"My teaching, and quite frankly my life, has never been the same since
[observing Allison’s classes]."
[observing Allison’s classes]."
Maybe this exists somewhere else; I can't imagine I'm the first to think of this. But I made up/unknowingly discovered a new super fun brain break today: pair/impair (even/odd). This can be a very similar set-up as rock, paper, scissors; you can have students do it in pairs, but I set it up today so the kids "played against" me in order to save some time. Once we established what pair and impair mean, I tell the kids that I only like even numbers, I can't stand odd numbers. (This is true, yet another example of how my weird brain works!) started it off the same way as rock, paper, scissors, hitting my fist against my palm and saying Un, deux, trois, voilà. On voilà, I put my hand out with 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 fingers out. My partner does the same at the same time. We add up our fingers; if the total is even, I "win" since I had told the kids I like even numbers. If the total is odd, my partner wins. So students have to decide who's even and who's odd before they start to play.
So when I did this with me "against" the class, some kids "beat" me when the total of our fingers was odd while I "beat" others when we had an even number. It was fun! Let me know if you try it, or if you have variations.
(Note: as one class of sixth graders in line waiting for me to dismiss them, two boys started playing the game while they waited for their classmates! Improvisation FTW!!
I have always understood the value of self-reflection with respect to my teaching. It's one thing to think about one's work, it's another to see it. Watching videos of me teaching is one of the hardest, yet most valuable, things I can do to improve on my craft.
I also find it incredible rewarding and inspiring to see other teachers in action. That being said, I want to share the videos of my classes with those of you out there who might want to see what happens in another teacher's world! NB-I have not edited these videos, nor have I chosen my best classes to film. As you'll see, there is some really messy stuff in there! But it's all for the sake of improving.
Take a look at my YouTube channel, and let me know if you have any thoughts about what you see!
Nashville. It's fantastic to be here, and to see CI sessions on the schedule. Not as many as I would like, but we have to start somewhere.
I was walking with Carrie Toth yesterday, as I wanted to learn more about moving people to proficiency-based instruction, and I found myself talking about how I found myself so passionately involved in the CI movement. (It was more of a monologue than a conversation, I'll admit that!) I decided that I wanted to chronicle that journey,
So let's begin this CI Journey...
I pretty much fell in love Tina Hargaden's video post in the CI Liftoff FB page in which she took us on a tour of her classroom, explaining her procedures and classroom setup and such. I decided to do something similar, but with the hopes of getting some ideas and feedback and (both positive and negative) criticism of my approach to my space.
The video is 10 minutes, so hopefully you'll be able to get through the whole thing without turning it off with thoughts of, "Good grief, this is boring," or, "Man, is this painful or what?"
As I mention in the video, I have a new room this year. I requested to switch rooms, as I wanted something where I had the students in closer proximity to me. I had been in a rectangular room for the previous two years, and while I loved the big space, I didn't like how "far away" the students in the back of the room were from me when I was at the front of the room. My Smart Board was on one of the short walls, and it was not possible to move it to one of the longer sides of the rectangle. (Admittedly, I have a tendency to stay anchored at the front of my room on my stool, next to my computer. I'm hoping to get away from that this year and move around a lot more, circulating in the room and being among the students more often.) So I'm working with a smaller space, which has forced me to rethink some of my previous set-ups (e.g. my FVR library).
I have some thoughts for a follow-up video, so if there's anything you'd like me to explain in greater detail, please let me know in the comments!
This year at the VFLA annual conference, I was lucky enough to "share the stage" with the amazing Laurie Clarcq. After lunch, I gave a short follow-up to a session I had done last year at the VFLA conference on Movie Talk. The focus this year was parallel storylines, which I had seen for the first time at NECTFL in February. Mike Coxon, Eric Herman, and Blaine Ray did an amazing demo of this technique that I knew would change my teaching. So I thought and thought, and decided to do this activity using "Runaway" as my Movie Talk video. (Check out that video here.) My dad was going to come into my classroom to film this, and I was planning on using that footage as the focus of my presentation. But, it was March, and I live in Vermont, and Mother Nature decided to throw a curve ball. We had a huge snow storm the day I was going to do a MT with a parallel storyline for the first time, and alas, no school. I had no idea what to do until I was talking to a (non language teacher) friend who suggested I do the lesson with live teacher actors as a demo at the conference since I didn't have a video of my class. It ended up being genius. Teachers still had the chance to see this technique in action, and I had a "dry run" before actually trying it with my sixth graders. It was relatively successful: 80% of those who responded to our evaluation strongly agreed or agreed with the statement "I found Allison's presentation helpful and useful." One respondent said, "Thank you for the reminder of how this can work. I love your demonstrations and your energy."
The next day, Laurie spent the day working with me and several colleagues. She had a great idea: I should teach the lesson I had intended on filming with my students prior to the conference that day. I agreed to take over from my substitute for one class, and Laurie and my colleagues were able to watch the lesson in action. Here's a video of the class; you may want to read the rest of this post before watching the video.
The lesson unfolded this way: I prepped the vocabulary the way I normally (see this old video from last year, when I was doing a more traditional MovieTalk lesson).
Once I PQA-ed and gestured the vocabulary important to the video, I showed the first bit of the video and did some questioning, as I normally do. Then, I stopped. I chose two student actors, who would act out a story that paralleled the plot of the MT video. We had watched as far as the refrigerator's handle falling off. We then carried on, abandoning the original video and shifting to traditional TPRS story-asking. Once we had come to the end of the plot for our new story, we finished the video. I did not pause and ask questions while we watched the video, as I normally do.
Here's where things got interesting. I did some of my traditional follow-up activities: true/false, Pictionary, put the events in chronological order. We then moved on to a reading of the original video. (You can check one of those out here.) I did this slightly differently this time. Normally, I write the reading and do activities with it. This time, I had students retell the plot of the video as I wrote it down. I projected the story on my SmartBoard, so students could see in real time what I was writing. (I have three classes, and we ended up with three different readings. If you click here, you'll find a folder containing all three versions.) During the next class, we did the same thing with the plot of the parallel storyline that students acted out. In class, I then had students draw storyboards of the parallel storylines (We used a sheet that's 3x3, and I gave students two minutes per square. I wasn't aiming for amazing drawings, just something they could use for their homework.) Students had two homework assignments: 1-show the video to a family member and narrate during the viewing, and 2-retell the parallel story using their storyboards as a "script."
However, it was at this point that things took an interesting turn. When students were retelling the parallel storyline to me and I was typing it, I realized that it seemed a lot like a script. So, we began to modify it. And it took off. We ended up creating a whole play from our script. In two of the classes, each student had a different role: actor, narrator, or, in one class, producer. In the third class, every student wanted to act, so we did three different versions of the same script. Here's one of the first kinds of videos, with all student actors.
I'm still in the process of finishing these videos, but I'll let you know when they're all done.
Sometimes you just have to run with what interests the students. I'll admit, there was a lot more English spoken than I would have liked during the actual filming of the videos, but seeing the students' enthusiasm and engagement made me realize how worth it it was to "go with the flow."
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, or how you've used MT and parallel story lines in your classes, successfully or not!
Allison Litten teaches French at the Marion Cross School, a public K-6 school in Norwich, Vermont. This year she is teaching kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 4, and 6.