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  1. 1. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OR GOAL OF A PORTFOLIO IN YOUR COUNTRY? In Argentina, teachers are not required to use portfolios in public schools. However, most of us keep a collection of activities that have worked well, texts that we, or our students, found interesting, records of songs or movies that have proven to be useful or fun to be used in class, some outstanding students' productions...with no purpose other than resorting to them any time they become handy. As regards certificates of seminars, lectures, courses we have attended or delivered, we collect them and present them to the Ministry of Education once a year; they are given a score and a card is issued. With this card -that contains information as: your name, area of teaching, and score- a teacher goes to every school where there is a vacancy and presents the card: the teacher with the highest score, gets the job -in an Argentinean public school, each group has 3 periods of English a week. They are offer as a package- In private schools, nothing of this applies. And, in some private schools, teachers are required to have a portfolio. But it is not common.
  2. 2. FIELDWORK AT HOLMES MIDDLE SCHOOL First day at school September 30th I remember my first day at Holmes Middle School as one full of smiling faces, information, different timetables, and expectations. My fellows and I arrived early and were welcomed by one of the teachers and the principal, Mr. Pamas, with kind words, presents and even some snacks. In that first meeting, they told us about the school, the classes, and the students. After a few minutes, they accompanied each of us to the assigned classroom. My mentor, Mrs. Nadherny, gave me a warm welcome to her class, we talked for just a few minutes and then, I devoted my morning to observe each part of the lesson, each corner of the classroom, each activity Mrs. Nadherny presented to the students and each instance of their participation. Mrs. Nadherny’s in an ESOL teacher that teaches Science, this year, to sixth-graders. In her two groups there are gifted students as well as special needs kids. She manages to assist every one of them in the best possible way. That first morning the lesson was about the two systems to measure temperature: Farenheit and Celsius. Mrs. Nadherny’s students excelled my expectations as the ones that finished first waited patiently for the rest: they just went to the reading corner and stayed there, quietly, until the class was ready to check the activity. They did so in a very ordered way: no one spoke until the teacher called their names. They commented and gave their opinions in a nice way, showing respect to their teacher. I have to point out that Mrs. Nadherny is a very resourceful and creative teacher that makes the most of every lesson. In her classroom there are lots of books, videos, flash cards, puzzles, technological equipment, etc… that makes the Science lesson easier to develop and more enjoyable. At 11.30, Mrs. Nadherny has a long break, so she took me on a tour of the school and showed me the cafeteria. We stayed talking for a while. When I was in the taxi with my fellows on our way to George Mason University, I commented how lucky I felt that Mrs. Nadherny was my mentor. I already knew that day that I was going to learn a lot from her, apart from the fact that 37 degrees Celsius –the body temperature- equal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit…
  3. 3. WHAT FACTORS DOES THE TEACHER CONSIDER IN PLANNING? When I plan a lesson, I always take into account, first of all, my students’ level of English proficiency. This, together with the length of the lesson, the class size and the objectives determine the class of activities to include. I cannot exclude national standards the Ministry of Education of my province suggests, but they are just the framework. When I plan the lessons for my elementary school students, I usually also consider the other teachers’ plans because we work in an articulated way, so that at the end of the term, we can put up a show: parents come to school and they see their children doing what they have learned. But this collaborative work between teachers is not usual in middle or high schools, unluckily. HOW CAN GROUP WORK AID YOUR TEACHING? In my class, I usually make my students work in groups so that they can value cooperation: in real life, we always work with others, sharing, collaborating. Students ought to know that success is more meaningful if it is shared with the people they are usually with. I usually try to mix people in the groups so that they establish a good working relationship with every mate and strong students can help weaker ones. It is a good way to lower the affective filter in those students who are beginning, weaker or more timid, and, at the same time, it makes it possible to work with different learning styles in the class. HOW DO YOU USE LEARNING STRATEGIES IN YOUR TEACHING? In my lessons I use learning strategies to get the best out of every student so that they can acquire each item of content as fully as possible. When I am planning my lessons, I analyze the group’s needs, strengths and interests so that the learning strategies that are used in the lesson are the most appropriate. I guess that one of the strategies I have seen in the program that would be easy to adopt with my students is pair share: it allows weaker students to participate without the usual anxiety they feel when they express themselves in front of the whole class.