I had observers today, and I’m not sure I was all here. At least I know that they could have been figuring out what they’re never going to do. I’ve got to brag a little about the first-second year mix though. Two girls, who are actually barely “second-years” (they had 12 days in Russia last summer in lieu of a first year of Russian) got to retell in past tense today. First of all, they hadn’t had past tense yet, except as we’ve used it to talk about weekends and as it fell into songs. Even then, I hadn’t yet done any pop-ups on past tense. So we walked through a text that had three uses of “goes” that were all the same in present, but became three different forms in the past tense. There were also three different forms of “was,” one of them being an impersonal form. I wrote down the verbs on a mini white board, and we rehearsed telling the story in the past tense once. Then we did some other stuff, and suddenly a visitor walked in. We continued what we were doing for a while and then I remembered what the goal of this visit had been. I explained at length in Russian that the visitor wanted to see how to differentiate for first/second year (“This is Mrs. H. Mrs. H teaches French at B. Mrs. French teaches 1st year. . .” and so on. . . simple language.) Thus it was about 15-20 minutes later that we returned to that text. I challenged the 2nd years to retell again, and to my surprise, they nailed almost every form, without looking at the mini white board. Actually, several of the first years did too. Crazy. The kids can do way more than we think they can, as long as we’re keeping the vocabulary pool small.
After that, I had a class for which I had not really planned. After a consultation with the visitor, I decided I would demo backward planning from HF words in a new text. The words were “should” and “dreams.” We barely PQA’d with the new words before we were suddenly in a story because a kid had a dream about meeting a bear and getting killed. We discussed the fact that he’d drunk some water before bed and that maybe he shouldn’t drink water before bed. And then I threw the first chapter of this new book up on the overhead and we started reading it. I had to backtrack (after telling the kids I’d forgotten to show a cheating technique of having them do the skeleton story) and we came up with a new story about a kid whose 37 cats kept him awake night after night. It was not very smooth!! I’m sure that I demonstrated that I am incapable of actually following any plan. Finally, we sang one of our favorite songs, which has nothing to do with any of the stuff we’ve been doing. I’ll try to pull it into the topic tomorrow somehow. Hate to feel so disjointed. The kids were pretty rowdy, so I used one of Carol’s techniques for elementary school: if the answer was “yes” to a question, they nodded. If it was “no,” they put their hands on their heads. And if I needed a real answer, they had to raise their hands Russian style and wait ’till I called on them. It was a very quiet room for a while. Great relief!