A reading aimed at Level 1 turned out to have vocabulary in it that Level 4 kids wouldn’t know. I was crazy and started doing it in one big piece with a group of mostly level 1 kids this morning after spring break. All eyes, including the level 2/3, glazed over almost immediately. It wasn’t accessible, comprehensible, or compelling.
Take two: During my prep period, I copied, pasted, and cut the text down to the core in five successive pieces. I made lists of all the new structures in each one. (This is not how I usually do reading, but they need to be able to read this soon for a competition.) By the time I got to the second group of mostly level 1 kids, I was ready with TPR and ASL signs and mini stories for all the words in the first two sections, partly because I practiced on the level 2-3-4 kids. I gave them a pre-test, meaning that I told them I’d read the first version aloud and ask for their level of understanding. I got fists: nearly nothing. Then we played with the first set of structures for much of the period, and after I felt pretty confident, we read the first piece again. They weren’t to say anything, just do the signs. I could tell that the whole class understood it, almost triumphantly!
In another class, we got “off task” with the first part of an embedded reading on Pushkin, because kids wanted to discuss whether the USA is the only country that doesn’t value its writers, or whether Russia is more proud of her writers than other countries. They also wondered whether Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are in the same firmament as Pushkin. It was fun to have them coming up with the big questions and wanting to talk about them.
Last of all, we’re back on March Madness, or The Best Thing contest. I cut down the brackets this year to only 16 total teams, and each class gets to contribute four ideas. So far, tea, coffee, sleep, family, flamingos, hands, football, and music are up. We’ll finish the brackets tomorrow and start with the competition. I have a little basketball and basket, and the kids get to take as many shots as their side has made strong points about a topic. That is, if tea and coffee are up against each other tomorrow, the class will divide into two sides. They get to brainstorm, then everyone on the team must contribute for up to two minutes to explain why their thing is the best. If they give twelve recognizable, reasonably logical support statements for their topic, they get twelve shots. Things get very hot.
Thank goodness for Laurie and Embedded Readings and Nathan, who got me started here on March Madness. If you haven’t begun it and want to, just try out a half-bracket set. My kids remember and ask for it every year.