Thursday, April 8, 2010

English Tea

Chapter 2 of the second grade book (that's HS juniors to you and me) is mainly about Tea, for some reason. So this week we are playing Running Dictation with a little piece of prose I wrote up about the inventor of the tea bag.

The story goes that a New York tea merchant got tired of giving away part of his profits in the form of tin boxes that tea samples were packaged in, so as a cost cutting measure he started using little silk bags. He expected his customers to snip open the little sachets and brew the tea as usual, but they misunderstood and used them as if they were mesh balls. People loved the convenience, and replacing the silk with gauze made them cheaper still--a new product was born.

Running Dictation: You tape up copies of your document in strategic locations (my classroom has two doors on a largely empty hallway, so I post mine outside each door), and the teams of students have to copy the document word-for-word. The problem is that only one of them is allowed to write, and he must stay seated at the table. The others must take turns running to the hallway, memorizing what they can, and then repeating it to the Recorder. When one Runner comes back in, the next Runner may go out. They have to alternate until they "download" the entire document in this manner.

Ordinarily, I do not believe in bribes or prizes for high school students, but in this case, it seemed obvious--and appropriate--to give each member of the winning team a green tea bag. I also took their picture for posting on the bulletin board. Here are a few smiling faces:

Runnning Dictation is a very good activity for my classes, which always run the gamut of ability levels. Everyone has to speak--and speak clearly. A more advanced speaker can memorize and repeat an entire line, while a poor student can be successful by getting down three or four words at a time. Plus it's fun, and they enjoy being competitive. Got to watch for cheating, though: today I took away two cell phones from students who tried to take a picture of the document.


조안나 said...

I like this.... I'm going to try to figure out a way to make it work in my classes.... unfortunately, kids running through the hallway is usually frowned upon... there's got to be some way to do this in my cramped classrooms...

Tuttle said...

Jo-Anna: You can do it inside your classroom. I post the doc in the hallway because I can, but it will work inside the room as well. You can tape one copy on each wall, for example--or in two opposite corners. Each team goes to the closest copy, of course.

Require the Runner to be touching the table when s/he quotes to the Recorder. Make sure that only one Runner is away from the table. It takes some diligence, granted. But my guys have enjoyed it--you'll remember I did this with Harry Potter before, plus I never mentioned on the blog Aboriginal Peoples and Auld Lang Syne topics as well.

I didn't write it up, but this week's first grade activity was a survey of cell phone usage of their classmates. Each table was given a topic, like games, or camera, or phone style, and the team made up 3 questions to ask other students. Make them ask in English (of course), make the other student listen and answer in English, then write down the answers.

Of my 13 1st grade classes, all but one did pretty acceptable participation. Six weeks into my 4th semester, I feel like I'm on a roll.

I don't know how I would be doing if I was an untested teacher--I have over twenty years of experience, and I know that pays off for me. But one thing I learned long ago: if ever you hear of a good idea, steal it!