Apr 16 2014

EdTech to the Rescue for Homebound Student

Outside the Box (I took this one!)

Outside the Box (I took this one!)

EdTech is the only remedy I can offer my student who is ill (I wish I could offer good health!) – thank goodness it exists! I am now in the midst of discovering what works in such a situation.

While my student has been absent a lot all year, using technology remained a theoretical discussion because she is, frankly, brilliant. Whenever she did attend school she made up for lost time with incredible speed. I don’t teach frontally, so using tech to have her join the class lessons was not an option.

However now that the school year is drawing to a close, and the due dates of important papers is at hand, it became time to begin putting theory into practice. I’m supposed to go over a series of her drafts and guide her to the final product. And we are very busy doing just that!

Since she is hard of hearing (and not deaf) we did start with Skype but that was not convenient. There was a lot of “what was that?” ” Can you repeat that?” In any case, I needed to see the written version of her drafts. She doesn’t have the energy to type up the drafts (surprisingly handwriting is most comfortable for her) and doesn’t own a fax machine. So she began taking pictures of the texts with her phone and emailing them to me. At first she had the text in the body of the email and on the computer it was difficult to read. For some reason they were clearer on my iPod. So I held the iPod in one hand while typing comments in Word with the other.

Then we progressed to having her email the pictures as an attachment. I can now open them  with Picassa (which I use for my photos) and enlarge them. Much better. I’ve picked up speed. But still, I’m sure we could be doing better.

If the text was printed, I could paste it into one of those sites I’ve heard about that let you record comments and mark the text. At the moment I can’t recall a single name but I’ve seen such things used by others. The student is hard of hearing, I believe she might understand with a combination of speech and visuals (as opposed to the Skype). The problem is she is sending me PICTURES. JPEG files. I can’t think of a way around THAT.

Any thoughts?




2 responses so far

Apr 14 2014

A comment on: ELT-Ten Things I Hate About You

Filed under Uncategorized

Angry Cat - I took this one!

Angry Cat – I took this one!

I’m not in a “hateful” mood in the slightest, particularly as I’m happily on holiday vacation. But The Secret Dos always has things to say that are worth discussing, and this post “ELT-Ten Things I Hate About You” is no exception.

This post is the first I remember seeing (pardon me if I’ve forgotten someone!) that actually talks directly about us, the forgotten group, we classroom teachers in national school systems:

…”And this is despite the fact that the vast majority of our practitioners are swimming in the waters of mainstream education. By this I mean that the vast majority of English language teachers are working within the conventional education system… 

Kudos for highlighting this! May you lead the way!

One by one - I took this!

One by one – I took this!

Coming from the point of view of  a classroom teacher, I now must disagree with point number three, even though we are probably not  talking about the same thing when we say levels (harks back to point one – a school teacher’s life is different). It has been my experience that struggling learners and really strong learners benefit more from being in a different group. Not just academically, but emotionally too. I have seen children who resort to being class clown and don’t even try to deal with the difficult material because they feel they don’t stand a chance when the “strong” students are around. In a group of their own there are no pretences to keep up. Some of the strong children stop studying completely. They get so used to tuning out when things they understood the first time are explained again that they begin forgetting to tune back in… In my own classes I have resorted to teaching in the format of a learning center so as to address that problem (it isn’t feasible to divide my students according to their level).

I like the approach to grammar (point number 4)!

I know the best way to learn a language is to travel to a country that speaks that language and spend some time there, but that’s hardly feasible for most people. The current system may be flawed but we can’t get rid of it. And of course, one can’t ignore the fact that some people simply do not learn a language by osmosis – I’m sure we all know immigrants who have lived in a country for years and can barely manage basic sentences in the language of their adopted country.

Photo by Omri Epstein

Photo by Omri Epstein

Finally, I found it interesting that the Secret Dos brings up “polarizing arguments” (point 6) . Aren’t all debates about taking opposite sides? Doesn’t that expose characteristics of each one, even if we believe the right answer lies in the middle? And wasn’t it a bit of a polarizing act to choose such a name for the blog post? The title caught my eye, to be sure. And I’m glad it did. I believe I’ve only just mentioned a small part of the things to think about following this post.


2 responses so far

Apr 09 2014

Early Saturday’s Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Gaiman

Filed under Books I enjoy!

I took this one and it seems to fit the post.

I took this one and it seems to fit the post.

I’ve had belated Saturday book posts, for a change – here’s an early one. I’m on vacation, finished the book and don’t want to wait (I’m already starting the next one!).

This book upset me.


It IS Neil Gaiman, and I couldn’t put it down. I’m sure that whatever book I read of his I wouldn’t be able to stop before the end. But I finished it to feel closure.

The previous book I read, “The Graveyard Book”  had humor and wonder along with scary stuff and fantasy. I found this book so very very cold. I KNOW that a given for all such books is that children have to fight off the “demons” in their lives without parents to help them (so many orphans in these books!).  And, without moving into spoilers, I can see this book either as a fantasy book or a book depicting the way a child perceives all that his parents are going through and how it affects his life. Very clever. But so very cold!

I can’t get over a seven-year old boy’s kitten being run over and his parents didn’t even mention the incident or give him a hug! The book left me feeling unhappy – good I’m off to the next one!

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Apr 05 2014

Saturday’s Book: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Hoffman

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Oh, how I pined for dialogue!

Don’t get me wrong, the description are absolutelly first rate. Beautiful descriptions. You can certainly picture New York at the beginning of the 20th century, the city and the river, the horror of the sweatshops where the workers were really slaves and their childhood lost and the oddities of Coney Island. Important topics such as the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911 which was truly the 9/11 of that century, and she gives faces to these people. Truthfully, at this point of the book I was sorry that I was listening to it as an audiobook. I would rather not  visualize the tragedy that clearly…

But there’s a love story here. An amazing one too. Yet the descriptions of the characters’ state of mind is endless. The story moves back and forth between each of their points of view. At times it seemed to me that the book must have originally been published in installments, because each time we go back to a character the auth0r seems to feel a need to remind us of the characters background and frame of mind. I PAID ATTENTION! I REMEMBER!

It is basically a good book but both characters are super lonely and hardly communicate with anyone – oh how I pined for dialogue! Perhaps a book better read than listened to.


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Apr 03 2014

Visualising Students’ Errors -Vocabulary & QR Codes

This is the  third slide show in the series of visualising students’ errors, highlighting vocabulary.

It took me a long time to prepare, precisely because there is so little text on it. I had a hard time simplifying the message. Too much text and it defies the whole goal of creating these slide shows for struggling students.

Now that I already have three slide shows, I created a page with QR codes leading to them. For some students (though certainly not all) the best way to get the slide shows viewed is on their cell phones.

Here is the slide show. The WORD document with the QR codes is below.

Common Mistakes 3 – Vocabulary from naomima
qr code first three English




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Mar 29 2014

Saturday’s Salty Olives Tale

Filed under Books I enjoy!

I took this one!

I took this one!

I’ve often encountered reading passages about the importance/history of salt in course-books for teaching English. I  also knew that the origin of the word “salary” is related to “salt”. But I hadn’t come across any mention of the connection between olives and salt!

And this one!

And this one!

We took a guided walking tour on the outskirts of Jerusalem this morning. Lots of beautiful olive trees. The guide explained that it is a myth to think that people in Bible Times (as depicted in books and movies) leisurely nibbled on olives, which they just reached out and picked off the nearest olive tree.

Couldn't resist adding one more...

Couldn’t resist adding one more…


Freshly picked olives are hard and bitter. You need to cure them first, a process which requires salt. Salt was a very precious and expensive commodity, vital for preserving food. In our hot climate, the guide claimed that nobody would have dreamed of wasting salt for making the olives tastier!

I never thought of that!

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Mar 25 2014

Film English’s “Saving Grace” is a HIT!

The brave little plant (I took this one!)

The brave little plant
(I took this one!)

Film English is a highly reccomended blog to follow as there are gems to be found there.

Kieran Donaghy’s Saving Grace lesson plan suited my needs perfectly. First of all, the topic is an important one, and its accessible. Everything in the film is written – my deaf and hard of hearing students aren’t missing any information.

In addition, it was easily adaptable as a homework assignment. I simply gave my strong group of 10th grade students the  worksheet below, based on the lesson plan on the blog, and they understood it well. The new phrase “saving grace” was clear too.

Two of the girls stopped me in the hallway (!!!) and remarked that this assignment was really moving!

Thank you Kieran!

Here’s the worksheet:


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Mar 23 2014

Visualising Students’ Errors – Second Error

Filed under Uncategorized


The branch looks like a bird peeking out behind the tree! I noticed this - so pleased!

The branch looks like a bird peeking out behind the tree! I noticed this – so pleased! Now to get the students to notice things!

This second presentation starts out in the same format as the first one but then moves on in a different direction. I left the review part in slide show format, instead of sending them off to an online questionnaire type thing (with instant feedback).  Frankly, I thought the pictures were important. On Pro Profs Free Quiz Maker (which I used on the last one) you CAN upload pictures to the questions but you don’t see them as nicely (perhaps they need to be really small, not sure).  In any case, variation is good.

Debating what to do about the short vocabulary list I have compiled. I’m putting it up on Quizlet in any case but I’m wondering whether to create a short slide show to highlight a related error and then link to the list, or just give the students the link to the list.

All suggestions welcome!

Common mistakes how from naomima





4 responses so far

Mar 22 2014

Saturday’s Story: “The Relive Box” by T.C. Boyle

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Powerful futuristic story, utterly believable. I haven’t seen the movie “HER” (read and heard a lot about it) but it seems a possible next step.

The word in the title “relive” is actually re – live. A new console for your living room that allows you to relive (only as an observer though) your past.

Re – living your past has dangerous consequences for your life in the present…

(I read this in the New Yorker Magazine, March 17, 2014 issue).

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Mar 19 2014

Attempting to Visualise Students’ Errors

It’s that time of year again.

At the high school these are days of final preparations for the big internal exams that precede the national ones.

Students may differ, there are new students every year, but some mistakes that my weak students make on their reading comprehension tests have earned the term classic – seems like I encounter them on a regular basis.

So I’m experimenting with visualising.  I created a short slideshow to present one such common error. It took me a long time to simplify the text (it is not productive to throw a lot of text at weak learners, if they could deal with that they wouldn’t be weak!) and to choose the format in which to present it. I have found that students must have something active to do (as opposed to “read the Powerpoint) so the last slide has the students fill in the final answer with immediate feedback.

With all my simplifying efforts, it is still not something my weak kids would deal with on their own. However, with the students I’ve tried it with so far the presentation led to a good discussion. They all claimed that they know students who do that but THEY would never answer a question like that.  I feverently hope that it is the case!

There is only one common mistake presented in this one. I think it is more practical to have lots of short slideshows than a long one presenting many different pitfalls.

And frankly, in this manner  these slideshows don’t become a massive project, requiring identification of all the mistakes I want to address before producing a complete project.  If I’m pleased with the results, I can gradually build up the slideshow library.

I had my students in mind when I created this first one. I’d be interested to hear if you find it useful as well.

Common mistakes same word from naomima


4 responses so far

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