. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Slight Raise, then Drop

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Slight Raise, then Drop

It was Back To Work for me last Thursday and we all know what that means…

more blog posts!

more staff meetings!

and more teacher in-services that give me fodder for more blog posts!

We started this year off with a full day in-service with a two-fold objective:

  1. 1. Introduce us to our new English Language Development (ELD) curriculum.

  1. 2. Waste precious hours doing busy work such as looking at slides covered in fancy graphs telling us that we have large English Learner populations in our schools (which any one of us could have told you since, you know, we're the ones in the classrooms with them) or working in small groups to compare and contrast direct ELD instruction with ELD strategies and then sharing out our results with the entire group while we waited for the presenter from the publisher to arrive (after lunch) to tell us that the ELD program we adopted is scripted and all we do is read the script directly from a book and do a few wacky hand signals they developed to have the students speak in unison; when what we really needed to be doing was setting up our classrooms since this was Friday and school starts on Monday and they only gave us half the day on Thursday (due to a massive beginning of the year meeting) to work in our rooms that many of us had just moved into from other rooms and that had been stripped bare for summer cleaning.

"Luckily," (as my principal put it) our school secretary was coming in to work on Saturday (unpaid) until noon if any of us wanted to finish our rooms then. Oh, boy!

Why does that not feel so lucky to me?

But I digress. The important thing is that we are now fully trained in script reading and the nuances of the all-important "signal" to promote a singular voice from our class when they must repeat what we say.

Wanna know how to do the signal too?

You hold your teacher's manual in one hand so you can clearly see the script and raise your other one like you're about to swear an oath. To give "the signal," you slightly raise that hand and then drop it in front of you like a tree falling. In case you were wondering, "Why the slight raise?" The "slight raise" is to give the students a moment to process what they are about to repeat.

Let me model it for you:

Slight raise, then drop.

Slight raise, then drop.

Slight raise, then drop.

Slight raise, then drop.

You see? There's a slight raise, then you drop your hand down.

Now let's try that together. Let's have all of you stand up at your computers, grab a book and hold it in your left hand, and raise your right hand.

Slight raise, then drop.


Slight raise, then drop.

Now remember, the drop goes in front. Not off to the side like a Mr. Miyagi Wax On Wax Off move. Like this:

Slight raise, then drop.

Try again.

Slight raise, then drop.

Muuuch better.

Slight raise, then drop.

Slight raise, then drop.

That, in a nutshell, was our all-day training.

Oh, I forgot to mention, most of the ELD curriculum is devoted to students speaking on cue so we must teach with our right hands raised throughout the 30-45 minute ELD block.



Anonymous said...

Our program is call ELL. We don't do the tree fall thing. We "anchor" words. Put your left hand up like you are swearing an oath, as you say the word, close the fist and pull down. My kids actually like doing it but my arm is getting sore.

Edna Lee said...

Just think of the tricep muscles we're gonna have though!

nancym said...

It seems the pont of inservice is to make the teaching part of our job seem great in comparison. Starting my 17th year I find I must fake my enthuiasm and hope it will become genuine because I have always be the perky one with the good attitude. I'm really trying.
I also spend a great deal of time creating curriculum for myself so
I truthfully hope all these new fangle things will really make me a better teacher with less time and effort so let the scripting begin.

Anonymous said...

Our beginning inservice was cut mercifully short due to the funeral of a staff member. I feel bad that that was the reason, but it was quite amazing how well our first day went even though the mandatory meeting was cut in half. I wonder if next year the meeting will be just two hours instead of four since the stuff that was cut was not missed at all. I doubt it. I agree that compared to the meetings, teaching the kids is extremely enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine what our students will be like as adults? They will not be able to answer and question or speak until the person they are speaking to does the "tree fall" signal. They will not know how to be creative or to problem solve, as they have never been allowed to. And god forbid there comes a time when they need to work together and share ideas to solve a problem because that is no longer allowed either.