What do you do when you “failed” one day, not going slow enough, not getting in enough reps, or the kids were just too squirrelly (in the real world that happens, unlike in the seminars!), or there were several days of testing or some other weird scheduling snafu that meant that the kids are essentially coming off a long time without good input?

Today I was going to move right along (the traditional brain is always still there saying “cover more” “present more”) but instead decided to shamelessly recycle materials. I took the PowerPoint I’d used to teach the last set of target structures (“go on the Internet”, “listen to music”) and without even changing the incredibly lame set of stick-figure illustrations showing the dog wanting to listen to music, going on the Net and buying an mp3 player, I added text to the story so that we had two very short and simple sentences on each slide. The second sentence on each slide talked about a cat.

The cat was never visible. Was that a problem? Heck, no. The third period class figured that out quite nicely by deciding that the cat was microscopic and the dog, which was as large as Clifford the Big Red Dog, was sitting on top of him. The dog, indeed, was an evil dog, and he wanted to listen to evil music (to sixth graders, evidently Ozzy Ozbourne is the epitome of evil music). But as fate would have it, the cat was Ozzy Ozbourne’s younger sister, so things got complicated.

What I saw was that ALL the kids were answering — really all of them. The first time through that wasn’t really the case. We did some hands-up and some shout-out questions, and did a lot of the “Tell Your Partner” thing (PowerTeaching melds very well into TPRS stories for micro-retells). We did tone contours with partners.

And we never even got to what I’d “planned” for today, which was to have them do a dictation based on the story (dictation in Pinyin, then write out each sentence in characters using a scrambled sentence prompt on the slides). But, in the meantime, they understood and used a whole lot of stuff, compared the two animals, gave their opinions on what music they liked to listen to, and did pretty well on partner retells at the end.

Now if I could ever get to timed writings. I need a secretary.