At this point in the year, I am using daily Caught Ya's to reinforce grammar and conventions. The students go up to the SmartBoard and make corrections, and then we discuss their choices. This is a very quick activity, and this particular Caught Ya follows a story line that is based on Romeo and Juliet.
At this point in the play, I think it is important to recap events. Not only is this my students' first real foray into Shakespeare, our unit has been interrupted by a weekend and the many distractions that occupy students' lives. This is also a great way to get students who have been absent "up to speed."
So, I challenge the students to pair up with their seat partner and construct a sequence of events chart. On the whiteboard, I have two ways to set up a chart, but they can do it any way that makes sense to them. I am a strong believer in student choice, to the extent that it is feasible. After all, some of us are webbers and some are list-makers. It all works. [This activity is a twist on think-pair-share, so the kids are familiar with the little bit of mixing and moving that is involved.]
The students get down to work with the text and their papers. The variety that results is pretty amazing.
As they work, I circulate around the room and just ask questions or give positive feedback. I really do think it is interesting how kids construct their understanding of a text or skill, so it's fun to ask them questions about it. Sometimes, they start to erase as soon as I ask them a question, but that's just their insecurity. I find myself saying "Don't erase!" as soon as I start talking. I want to train them to listen and reflect, not react immediately.
When I was explaining the activity and telling the students that they could work in teams, I realized that everyone was sitting by a person of his/her same gender. So, I decided to make the activity fun by doing a "boys against girls" challenge at the end, when they put their work on the whiteboard.
As a teacher, I much prefer mixed groups, but my classes this year tend to gravitate toward boys/boys and girls/girls if I leave it up to them. Of course, letting them have their way usually means that they are happier...and noisier. But, frankly, splitting a class into two teams of 14 is never going to engender peace and quiet, so I roll with it.
Each group got to present their sequence and the class discussed who did the best job. Who won? The boys, this time, because they were decisive. The girls spent too much time moving items around, erasing, and trying to get group consensus. (Oddly stereotypical, but true.)