Idea bank

Find-your-match reviewing game 總複習遊戲-句型篇

It’s that time of the year when everything is chaotic and you need to find a way to wrap up the semester with efficiency and a bit of fun! Find-your-match can help your kids to revisit those learned material AND have all 4 skills covered. The review game I’m going to introduce here is pretty straight forward. Nothing fancy but it does the work. 微笑

Grade level: basic- intermediate

Teaching props:

  1. Summery page of the textbook
  2. scrap papers for each student
  3. stickers
  4. hats or similiar containers as sentence collectors, in my class, I use a hat and a box

Teaching goal:

  1. Students can read the sentence slips they have and find the one who has a matching question (or answer) slips.
  2. After the pair is located. They go to the teacher to replay the dialogue again.

Game plan

  1. Have students to read through the index page, or summery page, depends on your textbook layout. I have them read through the page and ask a few questions as a warm-up.

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Index page

2. Then I have boys to pick 4 questions from the page and girls to pick 4 answers and write them on the paper slips.

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3. I’ve had my new camera projector ready this time and promptly did the show-and-tell. You’ll need to leave a fair bit of time here to make sure they know what to do.

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4. Have your sentence collectors ready! I’ve got a cowboy hat to collect questions and a box to collect answers(See the pictures below). Send two of your kids to collect the paper slips from everyone. You may also want to write down the hint on the board.

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Make sure they don’t mix the Questions with the Answers.

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5. Now you have two sentence collectors full of paper slips. Send two kids to start dispersing Question slips to girls and Answer slips to boys. You may have each pupils to have 2-4 slips as a start. Leave a few minutes for them to examine and practice the sentences they received. Usually I make sure each of them have at least 3 paper slips in their hands.

6. Have children mingle with the others and find the one who has the answer of their respective question, or the one who has the question that lead to the answer.

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7. Once they find their partner, they should report to you as a pair. They replayed the dialogue in front of you again. If they pass, I give them a sticky dot.

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8. Have them recycle the paper slips in another container. Once they’ve used up all the paper slips in their hands, they go to the hat or the box to have more paper slips to practice.  

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This is a fun and engaging activity and kids get to listen and speak numerous times in the target language.

Later on, you can even have a quick fix-the-problem writing activity as a follow-up.

There are a few things note-worthy in this activity:

1. It seems to motivate lower-level kids to learn/imitate from their peers.

2. The sticky dots can be the ticket to fit in your classroom management scheme. They love it.

3. They love digging their hands in the hat/box to try their lucks! It’s really nothing mysterious but the gesture itself gives off a fun vibe.

4. While the drill obviously has it’s own merit in terms of reading comprehension, it does help kids to familiarize matching Question sentence & possible replies.

Caution: Be prepared for a classroom with lots of constructive noise. 微笑

Finding tranquility through chaos-2 classroom management schemes

Classroom management hasn’t been an big issue for me for years until this school year, which marks the 10th year of my teaching career, that I decided to change my role to a homeroom teacher.

I then realized that I need to come up with a plan that cope with my new scenario, that I’ll have to stay with the same group of kid every day for a year. Unlike my prior 9 years of 40-minute management scheme, this new ‘battle field’ requires new strategy.

Clip chart system

So I finally put the ‘Clip chart’ system into practice and I’m so glad how it turns out! You can take a look at the original Clip Chart manual here (downloadable). You can also find the Clip Chart pinterest board here.

I then made my own Clip Chart

This is how it looks like in my classroom

The inventor of this system, Rick Morris, is apparently an experienced educator. His attention to details including, advising teachers to write boys numbers on different sides of the clips from girls. The reason is simple, so that kids can easily find their clips and make this act a less interruptive movement during the class.

So how does it work? To put it simply, MOVE-RECORD-REWARD

1. MOVE– Everyone starts from the GREEN ZONE (READY TO LEARN) everyday.  my kids get to move up a baby step if they get the answer right, clean up their desk without being reminded, show signs of great improvement…etc. They get to do the giant leap, meaning to move up to the next color, if they can present their ideas in a complete sentence, if they’ve been innovative in problem solving, if they got caught doing something great! I have them move down their clips when they don’t hand in their homework on time, or being disrruptive in the class…etc.

2. RECORD– to make the system a long-term sheme to encourage good behaviour, I have a trust-worthy kid to record their daily score on a sheet and public it in the classroom bulletinboard. They learn two things from here, 1, you can always start fresh in the next day. 2. success is built on long term engagement.

3. REWARD– I prepared a box of stickers. They’ll get to choose a sticker from the box once they accumulated to 90 points. That sounds a lot but they get the idea of keeping up the good work. On top of the sticker indicates the benefits they earned, such as 50% off homework, free nap time, free choice of lunch partner.       Tt

The result in my class? Marvelous! I didn’t know that every kid, regardless of how he/she performs usually, they all long for the moment to move up and surpass theirs/peers records. Additionally, it visualize rewarding and punishment in a rather postive way.

I FORGOT folder

I forgot folder

I have those forgetful kids to fill in the form of the I FORGOT folder so we have a reference when discussions needed. You know how often they claim innocence even they knew what they’ve done for the entire semester!

I usually leave it on the counter so kids get easy access to it. Last Saturday during the school carnival, a dad of a boy in my class came in and browse through the classroom, without being prompted, he picked up the folder and saw his boy’s name on the record sheet more than ten times. He then realized that I haven’t been espeically strict to his boy and immediately he took the parental responsibility to discipline his child on-site.

So here are my two helpful classroom management sheme and I’ve been keeping up my promise of writing every Tuesday! Let’s hope I get to blog routinely!

For your eyes only- online reading apps for teachers

For your eyes only

Do you read a lot online? Do you find your ‘attention span’ decreases just like your students? Reading online is something I do a lot but often found it quite tiring until Readability and Evernote came along. Since then, they’ve become my inseparable reading tools.

Here I use James’ newest article to demonstrate these two lovely apps. By the way, if you haven’t familiar yourself with iTDi community, you can start with James’ article about getting inspired and motivated as an educator. We all know these are the keys to happy teachers!


Readability: DECLUTTER WEB PAGES, READ, SAVE, SHARE

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Both of these add-ons are light and user-friendly. Readability offers you a quick magnified version of the web page with a click. So that instead of reading this…

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You get to read this…

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Readability also allows you to save your web pages to other mobile devices.


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Evernote Clearly: DECLUTTER WEB PAGES, READ, SAVE, HIGHLIGHT,  SHARE, SYNCRONIZING

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Evernote Clearly is also part of the Evernote product line, which you probably are an addicted user already. I’m a long time supporter of Evernote and have been using it to catogerize and save all interesting pages/pictures online. Like Readability, you can also grab its booklet to your browser menu bar, but what’s more about Evernote is, you get to customize your ‘reading preferences’. You can choose the font size, highlight key phrases and also save the web page to your desinated folder/devices.

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Additionally, If you haven’t tried Evernote, do have a closer look at this wonderful app. It’s like a memory jar for your online footprints and it makes searching so much easier by ‘tagging’ and ‘notebooking’.

You can also share your Evernote notebook with others. I’ve got a notebook contains many inspiring and intriguing pictures for ELT uses, mostly from FACEBOOK. Click my Picture Archieve to take a look and maybe we can collaborate the notebook together!

Changing lanes and marching on- what I have learned from working with YLs

In my opinion, there are two kinds of people that work like mirrors and oftentimes they unknowingly help us learn more about ourselves. Our partner can do that, he or she reacts on our thoughts and actions and in a way, they reflect our image. Our students can also do that, they are the great reminders of ideas and concepts you’ve taken for granted as time goes by. They help you realize what you are good at and areas you need to work on. Be it adults or children, what we teachers can learn from our students are usually the key for better teaching and learning.

I’m undergoing a transitional phase in my career since this semester, walking away from my comfort zone as an EFL teacher for 10 years and start fresh as a homeroom teacher is no easy step. It’s a bazzar feeling to start learning to teach like a NQT after 10 years but the experience is truely amazing. I learned more about these ‘little people’ and in a way my students taught me how to fit in the new role. I felt like seeing teaching from fresh perspectives and learned quite a lot from my children. So to celebrate my halfway up to the first year as a homeroom teacher, I’d like to share some thoughts about teaching little devils young learners.

Remix teaching material

Textbook is usually the last thing I have kids to put out at the end of the class. I believe that textbook, regardless of its formality and quality, is supposed to be a guideline, a tangible object for students/teachers to fall back on; while real learning takes place in a more ‘untangible and messier’ way. I often remind myself to embed at least three different teaching medium in a 40-minute session. The combinations can be various; they can be good-old-fashioned blackboard drills, interactive whiteboard games, or individual writing games. It’s the teachers’ interpretation of the language material that connects the textbook with real life. The ritual of opening the book at the end of the class serves the purpose of organizing/rephrasing prior ideas into clear concepts and logics. At the meantime, it’s also a good idea to do some individual quiet work so children have the time to reflect on learnt material.

Embed learning strategies in teaching

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Have children organize teaching material with graphics and diagrams. You can always start from a simple T-chart then gradually progress to more complicated charts such as a Venn diagram. The practice not only reinforces vocabulary but also personalize the language material. Moreover, learning strategies were embedded so children can start developing their own learning system. And it’s all part of the scheme of nurturing successful learners’ autonomy. Visual clues should be put out all year round and update them in an appropriate manner.

Having fun is always the best motivation

Little people learn from doing, they learn from enjoying the sense of achievement. For children, singing and dancing is always the best trick to get them involved in the class, however, it’s the ‘extra mile’ you lead them to afterwards decides if the fun part compliments the learning. Even the roll-calling task at the beginning of the semester can lead to a meaningful and active learning process(Read sample lesson plan here and here).

Step back and wait for it

For many Taiwanese EFL teachers, the challenge we face everyday is that true beginners sit side by side with advanced students, yet they share the same classroom, under the guidance of the same teacher in the same time frame. Our long tradition of cramming school system, meaning after-school English education, makes sure public school teachers have a hard time setting reasonable goals and make effective lesson plans. After years of battling with the reality, I finally realized that teachers also need to step back and let the material sit in for a while. Not just for the students, but also for the teachers, to have time to do individualized learning activities. This is especially important if the routine learning hour does not meet the requirement of sufficient language exposure. Patience and keen observance can help you pick up the holes and patch them up before they got too big.

Helping them to take ownership of the language

Needless to say, this is where language learning started to make sense for learners. However, for YLs, especially in an EFL country, taking the ownership of the language material may require a long time. In this case, try customizing the available material. I’ve had my kids grouped in teams made their own team songs AND draw matching posters (Read OUP project here). We end up creating 5 different lyrics and accompanying posters from 1 song. My children even claimed, ‘It’s MY song!’ Additionally, making alphabet books with local themes also encourages applying the language plus easier to do differentiated teaching (See alphabet books sample here).

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Teachers need to experience the ‘FIRSTS’ as well

After years of teaching in the same context/position, we all need a break from fixed routine and maybe a couple of new thinking caps. If changing lanes is too dramatic for you, try to do experiments in your class. Try out the methods/projects you’ve long known exist but never get to put them into practice. Engage in local/international-wised projects so you can do your lesson planning from a new angle(See my International Exchange Project here). I’m especially fond of this interview of Jamie Lee Curtis’ , where she said that we adults should have our share of ‘firsts’ to ‘celebrate the everyday bravery’. So I’m embracing my journey as a new teacher start from 2012. I was reborned again in that sense! Haha!

Jamie Lee Curtis Interview

Two quick shares to kick off the new school year!

As most of my friends have already learned my new position as a homeroom teacher, I’ve survived the first two days back to school! Tomorrow is the start of another new week and I looked back at my long forgotten blog and realized that it’s time to pick up the pen  start typing and record this new page of my teaching career!

Here are two quick shares just to have a jump start of the new school year!

Question1 : Ever crave for a cleaner YOUTUBE page?

Yes, I believe we all have that awkward moment when playing YouTube video clips. Whether it’s the embarrassing video previews or the annoying commercial news clicker, they have become a major distraction and we don’t need that!

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a clean YouTube page like this?

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I strongly suggest you to download the CLEA.NR extension for your browser at school. Your don’t need to click anything once you install the extension and yes, you can always go back to the conventional YouTube page by clicking the YouTube icon at the bottom bar.

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Question 2 : Any chance of teaching warm-ups and language at the same time?

My new position as a HR teacher means I’ll be teaching PE as well! I’m all for regular exercise but to teach it as a subject…well, that’s another thing. So I found this short and simple clip of child-friendly warm-up routine, and I love it! It is created for kids and the instruction is easy enough to follow. More importantly, I get to teach them basic verbs like march/run/jump/ put up your hands/high/low impact….etc. and since it’s a routine, I’d ask them to eventually memorizing the warm up sequence. I think this works great for EFL classrooms!

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Hopefully I get to keep up the blogging and locate something interesting enough to share weekly!

What 2-min video clip can bring to us…

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Receiving presents from Julie Gold and Devon Thagard

Finally I get to lay back a bit this weekend! This is by far one of the most extraordinary project I’ve done. There has been a lot of joy and learning along the way with surprising struggles of school politics. Nevertheless, they are all good and they will nurture my future teaching life.

I felt the need to document what has happened for the past few weeks. One is to share how I started this amazing project with my kids, which many teachers might like to look to in hopes of noticing opportunities around them. The second purpose is, I’d like to share what I have learned from the event, about … people and life, yes, I know it sounds bazaar to connect these with a competition, but surprisingly enough, this competition opens a window of observation.

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Devon with my students

Global Sing-along Competition

I couldn’t recall where I first learned about the competition nevertheless I remembered my first thought is, ‘gee, this sounds like fun! How do I get involve?’. The competition, Global Sing-Along, was hosted by Oxford University Press (OUP). They were very clever and considerate to have all necessary teaching materials ready and downloadable online.

To enter the contest, teachers are required to record kids singing from titles offered by OUP and upload the video clips to OUP youtube channel. There are five songs to choose from and includes all the teaching materials such as mp3, lyrics and accompanying MTV.

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The first song couldn’t be simpler. The Lyrics contain only two words, ‘everybody’ and ‘up’. Regardless of how some may see the song as too easy for any elementary level kids, it is exactly a perfect test of how we teachers can expand and extend from a pure base. In daily school life, children climb up the monkey bars, they swing up high and low, they do a lot of rope jumping, they look up skyward to observe the …these child like activities supply a rich  foundation for extensive teaching moments.

I asked my 3rd graders which part of our campus they would like to showcase if they were to introduce our school to children from other parts of the world. They nominated 7 areas and I assigned each class to do a MTV for each spot. The video shooting took only one session and they just love learning outside of the classroom.

We actually did all 5 songs and I did something extra with another song ‘I like chicken’. You can take a look at the I Like Chicken Lesson Plan.

Post production

I then let the material stew for a month and started to put the clips together in August. Things started to get a bit tricky here. Neither of my computers at home or office worked properly with Movie Maker! My desktop at school doesn’t seem to be equipped with certain necessary codes while the laptop I have at home tends to crash every five minutes when running with Movie Maker. I end up rebooting the program every 5 minutes and finally have my final production ready the night before the deadline.

A couple of months later, I got the call from OUP informing me about  winning the first prize in Taiwan.

 

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You can access the winning video clip here

Then several news report from local and nation wide media followed,  I was interviewed a couple of times. Additionally, friends of my parents did a home delivery of some news clipping.

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The PRIZE?

No, there isn’t any $ involved but the reward is an even better one! OUP invited the songwriter of Everybody Up, which happens to be the same person who wrote From a distance(1991), Julie Gold, to visit us. And what’s more, the all time favorite Super simple song writer/teacher, Devon Thagard, were among the VIP list. They were to spend two hours at school with the contestants (all now 3rd graders) and Devon shall have a mini teaching session with the kids following Julie’s live performance of the song “from a distance”.  It was a thrill for kids and myself but probably a bit of stress for the administrative staff since the county government heard of the news and decided to visit our school as well.

Other than that, among training kids, preparing display and show props and daily teaching routine, I can hardly worry anything else.

The big day

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Finally the big day came! You can see the  flickr album here by OUP

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A sum up video clip by OUP

Devon did a mini lesson with kids (around 200 of them!)

Julie also played the song “From a distance” at our activity centre.

 

It was phenomenal for all of us. A first time in many ways and a lot of kids (mostly girls) reflected that they found themselves in tears when Julie played the song (I was a bit surprised since they really don’t know the meaning of the song).

After the big day

After the event, kids and many teachers were still talking about the big day. I asked  my kids to draw what they remembered on that day.

You can take a look here.

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Some life lessons

  • Never under estimate what one can do to change the situation.

    Find your leverage and use it well. Helpers would follow then but you have to initiate it first.

  • It’s worth the risk to take the off-beaten road sometimes. Some kids need different stimulus and with careful planning, the learning experience can be really phenomenal and powerful.

  • Participate contests from time to time helps to fresh up the teaching mind and seeing learning from a different point of view.

A couple of journalists came on the day and I remembered one of them asked me,

so what do these children get from winning this competition? You’ve got the recognition and what do they get?

(Sigh) I was quite taken back by his twisted interpretation of winning and education. I believe, what teacher can offer best to students is a phenomenal learning experience that years later may flourish into something extraordinary. Such experience reaches far beyond than any sweets, toys or ipad!!