Anne Matava on Starting the Year – 1

This post is from 2016. I had asked Anne to describe how she starts the year to get her students ready for her scripts. Here is her response:

Hello, all,

Thank you for your interest in the story scripts.

The most important thing to remember is that each of us is an individual, and we will each practice this method in our own way. Here is what I have come up with, after about 10 years. I always encourage people to find things that work for them.

I believe in starting the year with simple things. Ben uses Card Talk. Now people are using his One Word Images. I start with one fact about each student in the room.

In the books, and maybe somewhere on Ben’s website too, I don’t know, is a student questionnaire. It asks for information about their families, pets, sports, likes, dislikes. I have the students fill this out on the first day.

Then, each day I take one fact about one student and share it with the class. We talk about it for that class period. Example: Suzanne plays soccer. She plays well. She plays for the American national team. Or: Danny has a brother. His brother’s name is Hayden. Hayden is 5 years old. He is annoying. Or: Isabelle has a job. She works at McDonald’s. She doesn’t like the job. It smells bad at McDonald’s.

The first few stories are very short. As the kids acquire a bit of language, they get longer, with more detail. I always type up what we have, and read it with the kids the next day. Sometimes with a quiz, sometimes with a dictation.

The primary purpose is to welcome each student into the class and find out something about him/her, to begin to create his/her identity in the class. The secondary purpose is to build a repertoire of very common language from which to work going forward.

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1 thought on “Anne Matava on Starting the Year – 1”

  1. Great timing for this! I start again in January. I love those questionnaires, and then I get daunted by how to use them so that each student gets some focus. I have yet to get to everyone via CWB, PQA, star of the week / personal especial or any variations of those. Clearly I take too long with each student and then everyone loses interest, and that perpetuates the reluctant kids fear of being the center of attention. I need to work on cleaning this up, making it quick and fun and light. I duuno, I feel like I am always having fun during the interviews, but, something is amiss.

    I think I will try to do the “one fact about each person” that you describe Anne! This seems doable! Maybe just one fact per student will be less daunting for everyone, and the comprehension will be high and will lead to more willingness to play.

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