Thursday, March 5, 2015

Trying Something New: "Hot Seat"

One of the great things about teaching at Chet's Creek is that we are always involved in a book study. Right now we are reading Scaffolding Language Scaffolding Learning: Teaching English Language Learners in the Mainstream Classroom by Pauline Gibbons with Reading Coach Melanie Holtsman. It is an especially timely book as our second language population continues to rise each year.  Melanie always tries to tie the words we are reading directly back to something that we can do the next day in our classroom, so that the learning sticks!

This week we read Chapter 3, "Collaborative Group Work and Second Language Learning."  This chapter talks about the philosophy behind collaborative work and why it works so well with our EL students and then gives some suggestions for group and paired activities across the curriculum.   Melanie always tries to have us practice something as if we are students so that we can better understand how the students feel, so... we practiced  "Hot seat" where a student pretends to be a character from a shared book  and answers question from the class as if he were that character.  Melanie always asks us to try out one of the strategies that we are taught so we can share for the next time (is she a great teacher, or what?)  So... as we left, my co-teacher and I talked about how we could use "Hot Seat" as a strategy in the author study of Kevin Henkes that we are deep into right now.  We really want to eventually do some close reading using the lens of looking at one of the characters, Lilly, because she appears in several of the Kevin Henkes' books, but we knew her character was "too big" to begin this activity.   So my co-teacher volunteered to do the first round and pretend that she was the character Wembery from Kevin Henkes' Wemberly Worried. Wemberly worries about everything so she was an excellent first choice for us to pick.  I explained the game to the children and then reread the book, telling the students that they should look for parts in the text that led them to questions for Wemberly.  This book is FULL of the things Wemberly worried about so the questions came so easily.  Enjoy the video snippet of Tracy playing the part of Wemberly as the students ask her questions, using the text!

After about five minutes one of the students came up and whispered in my ear that he thought he could be Wemberly, so "going with the flow" (as Grandma suggests in the book) we had him take the "hot seat."  He did a remarkable job!  The students were so engaged.  Our ELL students DID ask questions!  Tomorrow we will try Sheila Rae, a strong Kevin Henkes character, and then next week, our ultimate goal, Lilly!

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