"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." - Saint Augustine

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaching Reflections: October 4th-15th

All the scarecrows the children designed and created outside of my school.
The 20 minute walk home from school is always enjoyable when I walk and talk with my students. This is one of my 3rd graders, Minnie, and she was walking to her piano lesson.

The past 2 weeks I taught “Instructions”, “About Me” and “Happy Birthday” to my 1st through 6th graders. I stay on topics longer than I originally thought because I only see most of my classes one day a week.  I have 9 different classes that I teach each week and within those 9 classes I have two 1st grade classes, two 5th and two 6th grade classes (one high class and one low class). 

I started out teaching basic instructions since I wanted to make sure that all of my children could understand basic commands like “sit down”, “stand up”, “be quiet”, “listen to me”, and “raise your hand”.  I also taught motions to go along with each instruction. I used a variety of activities and games but found my children were most interested in Simon Says, Fruit Bowl and Run and Tap.

-During Simon Says I would start out being Simon and then eventually let the children take turns being Simon. I noticed how the younger classes didn’t grasp the game as quickly as the older students did. With my 2nd grade class we just played the game without the Simon Says part added so someone would say an instruction and the children would do that instruction. I typically explain games or activities in the simplest way possible and then always give a demonstation. I hear “ahhhh” and “I get it!” more often during demonstrations than I do when explaining directions, rules, or steps. Simon Says was an excellent way for them to continue using English and work on their listening skills. I reminded the children to use only English during the game and was amazed how much English can be used during a game of Simon Says. When a student would make a mistake and do an action when I didn’t say “Simon Says” a student or two would say something such as, “He said ‘listen to me’ and he did motion. No ‘Simon Says’”. This was an excellent way for them to use the English that they had to explain something to me while also incorporating new vocabulary. I see the value in teaching vocabulary off of powerpoint of some other venue but then find it essential to play a game or have an activity where the students can use the vocabulary or sentences that they just learned. It is especially helpful if they have opportunities to engage in natural conversations since this is more useful and similar to what they will need to do in order to be successful English speakers. A native English speaker on the street isn’t going to ask them to recite vocabulary, but will most likely engage them in a conversation; similar to what is going on in my classrooms.

6th grade boys showing "be quiet" during Simon Says.

-I played Fruit Bowl with my 5th and 6th grade classes and they absolutely loved this game. I assigned an instruction to each student and then put all the chairs in a circle (one less chair than the number of total students). One student starts in the middle of the circle and then calls out a command. All the children who had that command would stand up and switch seats with someone that had that same command. There would always be a student left without a chair and that was the next student to stand in the middle and say the next instruction. This game was fairly similar to Simon Says but didn’t involve the motions that I taught the students that went along with the instructions.

-Run and Tap was the game that I used with my 1st-4th grade classes. Run and Tap involved me saying an instruction and two children racing to tap my hand and say/show the instruction that I told them. The younger grades loved racing to tap my hand and enjoy the competition aspect of the game. My co teacher has told me that a lot of Korean children enjoy competition and I definitely see this more in the Korean children than I do in American children.
2nd graders playing "Run and Tap".

Happy Birthday
I spent some time talking about Birthdays since it was my co teacher, Eunhye’s 25th Birthday. Activities included:

-Birthday card: I started out making a birthday card with my classes and we voted on the card color, what to write, and what pictures we wanted to draw. Every child got to sign or write their name as well and this activity in itself lead to so many important lessons. The process of voting over card colors, and making sure that everyone’s ideas were included and giving the children the opportunity to practice writing their name in the card was just what many of my 1st and 2nd graders needed. This served as an assessment for me to see which students knew how to spell their name and also which students knew their letters as I would tell them which letters to write down.

-Ball toss: We played a ball toss game where students would say, “My birthday is (month) (date)” and then throw the ball to another student and ask, “When’s your birthday?”

Passing the ball to find out classmates' birthdays.

-Happy Birthday Song: We sang the Happy Birthday song. I got the music from the Korean website, Naver. Though it’s entirely in Korean I know how to get to the music section on Junior Naver and then navigate through a list of songs. I’m finding this website to be very helpful although there is no pause button on the songs. All of my older grades already knew this song but enjoyed singing it and learning the “How old are you?” part at the end of the song. None of the children were familiar with this part.

-Birthday Items List: With two of my older grades we generated a list of materials, items, activities, and words associated with birthdays. The lists involved: happy birthday, cake, gift, fun, sing, and candles. I didn’t have enough time to really get into this and made note to talk about this again when I teach holidays.

About Me
The topic of about me is a topic that could be taught for months since there is so much that can be involved as this can be such a broad topic. Activities included:

-About me: each child drew a picture of themselves and then wrote sentences about themselves. Drawing the picture provided time for me to talk to the students about the different body parts, hair color, skin color, etc. Children were able to present their pictures and share their information to the class once finished.
For my 1st and 2nd graders they wrote: 
My name is _____. 
I am ______ years old. 
I am in the _______ grade. 

The 3rd and 4th grade wrote these sentences plus: 
My birthday is _______. 
I am ___________ centimeters tall. 

5th and 6th grade added: 
My favorite food (singer, hobby, season) is ________. 
When I grow up I want to be a ___________.

Helping Alex with his "About me" picture and sentences.

-Name BINGO: The song lyrics are “there was a girl (boy) that I knew and ________ was her (his) name-o _ _ _ _ _ (spell the child’s name). _ _ _ _ _. _ _ _ _ _ and ___________ was her (his) name-o. This game was a great way to help the children learn how to spell their own name. It also helped serve as a tool to help me work on breaking down letters and the sounds that they make as I asked the class how to spell each child’s name before I wrote it on the board to sing the song.

-Hot sentence: This game I created is similar to hot potato since the children are passing a ball around until the music stops. When the music stops they came up to the front and read a sentence and filled in the blank with information about themselves. These sentences served as a review of the information from the about me picture and sentences.

Sam picking a sentence to read aloud to the class.

Teachable Moments
-Second graders always come running up to me at the start of class and point out all the different objects in my basket such as books, crayons, water, chapstick, pens, pencils, etc. and say the name in English and Korean. It’s great to see them so interested in English!

-Arriving to school everyday is very enjoyable as the children are always screaming out my name and I read them the English on their clothing. I like to ask them how they’re doing and take time to talk to them one on one or in smaller groups. These simple interactions with an native English speaker give them positive experiences with English that hopefully will make them want to continue learning.


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  2. I am delighted to be following your blog. It is insightful and interesting, thoughtful and thought provoking. I taught in Japan for a year and learn so much about the cultural differences that have helped inform my own teaching over the years. Keep writing.

  3. Thanks Dr. McVey! It is such an amazing experience and I'm constantly reflecting on myself and my teaching and learning so much! :)

  4. Seems like you are quite a good teacher Ms. Glowski!