What A Mess?

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Oct
  • 04
  • 2008

Monday – We wrapped up some apostrophe work from the previous week. We then talked about the Picture Write and verbally started a sample. Students threw out some interesting turns of phrase, but nothing was committed to paper. Still, to keep things from feeling monotonous and oppressive, not having the paperwork today was likely a smart move. The class was a bit chaotic, with students standing up, moving around, changing seats, coming up for closer looks at the image on the overhead, shouting profane slurs at each other, that group in the back not on task, etc.

Tuesday – Today was horrible. Last week I started this, so today I had to end it. There were three stations for you and a partner to go through: create your own Find The Errors tests (things we’ve been doing at the top of the period for the last four weeks), finish/correct work collected in the past few days, begin the week’s writing by working on the Picture Write Notes. At any given time, I had one group working well, but all others were raising Cain. Frankly, I’m surprised that the walls were left standing at the end of the period.

Wednesday – We worked on apostrophes again because I wasn’t happy with the previous results (and I suspect that just about everything needs to be repeated at least once in this class). We did things quicker and with more student involvement, a punchier set of exercises. For each sentence, I’d call for three volunteers: one to type the initial reworking and two others ready to make any necessary changes. Everyone felt like they were being called on or gypped equally. I did the same for the Sentence Combining exercise we moved to in the final minutes. The class was crazy, but I’d designed it that way since students were required to stand up and move at various times.

Thursday – Since the Picture Write is due on Friday, we spent today working on the notes. We formed five groups, each one focused on a single sense to describe in regard to the image on the OHP. This is the Expert Group. Ideally, we’d only spend two minutes in intense discussion about how to describe that one sense. Each group had five members, so we then split into another set of groups where each sense was represented. This is the Base Group where all Experts share out their findings. At the end, everyone should have a Picture Write Notes organizer all filled in. This took forty minutes where I had allotted fifteen. At the front of the period, I had explained how the points would work in our Basketball Review, using that as the teaser to help them get these notes done fast. About fifteen minutes before the end of the period, the whole class saw that there was no way we’d get to make any shots, for two, three, or four points. This was completely against the vision I had in my head and such a bummer. And the students knew it, too, so I guess my teaser sort-of worked.

Friday – We started with the moment of truth: the Picture Write. I handed out sample sentences, walked them through a tiny bit of it, told them to take out their corrected Find The Errors tests to keep them sharp, made sure everyone had a set of Picture Write Notes at the ready, and passed out dictionaries/advice as needed. The entire class wrote, mostly silently, for twenty-five minutes. Re-read that last sentence. “How do I start?” was answered with “Use ‘I can see…’ and finish the thought.” “How do you spell ‘squatting’?” “Here’s a dictionary. S-Q-U is where you should look.” I even saw a tiny handful revise, though I also saw several scribble down everything inside of five minutes. They worked relatively hard on this. We then got loud again, using the Sentence Combining worksheet as a way to test out the Basketball Review (not a single shot sunk). I still can’t get over how diligently they worked at the beginning. All the week’s mess built up to that and they did it.


All handouts today are Word documents, except the last one, a PowerPoint deck.

1 comment

1. DELFINA says:

[4/2/2009 - 6:34 am]

hi! i’m an English student myself who happened to come across this site quite accidentally. I’m also a private teacher in my spare time, and for certain levels, I think the ex. very useful! I would have liked to witness their realisation within a whole class, honestly!
I’s also like to add that it is most interesting to write and read about how this type of exercises cause to students to react in different ways, since it proves how effective they can be for students’ learning.