Dec 16 2014


A Non-Holiday Themed Video Lesson

 

Can you see the Menorah in it? Happy Chanuka!

Can you see the Menorah in the tree? Happy Chanuka!

Music videos with holiday songs simply do not work with most of my deaf and hard of hearing students.  I was only able to use Pharrell’s “Because I’m Happy” video back in September’s holiday season because that video is incredibly popular, has a simple word in the chorus (happy) AND I had a version of it in American Sign Language.

So I gave up trying to make a holiday themed video lesson and just used a short video, without dialogue (of course!) with a surprise ending. Something to interest teenagers. Thanks to Leo Selivan for introducing me to this video. You can have the students begin with the version below or watch the film  The Black Hole on YouTube first so as to see it without it being paused.

Here it is below.

Note: In the embedded version you see below the first question appears a second too early. In the version you find at this link this problem doesn’t exist, but you must answer on a separate page/doc, which is what I asked my students to do in any case.

 

 

 

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Dec 13 2014


From Superstitous Spiders to Celebrating Global CPD

 

The itsy bitsy spider (Naomi's Photos)

The itsy bitsy spider
(Naomi’s Photos)

It’s been the sort of week that makes me think of the phrase “everything that goes around, comes around”. It certainly seems that way, but was it because of the spider?

As some of you may know, I’m participating in a 365 project, which calls for a commitment to take a photo every day for a year. I’ve learned a lot from this project, including how to look at little things. So, I was delighted to get a shot of a spider among the dewy leaves right near my parking spot outside of school  (I never would have seen it before the project!).

Twenty minutes later in class, some students were working on exercises related to “the first conditional”. They asked for help with the sentence: “If you see a spider, you will get money”.

Really?! What a shame that I don’t believe in superstitions, because I just saw a spider!

Well, I didn’t get any money but I did “get” celebrations!

Spreading the word! (Naomi's photos)

Spreading the word!
(Naomi’s photos)

You see, my blog just had its 4th anniversary. So did Vicky Loras’ blog. Vicky is a wonderful ELT teacher located in Switzerland, whom I met when each of us decided to take the plunge and go look for online CPD. This means blogging and twitter, webinars, reading and collaborating online. Four years later I not only have learned a great deal, I now call Vicky my friend.

The thing that helped us both to really enter this new world was Shelly Terrell’s 30 Goals Project.

Today I read that Shelly and the project are celebrating the publication of a book: “The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small steps to transform your teaching!” So pleased to hear that!

But that’s not all.

The postman must have arrived very late yesterday, because we don’t get mail on Fridays. But there was an additional reason to celebrate waiting in my mailbox today – the Special Joint ETAI-ETAS issue of the ETAI Forum is out! And there’s a joint article, written by Vicky and myself,  presenting our “take” on Goal Number 3!

So what do you say about the timing of all of the above?!

Not bad for a little spider!

If you would like to read our article, here it is:

Vicky & Naomi

 

 

 

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Dec 06 2014


Blog-Birthday Book Post – Revisting “ANIMALIA” by Base

Filed under Books I enjoy!

The moment before (Naomi's photos)

The moment before
(Naomi’s photos)

Visualising Ideas will be four years old on Dec. 8th! This blog has become such an integral part of my life that I almost forgot its birthday isn’t the same as mine…

One of my first ever book posts was about our all-time favorite-family-fun-for-all-ages book Animalia, by Graeme Base.

I wouldn’t have written about it the same way at all today. I began these Saturday Book posts on day one but their style has changed.

Those early posts were rather formal. I don’t try to supply a blurb of the book anymore. Getting the official blurb, pics or anything else is only a click away. I’m not trying be an official book club blog.

I just want to share the fun (or lack of, as the case may be).

This is such a great book to have on your bookshelf because we revisited it again and again at different stages. The clever combination of it being an alphabet book with stunning drawings of oh-so-many things for each letter along with it being a sort of “Where’s Waldo” book, excited the boys when they were small. The first time we looked at it we missed so much! It took a while till we realized that EVERY SINGLE THING  on a given page is related to a letter. For example, that snake we saw on the page for the letter A isn’t just there to play its role in the overall drawing, we have to come up with a name of a snake that begins with A (Anaconda!). That led to many hours of puzzling over pages and sharing with friends to seek help.

The book went to the classroom for a while but came back home – the boys were concerned over keeping this one!

When the new “Dr. Who” episodes started airing on TV here, an exciting discovery was made – that unidentified strange thing on the page for the letter D is a DALEK! Who knew? I had actually seen some of the old Dr. Who episodes as a child but didn’t remember anything except the Tardis travelling in time. Just the other day there was some mention of the word “exterminate” (one of the few words Dalek’s say on the show) and my eldest and I chuckled about the fact we actually have a book with a Dalek in it!

By the way, I think the double spread for the letter “L” is my favorite page. It’s just so beautiful!

 

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Dec 02 2014


Teaching & Being an Introvert isn’t a Contradiction – A Comment

Pounding the Pavements of my hometown

Pounding the pavements of my hometown

Just read a great post by Paul Read “Quiet is the New Loud – Introvert Teachers”

I really identify with this post and the questions he poses. And not just because he also likes to spend “recharging time” by walking alone and taking pictures of his surroundings. A teacher after my own heart!

Read examines the following question:

“So, if I am such an introvert, why the hell am I a teacher?  Isn’t that like an extrovert choosing a job in a secluded lighthouse?  It seems like it must be some kind of hair-shirt or penance, rather than a thing one would voluntarily choose”.

It’s actually a very complex question. I personally find that teaching does not contradict being an introvert. The act of teaching itself is, as Read says, meaningful. Teaching is a fascinating interaction between the students, the material and  me, the teacher. There are many ways to foster this interaction and I don’t believe there is much of a connection between being an extrovert/introvert to the success of the interaction.

Taking a quiet moment in the school yard

Taking a quiet moment in the school yard

That being said, I must ask, do I feel that way because I have managed to be in a teaching situation that suits me?  Was my own decision to go into Special Education and to teach in the format of a learning center,  influenced by the fact that I’m more comfortable in a small group situation and in one-on-one interactions? Many of my colleagues teach in classes of almost 40 students. My only experience of this was teaching  three courses of adults in classes. I kept trying to individualize their learning and reach out to every single one. Unsurprisingly, I ended up exhausted.

In addition, Read talks about being in a situation of “Rolling Admission”. I teach the same students all year. In fact, I teach the students for three to four years! Again, something I believe suits my temperament.

Nonetheless, we’ve all had wonderful teachers who were introverts. In all kinds of teaching contexts. So perhaps it’s not just me that doesn’t find that the trait and the profession contradict each other.

Note: I have read Susan Cain’s book on introverts. There are some very valid points there which I agree with completely, but the book is far too long (and very focused on business). I find Read’s post far more thought-provoking.

 

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Nov 30 2014


It’s Saturday! Othello in Slovenian & House of Cards

Filed under Books I enjoy!

I knew that the Netflix TV series “House of Cards” was based on a book by a British author named Michael Dobbs. We’ve almost finished watching the second season.

No, I haven’t read the book.

What I hadn’t realized was that the real inspiration for “House of Cards” is Shakespeare’s “Othello”. There are so many parallels. Iago, who didn’t get the post he thought he deserved (Frank not being appointed as Secretary of State), manipulating others, planting suspicions and downright lies, all in a bid for power and revenge. Toying with other people’s lives.

Sitting in the theatre watching the play,  I found myself comparing the two again and again. Despite having to keep one eye on a screen translating the dialogue from Slovenian.

While I’ve heard many-a-time that Shakespeare is all about the language, this production of Othello by the Ljubljana City Theatre (visiting here!) is a superb production. The acting is first-rate and the variety of ways in which a minimalist selection of props were used so expressively blew me away. Well worth the slight discomfort of depending on subtitles to follow the dialogue.

The play trumped “House of Cards” in one respect, as far as I’m concerned. Watching the play there were moments when I smiled. I even chuckled. This does not happen when watching the TV show. I have a great many positive superlatives to say about it (really!!) but there are no touches of humor. Nothing to smile about. That’s a shame.

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Nov 27 2014


Visualising School – A “post-rain” Photo Pause

A teacher gets “new eyes” with camera in hand!

Unusual amounts of rain came down this week.  Driving to school Wednesday morning was quite difficult, even though I don’t live very far from the school.

This was the view from my classroom window yesterday. The students came in during the breaks to admire the “lake”:

Classroom by the lake Naomi's photos

Classroom by the lake
Naomi’s photos

 

On the way back to the car it stopped raining long enough for me to find this gem in front of my parking spot:

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

The first indication that today would be brighter came not from the sky but from the hallways! Haven’t discovered who was celebrating yet…

DSCF4446

And then the sun came out! Color and life in the front school yard!

Brilliance in the school yard

Brilliance in the school yard

 

Naomi's photos

Are the sparrows enjoying the reflections?

 

 

Note: This is an educator’s blog, so only school related pictured are posted here. To see what this teacher comes up with when pounding the pavement of her hometown, see here:

Pounding The Pavement in Kiryat-Ono

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Nov 22 2014


Saturday’s Book: “Goodbye Columbus” by Philip Roth

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Not the Japanese Garden you might think it to be  (Naomi's Photos)

Not the Japanese Garden you might think it to be
(Naomi’s Photos)

I made a mental note back in June, after having a conversation with Marjorie Rosenberg, that I needed to fill the hole in my education and read this classic book.

I’m really glad I did. There’s the main novella, which shares the title of the book and short stories. I actually enjoyed the short stories the most. In Goodbye Columbus the descriptions really moved me the ( the scenes that take place in the Newark Public library, and outside of it, are great!), while in the short stories the characters delivered the punch.

As I once mentioned, I tried reading Philp Roth when I was in my late teens and didn’t understand or relate to the books. I feel differently now that I’m older. I don’t think that the “young me” understood the nuances and subtleties, or what things represented at all. I can now see how skillful the author is at getting his message across.

On the other hand, I didn’t understand Roth’s book  ”Exit Ghost” and that was last June! I can’t blame that on youth!

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Nov 20 2014


Excuse Me, George Elliot!

 

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

 

 

 

As part of our literature program I’m about to teach the poem “Count That Day Lost”, by George Elliot, to very weak high-school students. Many of these students have learning disabilities in addition to their hearing problems. Others have other “issues”, such as difficulties at home.

My approach is to do a lot of pre-reading activities before the students lay their eyes on the poem itself.

I don’t usually post activities on my blog before I’ve tried them and tweaked them as neeeded, following the results. However, embarking on the literature program with these students promises to be quite a ride, so I’ve decided to post what I do as I go along.

The word “sun” and its connotations are very important in this poem so I plan to begin with a brainstorming session on that. I prepared a simple written worksheet for the activity, because having a discussion on the board requires a follow up activity in writing.  That is if I want them to pay attention to vocabulary in English! Here’s the worksheet.

Count lost sun map

Next I plan to move on to the concept of counting and to the fact that this poem relates to actions done in a day. . Thanks to Leo Selivan  for introducing me to the video this worksheet relates to.

Time to Count wrong side

I think it’s pretty clear what I want to achieve with the following slideshow. It looks so simple but it took me hours to figure out how to keep the message simple, use vocabulary from the poem and explain concepts with suitable images.

I hope I succeeded, I’ll know pretty soon!

Excuse me, George Elliot! from naomima

 

 

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Nov 16 2014


Visualising School – A RAINY Photo Pause

A teacher gets “new eyes” with camera in hand!

 

It rained buckets this morning!

The courtyard (Naomi's photos)

The courtyard
(Naomi’s photos)

 

The Teachers' Room

The Teachers’ Room

 

View from my classrooom

View from my classroom

 

Note: This is an educator’s blog, so only school related pictured are posted here. To see what this teacher comes up with when pounding the pavement of her hometown, see here:

Pounding The Pavement in Kiryat-Ono

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Nov 15 2014


Saturday’s Book: Phew! They AREN’T Throwing Apples & Zebras Down The Drain

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Throwing Apples & Zebras down the drain (Naomi's photos)

Throwing Apples & Zebras down the drain
(Naomi’s photos)

This isn’t a regular “Saturday’s Book” post. But it is about a book that for two days this week I thought had ceased to exist.

And I was very upset.

On Tuesday I got a phone call notifying me that the last copy of my program for teaching deaf and hard of hearing children (and other struggling learners) how to read in English as a foreign language, “Apples and Zebras”,  had been sold and there would be no more copies. Effectively, the book no longer existed.

I only have one copy at home.

I tried to tell myself that is the way of the world and coursebooks come and go.

Except there aren’t any coursebook writers fighting to write new materials for deaf children who need a fun program that won’t be based on the oral/aural approach, won’t compare minimal pairs of letters (the difference between n/t/d can’t be seen on the lips) and will have the children reading meaningful sentences early on. And there are certainly aren’t publishers fighting to publish for a population of approx 1000 books a year.

Obedient tree suffers quietly

Obedient tree suffers quietly

Nor are publishers interested in publishing self-explanatory, complete programs that can be taught by lovely  teachers who have never seen a deaf person in their life, and may not even be English teachers (sometimes they are special ed teachers), but agreed to teach a class of deaf children to completer their hours or “get a foot in the door”. We mustn’t forget the teacher’s aide who takes the struggling hard of hearing child out of the regular classroom which is busy chanting and merrily stomping their feet as they sing. What is she to do with the child who has learned all the body movements related to the songs but not the English in them? The child needs to learn to read quickly so he/she can have the text which will enable participation. What will guide her?

But to put all that aside, simply put – the book is “my baby” too. I worked very hard on writing it and on getting it published. Full disclosure, my second book for older struggling learners did not do well, but this one has been doing very well for over 20 years. Material writing is part of my identity. I’m in the midst of writing materials for my students for the new literature program and I love it.

Having the book disappear really hurt.

Thank goodness I was misinformed. The last book was sold and they have axed all the other publications for our population, but an additional 500 Apples and Zebras books have been ordered. When money is tight, why give up on something that actually sells well?

I needed to write about it because I still haven’t gotten over my feelings this week, even though I know its not true. For me, writing helps.

 

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