I mentioned in my post-conference reflection on FLAG an idea of implementing a long-running class competition. I am officially doing it! I have long resisted giving extra credit, but gosh it is just so effective for getting kids to act right! Here is my procedure: group kids randomly (draw a number from a cup) or purposefully (Melanie Stilson has some good ideas) into groups. I do 4-5 students per group, which translates to 5-6 groups per class. Students are in these groups for the duration of the unit. Throughout the unit, students get points for speaking answering questions, participating in class, helping, being supportive of their group/class, winning games, and generally acting positively (I track these with tickets and take them up and record them at the end of each class. It is much easier to record for the group than for individuals). The day before our unit test, we do review games such as Quizlet Live, Kahoot, or Quizizz, with winning students earning points for their teams. The team with the most points at the end of the unit gets five bonus points on their test.
I regularly get the urge to rearrange my room – it just makes everything feel different and fresh. So, here is my latest arrangement, with desks arranged into “tables” of 4-5 seats:
Here is the awesome part – with inspiration from Melanie, we are rotating tables! So students sit with their groups, but they rotate to a different part of the room each day. I really like that I’ve got my kids grouped with people they don’t normally talk to, and the fact that I’ve got different faces up front each day. I use the same number tents for all of my classes and rearrange them on my planning period, and if problem kids end up next to each other in a class I just swap them on the spot. I have never been able to keep up with Sara-Elizabeth’s daily random seating assignments (I just have to get to the bathroom between classes!), but setting out six tents once a day is manageable for me.
I am working on increasing my use of the TL…to be honest, it’s a struggle. One thing that has helped me (and my students) is implementing a routine to establish when I expect TL. I tell them Inhala…Exhala…we take a couple of deep breaths, and then I tell them No hablen inglés – vamos a hablar el español. (Side note: I totally lost it today when we were in the middle of a big inhala and a poor allergy sufferer burst out but I can’t breathe!) I think I saw a version of this on Kara Jacob‘s blog, and it always makes me giggle on the inside thinking of Rogelio de la Vega:
After our breathing routine, I tell a (short) story and ask questions, and give tickets (group points) to students as they answer.
That’s what’s working for me these days! Let’s see if it can get us through these last few weeks until summer. 🙂