FORTUNATELY, we’re back to teaching at school every day – no distance learning!
UNFORTUNATELY, due to Covid, the students have missed out on many school activities, both academic and social /emotional ones, and have a lot of catching up to do this year.
FORTUNATELY, schools are intensively trying to make up for lost time – students are going on school trips and outings, experiencing workshops on topics ranging from health and safety to inclusion, and even doing volunteer work. Wonderful things! These experiences are certainly more meaningful for high school students than the additional reason their English lessons are canceled – taking exams in other subjects…
UNFORTUNATELY, I have discovered that Merriam-Webster’s definition of the musical term “staccato” is now applicable to my lessons:
“1a: cut short or apart in performing: DISCONNECTED staccato notes”
By the time we discussed the last stanza of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost during one of the lessons that did take place as scheduled, my Deaf and hard-of-hearing students needed a review of what we talked about at the beginning of the poem…
I needed an activity reviewing basic understanding of the poem.
FORTUNATELY, I had a review ready, one which I created in 2019. In this review, the speaker solicits advice from a friend about his dilemma and then explains why he rejects the advice. You can find that activity here:
UNFORTUNATELY, The review activity is written on flashcards, housed in a box in the classroom. This means that the activity can only be done in class…
There is so much ground to cover when the students are in class…
FORTUNATELY, I just created a digital version of the activity. I now have the speaker, stuck at the point where the two roads diverge, using his cell phone to solicit advice from friends. I posted it online using LiveWorkseets, a format which is convenient for the students to access and use, even on their phones, and is easy for me to work with.
I did not make the worksheet a self-check one. I wanted the students to type in the missing sentences, so at first glance, it would have made sense just to type in the answers and let them check themselves. However, my Deaf and hard-of-hearing students often type with spelling mistakes, and then LiveWorksheet would mark a correct answer as WRONG. I simply ask the students to send me pictures of the completed worksheets.
UNFORTUNATELY, the students ended up doing the review activity in class after all…
I may have completely wasted my time but perhaps I’ll be glad to have a digital copy in the future.
I’m sighing now but I shall not be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence – I will have forgotten about it by then!
This is certainly a clever book that packs a punch.
Remember when Greta Thunberg thundered:
“My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering.”
In case you were wondering how exactly ignoring climate change/not protecting the planet steals children’s futures, Lydia Millet spells it out for you in a very clever way, using the familiar framework of well-known stories from the Bible, as told by children. You know there’s no happy ending here but you can’t stop reading…
Gripping, clever, and so scary as it is all too real for comfort.
The Second Sleep by Robert Harris
After the previous book, I was looking for something different to read next. When I saw this book by Harris I knew I would get a fast-paced tale, full of suspense, all told within a historical framework. So I just began it without knowing a thing about the book.
While the book is certainlyall of that, the history part is actually set in the future, 800 years after the apocalypse!
This time Nature recovers and survives, but the human race is having a much harder time bouncing back. Not many people survived because (as the author is wont to remind us) people who cannot produce food are only 6 meals away from starvation when technology collapses completely…
800 years later finds Britain back in the Middle Ages with an all-powerful Church who has outlawed science and technology – that brought about the end of the world, so it’s obviously evil, right?
Our heroes are, naturally, a very curious bunch who are looking for answers the Church won’t provide.
The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson
There is some calming magic in Youngson’s writing style, I began to feel it by page two!
Here nature is relaxing. When you navigate a narrowboat through Britain’s canals and locks, you must adjust to a slower pace of life, with plenty of time for contemplating and looking at your surroundings. Spending time outdoors isn’t some event you plan for once a month.
No one is rejecting technology in this book or even complaining about it. Rather the necessity of making nature a part of your daily life in some way or another is emphasized as having a strong connection to well-being.
If you haven’t read anything by Anne Youngson, start with “Meet Me at the Museum”. That one is much better but I still enjoyed reading this one too.
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
The title is great clickbait but resist temptation.
Don’t read this book.
While the author only lets the word “lazy” slip once, it resonates pretty loudly in the book. It’s not clear whether she studied human nature or Mr. Spok’s Vulcan character.
While I do agree with certain very specific points Vanderkam makes, I reject her overall attitude completely. Not everything you do is about excelling. You do not have to focus only on the hobby you are good at and hone it to perfection – it’s perfectly fine to enjoy dancing or playing the guitar even if you are truly bad at it. Or just dabble in photography…
Your volunteer work is worthwhile even if you happily remain the one who carries the boxes of donated clothes for years and don’t even think about joining the board of trustees.
Worse, Vanderkam floored me when she was talking about children and the home. Was she living in a different world from mine? To be fair, she truly emphasizes the importance of parents spending time with their children. No argument there.
How can she discuss managing to stick to your rigid schedule dividing work time and parent/child time, while ignoring the mornings when your mind is mush because you were up half the night with a teething baby, a sick child, or one who just has nightmares? Sleepless nights for so many parents are more than twice-yearly events that playing catch up over the weekend can solve all issues.
Then there’s the part about food.
I am truly respectful of anyone who makes a conscious decision to rely heavily on ready-made frozen or tinned food as meals. Everyone has to balance his/her life choices, I can understand that. However, calling such food healthy and nutritious is beyond my comprehension.
In short – skip this one and read the next one.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Unlike the previous book, I felt that this book was very relatable.
No wonder so many people recommend it, particularly to teachers! I see many quotes referring to it.
James Clear presents his methods for creating habits (or breaking bad ones) in small steps with realistic examples. Not only does he not expect you to constantly have lofty goals, but he also emphasizes the process. I had never realized how much focusing on the process (as opposed to just the final goal ) could serve as a motivating factor.
Throughout the book Clear repeats and summarizes his four principles, again and again, highlighting how they fit together. I found this to be helpful.
I haven’t had a chance to try out anything in class yet. Or actually, perhaps I have, at least to some degree. While Clear focuses on what you do for yourself, the book “Switch” by Heath and Heath discusses some of the same points from the perspective of making the habit/ behavior you hope your employees/students do be the easiest choice available. In that respect, I think the books complement each other.
I also enjoy Clear’s brief weekly newsletter – reminds me of what I have read.
I have no shiny new habits to share.
But I’m blogging more regularly again!
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students