Bryce asked me today how I’m assessing the critical verbs that we are going to use in class all year.
It was a good question. I depend a lot on watching the kids’ eyes during class to find out whether they understand the story that is using the verbs.
We do a lot of TPR-type drill for the critical verbs. We have at least a gesture for each one, and we do mini-stories or mini three-ring circuses for the verbs almost every day. I have a powerpoint of just the verbs in third-person form, and as I flash the word, the kids do the gesture. I can keep the powerpoint rolling while watching the kids. We do closed-eyes quizzes with just the verbs; thus, we do something every day to drill with those high-frequency verbs.
Most of all, though, we tell stories, verify with the actors so that they’re using the verbs in first-person as well as third person.
Yesterday we used pictures portraying sixteen critical verbs in a 4×4 square set of drawings. We drilled what they were, pointed to them in pairs, and the kids got up to run through half the set in map pairs. If they finished before I called time, they were allowed to try to tell mini stories with the pictures.
Today I had a story prepared using all the verbs for them. We were going to tell it and then to read it; then they were going to check their understanding by reading it out loud in English with a partner, and finally they were going to draw pictures of ten of the sentences. We ran out of time, so instead I really milked the story for details and verified a lot with all the actors. I want these verbs to be so stuck in their heads that there is no question that they can recall and recognize them in any situation. Yesterday we started with our first past-tense form, so now we’ll start switching perspective in retells not only to first person/third person/plural, but to past tense. But first, I want to make sure every single kid has these down cold.
As it turned out in the class story, the boy who came up to be the first actor wanted to play a girl. His girlfriend, also in the class, was going crazy with embarrassment, so I made her the boy that the dog met in the park. In the class story, the dog belonged to the girl, and the boy was the one in the park. The girl had a cat, not pizza. Most of the other details worked out okay.
Here’s the story. I’ve put critical verbs in bold: A boy has a dog. The boy’s name is King. He lives in a house. He loves the dog. The dog jumps. The dog doesn’t work. The dog loves the boy, but he doesn’t like the house.
The house is located in Moscow. The dog doesn’t love the house. He loves the park. The park is also located in Moscow. The dog runs to the park and plays soccer and jumps. The dog doesn’t sit down in the park.
A girl sees the dog. She likes the dog. She goes up to the dog. “What’s your name? Where do you live?” The dog says nothing. The dog looks at the girl. The girl has pizza. The dog wants pizza.
“Mmmm. Gaf, gaf,” says the dog. The girl gives the dog pizza.
The boy is at home. He doesn’t see the dog. Where is the dog? He looks for the dog. He knows that the dog doesn’t like the house. He goes to the park and looks for the dog. Suddenly he sees the dog. The dog has pizza. The dog is with the girl. The boy walks up to the girl.
“That’s my dog,” he says.
The girl smiles. She doesn’t want the dog. She gives the boy pizza. He takes the pizza.
“Thank you for the pizza,” he says. The boy goes home with the dog. The boy smiles because he found the dog. The dog is happy because it has pizza.
That’s it. Not too exciting, but it was fun anyway. Try telling any story without these. Or look at any picture and you’ll see that you can use some of these to tell a story. The only one I forgot to work in there (I think) is “needs.” I’d have liked to add “wants to buy,” but it didn’t fit.