Yesterday was the first day back from Christmas break and nobody was in a great mood to be there. I took a poll and the average time for most of them getting out of bed during the break was 10:00. No wonder they weren’t with me yesterday.
So I dusted off an idea that somebody on Ben’s site threw out a while back: postcards. I had my upper level classes draw me a picture of postcard that they “did” during the break and write me a letter on the back. I played up the fact that I missed them so much and nobody wrote, so I was having them do so now. This also gave me a chance to go through the conventions of how to say “Dear Herr Black” and “With friendly greetings” (the standard signoff). Levels II/III/IV had to write a letter and draw a picture, while I went easy on Level I and just had them draw the picture. When we were done, I showed the pictures and we guessed who did what.
It was interesting to see the reactions. I psyched out the Level Is by showing them examples from Level III, not only seeing the pictures but reading through the postcards. At the last minute I told them they wouldn’t have to write and they were grateful. Level II was a bit nervous about writing right out of the break, but I let people work in groups if they wanted and it was fine. One of my Level IV students after class sent me an email, including a note to say thank you for giving them an easy day. Interesting to see how the capacity grows over time not just in ability but attitude.
Today we’re getting back after it with some vocab, but I’m going to use their postcards as the foundation for embedded stories. I’ll type up a few selected postcards, but then add in target words from our list such as “decided” and “somewhere” and “remembers” and use those to extend the postcard reports.