What is the most common writing or conversation topic teachers pose to students after their winter break? "What did you do over the break?" With few exceptions, students say that they just stayed home and played games/watched movies. It is a rare occasion where a student relishes the opportunity to fully elaborate on an exciting fun-filled winter break to his fellow classmates and the teacher. So what about a different approach to getting students back into school mode? :)
How about looking at having the class review the big events of 2012 and then picking one event to elaborate on with partners or in small groups? No writing would be used here. Students would be discussing what they remember of the event and then sharing their memories with the class. One way to approach this might be through YOUTUBE. GOOGLE LOOKS BACK OVER 2012 offers some clips of major events of the past year but certainly not all of them. The Google clip could be a jump off point that could open the "door" to quite a lively discussion. In fact, it can be done in any subject area: physics (free fall to earth at the speed of sound), world history or current events (toppling governments-Arab spring), physical education (Olympics--London), etc. When students can connect to the topic-any topic, they are more than willing to fully participate in class activities.
How does this approach-regardless of the content-set ELLs up to experience success in school? It builds background knowledge. This "preview" sets them up to follow the upcoming lesson. Also, if the student has no background knowledge to pull from, body language will be a glaring signal to the teacher to assist him/her in creating that crucial understanding before the lesson is entered into.
I wish you all a very happy healthy New Year! May 2013 live up to your hopes and dreams:)
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