Friday, April 29, 2011

Just an example of Project Working in Primary English Teaching

CLIL teachers should know Project Working very well. It is a teaching methodology that provides pupils with the opportunity to transfer knowledge and strategies from various school subjects. Furthermore, it allows children to critically and creatively apply this knowledge to real life situations. 

Project working is a challenge for teachers and for students. They have to work in different levels of the Bloom’s taxonomy, not only for designing the activities or new types of questioning, but also for searching solutions to real life problems.
But, how can we do project working in Primary English teaching? And, how can we do that if we are not CLIL teachers? Students still don’t have enough English language command to put into play the different skills needed for project working: collaboration, communication and independent learning. Moreover, we are tied to a language syllabus and we haven’t much flexibility...

So what?

If we, as teachers want to develop a complete project in English, then we will need to adapt a lot of language and vocabulary in order to get a successful and an “age appropriate” outcome. And this may lead us to a depression!

As a suggestion, what about doing it in a bilingual or trilingual basis? What about collaborating ourselves with the science or mathematics teacher? And what about designing parts of the project to use a different language in each of them? 

This is the sort of thing we are doing in my school nowadays. We haven’t got the possibility to do a CLIL project, but we have the chance to develop “bits of the projects” in our three languages: Catalan, Castilian, and English.

This is just an example. Children from Year 4 found an egg of a butterfly on a fennel branch in the school playground and ran to his teacher to show the “discovery”. At this point, the teacher took benefit of the situation and started a full project about the life cycle of a butterfly: egg, caterpillar, butterfly metamorphosis, egg.

My colleague, the Castilian teacher, and I (the English teacher) joined the project to carry out a part of it. 

Children worked some calendar models out in Castilian. And we were the responsible of doing a Power Point in English to show the process to other children and to parents. 

Open publication - Free publishing - More butterfly

I found it interesting! The learning outcomes for project work:

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge Application
Students will acquire the ability to make links across different areas of knowledge and to generate, develop and evaluate ideas and information so as to apply these skills to the project task.
Students will acquire the skills to communicate effectively and to present ideas clearly and coherently to specific audience in both the written and oral forms.
Students will acquire collaborative skills through working in a team to achieve common goals.
Independent Learning
Students will be able to learn on their own, reflect on their learning and take appropriate actions to improve it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cockroaches and Ladybugs

Just to start...
I know that talking about the relation between teachers and society, teachers and families, teaching methodology and politics sounds like an odd topic to write about, but recently something has struck me about how things are PERCIEVED. 
As an example: the cockroach and the ladybug. They are both insects. They both crawl with their exoskeletons on display, and they can both fly. All in all, they are both the same type of animal. The only difference is that one is perceived as a little monster, a nasty bug which must be squashed immediately and sprayed with insecticide - and one is a symbol of good luck, a cute bug and something that children delight in playing with.

You may wonder where I am going with this analogy. As you all very well know, we, as teachers, suffer from a distinct and difficult public relations crisis. The society around us sees us as an immoral army of horrible people with a good and easy job, long vacations and an extremely good timework! We are seen as a legion of lazy people thinking more in our privileges than in educating children. And what’s more, we are seen as the only responsible of the low PISA results...
In essence, they see us as the cockroach, the ones who spread the "disease" of the poor education and promote out of date values such as cooperation, mild-manners or good behaviour.
Whereas we NEED to be perceived differently by the masses, we need to be more like the tiny ladybug, something that is revered for its beauty, grace, and symbolism. Something that can bring good fortune to those that encounter us.

The only question is... how do we change how we are perceived? There are many ways to start down the path of changing the way we are looked upon by the technocratic world, and one of which I feel is to beat them at their own game. They are in a position right now where many or even most of the people who once looked up to the teachers of their schools are now disillusioned. They are concerned (and rightfully so) about the incredible cut down on expenses in education, they are astonished about the poor category of our educational “politicians”, and they are disconcerted by the continuous changes in our system.
So what we need to do is, not to be better but cleverer than them. We need to show the world that we are a rational and a hard worker group of people. We need to share our experiences more, write about what it is to be a teacher and persist in our attitude to educate children for democracy, multiculturality and plurilinguism.
We need to get the word out that we are the ones who seek to bring this world into a new age of enlightenment and not keep it tied to figures, graphs and statistics of international evaluations that attempt to explain the failure of our educational system.

So think for a moment.... what can YOU do to turn the perception of the masses in our favour, and work towards to be more respected and greatly
appreciated workers?

This text has been adapted from Secular Rebellion. Many thanks for the idea!