Let the holidays begin!

The kids are all gone until January; all that is left now is to enter grades, write letters of recommendation and organize for next semester. 

I didn’t do enough with Scaffolding Literacy this semester, and I was pretty darned disorganized without dependable Internet for much of the semester. Still, I used MovieTalk with stories, and got the virtual tour to St. Petersburg going. I used authentic resources a lot, and made sure that the level 1 kids had a good grounding in Cyrillic letters. I went back to teaching cursive, because “today’s kids” don’t do cursive in elementary school, and there’s something very satisfying about seeing how nice their writing gets. 

I’ve been learning from Michael’s introductory videos about starting with a nice chunk of explaining when I present structures. I am enjoying presenting that way, because it makes a lot more sense to kids and gives them a complete picture, even while I don’t expect them to get all the subtleties of grammar. At least the forms are out on the board for them as needed. It’s kind of like giving Carol’s “challenge” words at the beginning of a set of structures. 

By testing Russian 1 on reading, I found out how slowly kids decode words at this stage and realized that I must still teach decoding, rather than being able to run ahead with reading and reading strategies at higher levels. And by teaching two kids during a fire drill (the rest of the class was stuck at lunch), I found out how much slower I need to go. 

It’s been a good semester for me to learn in! I’m hoping I can blitz through my grading tomorrow and focus on what I’m going to do next semester to help kids have more fun and yet be serious about their learning. I’m definitely going to capitalize on repetition of stories. That has helped me a lot: building them, acting them out, and then adding to them at all levels. 

I’m also going to try for more cultural lessons. Today, using Anne Matava’s Christmas Tree (in Russia, it’s a New Year tree) story, I was able to compare what the scenes look like in Moscow and in Washington here on the holidays. It doesn’t take much to make it a complete lesson and comparison! The other thing that happened today was that I got props into the story for the first time in a while, and I tried techniques of “freezing” a tableau and rewinding the story to repeat. 

Happy holidays, Merry Everything (my husband has pointed out fourteen different holidays in these weeks, so I can’t limit myself to one!) and may you all have a chance to reflect, relax, love and be loved.

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