On Day 2 we looked at some issues related to reading skills development, using Wordle to create a word cloud in order to provide some support for students before they read and we began to look at a curation tool: Pinterest.
To recap: We should be teaching ALL the students in the class, not just the ‘strong’ ones.
To create a word cloud using the Wordle website, first find a text. Copy paste into a word document for future reference and save the document. Websites for expats (like MyMerhaba.com ) have lots of articles of general interest about cultural events in Turkey. The English is not full of jargon, either. When you find useful sites, please share! (Expats refers to expatriates; i.e. foreigners living in Turkey.)
Here is an example text. It’s short, has a picture, and predictable content. Students will be able to get the important information in spite of the unknown words. It’s the sort of authentic text that makes it suitable for strategy training.
Go to wordle.net and click on ‘create’.
Paste the text into the box. Click on ‘Go’ .
The first result will have many more words than you need. Go to the ‘Layout’ tab and adjust the words – usually 10-25 words is OK. Experiment with fonts and colors. Each time you find a possible version, take a screenshot or save the word cloud because there is no going back….
In the end I chose this for my class. It needs visual support so let me check Google Docs.
If I look for images, maybe I will get something useful for a lead-in activity.
I might be able to use this to see if the students are interested in the topic, have any experience of this ‘sport’. Do their parents watch such races on TV? Depending on their interest levels I will decide how much time to spend. If they are very interested, we can work longer with the text. If they are not interested in racing, I’ll find out what they are interested in, and we will ‘borrow’ words from the text to write something different.
Course books are very useful. However, at the same time, there are many authentic texts on the web or in print that we can help students read. This way they develop the confidence to read outside the texts we set. Learning to read authentic texts makes students more independent. It’s a useful supplement to the course book.
Training students to ask questions is important. This year, create a classroom routine where the students generate the questions before they read. This way they become more critical readers and they learn to read with a purpose. If students know they are going to read about a race in Turkey, they can ask:Where does it start and where does it finish?How long does it last?How many people participate?Is the race open to people from other countries?When does it take place?Etc. These questions can be used to talk about other cultural events, so they are useful. We don’t have to teach the grammar of the questions – passive vs active voice. Just the question as a whole chunk of language.
After reading the text silently to find the answers to their questions (skipping the unknown words and NOT reading it aloud) I can help students to write a few sentences based on the text. It can be about any festival or race or competition they are interested in. Let the students guide the writing. When they can’t say something in English, this is a perfect moment for helping them. They have the desire to express themselves? Let’s give them the English for it. “The Antalya Orange festival will take place between …..”“The event takes place in the historic city of Antalya.” etc. A couple of lessons later, bring them a similar text (maybe which you have doctored a bit to repeat the vocabulary) so they get to review the vocabulary and structures.
What does this picture show? Scaffolding.We can help students by giving extra visuals, some key words that will come up in the text, time for prediction, a chance to come up with questions, a purpose for reading, strategy training with the whole class, followed by group and individual time for practising the strategies. Instead of spending the lesson time reading texts aloud (that were already read for homework) use class time to teach the students HOW TO read in different ways, manage unknown words, use dictionaries, find main ideas, distinguish between facts and opinions and so on. This year, instead of asking students to prepare the texts at home, work in class and teach them the HOWs.
Let’s have a change of focus. Here is a warmer which you might use to find out more about your students. They write 12 facts about themselves – in sentences or using just key words. Then they draw an image, like an icon for an app on a tablet or phone. Afterwards they share their apps with their classmates. We wil ask them to spek English as much as possible, even if it means they read their sentences out loud. As a teacher, I might make my own and get the students to ask questions to find out about me. With the IWB it’s easy to type the correct questions so that students can use them for pairwork later.
I found this activity online – please create a free membership at the website teachersnotebook.com and check out the free materials. There are many good ideas you can adapt for your classes.
This website also has many free materials – more than I could download across 5 or 6 hours. Looking at what other teachers do in other countries is eye-opening. They all face the same challenges. And many of them have creative solutions for managing these challenges.
This brings me onto classroom design. In an ideal world the English teacher would have his or her own room which would be an ‘English Zone’ . But if we have to use the class’s room, we should consider how we arrange the furniture. If you want to do group work, negotiate with the other teachers to have the students sitting in groups instead of rows. It’s psychologically harder to break out of traditional modes and styles of teaching when you are in a traditional classroom design but we have to try!
Another cool idea – be prepared with extra activities for the students who finish early. Prepare a letter for parents. A generic letter where all you have to do is add the student’s name and the date and sign it. When a student completes 5 extra activities, fill in a letter for the parents. Tell them their child got a gold start for completing classwork plus 5 extra activities. This is another way of managing mixed levels classes – through being proactive and keeping them busy with meaningful tasks. Bored students or students with nothing to do misbehave. When you have tablets (next year? The year after?) you will have many tools for creating extra tasks and tracking students’ work.
Why am I pointing you to so many online resources? It’s because our ideas of literacy have changed.
Teachers need to enhance their digital literacy skills to get prepared for the day, coming soon!, where the kids come to grade school with laptops and tablets. Are you ready?
T2T= teachers to teachers There are many ways you can get connected with other teachers. Which ones do you use actively? Which ones do you know about?
One popular topic these days is the idea of ‘curation’. There are so many interesting websites now. Curation tools allow us to make a collection, like an exhibition, of our favorites and share them. For teachers this means an easy way of networking with other teachers and sharing resources. On this slide you can see an example of Pinterest.
Go to Pinterest, create an account and look me up: kristina.elt on Pinterest
Each one of these labelled sectionsleads you to a ‘board’ where I have ‘pinned’ resources. When you click on a resource, you can see it clearly. Another click leads you to the original website. Hold the Control key down when you click on a link to open the link in a new tab, and make it easy to go back to the original Pinterest board.You can only ‘pin’ a webpage if there is a pin-able picture so not every useful site can be pinned. However, there are many people posting on Pinterest around the world. You can follow people or individual boards they have. People can follow you.It is good etiquette to look at someone’s board if they ‘re-pin’ something from your board to see if that person has something useful that you can ‘re-pin’ in exchange. In this way your network grows. Repinning connects the boards across Pinterest. When you look at someone’s pins, you can see the original board where it comes from. I often go there to see if there is more I can repin. Your network will grow quickly after about 5 or 6 sessions developing your boards as you will get emails informing you that someone else has repinned one of you pins and go and check out their boards. Enjoy!
Pinterest is only one way to collect useful materials and share with other teachers. Tomorrow we will look at more ways of curating websites and sharing.
Part 2 great opportunities great expectations
Part 2Great Opportunities, Great Expectations By Kristina Smith for SeltAcademy firstname.lastname@example.org
How to use wordle.net Choose a text for the class and copy paste it onto a word document for later reference.
Using authentic materials• Find suitable, short • Create an easy reading articles activity – students read• Use Google Images to silently for general idea, find pictures and again for some• Use Wordle.net to specific information. create a “word cloud” • No reading aloud!• Exploit the topic or • Keep the activities short pictures to set the and sweet. context & use Wordle • Use the text as a for prediction. springboard to speaking or writing.
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