All posts by Naomi Epstein

Hi! I teach English as a foreign language to deaf and hard of hearing students in Israel and am a national counselor in this field. http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org

The Y.A.L.P “10 minute system” – Part One

This method has had an INCREDIBLY positive impact on acquisition of vocabulary in my classroom this year! And the beauty of it is that it is versatile and can be adapted to the needs of different learners and classroom settings!

I heard a lecture about the system and read about it here:

http://www.yalp.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57&Itemid=71

With the help of the endlessely patient coordinator at the other side of the world, IN AUSTRALIA, we began the sessions in which  pupils meet once or twice a week with  a teacher’s aid, or another student acting as tutor. Together they practice vocabulary items using flashcards and track progress according to a set meeting structure we learned.  The student tutor can be a very weak student as the answers are all on the back of the flashcards! The weak students are thrilled to be able to act as tutors.

In addition, each student works on the same words once again during his /her weekly session with the speech and language clinologist.

We give out certificates every time a student triples the number of words he/she knows, not when a certain number has been reached. The progress is marked on charts, in color.

How exactly does it work? More about that in the next post!

Neko Harbor, Antarctic, Jan 2010
Neko Harbor, Antarctic, Jan 2010

As a special ed. teacher, it has always been my policy to create learning experiences as related to the pupils’ personally as I possibly can, but to leave my own personal life out of it. The pupils know I have two boys, and that I am always a 107 years old, and that’s that.

But one year ago almost to the day (Dec. 25th to be exact) our youngest son went on an amazing youth trip to the ANTARCTIC!  We were extremely excited before he left and of course during the three weeks he was away (B.T.W – almost no phone contact the whole time. Just postings on the expedition website! HARD!) I didn’t mention this in class.

After our son returned, he made a slide show and lectured in different classes at his high-school. In the slide show you could follow the stages of his long journey on the map, see icebergs, penguins and life on the boat. So, I decided to create a suitable worksheet (with answers to be found in the slideshow) in easy English for my pupils and bring it to class. The level of general knowledge and world geography knowledge is pretty low in many of my groups. I hoped that the fact that this is a true story about my own son would capture the student’s interest and something about the Antarctic might sink in.

The results were mixed. Some pupils did react as I had hoped. But others basically only reacted to the fact that the teacher’s son was lucky enough to get a full scholarship and THEY would never be so lucky (luck, yeah, he found the organization, filled out forms, wrote essays, got recommendations, got the scholarship only the second time round, but for them it was like winning the lottery). They weren’t interested in the rest at all.

I haven’t shown the slideshow to the new 10th graders this year and I’m debating if I should…

Persistence as Professional Development | The Line

Persistence as Professional Development | The Line.

I read this post today and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I can identify with the feelings described here very strongly – so many projects and initiatives I’ve tried to implement over the years , devoting a great deal of energy, and only some of them made it htrough “the obstacle course”. Many of those that did were ones that did not happen at once and took more than one school year to be realized.

I thought I had learned to accept that I’m here for “the long haul” and its an achievement even if it happens a year later, but my reaction to this post was so strong that perhaps I’m still not there yet!

Oh  – watch the video!

Larry Ferlazzo’s lists are a gold mine for eye-catching images. There are so many possibilities here! Just look at this as an example:

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2009/07/07/the-best-images-of-weird-cool-neat-looking-buildings-ways-to-design-your-own/

Here’s one I chose for starters (some of my pupils are studying architectural – draftmanship). They liked it! Once again, there are two versions, the “red” one is easier and uses Hebrew.

The Basket Building – blue The Basket Building – red

Achievement of the Day!

No, it is nothing educational like ” I made a child’s face light up when he understood the concept”.

Not today.

Today I’m proud to report that I actually got the school janitor to come to my classroom. Not only  did he disconnect the two flashing neon lights, he actually replaced one of them! I spend an inordinate amount of time getting him to keep “the bare necessities” in my English Room in good order!

Trouble with the word “save”!

Many pupils have dificulties in remembering or even accepting the fact that a word has more than meaning. With deaf students it is often a bigger problem, especially in a foreign language!

The word “save” is  an example of a problem that I haven’t found a solution for. They all know, or rather KNOW that the meaning of “save” is the manner in which  you prevent your data from being lost on the computer. And that’s that. Then they encounter sentences with other meanings of save they go off in wrong directions.

Regarding the word “test” I found a creative solution (well, at least with most of the pupils. Some remain in “don’t confuse me with the facts” mode).  In Hebrew the word “test” in its English form has come to denote the driving exam for one’s driver’s license. Every other kind of exam is referred to by its Hebrew name.  And thus I found references to driving appearing student’s work in totally unrelated contexts! I made cardboard signs for my pupils and whenever they take a test in class I place the  sign “test” on their desks. There has been a dramatic improvement with remembering the meaning of this word!

But what about “save”?

Which electronic dictionary to choose?

I was asked today, once again, which electronic dictionary is better for students.

I dont’ know if posting specific names of companies is the right thing to do as I’m not affiliated with any commercial company – does anyone have any adice on that issue? But there are a few basic things to note:

1) See if it is capable of translating phrasal verbs such as “take place” – very important for pupils!

2) Type in an irregular verb in the past tense. If it notifies you that this is the past tense form of the verb (and gives you the present form) then that’s fine. DO NOT choose one that ignores these verbs and goes on to the closest matching word it can find.

3) Try typing in a word like “nose” or “sun”. If it gives you, as the first option, a translation using Biblical Hebrew – you don’t want that one!

4) If its really cheap – I hate to admit it, but that IS a bad sign….

Just give ’em a pencil!

I know we’re supposed to encourage responsibility and student-like behavior and I usually try to do that. However, some of these pupils are “special ed” in more ways than one. Mix that with the fact that I’m teaching deaf Israeli , Hebrew speakers, English as a FOREIGN language and it’s a tough subject, I must “pick my fights”. And so, like on this stormy day, you will find me handing out paper, pencils and most importantly – supplying a tissue box! I have other “battles to wage!”