Or is it just me?
As part of my job as a counselor I have to address, fill (with various papers) and mail out 315 envelopes to schools around the country, according to a list of names. Some envelopes are filled with five pages, others with thirteen.
I’m incredibly slow.
It’s not that I’m disorganized. Rather just looking at the size of the pile gets me down.
I also get distracted with odd thoughts as I work, such as:
*Hmm, what an unusual name this student has. I wonder if she gets teased because of it.
*Hmm, this place is so small they don’t even have street numbers for the address.
*Who is this school named after? I wonder who he was…
And, of course, I am writing this post instead of working!!!
I had my first chance to try Mike Harrison’s Reverse Reading Comprehension Strategy today, with “a twist” and it was a big hit!
The first period of the day gave me the perfect opportunity to try it. Three students were taking a test, three were absent and the remaining two are pretty much on the same level, comparitively strong pupils. So I called them to the board. Each one of them got a whiteboard marker.
Instead of writing five or six questions I wrote one question on the corner of the board : Why did Branco dive to the bottom of the lake? After we went over the question (they didn’t know “lake” or “bottom”) they wanted to know who this Branco person was and how should THEY know why he did it. I replied that it was up to them to decide and to please answer the question. So they wrote (and then we corrected) the sentence “Branco wanted to study the fish“. I responded to that with question number two: What was he surprised to find at the bottom of the lake? Then they began to get interested. They had Branco find a treasure chest, take it home, discuss it with his wife and spend the money on a new house and car. They wrote five sentences, each one numbered as an answer to a question.
I erased words from the sentences, a fairly large amount and they split the work of filling them back in. Since these are fairly strong students and they just wrote the text themselves this was easy for them. I left this stage after one “erasing exercise”.
I asked the students to turn these sentences into a news report. I told them we don’t have to write everything again, only certain things need to be changed. We looked at every sentece. The first answer now became the opening sentence ” A man named Branco dove into a lake in Italy” and so on. The rewriting took us to the bell.
Later on in the day I repeated the activity with two weaker students (going for a lower level of the national exams but nonetheless still strong enough to TAKE the national exams!). They also came up with a treasure test and had the pirates come and rob the treasure back from Branco. They had to work much harder to create each sentence and needed more corrections so our second stage was erasing words till the bell rang. Rewritng was not suitable here and they REALLY enjoyed the activity as it was!
I also tried the activity with one 12th grade students who reads FAR FAR better than he writes. He always forgets articles andmixes up tenses. However, this activity is a more socially oriented one and giving it to him alone was a mistake. He wrote that Branco found shoes in the lake and then he threw them back into the lake. I’m sure that if he had had a partner he would have come up with a more interesting idea and then it would have been more fun. Even the policeman I ” sent” to the lake just said “you shouldn’t do that”!
I really feel that my students are benefitting from my PLN!
Goal 16 of the 30 Goals Challenge is “Change Your Environment”. I really agree that both the students and I need a change sometimes. So far the only thing I do is sometimes take the kids to the computer room. However, unless I plan really well the time spent there may be fun but not suitable for all the pupils at each level. In addition, I now have one computer in my class (no Internet). That’s great because its often one or two pupils who need a computer activity and it becomes a work station.
So, I thought I would take a better look at the classroom and share some pictures with you. I’ve been thinking about moving the tables around, hmmm….
That was the door from the inside. Now here is the YALP Project area. Inthe photo you can see the group diplomas I recently put up to add some spice (till now it was just individual tracking sheets).
Now here are the BIG BINDERS. Each of the 70 kids has a personal plastic bag where they can keep pages or where I put worksheets for them in advance.
Here are the regular binders with workplans, fun questionnaires (such as How romantic are you?), exercises, etc.
Some wall photos:
The old tables and chairs:
The picture of the broken window didn’t come out too well. There is also a picture of pages from a calendar stuck on the wall, depicting words in Enlgish, Spanish and American Sign lang. Some kids are interested in Spanish! Didn’t include a picture of the computer, its just a computer!
Last picture – the closet! Take note of the picture for “FALL” – just right for the poem “The Road Not Taken”!