Jason Fritze rocks!

I tried the Jason Fritze idea of having kids sit in quiet groups of four, glued to their New Houdini books, writing questions and answers. Each had two half pieces of paper, and they began the activity by simply writing two questions on two different pieces of paper. When they were finished with writing a question, they signed it and put it into the middle of the group. When they finished writing questions, they picked up a paper and wrote an answer to the question, signing their names. Then they’d write another question on the same paper, sign that, and put it into the middle.

A couple of the kids had very devious questions, and they brought them up to show me! “Who drove Brandon’s car,” for example.

I was able to hold a meeting with a student while they all worked, and aside from shushing them a few times, it was really a fun activity. I will do that in every class!

I also was able to remember another trick: I had an Embedded Reading for my advanced kids, but I realized that I’d made the first version simple enough for the intermediates. We did the first version of that reading today, complete with acting, in the lower-level class. It was nice to be able to use something in a number of groups. I think I should even be able to use it with the beginners, if I cut it down and add pictures to make a “pre-first-version” copy.

The two biggest pieces for me to remember in these ER activities (after having picked a piece that I think is valuable and cutting it down appropriately so that there are some interesting tweaks to learn in successive versions) are that the different readings should look different in some way (maybe add pictures or change the text) and that the activities for each one are different: act the first one, translate the second, and focus on grammar popups or questions on the third.


13 responses to “Jason Fritze rocks!

  1. Good ideas and good reminders! (And I had to second that emotion about Jason!) I love him, and am a big fan of his style of teaching. So gifted and generous!


  2. I will have to try the questions and answers next year. My students loved El Nuevo Houdini!


  3. Did they write questions in TL or English?


  4. Pingback: Grab and Go | The Comprehensible Classroom

  5. Sounds like an engaging activity.

    My students are not able to form questions very well. I did an activity in which they wrote questions and then I read the questions to the class as a review on a chapter so I could make the corrections as I asked them. At times there were questions that I wasn’t sure what they were trying to ask. What are your thoughts – should I be concerned that many times they’ll be reading the TL with obvious mistakes on their classmates’ questions?


    • Anytime I ask my lower-level students to write questions, I provide them with a very basic question “formula” on the board. For French, it goes like this:

      Question word + est-ce que + Who + does what (did what, etc) + rest ?

      Then we brainstorm question words (they are all over the room), and I replace “Question word” with them. They’ve been quite successful with simple questions because all they have to do is to plug their own info.

      Quand + est-ce que + Marie + mange + le dîner?

      For the very beginners, I choose a statement and they write as many questions as they can that can be answered with that statement for practice. Yes, it does get much more complicated later on in French with different question types etc., but at least they have good understanding of basic procedure and can apply it from the start.


      • Yes, I agree! It’s hard for them to form questions. As it turns out, that’s a pretty high-level activity, but I am following Natalia’s lead on scaffolding their question creation. We do the same thing: practice all the different questions that they can get out of a sentence. I’ve chosen to ignore the question-making mistakes, in favor of applauding their need to read the book again and again for this activity.


  6. Yesterday, my beginner students in groups of 2-3 wrote (or took right out of the chapter of the book we’re reading) 10 events-sentences on strips of paper. I checked them for accuracy and returned today. They exchanged them with different groups several times to put the events in order (more reading!:). Then I asked groups to pick 5 sentences out of 10 they had in front of them and for each write a question that could be answered by that sentence. I had my “formula” on the board and checked questions for accuracy as they wrote them. Finally, the sentence strips and questions were returned to original writes who had to match questions with answers. Success!

    I love your version too! It makes each kid responsible for writing questions and answers at least a few times. I will definitely be doing it soon. Next chapter?


  7. Was this activity for a chapter review or for reviewing the entire book? Thanks for sharing this great idea and how it worked in your class!


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