New kids

I am up to seven new kids in my Russian 1/2 class. Each day, we’re going to add a few more gestures to TPR the “old” words, so that the new kids get some familiarity with them. We’ve started on a fairly complex poem (gesturing the words), and we’re doing new stories with the new vocabulary words for the quarter.

It’s actually pretty exciting, even though three new kids started today, so I am wondering for how many days the class will be expanding. One was from an Alaskan village, one from a big city in Texas, and one from a smaller town outside Seattle. They were all a little blown away by the whole Russian class thing, but they were managing to stay up with us. I keep emphasizing that everyone needs to tell me if they don’t understand.

We went back to some double-line question-and-answer for brain breaks. With the new kids, I’m having to really focus on not springing too much new stuff on them, so need a bunch of ways to double up on the same information. Tomorrow we’ll play Simon Says and a classroom name-game at the very least to repeat the verbs. I’m also going to try an alphabet game that I saw on the Yahoo list. More on that later, if I like it!

In my advanced class, we worked on the second stanza of a poem. It’s also pretty complex. In sets of one or two lines, we introduce new structures, especially the HF ones. Then we read and translate. Then I circle the parts that I think that they need. After that, we talk about what the poet is doing, include a few grammar pop-ups, and generally try to let them hear the most difficult-to-pronounce words a bunch of times.

After that, pairs work together to first translate on their own, and then they take turns sitting back to the screen, one saying the poem and one coaching. That’s Betsy’s trick; the ones who get the most out of it are the ones reading. Most of the kids can now say the two stanzas with not too much coaching.

This is my way to use as much TPRS methodology as possible as kids learn poems for our state Russian competition in March. Now that we’re half-way through, I’m going to have them draw pictures (as many as needed) to serve as prompts for the poem. I think they’ll like doing that, and it will give me another way to add repetition.

I’m not sure I like the competition any more, but I’ve always liked kids to have a poem on the tip of their tongues to be able to amaze their friends and relatives. If I can keep the wasted time to a minimum, that is a huge plus. The other pieces they need in preparation are culture (history/geography/literature/etc) information and the ability to talk about themselves. That part is not a problem, and we won’t prep for it, but we’ll do a bunch of reading to prep for the culture section so that they know that they are good.


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