Recycling PQA

I’m coming up on the quarterly test I give on the 25 target structures for my German Is and IIs and I was wondering what to do by way of review.  In the past I have had students write sentences using structures I highlight on the board and illustrate them. Other times I have given them time in the computer lab to run through the words in Study Stack (usually when I have a sub).  I’ve already done those, however, but darn it all, I want to get back to the full free flow of language that is a regular class.

So I sat down with my word lists and looked over them to inspire myself and then realized that I was staring at a bunch of untapped PQA opportunities.  I had the word “needs” and the word “wants”, which I did almost a month apart, but then I realized I could talk about things that are part of my student’s lives–cell phones, a car, the internet, etc.–and ask them which ones are needs and which ones are wants. 

For the word “lives” I had previously asked my students to draw up a house where they lived (A volcano on top of a skyscraper; a tree on top of a cloud; under a red rock in a purple barn), but I realized I could go back and revisit the drawings (from the OTHER class) and asked “If you lived (under a rock, in a volcano, in a tree, etc.) what do you want?  What do you need?”

Too often I keep moving on to the next fun new structure without getting enough mileage out of my high frequency words.  Have they already done them?  Yeah.  Do they know them?  Yeah, pretty well.  Can I still learn more about my students using them.  Heck yeah. 

I’m going to start going through my high frequency words every two to three weeks to see which ones might either a) be revisited productively with PQA I might have missed, or b) readily combine with recent or new words to give them more life.  For all the push we’ve had lately on recycling stories, I need to work better at recycling the PQA that all of those stories grow out of.

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9 responses to “Recycling PQA

  1. Thanks, Nathan. I saw your German 1 list. Did you post your level 2 frequently used structures?

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  2. I bet you realized that you’re giving yourself a chance to use subjunctive and to practice the high-level functions of predicting and theorizing that are required of speakers at the advanced level. All these baby steps in that direction set the kids up for being able to run races with the language in the future.

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  3. I actually really brought the lazy and used this with my intermediate/advanced classes who have worked on the phrases “would”, “would have” and “would be” this quarter. We did the same activity of outfitting the house, just actually in the subjunctive. I like how the subjunctive allows you to make any good activity applicable to any level.

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  4. Not lazy, but smart! (I just spent half a class yesterday talking about food yesterday with my advanced crew. They were sure I’d never taught them any, and I had to drag out all the old pictures I used to use. What a hoot! They really knew a lot–just like when kids in the same class were sure they didn’t know their numbers and were surprised to find they did. Now THAT was “lazy.”)

    It seems to me that all topics are worth pursuing at all levels if they’re interesting to the kids. I’m hoping to take off with this reminder to re-run our recent discussion of who wants to be what, but just add in the wants/needs. “If Dalton really became a superhero with the skills of teleporting, what would he need/want?” And if TJ became a fat walrus in California…

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  5. Nathan–
    That was really helpful for me. I appreciate your sharing. I got a load of ideas from that.

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  6. I want to know what TJ’s superpower is!

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    • I’ll get back to you on that! It might be being able to read without knowing the Cyrillic alphabet. He doesn’t know the letters’ sounds, but he can look at a word and gesture it for me. If we don’t have a gesture for the word, he can’t decode it. I am thoroughly baffled.

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