Category Archives: Day by Day in the Classroom

“Naomi’s Visual Lessons” – A New YouTube Channel!

 

There.

I’ve finally done it.

I launched a YouTube Channel, called “Naomi’s Visual Lessons“.

What’s a “Visual Lesson” you ask?

A lesson that includes words to read, an audio narration of the written words appearing in the video, and LOTS of visuals that help clarify what is being explained.

See/ Listen / Read

Designed for clarity!

Note: Some lessons include a link to a practice worksheet after the student watches the lesson.

Hmmm, I wrote “lessons” in the plural form.

I have several lessons in preparation, and decades (quite literally!) of materials waiting their turn to be upgraded, but currently there is one Visual Lesson online:

Where will I find the answer?

Line numbers can confuse you if you aren’t careful! This video will show you which details to pay attention to!

Here’s the link to the worksheet to practice what you learned. https://shorturl.at/achk6 

Watch this space, more to come!

 

 

When Students Jump To Conclusions – A new VISUAL LESSON

 

Make the right connections… Naomi’s Photos

There are days when I think I should begin awarding  certificates for “long jumps” – some of my students excel at jumping!

Jumping to conclusions, that is.

This ability of theirs manifests itself in many varieties, but I’ve chosen  to focus on one particular issue and create a new “Visual Lesson” with a companion worksheet.

“Line numbers” in reading comprehension questions are “eye catchers” for students. They can help the students find the correct answer or lead them astray if they don’t read the entire question carefully.

Quite a few of my Deaf and hard of hearing high school students would rather practice “long jumps” than read entire questions carefully…

Some questions are easy, such as these two:

According to lines 11-12, why was David surprised?

What do we learn from paragraph 1?

The answers can be found exactly where the line numbers indicate they will be.

Students are happy.

The teacher is happy.

All tied up… Naomi’s Photos

That is, until the students encounter a question such as this one:

“According to lines 11-12, Tammy chose to work in a profession
that was different from the one she studied at the university.
Why did she do that? Base your answer on paragraph II.”

Where will the answer be?

Students don’t let the fact that the answer  cannot  be found in lines 11-12  stop them from trying to contort the words in those lines into an answer…

The same goes for  “refer to” questions, as in:

What does the word “This” (line 6) refer to?

Do you also have students blithely extracting irrelevant chunks appearing in line 6 to answer the question?

Drilling the message in… Naomi’s Photos

So…

Time to whip out a new VISUAL LESSON!

Why do I call it a visual lesson?

The students see the explanations, read and HEARS them.

Yes, you read that correctly, “hears”.

Many of my hard of hearing students like having what is written narrated. I believe that students without hearing problems will aprreciate this as well.

So here’s the link to the self paced slideshow:

Where will the answer be?

Click on the words below to download the worksheet.

Where will the Answer Be 2

I hope you find the material useful!

***** As the intial feedback to adding narration has been positive, I plan to add narration to my previous Visual Lesson, on Essay Writing,

 

A Visual Study Guide – Essay Writing

Visualise It, by Naomi Ganin Epstein

Sometimes you need to begin in the middle.

Simply hone in on the problematic zones without starting at the top every single time.

When it comes to essay writing, most of my advanced students are great at writing opening paragraphs of opinion essays. Their concluding paragraphs are coming along nicely as well, they’ve clearly grasped the principles.

However, crafting the two “body paragraphs” in between is more problematic. The students are required to present their arguments clearly and support their claims with additional information and relevant examples.  They need to be aware of such minefields as not writing two paragraphs about the same argument (just using some different words) or contradicting themselves with their examples.

Before doing all of that, the students actually have to come up with ideas to present…

Students complaining that the school system is unfairly asking them to write about things they aren’t interested in, so how could they possibly be expected to have anything to say about the topic won’t get them very far…

As a teacher of Deaf and hard-of-hearing students, I felt I needed a   guided writing sample essay based on visual explanations along with a task using visual cues for my students. Since I didn’t have a visual study guide, I created one…

Perhaps your students will find this helpful as well!

Note – it’s designed to be viewed on a cell phone, which is what my students do. If you tap on the screen, the “Canva” watermarks disappear.
It can be viewed on a computer as well.

https://www.canva.com/design/DAF2drd2hGI/3cx-vextzceMqhZ7CHhw-w/view?utm_content=DAF2drd2hGI&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=editor

 

 

 

Teaching in Times of War – Sharing Distance Learning Tasks

Feeling small…
Naomi’s Photos

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.

More to come.

May quieter times resume soon.

May you all be safe!

 

Basic Level

https://wakelet.com/wake/FOL4-z3i_0LYQjjAol-jr

 

Towards Module A

https://wakelet.com/wake/OIcHlEdLSNO9ForZ3-N_3

Towards Module C

https://wakelet.com/wake/5c-v1eepky1SDW_7Cc59V

Towards Module E – Vocabulary

https://wakelet.com/wake/StYEJg2z_mV2lv205WRyW

Towards Module E – Reading

https://wakelet.com/wake/vpc9M9JdqzMnDYjWU2uk0

Towards Module G

https://wakelet.com/wake/CnPVk8cS_CR8OFI6u_j7t

Literature

https://wakelet.com/wake/-J-aVbycIhgz1Vf4Z5aJd

Romance

https://wakelet.com/wake/N2Ti-A7yPYekGRxolWvPZ

Puzzles

https://wakelet.com/wake/JiSAhCDDIXlt-HotNvJtB

 

“Backhanded Compliments” – Writing Practice to Highlight a Point

What did you just say? Naomi’s Photos

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.

Rose-colored? Scarlet, to be exact. Naomi’s Photos

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 heard that! Naomi’s Photos

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.

Click on the title below:

Backhanded Compliments PDF

 

 

When Google Classroom & Kami Usher in “A Year of the Lion” for a Veteran EFL Teacher

Naomi’s Photos

It turns out, that sometimes a veteran teacher, a “puffin”, needs some support from a lion.

Who knew.

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.

Puffin profile pic, Naomi’s Photos

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.

Nope, not roaring for that. Naomi’s Photos

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…

BUT…

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!

NOW you are talking! Naomi’s Photos  These are all pics of the same male lion.

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.

See the full picture by clicking below

All About Me T-Shirt

Remember!

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!

 

 

 

 

Videos for EFL Students – Combining Language & Good Citizenship

 

Issues of language, citizenship, and critical thinking for the 2020s?

The amazing Amos Paran will be speaking about these topics at the upcoming ETAI 2023 International Conference & Mediterranean Symposium !

So what do I have to offer on the topic?

How about some videos for different levels?

Here you go!

“Saving Grace” – Advanced Students

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 power of words updated.docx

A Love Story in Milk

Okay, I admit it.

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.

 

Critical L2 Reading Strategies, Struggling Learners & “The Look-Alike Trap”

Don’t fall into a trap!  Naomi’s Photos

Okay.

I admit it.

I don’t know.

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?

Sometimes you need a ladder… Naomi’s Photos

I’m not sure.

But I know whom to ask!

I am going to take full advantage of the fact that an expert on the topic, Joyce Kling from Lund University will be speaking at the upcoming  ETAI 2023 International Conference & Mediterranean Symposium

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

Similar… Naomi’s Photos

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!

 

Trapped!
Naomi’s Photos

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…

the look alike trap-2nwne8w

 

Revisiting a “Horizontal” Lexical Activity -“The Egghunt”

Words.

Lots of words.

Lists of words.

Words for the students and words for me:

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 SymposiumHer plenary talk Lexical Targets: Why they are necessary and how they can be implemented” will be targeting those pesky “WH Questions”!

Targeting vocabulary? Naomi’s Photos

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.

Here is an updated version of “The Egghunt”, created with Leo Selivan’s post Horizontal Alternatives to Vertical Lists in mind.

See you at ETAI!

———————————————————————————

The Egghunt

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:

Egg buy Take care! hungry
Caveman* Hunt * Be careful! long
Spear* fall That’s not fair! angry
film smile How many sad
food watch sure
another break true
see

 

2. Here is the pre-reading activity for the students. Click on the title below to get a downloadable PDF.

Egghunt:  Pre-Reading Activity

3) The animated film (no dialogue, remember?)

4) Questions related to the film embedded in the film, courtesy of Edpuzzle. Edpuzzle has made it so much easier to work with film!

 

Can EFL Students’ Love of Comic Strip Characters be a Springboard to Reading Graphic Novels?

 

You are right, dear students, I have noticed you are interested in storytelling with graphics.

Using comic strip characters provided such a clear context, in an appealing way, that some of you actually told me that you enjoyed practicing the vocabulary from the approved word list in this way.

I certainly took note of that reaction!

How many chunks can a comics strip chunk with no help from a woodchuck? Practicing advanced “chunks” from the approved vocabulary lists.

I have even seen that the quirky comic characters I used when teaching Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken clarified the extent of the speaker’s dilemma for you in: “Giving Robert Frost Digital Advice in Choosing Roads”

Advice needed!

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.

We teachers, learn new things too, you know.

So, dear students, I’ll be attending this talk at the upcoming ETAI 2023 International Conference & Mediterranean Symposium