Friday, November 6, 2015

Take a pause...and get your students talking!

HOW MANY OF US do whole class speaking activities where we expect all students to participate? You know, the ones like 'Ok class, everybody together, let's say the date!' And what do you notice after doing this a few times? One by one, individuals stop participating and let the rest of the class do the heavy lifting. And one day, you suddenly realize it's just you and two good doobies speaking loudly enough to cover the deafening silence of the rest of your cherubs.

NOW, I'M NOT RECOMMENDING we throw out whole class choral speaking! It has many merits- all kiddos are talking and engaged at the same time (theoretically lol), it often highlights communal activities such as calendar, weather, class routines, and so on. But, the big bummer comes when kiddos just stop what can we do to maintain it's worthiness- and actually get some really great learning moments in the process?

ENTER THE STRATEGIC PAUSE! So simple, yet very effective. Think about what is most important in the sentence(s) you are saying as a group- the key words/phrases you want to be sure they should practice and be able to say. These are the words you will pause before. So, here's an example:

WE ARE READING 'ARTURO Y EL LÁPIZ MÁGICO' together as a class and a sentence reads 'Arturo escribe 'pera' con el lápiz...' I've decided I want to emphasize 'escribe' and 'pera', so after we all say 'Arturo' I pause and let the kiddos "fill in the blanks" before we continue all together with 'con el lápiz'. This pause, in essence, forces students to come up with word themselves (they don't like those awkward quiet moments either!) and sends them a message that there is an expectation to participate and practice. TIP: too many strategic pauses wearies your students, so use them judiciously! Happy pausing!

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