August 25, 2013

More Beginning of School Ideas, Part 4

In the last several weeks we have been sharing teacher’s suggestions for the beginning of school. Here are some more:

For reviewing in second and subsequent years, one teacher writes:

I don't have a packet.....because I let the kids plan the review. They know what they feel shaky on; why waste time reviewing stuff they are confident about! Also, I've already taught them all this, usually, so maybe it'd be good to hear it from someone else's lips/perspective. And, research shows that Teaching Others is the best way to put something into long-term memory. That's why WE know our stuff.

Starting on Day 1 of school, we whole-group make a list of everything they did the year before (and if they forget something, that's a good thing to review). Then I take them online to practice some of it (their choice; differentiation). Then, as my Ticket Out they tell me what they most need to review. The next day, they sign up for one of the top 5-6 topics from the Ticket Out, and become members of an "expert group" on that topic, and I use Jigsaw (they will teach 'their' topic to their classmates).

Day 1: they practice their topic
Day 2: remediation if needed, and they start planning the lesson they'll teach. I require, for the lesson: instruction, practice, a game, and 5 quiz questions.
Day 3: Lesson plan due for my approval and they are making supplies for lesson -- handouts, flashcards, etc.
Day 4: Quiz questions due; last workday.

The following week, one group per day, they teach/review their topic. (Jigsaw: groups break apart and re-form, so there is one expert on each review topic in the new group). When all groups are done, I give the quiz THEY wrote (using the quiz questions provided by each group).

At the same time, I have begun the 'new' material. I never give groups the whole class period to work on Jigsaw stuff ....

Blaz, D. Re: [FLTEACH] Creative ways to complete a review packet. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 11 Aug 2013).

Another teacher describes what she did on the first day with her Spanish II students:

Here is what happened on day 1: tongue twisters. I had only done one tongue twister with these students in Spanish I making the concept fairly new. It went so well! We started off the year with something silly and fun that made us talk and laugh and smile. And I think it showed the students that their mouths really will speak Spanish after a summer break!

More detail for anyone interested: I created slides to project each of 3 progressively more difficult rhymes. New vocabulary I illustrated with clip art and went over as a decoding exercise (what is logical here? what does this look like? etc.) and even got in some pop-up grammar "review" (I think they were pleased to remember the basic questions and even more pleased to show OFF that they remembered).

Rhyme number one had only two new vocabulary words and they were similar (trigo/trigal). Rhyme two had 2 new words as well. Rhyme 3 was a bit different and is my favorite example for decoding (because it looks so intimidating at first):

El cielo está enladrillado
¿Quién lo desenladrillará?
El desenladrillador que lo desenladrille
Buen desenladrillador será.

They all attempted it first, exclaiming "I don't have a clue what I'm reading!" Then we went back and sounded out all the "ladrillo" words together. (They probably thought we were practicing pronunciation, which we were, but I really just wanted to take it slowly so that they could see that the mystery words were all connected somehow. They noticed.) Then I defined "ladrillo." Light bulbs started going off all over the room. We looked at endings and context for each "ladrillo" word to determine the meaning, read it again, laughed a bit more, then moved on to the necessary emergency exit procedures.

Volzer, D. [moretprs] first day of Spanish II success: tongue twisters. MoreTPRS listserv (, 10 Aug 2013).

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