Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts

A Taste of Summer: Learning about our Senses

I had forgotten how it feels to be working with kids for five hours straight. Add to it 40 degree weather and I come home exhausted everyday.  The summer camp at the  International Institute of Madrid is all about learning English and practicing it.  We have four themes this summer. This week it is the Five Senses.  I like this theme because there is so much vocabulary to work with and you can do so many activities.  

Today we did a Taste Test so that they could learn the words salty, spicy, sour, bitter and sweet.  During our vocabulary lesson we went over these words and associated them to different foods and they wrote them in their notebooks.   I put salt, black pepper, coffee grounds, a lemon wedge and sugar in small trays.  I had students write in their notebooks the title Taste Test.  

Then I had each table (four students to a table) come up to my desk to do the test.  They took their finger and tasted the salt. I had them tell me what it tasted like and then sent them to write the word salty in their notebooks. We did this with each item and each table. 

Next I had them come to the carpet and help me write sentences on the board, so that they can extend their learning to phrases instead of loose vocabulary words with no connections.  We wrote the following:

The salt tasted salty.
The pepper was spicy.
The coffee tasted bitter.
The lemon was very sour.
The sugar was sweet.

The look on their faces when they tasted salt and lemon was precious. They amazingly liked the bitter taste of coffee and of course they loved the sugar which I left until last so they were left with a sweet taste in their mouth and a positive experience. It was no problem getting them to help me write the sentences they had learned the vocabulary words quite well.

Tomorrow we will review with a taste sort so that they can use these words again and continue to associate them to different food items. The students are six and seven, so I don't want to overload them with too much vocabulary, but I want them to make these few words part of their vocabulary.

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Using a Blog vs. a Wiki for English Class

This week I start my English classes for the Fall 2012.  I have been pondering all summer if I will use a Wiki or a Blog to enhance my communication with my students and their learning.  Since I have not been able to make up my mind as to which one will serve my purposes better, I am going to try out both. I will be using a wiki for my Pre-Intermediate class and a blog for my High Intermediate class.

So far I have found that a Wiki is a great way to upload resources for students to use which may or not be a drawback of a blog.  However, with a blog it seems that you can organize information into posts much better.  A wiki offers the benefit of having a discussion forum where students can discuss ideas among themselves, whereas a blog might only give them the opportunity to comment and get feedback from me.

Since I still have many questions I will not get a clear answer until I try. I am starting on this new adventure hoping to get some great insight into the best way of helping my students learn English using these new technologies.
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Creating a Safe and Fun Classroom Environment

Teaching English to Adults was new to me, so when I first started I was a bit nervous. I knew that many Spanish Adults although they might have a high level in reading and grammar did not feel as confident in speaking and listening. Therefore I relied on what I knew about teaching children and decided to use some of those same concepts to create a safe and fun classroom environment where they would be comfortable taking risks to speak.

Establish an atmosphere of Mutual Respect
Being prepared for my classes was essential to showing my students that I respected the time they took from their busy schedules to come to class. Respecting their time to answer questions.  Sometimes we are in such a hurry to cover the material we have prepared that we don't give our students enough wait time for them to formulate their answers. Correcting them respectfully and knowing my students enough to know who I could correct publicly and who I couldn't.  I also let my students know that they have a say in what we cover in class. I have them turn in questions on a sheet of paper the size of a post-it note and then go over the answer with them at the beginning of the next class or if it is something the whole class can benefit from I do a short lesson at the beginning of the next class.

Establish Goals from the Beginning
At the beginning of the term I have them establish goals for themselves and celebrate with them when they have reached them.  One of my students goals was to be able to go on a trip and rely on her English speaking abilities to get around.  This past week she went on a trip, she told me that it was the first time that she had gone on a trip where she had to be in charge of the communication and that she was able to do it because her friend did not speak English.  She shared it with the class and we all congratulated her.

Modify Your Lessons
They also know that I am willing to modify lessons if the lesson is not working for them.  I was teaching ed endings for regular verbs one time and they were just not getting it I told them we would go on to something else and I would go back to the drawing board and we would try another time.  When we tried again with some manipulatives where they had to figure out what patterns determine what sound to use the lesson went a lot smoother and I have seen some definite improvement.

Laught at yourself when you make mistakes.  Make it OK to make mistakes. I was teaching the prepositions "in, at and on" and I misread a sentence and thought it said "The roses are in the field", it turns out it was Horses and not Roses, so the proposition should be on the field and we all laughed.  One of my students the other day said "my girlfriends" and I asked "Does your girlfriend know you have more than one. He started laughing and said "Oh, I am glad she wasn't here to hear me," and then we all laughed with him. We have fun together and it makes it easier for them to let go and make mistakes because they are practicing more.

Go the Extra Mile
Finally go the extra mile.  Since the class started I have been emailing them different links for them to improve their listening and comprehension.  Directing them to resources that are available to them, so that they continue to make progress.  I also push them to do their best to improve their level and constantly make comments on their improvements. My greatest reward is to see them make progress and they know that.

The other day when my boss came to observe, she said that they were speaking a lot more than she expected for an Lower Intermediate class, I thought about it and realized how far they have come.

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Improving Response to Literature for YL

When I taught 4th graders they had to prepare for the California State writing test. Since the genre of the test changed every year we had to make sure students where prepared for Narrative and Response to Literature.  The test was in January and I knew that the students wouldn't be ready if I just did a unit on Response to Literature.  So what I did was to teach each them part of a good response to literature and then created a form that covered all the areas of a good response and distributed each part for each weekday.  Students had to read 30 minutes per night, so I had them do a short response every night.  We first practiced with the form in class for a week and then I sent it home with them.  This really helped them be prepared when we finally did the Response to Literature unit and they were ready for the test.

Later when I moved to 1st grade I adapted it so that it could still target the same RL parts but at their level.  This was really successful it not only helped with their comprehension, but as time went by, their responses got longer and their writing improved.  Their confidence when we did read-alouds also improved because they new what character traits were, setting, connections, what they like or not about the reading and were able to do a retell of the story.

On Monday I had them work on Character Traits. I simplified it by having them draw what the character looked like, then I taught them different adjectives they could use to describe a character and each time we read a book they chose one character trait and made a sentence explaining why they thought the character had that trait.  I taught them setting, so on Tuesdays the form asked them to draw the setting with as much details as they could draw and write about the connections they could make to the book they were reading. Wednesday was the day to draw a picture of their favorite part of the book and write what they liked or not about the book and explain why or why not.

Then on Thursdays they wrote a Summary about what had happened in the story.  At the beginning of the year I would have a space for Beginning, Middle and End of the story.  Then as they got better at it I took that out and had them just write a Summary.  For more advanced students who were reading longer books I had them adapted to the part they had read so far that week.

Now I am using it with my bilingual/binational students who are 2nd and 3rd graders, but since they do not attend an all English school and we only meet once a week I am using the simpler form, but they have been making great strides although they had not worked with any of the RL parts in the past.

I have the students keep them in a binder so that we can go back and see the progress they have made in their writing, drawing and responses.  If you are interested in getting a PDF of the file please email me.
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