I really feel as though I should leave the most recent post up until our conference is over! It’s incredibly exciting to have Outsiders coming to our conference (Outside is anywhere outside Alaska; it doesn’t mean you’re not in our community, because if you’re reading this, you are).
But I thought I should post my current, improved version of our Virtual Move. This year, I had students in the “advanced” class form families, thanks to whoever I sat next to at inservice. Was that Allison? Probably. She said that she tells them they have to have three generations, and the oldest student is the grandparent, the youngest student a grandchild, and the others are up for grabs. I set up families of four. I haven’t assigned seats yet, so if the first assignment is not in families, it makes for a nice movement break when they have to get into families.
I have been forgetting my own instructions on Embedded Reading, and jumped into something too hard for my kids. Then I had to backtrack, and because one of the students in the class claimed in his initial interview to own a resort on an island in the southern hemisphere, I decided to use the structures in that too-hard reading to start a situation about the families’ vacation at the resort. Every so often, we go back to the reading and do some more that is easier now.
The first homework assignment was to pick family names by researching famous names of St. Petersburg. We have Pavlovs, Bloks, Medvedevs and others. The next thing they had to do was to find a place of employment or study, based on their ages. Then they all started on-line bloggish power points that connect to a main one that holds the instructions.
Today the families had to find out the interests of each member in small groups as class started. Later, they’ll have to find places in St. Petersburg where they enjoy practicing those pursuits. One student likes kick boxing, for instance, and will have to track down a location to do that. There were some weird ones, and I can’t wait to find out where they’ll be.
For now, the families are at the resort, while we develop the back stories. I’ve been asking some things about schedules (when, where and how do they have meals) and they’ll have to work that information into their lives. Everything has to hold together.
One family is a group of smugglers (“contrabandisti”!), though everyone thinks they’re perfectly nice, and one family is all vampires, so they don’t lie out on the beach during the day. I guess they’re all going to have cover stories as well as back stories.
This year, I have every level except first in my “advanced” class (though the AP kids are pretty much independent), so it’s tricky finding reading materials that work for them all. At the same time, it must be said that there isn’t really enough compelling, comprehensible material in the Russian world for any level of high school, but I’m trying to make it work. I’m lucky to have interested kids and a wonderful circle of CI friends and support!