Starting the year with jobs and PDL

Whoo hoo! I am having some fun with two activities.

First, I am using the “name game circle” warm-up that we learned from Dufeu’s book on PDL. It’s in three sections, all done from a circle. First pairs change places when they make eye contact. Once that’s comfortable, the pairs say their names to each other as they pass in the middle to trade places. After a while, the pairs make eye contact and try to say the other’s name as they’re trading places.

This was so much better than starting out by making people learn names around a circle. Kids “met” on an individual basis. We added some pieces to it in some classes, putting in time limits, or requiring everyone to trade at least three times, and so on. Doing it with just eye contact the first time made everyone much more confident in their interactions.

The next moment was the assigning of jobs. I have a timer and two counters on hangers next to my desk. I have a squeaky hedgehog on my desk too. Kids are now responsible for counting structures, writing quizzes and class information (separate), timing how long we spend in Russian, throwing the hedgehog at my feet if I spend more than 15 seconds on grammar or use up my three time-outs for extended English. Kids will take care of my desk, put up chairs, greet one another at the door if I’m not there, welcome visitors, keep the calendar, and manage the technology. Ben Slavic’s newest book (coming out again soon) has a list of some 60 jobs that kids can do in the classroom. He says that every kid should have a job. Some are very popular and need tryouts (throwing was key today), and others just fit kids perfectly.

A couple of less-than-enthusiastic kids became enthusiastic when jobs they liked opened up, and everyone thought it was really funny that someone gets to throw the hedgehog (at my feet/legs) if need be.

In my Russian 1 class, I channeled Katya, and stayed on “This is” most of the period. She went so slowly for the beginners in Chicago this summer that they all got it! I want to keep everyone on board for the whole year.


7 responses to “Starting the year with jobs and PDL

  1. Did you ever think of a birthday person? I passing around a calendar to record all birthdays and the birthday person will write happy birthday in French on the board. We will see if it works. C

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Hi, I love your posts and I also bought the PDL book by Defu.(?) Using PDL is an adventure….Anyway, do you have a list of the jobs in your class? and what is Katya’s .. This is… activity…. Thanks for all of your help!.. Mary


    • I have a list of the jobs that Ben Slavic suggested in his book. I will try to give you most of those over this weekend.

      Katya’s “This is…” was simpler than it sounded. I tied myself to using just that structure for half an hour, two days in a row. Oh my. I always thought it was so easy that I didn’t need to repeat it so much. We kept up with it today, and it seemed to lock in the meaning. I also remembered to tell kids that it doesn’t use the grammar of “is.” I used to assume they got that.


  3. Hola! Can you explain the “this is…” in more detail please!


    • “This is…” is just a Ben Slavic Circling with Balls or Bryce Hedstrom La Persona Especial activity. The big difference is that in the past I’ve tried to fit too much new into the period. This time, I grabbed a hedgehog off my desk and said, “This is a hedgehog.” Circle a bit, circle, using flamingo too. Then I asked one boy if he wouldn’t mind being a flamingo, so we added “who is this?” (same structure). We slowly introduced other kids, and I had to sit on my own tongue almost to keep from moving further into the language. Well, I did have either/or, and, but, on the other hand, also, and actor up on the board. Then we also added “sun” and “rain.” “This is the sun, while this is the rain.” “This is Justus, not a flamingo. Who is the flamingo? Justus. Justus is an actor.”

      At the end of 30 minutes of Russian over two days (we had paperwork and a presentation by a former student the other halves of these days), I asked the kids if they would like to try talking, led by my gestures. In a giant chorus, they said, “This is Vladimir. This is Noah. This is the rain, and this is the sun. Vladimir likes the sun and Noah also likes the sun. Vladimir likes the rain, while Noah doesn’t like the rain.” I don’t know who really could say all of it, but I was pretty happy with them.

      I had been avoiding asking kids to do output, but this year I am going to change that and let those who are ready talk whenever I can hear them being ready. I don’t expect them to talk for more than thirty seconds, maybe twice or three times in the class.


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