In this video, I lead the class through a discussion of an interesting extracurricular activity/sport discussion on John Cena and wrestling. John Cena came up at some point earlier in the year, so I filed that knowledge away for when we got to our sports/extracurricular activities unit.
The video is an oral conversation for 20 minutes or so, followed by a Write and Discuss.
Write and discuss is a textual review of a previous oral conversation. In my opinion, it is the bedrock of non-targeted CI. Other than free choice reading, it is the source of almost all of the text for my classes. I don’t think it can be overemphasized how important the “write and discuss” portion of text is.
With CI, it is important to provide both oral and textual input. I find in my personal experience as well as with my students that oral input builds listening comprehension and speaking, and textual input builds reading comprehension and writing ability. Pretty intuitive. I find in my practice that the oral portion of class takes up more time than the textual review, because it is much more interesting to the students. The oral conversation moves along faster, making the content more engaging. The textual review is slower, and thus harder to maintain engagement. Nonetheless, having a 5 or 10 minute textual review, followed by 5 or 10 minutes of reading strategies is a great way to end class. It also allows the teacher a break from facilitating new input, and providing daily textual input leads to huge gains in the students, especially in their reading and writing abilities.
This is one of the easiest activities differentiate. At lower levels, you can pose scaffolded questions such as yes or no, either-or, etc. and just fill out most of the sentence yourself. With more advanced kids, or at higher levels, or with faster processors, you can ask open-ended questions and encourage longer answers, using more of their content directly for the answers.
I think it is imperative to have a digital copy of the write and discuss texts for each class. I have a secretary in each class whose job it is to just type what I write on the board in a shared google doc for the class. That way, I can project the text the next day for reading activities, extension questions, comprehension checks, etc. It’s also great for make-up work. My standard policy is for students to just translate the text from the days they missed. Having a digital copy also allows me to embellish the text quickly during my planning period to create an embedded reading that extends the students’ vocabularies the next class in a familiar context. This is the most efficient way to build your students’ vocabularies—IN CONTEXT!
This year, I’ve learned from Tina Hargarden and others that the cumulative document housing all the “Write and Discusses” for the year by date can be transformed into a sort of chronicle, or yearbook of the class. So, I’ve done it, and it’s awesome! The kids love seeing their names and pictures in the class yearbook, and also like finding out what is going on in other classes. I print off pages on a regular basis to add to each classes’ yearbook for reading material during daily Free Choice Reading.
The key to make the Yearbook work is to hire another student job associated with the “Write and Discuss,” a digital content editor. Sounds awesome, right! The digital content editor’s job is to manage a class email and solicit photos from fellow students about the class conversation. For example, in Spanish 3 Honors, a student went to Malindi, Kenya over Christmas break. He sent 5 or 6 photos to the digital content editor’s email, who then embedded the photos with the text about the vacation. If the digital editor can’t get photos from classmates, they just embed photos from google that make sense. Embedding the photos is the key! It makes everything more interesting.
You can check out an example of a class yearbook at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MD7p3D_b8RZlZiNftk9Vhh0_iqFmMubzt_cUkQ077v0/edit?usp=sharing