I was telling kids where my Cheburashka collection had come from this morning (I put them all out on display…I have four.) Each one has a story. I was in the middle of establishing details when I asked who bought me the one in Moscow. Sherie raised her hand and said she had. Suddenly we were off to Moscow, where Sherie had met Chuck Norris…you know the drill.
But then February doldrums took over and I found I was circling boring stuff too much (after all, I know about Moscow, but they don’t, and they really don’t care–I just had an idea that I could let them look for interesting places in Moscow and then come back to this story later). So I typed it up, we read the story on the projector, and we retold it from Cherie’s point of view. At that point, I wanted to collect a speaking assessment, but remembered that this story is too new. I told them to sit in groups of four as prep for retelling with details, but then we took each sentence and fleshed it out.
“Cherie was in Moscow.” They added details about Cherie–age, nationality, height, description…then they added details about Moscow–big, beautiful, Russian.
“Cherie saw churches.” –details about the churches…you get the idea.
Then each group was to spend time adding details in a round robin. I walked around, marking what sorts of things I heard from kids. Some explained why she was there–shopping for Bibles, looking at pictures, looking for love. Others were working hard on describing Chuck Norris as a very short but intimidating person. All agreed that he loved Cherie but she wasn’t interested.
The kids kept at it for 15 minutes in the small groups! I was happy that I could still use the speaking rubrics and get a pretty good picture of what they were communicating. What I also liked was that one group member would get stuck, say something like “She has … ” and the others would jump in, saying, “Long hair! Blue eyes! A sister! A boyfriend!” so that the dialogue would continue (in Russian).
They were happy they didn’t have to get up in front of the class and I was happy that in the same fifteen minutes that we would have prepped a speaking assessment and heard about two of the groups, I could assess the entire class.