Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just in case you were wondering! 
It's just about my birthday! 
I'm celebrating the last day of my 20's with my korea friends at pizza in Itaewon, Seoul, 
and the first days of my 30s with my american friends and family the week afterwards! 

Things that every language teacher should have in the classroom

You guys.... it just makes things more fun, easier to pop up games and activities on the spur of the moment, should you be running on with too much time or something!
here's my list that I can think of...
1) a SQUEAKY hammer. young kids LOVE getting hit with a squeaky hammer, and even more, getting the chance to hit each other! you can use it to get their attention with a rhythmic clap, or one loud, "hey!" It's saved my voice many times.

2) beanbags--great for spurring hot potato and toss the bag conversation activities. kids get REALLY interested in having the beanbag. My beanbag is a bunny and it smells like oranges.

3) flyswatters--so many games that can be done with two flyswatters and a handful of flashcards

4) a toy crown--if you play king of the classroom,
you can put a crown on the reigning champ. nothing like getting kids' hackles up to win the crown away from their peers. Alternatively, why not place the crown on the student of the day, they get to be the helper who passes out papers, etc etc...

5) magnets...for when you need to stick stuff places :-)

6) and finally: get yourself some unique rubber stamps. it will be cheaper than constantly buying stickers.
I use my stamps in phonics classes a lot. for each word they read correctly, they get a stamp next to the word. then one stamp on the stamp collection page.
-also, when they are printing, the exceptional printing gets stamps. unexceptional, or too close together, or sloppy--not so much. They start to notice what's wrong and try to correct it when there's an earning incentive.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WINTER CAMP 2010 Jan 4~22

Three Weeks Of Winter Camp.
Three Weeks that I was dreading.
Three Weeks that would come and go in a blink of an eye.
Three Weeks of Silence in the Hallways,
Three Weeks of solo-teaching
Three Weeks of choosing my own curriculum and running with it, good or bad.

Starting with the littlest--the third graders--with their hugs and coughs and short attentions spans; finishing with the oldest at the school--the dreaded sixers--with their budding hormones and surly attitudes. I was to be virtually the only teacher at school, and I knew I'd come to a classroom at -1 Celsius and by the end of the day, it would have risen only a few degrees.

I prepared the 3rd grade workbooks from a combination of the phonics books, CATCH curriculum, and a few other basic workbooks. then I combined a little bit of reading into the program from the E-books we have in the back of the classroom.

I found myself coming in on day ONE to the stairs locked and my classroom without p0wer. so my first 30 mins of January winter session was spent chasing down the two most wonderful keisangnims (custodians) to get them to let me upstairs, and then onr more time to get the lights and heat working.

Third graders <--click to see program plan) started to arrive around 9am and by 930, we were picking out names and drawing our faces on page one of our workbooks. Jake, Leah, Genie, Mary, Helene, Stephanie, JIN Violet, Jessica, Joel, Maya, and SON Violet were to be my charges for the bulk of the next FOUR days. There was a bit of a kerfuffle when Jessica came up to me, so worried that there would be two Violets in the class. I looked at her and laughed out loud. "Jessica! in my 3rd grade class there were three Jessicas! Do you know what we did? We used their family names!" Ah! a teachable culture moment! Woohoo! And thus was born in the classroom, Jin Violet & Son Violet.

And the week went smoothly. The students who had come to camp pleasantly suprised me by their intelligence, and their energy & commitment was right where it should be in the third grade: active yet easily distracted/excitable. I could tell there was a gap between the kids who knew how to read, and those who didn't, so we continued to read & sing the alphabet each morning, and play reading games in the afternoon. This week was good/successful, however I was happy to see it pass, and welcomed happily the mellowed-out fourthies who've been with me in the day-to-day classroom all year.

I learned some things from thirds, though. Have high expectations, be prepared for extra activities, and don't be too disappointed if you don't get to all of them--just be happy you never RAN OUT! Workbooks are a GREAT idea--I never had to hand out papers, and the kids knew EXACLTY how to start their mornings: come up to the front, I mark their names for attendence, they get their book, and get to work on DOL.

I made some decisions following 3rd grade camp, and my first decision was to add a reading progression to each of the following camps. 4th grade (click to see program plan) would still do the ABC order stuff, but they'd also be responsible for dictionary work and vocabulary. As I formed my 4th grade curriculum, I decided that, though I was still using CATCH, I would mold each day's theme around a book and its subjects.

SUCCESS! Jennifer, Amy, KIM Rachel, Sara, Amber, Sonia, Valerie, Lena, Nadia, Autumn, Janelle, Harry, and MIN Rachel were an excellent, hard-working class. and they get top-marks for behaviour over any other camp of the season. they REALLY took rule #3 everyone works, everyone plays to heart. And when Harry--our one boy--wasn't participating, the girls would quote the rule at him. so it never lasted long! My favorite day with them was when we talked about food. It was the first day I realized, I can sit here and just TALK with these kids. I have four hours with them and I control the curriculum. we can use the phrases & vocab and just turn it into CONVERSATION. I can push the higher level kids this way, asking more open ended questions without pushing the lower-level kids out of their comfort zone (but they can participate and still feel successful within the context!!!) I really just got to enjoy time with them, and when we read, More Spaghetti, I Say! We got to share our love for reading and spaghetti. my heart was swelling with joy for these kids.

saying goodbye was getting progressively more difficult with each passing class. As I packaged Grade 5 (click to see program plan) workbooks, I tried to remind myself that I would be spending the next 4 days with students I'd known forthe entire 1.5 years I'd been at Gyomun Elementary school and how lucky is that??

So when Katie, Monica, Poppy, Luna, Judy, Sophie, Scarlet, Tim, Sky, Scott, Teddy, Liam, and Joey joined me, there were MANY repeat learners, and few kids to whom needed English naming. I knew them all from regular class and many from afterschool, too. I knew their behaviours, good & bad, and how to curb them. They knew my cues and what to expect from me. So the intro session was short & quick. I don't think they realize it, but they played more games than any of the other groups, and it was all because of their attitudes in class that it was possible.

I can't begin to tell you the sadness I felt when grade 5 class ended, but I'll try. As they filed out the door and said goodye, I thanked them for a great winter camp, but it was so much more. I have two weeks left with them--my fifth kids--before they morph into the dreaded sixth graders they're doomed to become. In March, when I return from my vacation, the kids I began teaching when I arrived here will either be at the middle school or out of my classroom for good. I will only see them in the hallways as they discover fashion, make-up, (hopefully) soap, and sprout up UP UP into the big fish at the school. ah! I feel a fleetingness when I think of Tiger! the boy who shouted out his name on my first day, and Tyler, who we dressed up in my old bridesmaid's dress and is WAY too smart for anything we've learned in Public school english class, or Emma, who is quiet and sweet and smart, and CheongBi, Chaeweon, Dawn, and Jaeyeong who have all at one time or another stalked me to my apartment door or written letters on teachers' day. I will miss them and I'm sad to see them go. Saying goodbye at winter camp is the closest to a goodbye I'll get to all of them, I think. so breifly I am sad.

and heart starts to pound...I feel a little dizzy...It's Tuesday and I know what's coming just on this side of the hump: sixth graders. Last year at 6th grade camp, I got three of them. They looked at me and said, "Teacher, I'm tired. Teacher, I'm bored. Teacher, I want to go home." and I looked and them and said, "That's too bad." The activities I'd done with 3rd graders I tried with them, and each one was a giant flop. they couldn't even order themselves in ABC order!

This year would be different, I told myself. I would be prepared. Grade six (Click to see program plan) workbooks would be full of busy work if necessary, but I told myself I had to be very specific and provide a variety of topics and LOTS of conversations. Sprinkle that with some games and reading, and we had a recipe for a possible success. When I found Sam huddled up next to the door at 9am on Wednesday morning, I said well theres that, Sam is the most energetic student I've seen since Tommy at kids college, and at least I've got one good kid! Sam was followed by a slow trickle of kids coming in for the next hour. Diana, Rose, Julie, Tara, Emily, Kate, and Steve. 8 came, and 8 stayed throughout the week. SUCCESS! The kids were a pleasant surprise. they were a little surly at times, but I they've all had me in class, albeit from a year ago, so they went along with the work and asked for games when they felt they'd worked at their desks enough.

I'm so proud of my work and my students' efforts in the classroom this winter. It has made me feel more positive than I've ever been that this is the kind of work I'm perfect for. I love teaching and am excited to continue to grow as a teacher. I've learned that engaging with my students drives my interest and makes me want to see them spark as a result of the effort I've put into them. Preparation is my most valued lesson from this winter. the more I prepare, the better equipped I am to deal with situations as they come at me, and because I'm not preoccupied with the little things--those have already been taken care of--I can think on the spot; make adjustments to my plans as I go; adhere to requests of my students; and deal productively with unexpected occurrences.
Preparation, then, is the key.
Followed closely, of course, by heart, wind, earth and fire.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Special Class: Nametags

I use nametags.
I believe taking the time to pick out an English name and make namecards gives the students a sense of pride and ownership in the class, and they are a little more likely to invest themselves, if they have tangible evidence of their commitment to it.

We make nametags--all the same shape for each class.
Then, I laminate them.
  • I use them for seating. "find your name and sit at that seat, please!"
  • I use them for non-biased calling-on in class. (turn them over and make the last kid who went pick the next victim...ha ha ha!)
  • I use them to quickly take attendence (if theres no one sitting by a nametag, that person is absent)
  • and I use them as demonstration during ABC order activities.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hands & Eyes

This is a behaviour modification technique I observed in Mr. David's open class, at Dongin Elementary. I really liked it.
Teacher: "Hands and Eyes!"
Students: "Hands and Eyes!" students should clasp hands together and look toward the front of the classroom, ready to pay attention.

If teacher says "Hands and eyes" three times, and students aren't paying attention and ready to learn, they must write hands and eyes 100 times in their notebooks before a) continuing on with the lesson or b) going back to class.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Using Step & Jump

Firstly, if you have it, USE IT
the students get tested on Step & Jump material, and it's not necessarily stuff you find in the book. It can be a good supplement for your curricular materials.
and furthermore, you can pick up phrases or conversational traditions and discuss them im more detail when theres extra time in your schedule (i've def. used it for afterschool classes before!)

Step and jump gets kids to listen to the cadence in your voice (as a native speaker)
and yes, it's repetetive and annoying sometimes (esp after doing this routine 6 times in a row), but repetetive is good when learning language, (and remember, the kids aren't repeating nearly as much as you!).

My S & J routine is as follows:
1) ENGLISH-ENGLISH line by line, say it twice in a row
first time: I break it down as slow as I can, breaking up words into syllables and longer pauses in between words, so they can tell the difference.
second time: say it as if you were saying the line
example: Kids, who-s e-ray-sssser is this? (Ss repeat) Kids, whose eraser is this? (Ss repeat)

Teacher says line in conversational-speed English
Students repeat in Korean

Students say the line in English
Teacher uses her busted up hanguel reading skills to sound out the Korean with the help of snickering kids.

I do this last one for two reasons.
firstly, the kids get a kick out of it, and secondly it is a good example to the kids. It shows that learning language is heard for everyone, and that it comes with effort. it's okay to ask for help, as I often do from my students, and it shows that you should try to do it, even if you think you will sound silly.

When I read aloud, I get to yell at the kids who make fun of (laugh about) my slow reading skill. I tell them that it's good I am trying, and that it's never nice to laugh at someone who tries, right? effort is effort and we should help each other out! I want my students who are having a hard time reading to see it's okay to read slowly. and sound it out. because that's the only way you learn!

Using Korean in the English Classroom

I have specific ideas about how the students' native language should be utilized in my English Classroom environment. Firstly, there are specific times my co-teacher translates and it really really bugs me, because there is not need. here are some of the times I think it is IMPERATIVE that Korean NOT be used:

1) The 5 W's & H
Sudents should know the translation and how to respond to Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How without need of translation. Oftentimes, they will listen to me talk and there is a deafening silence in the room following a W word. they are waiting for co-teacher to translate.

I try to combat this problem by asking frequent questions in my lesson, and focusing only on one or two of the W's at a time. I will say the korean, "What is 누구 in English? How about 오디?" let them guess, and then use the English, "Right, Where! Now where are Julie and Minsu?" I don't keep translating for them. these are basic words and it's imperative they know how to hear, understand and respond to them.

2) VOCABULARY. If I use vocabulary in a sentence, PLEASE DO NOT keep saying it in korean after me. If they have already learned, "What time is it?" then it is their responsibility to know that material. As the English teacher, I very carefully choose my phrasage when speaking candidly to my students. I use "How about," "sorry?" and other specific phrases I know they should understand. translating for them undermines our lesson value and reinforces an idea in our students' minds that there will always be someone there to translate, so theres little need to try too hard for too long. (it's like watching a movie and thinking you understand the language, but really you'd be totally lost without the subtitles)

When is it okay to use Korean in the classroom?

1) Giving instructions. I am not heartless. I don't expect you to know everything I'm saying. instructions should be given in Korean. (english & korean if theres time) This also includes talking about cultural differences, as well as grammar/spelling rules of the language (example: when two vowels walk side by side, the first one says its name with pride)

2) Answering questions (when they pertain to class and can't be done in English)

3) Step & Jump (it's half in English, half in korean)

4) Look & Listen (section of little scene role plays on the DVD rom) Can it be beneficial to translate that to Krean for your students? I think yes. But I don't do this for them. We watch the scene together and talk about it. Then they listen & repeat in ENGLISH. then I have them Listen and say it out loud in KOREAN. my co-teacher and I can then check IN CONTEXT, if they've understood what the phrase means. if they get it wrong, the co-teacher corrects them, and we say it again. then, one more time, we repeat in ENGLISH, then watch the scene.

The point in class being, I think is to use the English we have, use visual and auditory clues to understand a new word, phrase or concept.
In this way we are creating a PATH in our brain, and carving out a space for the ENGLISH to exist.
If we simply use language-to language translation, there is no connection to signifiers, and the brain automatically will latch onto the korean word when it sees a recognized signifier.