One section of German I for me this year is just not clicking. They show up to class, I don’t have a bunch of discipline problems (except for a couple blurters who are in rehab), but the class just isn’t giving me anything. I’ll start PQA or a story and most people just won’t give me much more than the literal. And forget standing up any actors; it’s just the usual suspects. Overall I have about 5-6 kids who are all in, 3 or so that will be amused but run their own English agenda, and the majority who are sympathetic but won’t give me much unless really pressed.
I gave up last week in the middle of a painfully boring discussion about what remedies people take for something that hurts and just said “This is boring. Why are we even bothering? What are we going to do about it?” I took a quick survey (What am I doing well?: What do I need to improve?; I would be more involved if ____; I want to learn about ____), compiled the answers in PPT format, presented it to the class and noted that most people want others to get more involved (but won’t usually go out on a limb themselves). I took some valid criticisms that I wasn’t involving enough people (because of previously being shut down I stopped going there) and that I wasn’t creating enough room for them to input (because they weren’t providing much, I filled the silence).
So, I’m hitting the reset button for them as much as for me. We’ve got the forms of a routine down, but not enough life to it. We’re taking a break doing some projects (Google street view comparisons and cooking) as a way to vary the routine a bit and then are hitting it again as they get back from Thanksgiving.
I’ve just indexed a bunch of great Matava stories (and have just gotten Jim Tripp’s book as well), but I’m not sure that that’s where I need to entirely go. I like the surveys we started the year on because it allowed people to get creative without being on the spot to do so, and it allowed me to strategically target people who hadn’t gotten enough reps in. I feel that methodically we could plow into stories fine enough (the German ability is there, they follow my basic lead enough, etc.) but we need to work on the trust. It’s been a while since the time has flown by for us. We’re grinding it out rather than having fun getting to know each other.
As a result, I’ve generated some surveys to cover key words I want to target from my quarter II lists. My students liked the surveys and kept saying they wanted to get back to “conversations.” Well good, I can work with that and these surveys will give me some structure along those lines. I’m going with what they think works.
TARGET PHRASES: invites, happens, would like, may, watches
Who is coming to your thanksgiving dinner?
What “special dishes” will you cook for the meal?
How do you cook them?
What do you do after the meal?
TARGET PHRASES: receives, buys, would like, something, simple, easy/hard
What do you want to get for Christmas?
Who buys this for you and where do they get it?
What gifts are you going to give this Christmas and where will you shop?
TARGET PHRASES: reads, writes, feels, only, something, simple, easy/hard
What do you like to read?
What book are you going to write?
What will the front cover look like?
Where are you going to do your book signings/tour?
These surveys are sort of a combination PQA/Story script because there are a bunch of directions I can go off of them. I can think of a few story ideas just by the questions (when Clay Matthews and Justin Bieber both want the last turkey drumstick, what happens?), but I’m determined to see what they are going to give me.
Each set of surveys by design will take a few days to get through, and I’ll rotate the target phrases for the day to line up with that day’s “conversation.” On the Thanksgiving one, we spent today going through everybody’s guest lists for the meal and some things that might happen with the guests. Tomorrow we’ll talk about cooking the meal, and I’m saving the “after meal” part for when they return from the break so we can compare notes retrospectively between what they said would happen and what “actually” happened.
Wish me luck!