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!

Half of Goal 16 – To Be Continued!

Goal 16 of the 30 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….

The door from the inside

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).

YALP Group Diplomas

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.

The BIG BINDERS

Here are the regular binders with workplans, fun questionnaires (such as How romantic are you?), exercises, etc.

The REGULAR BINDERS

Some wall photos:

Vocabulary related to hearing lossWorld MapsWall photo

The old tables and chairs:

the desks

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”!

The closet

Goal 15 – “This Bridge Will Only Take You Halfway There”

Goal 15 of the 30goals challenge is “Be A Guide”!

This brought to mind a most relevant poem by Shel Silverstein:

The Bridge
`
This bridge will only take you halfway there
To those mysterious lands you long to see:
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs
And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share
The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I’ve known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there-
The last few steps you’ll have to take alone.

We can only be our students’ guides, we can’t do it for them.

Goal 14 – Rose Gardens have Thorns

I read this challenge relating to classroom culture before going to school this morning and thought it about during the day. There were examples today of what is good about our clasroom culture and the necessary evils that come with it.

Since the classroom is designed as a learning center, there is a relaxed atmposphere. Kids do get up and move around, a certain amount of talking is acceptable because students can help each other or work together. It is actually easier with the students who are deaf as they aren’t bothered by the converstions going on in different corners. Some hard of hearing students talk very loudly (because then they hear themselves) and that sometimes bothers the hard of hearing students.The classroom is also much more decorated than your average high-school classroom (at least here!). I’ll post pics soon!

Overall I know the students like the atmosphere because they often want to” hang out” in the English room when they don’t have a lesson (I only let them do that when there aren’t many pupils or when they’ve come to volunteer). It’s often a pleasure to see them working together!

However, roses have thorns. Pupils talk to each other , they don’t sit facing the teacher, communicating through her.  Sometimes, like today, kids start arguing following a remark made by a student. Another pupil’s schedule was changed and he came at a different hour. We don’t “save seats” and he couldn’t  sit where he used to sit in previous lessons. He got very upset – in other lessons he gets the same seat! About twice a year actual physical fighting breaks out between boys with behavorial issues. SIGH…

Some teachers see me as soft on discipline beause of this. But in their lessons students are supposed to sit facing the teacher and all interaction is controlled!

I feel that the advantages of this system are greater and I’m sticking with it. But there are problems…

Goal 13 – Help them Reflect on Their Errors & My PLN

Errors, dealing with failure, is diffiuclt for anoyne, let alone the special ed students! Such an important, huge, complex and difficult issue with my pupils !

It took me a while to figure out how to relate to this goal without turning it into a term paper!

So I just want to share the beauty of this new PLN I have been building since I started blogging and joined Twitter. With the extreme variation in my classroom, I need a variety of ideas and strategies to use (NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, works for everyone). I need to discuss it, a lot, without boring people silly.

Already I have had a “spark igniting” conversation on this topic with Tyson Seburn following his post on the topic. I feel greatly encouraged that I will have fascinating people to hash out these issues with!

Parents / High-School / Special Ed. – Goal 12

People have been posting amazing things about Goal number 12 of the 30 Goals Challenge. This one is a lovely example and DON’T MISS Shelly’s presentation on the 30goals site!

But here I am again saying “Except…”

Parents with a special-needs child tend to be EXTREMELY involved in their children’s lives. Particulary those who have sent their children with a hearing-loss to a regular school.

They come to the program at my school when they are 16 and often stay till 21. Many are DYING for independance!

Or

need to be taught that THEY are responsible for their behavior and education, not their parents. THEY have to take charge of their lives!

There are a few parents of tenth graders whom I talk to from time to time (I’m not a homeroom teacher). I rarely talk to parents of pupils beyond 10th grade. Many turn 18 in 11th grade!

B.T.W -My youngest is in 11th grade and as a parent I’m sick of “parent involvement” activities in the afternoon! So right – “involvement” is not “engagement” and I don’t need these school events in orer to do something with my son!

Goal 11 – The easiest goal so far!

Goal 11 of the 30 Goals Challenge is about giving the students choice.

By Gil Epshtein

Our classroom is in the format of a learning center!   Students choose where to sit, whether to work on grammar,  reading or the vocabulary project. Dates of tests are negotiated together and much more!

A book recommendation here:  Jonathan C Erwin’s “The Classroom of Choice, giving students what they need and getting what you want”.

Goal 10 – Beware of the “Michelle Pfeiffer Effect”

1995-Dangerous-Minds-

Goal 10 of these 30 goals deals with BELIEVING.

Since I teach Special Ed., starting new pupils off with challenges I know they are able to succeed at is a given. Success leads to self confidence and motivation which leads to success.

But these 30 goals are called challenges and the true challenge is that belief alone is not enough. You have to beware of what I call the “Michelle Pfeiffer Effect”. I phrase it that way based on many readings of  Dr. Robyn R. Jackson’s fantastic book “Never Work Harder Than Your Students” .

Michelle Pfeiffer in the film “Dangerous Minds” is  wonderful and inspiring. She walks into a very difficult high-school classroom and just believes in the students. After a few hard times , they all become amazing students.

Classroom reality is not like that (and not only because many of us don’t look like she does!). You can believe in the students and make them believe in themselves. But if you don’t figure out what the skills needed to bridge the huge abyss of knowledge they didn’t acquire till now are (when they weren’t such awesome students) they still won’t be able to reach their graduation goal. Belief must be combined with a good look at the reality and identification of the bare necessities they will need in order to deal with the level they are supposed to attain. Pupils who have missed years of REAL learning have huge gaps!

Dr. Jackson mentions  math skills as an example – if you can’t add or subtract you won’t pass calculus. My examples are from languages, I have to teach 10th graders wh questions even though they should have learned this a long time ago. I really recommend reading Chapter 3 of Dr. Jackson’s book – she explains it so clearly!

In short – belief is CRUCIAL but it can’t stand ALONE!

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