OK, I had a pretty decent plan for a section of German II today (an embedded story that we generate based on three sentences, etc. etc.) when right before class one of my students starts complaining about his assigned seat and wanted to move. Feeling a little cheeky today I went and sat in his seat and offered to let him teach the class. He declined but then Devin–the barometer student to beat all barometer students–jumps up and tells me he will take me up on my offer.
I slide over to Devin’s seat, settle in and wonder how many minutes this would last. Devin wrote “This is English class” on the board, so keeping up my snarky attitude (hey something about the back row brings it out in me) I said, “Oh, that means you’ll speak English and we’ll all speak German.” The class agreed and off we went.
The thing is, Devin had the act down cold. I had already written the daily target phrases on the board, so after the bell rings Devin launches into the word gesturing phase. He not only negotiated gestures with everybody, but even organized a couple of skits for the words. Then he picks up a word list of the quarter’s target words I happened to have laying on my podium and then taught from that. He grabbed props, organized skits, the whole nine yards.
I thought we’d get ten minutes tops. He kept it up the entire period and everybody was pulling for him enough that they stayed with him. He became “Herr Smith” and I became “Nathan.” It was great. That’s the wierd thing about the routines we establish: they work.