A teacher shared with me some class plans to have students find verbs, adjectives, etc. in a text while using no dictionaries (but a grammar reference sheet), then answer *some* questions about comprehension. The purpose was “to see who needs help.” The adjustment? To provide corrective feedback. The expectation? That identifying parts of speech and grammatical forms would improve by the end of the year. There are two major assumptions regarding that intended purpose, adjustment, and expectation, and I’ve seen them before elsewhere:
- What is taught is learned.
- Personalized *corrective* feedback results in uptake.
“I don’t wanna play your stupid game!” has stayed with me since I heard a grad school professor share an anecdote from early-career teaching. It refers to how even the best-designed activity or cool idea a teacher has can flop instantly in the classroom. When a teacher spends time on that activity or idea, they get mad. Mad teachers resent teaching students. Students resent mad teachers. No bueno.
Cool is not really something a teacher can control for, or at least if they try, they’re likely to fail. Sometimes students deem something that a teacher does cool, but it’s entirely up to them. Most often, though, students reject what is presented as cool, if only to defy and resist. “This game is stupid” is likely to anger a lot of teachers. The trick is to make the game stupid already.
That’s why we need silly.
I wrote about the solid start to the year up through 55 hours of CI. We’re now at the 100 hour mark. Students have read on their own for 187 total minutes of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), and 150 minutes of Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)…
Today, I greeted students at the door as usual, waiting for their class password and making a personal connection before class. When the bell rang, I went to my desk, a bit like Vanna White drawing attention to the projected “Do Now!” with the instructions to read a new text I had placed on each seat. After a minute or so, I began walking around with a clipboard marking a) who was reading, b) who wasn’t/who was talking, c) who was coming in late, and d) who was absent.
This went into the gradebook.
Last week, I shared the process of using writing to refocus students throughout class. Here’s how I’ve used them this week…
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…
Someone recently had this to say about a colleague:
…they’re interested in the CI things I talk about, but I guess they’re so busy with traditional teaching that they don’t have time to research and change practices…
This is a common problem, and I’ve figured out a solution…