jueves, 22 de agosto de 2013

If I were a 1st form teacher again...

If I were a 1st form teacher again...

I wouldn't allow schoolbags inside the classroom.
I would ask for a wooden cube for each student where they could keep: pencil box, copybook, whiteboard, pupil book, portfolio, etc. (cheap and easy to do for both school or parents)
It would look more or less like this:

Underneath the windows would be a good place. And we could have a "Science Centre" on top, with plants and magnifying glasses, tubes, droppers and that sort of staff

I would start classes with no tables nor chairs in the classroom. Kids would sit on little carpets instead. (I used them once, I'm sure Silvia remembers)
During the first week kids would just listen to stories, play outdoorgames, sing, draw, and colour. And decorate their own cube and materials.
Little by little we would build some learning centres together:  "Art centre", "Drama centre", "Word Centre" "Reading Centre", "Writing Centre", "Building Centre", etc. We would place tables and chairs where necessary.
I would start a project by telling a story and letting kids know what they are expected to learn and asking them how they would like to learn about that.
I would create a very rich enviroment making flashcards and posters with children and selecting appropriate materials for each of the centres.
I would start every lesson allowing kids to play freely in the centres for about 20 minutes, time enough to check communication copybooks quickly and walk around monitoring students' interactions while playing and joining them in the play to model language. Then we would have some circle time (oral assembly) to focus on..., another 20 minutes; ideally kids would start using language spontaneously during the free play moment. During the last 20 minutes before break, they could solve some written activity to stick in the copybook, or to display in the classroom, or why not, to take home.
I'm having an exam tomorrow and I couldn't focus... so I started dreaming about my ideal classroom...
Sometimes, I miss the classroom you know...
I must go back to my notes for the test.

jueves, 14 de marzo de 2013

It's time to do something about it...

Today I've been working in first form.
Not only I took a sore throat home but also something to reflect upon.
I gave them a colouring activity to solve.
It contained a number-colour code like this:


Surprisingly, many children could read or "guess" the words.
But for some others it was like reading this for us,

jedan = crna
dva = zelena
tri = crvena          
četiri = bijela
pet = žuta
šest = plava
(unless you know Croatian)

So, what do these children need to solve the activity?
Most of the words presented are irregular or words that they cannot decode yet.
But colours and numbers are high frequency words. They appear all the time.
Consequently, they have to learn them by heart.
What shall we do?
Send a list of vocabulary to study at home?
I'm convinced that these children need to learn by doing/playing in small groups.
What about a Learn and Play Day?
In the same way good speakers participate of a tea party and good readers of a book club, "weak students" that make an effort could have a Learn and Play Day.
In a Learn and Play Day students could put hands-on work, have fun, and learn strategies they need to solve activities in the classroom.
Some ideas:
Preparing colours and numbers flashcards with the kids
We could ask students what they think about when they see colour yellow.
Maybe the sun, a banana, or the yellow submarine in the song they learnt in kinder.

We could make a simple drawing of what they say for them to colour and use it as reference material for the classroom.
We could play memory games in the computer. I'm sure they are very good at that! And we could tell them that they can use the good memory they have to learn numbers and colours.
We could play with the shape of the words.
We could play with magnetic letters.
We could practice the copy, cover, write, and check technique.
We could prepare a vocabulary card to keep in the copybook.
Sing a song, role play, cut and paste, puzzle games, etc.

I would love to have a Learn and Play Day with students that need "extra help" or learn in a different way.
The only problen is that an intervention like this needs continuity and we know this is something very difficult to achieve at school. It should take place at least once a week.
I could have a Learn and Play Day with 1st and 2nd  and Vivi another one with 3rd and 4th.
Do you think we could give it a try?