Differentiation

This week has certainly underscored my belief that a CI/TPRS class is one in which we can differentiate. For example, after we’d told our story yesterday in an Intermediate class, we had five minutes left for a fast write.

(I’m going back to fast writes again, after a year in which we didn’t do them regularly. They offer the kids a chance to watch their improvement, they give me a chance to breathe and then see what the kids need more work on, and they get more confident about writing in general.)

One of my weakest second-year kids wrote eight words in five minutes to retell the story. Another wrote 50. The one who wrote 50 was proud enough of himself that he came up to me to show me. Then the other student came up, and she was relieved to know that didn’t mean she was going to flunk. They’re all on their own paths, and they all get to graph their own progress.

In another intermediate group, a student doing the weather was just jamming. I think he’s going to get a new job next week so that the Calendar job can go to someone who needs practice. Meanwhile, a student at a higher level in a different class was having trouble with the same information and the adjectival endings on the dates. They both get support and applause.

And stories…We’re keeping with the same story right now in one class while the other classes catch up, and while we do that, we’re adding new structures. It’s a new way to do an embedded reading! We PQA the new words, and then we use them as we retell the story. We’re backing up for more details and new information because of the new structures. By doing that, some of the kids can get solid on the original story, while others are working on the grammar for that original story. The higher-level kids can think of the details, while the lower-level ones are just along for the ride. I had a student who is doing university Russian in class today, and she got to answer specific grammar questions in Russian. That gave all the rest of the kids a little breather.

Finally, a second-year kid came into the first year class, along with a young student who has had a lot of Russian at another school. The second-year kid (who wanted that spot) had earlier said that she didn’t think she was good at languages. Full-length sentences were coming out of her mouth today in answer to the simple questions I was asking the first-year kids. The young student is now our “little sister,” and she seemed to relax a lot as we introduced kids via the photographs they’d sent us.

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2 responses to “Differentiation

  1. What do you have your calendar job person do Michele? I have a calendar that I have to change every day in my new room but am not sure how to use it in a beneficial way.

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  2. Kristin, it’s kind of traditional. I was trying to get this to work on my Promethean board with all the bells and whistles, following elementary classroom examples, and finally gave up (I might have a talented tech kid work on it later this year) and made a poster with the following questions and answers (here it is; in Russian! https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qU3XsxHZHxv1P5oCGeNL7sLacLmf-l4NbV4Gw2wdyDE/edit?usp=sharing )

    -What day is it? What was it yesterday? What will it be tomorrow?
    -What’s the date?
    -What’s today’s weather? What will it be tomorrow? (includes temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius)
    -Is there any class news? Are there holidays coming up? (This helps with cultural events I might miss, and includes a check of both the Russian holiday calendar and the birthday calendar.)

    I have structures and some essential vocabulary for the kids on the poster. In the intermediate class, I’m assigning it to a kid until the answers are pretty smooth. In the beginning class, we’re going to start with just ‘What day is it.”

    I picked the first kid, and we regretfully “promoted” him because he got good at the answers. I had the entire class ask the questions. It’s a little stilted, but the kids seem to like to have routines like this, and a very weak kid volunteered in one class to be next, because she “wants to get good at this.” I was very happy with that attitude.

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