I’ve known for some time that ending class with Write & Discuss is a great way to focus students’ attention on the target language. I’ve also known that a simple dictation is pacifying, albeit boring (hence why I think I’ve done only one of these this year). Both of these activities require students to write, and both of these activities are nearly distraction-free because students have a writing task to do. It comes as no surprise, then, that we should be using writing as a MGMT tool…
John Piazza recently shared his version of Jon Cowart’s “Weekly Packet.” One use is as an organizational tool for students who expect more of an academic class than, say, a more communicative one. Another brilliant use, however, is as a MGMT tool for chatty classes that need a bit more managing than others responding well to something like Mike Peto’s harnessing a running horse strategy. In fact, I’ve found that this adds just enough structure to make even easy-to-manage-classes even more enjoyable.
My variation is a double-sided page. Why tiny half pages? We don’t write a great deal during Write & Discuss anyway, and my students take an awfully long time to copy when we do. The way I’m using this tool is really just to help refocus students throughout class, holding them a bit more accountable, which seems to be more effective for the rowdy groups. I’ve also started using this with all my classes just so I can collect on Fridays and put a score in the gradebook at the end of the week (i.e. 1 point per class, completion based). Just like Quick Quizzes, this is just proof of input received.
When do I use this?
I don’t walk students through the date and weather…that’s all on their own at the beginning of class. That is, I just mention those things as usual, and students write down what we say at their leisure. I’ve also noticed how this inherently calls out students for coming in late, or going to the bathroom for no real reason. Whereas before they just didn’t hear/read Latin. Now they’re turning in a paper that’s partly blank for a class. Otherwise, I let them know when I expect something to be drawn or written in the designated spaces. I either plan for students to use these in order to break up an activity into smaller segments, or if I notice attention is waning.
What to draw/write?
Instead of answering a question aloud, students respond on the paper, either by drawing in the “picture” area (ALWAYS timed 1-2 minutes), or using the “things written” space for an impromptu Write & Discuss. This slows down class a bit, and refocuses students (as opposed to waiting until the final 10-15 minutes of class).
I also combine this with a strategy Jon Cowart shared, known as “Show Calling.” Once students draw or write their response, he collects a few at random (or “at random”), and projects them to Picture Talk, or discuss. This has been awesome in establishing a bit of accountability for anything we read. Having students draw a picture representing what they just read, even for just 1-2 minutes, keeps them in check a bit more. Every Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) session can easily be followed by 5-10 minutes of Picture Talks. Every Personalized Question & Answer (PQA) prompt you otherwise would ask whole-class can be followed by a discussion of one particular student’s response at a time, with no one really hiding behind the outgoing students who always answer.
Weekly MGMT sheets engage all learners.