Monthly Archives: November 2014

Decoding skills for listening: a collection of useful links

We always think of speaking and reading when thinking of and preparing for language lessons, but a key skill we often overlook is listening.

elt-resourceful

About two and a half years ago I wrote a blog post entitled, Decoding skills: a neglected part of listening comprehension? In the time since then it seems that many of us have stopped neglecting those poor decoding skills, and that an interest in how decoding can help develop both listening and reading skills is on the rise.

A recent question posed by Mike Harrison on the IATEFL Facebook page about developing (rather than testing) listening skills led to a flurry of useful links in the comments, which I list below:

A presentation by John Field on Rethinking the Comprehension Approach to Listening

A summary of Sandy Millin’s 2014 presentation at IATEFL on teaching rather than testing listening

Olga Sergeeva’s blog on using authentic video clips to focus on bottom up skills.

A series of Listening Skills books written by Sheila Thorn (which I have mentioned before but which have…

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“L1 and L2 acquisition are fundamentally different.”

loveandideas

A statement that made me ponder.

I agree with it. Saville-Troike (2006) mentioned that much of a person’s L1 acquisition is completed before one goes to school, and development normally takes place without any conscious effort. The child’s innate ability takes a big part in a child’s language acquisition whatever language that may be. Other than that, experience or interaction should also be provided for the child to acquire a certain language. With these mentioned, I must say that L1 acquisition naturally happens without too much effort given by the learner.

On the other hand, as what I understand from the materials, L2 is acquired through a deeper, more complicated instruction. From Saville-Troike’s book (page 17), L2 development needs feedback, aptitude, motivation, and instruction. It means that a learner should put more effort to acquire another language. It does not happen that easily. It is studied and practiced to be better…

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3 Questions

bigstock_mom_tucking_child_into_bed_26950272

 

I found this touching article, written by a parent about the nightly routine of going to bed. How many parents simply put their children to bed with just a simple goodnight before switching off the light? This parent goes to the trouble of having a simple conversation based on 3 questions. The language development potential is astounding, and the parent-child bonding that occurs is priceless. Read it and see if you agree.

By the way, I think these parents need to rethink next time they name a child!

Reference: http://eyesonheaven.net/3-questions-ask-child-every-night/

Image: https://sensorysmartparent.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/going-to-sleep-bedtime-tips-for-toddlers-and-children-with-sensory-issues-or-who-just-have-trouble-falling-asleep/

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Big Surprise!

surprise-01

My reaction yesterday when I suddenly realised that I’m eligible to course complete.

Some time ago I submitted past transcripts for a University course I had begun, but not completed, in the outside hope that I may gain 1 unit (10 credit points) towards my B. Ed. Imagine my surprise to find I have been granted 4 units (40 credit points) towards my degree. Essentially, I have finished. I must still face the nervous wait for the results of my past semester, but I know that I worked extremely hard to make the proverbial silk purse out of a sow’s ear technologically. There is no guarantee that I have passed, but I do know that I did put in far more time than was required, in an attempt to construct something that I could be extremely proud of.

So now I can graduate at least 6 months ahead of where I thought I would be. I can apply for those International School jobs again, and my years of language study have finally been worth something to someone other than myself. Thank you so much ACU for validating all of the work I have done in the past. It is well appreciated.

Image: http://the-artifice.com/the-element-of-surprise/

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Free Technology for Teachers

free

Free? What’s that? Technology? Quick! Run! For Teachers? That has to be a joke!

These would have been my general reaction prior to starting my recent course at ACU. But since then, given the courses, the lecturers who constantly pushed us (in the nicest ways) to get out of our comfort zones, and the amazing cohort of students, I see that this is no longer true. Having a few days off ‘post course’ has seen me surfing all kinds of wonderful corners of the world wide web and I keep coming across gems of websites that inspire me to keep pushing boundaries of comfort. This blog site, Free Technology for Teachers, has been written by Richard Byrne and he shares his love of technology and teaching through sharing great apps and software for teachers to implement in their classrooms. He performs an amazing service, in effect “test driving” the software and apps to save everyone else the hassle.

Free-Yourself

  Reference: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/

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Learning with LEGO

Lego

I’ve always known that LEGO blocks were a great learning tool and a great toy, but I never really connected the pieces (pun intended) until I read this article about the seemingly endless ways they can be used in learning situations, especially for young learners or those with learning difficulties. This article lists over 70 ways to use LEGO to aid learning and I’m sure we can come up with many more. It just goes to show that a wonderful learning tool might be sitting right in front of you and you don’t even realise it.

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Toilet Roll Racing Cars

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How is your Hungarian (Magyar)? These are so cute and easy to make. In a classroom, instead of toilet rolls you could use kitchen wrap cylinders cut into lengths. These are very simple to make. Even though the instructions are in Hungarian I’m sure you can follow the diagrams and make some of these cute little racers. This could be a great craft afternoon activity for parents when hosting a sleep over or other such social event. Lots of fine motor skills involved here for developing hands.

Reference: http://kiflieslevendula.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/kisautok.html

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Leaf Mandala Suncatcher

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I saw this brilliant craft idea and fell in love with it immediately. It’s so simple yet so effective. I can’t wait to try it out for myself. The heart of the lesson this gives is that there is beauty in imperfection and that is how nature works. All it takes is some Autumn leaves, 2 sheets of contact, some coloured ribbon and a ring of some kind to use as support. Although I imagine making several of these in other shapes and tying them in the forks of a branch would be spectacular as well. A really good, creative idea.

Reference:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/7279921@N03/4038116860/

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Classroom Design: A Different Theory and Approach

Learning Space

Learning Space

Again, during another session of browsing, I came across something interesting and intriguing. Throughout our course, we have been exposed to particular theories of classroom design and what works. I’m sure that everyone doing our course would agree totally (or mostly) that what we have seen and read is very practical and logical and would be something that we would love to have in our own classrooms given the budget to redesign. This article, however, takes us through the classroom of a teacher who has been inspired by the Reggio Emilia theories of classroom design which, while not being radically different from our own learning, opens up some questions for classroom designs of the future.

Reggio Emilia discourages bright colours and replaces them with more neutral, natural tones. Are these colour palettes more, or less inspiring to the minds of children? The design also removes as much plastic as possible from the learning environment, replacing it with natural products wherever this can be done. The above picture is typical of a Reggio Emilia learning space. Many of the features we would identify with being a good learning space are visible. I would love to see more curves in their designs myself, as I believe that more curves would better compliment the organic feel of the learning spaces.

On a personal level, I love the effort to reduce the usage of plastics in the learning environment, as I believe that we can all do with more natural substances around us. However, to my way of thinking, the colour scheme is just too bland to be inspiring. Is this because I have a preconceived notion of what a classroom should be like, or am I just trying to cater to my own personal needs through a subconscious application of the 8 Ways of Learning?

I think that as teachers we must avail ourselves to all relevant theories of learning spaces and pick and choose the elements that work best for our students. I believe it’s not so much about the theories and the names behind them, but rather the students who will develop and be inspired within these spaces now and into the future.

I have to admit that some elements of the classroom design are impressive and a lot of time and effort has gone into their construction and organisation. I like the inclusion of the children’s work in the spaces as well. The usage of natural lighting and refractive crystals is also a nice touch, something that I always like to have in my own classroom.

This is a space for 2 and 3 year olds, not primary age students, so it is intended to be a busy space for children with shorter (and developing) attention spans. The staff have taken an educational design theory and used it to suit the needs of their students, which is what we, as students )and as teachers) have been encouraged (required) to do as well. I’m a bit intrigued by the Fairy Dust Teaching. Do I have an inner Tinkerbell waiting to be released?

The inner Tinkerbell

The inner Tinkerbell

 

I would love to know your thoughts on the Reggio Emilia learning space design. Please leave a comment.

 

References:

http://8ways.wikispaces.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach

http://fairydustteaching.com/

http://imgarcade.com/1/original-tinkerbell-flying/ (image)

http://teaching2and3yearolds.com/preschool-classroom-design-ideas/

http://www.letthechildrenplay.net/2010/05/beautiful-learning-spaces-in-reggio.html (image)

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Multiplication using Base 10 (MAB) Blocks

Multiplication Hundreds Chart

Multiplication Hundreds Chart

 

I know that this is American and as such may be a little different in the technical language used, but it is such a simple concept to introduce into your maths classes and to develop over time. Its very concrete as in getting the children to manipulate the object so will fit beautifully into the 8 Ways of Learning. This is multiplication by using multiplication, not just by using repeated addition which is what many of us were/have/are taught/teaching. And more than a set of rote learned times tables. Highly recommended.

 

References:

http://8ways.wikispaces.com/

http://corkboardconnections.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/exploring-2-digit-multiplication.html

http://www.guruparents.com/multiplication-chart-1-100.html (image)

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