Project

買賣人生 跳蚤市場體驗

我的告白: 之前都沒認真處理跳蚤市場/園遊會等活動, 因此今年抱著贖罪加自我挑戰的心情快速的準備了四下的跳蚤市場買賣活動。學校有些事務與活動我不見得都喜愛或是全心準備, 有時的確也是選擇性辦案的交差了事。但今年換個心情設計課程, 自己似乎也樂在其中!

這次活動我的重點有2個: 1是環保永續的理念傳達 2是生活美學的呈現與實踐

所以本班的攤位名稱就是 奇妙好箱! 每位賣家都用一個紙箱陳列自己的商品。這個紙箱必須是家裡本來就有的, 而且要在家就試擺自己的商品在盒中以求得適當大小, 然後帶來學校。

之前我們的學年活動DIY 糖葫蘆時吃剩的長形竹籤, 我也請孩子洗好晾乾這次剛好派上用場! 好開心當時有留下他們!

教學前準備

  1. 先大略說明跳蚤市場 奇妙好箱 的意思
  2. 前一天聯絡簿中寫下須帶合適大小的箱子, 不可以是買的。
  3. 手工書籤 youtube link 開好
  4. 色紙/壁報紙
  5. 回收再利用長形竹籤26支

今天是第一次做跳蚤市場準備, 教學時間2節課。

奇妙好箱的規則是:

  1. 商品只能在箱子中。
  2. 箱子陳列方式必須立體化(例如像娃娃屋一樣有樓中樓/夾層等)
  3. 箱子外部須要寫/畫上標題(奇妙好箱)+自訂口號(例如 玩一玩)
  4. 務必把自己的 奇妙好箱 妝點的愈吸引人愈好!

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這創造立體感的規則其實對4年級來說似乎仍有些困難, 所以我找了之前去過的南海路 彎腰農夫市集 的攤位照片給他們看, 並且自己舉了幾個例子實際畫下箱子設計草圖做範例。

解釋完後, 請他們先畫草圖, 這個步驟顯然比我想像的重要! 我希望下次記得得要求他們草圖的大小與文字說明!

當全班都在畫草圖時, 我請沒有要販賣物品的5個孩子到公共區域設計班牌與海報, 以及做班級手工書籤origami bookmark。這些書籤可愛實用但也還算有點挑戰, 我希望可以做好一套一套的出售。

到了這個階段, 草圖畫好了, 孩子們也開始準備開工了! 除了三不五時提醒用美工刀的安全與奇妙好箱的製作規則外, 還一邊放 youtube 教學影片給沒有當賣家的孩子們開始做手工, 一邊引導畫海報的孩子們。

總之整個班級呈現嗡嗡嗡忙得不可開交的氣氛! 我很喜歡這種 productive noise!

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當初寫的那一張詳盡的教案雖然無法在2節課中全用上, 但我自己感覺每個孩子們都有開始動腦如何用現有的材料, 在不另外購置資源的狀況下呈現最好的樣態。

我們談到了擺設的美感, 商品的陳列與創意, 體驗了任何東西都有可能再利用的創意; 除此之外, 我還發現學生A與B一向手作能力差又懶, 但今天因為有同學帶著做origami bookmark, 他們倆居然挑戰成功! 真令人開心!

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至於跳蚤市場當天又是什麼景況呢! 請靜待後續報導!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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!!

End-of-the-semester activity_2nd grade & 4th grade

Well, it’s a bit odd to post this at the beginning of the semester but I didn’t get the chance to finish the post until today!!:-P

How do you wrap up a semester in your last few sessions? As subject teachers, sometimes it is a bit challenging to plan a decent learning program at the end of the semester when everything is so hectic and kids are restless. This semester I tried something different with my 2nd graders and 4th graders. They enjoyed the last few sessions and I get to document the things we did together. A win win lesson plan!

Activity: Song poster

Year group: 2ND GRADERS (EFL)

Props:

  1. 3 copies of Eating the alphabets for each group. Preferably 1 between 2 kids

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  1. glue sticks and scissors
  2. large posters/magazines/used textbooks
  3. ready-made posters by kids
  4. OUP everybody up material

Teaching goal:

  1. kids can start to read English books other than textbook
  2. kids can acknowledge/relate food from different parts of the world
  3. kids can start to do independent search for unknown words
  4. kids can help out each other in the process

(more…)

Int’l Exchange project _ phase 1

Katrin has each of her kids wrote short paragraphs of self-introduction and I use them as a reading material for my kids.

You can take a look at their work from this post.

Then I asked my kids to start writing something about themselves. The result is….tragically bad. They(4th graders, with 2 sessions of English per week starts from Grade 3)  have trouble of basic sentence structure and a lot of them have trouble of forming more than 2 sentences with different structures. Well, this is kind of expectable considering the little learning hours they have.

Now I see where I need to work on more….

I also have them created posters according to the results of our prior discussion.  This is a team work and since I really can’t afford them to do this during my English class, I’ll have to count on their ‘good student’s spirit’ to finish the job before the deadline.

A lot of them came with half-done work. Some of them came with beautifully made posters with lots of crafts involved.

I also emphasized that I can only snail mail the finished works with evidence of efforts and team work (meaning it’s no one-man’s job).

I mailed the posters with 3 red envelops in different styles to Katrin just right before I flied out.

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I also managed to write 2 postcards to Katrin’s 2 classes and mine (3 classes) during my stay in Thailand.

According to Katrin, the kids were pretty excited about the posters and the postcards,

“Your posters came 1 ½ weeks ago and we enjoyed reading and the pictures very much! Children asked me again, when we´ll go to Taiwan and play with your kids! And they want to make some posters for you as well. “

“Your postcards we received last Friday and it was very interesting to hear about the market on the water, the people and you”

Isn’t that a great way to start a year? Katrin also wrote about how my red envelops helped to bring in the authentic elements in a cultural lesson.

‘Two weeks ago we spoke about the New Year celebration in Taiwan and China, about the red envelopes, the dragon dance (?), the many people who travel through the country to be at their families and the fireworks. And so it was great to get some original red envelopes!’

I love this project and I can see the value it brings out, the only problem I have is how to allocate time to do all these!

Int’l Exchange project_phase 0

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picture from Crossed Flag Pins

Katrin and I met in a 2-week teacher summer workshop in the  Bell Institution, Cambridge, 2010. She’s from Germany and I’m from Taiwan.

She’s a charming homeroom teacher plus a very fit aerobatics trainer while I’m a subject teacher of English and have been pretty bad in regards of any physical related activity.

But we kind of hit it off right away:-)

I still kept in touch with most of my mates back in the Bell and Katrin is the only one who agrees to do the int’l buddy project with me.

So we corresponded numerous times before setting up the first  intro between two sides.

You can see the first exchange here and here.

When I first introduce this project to my kids, they are extremely excited and curious. You can not imagine how many questions just poured out within 3 minutes!! I’ve prepared a list of warm up lines to guide the discussion and I found them quite useful since these prompts get them thinking while keep the discussion in the right direction (yes, the discussion can go really wild if you don’t moderate it!)

here’s my discussion prompts:

  1. Who speak English as their  mother tongue in this world?
  2. What languages can you speak?
  3. What happened when people don’t speak the same language yet they have to communicate with each other? (this question really brings out the function of learning English!)
  4. What do you know about Germany?
  5. Can you think of anything that is related to Germany?

The problem of  embedding a project like this in your curriculum is, you are constantly racing against the clock ! Katrin’s school starts their vacation (Christmas vacation) 2 weeks earlier than our winter vacation. I have schedules to meet every session plus I want to kick start our self introduction before the semester finished and I’ve got other lesson planning to take care of, too.

Later on I made a poster from all the correspondence we had plus my kids question notes. You can take a look here.

http://www.facebook.com/v/480728459924

To be continued…