Sara and I spent just enough time at the Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, The American School of Lima to know that we’d love to come back. This visit got squeezed onto the front end of our trip to Jakarta (because the two are so close to each other – sometimes we don’t even make sense to ourselves.)
While it may not have been the most streamlined itinerary – it certainly ended up a smart move on our part. We got in three days of work with the middle and high school kids here – we did a couple of assemblies one for the middle and one for the high and then spent the rest of our time working on infomercials selling forms of government, prepositional phrase poems based on social issues, found poems from book club selections which included the Cather in the Rye, extended metaphor and personification. We packed a whole lot of writing and speaking into those three days!
Thanks to our host Sarah, the upper school Librarian everything ran perfectly.
As usual we incorporated reading whatever we had produced out loud to end each of our framework sessions. Sarah commented that in each session she visited she noticed that kids she would never had predicted were standing up and presenting their work. We get this comment all the time and are often asked how do we manage to get the participation from the kids we work with?
Simple answer, we expect them to.
Every one of our Framework lessons incorporate the opportunity to read aloud what we are working on. We emphasize that the pieces are not finished yet, but that reading something out loud is a great way to listen for lines that could use revision. The pieces we are working on are usually fairly short – taking no longer than a minute or so to read which ratchets also down the stress a bit.
We scaffold into reading our work first by asking everyone to read what they are working on out loud at the same time. This creates a bit of a cacophony, but it also allows the kids to rehearse a bit yet still remaining somewhat anonymous. We then ask kids to read their work to another person in the room and then to switch roles. Now the students have rehearsed twice – it is then we take “volunteers” to read to the rest of the class. We believe that nurturing this culture of conversation is an important component to the lessons.
It’s pretty rare that a student will refuse to read aloud after going through the above steps. And even when a student will demur at first, just asking a second time usually takes care of it. All we have to do is ask. I like to have the kids stand when they read – it adds a little bit of ritual to the mini performance and helps to get the audience’s attention. I tell the kids that there are only two reasons I will ever ask a reader to repeat themselves – One: I cannot hear the reader because they are just not loud enough and Two: Someone else in the room is speaking at the same time. It’s uncommon that I ever have to ask a student to read again after setting these expectations.
Sometimes all a student needs is an invitation. Another piece of advice I’d like to pass on – if you get invited to FDR in Lima – don’t hesitate to take them up on it.