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October 11, 2011

Oh, coaching I love thee! Cara O'Brien-Holen shared this management strategy from the "Disrupting the Disruptor" class with us on Friday night, and I tried it out today with great success! This strategy is called "woofing" because you are establishing that you (the teacher) are the top dog in your classroom. All you need to do is stand at your classroom door as students are entering, ask them a question, and receive a response before they are allowed to enter. You can think of it as an "entry ticket" (as opposed to an "exit ticket", which many teachers use as a formative assessment at the end of class). Today, my question was a simple, «¿Cómo te llamas?» (What's your name?). My students had to answer with a complete sentence in order to enter. If students hesitated for too long or gave me an incomplete sentence, I brushed them to the side and had them listen to several classmates pass through the door before they were given the chance to try again and enter. This was excellent for several reasons:

  1. Students that were barging into class with groups of friends, engaged in lively conversation, were forced to stop, think, and separate before they entered. It set the mood for the class and got them transitioning into Spanish mode.
  2. It reinforced to students the importance of using complete sentences! This is an ongoing struggle for me, especially in writing. (I don't care if they don't use complete sentences when speaking except for the fact that it carries over to their writing, and so I encourage it in both modes of production.)
  3. It is great practice of the second and first person forms of verbs. I am always looking for opportunities to remind my students of the first person forms of verbs, in particular. They can absolutely recognize them, and know how to change verbs when prompted, but the automaticity of it is lacking.
As I said, you could use any question...something that practices your current target structures or that reviews something from long ago.
  • What color is your shirt?
  • How are you?
  • Where are you from?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • How many siblings do you have?
  • Are you afraid of snakes?
  • Is soccer a winter sport?
The possibilities are endless!! Thanks, Cara! Also, your apple cake is delicious!!

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