Weekly schedule

We all love to know how others spend their weeks. Natalie wrote to ask me how much time I dedicate to reading, writing, and storytelling, and the answer I sent her is a rambling one.

I’m going to share it here…keep in mind that I have been away from kids for a while. This is one imagining of how a week could go. It probably would never really go this way because my weeks get away from me. Still, it’s one possible flow. Natalie also wanted to know whether I pre-teach structures. Yes! Here goes.

I’m not in school yet. I try to have a plan for my weeks, bookended with weekend reports and plans (and Kindergarten Day). It’s really flexible, though, and when a class catches on fire, I generally go to where the kids lead, and ride the wave as long as possible.

I always pre-teach high-frequency focus vocabulary by starting with as many forms of presentation as possible. I might not pre-teach words that the kids don’t need to know right then. Susie Gross suggests trying to use almost all of the structures that will prove to be important that quarter in every reading. I don’t always get there, but I keep it in mind.

I try to TPR all possible verbs during the beginning of the year and for brain breaks later, linking them to gestures and movements. I start in third-person form (the class stands, the class runs, etc) and try to get to three-ring circus events once in a while.

So…here’s one weekly plan (in my mind) for a usual level 1-2 class:

Monday (50 minutes)
-new structures on board for copying into notebooks, possibly with some questions
-talk about the weather and the weekend (10-15 minutes); try to work new structures in if they fit
-try to remember to pull out the Can-Do statements that will best fit the structures, ask kids how they would approach those statements to achieve the result, explain how what we’re going to do this week will address them.
-introduce the new structures, with TPR if possible, gestures if we can think of some, pictures if I have some fun ones or drawings if the kids have them, or MovieTalk just the structures; then we ask questions using those, possibly making up mini stories.
-at this point, I might ask the kids to write me skeleton stories that I can use for Embedded Readings later, or we just launch into the beginning of a story.
-maybe a quiz (eyes closed, hands up for “yes,” down for “no”) about the day’s discussions; a student has been writing it all period.
-play a song that we’re going to be learning and do gestures for it
Any advanced kids in the room have been writing the information down in TL and will type and mail it to me by 8:00 pm so that I can correct it and we can read it the next class. If there are no advanced kids, I try to remember to write up the story as I remember it. I sometimes do this as the intro for the next class that walks in. They have to read it. If they’re another level 1-2, I intro the structures as we go.

Day two (85 minutes)
-sentences on the board from Monday’s discussion; or matching pictures or something to get their notebooks open and remembering that they’re in Russian class again
-continue learning the song we started, possibly reading the words or doing a cloze exercise
-review what we started on Monday, exaggerating everything possible and making it more interesting for any absentees.
-Then we read whatever advanced kids sent me. We might add pictures, or we might do Educreations with it. We also might create an Embedded Reading by adding in the exaggerations we came up with.
-We continue with our story, taking breaks by doing mini retells, dictations, back-to-the-screen reading of a paragraph, anything that makes the kids move around and form different groups.
-We sing as much of our new song as possible (advanced kids have to find, transcribe and translate one song a semester for me; it has to be appropriate and put on a google doc in a particular fashion so that we can sing along or I can make cloze exercises of it). We make sure that everyone understands it. Sometimes grammar comes in here.
-We try to finish our story. If we haven’t used all the structures, I might put them to the next week. Otherwise, we might find ways to work them into the story.
-We go through some of the skeleton stories (that the kids wrote in L1; I bring them into L2) for more repetition of the structures and to give kids credit for their creative ideas. I might have worked the creative ideas into the story as answers to questions.
-We might write the story all together (they remind me, I type) and then advanced kids tell it from new perspective (either person or time frame).
-quiz of some sort
-advanced kids mail me the written piece for the day

Day three (85 minutes)
-start with our song or other relaxing activity
-review of structures, maybe with one of the readings up on the board with questions or a request to add something to it or draw it with all the details. We discuss it, doing grammar pop-ups, especially if the kids writing it nailed a grammar form or if I need to make sure they understand a piece.
-Everyone draws story strips or a mural of the story that we’ve told. We compare it to the original written version of the Anne Matava or other source. If another class is doing the same structures, we compare it to whatever they have done. We decide that we like the one that we’ve told.
-We continue with activities that support an Embedded Reading, whether it’s from the skeleton stories or the story that we’ve been telling.
-Students retell the story in small groups.
-Students do a fast-write, if I think they’re ready. Otherwise we do a dictation or running dictation.
-Song activity: read about the author, come up with the back story for the song, pull out our favorite phrases for the song, tell when we’d use those phrases…
-Graded assignment of some sort to fill the gradebook.

Friday (50 minutes)
– Sing as we prepare for Kindergarten Day
– groups retell our story with a twist and share with the class (maybe graded, maybe not)

-check whether students think we fulfilled our Can-Do or other goals

– reading a book together or playing a new game; sometimes milk and cookies
– birthday cards for anyone who has had a birthday that week, sing to them
– sing songs by request of birthday kids, otherwise alpha from where we left off the last week
– discuss weekend plans and hopes

This might not help you much…and it might be really far from the truth. Last year I had a 2-3-4 year class that was into hockey. Luckily my Russian-speaking exchange student became a hockey cheerleader, so she wrote up all the practices and games, as well as the intrigues and coaching issues. We read a lot about hockey. The hockey players would argue about what really happened, and we’d all tell our own versions of their stories. We followed hockey results and famous players. We watched hockey ads. We sang the teams’ songs. When our hockey players were gone for games, we’d make up stories about them to share with them when they got back.

We ask stories (including news stories or even historical stories), then we read them, then we write them, creating and filling in parallel stories where possible. That should have been all I said.

These plans haven’t got the MovieTalk detours. Sometimes we do Scaffolding Literacy, and sometimes we just read a story. I try to milk everything we do for as many activities as possible, because writing stories and keeping on top of things is a full-time job, and I already have one teaching all day.


It turns out there’s a category in the right sidebar for TPRS schedules. I’ll have to click on that after I’ve posted this and see what I said the last time I thought about it!

2 responses to “Weekly schedule

  1. I like the idea you mentioned about having the students write a skeleton story. It sounds a little bit about a blog post I read recently by Justin Slocum Bailey: http://indwellinglanguage.com/quirky-scripts/

    Can you expound a little bit about what you mean by skeleton story, what exactly you ask your students to do and in which language, and how you use the finish product in class?

    Thank you so much for recording your thoughts. It is nice to know that there are other teachers who go where their class takes them, and that I am not necessarily a bad teacher because I have difficulty sticking to whatever I outlined at the beginning of the week.


  2. Hi Murph1613! (Did I meet you last week?)

    I’m going to answer about skeleton stories for now. It’s pretty simple. I tell kids the structures I’d like to try using (or they come to class and ask for us to review or add a structure or two). I hand out post-it notes and ask them to take two minutes to write a story idea down in English or in Russian. Then I use those ideas, circling as much or as little as necessary to take the class through the stories.

    Now I’m going to look at Justin’s post. And I’m going to find a picture I took with that young genius last week. Keith Toda drove Justin, Darcy Pippins, and me from IFLT to Atlanta last week. For a while, we even had Leslie Davison in the car. Those four are a huge part of a brilliant TPRS generation. (Can you say “name dropping”?)


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