Category Archives: Day by Day in the Classroom

“There is Nothing Wrong with Their Eyes & WE Don’t READ With Our EARS – So No Problem, Right?

Naomi’s Photos

Well, I’m afraid not.

In many ways, we actually do read with our ears.

But then you actually KNOW that – the points mentioned below will getting you nodding in agreement.

Oddly enough, it’s the connection between this information and the difficulties many hard of hearing or Deaf students have when learning English as a foreign language, that seems to be less obvious to teachers.

One of the most frequent comments I encounter is: “There is nothing wrong with their eyes, is there? So there should be no problems with either vocabulary acquisition or writing skills”.

It doesn’t work that way. Let’s look at the following points you are familiar with, in the context of a child with a hearing loss:

Let’s take a look!
Naomi’s Photos
Reading comprehension skills are affected by knowledge of vocabulary (duh…)

Children in the EFL classroom are first taught to listen, speak (and even sing!) in English before learning how to read the language.  This is an attempt to imitate the natural order of language acquisition of a mother tongue.

Auditory input!

However, a child with a hearing loss in the EFL classroom faces a complex situation:

Cannot hear/see on the lips all the sounds teacher is saying

(especially if the children are singing & clapping, not to mention remote instruction!)

SO

Needs knowledge of the language to fill in the gaps of message that has been missed

BUT

Lacks the necessary knowledge of the new language needed to do so

AND

Has trouble acquiring the necessary knowledge

BECAUSE

Cannot hear/see all the sounds teacher is saying

This leads to many Deaf and hard of hearing students lagging behind significantly in the process of developing their vocabulary in English as a foreign language.

Is it a greehouse?
Naomi’s Photos
Reading comprehension skills are affected by general knowledge (“duh” point no. 2)

Think of a greenhouse. An actual greenhouse.

Now think of a Deaf or hard of hearing students who didn’t hear the advertisement on TV (which is left on for hours in some homes) for winter greenhouse melons or his mother exclaim that the greenhouse tomatoes are not as tasty as the summer ones.  This child may have completely missed the word greenhouse when the teacher warned the students never to enter one on a school trip.

“Incidental learning” – children born without a hearing loss are exposed to more language in context than they are explicitly taught!

THEN…

Our imaginary student learns about The Greenhouse Effect at school and learns the word in a context of an environmental issue.

But then  – confusion!

Faced with a reading passage on the future of farming, describing some ultra-modern greenhouses, the student has no idea what they are or where the ozone layer fits into the information. Some students go as far as to “forcibly” insert irrelevant facts known from the lessons at school because it makes more sense to them.

Gaps…
Naomi’s Photos
Reading comprehension skills are affected by the level of knowledge of students’ first language (“duh” point no. 3)

The teacher is using the context of going on an imaginary camping trip to introduce new vocabulary items in class. One of the words is causing a problem – the word “damage”.

When asked to give an example of how a student could damage her cell phone while camping, a student replied:

“She could lose it”.

Losing a cell phone and damaging it, are not the same thing.

However, simply translating the two words into the student’s mother tongue wasn’t clear enough.

It turns out that the student, in her mother tongue, only uses words such as “break”, “destroy” and “lose” and doesn’t really know what “damage” means in her first language either.

Babies begin hearing in the womb before they are born. After birth, It often takes time for a child’s hearing loss to be diagnosed, particularly when the hearing loss is not severe or profound. Some children develop amazing language skills in both their mother tongue and English as a foreign language despite the time lost during what is often referred to as “the critical period for language acquisition”.

But many others grapple with the consequences of these language gaps all their life.

In many ways, we actually do read with our ears…

 

On “Round Teachers” and Round Batteries

Round…

*** Note: A downloadable letter for students on the topic of batteries for electronic dictionaries can be found at the end of this post. The letter is in Hebrew.

The latest buzzword at our school is ROUND.

Reopening schools under the conditions deemed necessary due to the pandemic is a very complex thing, requiring things no one is used to.  Therefore, all of us teachers are asked to be ROUND.

Repeatedly.

Round – Round – Round

Personally, I think the imagery could be improved on.

Obviously, we teachers are supposed to be “rolling with the punches”, hence we need to be round.

But round things can easily roll away and get lost.

Round things aren’t particularly known for being flexible.

Aesop’s fable about the oak tree and the reeds comes to mind when we are looking for flexibility in challenging times.

How about “going with the flow”?

Go with the flow

 

However, since ROUND it is, let’s talk about round batteries and “round” teacher behavior when the lack of the aforementioned becomes a problem.

Round Batteries

All students today from 7th grade onwards may use an electronic dictionary on their EFL exams. Many students use these dictionaries during the lessons too.

All is well during the first year following the date of purchase, as the two most common models I see used today come with batteries that usually last more than one school year.

But then – the shocking revelation!

The dictionary isn’t “ruined” and you don’t need to buy a new one.

I suspect that it’s not just my Deaf and hard of hearing students who find the concept of a device that isn’t rechargeable totally incomprehensible. Particularly if one of the models requires (oh horror of horror) LITTLE ROUND BATTERIES…

“Wait a minute”, you say.

“One of the models can be plugged into an electrical socket, remember? ”

To which I must reply:

“Schools are obliged to do many things for the students. Providing rooms with multiple  desks close enough to electric sockets during exams is not one of its obligations.”

There’s no way around the round objects – they are needed.

Even in times of a pandemic, batteries are really easy to purchase. They are sold in a great many stores, including those which are deemed essential and always remain open.

A fact that is neither here nor there for those kids who have never replaced a battery in any device in their young lives!

AND WHAT ABOUT THIS PROBLEM?

At work…  (Naomi’s Photos)

Take a moment to think about those “model students”, well organized, responsible, and industrious, whose dictionary suddenly stops working in the middle of an exam.

A stressful situation indeed.

“Round” Teacher Behavior

“Round” as in being flexible and not dealing with the same problem in the same way with all the students.

Some of the points mentioned below are good for everyone, others are for certain students.

One

Show the students that the Oxford electronic dictionary displays the state of the battery when you go into the menu. Show them what AAA batteries look like.  I DON’T CARE IF THEY SAY “DUH”! I’m even tempted to add pictures of stacks of batteries by a cashier at a supermarket but haven’t gone that far yet…

When you announce a date of an exam, send the students a picture like this on your platform of choice as a reminder.

In relevant cases, send this explanation to the parents of students who use this model.

Two

Show the students the little round batteries CR2032 (two) needed for the  “Babylon -Texton” electronic dictionary.

I  have not located a battery indicator on this model. In addition, a small screwdriver is needed in order to replace the batteries.

I’m still looking into the question of which additional tools can be used to do this ( a coin doesn’t seem to work) and whether I should keep a little screwdriver in the English Room for this purpose.

Any suggestions?

Sometimes you have to grow up… (Naomi’s Photos)
Three

There’s a thin line between helping a student in times of need and “learned dependency”.

Some students really, truly, need you to give them a dictionary (or batteries) for the exam because of their dire home situation. Particularly in times of a pandemic.  Not that I have enough for them all… But I don’t make a fuss.

These students are often the ones who don’t say a word and don’t ask for anything.

Then there are the students who are just “testing the limits” – they won’t do anything about their dictionary unless it “bites”.

I hand them a printed dictionary if they show up for a test without a working dictionary. They hate that.

You may not be “on to them” the first time it happens but by the second time…

However…

A teenager who presents himself as ” such a poor thing“, who is unable to purchase batteries because they are not sold in the store right next door to his home (true story!) is a call for action!

I found that asking the homeroom teacher to send a message to the parents can be very effective in some cases.

Even if it results in having a student complain that “because of me” he had to spend  15 whole minutes walking to a store one afternoon!

Here is a downloadable letter for students:

Dictionary letter for students PDF

 

What do you do? Share your “round” advice!

 

 

“No longer” & “Still” – A Simple Template for Discussing Life in Times of a Pandemic

 

Living with the Pandemic -1
Naomi’s Photos
Living with the pandemic – 2
Naomi’s Photos
Living with the pandemic – 3 Naomi’s Photos

 

The year 2020 may be coming to a close, but THE pandemic is still with us.

Still here…

There are now many kinds of activities we can “no longer” do but there are some things that we are “still” able to do.

I would pass on the experience of living in times of a pandemic but here’s a chance to connect language learning to a real-life situation. The word “still” and the chunk “no longer” often confuse language learners and appear frequently in the reading passages we encounter in class.

Here are three versions of the same activity.

The links lead to a LiveWorksheet version. It is not a self-check activity since, naturally, there are many possible answers. Please note that worksheets there can easily be downloaded.

It’s interesting to read/discuss the students’ answers. Some are what you expect, but not all. Students disagreed as to whether they could still buy clothes. One (sadly) claimed that there was nothing she couldn’t do if she wanted to…

I have to admit that I was pleased that some students commented on the photos. They thought that it was suitable for the figure of the young person to be the one falling out of the window.

One is simply an open template and can be used with a great variety of levels.

https://www.liveworksheets.com/ae1461332xm

The other two are for students who need far more help in writing their answers.

https://www.liveworksheets.com/lt1461327ct

https://www.liveworksheets.com/zc1397590rh

Best wishes for good health for all and a speedy return to normal!

 

 

Expressing Your Opinion – Revisiting the “Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle Video”

From “Lifecycle” to “lifestyle” Naomi’s Photos

I first learned of the Holstee Manifesto video on one of Sandy Millin’s blogs: (Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas back in 2012.

This video is far too useful to be forgotten.

The Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle video is short, suitable for teens, and can be used with the sound off. Though I must say that if your students don’t happen to be Deaf or hard of hearing like mine are, the music is a  welcome addition.

The video ties in nicely with the topic students my students are working on –  writing essays that express an opinion. It is chock full of statements that are easy to get students to respond to.

Turn on the light in their heads! Naomi’s photos

I really enjoyed the students’ comments. They seem shocked at the idea of not looking actively for the love of your life. They agreed, in theory at least, that if you don’t have enough time you should stop watching TV. They also supported the idea of trying to change things. One student thought that “sharing your passions” was a bad idea, passions should be kept private. I’m going to ask him and see what he understands “passions to mean”. “All emotions are beautiful” was criticized and jealousy was cited as an example of an ugly one.

One statement seemed to strike most of the students as stupid – “Getting lost will help you find yourself”!

I have revamped the old worksheet I made – it has been updated and is now a LiveWorksheet. You’ll find it below, along with the video itself and a link to the Holstee website with the text version of the video. In addition, I highly recommend checking out other suggested ways to use this video in class  – you will find them in the comment section of Sandy Millin’s post, as mention before.

Thank you, Sandy Millin!

Enjoy!

https://www.holstee.com/pages/manifesto

The link to the worksheet:

https://youtu.be/QDmt_t6umoY

 

“I’ll miss too much ‘school’ if I come to school tomorrow”. Things Students Never Said Before Covid-19

 

Missing Out…
Naomi’s Photos

1. “I’ll miss too much ‘school’ if I come to school tomorrow”.

A student explaining why he won’t be attending our English lessons at school tomorrow along with his  Deaf and hard of hearing peers. His “hearing” classmates are still studying remotely and he studies quite a few subjects with them.  He needs to stay at home in order to attend his online lessons.

Do you mean I have to actually DO something?!
Naomi’s Photos

2.  “Really? I have to THINK about what makes sense ON MY OWN”?

A student puzzled as to why she had lost points on her exam. She answered a question incorrectly after translating the word “plane” as a flat surface instead of an aircraft, despite a very clear context of travel and hints such as “….while on the plane to England…” The exam took place in class and the student had an electronic dictionary. The student admitted that far from my watchful eyes, during “the remote learning days,” she had been relying on Google to translate complete sentences instead of adhering to the “one-word-at-a-time” rule that I enforce in class.

Post flight mode
Naomi’s Photos

3. ” I have a piece of paper from the airport that says I don’t have to be quarantined, so don’t worry”.

A student who arrived in class directly after returning from an extended holiday in London the night before.  England was about to change its tourist status to RED because of the surging number of Covid 19 cases, which would make quarantine mandatory. However, my student returned 48 hours before the status change, armed with a document claiming that he could proceed with life as usual. This was at a time when the rest of us weren’t  even supposed to go to a neighboring city! As you may have guessed, I did not feel reassured by his document.  Thankfully, it’s been three weeks since then and we all  appear to be healthy.

Wait for me!
Naomi’s Photos

4. “I was about to join the volleyball league when Covid 19 started”.

A student’s response after being asked to use the target chunk “about to” in a sentence.

Social distancing
Naomi’s Photos

5. “Corona”

A student’s response (actually an incorrect response”) when asked to create a list of things that are important to do carefully.  This led to a great conversation with the  student regarding the need for a verb and the danger of jumping to conclusions when seeing the word “careful”.

It is interesting to note that not a single student mentioned anything related to the virus under the heading “Things I try to avoid doing”.  No “hugging friends” or “forgetting to take a mask”.

Tasks shown in picture  from this worksheet: https://www.liveworksheets.com/hu1281226qi

They are all here!
Naomi’s Photos

6. *** We are HAPPY to be at school!!!

This is not something most have my students have expressed in words or in sign language (though a few actually have done so), but are nonetheless showing us daily.  They are delighted to be back at school! Attendance has never been so consistently high, including the students with a rich history of absenteeism. Those who are unable to attend for some reason are notifying us in advance with a sorrowful tone.

That’s the best part of this whole crazy situation.

Do you have examples of things you had never heard students say before the pandemic hit? Share them in the comments!

400 Ways to Run Out of Milk – Vocabulary & Distance Learning

Forgotten / Naomi’s Photos

Full disclosure one – As a teacher of Deaf and hard of hearing students, I am back at school part-time (the rest of the school system is not back yet). Since many subjects are being crammed into half the hours, my high-school students are not getting anywhere near the required number of English lessons a week at school. So, the Vocabulary 400 Project has been relegated to distance learning.

Full disclosure two – I haven’t figured out all of the 400 ways to run out of milk yet, but I’m working on it.

Figure out“? “Run out of“?

Both of these chunks are included in our Vocabulary 400 Project  – an attempt to provide online exposure and an active way to engage with 400 advanced vocabulary items taken from a list supplied by the Ministry of Education.

So, why discuss milk?!

So what does it say here?
Naomi’s Photos

For me,  the chunks “run out of” always brings to mind “milk” first, even though I have often run out of both “time” and “patience” in the classroom over the years.

The activities I have been creating for the Vocabulary 400 Project attempt to help the students forge such automatic connections between the target words (or chunks) and vocabulary items that go with them, via tasks only using reading/writing.

I say “attempt”, as in “hope”, because my students’ lack of exposure to oral input (little to no incidental learning from other sources) make such a goal even harder to achieve than it already is.

The word “achieve” is on our list too.

Here are links to online worksheets from the project.

The first two worksheets are brand new.

NEW!
Naomi’s Photos

The others have been updated – I learned “the hard way” that providing links to Quizlet Sets on the worksheets is a very BAD idea. It seems that only people who sign into accounts on Quizlet can see the complete list of vocabulary items.

  1. Time to Make Lists!   https://www.liveworksheets.com/hu1281226qi
  2.  Are you tired of staying home? Let’s Go Camping!  https://www.liveworksheets.com/tp1269637hh
  3. Let’s go camping answer sheet    400 Vocab camping answers PDF
  4. The Last Knit – Chunks in Context   https://www.liveworksheets.com/na1186961cs
  5. Chunks – Part One   https://www.liveworksheets.com/gz1180997rg
Our Padlet board of chunks

I can’t share the link to the Padlet board as it has the students’ names on it. The board is arranged in columns. The students are asked to write a sentence of their own in each column, according to the  target word at the top of the column.

How to “run out of milk”:

  • Have some milk cartons leaking all over your doormat when the delivery person places the bags from the supermarket there.
  • Feed all the neighborhood cats.
  • Make insane amounts of pudding.
  • Prepare jars and jars of overnight oats with milk.
  • Forget to buy milk.
  • Spill milk all over the counter every time you use it.
  • Bring milk to work for everyone’s coffee.

Oh, there are so many more ways to run out of milk – feel free to add them in the comment section!

 

When Familiar Edtech “Unmasks” Hidden Curve Balls at a Masked Teacher

Unexpected surprises / Naomi’s Photos

Any illusions that I was playing it safe and mainly avoiding what George Couros refers to as “the discomfort of growth” by sticking to familiar educational technology,  have been shattered.

Fortunately, Couros’ post is called “Comfort in the Discomfort of Growth”. If I have “growing pains” that must mean I’m growing (aka LEARNING ) and that’s a positive thing to remind myself of.

Getting through September could have been even harder if I had been grappling with unfamiliar programs, right?

But first, let’s backtrack for a minute.

Yes, I AM a “masked teacher”!

Yup, that’s me, in the classroom.

As a Special Ed teacher, I continued teaching at school for a longer period of time, while others had been moved to remote learning. And I certainly keep my mask on in class. It’s a clear, see-through one so my Deaf and hard of hearing students can see my lips. At present we are also in remote teaching mode but I expect to resume teaching at school before the rest of the school system does.

So, over the summer I did my best to create /post material in a manner that would let students continue working whether they were in class or at home, on their phones (or in some cases, the computer).

But then technology, both hardware & software,  which I have been using intensively,  “unmasked” some hidden curve balls and started throwing them at me.

Where should I begin?

From the middle, of course! That will give you a “taste” of what I mean!

Naomi’s Photos

Imagine this:

I’m in our learning center with eight students. One of the two classroom computers is in use. Two students are using their cell phones to continue activities they began online. The others are using their books and notebooks.

Within minutes a 12th-grade student working on his phone is annoyed.  He had previously begun an exercise I had posted on Edmodo and wanted to continue working on the same task. Edmodo saves your answers automatically so it has always been easy to continue from where you left off.

At least, on the website it is easy.

The student is using the app.  He has no problem accessing a new task but cannot find his previous answers and neither can I. I send him to the vacant computer – all his previous answers are right there, waiting for him to continue.

Okay, I think.  Now I can work quietly with the other students, as planned.

Oh no… / Naomi’s Photos

However, to my genuine surprise, the other student who is working on the computer calls me over repeatedly. She is working on a task on a LiveWorksheet, which the students find very convenient to use.  She has an additional window open – the student clicked on the link I had added at the top of the exercise, leading to a Quizlet vocabulary set, with vocabulary items needed for the task. Since she’s a strong student who actually followed instructions and had the “support material open, I did not expect any “distress calls”.

What could be the problem?

After trying to tell her how much I believed in her ability to do the task well on her own without coming over, then coming over and wasting time trying to explain sentences to her that she actually had understood,  I finally discovered the source of the problem.  A huge advertisement was blocking half of the word list on the set! No wonder she was frustrated – partial information is confusing! Surprisingly, we could not scroll down past the advertisement.  That had never happened before!

I asked the student to use the app on her phone while working on the computer.

That worked.

Meanwhile, some of the students who were “working with their coursebooks” were happily playing with their phones…

What to think about first…
Naomi’s Photos

The fact that the bell rang and we all went home didn’t mean that there weren’t additional curveballs in store for me. Ones that came before I had time to deal with the ones that had just been pitched my way.

The next day we moved to remote learning.  A student, whom I’ll call N. , sends me a message complaining that I didn’t give him the Quizlet set needed for the tasks. I go and check the Quizlet class and he’s certainly a member of the class. I send him a direct link to the set via WhatsApp (which he can access without any missing words, thankfully). He claims he doesn’t have this set in his app (he does have a different set I assigned though). He starts sending me pics of other sets he finds, of classes he isn’t a member of!

At some point, it dawns on me that he is going into “other recommended sets by the same teacher” which appears below the set he sees, instead of swiping right to see the additional sets in his class.

Problem solved.

The way in will not be easy to find… /Naomi’s Photos

I quickly understood that the student with a very old phone and no computer (who doesn’t install apps) needs the original WORD version of worksheets, not the PDF version which is a much better choice for almost everyone else.  But I ran into trouble with the rest of the class regarding a particular section on one out of a whole series of worksheets I had created.

This task required the completion of a few words inside a short text. How do you do that on a document saved as a PDF file?

When a student wrote to me asking how to fill in the missing words I admit, I was surprised. I hadn’t noticed this potential distance learning problem. My immediate solution was “Write the missing words on a piece of paper, take a picture and send it to me”.  Fortunately, later in the same remote lesson, another student completed the task on her cell phone, with the missing words placed in the task. She kindly made a brief video showing how she did that, along with permission to share it – having students solve problems like that is wonderful!

It’s a process…

In short:

  • I couldn’t teach in these crazy times without the wonderful Edtech I currently use.
  • Even “wonderful” can still be hard.  I’m learning too.
  • Even when I “get the Edtech right” – teaching nowadays is HARD. And it’s O.K to say that out loud.

Hang in there!

 

 

How Many “Chunks” Could a Woodchuck “Chunk” via Remote Learning?

 

LOCKDOWN!

 

Well, here we are again.

After two weeks of school, we’re moving back to remote learning.

It’s a very stressful time with many uncertainties.

However, there is one thing I know for sure – I will need lots of materials! Personally, I find creating teaching materials is somewhat comforting.  It is something I feel I  have complete control over while focusing my thoughts on pedagogy and being creative.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

Confusing times…
Naomi’s Photos

So, what am I sharing?

I don’t have a single picture of a woodchuck but here is a garland of ways to practice 25  “language chunks”. All “chunks” were taken from our Ministry of Education’s advanced word list, known here as “Band 3”.

Note: The “extra special task” is the last one…

I am making a concentrated effort to practice “chunks” intensively because looking these up in the dictionary is more complicated and can easily lead the students astray.

Two sets on Quizlet

  • The Vocabulary 400 Project – Chunks (English-English)

https://quizlet.com/_8nfa3w?x=1jqt&i=265hh

  • The Vocabulary 400 Project – Chunks (English-Hebrew)

https://quizlet.com/_8mzrq0?x=1jqt&i=265hh

A shared board on Padlet

Our Padlet board of chunks

The board is arranged in columns. The students are asked to write a sentence of their own in each column, according to the word at the top of the column.

A standard  “Live Worksheet”

The students fill in the missing chunks in sentences. Plain, simple but effective – I’ve been using it!

https://www.liveworksheets.com/gz1180997rg

Chunks in Context – A letter which is a “teaser” for a video

screenshot from the video “The Last Knit” by Laura Neuvonen

 

This task uses some of the chunks in context while having the students pay more attention (well, a little more…) to the spelling. The students also answer a few questions to make sure they are actually reading the text. At the end of the worksheet, they are given the link to the video.

https://www.liveworksheets.com/na1186961cs

 

More vocabulary exercises in the works – follow this space!

Wishing everyone the best of health!

So, You Say “KISS the Students” This Fall? Then “KISS the Teachers” TOO! (A Comment)

Time to go back to school!
Naomi’s Photos

Three days until school begins.

If I hear another recommendation for a “really great Edtech Tool” that happens to be “just what I need to help me go back to school in the new reality of a pandemic”, I will SCREAM!

“Scream” virtually, that is. I don’t scream – I write blog posts.

I have no doubt at all that many of these recommendations are excellent and teachers find them helpful. Educators around the globe are doing their best to be helpful and share everything they know and I’m truly grateful.

But whoa, slow down.

I can’t “digest” that much.

Going back to school this year is particularly stressful with all the Covid-19 safety precautions. I already have a number of Edtech Tools up and ready to roll and am going to focus on making the most out of using them with the students. Overload is a danger – I feel the need to keep it simple and straightforward.

So don’t talk to me about “EdTech”.

Give me a break!
Naomi’s Photos

Yesterday I let my guard down and Adele Raemer’s emphatic recommendation to listen to a podcast with the currently intimidating title of  ” 8 Tips for Teaching Online, from House of #EdTech” sailed through my barricades.  In my defense, I must point out that we’re talking about Adele Raemer, who chose to write the following on the welcome page of her popular YouTube Channel  “Digitally Yours”: “Take things at your own pace. Learn what you need, when you need it”.  My kind of message!

Okay, okay, I also listened to the podcast because I had a lot of boring housework to do –  timing is everything…

So,  what was one of the things that Christopher Nesi from House of #EdTech said?

Christopher Nesi said: “KISS the students”  – Keep It Simple, Silly!!!

As far as I’m concerned, everything he discussed related to the content of the lesson itself holds true regarding the tools used for blended learning or online learning  – keep it simple! A small number of tools that both the students AND the teachers can master well may prove to be more effective. It will certainly improve the teacher’s level of “sanity”. KISS the students and the teachers too!  Hey, “sane” starts with the letter “s” too – maybe we should add it to a teacher’s version!


Naomi’s Photos

I’ll leave you with one more thing Christopher Nesi talked about:

“Walk in your students’ shoes”.

While we can never really walk in another person’s shoes, now is a good time to think about what I do know about where my students are “really from”.

Forgive my reposting – now is the right time for it.

– – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – — – – – – –

My students spill out of taxi cabs each morning, rubbing their sleepy eyes after early morning pick-ups, napping or texting through the traffic jams on the long way to school.

Some are from homes where no one gets up before they do,  to see that they leave without breakfast and have packed nothing but party snacks in their school bag for the long day…

Others are from big hugs and best wishes for their day at school, armed with the knowledge that someone is interested in knowing how the day turns out.

They are from blindingly new cell phones, complete with accessories, screens lighting up their lives, from shame masked by annoyance at teachers who insist on such unattainable things otherwise known as pencils and schoolbooks, knowing notes to parents will go unheeded.

Some are from a lifetime of dodging communication pitfalls, guessing meaning from partially heard sentences, tiring easily by the necessity of being constantly alert, at home and at school. From relief at coming to a school where they are no longer the only student with a hearing aid in the entire school – always conspicuous, sure that whispered conversations are about them.

Are you listening?
Naomi’s Photos

Others are from a world full of hands in motion, sailing confidently in a sea of visual vocabulary from birth, signing their pride to be Deaf and their frustration with the world which doesn’t use Sign Langauge, while resenting school organized efforts to create shared experiences between hearing and Deaf peers.

Teenage students of mine come from long trips abroad with their parents during the school year, from dealing with the anger of the same parents for then doing poorly at school, while trusting these parents to bully their teachers into forgetting about the missed material, evading the demand for buckling down.

Adolescent students of mine are from dependence on parents to navigate the world for them, from apron strings tied with double knots, cell phones bridging the distance, tightening the knots that need to be loosened.

My students are from a belief that I always                                                               know where they are really from.

Day in, day out, I give it my best shot.

 

Where are YOUR students really from?

Originally posted here: https://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2020/01/04/where-are-my-students-really-from/

 

 

 

 

All I Wanted was to Create a Glossary, yet I Found Myself Embarking on a Journey!

Not quite what you expect to see… Naomi’s Photos

Additional Title: When I’m creating content on the computer and my students are using a cell phone…

I have no idea how often I’ll be meeting my students in person at school at the beginning of this year or teaching them online. I’m not sure anyone knows at the moment. My best bet for creating new materials seems to be creating ones that can be printed out and used in class or used online. Having something ready comforts me a bit amidst all this uncertainty.

Therefore I’ve decided that it would be very helpful for me to begin the school year with some texts that are divided into chunks and include glossaries. I have found that struggling learners also appreciate having the text in a “box” and, in cases of multiple-choice questions, having the question above the distractors underlined.

Part One – Creating the Glossary

Just like any student, I DID remember that I had once learned how to create a glossary, but many years have passed since then and I had no idea how to do it.

It turns out that creating a glossary in WORD is very easy. Here is a close-up of part of a text and the glossary: (Note: instructions for creating a glossary can be found at the end of this post along with downloadable files of this particular text).

Looks really respectable right? Not a messy jumble of words in a box under the text!

Part Two – The OOOH Discovery

I was totally taken by surprise when I accidentally discovered that once the glossary was created, hovering with your mouse over the word brings up the glossed translation without you having to shift your gaze to the bottom of the page! Having the translation appear above the word as you read is far less disruptive to the flow of reading!

It looks like this (note the little text box above the word):

 

Isn’t that convenient?

I was very excited! I was sure that once my students learned how to take advantage of this they would appreciate this feature. I do not recall ever hearing about this in any Ed-Tech talks I have attended.

Clouds Set In… Naomi’s Photos
Part Three – The First OH NO! Discovery

As I always do with any worksheet that I create and share with students and other teachers, I saved the document as a PDF. It’s a common practice used to avoid having your students mess up the text as they are working on it.

POOFF!

That cool feature of the glossed items hovering above the text that we’ve been discussing? It disappeared completely. 

The feature does not work when saved as a PDF document.

Part Four – The Second OH NO! Discovery

I asked myself – how often have I seen students ruin or erase part of the digital text they were working on? The only relevant experience I’ve had is when students used to work on the classroom computer. Almost all my worksheets on these computers have remained in WORD and I’ve had very few cases of students accidentally erasing the exercise or distorting the text.  Since the originals are saved it has never been “an issue”.

So…

I decided to try using a WORD document with the students, without saving it as a PDF file.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to try it out with two students who came to school for the second round of national exams that we had recently.

When they opened the document on their cell phones, not only did the “cool feature” not work, the entire glossary disappeared! No little numbers and words on the bottom of the page at all.

Sad.

The glossary looked great on the students’ cell-phones when I sent it to them as a PDF file.

Looking at the situation…
Naomi’s Photos
Part Five – Current Plans

My original goal was to have a text with a respectable glossary that would be clear on whatever device the students are using. That goal has been achieved.

I will save the WORD version of the worksheets on the classroom computers. The students do not have WORD installed on their phones but the classroom computers most certainly do. At least those who work in class will benefit from the extra features.

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How to add a glossary to a worksheet
  1. Highlight the word you want to gloss and copy it.
  2. Go to the top of the page, above your toolbar, and look for the option “References”. Click on it.
  3. Click on “insert footnote”. A little number below a line will appear at the bottom of the page. It begins very low on the page but as you add more words it all moves up.
  4. Paste the word you copied. Then type in the gloss beside it.
  5. Be pleased!
Module C Summer “Bagrut” Exam, 2019, divided into chunks with a glossary

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part Four PDF

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part One PDF

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part Three PDF

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part Two PDF