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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Teaching Reflection: October 18th- November 5th, 2010

Happy Halloween! on PhotoPeach

I decided to lump these 3 weeks together since I was wrapping up my topic of "About me" and starting to teach "Happy Halloween".  The week of October 18th was strange since a bunch of my classes were reconfigured. I had new classes added with all new students, and many of my other classes changed by either losing or gaining new students. This threw a wrench into my plans since I had to cover some of the basics with the new students. This ended up being a great review for the other students and it was a nice opportunity for them to use English as I had them partner up (one new and one old student) to help the new students make their nametags, sticker sheets, etc.

As an early childhood minor Im surprised that I sometimes feel the most challenged in my younger classes. Maybe this isnt so much of a surprise though since I am trying to use developmentally appropriate curriculum, but I dont know very much about ESL DAP. I feel that genuine/natural conversations during class are some of the best English teaching moments and I love starting out my classes with the children around my desk looking through my basket (since I travel from class to class I bring a basket with me) asking questions and talking to me. I sing songs with all my grades but find that I need far more songs and finger plays for my younger children since we cant have as many conversations due to their lower English levels (in comparison to the older students). With my younger classes I can definitely tell that Im building confidence, were having fun, laughing, smiling and creating an interest in English so that when they do get older they continue learning the language and also have the ocnfidence to take them throughout many things in life.

Coming to Korea with no experience teaching English and no curriculum to teach from was a little frightening for me! I remember wishing that I had some type of curriculum or something to go off of and now that Im here teaching in Korea Im very happy and thankful to have the ability to teach whatever I want. I know people who teach at Hogwans (privately owned teaching institutes. See  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagwon ) and I have heard that they have a very strict curriculum to follow. Though I do see the value in having curriculum (especially for those teachers who have no teaching experience) I think its important to have flexibility and to be able to use Developmentally Appropriate Practices. As a recent graduate with a bachelors degree in Elementary Education I enjoy being able to teach whatever I want because I have the ability to teach meaningful content and go wherever the students need to go. This is easy for me because while Im teaching Im constantly thinking of new ideas and activities to try with my students. The difficult part is sitting down and and planning what would be THE best since I dont have time to do it all.

I realize that the holiday Halloween in itself isn't something that would be considered very important English to learn, but it’s a big part of American culture and such a fun holiday that I wanted to share with the children. They loved watching videos of children trick or treating, learning about different costumes, trick or treating for candy in our classroom, singing Halloween songs, making books, and receiving Halloween stickers. They treated the stickers as if they were gold since my mom sent them from America. It’s impossible for me to teach any topic in less than 2 weeks considering most of my classes meet once or twice a week. I always review the previous class content and then can decide whether or not I need to continue on that topic for the day or whether I can complete the review and start something new. It was hard for me to wrap up Halloween since the children loved it so much!

Thoughts from teaching Halloween:
- Though I am not always able to use computers in the classes I teach in I am reminded how helpful having powerpoint with key vocabulary and pictures can really be.
- I love hearing the children singing the “Knock Knock, Trick or Treat” song in the hallways after class. Music is a wonderful way to teach English and it definitely sticks with them. My students sing every day in all of my classes!
- I came into one of my 5th grade classes and a boy was ready and waiting at his desk and said, “study English!” 
- I definitely over plan and write down extra activities in my plans just in case we finish early.
- Even though my focus was Halloween there are so many other topics that come into play every day. We also talked about chunks, digraphs, using “How do you spell __________?”, lower case and upper case letters, silent “e”, and punctuation.

Activities included:
- Trick or Treat Coloring sheet. I did this with my 1st graders (against my own beliefs in using these) since I was told that they love them. I personally feel it was okay to use the coloring sheet in this situation as my focus wasn’t the process of drawing the costumes, but more so the English they used as we talked about the picture and the different costumes and colors in the costumes. They also wrote “Happy Halloween” and “Trick or Treat” on their sheet.
- I gave my older students a word search. WOW! The 5th and 6th graders were silent during the word search and told me they like word searches. I started this activity out by going over all the vocabulary on the word search by asking the students to demonstrate or tell me what the word meant. One funny example was when I said “bat” and they said “baseball” and made swinging motions! After their guesses I would then showed them a picture and they were very excited when they were correct!
- “Knock Knock, Trick or Treat” song. The lyrics introduced children to 6 Halloween costumes that they acted out during the song.
- Make your own Halloween book. These were created using the lyrics from the “Knock Knock, Trick or Treat” song.  The younger grades didn’t create a whole book but picked one costume instead.
- Writing about Halloween. After videos and discussions my 5th and 6th graders wrote about what happens on Halloween as a class.
- Making bats. My 1st and 2nd graders made bats and I was amazed at all the vocabulary and phrases used during this activity. The children became familiar with asking, “Can I have the glue (scissors,  paper, crayon, etc.)
- Trick or Treat Videos. I showed all my classes a short video on trick or treating in America.
- Trick or Treating in the classroom. After watching the video of children in America trick or treating all of the students practiced ringing a doorbell, asking for candy, and saying ‘thank you’ for the candy (I really did give them candy!).


  1. Julie, I think it's very smart of you to reflect on your teaching like this. They are very detailed and I am certain that these will help you out a lot in a long run. Considering that you have 9 different classes, that is tough like your mama!

  2. Aww, thanks Jin! I'm constantly reflecting and learning so much teaching here! It is difficult with so many classes and it took me a long time to just get to know each class and figure out what works and what doesn't work. ;)