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…
The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington
by Jennet Conant
This is what I’m reading now. For me the name Roald Dahl had always been associated with Willie Wonka and Charlie from the famous chocolate factory! I had no idea he was a dashing young British RAF pilot involved in “hush-hush” activities during WWII in Washington!
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!
No, it is nothing educational like ” I made a child’s face light up when he understood the concept”.
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!
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!
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….
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!”
“Last Chance to See” by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine
My 16 year old, nature-loving son, had told many times I should read this book and for some reason I just kept postponing it. I kind of forgot who the author was and was kind of worried it would be boring. NO WAY!
I’m quoting from the back cover here because this is an apt description:
“After years of reflecting on the absurdities of life on other planets, Douglas Adams (you know, the one from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!) teamed up with zoologist Mark Carwardine to find out what was happening to life on this one…”
It is delightful to read and I was repeatedly amazed how by using COMEDY, Adams made some very serious points about the world!
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students