Thursday Flashback

Originally published Oct. 13, 2008

As promised, a quick report on our Thursday session with Dr. Jim’s students. 

This day we really wanted to focus on the energy/modeling needed to lead interactive activities as well as look at the balance between teacher directed and student-centered work. We were also were aware this was their “Friday”  and that they’d be zooming back to their dorms to pack up to go home for the weekend, so some fun and relaxation was in order, too.

We reviewed the call and respond (and dangerously addictive) children’s song, “A Rum Tum Tum” that we had led the previous day. For those of you who haven’t encountered it, it goes something like this (please excuse the formatting — this blog doesn’t seem to like tabs):

A rum, tum, tum                           (Clap your knees 3 times)         – Children Repeat

A rum, tum, tum                           (Clap your knees 3 times)         – Children Repeat

Goolie, goolie, goolie, goolie         (Tickle the air)                          – Children Repeat

A rum, tum, tum                           (Clap your knees 3 times)         – Children Repeat

Repeat Sequence

A way O                                       (Wave arms in the air)                – Children Repeat

A way O                                       (Wave arms in the air)                – Children Repeat

Goolie, goolie, goolie, goolie       (Tickle the air)                           – Children Repeat

A rum, tum, tum                          (Clap your knees 3 times)         – Children Repeat

Repeat Sequence

We did it as a whole group, and then split in two, where one side “practiced” being the teacher leading the activity. Steve and I wanted them to focus on clearly signaling to each other using physical and vocal cues, as well as making sure they had a chance to really learn the song.

We then moved into a song/chant that had brought to us in ELTA by a friend from Trinidad and Tobago:

Oof A-Lay A-Lay                                              – Children Repeat

A Tikki Tikki Toom Ba                                      – Children Repeat

A Shallo Allo A Lay                                           – Children Repeat

Off A-Loo-ay A-Loo-ay A-Loo-ay A-Loo-ay – Children Repeat

In the teacher led version, once the students have mastered the chant, l added a different physical action for each phrase, that the class then repeated.

Once the students have mastered both the movements AND the chant, we moved the activity to a more student-centered work by asking THEM to come up with a new movement for each phrase. To do this, we split the group in half, and supported them in developing a physical “dance.” We then brought the group back together, and each side taught the other side. I’ll just say that the hand jive and mashed potato have made it to Al Ain…..

During the debrief, we underscored the difference between the two activities and highlighted the energy a facilitator has to bring to the process — both in terms of physicality and enthusiasm. We also pointed out that we scaffolded the learning, rehearsing and re-rehearsing each bit as we move forward. Not only did that build individual and group confidence, but when someone messed up (yes, I have three-left feet. Why do you ask?) she was supported and encouraged. The objective was to get it “right” — that is, build gross motor skills — but enjoy messing up simply because it’s part of the learning process. No matter how old you are.

We finished up with a storytelling activity that Steve calls “Five sentence story.” Dividing the students into groups of 5, each group played a short version of the classic memory game, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring a …. ” If you remember this game, each time a person adds an item, they must re-state all the previous items.

Once the groups had their five words, and everyone had practiced, they were challenged to come up with a story that included those words. Each person only had to come up with one sentence, but each sentence had to include one of their words.

It was fascinating to watch the students come up with the stories — some simply went around one by one. Others negotiated and “composed” the story together. 

After they rehearsed the stories, they then all shared them with the whole group — giving them their first taste of “performing.” The “audience” was wonderfully encouraging, but it was interesting to see how the students struggled to integrate the physical and vocal work we’d done into their self-created story. I think a lot of that has to do with the modeling Steve and I do — that encourages them to be more physically and vocally expressive – and the simple need to practice something often enough so that you feel confident going out on a limb. 

Because of what we learned, we’re going to tweak our focus during week two. Instead of them working on developing a brand new interactive storytelling from scratch, Steve and I are going to model two different stories and then we’re going to work in two (or maybe three) groups and practice those stories. The goal is to capitalize on the security of the group and then challenge individuals to take responsibility for one or two moments of interaction.

We know that we’re having a “share back” Wednesday afternoon for people of the Univerisity, and we want those attending to be participants, not watchers. To do that we need to give the students the time Steve and I take to practice, practice, adjust and practice again so that they can successfully engage the observers so they’ll feel comfortable participating and offering ideas.

 

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