I read this post on Grant Wiggins’ blog, and it made me even more sure that I need to find reasons to help kids move around and to change up my presentation. Partner changes based on maps are good, but we need more.
Karen’s presentation the other day reminded me of something I used to do: every kid had to work with every kid at least one time. I don’t remember whether that was for seat partners, or quick interviews. In the old days, I would laboriously type up a spreadsheet so that every student had every other student’s name. But now, our grading programs let us print out up-to-date class rosters. It’s easy to make a copy for every student, and then we can use each “grade slot” for a different pair or group activity, or even just for seating that day as a change from using the maps.
I’ve mentioned how we’re practicing stories about errands gone bad. I wanted to have kids negotiate conversations. The class has become pretty good at these little conversations. So now they’re assigned jobs as well as needs. One third of the group works at the airport, and wants to order food at a cafe. One third works at a cafe, and wants to order a train ticket. The last third works at a train station and wants to get a plane ticket.
The kids sit back to back for phone conversations, after having used the roster to pair up. (The first couple of times are easy, because they haven’t talked with anyone.) The conversation starts with one of them trying to get something from the other. They have to stay “in character,” which means that there’s only one chance in three that the other person has what they want. Many of the conversations will be over really soon, but that’s okay, since then those kids can sit down with someone else. Meanwhile, I’m wandering around with a smile on my face hearing the kids negotiate everything from what they’re getting to when and how.
Now these are getting fast, and we don’t need to do a whole lot of them in a day. They’re part of a bigger story about what we’re doing in Moscow. And they add to movement around the classroom, since the chairs have to be moved, the kids have to find one another, and they stand up and sit down several times during class.
I need to remember to have kids act out whatever stories we do, and not to have all the gestures be at their own seat or in a seated fashion. They benefit by moving around, and so do we.