John Piazza shared how he moved his Independent Points Grade away from a homework-only system to a something regularly-scheduled during class time, mostly for equity reasons. These are good reasons. I’ve borrowed from this idea to create a new routine, just without the points…
With marathon-length classes (84 minutes), my 9th grade Latin students have been reading independently for a period of time at least once every time we meet. Sometimes it’s the same text during sustained silent reading (SSR). Other times it’s choice reading during free voluntary reading (FVR). Knowing that some want to read longer than 10 minutes, but also knowing that others definitely won’t, I’ve started “Flex Time.” It’s basically 20-40 minutes of independent learning, once every week or so. Think choice board, but something that goes beyond stories. Like all my planning, the biggest concern was that “doing something might not be doing anything,” so Flex Time options I’ve come up with must satisfy at least one of the following, if not all three:
- builds program buy-in
- promotes student ownership
In general, the plan is to avoid all products whatsoever attached to Flex Time activities. Sure, the classic whole-class Read & Draw activity with follow-up Picture Talk works well with products. That’s because the Picture Talk makes up for the students who read one sentence, grab a proper noun, and processes ZERO Latin while drawing. In the follow-up activity, it’s more about aural input that saves the day. With 20-40 minutes each week on their own, though, there’s no room to adjust for any wasted time. Therefore, any new options I come up with will continue to avoid students having to produce something.
How’s it work? I project the list, quickly go over options, and have the doc posted in Google Classroom so students can click on any digital options. Here are mine so far:
At first glance, a couple options appear to fall into the category of “not doing anything.” However, the reality is that this time isn’t the only source of input. In worst case scenarios, the rest of class is still input-rich with opportunities for interaction. So, if a student chooses to spend 20 minutes a week on something with questionable levels of input because they enjoy it, then that’s a win for me, the student, and our program.
The best part is that the only prep for setting up Flex Time is curating some Quizlet lists and Check Your Understanding forms to keep things fresh. Since those will be used in class anyway, most of the work is already done! This is a no-burnout teacher play, for sure. Most kids choose to just read, which is great, and I’m right there with them. See about adding tempus flexibile to your week!