We had a wonderful meeting with Laurie on Friday. I will keep updating this post as I think of more things, and especially after Tuesday, when a bunch more teachers are going to watch the video again and talk about it in my classroom.
Two hints: to get the same kind of value with new vocabulary as you do in a novel where the setting is established already, start a story with a familiar character and a typical action as Laurie did for us: Sophie was (doing what?) riding her bike (because we all know that) when she realized something about her . . . pause, pause. . . homework. (We’re also trying to fend off too-early contributions, especially by middle-schoolers.) They couldn’t break in until now, but you are now ready to take ideas. You can put rejected ideas on earlier days in the week. “No, she realized she hadn’t done her homework at all on Monday.” “No, she left her book at school on Wednesday.” These are sneaky ways to work in repetitions of days/months.
Off-topic, somewhat: Laurie chose “realized,” because that’s what she’s teaching on Monday. Sophie was writing furiously, because that’s what she’s doing on Monday too! Nice to have company for these ideas.
Hint #2: by now, we’re all in mixed-level classes. Tell the kids who’ve missed a bunch that they have to do only 6-10 on the quiz. That lowers their stress level, and doesn’t make you write different tests.
Laurie is full of common sense, a reasonable attribute for someone who has so successfully built up her Spanish program, but she has the very unusual ability of being able to express that common sense directly and warmly. Her matter-of-fact answers to puzzlers always make me think, “Wow! That’s exactly right,” yet somehow I don’t feel dumb for not having figured it out; instead, I hope I’ll remember it. Those people going to Cancun and being able to kidnap Laurie for a couple of hours in the afternoon are really lucky. Just…take your notebooks and send me everything she says, especially her asides. Laurie’s presentation reminds me of one of our best basketball players–really solid through the whole game, with these fade-away jumpers that look so nonchalant but make big points.
Laurie reminded us about using phrases, rather than single words, for our target structures (more bang for the buck). She gave us ideas for what to do with the advanced kids in a given class: move them up a level if possible, and if not, let them read individually, or write the stories out in TL. Betsy added that she is giving her superstars the three structures and asking them to write embedded stories, because she just doesn’t have the time to do so. And right after you ask a benchmark kid to retell you the story in English, you can ask a superstar to do that in TL. The next superstar can tell you the story from perspective. We know these things, but at this point in the year, it’s easy to forget.