In the past few years in all of my Essential tutor training classes, the veteran Essentials tutor chosen to lead us through our training has used a puzzle as an illustration of what the Essentials class is like. I have always enjoyed that analogy and decided to use it with my students and their parents this year. Since they seemed to enjoy it, I wanted to share the idea.
First of all, I wanted a puzzle with 24 pieces to represent the 24 weeks that we will be in Essentials together this school year. I was able to find a large floor puzzle with 24 pieces - perfect!
I took all of the pieces out of the box and put them in a generic plastic shopping bag. On our first day of Essentials together, I placed all 24 of the pieces on the table in a pile and asked the students and parents to identify what picture it made. They were not allowed to touch the puzzle pieces or move them around - just look at them and then identify the picture. Of course no one could do it. We had a lot of good guesses based on parts of pieces that they could see and that looked somewhat familiar.
After this, I showed them an enlarged poster of a blank chart A.
(This is a copyrighted chart from the Essentials Guide.
You can find out more here.)
This was my script: "Chart A is just like this pile of puzzle pieces. It contains all the information you need to fully understand every sentence that you can form in our English language. But, if you only see part of it or little bits of it, you don't fully understand it as a whole. You need to see and understand each piece to fully understand our English language. Throughout this school year, we will be putting together this puzzle, one piece each week, while at the same time putting together the puzzle of our English language. Each week, I will bring in a new puzzle piece to be added to the ones from the week(s) before; and each week, I will show you a new piece of the puzzle of Chart A - a summary of our entire English Language."
The students and parents were excited about the prospects of both finding out what the puzzle picture is as well as understanding the puzzle of Essentials.
For you fellow CC educators, I hope this is something useful for you as you embark on this year of Essentials.