With a very heavy heart, we teachers must now prepare for distance learning, amid the tragic events. Supporting each other and sharing materials is crucial, as none of us are at best (to put it mildly).
Yet we have a deadline – school must resume, online.
Here is a set of links to collections organized by level. In each collection, I am uploading material of mine relevant to that level. This is a space to follow, as I will continue uploading materials next week.
There are guided reading tasks, vocabulary exercises, and some lighter activities. There are no grammar activities.
Some of my strongest Deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students perk up and invest in a writing task if there is some snarky element involved.
Many years ago The Washington Post had some sort of competition where they asked readers (in honor of Valentine’s Day) to submit rhyming pairs of sentences, the first very romantic and the other emphatically unromantic. For example: “I see your face when I am dreaming. // That’s why I wake up screaming.
I made a note of the idea.
Over the years, whenever I challenged such very bright students to come up with such sentences, I watched in awe as these students became animated, discussed synonyms for the rhyming (they even used a dictionary!), and only turned to me for help when they were truly stuck.
As a veteran teacher, I can truly understand why some of my Deaf and hard-of-hearing teenage students dislike all things “rose-colored” and what they perceive as “goody goody”. This is particularly true for those very smart students with a hearing loss who “ping pong” between two worlds, that of their classmates with “normal hearing” and the one where you don’t have to use your voice to speak…
As much as I want to give the students space to express themselves, I also want to stress the need to “sheath their claws”, use their wit wisely, and avoid insulting other students, directly or indirectly.
That’s where “backhanded compliments” come in. Insults thinly disguised as compliments, such as: “That’s a beautiful photo of you. I didn’t recognize you at first”.
I created the activity in this downloadable worksheet hoping to make the students more aware of the barbs that can hide in supposedly innocent compliments, and how to respond when such “compliments” are directed at them.
In addition, naturally, the students are reading, writing, and using vocabulary in context.
I hope you find this activity useful for your students as well! Let me know in the comments.
I wasn’t sleeping well the last few nights before setting off on our big adventure – a 17-day trip to South Africa! I was too excited/nervous/stressed – I’m sure you know what I mean.
I barely slept on the flights either way.
I also tend to wake up very early on trips (not at home!) so I read quite a bit before the trip, on the trip, and upon returning.
Since arriving home, I have mainly been listening to audiobooks and reading print a bit less – when I have free time I go over my “gazillion” photos! After which I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow…
So, some quick comments on some books:
“Meet Me in Another Life” by Silvey
I wanted a light read for a sleepless night flight and it started off just right. Engaging without demanding too much concentration. Two young people meet over and over again in different versions of their lives.
However, somewhere around the middle, the book became incredibly repetitive and even boring. I didn’t like the ending at all. I don’t even know why I bothered to finish it…
“Lawrence and the Arabs” by Robert Graves
“Lawrence of Arabia”, the film from 1962 was actually one of the options of the in-flight movies. Not only hadn’t I seen it, but had completed the book about him by Graves just a few days before we flew out. I thought it was a stroke of luck!
Well, reading the book made me find the movie sorely lacking and I gave up on it at some point. Now the book, that’s where it’s at. It is FASCINATING!
Just to be clear, I had no particular prior interest in “Lawrence”. But when I saw that the book was by ROBERT GRAVES I knew I had to read it. Graves’ “I Claudius”, which I read years ago, left a big impression on me. His writing is engaging, clear, and down to earth while being informative and well-researched.
Unlike the Roman emperors, Graves actually KNEW the person he was writing about this time, and personally interviewed many of those whose lives crossed paths with Lawrence, including Lawrence’s mother!
Did I say it was FASCINATING?
“Euphoria” by Lily King
This was a good choice as a travel book. It’s engaging and interesting. Three young anthropologists are caught in a love triangle amongst themselves in New Guinea, in the 1930s. Their own lives influence how they live and interact with the native tribes they are studying. while studying /entangling themselves in the cultures of the tribes they are studying. The story is loosely based on Margaret Mead’s character and from what is known about an incident that she was involved in.
The ending was quite dramatic.
A good book but not amazing – not the kind I think about for some time after I have read it.
“Record of a Spaceborn Few” by Becky Chambers
I listened to this as an audiobook (the reader is excellent, it feels like a play).
Chamber’s books are so comforting – yes there are real hardships when living in space and angst, but the overall vibe is optimism. A better society, a more inclusive society can be attained, a better world is possible.
I enjoyed every minute
“Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal
I can tell you right away – the answer is NO WE ARE NOT!
It’s mind-boggling to read of the assumptions people made in an effort to prove, no matter what, that humans are always better and smarter than animals. I’m not a scientist and certainly am no animal expert, but some tales caused me to say “Really? Someone thought that? Someone lectured about it without even observing the animals in the wild”?
I read this after returning (after seeing so many animals it seemed a good choice). The writing is very engaging and accessible to the non-academic public. I found it very interesting yet only read about 75% of the book. The point was very clear and I found that there was a limit to the number of examples of intelligent animal behavior I could take in.
It turns out, that sometimes a veteran teacher, a “puffin”, needs some support from a lion.
Just to be clear, I’ll always remain ” a puffin”. As a veteran teacher of English as a foreign language to Deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students, knowing how to fly and swim has been a big advantage. Those qualities along with loving bright colors (my students are certainly “colorful”, in the metaphorical sense!) have enabled me to stay in the profession for so long.
Did you know that I’m beginning my 37th official year as a teacher? Everyone who corresponds with me or follows me online knows me by this picture, taken in Ireland.
However, this “puffin-teacher” lost some of her plumage last year. It was a difficult school year.
(Ok ok, puffins actually lose their colorful beaks in winter, but plumage sounds better..)
I really need that plumage to grow back before the new school year begins. I’ll settle for at least some of it to grow back.
I need the energy to deal with the limited issues I CAN control at school.
Take the issue of attendance. I doubt a lion’s roar will convince students to revert back to their pre-pandemic mindset which didn’t include the assumption that going to school EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL DAY is pointless.
In fact, my supportive lion can’t even growl at the school that is trying to give the students everything that they missed during the pandemic – excursions, trips, lectures, sports days, etc. Those things are important.
He won’t help me figure out (this “miracle” was never included in my training days) how to teach everything required to students without actually meeting them for their theoretically alloted weekly hours…
A big roar here! R-O-A-R!
Since I teach in the format of a learning center, grades 10-12 jumbled together, teaching every level from A-B-C to gifted students at the highest levels, a digital learning management system has always been crucial for me to keep track of who had done what and when. Even if the students hadn’t done the work on the computer itself (some preferred their notebooks) they would mark it in the system.
I had such a system for more than 10 years until it suddenly closed, just before the previous school year began.
It seemed so unfair that the year in which I was turning 60 would be the one in which I had to rely heavily on my memory…
60 may be the new 50 but not when it comes to memory. At least that’s how I feel about it.
Then I met the lions. Up close. Two males and several females. On a safari “big birthday trip”.
Obviously, they brought me luck!
When I returned home, my amazing colleague Riki Klein found the answer to the problem I had been unable to solve – how can a teacher from our school use Google Classroom?
R-O-A-R of joy!
I’ll have a learning management system again!
And since I already know how to use one, I’ve been playing around with programs that integrate with Google Classroom that appear to be included in our deal – it seems we have KAMI!
Kami is a SUPER easy annotating tool, which seems particularly useful for children and struggling students. Not only does it have a clear control panel using symbols, but you can also add voice notes or have it read out text to you!
Those are just the features I’ve learned about so far!
In addition, it has a large amount of fun templates.
Look what I quickly prepared instead of my decades-old “About Me” worksheet! Each student can see what I created and then has a blank copy to make his/her own.
* See the complete picture by clicking below the picture.
This blog isn’t a tech advice blog, explaining how to use a tool after I’ve become an expert at using it. I am also not affiliated with any company nor are there ads on this blog.
I write about being a full-time teacher. This post is about sharing the excitement of having new things to bring into the classroom, that I didn’t have to work for hours to create. Perhaps these are “fireworks” – I can’t yet gauge how often I’ll be using Kami and for which purposes.
But I’m eager to find out.
And that’s the point.
After the last school year, it feels so good to be going back to school with cool tools to be excited about.
This Puffin is quite happy to share space with such a friendly lion!
Excitement is infectious you know.
Have you used Kami? Let me know what you do with it!
I have been using this video every single school year since I was first introduced to it (in 2014!) by Kieran Donaghy, of Film English, whose presentation I had the pleasure of attending at a conference.
Not only is the topic an important one, but the video is also completely accessible for my advanced Deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Everything in the film is written – my students don’t need to rely on automatic captions which are often riddled with errors.
I don’t use a specific worksheet for it. Sometimes we read it together and talk about it. Other times I have the students choose 10 sentences with advanced vocabulary to explain and then they are asked to describe the problem presented in this video and what is being done to help.
The Power of Words
An oldie but a double GOODIE.
The language part in this video comes from the worksheets, not really from the video itself.
But the students’ reaction to it is priceless.
They always say, IMMEDIATELY, that the purpose of the video is to remind you to help people who are blind.
That’s a good message to have come up in class.
But that is NOT the purpose of the video.
That’s a great lesson in careful “reading” – we “read” videos too!
I believe that a discussion about how the words you choose to use affect the people you interact with certainly relates to good citizenship!
The main focus of this super short exercise is identifying the main idea but isn’t bringing up the topic of recycling something we are delighted to do in class?
I learned about this video (and the additional one in the worksheet) from Jamie Keddie ( LessonStream ). I had the great pleasure of attending his talk at a conference and have been following his work ever since.
Does the activity I’m sharing here fall under the label of “Promoting Critical L2 Reading Strategies”?
The activity focuses on one very specific negative reading strategy that some of my struggling Deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students tend to rely on, one which I wish I could eradicate completely…
Is this activity a good stepping stone on the road to reading for understanding or just a simple “review this before the exam” activity?
Full advantage means that in addition to attending Joyce Kling’s talk on “Supporting Students’ L2 Critical Reading Strategies”, I plan to approach her during one of the breaks and follow up with a few questions regarding activities that are broken down specifically for struggling learners such as the one in this post.
You can do that at Face-to-Face conferences.
You really can go up to speakers, introduce yourself, and talk to them. Even if you meet them waiting in line for coffee!
Or at the bus stop – I’ve had fascinating conversations with both teachers and speakers on the bus to or from a conference!
See you there!
The LOOK ALIKE Trap
No pictures, videos, or creative games for this activity.
I needed a direct, no-frills approach, to highlight my point this time.
Using the word “trap” seemed to awaken a competitive streak in some of the students. I told the students that the people who write their exams know that some students have a system for answering multiple-choice questions on reading comprehension tasks. A system that doesn’t require reading. These students simply look for words that look alike in the options and in the text and then choose their answer without further investigation. For example:
The Sentence from the Text
The Wrong Answer
1. Mr. Jay invested 11 million dollars in the football team.
X Mr. Jay earned 11 million dollars from the football team.
Such students see the words “11 million dollars” and fall blithely into the trap the exam writer has set. The distractor that “looks-alike” is the wrong one (“Duh”, my strong students would say, but this is not for them)!
So, in this activity, I challenged the students to outsmart the exam writers and not fall into the “look-alike” traps that had been set for them.
Together we examined 8 sentences, which I modified from actual national exams (so as to make them clearer when being read out of context) along with corresponding incorrect answers chosen by unknown students who had fallen into the “traps”.
Vocabulary wasn’t an issue – I supplied any “glosses” needed.
The fact that the students were able to analyze the errors successfully with hardly any guidance on my part (mainly glossing or adding context) didn’t mean the activity was too easy.
Quite the opposite.
They seemed to feel empowered. They could avoid a trap! They weren’t going to lose 8 points over nothing!
Here is the worksheet I used. The downloadable document contains two versions – one with the “critical” words underlined, and the other with no hints whatsoever. I used the version without any words underlined.
***Remember – this is not a worksheet for self-study. It is the discussion that matters. I was even able to sneak in a reminder about superlatives…
It’s the “Why”, the “Which”, the “How” and the “When” of vocabulary acquisition for EFL students that I need to carefully consider and plan for when I teach. In order to do that effectively, I need all the information, support, and inspiration I can get, from the experts.
Experts such as the one-and-only Batya Laufer, from Haifa University, who will be presenting at the upcoming ETAI 2023 International Conference & Mediterranean Symposium. Her plenary talk “Lexical Targets: Why they are necessary and how they can be implemented”will be targeting those pesky “WH Questions”!
The updated activity I am sharing today was inspired by previous sessions at ETAI Conferences, from another amazing speaker at the upcoming conference, Leo Selivan, aka “Lexical Leo”. His clear and practical conference talks have inspired many a lesson in my classes.
This activity was designed to focus on vocabulary presented not according to semantic sets, (transportation, colors, food etc.), which is the vertical approach, but rather by introducing the words with other words they go with (horizontally).
I chose a short animated film that I feel is age-appropriate (elementary school) and suitable for use in schools.
I then wrote a list of twenty-three vocabulary items that either relate to or appear in the film.
All but three of these words appear in the Ministry of Education’s approved word list. These three words are needed in this context (they are marked with an asterisk in the word list below).
The decision to have all the activities connected to the film is grounded in a belief that what is made memorable is learned best. I do this often with homework assignments for my own students, with various language elements I’m trying to teach, not just vocabulary. The visuals in films (I always use ones without dialogue, my students don’t hear well!) supply a clear context.
1) Here’s the list of vocabulary items FOR THE TEACHER:
That’s not fair!
2. Here is the pre-reading activity for the students. Click on the title below to get a downloadable PDF.
However, I’m not sure how to build on your interest in graphic novels. You all pick up our copy of the one graphic novel we have, “Bone” by Jeff Smith, which someone donated to our classroom a while back.
You flip through it, but you don’t read it.
Perhaps you find the frequent use of unfamiliar idioms too challenging.
Or perhaps I need to learn how to help you read graphic novels in class.
Do you also sometimes feel that memories related to your life as a teacher before the pandemic hit have faded or even disappeared? Materials you once prepared lie dormant, forgotten in some binder or box, their underlying rationale swirling murkily in your memory?
The amazing, world-renowned Penny Ur will be speaking at the conference!
After hearing Penny Ur talk at the ETAI Conference back in 2016, I was so inspired that I undertook a blogging challenge called 18/100, in which I reflected on one tip from each of the eighteen sections that compose Penny Ur’s book: “100 Teaching Tips”.
The combination of short sections in the book along with brief reflections really packed a punch.
I’m so looking forward to hearing her speak again next month!
Here is one of the original posts from 2016, part 17.
This is part seventeen of my blogging challenge.
As a veteran teacher, it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why.
I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.
Tip Number 89: “Teach a lot of vocabulary”
* Note: I was sorely tempted to reflect on all the tips in the vocabulary section, but a rule is a rule…
I love it when practices we recommend for teaching Deaf and hard-of-hearing students are recommended for everyone.
Sight words are words you understand right away without the need to decode. Check out this quote from the book (page 106): ” It appears that a large sight vocabulary …is the main condition for successful reading comprehension”. When you have words at your disposal that lead to meaning effortlessly, you can focus on the content of the text must more efficiently.
The thing is, the sight vocabulary needs to be large. Even students with normal hearing cannot pick up enough vocabulary based on incidental learning and by seeing words in context in books. Vocabulary has to be taught and practiced. A lot!
Vocabulary flashcards rock!
They will “rock” even more if you include collocations!
Especially good for pair work – an opportunity for students to be teachers too. Meanwhile, you, the official teacher, can work with someone who needs extra help.
The only caveat is the issue of general knowledge. The students have to have a reasonable grasp of the concepts the words denote. Otherwise, the ability to quickly translate the words into their mother tongue does not contribute to reading comprehension.
Which may sound extremely obvious to you.
Unless you are working with Deaf and hard of hearing students…
I look for you as I enter the teacher’s room on Sunday morning, before the first bell. It’s usually not a good time to say more than “Good morning” to anyone, but you and I both have a free period at 08:00, so we don’t have to worry about the bell. I’m curious to hear about the interesting activity you have planned for today for your classes. Truthfully, my interest in the activity is secondary to my desire to bask in the glow of your passion for teaching. Seeing your face light up with enthusiasm is so very inspiring.
But YOUR spot is empty.
You aren’t there.
I scan the two rows of computers – surely you must be, once again, helping one of the teachers who is struggling to make our computerized grading software understand what she wants it to do. No one even needs to ask you for help – the minute you register sounds of frustration, you are there at their side, explaining and guiding in your calm, gentle voice.
You aren’t there.
Oh, so you must be in the vice principal’s office again, helping make the workflow more efficient. Your background in High-Tech comes in handy.
I wonder if all those years spent with computers, who never loved you back, gave you such passion for teaching when you made the switch?
I don’t teach students with “normal-hearing” but I do hear them gossip when I’m doing yard duty, or when they come to volunteer in my special learning center. Students gossip about their teachers.
They ADORE YOU!
You aren’t there.
Never mind, so you are busy, fine. We share another free period at the end of the day on Tuesdays. We’ll talk then, right? We can unwind and talk about things unrelated to teaching. I usually let you lead the conversation as I’m constantly amazed at the breadth and depth of your general knowledge. You have lived abroad, you speak several languages and in fact, are fascinated by languages. What were you telling me about the complex beauty of Greek recently?
Tuesday comes and goes.
You aren’t there.
So, you must be absent again, having a bad spell with your illness.
I’ll write to you – you often find it distracting when you are bedridden to correspond about things such as which ed-tech solutions actually are helpful and to tell me about some tool you discovered that might be helpful for my special needs students. You offer to help me understand how to use it if needed, even though you have never used it yourself.
I wait, truly patiently, because sometimes it’s a really bad spell and I need to wait till you get stronger and start replying again. Always in written form. You don’t like phone calls or visitors. When you come back I don’t ask the questions you don’t like, about your health. What matters is that you are here.
Was your passion for teaching also related to your fragile health? Did it make you more aware of how wonderful it is simply to be able to come to school and teach?
I never asked.
My message box remains empty.
You aren’t there.
Now you will never ever be here.
And it’s hard to comprehend.
Thank you, Yaron Adini, for touching my life with your kindness, patience, generosity, and enthusiasm. Your amazing smile will be engraved in my memory.
You left us far too soon.
I’m grateful to have been fortunate enough to be your colleague.
You will be remembered!
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students