Just some more ramblngs on what I learned from Carol this week about RT:
Our biggest observation of the year in my district is always unannounced. So mine was today (Friday). I had just enough time to throw my bike into a closet and do the Superman clothes change thing and start class, of course without having done any planning, which I just can’t do.
In my mind, being thus observed on five minutes notice, I thought it best to bail to a story, but I chose instead to work with what I was doing on Thursday, seeing how I could integrate writing with RT, so I just decided to wing it and not care if the class didn’t work.
So I started this formal observation with the vague idea that I think that kids can only write to the extent that they understand something they have read know it deeply. Then only can they write. I explained to the class that we had read a passage in le Voyage de Sa Vie and we had discussed it and now we were going to try to write about it. The foundation was the R and D of the passage, the house was going to be the writing.
This is a variation on one of the many jewels I got from Carol Gaab’s presentation here in DPS a few days ago. She said that we can’t make Reader’s Theatre work unless the kids truly know, have acquired via much repetition and circling the scene from the novel that is being acted out.
So yeah – I just extended that idea to writing. We should base writing on strong, exhaustive reading and discussion, was the idea. If the kids have sufficiently read and discussed a scene from a novel, then we can assume that if we ask them to write a five sentence summary (only in second semester level 2 should this begin, in my opinion), then they could do it very accurately, either by copying the five sentences from the novel or by writing their own version.
Anyway, all of that to make a simple point that I unexpectedly ended up throwing Reader’s Theatre into my lesson, brazenly keeping in my mind what I saw Carol coaching and modeling for us in Readers’ Theatre. It worked.
I reviewed the scene of Jean-Luc in Le Voyage de Sa Vie confronting the insect lady in the train and I just did what I saw Carol do, we did the scene, and then wrote it’s basic plot out, and I never even got the use of Textivate. I just imitated Carol.
I’ll be more specific on this later, since I now have the sense that RT is one radical puppy that has the capacity to completely transform our teaching. Because of RT , according to the way Carol presented it (only a few details were missing in my understanding of it and I have them now), my big observation went famously, as in, the kids were more involved than I have ever seen them.
So thank you Carol for being so clear in your training. And, by the way, everybody in the Northeast who reads this blog you may want to go to Carol’s site and see if you can get to one of the four trainings she is doing up your way in the next two weeks.