Category Archives: Visualising Vocabulary

I “CLOUDED” my site too!

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:

word blog cloud
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
 experience!

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...

Leveling the Playing Field – Playing Games when Teaching One-on-One

I never pretend not to know the answer when I’m playing with a student in a “one-on-one” setting. Students see through that right away. They expect the teacher to know the answer and would have no respect for a teacher who didn’t know the answers.

Teachers don’t have to pretend. There are many ways to level the playing field. Teacher and student can enjoy really playing while still ensuring that the student will win a fair amount of the time (but not ALL the time!).

Here are some examples using the game BASEBALL:

Baseball game for class

A simple baseball diamond is drawn on a piece of paper, on the board, or (as in this picture) pasted onto cardboard with a picture of a baseball player in the middle. Baseball is not a common sport in Israel, so the picture makes it easier for the students to visualize the actual game.

The “ball” is one die. You can’t throw higher than 4 so if you get a 5 or 6 you must throw the die again (I sometimes place stickers over those numbers). Colored discs, coins or anything else can be used as markers.

The basic rules are simple. You begin at home-base. You throw the die. You must complete the number of tasks that is indicated by the number on the die. In our example the task is translating vocabulary items that appear on flashcards. Then you progress from base to base. Every time you pass home base you get a point. The player with the most point wins.

Now, how does the pupil play against the teacher?

Option One:

The student is the only one who throws the die. If the pupils throws “3” but could only translate two words out of three shown on the flashcards, the student progresses two bases and the teacher progresses one. If the student knew all three words, the teacher, on that turn, didn’t progress at all.

Option Two:

Both the student and the teacher throw the die. The teacher doesn’t have any task to do but always has to move one base less than the number indicated on the die. The student progresses in the same manner as before.

Option Three:

I use this one with students with emotional issues. The student gets two turns, the teacher gets one turn. If a student gets a translation wrong, he has to repeat the teacher’s correction and then can progress.

Option Four:

The pupil competes against the clock and himself, not the teacher. This is a circular game; it doesn’t really have an end. The pupil plays for 4 minutes and writes down the number of points she got. The next lesson she plays with the same pack of words, same time, and sees if she improved her score.

Works with all ages!

Comment on ” Going, going, gone (in)”

Jason Renshaw describes a lesson here based on the “disappearing dialogue” technique, which he used with a text created by the students with his guidance. I also read Anna’s  very helpful description of her adaptation of it here.

Had my first shot today at adapting this with 4 of my fairly strong Hard of Hearing 10th graders. I knew there would be problems but I also know that I need to try something out in order to understand how it ticks and what I need to adapt.
Instead of Christmas we created a passage about the upcoming Purim holiday. It  started off well. These are kids who have a better vocabulary and do speak a bit. However, they don’t understand each other in English and I had to write every single thing they said down. Which is fine for the first part, as we were creating a short reading passage. The difference between the vocabulary item “party ” and “celebrate” came up and that was good. They also confuse between “Present” as in “gift” and “present” as in “present simple”, which they practice (I said they were pretty strong!)

We wrote it using Passive as we’re working on that now.

After we read the finalized short text (6 short sentences). I erased all the verbs + aux verbs (6).  Then I made the mistake of having them copy the text and fill in the missing words. WRONG. I should have offered each one the board-marker and have them choose a missing word to fill in on the board. Then I could have erased more words and repeated the process. This way I was stuck. There was no way that I could give them new paper and have them copy it out again with more words missing – they DO NOT LIKE COPYING OFF THE BOARD.

By reflecting on this blog I find that I actually defined what I could have done differently and see how it could work even with the need to write everything down.  Especially if I let the pupils come to the board (some want to stay there!).

Since it’s a learning center, I had other kids in the background doing other stuff (two were taking a test and two were with a teacher’s aid). I’m eager to try the strategy again with Deaf students who don’t speak English orally (we use Hebrew and ISL in class).  But I’ll wait until I have assistance in the lesson again. I ususally don’t spend more than  a few minutes at a time by the board explaining something. This activity requires a frontal lesson and I can rarely include everyone in anything at the same time.

So, this post is a “to be continued one” too!

Is it worthwhile to teach authentic poetry without knowledge of vocabulary?

I’m teaching the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken” to a large group of my Hebrew-speaking deaf and hard of hearing 10th and 11th graders. It’s in the curriculum.

I find it to be a puzzling situation. On one hand it seems absolutely insane to teach it to most of these kids. I’m not exaggerating when I say that most of them only know two to four words in the entire poem. Even a word that seems familiar to them such as “sorry” isn’t in the right context as they only know it to mean “please forgive me”.  Even though we did a pre-reading exercise which included translating the really difficult words (such as “undergrowth” “hence”) they didn’t know most of the other words either and couldn’t even begin to read any sentence of it on their own.

On the other hand, this poem is about dealing with dilemmas and making choices. We did a pre-reading activity on how they solve problems and many of them were interested in that. The vocabulary exercise I gave on those really hard words had them match the Hebrew translation to a simple definition in easy English, so there was reinforcement of vocabulary, just not of the vocabulary of the program. In addition they learned  a bit about metaphors, how to infer something and about the poet. Some of the pupils actually said they find the poem related to life!

However, to answer the low order reading comprehension questions (which were in English they could handle) they relied mainly on the translation of the poem. Since I foresaw that, I made sure they had to copy out lines of the text to prove their answers otherwise they wouldn’t have looked at the poem itself at all!

I wonder if I could have achieved the same effect by having all these nice activities and tasks in English, about a poem written in Hebrew?! So, is it worthwhile to teach authentic poetry without vocabulary?

Signs!

No, not Sign -Language -SIGNS!

Since my success with cardboard signs that say “TEST”  (which the kids place on their desk when they take an exam) I’ve been trying to replicate the effect with other kinds of signs. These signs worked really well because they are in use in context. Most of the kids rememebr the meaning of this word when they see it in texts (most – in special ed. it is never everyone).

I’ve had signs, or labels, on things in the classroom for years but most pupils ignored them until I gave them a homework assignment about them. However, that was almost three months ago,  I doubt the vocabulary stuck.

This week I had some pupils who come in for volunteer work (In israel all 10th graders must volunteer, so some come  to my class) make signs stuck onto colored popsicle sticks of common things I say in class. Phrases such as “Look it up” or ” It’s a name” or ” Patience please!” I say these things in Hebrew or Israeli Sign language. My thought was that I would hold up the sign  instead of saying it, in the right context. Thus the pupils would connect the sign with the words. The signs generated some curiosity but I haven’t managed to use them! They sit in a colored container on my desk but I’ m never at my desk when I need them! Theoretically I should have them hanging around my neck!

Any advice?

Any suggestions?

Saturday – “Book Day”!

By Graeme Base
By Graeme Base

This book is marvelous for both the family and the classroom. My boys love it! Each page is devoted to a letter of the alphabet (sometimes a double page). There is a huge amount of amazing drawings of things beginning with that letter, some easy to spot, others requiring some effort. I don’t think we ever found everything on some of the pages!

For pupils in class with small vocabularies I supply a brief word list for every page and they look up the words in their dictionaries and then find the pictures. Works very well!

Y.A.L.P 10 Minute System – Part 2

Here’s how it works in my class:

If you imagine two 10th grade students, Karen is the tutor and Tom is being tutored. Karen is a weak, struggling student and Tom is on 10th grade level and has just begun working on “connectors”. We have a designated table at the corner of the English room for the sessions.

1) Karen welcomes Tom to the table.

2) Karen “quizzes” Tom on the pack of flashcards. Each flashcard has English on one side and Hebrew on the other. Karen knows all the answers because they are written on the side of the flashcard facing her.

3) Together they count how many words Tom knew and mark it in the tracking sheet, in column A (they write the date, too).  See sample tracking sheet here:

tracking sheet sample

4) Then they play with the flashcards. They match them to pictures, play “disappearing word”, Tic-Tac-Toe, bingo (with buttons!) and more.

5) Once again Karen quizzes Tom on the same words. This time they mark the results in column B. The result is almost always higher for column B and the kids enjoy seeing it in graphic form.

6) Part with a quick feedback exchange.

* Tom repeats the same process with his speech and language clinician during their weekly session.

** Every time Tom triples the number of words he knows, we give certificates 9as opposed to achieving a certain number of words known).

The kids love it!

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!

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”?