Posted on

Small change, big impact

I am getting great feedback from workshop participants who adopt this tiny tweak.

When you end class with a Write & Discuss activity (which I almost always do), stand in front and physically write on the board rather than projecting the writing from a computer. I know… it is so much more convenient to be able to press save and keep the word document for next class.

However, this is the point in class in which students have received so much input that you can confidently elicit unplanned responses from them. When you are standing in front, you make eye contact. You write one word to start the summary and you scan the class for the next word from a student ready to play the game. W & D is not simply a summarizing activity; a good W & D bounces from student voice to student voice with the teacher merely guiding the written output so that it is correct. A truly great W & D flows in a direction that the teacher may not have anticipated, yet does summarize the conversation that took place in class that day.

From the back or side with the lights dimmed to better see the projected image, a teacher squinting at the keyboard (and eager to sum up the class before the bell rings) will naturally take control of the flow of the text. Students become passive observers of the summary. There is nothing wrong with letting students just read the summary as you create it, but I think it is generally more effective to encourage their natural creativity and playfulness with the language. Not all students are going to speak up, and that is okay. However, I suspect that this more playful approach to W & D helps not only those students who are eager to speak in class, but also scaffolds the writing process for those quiet students who have not begun to produce effortless fluency writes.

8 thoughts on “Small change, big impact

  1. thanks Mike! what type of activities do you end with a write and discuss?

    1. In every class we talk about something, whether it be a student interview, a movie talk, creating an imaginary character or even listening to a song. Even when we play rock, paper scissors I can turn that into a story about how X student almost won, he was so close, but then Y student challenged him and she won. Regardless of what activity we have done in class, at the end of class we can summarize what happened in comprehensible Spanish using a Write & Discuss activity.

  2. This is a great tweak! You can also take a photo of the whiteboard in Google Keep. Then grab image text, and then copy and paste the grabbed text into a Google Doc.

  3. Much needed. Perhaps not all tech is bad but we gotta ask ourselves about how tech influences FLOW. One thing I noticed from your last sentence: my quiet students are the most proficient writers and output is most eloquent in writing. My extroverted students have okay writing skills but their speed and accuracy is not as developed as my more quiet students. This is what I have observed in my French classes at my school

  4. Great tip. Thanks!

  5. Mike:

    Thank you for the observation. I don’t do it like this. Your way is so much better. Little nuggets like this are so enlightening.

    BTW, would you like to see the slide show I developed from the La Persona Especial that you sent me? I use it as my interpersonal communication semester and final exams.

    God bless, Ron

    On Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 2:41 PM, My generation of polyglots wrote:

    > mpeto posted: “I am getting great feedback from workshop participants who > adopt this tiny tweak. When you end class with a Write & Discuss activity > (which I almost always do), stand in front and physically write on the > board rather than projecting the writing fr” >

  6. So as to have a digital copy of the text, I create a google doc for all write and discusses for the year that is shared with a fast processing student. They just copy down the text as I write it on the board. After class, I edit the doc. It’s shared on google classroom with the students for their reviewing purposes if desired, and I can easily bring it up in the future for other reading activities.

    My experience generally is that the kid I ask to be the recorder is honored and excited for this job! It gives them identity and purpose in the class. They don’t view it as busywork or demeaning or distracting even. Frequently, they also contribute to the review process as well.

    1. Great approach. The google doc is easier than the photos I take of my board.

Leave a Reply