We've been back in Kuwait for a couple pf days now, and Amanda and I are already busy getting our classrooms and plans together. I'm lucky enough to be teaching in a brand new room (albeit a portable), so it is a blank canvas. They are still working on the room, though, so I'll have to wait a bit longer to get some of my things set up.
I am, however, preparing and laminating a lot of material for the first few days (and for the rest of the year, really). I'm creating a "Crafting Corner" where students will be able to practice certain skills. I will post a skill tree every few weeks, so the students can see all of the skills/steps they will be working on. When they finish one step (worksheet, activity, etc) they can move on to the next. The final step is a short written test that covers all areas of that skill (verb tenses for instance). The students that complete all steps and get 80% or higher on the final test will be awarded a badge on Edmodo. However, if the students get below 80% they will not be awarded a badge. Instead, they are able to retake the test as many times as they want until they do. I want this to be a positive experience, and I want to get them interested in accruing and practicing these skills. The crafting will take place outside of regular lessons, and I will let them take the sheets home (not the test, though). I know that a lot of my students love getting badges, stickers, or any other kind of recognition (yes even those moody 9s and 10s), so I foresee a lot of them getting behind this. The ones that aren't interested will not be forced to do it, but I imagine they will consider it when they see the rewards and higher marks their friends get from practicing their skills. I've thrown two examples of these skill crafting trees up on Google Documents, so click here if you are interested in using something like them.
Time to play a little Xbox before hitting the sack.