I’m trying out two new ideas; first, the Scaffolding Literacy idea that you tell the kids what you’re going to read to them, then you read it to them, and then you read it together. It is amazing. It ends up taking less time to read because everyone understands.
The other is an attempt to use part of what I got from The Talent Code. Today we were talking about the events in Pakistan with my level 1 kids. I took a method Coyle reported on from the Spartak youth tennis club: the kids there were practicing their strokes without actually having tennis racquets in their hands. So I asked kids to make the phrases that I said repeat in their heads every time I said something. (This means going really slowly.) Then, once we got down the story about the invasion (just one very long sentence), I asked them to say chunks of it in their heads. After that, we circled some more, and then I asked them to tell the part I was saying with me, but only to move their lips; the sound had to be in their heads only. Finally, I told them they could tell their partners. They were amazingly fluid and had picked up three completely new words. I ran into one kid later, and she burst out the whole sentence at me. It went like this: Our president, Barack Obama, told us on Sunday, May first, that Osama bin Laden died in the town of A, in Pakistan, when American troops attacked him.
I told the kids it was just an experiment, and that I’m not interested in output. But I really want to have some kid try this for a two-week period at some point in the beginning of the year and see whether it could speed up learning. After all, if they hear it from me, then use their memory to re-hear it again correctly in their heads, it’s double the input. The kid I stopped in the hall said that’s how she memorizes her pieces for music: by humming them all the time.