My students are a diverse group. Our city is a microcosm of the country and we represent a rainbow of ethnic backgrounds and economic classes.
What I love most about my students is their openness and their energy and promise.
When a lesson and its expectations are clear and they are interested in the context, we have a satisfying, diverting class.
Once in a while, a freshman will say "Hey Mom, I mean Hey Señora".
Now that warms my old heart!
Vocabulary and context are key to skilled communication. One way I "teach" vocabulary is by writing a story from the required vocabulary list. Other peoples’ stories are available, some of them are terrific and we do read lots of different things. But, it’s hard to find something tailor-made for a particular combination of vocabulary and grammar at suitable levels. This kind of story, if it grabs the students’ attention, gives them a big-picture view of what skills they want to have at the end of the section. Many of the stories have an open ending, or lend themselves to personalization. Writing on paper at their desks limits the benefits of sharing and inspiring each other.
If we had easels, students could see what everyone else is doing and be inspired at a glance .
Our classroom is spacious and desks are in a big circle. Portable whiteboard/paper easels in the center would cultivate a studio atmosphere, with students taking over the creation of stories. They could illustrate their stories, create comic strips, and visual puzzle stories. Easels would have other uses too, group record keeping, rewriting objectives, spontaneous formative assessments and "gallery shows."
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