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.
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…
Thank you all for finding time in your busy “literary lives” as world-renowned detectives to join us here today.
Since all of you are known to have extraordinary powers of deduction, I would like to give you a small challenge. Please look at this photo I took of a person’s desk. What can you learn about the person who uses this desk and his/her workplace from this photo?
Hercule Poirot: I don’t even need to use my little grey cells to see that this is a teacher’s desk. She is clearly grading papers!
Naomi: That is correct, but wait! You said “SHE” is grading papers. What makes you think that we’re talking about a female teacher?
Hercule Poirot: “Because I am Hercule Poirot! I do not need to be told.” *
Naomi: Haha! With all due respect, if you were my student I would ask for information from the text (in this case, the photo) that supports your claim.
Sherlock Holmes: I must agree with my colleague on this matter. “You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.”**
Sherlock Holmes: Look carefully at the photo. Great thought and care have been invested in the exact placement of each object and decoration on this desk, indicating not only a woman’s touch but one who is pedantic and clearly interested in style or design. Even the apple, which is only there temporarily, is neatly cut and placed with care.
Naomi: Pardon me for saying so, but you are from another era – there are men today who are admired for their style. Aren’t you just guessing due to the fact that there are more female teachers in this country?
Sherlock Holmes: I’ll ignore that. Just look at the spectacles on the desk. Not only do they serve as an additional indication, but they are reading glasses. Clearly, this desk belongs to an experienced teacher.
Miss Marple: Gentlemen, do take a look at yourselves! You are so easily distracted by the irrelevant issue of gender, while completely ignoring the true significance of all you see on this desk.
Naomi, you must bear in mind that “Gentleman are frequently not as level-headed as they seem” ***
Naomi: Thank you, Miss Marple. What do you mean?
Miss Marple: This teacher, and the teachers seated near her (this desk is obviously one of many), are clearly required to spend a great many hours at school, well beyond those hours devoted to teaching. One would assume that such hours were allocated as “preparation time” though as someone who specializes in listening to what others say among themselves (certainly not to be confused with eavesdropping!!) I do wonder how much work can be efficiently done when surrounded by so many people…
The investment we see in making one’s workspace comfortable and aesthetically pleasing indicates someone who has decided to make the best of the situation.
Hercule Poirot: (Coughs loudly and pauses before speaking)
My dear Miss Marple, you neglected to mention the evidence that this teacher does not have an administrative role at school.
Naomi: Which evidence is that?
Hercule Poirot: I’m astonished you need to ask that, Naomi. Why even a child would know what being allocated a cubicle (as opposed to an office) signifies…
Lieutenant Columbo: Just one more thing…
(Collective sounds of surprise are heard, as he had not been sent an invitation)
Lieutenant Columbo: Why has no one mentioned that this teacher is not an elementary school teacher? Look at the length of those texts!
Sherlock Holmes: (sighs deeply)
Sherlock Holmes: Even though I did not actually say the following in any of my books, I cannot help myself – we didn’t mention it because it’s E-L-E-M-E-N-T-A-R-Y!
Many thanks to Mali Savir, for “lending” me her desk for this post.
When the pandemic began I forgot about this lesson. In fact, the thin binder of “puzzles” that it was placed in it fell out of a drawer and lodged itself behind the drawers.
I’m so glad I found it again.
The students enjoyed it and I was pleased with the vocabulary and syntax reviewed.
Here is the post as it was first posted on Jan. 6 , 2016
_ *_ *_* _
Full disclosure: I’ve never began a post this way before.
There’s no real reason to continue reading this post. Hana Ticha’s lesson “Everyone is a Genius” has everything you could want a lesson to include – vocabulary, grammar, syntax, discussions, general knowledge and FUN! The quote chosen has a such a nice educational message too. So why adapt it? What happened to “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”? Just go on to Hana’s post!
I had to adapt the lesson because I wanted to use it in my learning center for Deaf and hard of hearing students. Each lesson is for a jumble of 10th, 11th and 12th graders, at all possible levels. This activity is not for all them.
In addition, due to my students’ hearing problems, I would have to write out each clue, as they woudn’t be able to follow the spoken language. That would be cumbersome and time consuming.
In short, I needed a version that students could work on fairly independantly, with me guiding and helping from time to time (and then hopping of to help someone else).
So I typed up the lines for each letter of each word of the quote, so the students would have that information as a hint. I also added the first letter of most of the words (not the grammatical ones). I also wrote clues for about two thirds of the words. Some are very simple clues, others demand more of the student.
I’ve done it with a few students so far. One by one (not in the same lesson). They are all students who enjoy a challenge, students who are curious.
They loved it!
Filling it in led to them asking great questions. The students tried to use “he” instead of “it” for the fish, which led to a review of the difference between “it’s” and “its”. One very deaf student was puzzled by the word in the clue for tree “leaves” which he was positive was only an irregular verb in the past. The whole idea, naturally, of an “f” (leaf) changing to a “v” (leaves) is strange to him. Another student was sure that “everyone” should be plural but could tell that the number of letter spaces didn’t match the word “are” and figured out on her own that the following word must be “is”. The only word they all had trouble figuring out was “if”, even though they got the “will”. Perhaps I shouldn’t have a clue for it, and then it will draw more attention to the conditional form.
The students really enjoyed the detective work! However,they all needed my help in understanding what the point of the quote was. One thought it meant he shouldn’t go off on “wild goose chases” such as looking for fish on trees…
All the students who have done it so far are kind of “loners”, students who don’t always “fit in”, for different reasons. Once they got the point of the quote, they really approved!
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students