James asked for a repost of this article from earlier this year so here it is:
So we are trying out a new idea again. This one involves class competition (CC) in story creation between students of group members, where one class in one language group in one city challenges another to create a better story than the class in the other city. The videos are only shared between the teachers involved and the focus is on the kids and what they can learn by taking up the challenge and playing this game.
So, recently here, Sabrina sent me a tape of a story she wrote and directed and I showed it to my kids and challenged them to create a better story and then jen will have seen and shared with her classes those first two stories and then her class will film their story and that’s it. They try to defend their turf.
Here is a long comment I made about it containing some details about how it could work. We can tweak it as we go along but at least we have the basic idea:
…we need to get one thing straight. We all suck at this. And I think it could be because the human tendency to judge others is at a height right now. The kids’ have been taught to judge our teaching based on how organized our presentation is, how deft we are with the Promethean Board, etc. They go to lunch and discuss what we do in CI as weird, because all they have known since sixth grade is memorization and work packets and memorization, which they have over the years equated with learning (!), and then they double down on the same topic with their helicopter parents. If we didn’t have jGR/mDR/dGR and if we were cowardly we would be cowering to them – children! It’s all about us being good enough in their minds and now WE even believe that. So let’s just all say we suck and our ability to speak the language we speak – unless we are a native speaker – sucks, and then we can share vids and be done with the I’m An Idiot and I Suck phase of this. Jen said “it will be a great motivator for my kids knowing that I am not the only lunatic out there trying this”. That’s the value in doing these kinds of class competitions. It shows that we are not crazy and that we are not the only ones out there. And it helps enormously especially when the kids need something different to do. jen – on where the previous videos fit in, I say we just play the ones that preceded it, like I played Sabrina’s today, and the kids watch it and try to understand the French, and we just do it like that. I am also going to ask them to notice things that maybe they could do differently when we create the story ourselves. With this CC idea, there will be a lot more ownership by the class in the story. And quit worrying about your French. Aren’t you a Spanish teacher anyway? IT DOESN’T MATTER how fluent we are. We get better at our language by teaching them but we have to use them in our classrooms and that is why CI is the key to our getting better at it. Have you heard some of the abominable French of certain four percenter teachers who never use the TL in their classrooms? Now THAT sucks! That’s why this site is private, so we can be honest about who we are. So let’s just treasure that we can be who we are here. CC is a tremendous motivational tool for the kids and that is all I am wanting to use it for.
Links to the details about how to do class competitions can be found here: