Our Second Friday meeting didn’t quite have enough people for the Bryce Hedstrom SLAM I’d envisioned, but we still came up with some darned good ideas.
First we talked about teaching mixed upper levels in one class period. All present had 3-4-5 combinations at least. The general feeling is one we’ve discussed before: resist trying to teach different lessons to different groups. Use the same materials and differentiate outcomes! There are lots of ways to do that. Early on this blog, I investigated ways to make differentiated quizzes a la Scott Benedict. It works, whether in writing or in speech.
Then we heard some ways to string out a description game. Students describe their heroes, their classmates, or their teachers. The teacher assists, depending on the level of the students. They describe physical characteristics, behavior (all positive, of course), hobbies/talents, and finally clothing if it’s someone in the class. If they’re describing their teachers, the last clue is the topic they teach. If kids make drawings, the teacher can use those later to provide more input, or to use for storytelling.
I suggested my standby, Edmodo, in partnership with target-language students who are studying English. My students write in English, and the Russians write in Russian. I think a bunch of kids are connected on video games now, something I wouldn’t have encouraged, but seems to make them happy. We read the new postings every day in class, and now that the labs are closed for the rest of April for testing, the kids go home and post comments on line. Right now, we’re just introducing ourselves, but the next step is for each side to watch and comment on a movie, text, or song suggestion from the other side. If anyone out there has any ideas of what I should suggest to the classes (in Siberia), please do comment!
Victoria mentioned that at this time of year in her (upper-level) classes, she goes to traditional MovieTalk with a full-length movie. Because we typically don’t make much headway in a movie over the course of an hour, the single-day, multiple absentees (for soccer, track, testing, AP exams, choir trips and ROTC travel…) don’t miss too much of the movie. Victoria uses structures as she MovieTalks from the novel she will read at the end of the year. I thought the idea to focus on repeating a few advanced structures was brilliant, as was the point that kids won’t miss much on a given day if it’s a full-length movie, shown over several weeks. And to have that secret focus on a reading to follow–genius.
That’s all I can remember. Sorry you weren’t with us!