- Personalize the class for students. I have always made stories about students in my classes and elicited their suggestions when asking a story. I have tried my hand at implementing Circling with Balls, facilitating PQAs (Personalized Questions and Answers), and incorporating Social Emotional Learning with success. At the same time, I really have not used the language to learn more about students as my goal - in the past, personalization was just a way to keep things novel and to engage students' interests in class. When students feel like they belong in the class, realize that they are valued, and feel part of the classroom community, they are more likely to be engaged and to want to be there in the classroom. This year, I really want to implement Bryce Hedstrom's Special Person Interview.
- Utilize more processing time when asking questions. When observing Anabelle Allen during a lab at IFLT, one of the great strategies which I noticed (and believe me, she did SO MANY wonderful things during that lab which I want to implement) was giving her students time to process their answers whenever she asked questions. After asking a question, Annabelle simply said, "uno, dos, tres," and then students responded. I thought that this was great, because it was a way to level the playing field for all. Normally, when asking a question in class, I do receive a choral response from students, but is it just from the fast-processors? How about the slower-processors who wish to respond but need that extra second or two? Anabelle's strategy is such a simple way to ensure that possibility for all
- Incorporate brain breaks daily. Although I have facilitated brain breaks in my classes, I never have done them on a daily basis. I will usually implement at least 2-3 different activities in a class period, since "the brain CRAVES novelty" - in my mind, switching to a different activity every 15 minutes or so is the same thing as a brain break, right? According to Diana Noonan, one of the IFLT facilitators, it is not the same thing. A brain break is exactly what it sounds like: a break for the brain, but even more, Diana stated that brain breaks allow for the break to "reset" and to store what has been acquired. She also advocated that a brain break be given every minute for the age of the students, e.g., 8-year olds should have a brain break every eight minutes or so. Again, this is something which I saw Anabelle demonstrate with her elementary school aged students, as every ten minutes or so, she gave them a brain break, and she did SO many different kinds: various versions of rock, paper, scissors; and doing a dance to a video. As the class progressed later in the day, Anabelle did a brain break every 5 minutes or so, since the students were getting tired.
Some resources for brain breaks:
- Martina Bex - a great writeup about brain breaks
- Cynthia Hitz - how one can use balloons to give students a choice in brain breaks
- Michele Whaley - another great writeup with some quotes from Karen Rowan and Carol Gaab