocabulary words on the board. Then we retold them as a group in first person, putting the guide words up. Finally, kids re-told them in pairs and threes. What I liked was that this way, we were able to repeat the essential vocabulary again and again and again, without having it look as though we were doing so. The one thing that I needed to have done but didn’t was to have asked a lot of circling questions, pointing to the necessary guide words: “Who came up to me (point at to me)?” “What did I do?” “When I woke up, whom did I see?” “Did the trolls kill me or us?”

I also forgot to ask for a volunteer to do it with guide words and another to do it without guide words. Oh well. There’s always more to do. The period ended.

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