Map-making continues

We continued getting to know kids today. Bryce sent me a note yesterday that he learned one of his new students is from the Kenai Peninsula (where he just went to give his AFLA talks), and I had a similar surprise: one of my 16-year-olds has two cars. How is that possible? He bought one, and his dad bought one. I’d hate to see his insurance payment! We have a new Russian name for two students, and found out that two of our kids don’t really want to learn to drive, even though they’re sixteen. That surprises me, especially when they are boys…maybe that’s a bit sexist. I love getting to know these students! Bryce was right: one of the kids pointed out that we were lacking information about one kid that we had for another. Wow. They really do pay attention. And another kid said that we have to save a page for me. That made me feel all warm inside.

In sixth period, I gave my Russian 1 group a blank map of Russia. We determined which dot was Moscow, then added the fact that it’s the capital of Russia, then found St. Petersburg, which is the former capital of Russia. We circled around the words “capital,” “city,” “Moscow,” and “St. Petersburg.” The Lena River was next.

This activity had the kids sitting on the edge of their seats for some reason. They were excited to be talking about geography so early in their Russian lives. I was reminded that we used to start the year with a geography unit in the old days, but then I didn’t have a highly-focused redhead preparing to throw a hedgehog at me if I lapsed into English. Now I do, and it keeps me centered on what’s important: limiting vocabulary so that everyone can understand.

Because it was sunny outside (finally!), we then went onto the still-green grass to line up in various groupings for pairs. Tomorrow I’ll be able to tell them to sit with their Moscow partner.

When we came in, we only had time to play Babadum for a couple of minutes before we had to pack up the chairs.

This is the best job I can imagine.


4 responses to “Map-making continues

  1. Hello, I enjoy reading your blog and learn MONTONES from you.

    Question: what are the “game ” rules around the student who gets to throw a hedgehog at you for speaking English? I’m on the edge of MY seat!

    Gracias, Ma. Tere

    Sent from my iPad



    • Glad you’re there! The kid who was able to hit a cushioned chair most accurately with a soft squeaky hedgehog dog toy can squeak it when there is unauthorized use of English in the room. She can throw it at me if I use up my three “extended English” requests and ask for another, or if I speak in English for more than ten seconds, or if a grammar explanation (in answer to a student’s question) is more than fifteen seconds.


  2. I also use the idea of Map partners. Instead of having my students try to learn all 21 Spanish speaking countries at one in the beginning of the year, I teach them 3-4 countries at a time. They get a partner for each country and have a specific activity for each. It is similar to “Clock partners.”

    They learn the United States as a vocabulary word, and Canada is an easy cognate. Then we begin with a map of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. With Mexico they get a partner and come up with a “secret handshake.” The only rule is that they have to say “D.F.” (In Spanish of course) when they do their handshake. A week or so later (when they work in partners) they will find a Guatemala partner.. With this partner they will play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The loser has to say the country name and the capital (Guatemala, Guatemala) 3 times as fast as they can. After working with that partner once or twice they will get with their Belice partner. With that partner they say “Belmopán, you da man!” And point to each other in a cool fashion. After assessing them on these countries, we move on to a map of the next 3 countries to the south. I do let them know that English is the official language of Belize.


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