Friday, June 24, 2011

If you could be a brick....

The Great Pyramid of Giza.

"If you could be a brick, what building would you want to be part of?"  I asked my class.

Thus began my very last class that I taught at Meyna School on Holhudhoo Island in the Maldives.
After posing the question to my class, I gave them some "think time" before going around the room and asking them what building they'd want to be part of.

"Meyna School" one student noted, another "A hospital" and yet another... "My parent's house."

"The sports complex," noted one boy.  "The mosque," another remarked.  "The national museum," but yet another.

All had excellent reasons for why they chose the building they did.
"I would want to be the top stone on the Great Pyramid of Giza.................."

I explained when it came my turn to tell the class what stone I would want to be.


"The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the 8 Wonders of the World with millions of people visiting it every year!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My last Hurrah .... at Meyna School

My final classroom lesson, was based on a short story called, The Wall, from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.

First I read the story..... students followed along listening for the fluency and reading comprehension.

We reviewed any new vocabulary words, before I read the story a second time.

When I passed out the paper with the story, I had deliberately removed the last two paragraphs of the story.

When I finished reading the story the second time, I asked the students to predict what they thought would happen next.  Very creative responses.  I was impressed.

Then I passed out the second to the last paragraph, and again asked the students to predict what they thought would happen.  Again.... a variety of creative responses.

"What's the morale of this story," asked Mr. T?

"Be happy with what you have," the students responded.

Since this was Aravindan's class, and he served as photographer during the lesson.... I found, upon examing the pictures on my camera that he'd taken.... this one.  A self protrait. 

 Thank you Aravindan, for allowing me to teach my final lesson at Meyna School, to your students!

Funny what catches my eye ..... on the island

Greeting the morning sun...

How could I have not noticed them?  How many weeks did I walk directly under these coconuts.... and not even see they were there?

I mean, compared to the green or brown coconuts, these guys darn near glow in the dark!

Soon these little baby yellow - orange coconuts will be showing off their brilliant colors too!

How many afternoons, did I sit under this massive tree, as I watched the sunset.....?  Never looking up at the elaborate geometric designs Mother Nature has created with these branches.....

Busy as.... well, busy as ants... I guess I have to say!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

George's excellent lesson format....

George's lesson centered around a very touching story about a father's desire to instill the love of music in his son.

In the anticipatory set of the lesson, George drew upon his student's background knowledge of music.  "Do any of you play a musical instrument?"  George asked.  This brought out an animated discussion with the students.

After having the students read the title of the article, George asked a series of questions about the father, using the father's picture in the article.

As the students listened and followed along, George read the story to his students.  "What struck you about this story?"  George asked when he'd finished reading.

The students got the message of the story immediately.... and accurately too.  Great comprehension!

The students really got into this story as George read it to them. 

The story was read a second time, by students who moved to the front of the class.  It was during the second reading that George asked students to underline any vocabulary words they did not know.

The first reading, in other words, was for the students to listen to the fluency of the story as they also listened with comprehension in mind.

Any word the students found difficult or new, they were asked to underline.

With the reading done, George asked the students how many words they'd found per paragraph.

"Look for the clues in the sentence, for the meaning to the word."  George encouraged his students to look for context clues, in the sentences, so that the students themselves defined the new vocabulary words. 

George had a gentile style of asking probing and clarifying questions, so that the students had to dig for the meaning of the new words.

Nearing the end of the lesson, George had students come to the board to write summary sentences.  Once these were written, he reviewed each sentence with the whole class, to make sure they understood what was written and that they agreed with what was written too.

Throughout the lesson, George checked for understanding through a series of comprehension questions.  George is a bit of a master at not giving the students the answer.... rather.... asking those guiding questions that help students arrive at their own answers.

This is a fantastic way to teach!  George is a living example of my motto.... "Whoever talks, learns!"

George asks the questions..... the students talk.

Reflective Conversation

Following my observation of George's lesson, I held a reflective conversation with him.  As we talked, the conversation grew to include Aravindan, the English Department Head. 

I first had George review with me, his lesson, step-by-step.  As we moved into the grit of the lesson, the concern that was raised by George and Aravindan, was the student's writing skills.  This is a definately an area where the students could use help.

Since basic sentence structure and verb tense seems to be some of the problem, I suggested the English Department go back to the basics if need be.  By this I explained, after students have read an article, have them go sentence by sentence and underline the subject, verb and direct object. 

In other words.... make the sentence as basic as possible.  Help the students understand the most basic structure of the sentence, then slowly show them how to add all those flowery words, that make reading so enjoyable!

African elephant Bubble Map - graphic organizer

Once a week, students go to the listening lab where a Cambridge CD is played and they are to respond to questions.

Chinchu monitoring the students and providing assistance to the listening activity worksheet.

Earlier in the week, Chinchu had used a Bubble Map graphic organizer and was very proud of the student's work!  As she noted to me, students were totally engaged in the lesson while completing the Bubble Map.  Chinchu found the Bubble Map to be a much more effective strategy to help students take notes on a article, as compared to the traditional note taking process.

Raibin - Putting it all together in the lesson

Beginning of the lesson, Raibin opens with some small talk as he moved into the learning objectives for the day.

Randomly calling on students, using the roll sheets and student numbers ...... for groups to present the projects they'd been working on.

The first group explaining to the class their project regarding Global Warming.

Using all of the learning modalities is an excellent instructional strategy.... here with the auditory componet, building on the writing and illustrations.

Very creative and professional presentation by this group of young ladies!
How about a new energy drink!!!!!!

Keeping a good pace to the lesson, Raibin next had students engage in a review of the previous day's vocabulary.

Following the individual responses to the vocabulary assignment, the whole class worked together to give the correct answers.

At the end of the period, before moving the class to the listening lab, Raibin brought closures to the day's lesson.

What with the various activities within the lesson, the pace was excellent.  Students were actively engaged in the learning process, throughout the period.

Good job Raibin!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Okay Pooh Bear.....

"You don't recognize me Father?  I'm your son!"

These were the first words out of Pooh Bear, the first time I met him.  Okay... Pooh Bear (nickname) whatever you say!

Pooh Bear, like most all of the students at Meyna School, had a great sense of humor.  This is what made my volunteer assignment so enjoyable on the island.

So many fun, fantastic characters!

Lessons worth applauding!

The secondary English teachers at Meyna School have really taken the professional development workshops I presented to heart.

Here Anil, made some of my instructional strategies his own.

Anil took the little boats I'd brought from Thailand, and rather than using the numbers I'd placed on the back, he put the student's names.

In the classroom, Anil learned to first ask the question, pause, and then pull one of the boats.  This process keeps all the students on the toes.... not knowing who might be called on to answer the question.

"You've got 30 seconds!" 

 Use of the timer, one I brought along from the States, too is a great way to keep the lesson moving and the students engaged.

The "Starter Activity" was a series of true of false statements.  Anil randomly called on students to state whether a statement was true or false.  Student stand, when answering a question.

Rather than just leaving it at asking one student, Anil would randomly call on additional students, to see if they agreed with what the first student had said.

In this case.... three students said the statement was true, before the fourth student answered correctly.... the statement was false.  "Why is it false?"  asked Anil.... again a great extension of the lesson... so that the student now had to give details to support what they'd said.

As soon as Anil passed out this reading assignment, the students, on their own, numbered the paragraphs, and drew a box around the title.  Another instructional strategy straight from my workshop!

New vocabulary.... randomly calling on students to identify key new vocabulary words, paragraph by paragraph.

Writing the definitions of the new words on the board, for the students to copy.

I'm seeing this throughout the English classes, where the teachers have taken what I taught them during the professional development sessons, and have begun incorporating these new strategies into their daily lesson plans.