Sunday, March 11, 2012

WAYK - branching out and reaching out Part 3

First things first, a quick recap:
In my first post I talked about training with Evan and some of the basics of Where Are Your Keys.
In my second post I talked about how my students reacted and what Evan's visit did to the physical aspect of my classroom
In my third (this one!) post I plan to talk about things I've noticed in using Where Are Your Keys that work in the classroom setting and things that might need to be altered.

My + Δ  of WAYK
A caveat here: You will find that many things that appear on the plus side also appear on the delta side. They are two sides of one coin. They are things to notice and watch for. Also, remember that Deltas are not things that simply don't work, they are things to notice and consider how you might change them to work in your classroom.

I have listed all the technique in italics. At the bottom of the post I have listed each one alphabetically with a brief definition.


+ - Pluses -- That is: things that work


1. Constant Comprehensible Input - This is a great method for keeping things in the target language. Students are given easy ways to ask questions to pull information from you and each other. If they are unsure of something, they can go back to the most basic question, pull some information, and apply it to the situation.

2. Repetition - This method is an easy way to get repetition in. With technique 3 times, all new input is repeated three times. When you combine techniques like make me say yes, make me say no, and mine and yours, kids get even more repetition. By keeping the order the same, there is more repetition. The flow is natural, simple, and not high pressure.

3. It is not high pressure - With the addition of the meadow, the amount of repetition, and techniques like 3 times, pull me through, change it up, and slower, kids have many options of showing that they are ready to move on or need to have something done again.

4. It is great for a variety of things: Right now I use WAYK to introduce, practice, and review. I introduce vocabulary, then grammar. We practice in groups and use that as an opportunity to review vocabulary and then we review grammar again. Finally, I finish with technique: prove it and have the kids write their own scripts to show understanding. WAYK provides an easy format within which you can do a variety of things. By test time, the kids don't feel bombarded with material that they barely know and, if they do, it is easy to provide more practice without spending hours creating activities.




Δ -- That is: things that I could change for next time



1. It can get monotonous - I have found that in a classroom with students the repetition can get monotonous. They are learning the material, but unless you teach it, move on, and then return for a no pressure refresher, students get bored easily. I try to change it up by adding a new technique (like mine and yours) or using technique Change it up to get more quiet kids involved. Recently I did a mini project to do the chapter's vocabulary with WAYK where the students researched the word, sign, and visual and taught it to students. It really spiced things up!

2. Students can impede their own learning - Especially when doing small groups, kids will stick to their packs and stop focusing. This is where technique: ten feet comes in really handy. This technique keeps students focused and not concerned with how fast their neighbor is going. Change the groups as many times as necessary, change leaders, and keep groups at least 10 feet apart. I would change this slightly next time and change up groups to keep a flow going and allow mini breaks.

3. You have got to get creative -- This could kind of go into the monotony category, but I wanted to address it separately. I hate to hear groans in my class and so when I heard the first groan for class-wide WAYK review, I knew this was a delta. Inspired by Rachel Ash's post on learning centers, I assigned the previously mentioned vocabulary assignment. When presenting, the kids were put into "WAYK learning stations". Throughout the period kids rotated through, learning new materials, and reviewing material they didn't quite get yet. It was eye opening for me. I could clearly see which students mastered which skills. The fix for this delta is quite simple: keep it moving, flowing, and creative.

4. A clear visual is not always so clear -- Technique set up is so important, and then some. As I've played with this and worked with it I've discovered that finding the right visual is not always so easy, especially when playing with 30 other people. What signals "silentium" to me, does not signal it to student A and while most of us are pretty clear about the "curat" visual, there are a few students who cannot relate to the image being used. This can be good and bad. You can use it as an opportunity to check for understanding by providing a quick definition in the target language, by drawing another picture, or by acting it out. Sometimes, however, students will just shut down if others insist that the visual is clear. Be prepared to justify your visuals without impeding someone's learning process. Take into account that what might be one thing to you, might not to another. Adapt. Adjust.


Conclusion
I will continue to use WAYK. I will work towards a balance of this along with TPRS (teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling), TPR (total physical response), and others. I plan on more posts about specific ways I am implementing WAYK so that you can see how I am adapting and adjusting. I continue to look for feedback, suggestions, and criticisms so that I can improve and help my students achieve fluency faster. Keep your eyes open for  the next post!


Techniques
3 times -- repeat all new information three times. If students signal, do it again.
Change it up -- This is one Evan shared with my in my classroom. When things get easy with myself or a student leading, change leaders. See how well another student does. Give him/her the opportunity to shine!
make me say no -- using the previous picture/object ask "is this a _________". It will elicit the response "No. This isn't a ___________ it is a ___________."
make me say yes -- using the same picture/object ask "is this a ____________." it will elicit the response "Yes, this is a _____________."
mine and yours -- Use this technique to ask "Is this __________ mine/yours?" You can pair this with make me say yes/no -- "Is this my _____________?" it will elecit (depending on the technique) "Yes, this is your ___________" OR "No. This isn't your _____________ this is my ______________."
No Pressure Refresher -- A great way to start a class or bring a class back from a break. It rarely increases the full level and reminds kids of just how much they remember and know.
Prove it -- A technique to let learners show they understand something. Allow them to create their own set-up and script.
Pull me through -- When a student uses this technique they are saying that they don't remember the next sign/word and are asking for help.
Set up -- this technique requires that you set up a simple and clear game space. Avoid distractions. If your word is "cup", get a cup... not a cup next to a coffee maker... not a cup with milk in it... just a cup. Simplify!
slower -- A student is asking the leader to slow down
ten feet -- To keep students focused on their own progress and less concerned with others' progress, keep groups at least ten feet apart.

For more information please visit www.whereareyourkeys.org