Class write

Now we’re finally at the point where the newbies are fairly solid in the Russian 1 class. I’m not sure what I think of this experiment of having new kids come in at semester, but I do find that they have to “wanna,” even more so than the usual kids. They have to learn the new alphabet and just go with the flow of kids who know more than they do. They have to be willing to step out on a limb and show their ignorance and not feel embarrassed.

Today we did our first class write, which is nothing spectacular, except that we were doing it in Cyrillic cursive, which is different from Cyrillic print, which is still not exactly like typed print. Having an alphabet of 33 letters look three different ways is probably still nothing like learning Japanese or Chinese, so I’m going to stop thinking we’re special, but it does contribute to halting progress when we get newbies.

It was a huge relief to be able to stand at the Smart Board and write in cursive as we told our story so that the kids could write it too. There’s so much that comes up as we write: I can ask questions about how the story went, ask the kids to draw pictures, ask them to answer questions about what’s written already, or then go back in to add details. I find that it’s easy to get bogged down in adding details when we’re writing, and then kids get behind or need to edit, so I have learned not to do it too much until their notebooks are put away. Or I do it when I have remembered to enforce the writing every third line, but we still don’t add extra details until the story is complete in their notebooks.

5 responses to “Class write

  1. You shouldn’t diminish the difficulties in writing Russian. It is nothing like teaching latin alphabet-based language. Considering that majority of Russians write cursive and many of them try to put a personal spin on standard-written letter, I totally understand how enormous is that task.

    However, I think there is an advantage to that too. I don’t remember (I was only 8 when I started to learn English at school) but I think there should be much less interference of native language in spelling and reading as the kids can’t just make a “franglais” out of whatever they want not only because the alphabet is the same in French and English but also because of the abundant cognates the pronunciation and spelling of which they have to rethink and reprogram their brains not to slip to L1 just because it looks familiar.


  2. You are right on both counts! I hadn’t really thought of that benefit to having another alphabet. The funny thing is that I occasionally get kids who will transcribe English into the Cyrillic alphabet, thinking that makes it Russian.


    • I did just the opposite (transcribing Russian into Latin alphabet) to write e-mails home for the first couple of years as I didn’t have a computer with full language support. Everyone had no problem understanding me. Serbian, for example, uses both alphabets 🙂

      Besides, how would you type in Russian in a web browser on a Mac?


  3. While Mvskoke uses an English alphabet, it uses less letters and the sounds are different. We have yet to write in the language though they see it (we meet only once a week for 45 minutes). I am hoping that the ones who’ve stayed all year will choose to come again next year and we can move our game up a notch. The older students are ready for reading and writing on their own at a level 1. The youngest kids are not yet. Mainly because they entered mid-year to the process.

    Teaching various levels of level 1 at the same time has really got me differentiating my lessons. What is interesting to a middle schooler and a first grader is widely different as well as how their brains learn at this point in the year. Today we open a unit study on food (kids suggested) and particularily PIE is the focus. Luckily with only 10 students, we get to eat the PIE. My principal is making her first visit to my program to observe me. I gave her Bryce’s checklist for observation. Now hopefully I can do some of it.


    • Wow…have fun with the writing! I bet you’ll be impressed!

      It is so true that kids want to talk about different things at different levels. At MS level, it was all about candy and animals for my students. In the early years of HS, they want adventure, and later they want love. I know they’re maturing when current events are interesting. Right now seniors seem to want to revert to the beloved topics of candy, animals, home, and then intermittently to running away. It seems appropriate.


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