Message to Younger Teacher Self – Conference Fun


Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

Yes, yes, I know that the very idea of sending a message to my younger teacher self doesn’t exactly make sense. Besides the necessity of time travel, how could a younger version of myself understand my perspective today? Also, what could I say?

That was my first reaction to the “shower” of  blog posts triggered by  Joanna Malefaki’s  lovely post and her blog challenge on the topic (see the bottom of Joanna’s post for links).

But then…

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

* I remembered Bruce Willis meeting his younger self  in the movie “Kid”.

* I discovered delightful, creative gems in other teachers’ posts – it seems there is a lot to be said after all! And in so many ways!

* I learned that Sophia Khan (whose post made me chuckle!) had solved the problem of time travel: “I wish I could tell you more but it might destroy the very fabric of the universe so better not”.

* I remembered that last year we had a lot of fun at the ETAI conference with seven-word-autobiographies. Crowdsourcing teachers’ input makes for creative, informative and downright funny reading!

And last, but not least…

* I considered the fact that examining different perspectives is a skill we teach in class. Crowdsourcing advice to a younger self from teachers whose ages are different, who teach in different settings and different countries – now that might even include the skill of “comparing and contrasting”!

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

So, please fill in your short message to your younger teacher self using this form The messages must be short! I’m not sure whether I will collate them for the upcoming summer conference in slide show format (as I did last year) or think of something else, but brevity is a necessity! 

I can’t wait to see what the teachers will come up with!

Meanwhile, I won’t tell you what my message will be, but until the replies start coming in I will share another kind of message. Enjoy and don’t forget to fill in the form!

Saturday’s Book: “The Color of Magic” by Pratchett

Visitors from another world? (Naomi's Photos)

Visitors from another world? (Naomi’s Photos)

Pure fun!

The adventure part proceeds at a pace similar to those Indiana Jones movies from way back when (fast!), as our heroes narrowly escape death again and again. Though I must point out that in Pratchett’s books (this one is the first of the Discworld series), it’s not death but rather Death, an intriguing character in its own right.

But adventure isn’t what attracts me again and again to books by the late Terry Pratchett – it’s the language! I love the word plays, the imagery and the choice of names. Not to mention the humor! It’s wonderful when logic simply gives up… I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of connotations but delight in the ones I’ve picked up on. Both my sons have read this book and I’ve been sounding off my interpretations on them. They approve of some of them…

For example, I’m positive that when listing the shady characters around town, “gonephs” is from the Yiddish / Hebrew “Ganav” (thief). I also suspect that a place called Bel-Shamharoth is a word play on the Hebrew name of the place “Beit Ha Shomroni Ha Tov” (the house of the Good Samaritan). You might think that couldn’t be so because the place in the books was not a hospitable one at all, but I think doing that would be a typical Pratchett word play. My sons aren’t convinced…

It’s great to share books! The boys recommend “The Wee Free Men” next time I’m in the mood for another Pratchett book. Noted!

What a Glorious Mistake!

Odd one out (Naomi's photos)

Odd one out
(Naomi’s photos, taken on  the “photo-walk”)

What a glorious mistake!

That is most certainly not something I say or even feel I want to say very often. Yet yesterday I wanted to shout it!

Sandy Millin once called me “The Eternal Teacher”. She may have referred to the fact that except for a stint in a “baby shop”,  teaching is the only thing I have been doing since I was still in high school (which was a long time ago!). But perhaps it is a reference to the fact that I can’t seem to stop thinking about how my own experiences  relate to class.

I can’t see how feeling this excited over a mistake can be replicated in class. My students know they can correct homework assignments and that they get extra points for correcting their exams. We use process writing for their literature tasks, and the students work on corrected versions.

All helpful but not exciting. Mistakes are still closely linked to grades and in high-school there is also the issue of students who are afraid to look bad in front of their peers. Not elements I am able to eliminate in my classroom.

No entry! (Naomi's photos)

No entry!
(Naomi’s photos )

Compare the classroom to the following situation:

* I’ve taken up photography purely for my own pleasure. I’m not studying it in a formal manner, I don’t have any tests or deadlines.

* Learning about controlling the settings on my camera doesn’t come easily for me. Aperture and shutter speed settings (not to mention other things!) are all related to numbers. I have a hard time with numbers in any situation, I tend to have difficulty remembering them and often get them confused. I’m good with theory until it gets down to numbers.

* Yesterday I had the pleasure of going out on a photo-walk with two good friends who know much more than I do about photography. I got totally muddled regarding which setting numbers work for what.

And it didn’t matter one bit.

I wasn’t worried about they would think of me (great people!) and I didn’t have any photos that needed to be handed in. Nobody was judging my work and I didn’t have to show photos to anyone if I didn’t want to. I had a great time simply experimenting, trying out different settings and discovering the results.

And I made some glorious mistakes! Mistakes as in the photos didn’t come out the way I thought they might be supposed to according to the settings I had chosen (note the use of the word “might”!) but the results are so fun! Here’s my favorite “mistake” (it wasn’t dark yet, to mention one thing):

My glorious mistake! (Naomi's photos)

My glorious mistake!
(Naomi’s photos)

Perhaps a science teacher could replicate my joyful experience in a lab, but I don’t see it happening in class. Nonetheless, studying photography has reminded me, once again, that its useless to give students information they aren’t ready for. My friends had lots more to tell me, but I don’t want to hear it till I get a handle on those setting numbers!


Saturday’s DON’T READ Book: Sharp Objects by Flynn

Stop! (Naomi's Photos)

(Naomi’s Photos)

I’m so sorry I ever picked up this book.

Gillian Flynn is a skillful writer and I was impressed by most of “Gone Girl”. This book is one she wrote before that, her debut novel.

I give her full credit for knowing how to write. That’s not the problem.

I knew the book was a murder mystery, and expected the gruesome murders at the beginning. But I found this book simply disgusting to read. Not only the events but the way all the women in the town were depicted and their behavior in the past and the present.

I read more of it that I should have because there is suspense but before I got to the middle I realized that there was no reason I should feel this bad every time I began reading. I read the last chapter to confirm my suspicions about who had done “it” and returned the book to the library.

Now I hope to forget the book as soon as possible!

Belated Saturday’s Book: “Ladder of Years” by Anne Tyler


Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos

The last quarter of the book spoiled everything. The ending really annoyed and disappointed me.

I read Anne Tyler from time to time. She always has a quirky main character and there is something very easy-read / comfort reading about her books. Sometimes that sort of book is just what I need.

I feel the ending of this book was careless and not thought out properly. Very disappointing!

Hard Work = Success? Sometimes It Feels like a Lie!

Knock knock, who is really in there? (Naomi's Photos)

Knock knock, who is really in there? (Naomi’s Photos)

It’s that time of year again at the high-school. The twelfth graders are about to take a series of final exams before graduating. And  every year there are a few students who break my heart. But this year one student seems to stand out in particular.

We’ll call him P. Like the other “heartbreaking” students before him, he “bought” the school system’s slogan “hard work = success”, worked hard, did his homework, missed very few classes and reviewed the material. Unlike those other students, he remembers vocabulary items better than most of the students in all my classes. He’s curious about words, and brings in words he encounters online. Even more remarkable, he demonstrates a more extensive world knowledge than many of the other Deaf & hard of hearing students I teach.

This week we had another Mock Exam. The topic was NASA. P. knew what NASA was. Not something to to take for granted in my classes. He remembered to use the highlight-marker the way we practiced. P told me proudly that he had remembered some of the words without using the dictionary.

Once again he got the lowest grade in his class. A barely passing grade. Lower than students who, to put it politely, are not model students at all.

Despite all the ways we work on reading comprehension, he can’t seem to integrate the information in the text well. Some things baffle him even after we discuss them in mother tongue. In the aforementioned text there was a paragraph explaining how in the past only NASA employees could work on space projects (today the situation is different). P. simply could not understand the answer to the question related to who used to pay the people who worked on space projects. We discussed it for 10 minutes afterwards and he still did not see the connection between the word “employee” and the source of the payment. I tried to give examples closer to his reality, (in mother tongue!) such as the fact that I teach him at school (I’m not his employee) vs. a private tutor who could come to his home (he is then the employer). P. still didn’t understand it. Other students did not have a problem with this question!

Every test P. looks so disappointed to see his peers get higher grades, while he barely gets a passing grade. He knows he works harder than they do. He looks at me and what can I say?!!

We just continue practicing…

Even Cavemen learn to Share Eggs!


Okay, this one doesn’t EAT eggs, but is certainly connected to them! LOL! (Naomi’s Photos)


Remember the old saying: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”?

Well, I’ve decided to put some eggs in a new basket.

I’ve opened a virtual stand at a very organized, very large and official site, where teachers sell materials and lesson plans, called Teachers-Pay-Teachers.

For openers, I’ve revisited those delightful cavemen who learn how to share and collaborate when hunting for eggs (with the blessing of Paul Yan, their creator), but have taken the film in a completely different direction:


Those animated cavemen are really expressive!

Preview of worksheets

Preview of worksheets (17 pages).


My stand is called, unsurprisingly, Visualising Ideas, and it can be found here: 

All the virtual stands give a free downloadable activity, so it’s really worth browsing the site.


Visualising School – A Photo Pause

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

Unexpected visitor enters class this morning!

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos


New rec. area for students (or new yard-duty area for the teachers, depending on your point of view).

Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos


In which direction did you order your lines?

Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos

Spring is here!

Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos


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

Belated Saturday’s Book: “Blue Diary” by Hoffman

Trying to get a different perspective (Naomi's Photos)

Trying to get a different perspective (Naomi’s Photos)

I can’t make up my mind about this book.

Alice Hoffman’s book “The Museum of Extraordinary Things” was better than this one. Even though at the time I complained about Hoffman’s heavy emphasis on descriptions (I listened to that one as an audiobook, not doing that again), the historical tale really brought alive the world of immigrants to New-York and the days of the sweatshops. It’s a book I remember well, which is why I decided to try another by the same author.

The writing is beautiful (though I do like more dialogue!) and the message of the book related to dealing with loss and pain is powerful, yet not “Kitsch”.

But some parts of it just don’t seem believable to me. They just don’t make sense. I looked at some reviews online after I finished it, and it seems I’m not the only one who had trouble with this issue, and with the first chapter in particular.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to read and at no point did I want to stop reading.

“When Three is Better than Four” – A Comment

Can you see the third snail? (Naomi's photos)

Can you see the third snail? (Naomi’s photos)


Thank you Mr. Simon Mumford for validating my gut feeling that writing three distractors on a multiple choice exercise /exam is better than writing four!

In the article “When three is better than four” (IATEFL “VOICES”, March-April 2015, Issue 243) supports this claim with research findings and makes a very convincing case of his own.

Assuming that distractors are supposed to be relevant to the text (not totally ridiculous!) while clearly being the wrong answer, makes creating good distractors challenging. particularly if the question is about a small excerpt from  the text. According to Mumford, it’s not just an illusion that many distractors aren’t doing their job!

Oddly enough, this is the second time this week that I have encountered the topic of distractors! In a recent “The New Yorker ” magazine, (I get them late and am still reading back issues) there was a personal story about a middle-aged man learning to drive for the first time (he lives in New-York…). Before the written driving exam, his 2o year old son gave him words of wisdom regarding  multiple choice exams. The son stressed that two of the possible answers will be clearly wrong on every question, so even if you rely a bit on guesswork, you have a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right!

I’m with Mumford – quality is much more important than quantity.

Here’s to three possible answers on multiple choice exams!

(Note: Around here multiple choice exams are known as “American Tests”!).