I read a wonderful post on a short end-of-the-year activity that enforces public speaking skills as well as reflection and collegiality.
However, the schedule for the last day this year is different, so that students spend more time with their peers. Unfortunately, I could not experiment with the Pop Up Toasts.
However, I plan to toast the new academic year in August. Each student will give a ‘cheers’ in their own language and then continue (in English) with what they’d like to be able to do this year that they can’t do now.
Then we’ll toast and reflect on the end of the year on our last lesson. Talk about backward design!
I did not begin with a purpose questions, but asked the students to reflect on their reading by completing a handout. (The same one that is used in the video).
As part of their ‘takeaway’, the ELLs had to reflect on the activity. The consensus was that this was an activity that encourages participation by the whole group, and the discussion helped clarify main ideas etc.
Intrigued, I promptly ordered the Best Kept Secret and as soon as it arrived, rushed to read it before we got too far into the school year.
The secret? Written conversations but in the form of letters.
The book is easy to navigate with a summary of each conversation; goals and clear directions for the teacher on how to plan the activity. I came away with a few interesting ideas.
Daniels suggests we take a break in the middle of our lessons for students to exchange brief notes with a partner expressing understanding, or asking for clarification. (81, Daniels).
The writers call the entry note-card an ‘admit ticket.’ I used this as a homework assignment (Daniel’s idea) and all the students came to class prepared to discuss the prompt I gave them. I asked them to draw a concept map of what/who influences their identity and used the note-cards as a hook for our unit on Civil Rights.
And here is what influences their decisions, values etc.
The Daniels have upgraded the old ‘quick writes’ with a silent, visible think-aloud called ‘write-arounds’. (168, Daniels). I used this activity to pique the students’ interest in the main ideas of a short story ‘The Fan Club’.
I divided the class into 4 groups and put a different question on each table. Each student received a piece of paper and responded to the prompts.
When I rang my Bhutan bell
after 2 minutes, the students passed the papers on. When the paper reached the original writer, the group chose 3 big ideas and one student reported out to the class.
Daniels claims that these written, silent conversations “push kids’ thinking” (3, Daniels) and the students concur.
“I saw the clear opinion of every person in the group”.
“People who have a louder voice didn’t eclipse the ones with quiet voice”.
“I had to expose myself to new ideas and opinions”.
“It was silent, so I was able to be more focused”.
“My sentences are better structured”.
“It’s fun to work in groups”.
However, some students found they did not have enough time to think and write.
“I usually take a super long time to produce ides out of my brain”.
They also enjoyed working in groups and sharing ideas.
Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog. Tim is an author of 5 #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers, investor (FB, Uber, Twitter, 50+ more), and host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast (400M+ downloads)