Category Archives: Liking What You’re Talking About

September 15, 2016

My Boyfriend!

not-mr-cleanI love Mr. Sketch.  Given the choice between Mr. Sketch and Mr. Clean, duh, Mr. Sketch hands down.  Apparently my Mr. Sketch love has not gone unnoticed by my students.  One of my students drew a happy, green Mr. Sketch marker as a possible character.  Because I need to feel a good deal of love for whatever we are talking about, in order to make the story take off, of course I seized on this amazing gift for our first story of the year!  Part One is here and Part Two is here.

I spent too much time on the exposition – the Who.  My Story Driver needs to drive me harder, I see.  The Story Driver is the best thing to ever happen to me, when it is working well!  It is SO EASY without that job for us to just talk and talk, losing kids’ interest.  Even though I am firmly committed to making the story zip along and have pontificated about that at great length, it is so easy to slip into the cozy sound of my own voice.  Getting that Story Driver to drive me to go in a zippier fashion is going to be my job Tuesday when we do another story.  Monday we will write this story up and therefore the next time I need the Story Driver will be Tuesday.

Gist of the story (only got to one location because of the aforementioned Story Driver issue):  There’s a marker named Mr. Sketch.  She is a woman with the name Mr.  She loves kindergarten rooms.  She is in Forest Park in Portland with a kindergartener.  This kid is naughty.  He screams in class.  He throws markers.  They are on the top of a tall hill in Forest Park.  He screams, “I want to throw you!”  He throws her.

It would have been fun to see where she landed but class was over.

The problem popped up in the addition of the kindergartener.  Of course he had to be a naughty boy!  And there they were on top of a tall hill.  Perfect.  Second character plus location made the problem appear.


September 9, 2016

Creativity in Community

It’s amazing how much training students need to be able to participate respectfully in the class community.  Sometimes kids are “just joking around” and disrespecting each other, and they have to be reminded that what is OK amongst friends outside the classroom is not OK to bring into class.

My eighth grade French class was reviewing the calendar when a student suggested the “cute” answer that instead of Friday (which it was), today was Monday (Oh no oh no oh me oh my!)  Whereas I make a big deal of hating Mondays, I was nonetheless happy to see the creativity of this student in suggesting a cute answer.  However, his classmates were not as willing to roll with his creativity.  Some even went as far as to call him out with some funny yet insulting language.  It was time for a class intervention in L1.  Speaking in English is, to me, like putting savings away.  You can’t put your WHOLE paycheck in savings, but if you put aside a little, especially if you do that early in your career, over time it will grow and bear fruit.  I see L1 in the language classroom the same way.  More L1 use in the early months pays off with better-trained kids who are ready to be creative as a group.

Building group creativity is not for the faint of heart.  Facilitating true human connection, community, and creativity, especially in the upper grades, especially in today’s schools, is a tall order.  Doing it without ever using L1 just might be too much.  Give a little to get a lot.  It’s like saving for a rainy day.

In this French 2 class, we reviewed the calendar, then worked on a One Word Image of a teeny-tiny rainbow colored pig who is magic, but is sad because he only speaks English and does not speak Pig.  You will see me using L1 to discipline the class as well as to praise them for letting me know if I am not being clear.  Both uses of L1 are setting the foundations for important work this year – being a respectful community and making sure that Hargaden is clear when she speaks French.

In this Spanish 1 class, the OWI illustrates the important concept that Ben Slavic was so into this summer in all his workshops – the teacher needs to LIKE what she is talking about.  I LOVE THIS TINY EWOK!  He is small even for an Ewok!  So cute!  I am discovering that if you can get your kids to give you things to talk about that you genuinely love, the period will come to an end far quicker than you want it to.