I actually read Backman’s second book first, so I immediately reached for this one when I found it at the library. I did so because I knew I would enjoy it.
And I did.
There are things one could quibble about. Way too many similes. Certain things that call for “a suspense of belief”. And honestly, truly, there are some awesome social workers out there, who do good work and help people ( the profession sort of needs defending after you read the book).
But those are really minor things. It’s a great story with characters you get involved with and feel truly moved.
ICYMI , EDO, IDC – Do you know what these abbreviations stand for? Do you care whether you know them or not?
I’m not interested in texting / Internet abrreviations for their own merit. I have no plan to have students memorise them. I’m interested in them as a tool to expose my deaf and hard of hearing teenage students to some of the commonly used phrases they represent. Teenagers like abbreviations. In addition, I have a few hard of hearing students whose distorted hearing causes them to adopt very odd versions of what they think they heard on television… They are interested in such phrases.
For this acitivity students must first begin with the worksheet. On the worksheet they are asked to match abbreviations to their meanings. Then the students are asked to watch the lovely (absolutely lovely!!!) short video “The Present”. As they watch they are required to rewrite the text without abbreviations.
This is another one of those books that I read because of a chance discovery at the library. Many times (like today!) I get frustrated by the list of books the library doesn’t carry, books recommended to me. But books like this one remind me of what I would be missing if I only read the books people are talking about.
It’s not an easy read. Not at all. The tale of the tragic end of the Greek communities in Asia minor is certainly not a happy one. I have to admit that I knew next to nothing about the expulsion of the Greeks from Turkey. Years ago I read “The 40 days on Musa Dagh” by Werfel, so I knew something about the Armenian population in the region, but not about the Greeks.
It is a testimony to the skill of the writer that at no point did I want to give up on the book. The descriptions of farmers’ and merchants’ lives there before the calamity are vivid. By having the main character meet a wide variety of people you realize the writer has been cleverly giving you many perspectives of the unfolding events.
But I think the most arresting thing about the book is while it is a story of a specific place and time in history (fiction yet based closely on true events), it is a universal tale. Much too relevant to today’s world, which is sort of scary to admit. This is what happens when hatred is inflamed, stereotypes are rampant and scapegoats are needed. Blaming one religion /ethnic group for all possible evils is, sadly, not something one finds only in history books. Reading about the background that lead to the outbreak of horrific violence from all sides involved is not comforting. It’s so easy nowadays to imagine the refugees in the book..
While I’m glad to be moving on to lighter fare now I’m glad I read the book. A lot to think about.
I was in charge of preparing a fun activity for a staff event.
I can only do what I know how to do – use visual material.
So I turned to my stack of video-lessons. In class I use them to work on answering reading comprehension questions of both types: LOTS – Lower Order Thinking Skills /HOTS – Higher Order Thinking Skills. I decided to utilize the same principles for the staff!
They seemed to like it!
The first activity was a KAHOOT! quiz related to the video “Paper vs. Tablet” . With KAHOOT! everyone answers the questions using their cell phone. It turned out well to start off with something energizing and there was some good-natured competetion regarding teachers’ places on the scoreboard. In class I used this to practice WH Questions and I decided to stick with LOTS type questions for the staff too. Before showing the video I told everyone that they must be on their toes because they are going to watch a 39 second video and then they will have to recall details regarding what they saw. Here are the questions that worked well (the KAHOOT! was not in English, so I’m not sharing it):
How many characters were in the video? (*Some missed the child!)
How long was the video? (*Only teachers who listened to instructions got that one right!)
What language was used?
What is the MAIN purpose of the video ( I used “vengeance is sweet” as a distractor and that caused a lively argument about the word “main”).
What is the woman’s name? (Everyone got THAT right, but that is important with teachers too).
The second activity was a KAHOOT! Survey and this was the most successful activity of all. We were 17 teachers and everyone likes being asked their opinion. Or, in HOTS terminology, we distinguished between different perspectives. This time they had to answer the following questions BEFORE watching the video:
Beginning at what age would you let your child do the following:
load the washing machine
hang the wash on the line
do the ironing
water the plants
make the bed
take out the garbage
walk the dog
tidy up a room
Many teachers thought I was going to show some sad video about the terrible plight of overworked children. Not so! They loved “Dial Direct”!
The third activity did not involve using cell phones. I showed a slide show with screen shots from what I described as an “instructional video to teach you to cook something”. The teachers had to guess what dish it was. The skill of “prediction”, of course. No easy task when you see a section of Rubik’s cube being chopped and pin cushions being crushed. Quite a few teachers realized that picking a dollar bill off a plant and chopping it must be a green spice (basil, in this case). They all the thought that the animation in Western Spaghettiwas very well done (BTW, the Rubik’s cube represented garlic).
I should have stopped there. Three activities were enough. For the last activity we did the Emotions of Soundactivity as it is on the site (note, you have to click on the link on the bottom of the screen to get to the relevant screen to begin). It’s a nice activity but slow and that was too much. It is also a vocabulary activity not a HOTS one, so it didn’t fit in.
It’s a good thing to let other staff members (who aren’t EFL teachers) see what materials are being used in class.
Good and fun!
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students