It’s a struggle but so far so good

This year I am taking the JHS 1 classes at my wife’s school. Four classes this year (we prefer larger classes so rather than five medium sized classes we chose to open classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and not have a Thursday class).

Somewhat unusually we have already had four new JHS 1 students join this month, taking our class totals to 12, 6, 13, and 10.

By far the hardest class for me this year is the Friday class with 13 students, but not because of the number of students.

It’s their level.

My eldest granddaughter is in the class, but has been in a special class at our school for a few years now with four other kids. They all have eiken pre-2 and have been doing more advanced stuff than other students. All four of them are in the same Friday class.

We also have a couple of remedial slow learner students who have not mastered reading and writing yet in that class.

It’s probably the largest ability range we have ever had.

Fortunately, the Fluency Course is designed to accommodate different levels of student in the same class.

0: remedial level

Repeat after the teacher.
Get support for speaking activities.
Complete exercises at the basic level.
Try and write single words for dictation.

1: normal level

Don’t look at paper for speaking.
Do the challenge and extra writing activities.
Read timed texts a second time after doing the questions.

2. advanced level

Extra information and extra questions for speaking.
Challenge and extra challenge.
Translate reading texts after doing timed reading and questions.
Aim for perfect dictation and verb quiz.
Try to write funny/interesting conversations.

This system has worked fairly well in the past (by the time they get to JHS 2 and 3 the material gets challenging/interesting enough so it is just a case of getting them through the first year without getting bored.

For smaller schools it might be worth moving advanced JHS students into an older class, but we have a more industrial approach and don’t want to deal with a bunch of exceptions.

This year is our biggest JHS/SHS group yet: over 150 students. It’s pretty exciting.

How are your Fluency Course classes going so far? Any questions?

2 Responses

  1. Our first time this year. We have a class of seven students using Level 1A. Up until now they have been doing mostly speaking classes, so the writing is the biggest change. The speed reading is a big hit (we stand up and read aloud fast), the energy level goes way up, but I noticed a few students are quite a bit slower… so when the fastest students sit down and write their time the slow ones are still reading. That may impact their self-esteem if it happens every class so I am thinking how to make them read fast, aloud, without competing with each other every single time.

    The speaking portion with the questions is fun too. I get them to write their answers at home before the class, so we don’t need to use speaking time to think.

    As for the writing (translation and dictation), I give them 7 minutes. Some can finish the entire page, and everyone can finish up to the advanced part, so I’m happy with that. I can hear a lot of deep breaths and sighs, so monitoring the situation. I don’t think 7 minutes is a long time but students may think it is 🙂

    I’m also using 2B with a mixed class of 2nd and 3rd graders. So far it’s going well although we never have time to do dictation and I also have to assign the writing portion for homework as the class goes over time if we try to write in class.

    1. That’s great to hear. We tried to design the Fluency Course so that it has too much content -that way teachers can pick and choose, prioritising the activities they want to do with their students.

      I know a few teachers read the texts aloud with their students, so that is definitely an option. We do it individually, silent reading with stopwatches.

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