Category Archives: Day by Day in the Classroom

A Year is Ending? Hang On to those Old Calendars!

Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle – whatever you call it, old calendars are USEFUL!

When I was a child people used the image of “yesterday’s newspaper” to symbolize something worthless (I haven’t heard any reference to that in a long time!) . Perhaps you think that last year’s calendars fall into the same category, and are worthless.

Not if they are repurposed for educational use!

Tell EVERYONE you know – save your old calendars for a teacher! Within two years, as long you smile and say “thank you”, you can have all your friends and relatives “trained” to save the old calendar they have just replaced for you.

I’ve been using old calendars in multiple ways in my classroom for years now and I have to admit – I’m still discovering new ways to use them!

Would you realize that the following were made from calendars if I hadn’t told you?

Take a look!

3 different uses of calendars in this picture!

These black “clear pocket” binders are used for supplementary material for the literature program. They are somewhat old and worn. Did you notice that:

  • …the binders are decorated /covered by large pictures taken from calendars?
  • … the numbers used to designate the level of the material in each binder were cut out from the borderline sections of pages of a calendar, (the parts under/above the squares depicting the dates of a certain month)?
  • …the sign on the storage box which says “LITERATURE”  was cut out of a stiff cardboard-like calendar, (either the top/bottom part of a page, or simply the reverse side of a page)?
Our “Proud of YOU” board

I’ve posted about the importance of the “Proud of YOU!” board in our classroom. The accordion-like border for the “breaking news” section comes from the edges of a calendar. The back parts of the pockets to hold the cards the students receive are from stiff-backed calendars. As you can see, some pockets were created from a calendar devoted to space photos, others from calendars devoted to seasonal flowers and several devoted to photos from Italy.  No consistency required here!

Dividers

This is a brand new use of old calendars. Our new Personal Exam Folders (which I recently posted about) were confusing to navigate, even though they have a table of contents. I needed dividers that would “stick out” above the pages. These are strips cut out of calendars with lined paper wrapped around the top. These were made by two 11th grade students. In most pages (except this one, actually) the divider slides in between two pages back that are back-to-back in the plastic pocket, so you only see the top part.

Before I overwhelm you with more ideas, let  me just say the following:

  • You can find more ways to use calendars (including one actively involving younger learners) on a previous post of mine on the iTDi blog, here:  “New Uses for Old Calendars”      
  • Full disclosure – I didn’t make most of this goodness on my own. I collect the material and ideas, define the needs, but many volunteers and students have done almost all of the actual cutting and pasting. I have two left hands!
  • Many thanks to Eric Cohen Books who supply English teachers with a new calendar every year. Many things were made from old calendars sent by them.

So, what do YOU do with old calendars? I’d love to hear more ideas!

Have YOU Added a “Stop Doing List” to your New Year’s Resolutions?

Happy holidays in this season of lights!
Naomi’s Photos

I’ve been revisiting this post from 2011 – it seems that I’m still working harder than my students! Perhaps I should post such a list in my classroom so that I will see it every day!

I really enjoyed Robyn Jackson’s practical approach to teaching as presented in her book “Never Work Harder than Your Students”. So now that I’ve just read her piece titled “Case Study – The Stop Doing List”, I find myself wondering if I could do that.

It sounds like the right thing to do. It makes sense – I’m sure there are things I shouldn’t be wasting energy on when there is so much else I should be doing. But how does one eliminate those things?

Dr. Jackson talks about 4 categories:

Time Wasters

Time
Naomi’s Photos

I don’t grade unnecessary assignments or do pointless warm-up activities but the example of getting into pointless arguments with students made me pause. I actually have a problem with students who AREN’T in my lesson who keep coming into my classroom. They want to talk to me about their schedule (which seems to change constantly) or have discovered that a different class was canceled and they want to have their lesson now (even though 10 minutes have passed!). I spend precious time and ENERGY getting them out of the room! This doesn’t happen every lesson but yesterday it was a real pain! I would love to eliminate this from my day but HOW?! The other teachers on my staff are unsympathetic – I’m the one who decided to teach in the format of a learning center…

Time Consumers

Robbing you of quality time!
(Naomi’s Photos)

The advice is to automate these activities. Once again, I’ve caused myself a great deal of trouble by having a learning center. The school has upgraded the online system into which attendance, grades, etc. must be entered. The other teachers can link the calendar to the class group saving time when typing in the information. However, my groups on the computer are simply divided by the students’ level. The students who are on the same level do not necessarily learn with each other. Consequently, they are absent on different days. To make a long story short, I have to locate each student separately in the computerized system and it is MUCH slower. Certainly, a time consumer but a way out of it has yet to be found.

Who needs to do what?
Naomi’s Photos

Empowerment Failures

Which work to delegate back to the students? This is a very important issue and the one I’ve had limited success in implementing. Maybe I should go back and read the chapter in the book again. I’ve tried using color-coded feedback for correcting reading comprehension exercises (similar to ones given on the students’ exit exams) but it didn’t work well enough. LONG story – another post! I HAVE begun experimenting (with some students) with “flipping the classroom” and that seems to show promise!

Naomi’s photos

The Important

The real teaching is supposed to stay!

At the moment I don’t know what I can eliminate from my “To Do” list – do you?

Revisting the Smell of “Penguin & Camel Poo” on Blog’s 9th Birthday!

So adorable but smelly…
Photo by Iddo Epstein

Actually, it’s not just smelling penguin poo and camel poo, you have to touch hot sand and cold snow, see footsteps and maybe even feel seasick…

I was doing the “Smelling Your Way to the Second Conditional” exercise with a student the other day, chuckling at his amazement when I told him that those adorable penguins are pretty smelly when you get up close, when it dawned on me – this is the perfect post to revisit on my blog’s birthday!

My blog turns 9 on Dec 8, 2019!

The exercise I created in April 2011, designed to help my Deaf and hard of hearing students grasp the hypothetical aspect of the second conditional, shows how my access to creative and inspiring ideas “EXPLODED” once I began blogging.

Sailing away!
Photo by Gil Epshtein

The inspiration came from  Ceri Jones’ post about using the senses to relate to a picture , and the format from  Jason Renshaw’s Valentines Day lesson , which I was already using.

I would never have had the opportunity to know that such posts (and countless others!) existed, written by creative teachers around the globe, some of whom now are part of my P.L.N (Personal Learning Network), without my blog.

So what has changed since 2011?

I now use this exercise mainly for reading comprehension, less as a “grammar exercise”.  The modal “would” is extremely common in texts and many students have trouble internalizing the hypothetical aspects of its use.  I find it works well with several levels.

In addition, I blog dramatically less than I used to and am seriously behind with my book posts. Yes, I am still reading a lot , but can’t keep up with posting about the books. Perhaps that has to do with the influence of another creative teacher, James Taylor, aka The Teacher James, who advocated the “Just Say Yes” attitude! I find I’ve got my finger into too many pies and don’t know what to do first…

Feeling the hot sand…
Photo by Gil Epshtein

Anyway, in honor of my blog’s birthday, here’s a downloadable link to the original “Smelling Your Way to the Second Conditional” lesson. This lesson is in full color so I don’t print it, we use it on a computer.

Smelling+your+way+to+the+second+conditional

Here’s to using your senses and having the good sense to blog!

Bringing “The Kitchen” Back into the High-School Classroom

More than one…
Naomi’s Pictures

Sometimes it takes a colleague to make you see the obvious – I haven’t been utilizing (or should I say “milking”?) “The Kitchen” activity enough in my high school classroom.

It seems I had fallen into the trap of using a resource for only one purpose, then losing the ability to see how useful it could be for other purposes.

What a waste!

TEACHERS NEED TO BE IN TOUCH WITH OTHER TEACHERS!

Debbie Ben Tura, in her in-service training course on “Creative Teaching”,  discussed the activity of bringing in various items that belong to a person, then describing an imaginary person who might possess such objects. For high-school teachers, that’s a  good way to practice using vocabulary that high-level students may need for writing an essay on their matriculation exams (what we call Module G).

OH!

Instead of bringing in objects, why don’t I unearth “The Kitchen” picture?

She turned her kitchen into a walk-in closet!

Mind you, it’s the hard copy that’s been buried in a binder in the closet.

I have been using this picture for years,  every single year, as part of a digital activity on our class “website” (actually on Edmodo).  I use it with 10th grade students new to the topic of inferences.  There’s a lot to infer here! The students respond well to the picture and particularly like discussing whether or not this woman could possibly have children (kids are always hungry – they agree with that!).

At the bottom of the post, you will find two downloadable versions of the worksheets I use, for different levels.  They are called “Kitchen Red” “Kitchen Blue”.

Neither one of my worksheets was designed for my advanced  Deaf and hard of hearing students, the students who need to know how to write 120-140-word essays describing a person, using a rich vocabulary.

My advanced students have never seen this picture.  It never occurred to me use it with them.

Well, now is the time to get them imagining and describing!


Note: The original “Kitchen” post (with the activity related to the skill of “inference” ) was posted on December 18, 2010.  It was one of the first posts on my blog, which I launched on December 9, 2010, almost nine years ago! I posted a lot in those early days – the “kitchen” post was post number 12! I’m glad I had the opportunity to revisit it now.

kitchen red        kitchen blue

Battling with a Rusty “BOT” in the Classroom – A Comment

The threat of rust…
Naomi’s Photos

So, it seems my classroom “BOT” has gotten rusty.

Not only did I not register that fact, I only learned of the cool acronym “BOT” for a teacher’s “Bag Of Tricks” after reading Lisa Wood’s blog post “BOT: Why Every Teacher Should Have One”.

Lisa Wood defines a BOT as a combination of items that could be used to help out in a sticky situation, solve a problem or respond to a need”.  You know, things to use in all sorts of unplanned situations that I feel a need to plan for, such as:

  • Half the class is absent (taking make-up tests,  flu season, etc.)
  • Some sort of disturbance or exciting event took place in the schoolyard/assembly hall before the lesson began and everyone is distracted.
  • Students have a big math test later on in the day
  • I want to conduct an impromptu review of a certain topic for a number of students.

I find Lisa’s SIXTEEN BOT items (some of which are completely new to me!) and suggested uses particularly inspiring because she teaches teenagers too! I can adapt some or create a different version of them to suit my needs. Check them out!!!

Cool dice!
Naomi’s photos

It was easy to have a BOT when I taught elementary school.  I needed them often in my special classes for Deaf and hard of hearing students.  I always had the following items with me:

  • Multi faced dice with extra numbers, in different colors and shapes (dice that are used for Dungeons and Dragons!).
  • Coloring sheets of various kinds (coloring according to instructions, connect the dot with the letters of the alphabet instead of numbers, etc)
  • Colorful magazines with “find me” items pasted on the cover. The children had to locate (and write down ) the page numbers where they found the items on the list which had been pasted on the magazine’s cover, such as “a man is eating a banana”, ” a blue sofa”  and  “two people are talking”.
  • More colorful magazines for kids to cut out items from and paste in their notebooks.
  • Sticky tac – the gum-like substance that lets you hang any picture or page on the whiteboard (or on a table, chair, etc) and then easily remove it again.
  • An envelope with the names of the students so that it would be clear that students’ turn was chosen randomly.
  • A picture of an American baseball player to stick on the whiteboard when playing whiteboard baseball”.

BUT WHAT ABOUT HIGH-SCHOOL?

What is the next move?
(Naomi’s Photos)

Some of these items made the transition well to teenagers, particularly the multi-faced dice which students like.  I have a few different board games (the kind with a track, start here end there) for reviewing vocabulary.

While coloring pages are out, I do have students who need to “defuse” (particularly girls, I have to admit)  who occasionally prepare colorful signs and cover sheets for materials in the classroom. You can’t beat coloring for indoor relaxation.

I never had ” a question box” like Lisa suggested, but I used to have a grammar name box, following something I read by Penny Ur.  I’ve forgotten about it and haven’t used it in ages. Maybe it’s time to renew it. It added spice to grammar!

There is only one remnant of the magazines with things to find on them. A beautiful hard-cover photography book has a permanent page of items to find inserted in the front cover. But that has become part of the curriculum – it appears on the 10th-graders’ list of extra tasks to complete for the semester grade (there are six a semester, mostly on our class website), so it’s no longer a BOT.

My best and favorite high-school BOT, which I call “the disappearing eraser” (also called  “reverse reading” “live dialogue” and “disappearing text”) requires no prep, just the whiteboard.

However, The word-puzzles, riddles, and particularly the once-beloved questionnaires (  you know the genre: “what kind of friend are you? ” etc.)  that we used to do, lie unused in the closet. I’ve become so concerned with time that I don’t pull them out anymore. So many lessons are canceled for school activities, many students have attendance problems and with my special needs students, progress is slow on the mandatory material.

I hadn’t even thought about the pros of cons of not using my BOT material anymore.  And I haven’t added new, energizing material in a long time.

Thank you, Lisa Wood’s for making me examine the BOTS!

How about you?

What are your BOTS?

 

Vocabulary Retrieval Exercises; Paper vs Digital – Which is Better?

Which direction?
Naomi’s Photos

Are you familiar with those reading comprehension exercises in which students are required to read the title of the passage, then copy the sentence from the text which answers the question in the title?

Well, if this post were such an exercise, here’s the sentence you would need to copy:

“I don’t know”.

While I am most certainly learning a whole lot of other things while trying to answer this question, the digital vs paper issue actually matters and cannot be ignored.

I’ve been working on creating short homework tasks for my mixed level  tenth-grade students focusing on vocabulary.  Since my students are Deaf and hard of hearing, their exposure to English as a foreign language outside of the classroom is severely limited.  In addition, there is never enough time inside the classroom to provide sufficient  repeated exposure of all the vocabulary items students need to know

Time…
Naomi’s Photos

Well, it seems that the issue of supplying sufficient repeated exposure to vocabulary items is a general one. According to Penny Ur’s article “Multiple review and vocabulary acquisition through reading “ teachers must make the most of the limited time available by focusing on tasks that challenge the students to actively remember a word’s meaning and produce it, as opposed to just recognizing it.  Penny Ur , in a teacher-friendly way, cites research and explains how such activities, known as “retrieval activities” require fewer encounters with a word before a student can claim the word for herself/himself. The short article is full of practical suggestions.

So, “retrieval activities” are the way to go, right?

But I’m also trying to combine what  I learned from John F. Fanselow’s book “Small Changes in Teaching, Big Results in Learning”, about how multiple readings of the same text promote the development of reading comprehension skills, vocabulary acquisition, syntax and more.

And I had the perfect text to work with.

Let’s travel the easy way! Naomi’s Photos

 

Kevin Stein, in Japan, wrote (and generously posted!!) a series of short stories for teenagers, which are composed almost completely of vocabulary items from our mandatory word list. The vocabulary in the stories is mainly from the elementary level word list (band one) with a few words from the two more advanced levels.  With Kevin’s permission,  here is a copy of the story  “How to Float”  and an additional color-coded copy with vocabulary items marked according to level.

How to Float by Kevin Stein

How to Float Color Copy– Kevin Stein

Here is the link to the Quizlet word list of the vocabulary items in the story, along with translations into Hebrew: https://quizlet.com/_6yv8lr

I began by giving the students homework tasks on paper. The students got the story in small sections,  a few sentences at a time, with letters and words missing. They were required to complete the missing information with the help of their Quizlet list. The students then had to answer four simple questions about themselves that used vocabulary items from those sentences. The questions were not about the text.

*** You can find the first three worksheets at the end of this post. 

Paper!
Naomi’s Photos

I chose to use paper – as an old-timer I still tend to believe that there is a connection between hand movement and activating the brain. In addition, when creating tasks to be given on paper I did not have to worry about the copy/paste issue, which would have defeated a significant part of the purpose of the tasks  – the students pay attention to every single letter making up the missing words.

The immediate benefit of using paper for the tasks took me by surprise – it taught the students how to use Quizlet, both on the technical level (now they know the word list can be arranged alphabetically, for example) and they also began to realize that when I give a Quizlet list it actually does help do the task on hand.

On the other hand, all the familiar disadvantages of giving homework tasks on paper began surfacing within a week. Besides the inconvenience of photocopying the tasks, keeping track of who got the worksheets and who was absent, it was a “great way” to quickly get to know which of my new 10th grade students copy homework from which students (it was easy to spot).

Ink!
Naomi’s Photos

So, moving on to digital homework …

Sending a link to a Google Form via WhatsApp to my class broadcast list (not a group!!!) is easy to do. No photocopying, no absentee issue. It also enabled me to continue with the tasks on two different levels without it being obvious to other students that there is a difference. Best of all, the copying of homework doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore as the tasks require active typing of words. Theoretically, they could copy but now it takes real effort (as compared to a printed worksheet). With Google Forms, I get the answers directly, nicely ordered in columns.

However…

  • I don’t know if the retention of vocabulary is better on handwritten tasks and the students are missing an opportunity.
  • I don’t want the students to write sentences using Google and paste them into the homework task. So, as far as I can see, I’m limited to two types of  tasks – completing missing letters in words  (Th_re   a_e    t_o     s_ops…) and rewriting sentences that have been written with no spaces (Therearetwoshopsand…)
  • I have a student who doesn’t have a working phone and doesn’t know when she’ll get one that works. I have two students that send WhatsApp messages and use Instagram but are otherwise totally befuddled by doing anything like comparing words in the Quizlet list to a task open in another “window” on their phone (other students were happy with the shift to digital!).
  • NOTE: I’m talking about phones because a significant number use their cell phones for everything and do not have working computers at home.

Yes, yes, I know I’m a Special Ed teacher with small classes. But preparing both a digital form and a printed version for every task, at two levels is a bit much… AARGH!

So, which is better for vocabulary retrieval tasks – paper or digital?

  • – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Part One  – worksheet one – How To Float first para exercise

Part Two – worksheet two – How to float week two full copy

Part Three – worksheet three – How To Float Week three

Revisiting the Post: “What do Teachers Talk about in the Staff Room”?

The following post was first posted in 2011, but the dilemma is still very relevant. In fact, the topic is particularly relevant at the beginning of every school year, when teachers and their new students are still “sizing each other up”.

A rare quiet moment in the staff room…
Naomi’s photos

 

It’s funny how things tie in with each other.

I hadn’t thought much about our staff room since the school finally purchased more chairs. Due to the fact that I’m not one of those teachers who manage to be in the staff room the moment the bell rings, I often could not find a free chair. But that issue has been taken care of.

Tyson Seburnt’s interesting post “What’s a Staff Room to You?” made me realize that there are other kinds of staff rooms, reflecting a whole different approach to a staff room, one used for collaborating on school issues, for instance. Our HUGE room staff room is mainly used for eating /drinking coffee and talking. Although the room is enormous, most teachers sit around specific tables, in sub groups. During the so-called lunch break (25 minutes at 10:40 in the morning!) the noise of conversation is loud. But what are teachers talking about?

DSCF2743

If you had asked me that a week ago I would have said: Teachers’ offspring, fashion and television. Maybe some politics.

Right after reading the post, the head of our Deaf and hard of hearing staff department implored us not to talk about students during our breaks around the table.

Hmm, that’s right. I didn’t really pay much attention to it but we do talk about students, or rather “vent” our feelings about them.

She’s worried that sensitive information we know might be overheard by people who shouldn’t be privy to that information (not that you can hear much with the noise level during the break…)

“Would you believe that?!”
Naomi’s Photos

The very same day I read an article in EL (ASCD) magazine called “Respect – Where Do We Start” by Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin. The author talks about the negative influence of teachers sitting and complaining about their problematic students during lunch breaks. She says that these kind of conversations do not lead to the creation of constructive suggestions on dealing with students. The reverse may be true – hearing other colleagues also complain about a pupil makes the teacher feel more entitled to her negative feelings about that pupil. In addition, the author also claims that when teachers spend their free time talking about what brings them down and not what they feel good about it encourages our brains to think in more negative ways.

In short,  Beaudoin calls for a “no-talk-about-students” rule for lunch hour.

I see the author’s point but I’m not sure I agree. In fact, I’m not sure it is a rule we could live by. With all the support systems such as my AWESOME P.L.N and my patient husband who listens to me in the evenings, there is nothing like the support of your fellow teachers, who actually teach the same pupils, especially when  you exit a lesson ready to tear your hair out.

Do YOU agree?

Personal Exam Review Folders – Avoiding the PITFALLS

Oh, the places you’ll go!
Naomi’s Photos

It’s a great thing to be able to greet  students at the beginning of the year and then hand each one of them a  simple “gift folder” with an official-looking cover page on it, and say:

“Here, this is for you. Write your name on it. It’s your personal “exam review” folder.  See the table of contents? With the checkboxes? This tells you what material you will be adding to it, gradually, so that you can have all the material you need to review in one place, before your national exam in January /May.

Yes, you will be graded on it. A grade that really will be part of the grades that make up your final grade.

You’re welcome”.

My Deaf and hard of hearing students high school students need very clear “road maps” showing where we are going and what is expected of them.

And everyone likes getting a personal gift!

Quite motivating, right?

Over and Over
Naomi’s Photos

WARNING!  WARNING!

This wonderful plan of having students build their own review folder can backfire completely.

I should know.

I stopped trying to do this years ago because

(let’s be polite here)

the results were unsatisfactory.

Then what am I doing here sharing the personal exam review folders that my strong twelfth grade students will be getting on the first day of class?

Isn’t Einstein supposed to have said that it’s insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results?!!

Ah, but I’m NOT doing the same thing.

I think I figured out what went wrong before.

The hole in the cover… Naomi’s Photos

The Pitfalls

  1. I didn’t include a grade for completing the folders in the semester’s grade. Some students, particularly the strongest ones who did well on their first exam of the year, saw no reason to work on their folder. They could succeed without bothering with it, as far as they were concerned.
  2.  I didn’t ensure the students made every single element of the folder personal. The folders included photocopied – ready-made pages that the students got. They didn’t create their own sample sentences or even copy out such lists as
    “useful adjectives”  or “connectors” in their own handwriting (or typed it up themselves).  They didn’t really review material they hadn’t written themselves.

But all of the above is “peanuts” compared to the major mistake I made in the past:

The exam review folders were mainly or exclusively for reading comprehension skills. I included sample types of questions, warnings about common errors, useful vocabulary, and tips about which questions to do first or last.

However, reading comprehension is a very complex skill, particularly for my Deaf and hard of hearing students with their general language difficulties and lack of general knowledge.

You can’t break reading comprehension down completely into a discrete set of skills.

Thus some students ignored the review material and did well on the finals while other students reviewed the material thoroughly and still did badly. Those students usually score poorly on reading comprehension exams in their L1 as well.

Not good.

Look up!
Naomi’s Photos

So…

My twelfth-grade students, at what is called here “the five-point” level, have a writing task. They are required to write a 120-140 word composition on a given topic. Part of the grade is given for using advanced language elements such as “the passive voice”, “connectors” and “gerunds” or varied “rich” adjectives.

The students do not need to use every possible element in every composition but they certainly need to study and review these elements before the exam.

I discuss these elements with the students all the time.

I can define the elements and they are clearly connected to the final grade on the writing task.

And now I’m requiring students to personalize every single sample sentence.

Conclusion

Personal exam review folders will be given only for the writing tasks on the final exams, not the reading comprehension sections.

Here is what my 12th-grade students at “level G” will be getting.

 My Personal Exam Review Folder cover sheet

Table of Contents Module G 

I think it will rock!

I’ll let you know…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From “Planet Puffin” to “Planet Classroom”

I see you! Epstein Family Photos

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of puffins.

Puffins,  as in the birds, though I certainly like a great many Puffin Books as well! Puffins are beautiful, cute, and versatile – they can fly AND swim!

I understand these birds are incredibly popular in Britain and in many other countries, but they aren’t that well-known in my part of the world. My students are not the only ones who comment in puzzlement about the “strange duck” I use as a profile picture!

While the puffin may seem like an unfamiliar creature to my students, I have recently learned that our shared life in the classroom has more in common with puffins (and pufflings!) than I ever imagined.

How did this newfound knowledge come my way?

“Planet Puffin” is a wonderful podcast composed of short episodes of varying length (ranging from 5 to 15 minutes) and varied modes of presentation: “A regular podcast from PM on Radio 4 on all things puffin. Both the silly and the serious; the scientific and the cultural”.  Many thanks to Elizabeth Evans Cicconi for telling me about it!

The only thing they don’t discuss in the podcast are the similarities between “Planet Puffin” and “Planet Classroom”, so I take it upon myself to highlight the forgotten issue.

Epstein family photos
  1. Puffins look very different in the winter.  They lose the colorful beaks and the black mascara-like markings around the eyes. They lose their wing feathers and become flightless too.

Students and their teachers also exhibit marked changes in their looks between winter and summer, though the changes often progress in opposite directions.

In winter students often seem unable to fly – they simply don’t shine.  Their teachers despair over their inability to grasp the material, to behave themselves and wonder if the students will ever be able to fly independently. Yet by the time the summer finals arrive, the students flex their wings and fly, in glorious colors!

The teachers, on the other hand, retain their bright, energetic colors well into winter, perhaps all through winter. However,  by the time the summer finals come round, teachers’ feathers have faded and become dun-colored, their beaks sag and their movements seem sluggish.

Epstein family photos

2. So very needy

Pufflings are always hungry. They stay in their burrows while the parents fly off, again and again, day after day, to find fish for them. “Puffin parents can supply their young with fish more than 100 times a day”.

If we ignore the fact that students (particularly adolescents) seem always ready to actually eat, students are just as needy as the pufflings. In order to “feed” them properly, teachers find themselves spending far more time on their students’ nourishment than the allotted 4-5 teaching hours (per class) a week.  Breaks between lessons dissolve into “meet the student” time, or yard duty,  “free periods” are devoted to grading, preparing material, running after the computer technician, searching for printer paper, attending staff meetings and answering students questions on WhatsApp while attending in-service training courses.

The ratio is different, of course – pufflings are “only children” – one puffling a season…

Oops…
Epstein Family Photos

3.  Sometimes pufflings need to be rescued

When pufflings are ready, they must leave their burrows for the first time. Having never seen the sea or been in the fresh air, they must now find the edge of the cliff by moonlight and the sound of the sea and fly away.

Most pufflings do all of this as planned.

Some don’t.

Some pufflings are led astray by human temptations, such as the sound of a generator or artificial lights. They need to be rescued from boiler rooms and kitchen cabinets and brought back to the clifftop.

Others set off in the right direction but get tangled in the nettles, their little feet becoming paralyzed. They are completely unable to move forward on their own.

Just like some of our students who lose their way. They need extra help, special attention or intervention, and second chances (or more!).  They have the ability to “make it”, but they can’t fly off without extra help.

Epstein family photos

4. A strong sense of place

Puffins return to the same place, year after year, after spending the winter out at sea.

Many teachers, myself included, return to the same school, the same classroom, year after year (after year…) ready to get new pufflings set on their path to the open sea.

No, it’s not boring and it’s never exactly the same.

Pufflings all look adorable to us humans but in the classroom, we sometimes have to remind ourselves to see the students as pufflings and find that “lovableness” in them that simply hasn’t yet manifested clearly…

There are more comparisons to be made but I’ll let you listen to the podcast yourselves.

Three cheers for puffins and teachers!!!!

 

 

Converging Corners – Engaging with Vocabulary from “THE LIST” & the Literature Program / ETAI 2019

A few minutes before the presentation – ETAI 2019

Converging Corners: Struggling Learners, The Literature Program & The Vocabulary Lists

Presentation at ETAI 2019

I began my presentation by stating the following facts that represent the reality in my classroom of Deaf and hard of hearing students and holds true for many other teachers as well.

´* I must teach the literature program.

´* I have many struggling learners – progress in the program is slow.

´* Time – We never actually teach the allotted hours in a semester

´* There are official lists of specific vocabulary items that must be taught and practiced.

´ *All students need to engage multiple times with a word.   Struggling learners need to engage with a word more than everyone else!

THEREFORE – NEEDS MUST CONVERGE!

As I teach the literature program I provide opportunities for the learners to engage with the target vocabulary on the official word lists.

During the session, the teachers actively participated in several activities designed to do just that. The relevant links to posts, worksheets, and Quizlet Sets appear below.

Additional activities related to other literary pieces are “in the works” – follow this space!

Thank You, Ma’am

Pre-Reading Activity & New “LOTS” Worksheet

Full post related to the activity including links  and information related to the word lists: http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2019/01/03/counting-re-entry-of-vocabulary-items-thank-you-maam/

Shortcut to pre-reading activity:

Gift-of-time-pre-reading-Mam-p218o7-1e53wc3

Shortcut to New “LOTS” Worksheet:

Thank You Ma’am Open Questions-2ktog3e

“Matching Activity” 

By clicking on the  link below you will have:

  • information regarding the words from band 2 chosen
  • a  link to the chosen set of words on Quizlet
  • pictures of cards from the activity
  • an explanation of how the activity works
  • the sentences that appear on the cards.

http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2019/02/20/the-joy-of-simple-self-check-activities/

A Summer’s Reading

By clicking on the link below you will have:

  • information related to the activity and the words chosen.
  • an explanation about the use of Control F as a helpful tool.
  • a link to the chosen set of words on Quizlet.
  • document with the sentences that appear on the cards.

http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2019/02/03/using-control-f-to-add-sophies-voice-to-a-summers-reading-by-malamud/

Shortcut directly to document with the sentences that appear on the cards.

Summer Reading Perspective-1owtxz2

 

The Road Not Taken

Post describing the activity:

http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2019/07/06/daring-to-dive-into-the-dilemma-the-road-not-taken/

A shortcut to the sentences in the activity:

The Road Not Taken Dilemma activity – band two

A link to the Quizlet set of the related words

https://quizlet.com/_6uazwy