Today I took a different tack on quick writes than I have before, and was surprised at how well it turned out.
I was going through some vocabulary with a German II class in preparation for a song we’ll be looking at tomorrow and nothing was working. I had a good line of PQA questioning set up–asking about whom they would let ride with them if they were seen on the side of the road–but there was just nothing happening with one class. They sat and grumbled. One student just flat out told me she wasn’t going to do anything at all that day, and I had might as well show a film. Other students just stared down at desks. I was enforcing rules, coaxing responses, etc., but just absolutely nothing was doing.
So, tired of doing all the work when they weren’t giving me anything, I instructed everybody to pull out a piece of paper and write for five minutes using as many of the words on the board as possible. Normally I’d go longer, but I barely got the five today and I knew it. Grumble grumble grumble. I gave them a few words they requested, but mostly that was an exercise in pulling teeth as well.
Now with a pile of reluctantly-written papers in my hand and still a good fifteen minutes left in class to fill, I just started reading them aloud. Normally I would wait a day, rewrite them into proper German and get a reading exercise out of this, but I didn’t have that luxury today. I asked them to guess who wrote what, and then just started acting out and reading what they had. I pulled in all the scaffolded literacy tricks of using voice inflection, pantomime, referring to words on the board, you name it. I needed these stories to work.
And for some reason they did. People perked up, started laughing at the examples, and just appreciated what other people did. Most of the stories were some really clever varieties of the PQA discussions I was railroading through earlier, but they totally made them their own. It was interesting that a few sourpusses had basically set the prevailing mood when speaking, but in writing the majority of them opened up somewhat and the investment was there. By the end of class, several people were lobbying to do this type of quick writing / instant feedback reading in the future.
So, one more arrow for the quiver. If I can’t get something going verbally some days, I’m going to use the quick write / instant read to shake things up a bit.