I have been following Larry Ferlazzo for years. I always find a video, image, comment or activity to use tomorrow in either ELL Reading or Writing. His lists of ‘The Best..’ seem endless. No matter what content or level you teach, you will find an idea to embed in your lesson design.
His teaching experience is vast; from beginner ELL to IB Theory of Knowledge.
Thank you, Larry, for enriching my students’ learning experiences.
Joan Clarke, the only woman on Turing’s team, says the following more than once:
“Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”.
What struck a chord was the first part of the statement. Just replace the word ‘people’ with ‘students’. How do we educators, within the constraints of our one size fits all system, reach out to, value and include each and every learner?
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.
Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.