I just went to my first iFLT conference. I got to chat (live) with Bill VanPatten and Stephen Krashen, saw master teachers teaching with CI, and went to some awesome presentations. I don’t take detailed notes during presentations, but as you can see there’s plenty to take away from a few ideas I emailed to myself over the week. This post includes what I intend to think about and/or change for 2016-17, and would recommend others considering as well. Some of the ideas were ones I’ve seen before but just haven’t gotten around to implementing them, while others were completely new. They’re organized by who inspired me:
Justin Slocum Bailey
- Expect the Unexpected. Justin presented about maintaining the CI Flow by “making lemonade out of [the] lemons” that the typical school day gives you. I’ve always found that saying strange because I would totally accept free lemons anytime, but the saying refers to dealing with things that sour your mood. So, when that startling sound interrupts class, incorporate it as a new element in your story, or instantly break into Good Idea/Bad Idea after a lengthy annoying announcement from the office. I need to react sooner, but another take is to actually create those moments, like setting an alarm to go off at some point during class just to keep everyone on their toes, or planting surprises for students to encounter.
- Rewind/Restart Gesture. This indicates to students that information in the next statement isn’t going to be new and/or isn’t some kind of trick. This is helpful when there’s been a compelling diversion, when you’ve parked on something, or when you simply forget where you were in the narrative after some Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA).
- Story Retell Q & A. Instead of just retelling a story to a partner, a more interesting option is questions and answers between each other (e.g. “Did Luke live in Mos Eisley, or visit Mos Eisley?” or “Who fell into garbage compactor 3263827?”). This requires higher proficiency.
- Silent Conversation. For any given topic, students write a question, pass paper, answer question or write follow-up, then continue. Do this to slow down the pace, and/or when energy is low.
Donna Tatum Johns
- Listen & Draw White Boards. Instead of illustrating an entire story, students draw simple phrases, or short sentences on white boards, then repeat. This is particularly helpful at the beginning of the year.
- Same Words Different Ways. When students say aloud a new word and find it difficult to do so, or just ask how to say a word (i.e. pop-up pronunciation), or when you feed lines to an actor, TPR the phrase to the whole class in different ways (e.g. “now say it like you’re mad,” or “whisper, be happy/sad”).
- Be Quick! Brain Break. Circle up, right hand palm up, left hand point finger on next person’s palm. Play music, when music stops try to grab finger. Switch hands (i.e. left palm up, right finger point).
- Bar Graph Q & D. Instead of just discussing a topic, students write their response on a Post-It, then you collect and arrange on board in a bar graph (e.g. 10 kids like vanilla, 4 kids like chocolate, 1 kid likes mint chocolate chip, and 1 kid doesn’t like ice cream). A prep-intensive follow-up would be to take a pic of the board, and create a doc with comp questions about the graph (e.g. what percent of the class likes vanilla?). Otherwise, it just stays on the board as a visual to discuss a topic (see Kristy Placido’s Physical Organizers, below).
- Sentence Flyswatter. This one is so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. I hate flyswatter games for their lack of messages. Keith puts a block of 4 student drawings on the board, then says something in Latin represented by a picture (student/teacher drawn, or found) that the students slap for points. Genius.
- Like/Dislike slides. Linda shows images and has students move from one side of the room (likes) or the other (dislikes). She also has a space for indifference. I intend to start adding this to Circling with Balls (CWB) in order to get everyone more engaged, and/or can instantly bring it back throughout the year to get the whole class moving once we find out someone likes something.
- Multiple Students as 1 Character. Self-explanatory way to engage more than just one student actor.
- Rewind/Restart Gesture. This worked in a second context other than Justin’s class. Need to add this.
- Non-Verbal T/F Quiz. Hands up sparkle finger motion for T, stomp for F.
- EZ Cloze Blanks. NOT structures, but easy names and English words. This builds confidence.
- Phrase Cloze. Carol likes using phrases instead of individual words. So simple!
- MT Concept. MovieTalk (MT) is about interacting, not actually talking about the movie. The movie is a prop, so distract students by asking many, many personalized questions inspired by a still image from the movie. THIS is how to avoid getting yelled at when kids get sick of you pausing so much. Yes, they will want to see the movie, and you definitely should play it, but keep them interested in the topic/discussion for as long as you can, and not the movie itself. The movie is the pay-off.
- Move Your Class. Get out of the room and go to a new location just for novelty.
- Physical Organizers. Bring organizers into the physical realm (e.g. giant hula hoops for venn diagrams, table-size timelines, etc.).
- Numbered Group Responses. Numbers are assigned to group members, everyone in group writes answer to questions, teacher calls out number, only students with THAT number show their paper. Super easy way to hold each group member accountable.
- VERBA as Station. I don’t do many stations, but VERBA would work really well as one.
- Read-Along Cloze. Read aloud to the class as they follow, when you stop students say the next word.
- Rejoinders. I saw Grant’s students begin to learn when to use expressions like “I don’t believe it,” or “how cool,” or “seriously?” in a very natural way at an appropriate time. These are huge, and I MUST start posting them.
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