Category Archives: The Visual Corner

Introducing George Eliot to Digital Storytelling with Story Jumper

 

Change the point of view…
Naomi’s Photos

Teachers in the school system are expected to take in-service training courses every year. One needs documentation to prove that you are continuing to learn new things.

So I do what I’m told.

I’m sure you won’t be the least bit surprised to learn that an accredited course entitled “Digital Storytelling” (given by Galit Stein) caught my eye this year. I’m always interested in learning additional ways to visualise materials for my Deaf and hard of hearing students!

My latest assignment was to take a literary piece I teach in class and visualise it digitally with Story Jumper.

 

I chose the poem “Count That Day Lost” by George Eliot, a piece that I teach to students studying at different levels, including some struggling learners. Some parts of the poem are not so easy for the students to understand and visuals can be useful when teaching it.

Story Jumper is a website that lets you create free virtual books with simple illustrating tools. The books can also be printed, but naturally, that costs money. The creations are easy to share, as you can see below.

While I’m fairly pleased with my “creation”, I think that Story Jumper is particularly suitable for students creating content, or adding visuals to existing content.  The process of matching visuals to a text encourages close reading. I’ve been doing that for years with my students and I find it to be very effective. Students would find the site to be very user-friendly – I didn’t need the tutorial to understand how to use it.  In addition, I think the feature of editing the characters would appeal to them.  I suspect that younger students would be more taken with it though.

 

As a teacher, I found the designing tools limiting, lacking in options for finer detailed work, particularly when compared to what I can do with PowerPoint. I don’t think my students really care if the end product looks like a book or a slide show.

However, slide shows can be harder to share – a Story Jumper book comes with a sharable link.

One word of warning before you read my “book” – sometimes when you click to turn the page it turns two pages at a time! I most certainly did not skip any lines of the poem, so go back and click again if necessary.

Here it is!

Book titled 'Count That Day LostbyGeorge Eliot'Read this book made on StoryJumper

 

When D.G., (The 10-Sided Dice) Presents Examples of Using Examples…

Why didn’t you mention me?

In theory, visualising a difficult concept is supposed to make it easier for the students to grasp it.

Naturally, achieving the desired outcome depends on visualising the material in a manner the students can relate to.

Many of my Deaf and hard of hearing students adolescent students have a lot of trouble answering questions constructed as “What is _______ an example of?” / “Why is __________ mentioned in the text?”

As in the following example:

Yossi got many gifts for his birthday. He got some books, three shirts and a helmet for his motorcycle.

What is a helmet an example of?

Some of my students would think the correct answer was:

“A helmet is an example of something you put on your head” or ” “…something you use for your motorcycle”

Yet the correct answer is:

“A helmet is an example of a gift Yossi got for his birthday”.

The students need to answer such questions on their final exams.

Sigh…

There has to be more than one way…
Naomi’s Photos

Till now I began by practicing such question types with the students in their mother tongue first, since understanding the question format itself and the thinking process required, is crucial.

Then we practiced answering sample questions in English. Here’s a downloadable worksheet I use.

what_is_this_an_example_of

All of this helped, it really did.

But not enough.

Some students still have difficulties in answering such questions correctly.

I wondered if visualising the issue in the context of a simple story would help the students, in addition to what we are already doing.

And so, the story of D.G., an angry 10 sided dice who doesn’t want to be called by his full name (Decagon), was born. When D.G. introduces us to his family, he presents us with many examples of such structures in context. He feels forgotten since no one seems to mention him…

Since a tale about a family of dice is so completely unconnected to a specific culture or age group, I believe the characters could be easily used with a wide variety of students.

Only time will tell whether the presentation will have the desired impact.

But in any case, brilliantly colored multi-sided dice are pretty cool, don’t you think?

You can download the presentation by clicking here:

Why didn’t you mention me

Note: This slideshow contains animated effects. My attempts at having the slideshow embedded in the blog while presenting all elements were, sadly, unsuccesful.

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daring to Dive into the Dilemma – “The Road Not Taken”

Are they both “just as fair”?
Photo taken by Naomi

One of the great things about teaching the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken” to my Deaf and hard of hearing students is that they have some very powerful examples of “standing at crossroads” in their young lives. These are times when they had to make a decision and knew they would not get the opportunity to come back and try the other option.

For example, some of my students faced a dramatic choice at the end of junior high school (9th grade) – whether to study at the high-school close to their home along with their old classmates and continue being the only hard of hearing /Deaf student in the whole school, or to commute an hour or more to a high school that offers strong academic support and a peer group.  That’s a SIX day a week commute!

On the other hand, many of my students find it harder to take in the aspects of the traveler’s dilemma that are stated in the poem itself.  Not only can the traveler not take both roads and won’t come back another day, but both roads are actually just as fair, have been worn about the same. Even worse, the traveler can’t see what lies ahead as the road bends in the undergrowth!

I want my students to pay attention to all that too.

AND

The students should be engaging in a meaningful way with words from the Ministry’s word list while they are learning the poem.  I firmly believe in integrating the practice of the vocabulary items on the list with the teaching of the literature program. ***

 

Suggestion cards
Response cards

SO

I identified 52 words from the Band 2 Word List to be used while teaching the poem and created a  Quizlet set with the words. 

I then created The Dilemma Activity, which can be used in many ways. While it can be used as a worksheet,  I preferred to use index cards (or sentence strips) as I find the activity suitable for acting a bit of dramatic flair!

The students are presented with the situation:

A traveler is happily walking along a road in a yellow wood when the roads diverge (“along” is a word on the word list).

He/She doesn’t know which road take and needs advice.

The traveler now needs to hear suggestions and respond accordingly. “Suggestion” is also a word on the list!

Suggestion card number 6

There are 7 suggestions to be given to the traveler, each one on a separate card. The suggestions are numbered and must be read in the correct order.  The responses are not numbered, and the students must match the correct response to the suggestion.

For example, here are the first two suggestion cards.

  1. Why don’t you take both roads?
  2. So take one road today and the other road another time.

And the matching responses:

  1. I can’t take both roads because I’m only one traveler.
  2. One road leads to other roads. I doubt I will ever come back. I have to make a choice.

The imaginary advisor is losing patience with the traveler, and by the time we get to the last two suggestions, exasperation should be clearly expressed in intonation and body language!

6. Don’t be so nervous, just choose a road. What difference could it make?

7. I give up – I can’t help you. You will sigh when you think about this in the future but choose a road NOW.

The matching responses are:

6. It’s possible that my choice will make all the difference. That’s why I am nervous.

7. You are right, I will sigh. But will it be a sigh of regret or relief?

You can download all the sentences related to the activity here:

The Road Not Taken Dilemma activity – band two

Enjoy!

*** A special post of links related to engaging with the word lists while teaching the literature program can be found here:

http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2019/07/06/converging-corners-links-to-activities-combining-the-vocabulary-lists-the-lit-program-etai-2019-presentation/

Does Turning Words into Numbers Aid Retention of Vocabulary? An Experiment

Different representations of numbers

Once upon a time, there were telephones that had letters of the alphabet by each number.

Letters of the alphabet have numerical values too.

I even read about a method in which one turns telephone numbers into letters as a method for committing them to memory.

However, when I searched online for a connection between activities using words and numbers (as opposed to words and pictures) and vocabulary retention, the only result I encountered had to do with Rebuses and rebus puzzles, which are good for activating both sides of the brain.  Good to know!  Rebuses are fun but hard to make…

Frankly, I was looking for justification for adapting my “Magic E Telephone” SPEAKING activity (which was based on Teresa Bestwick’s “Minimal Pairs Telephone”) to a LET’S ENGAGE WITH VOCABULARY ACTIVITY.  There are several profoundly Deaf students who rarely use voice or speak at all, and rely completely on sign language for communication, in my 10th-grade class. They would feel excluded in a group activity involving speaking.

I wanted to find out if the students would still pay attention to the “Magic E” and if the adapted activity along with additional activities would help them remember the vocabulary items.

Here’s what I did:

I used the original 10 index cards and attached them to an existing activity board (little pockets for flashcards).

Above each word, there was a number, zero to nine.

I asked the students what the difference was between the words that look mostly similar (hat /hate). They all noticed the letter “e ”.  I explained about the Magic E and its effect on pronunciation but emphasized the fact that the addition of the “E” changes the meaning of the word.

I then divided the students into groups of three. Each group had three tasks:

  1. One student had to sign the word for each digit of his cell phone number. Student number two had to write down the numbers being signed so everyone could see if it matched. Student number three timed them and recorded the time. Then they switched roles.
The whiteboard was our scoreboard

You may be surprised, but it isn’t so simple to think of a number and then say a word or sign it without pointing! I found myself wanting to point to each word! It all goes slower than rattling off numbers. Try it!

2. Student number one presented student number two with a series of index cards. On each card, there was a “math problem” written in words, such as: “hat + hate = ?”  “hate X cape = ?” on one side.  The numerical solution was written on the other side.

Student number two had to solve the math equation by answering with a number.

Student number three recorded the time.  Then they switched roles.

The “word-math” cards

3. The same activity as before but the students answered with the word that the number denotes.

Initial Conclusions – Pros & Cons

  • We all had fun!
  • The students liked all the activities but they found the one with phone number more challenging and amusing and spent more time on that.
  • Students at different levels could play together.
  • One advanced student encountered the word “hope” in his text the next day. He asked if that was also a “magic E”!

BUT…

  • The cards were fixed in place – the location of the words served as a memory aid. Next time cards should be shuffled.
  • It seems a great deal of energy spent with very few vocabulary items learned, and not particularly important ones. It was more effective as a speaking exercise when the students repeatedly had to say the word.

At least everyone activated both sides of their brains and their bodies!

 

 

 

Breaking News! Unknown Link between EdTech & Crushed Garlic Now Confirmed!

 

There’s a way in!
Naomi’s Photos

Recent research at the Puffin Institute of Classroom Experience has illuminated the striking connection between using educational technology in the classroom and crushing garlic, particularly crushing garlic with a fork. Due to the fact that many teachers moonlight as family cooks, the following information may be of particular interest.

Here are the main findings of the research:

A divisive flavor!

Either you hate it or you love it…  Feelings run strong!

There is no denying that generous use of garlic has a strong presence in a dish – whether it enhances it or makes you push the dish away is the debatable part. Obviously, use of EdTech in the classroom, whether it is via computers, cell phones or tablets can’t be missed either. The question is whether eyes are rolled at the thought of introducing it into the classroom while tongues are clucked in disapproval at the “waste of time”, or is the technology embraced as means to interactive learning?

It can be sorely tempting to use the frozen version!

“Finely dice the garlic!” “Only add the diced garlic when the onion has become translucent, otherwise the garlic will become bitter!” “it’s better to crush the four cloves of garlic!”

While there is no doubt that FRESH is best, frozen garlic cubes, (which only need to be tossed into the pot) can seem quite tempting indeed!

“Fresh” in EdTech means using technological tools that allow teachers to pour in content tailored to their own students’ needs, such as choosing the vocabulary or creating the questions. Remember the old adage “A stitch in time saves nine?” Well, one link (to a ready-made activity) may save time, say nine glorious minutes, or cost nineteen minutes in explaining what goblins are or “zero conditionals”, or get you mired in trying to explain why what happened to a mythical John in Ibiza might be a secret…

Everything under control…
Naomi’s Photos

There are Time-Saving Tricks – Sigh…

Try peeling the cloves of garlic, leave them whole and toss them into the pot with the onion. Now all you have to do is fish them out and smash them with a fork before adding all the other ingredients to the pot.  No dicing or special garlic-crushers needed – all time issues resolved, right?

Well…

It really is a time-saving tip, as long as you don’t dice the cloves out of habit before you remember not to. In addition, if you fish the cloves out of the pot too early they tend to fly off the chopping board when you try to crush them with a fork…

Thankfully computers don’t usually “fly” in the classroom. However, colleagues and counselors, so eager to impart time-saving tips which prove that using EdTech won’t take the teacher more time, sometimes forget that it takes time to learn how to save time. Time, practice and patience are called for…

Reducing Blood pressure \ Improving Brain Functions 

In these matters, Edtech and garlic only have a partial match. While it is clear that learning to use new educational tools (or learning anything for that matter), certainly improves brain functions, the issue of reducing blood pressure could not be established. There are schools in which using EdTech entails running after the person in charge of the computer room or dealing with old equipment that can crash…

“So, what now?”
Naomi’s Photos

Acquired Tastes!

There is hope!

The Puffin Institute of Classroom Experience has been collecting accumulating evidence proving that there are garlic-haters who have learned to like garlic in their food and teachers who have learned to overcome their distrust of EdTech.

Patience is the key!

“Teacher, why won’t the new kid play with me?” – Inclusion in the Classroom

Are you ignoring me?
Naomi’s Photos

It is so easy to imagine the situation, because we’ve encountered it. The children are curious about the “new kid in class”. Someone asks “the new kid” to play, but he doesn’t respond. It seems to the children that he is ignoring the invitation and that angers them.

How can we talk to students about those children who do want to be friendly but might not respond in a familiar way?

Erin Human knows how to present a subject in a way children can relate to. Even better, her winning combination of pictures and simple text “Social Skills for Everyone” make the infographic sideshow suitable for learners of English as a foreign language as well. And that’s a lucky break because inclusion is a very real issue that needs to be discussed in class. New immigrants , children with a hearing problem, children on the Autism spectrum and more – you will find them all in the so-called “regular” classrooms.

From Erin Human’s “Social Skills for Everyone”

 

Head over to Erin Human’s blog to see the complete slide show “Social Skills for Everyone” . Erin has kindly permitted me to share the link (given below) to download the slide show as a PDF file for use in class.

social-skills-f_26228424-xq6oa2

Inclusion needs to be discussed.

A “Zeeting” to Spark an ACTIVE Discussion on TOLERANCE

It depends on how you look at it…
Naomi’s Photos

As I have mentioned before, I’m taking  a great in-service course on using digital tools in the classroom.  “Zeetings” is the latest addition to my virtual “toolbox”.

Everyone likes being asked their opinion. Everyone! “Zeetings” lets you create interactive presentations, allowing the viewers to participate and get  instant statistics. That’s exactly what you need if you want to spark a discussion!

This is just my first presentation created on “Zeetings” and I was delighted to find that their presentation tool is almost completely intuitive to use – I added a video and the interactive questions following it without reading the instructions (I’m actually someone who does read instructions, but not this time!). I could preview my creation and easily edit out the wrinkles.

So, if you would like to have a class discussion on  the ways in which media  does / doesn’t promote tolerance toward those who are perceived as different, or would just like to raise awareness regarding  Deaf people, you may find the following helpful. In any case, the video (many thanks to the lovely Beata Gulati for sending it to me!) is a great message for Valentines Day – LOVE despite communication difficulties. Some of you may remember seeing the video on this blog in the past, as an Edpuzzle exercise, created for reading comprehension activities. I’m using the video again this way because it raises so many great discussion points (and students love it)!

Let me know if your students liked it too!