(Originally posted 4/2/11)
Darn good question. I look for/try to create activities. I’ll base them on previous successes, find them on other people’s blogs and posts, borrow from a colleague’s brilliance, get an idea in the shower and I a constantly utilizing the Internet for interesting tidbits of stories, songs, headlines etc. I try to keep the majority of the activities geared toward the focus topic (like food for next marking period), but I’m not married to that. I keep this checklist in my head and review it to verify four things:
a) Is this activity GOOD CI or unavoidable output?
b) Is this activity going to connect with my students?
c) Is this activity connected to a function or too powerful to ignore?
d) Is this activity helping my students to develop/work on a variety of these functions/skills?
If so, then it is probably a worthwhile way to spend classroom time. Then I get feedback from the students. Sometimes it is feedback that I just observe; although I have learned to give an activity two or three tries before abandoning it. Some ideas just need to catch on. :o) However many times, because the students have gotten used to how I work, they speak right up. How long are we going to do this? Can we do more tomorrow? We’re not done with this are we? Can we do this again? And yes…I do get constructive criticism as well!!Is it standards-based? Yes….look at the functions…they hit all of the standards. But the functions work better for the way my mind works.
How do I plan long-term? Well…the same way anyone does. I put my plans on the computer.
Then I have the privilege of deciding whether what I planned five months ago has any bearing on where my students are now and what they need. If it does…proceed! If not…adapt!! Planning long-term gets my goals in order. Teaching short-term gets my students connected to the language. I need a little of the former and a lot of the latter.
How do I evaluate? Like I’ve always evaluated. By skills. Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking.
How do I fit in all of the topical vocabulary? I don’t. No one does. If they say that they do ,then they are doing one of more of the following:
a) Providing lists and asking students to work with them outside of class in some way.
b) Using too many of them too quickly for any significant long-term retention to occur.
Hence the never-ending frustration of “teaching” students who never remember anything that you have “taught”.
So I choose a core list of words that will help them to be understood and focus on those as production tools first. (another post….)
The truth is (I seem to be writing that phrase a lot this week!!) that IN REAL LIFE a variety of vocabulary occurs. So believe it or not, the organic nature of language provides what they need.
It really does. I am beginning to see this more and more. I am also able, in the level 2/3 to play a little bit with language. For example in this last marking period we did several activities using a huge list of cognates that end in -ion. Short activities that affirmed their ability to recognize and use cognates. It really was a confidence booster for them and I have seen these words appear over and over again in the students’ work.
Hope that helps a little bit…
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