Today I finally remembered to ask my Intermediates how things were going for them. Kids talked about the chairs, singing, and basically everything BUT what I wanted to know about. Finally one kid said that it really helped him when I have an actor up in front; it gives him someone to focus on. That was very interesting, especially from a student who is very much a barometer kid for me. The minute things get either tough or boring for him (which are really the same thing), he starts skipping. It’s his fourth year with me, so at least he seems to like what I’m doing, but he’s a puzzle for me. Another kid said that the way I’m putting things on the board, Blaine-style, is very helpful for him. That is all those different verb forms that are going on. He likes it because he doesn’t have to wonder what the changes mean. It used to be that I would concentrate on the verb, and not necessarily put up the different endings unless someone asked.

Hmm…that’s something else I’m doing here because of the new Blaine style: I am not putting up as much different vocabulary, or as many structures. I have the main ones that we’re working on listed in a corner of the board, but we’re doing all sorts of forms of the verb structures. It turns out that the level 2 kids are getting the meaning, as they should, and the level 4 kids are getting the variations on the verbs. Wow. I like it. It’s differentiation that I never really could account for before.

Back to the metacognition. I was struck by how helpful it was to the advanced kids in Bryce’s summer class, and I am downright determined to get to it in here! Maybe once all my beginner kids have their classroom notebooks I will start with that piece. The main things I want to ask now are:

What activities are helping you learn the most?
What is keeping you from learning as much as you would like?

On other days, I might ask:

What are you doing to help yourself and others learn?
Are there any changes you need to make to help the class be a more effective place for yourself or others?


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