I know I may sound like someone who is touting her own horn here, but I had a really fun video chat with Sandy Millin (in the Czech Republic!).
She’s been helping me into the world of twitter and online collaborative tools, patiently explaining all these unfamiliar acronyms used by teachers from language schools AND offering practical advice when commenting on my blog!
So, when after all that she insisted that she wanted to interview me, I thought I should let you know that it is here!
I’m a “slow” person. I do EVERYTHING slowly. While that certainly has some advantages as a parent and a teacher there are no advantages AT ALL when it comes to housework.
Since I work full time, do housework slowly AND blog, the title of the post: “How to Write Blog Posts Faster…” really caught my attention. That post turned out to be not so relevant as the author is focusing on a different kind of blog, but his other post had a big impact.
Ivan Walsh talks about how he washes the dishes and does the housework while planning his posts. He also has a child! He treats blogging as something to be integrated into your life.
Now, I have ALWAYS thought about other things while doing housework (which is one of the reasons I do them so slowly) but reading how Mr. Walsh explains that it is the efficient thing to do was quite a liberating feeling. Especially as I have recently become involved in discussions on other blogs, not just my own.
Since reading that post I have baked a mushroom casserole without the seasonings.
I put the wrong seasoning into another dish.
I meant to cook two cups of rice. I ended up taking the rice jar, pouring one cup into the pot, putting the rice jar away and the measuring cup in the sink. Then repeating the process as I remembered I needed another cup.
You get the idea.
I must say, though, his suggestion regarding using Live Writer is helpful – it’s much easier to deal with pictures here and the fact that you are writing offline is quicker in itself. People in my PLN advised me to try it and they were right!
So, how do I “turn off” blogging thoughts while cooking?
We got up at 5:00 AM, arrived at 08:00, walked a really rocky (black basalt stone) path and were rewarded with the following sight (b.t.w – I thought frogs were disappearing around the world. The air was full of the sound of their croaks!):
As part of my job as a counselor I have to address, fill (with various papers) and mail out 315 envelopes to schools around the country, according to a list of names. Some envelopes are filled with five pages, others with thirteen.
I’m incredibly slow.
It’s not that I’m disorganized. Rather just looking at the size of the pile gets me down.
I also get distracted with odd thoughts as I work, such as:
*Hmm, what an unusual name this student has. I wonder if she gets teased because of it.
*Hmm, this place is so small they don’t even have street numbers for the address.
*Who is this school named after? I wonder who he was…
And, of course, I am writing this post instead of working!!!
David Dodgson suggested making a WORD CLOUD of one's blog.
Having seen David's cloud and Cecilia's Cloud and
Sandy Millin's CLOUD I decided to follow suit!
Here it is:
I'm somewhat puzzled. Some things are obvious. The words
"goals" and "project"
are very prominent because of all the posts related to the
30 goals project I'm participating in!
It makes sense to me that the words
"fascinating" "excited" "intriguing" appear because I feel
all these things about the new blogosphere
Family is very important to me though I suspect the word
is fairly large because some of my Saturday's Books
have been devoted to books all the family can enjoy.
But why is the word "students' so much smaller than
on other people's blogs? I thought I had been
writing quite a bit about my students! Puzzling...
The first period of the day gave me the perfect opportunity to try it. Three students were taking a test, three were absent and the remaining two are pretty much on the same level, comparitively strong pupils. So I called them to the board. Each one of them got a whiteboard marker.
Instead of writing five or six questions I wrote one question on the corner of the board : Why did Branco dive to the bottom of the lake? After we went over the question (they didn’t know “lake” or “bottom”) they wanted to know who this Branco person was and how should THEY know why he did it. I replied that it was up to them to decide and to please answer the question. So they wrote (and then we corrected) the sentence “Branco wanted to study the fish“. I responded to that with question number two: What was he surprised to find at the bottom of the lake? Then they began to get interested. They had Branco find a treasure chest, take it home, discuss it with his wife and spend the money on a new house and car. They wrote five sentences, each one numbered as an answer to a question.
I erased words from the sentences, a fairly large amount and they split the work of filling them back in. Since these are fairly strong students and they just wrote the text themselves this was easy for them. I left this stage after one “erasing exercise”.
I asked the students to turn these sentences into a news report. I told them we don’t have to write everything again, only certain things need to be changed. We looked at every sentece. The first answer now became the opening sentence ” A man named Branco dove into a lake in Italy” and so on. The rewriting took us to the bell.
Later on in the day I repeated the activity with two weaker students (going for a lower level of the national exams but nonetheless still strong enough to TAKE the national exams!). They also came up with a treasure test and had the pirates come and rob the treasure back from Branco. They had to work much harder to create each sentence and needed more corrections so our second stage was erasing words till the bell rang. Rewritng was not suitable here and they REALLY enjoyed the activity as it was!
I also tried the activity with one 12th grade students who reads FAR FAR better than he writes. He always forgets articles andmixes up tenses. However, this activity is a more socially oriented one and giving it to him alone was a mistake. He wrote that Branco found shoes in the lake and then he threw them back into the lake. I’m sure that if he had had a partner he would have come up with a more interesting idea and then it would have been more fun. Even the policeman I ” sent” to the lake just said “you shouldn’t do that”!
I really feel that my students are benefitting from my PLN!
Goal 16 of the30 Goals Challenge is “Change Your Environment”. I really agree that both the students and I need a change sometimes. So far the only thing I do is sometimes take the kids to the computer room. However, unless I plan really well the time spent there may be fun but not suitable for all the pupils at each level. In addition, I now have one computer in my class (no Internet). That’s great because its often one or two pupils who need a computer activity and it becomes a work station.
So, I thought I would take a better look at the classroom and share some pictures with you. I’ve been thinking about moving the tables around, hmmm….
That was the door from the inside. Now here is the YALP Project area. Inthe photo you can see the group diplomas I recently put up to add some spice (till now it was just individual tracking sheets).
Now here are the BIG BINDERS. Each of the 70 kids has a personal plastic bag where they can keep pages or where I put worksheets for them in advance.
Here are the regular binders with workplans, fun questionnaires (such as How romantic are you?), exercises, etc.
Some wall photos:
The old tables and chairs:
The picture of the broken window didn’t come out too well. There is also a picture of pages from a calendar stuck on the wall, depicting words in Enlgish, Spanish and American Sign lang. Some kids are interested in Spanish! Didn’t include a picture of the computer, its just a computer!
Last picture – the closet! Take note of the picture for “FALL” – just right for the poem “The Road Not Taken”!
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students