Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Inspirational thought to boost teacher's morale

The Star Polisher (Leah Becks)

I have a great job in the universe of occupations.

What do I do?

I’m a “star polisher”.

I have a very important job.

If you want to know how important

Just go out at night and look at the stars.

Twinkling and sparkling.

You see, I’m a teacher.

The stars are the children in my class.

My job is to take them in-

In whatever shape they’re in-

And shine and buff them and send them out to take

Their places as bright little twinkling beacons in the sky.

They come in my room in all shapes and sizes.

Sometimes they’re bent, tarnished, dirty, crinkly, and broken.

Some stars are cuddly, soft, and sweet.

Some stars are prickly and thorny.

I tell them that the world cannot do without them.

I tell them they can do anything they set their minds to do.

I tell them they can be the brightest, shiniest stars in the sky

and the world will be a better place because of them.

Each night as I look at the sky,

I’m reminded of my very important job and awesome responsibility.

I go and get my soft buffing cloth and my bottle of polish

in preparation for tomorrow and for my class of little stars.

Thank you children for your beautiful pictures of me!

Monday, February 20, 2012

ARC. A site with resources for teachers to cover the curriculum

ARC is a web site that contains and provides ideas for activities, resources and itineraries linked to the curriculum. As the site is continuously increasing with new proposals, it will become a very useful tool for teachers of all levels to help them in their classroom work.

The idea is to "fill" the curriculum with activities, tasks and projects that promote methodological improvements, and spread the development of basic skills.

All the activities are "ready to adapt". They are catalogued in the same way and have the same structure: a description of the activity, basic skills involved, objectives, procedures, resources, methodological aspects, and a proposal for assessment. One of the best things is that each activity provides the complete set of worksheets for the students and documents for the teacher -in pdf format- to be immediatly adapted or adopted in the class.
If an activity has more than 5 of these characteristics,
Then it is a Competency Based Activity.

The word ARC is an acronym of “Aplicació de Recursos al Currículum” (resources and activities to "cover" the curriculum) and includes the areas of mathematics, languages, social sciences and philosophy, natural sciences and technology.

ARC has been promoted from CESIRE, which depend on the Department of Education of Generalitat de Catalunya.

Here I linked some of the activities I have found interesting for the teaching of English as a Second Language in Primary.

Going shopping with dollars!
Designed by Imma Piquer i Marta Boada

My Pencil Case
Designed by Montse Solé

Made in ...
Designed by Rosamaria Felip

My family
Designed by Enric Calvet

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who said that learning the alphabet was a boring activity?

Learning the alphabet is an important step in our children's literacy development.  
  • Alphabet knowledge is naming the letters of the alphabet and recognizing the letter symbols in print (Johnston, 2004). 
  • Recognizing the alphabet is one of the most accurate predictors of early reading success (Johnston, 2004; Sayeski, Burgess, Pianta, & Lloyd, n.d.). 
  • In order to learn to read, a child must know most of his letters, but not all are necessary in the earliest stages. In order to progress, however, he must know all 26, both uppercase and lowercase (Temple et al., 2005).
How is alphabet taught and learned?
Learning the alphabet is one of the biggest and most exciting developments a child will go through. Alphabet games and alphabet songs are the best ways to teach a child the alphabet.

Here you are some good websites and songs to go through it.

Orgdot.com Learn the alphabet in 123 with Orgdots fun letter game for kids of all ages.

Enchantedlearning.com Alphabet Printable Activities. Worksheets, Coloring Pages and Games.

Alphabetimals.com   A Fun Way to Learn the Alphabet

 Along with the book there this video of the alphabet song. You'll find flash cards, colouring pages and a wall poster to download and print, You can type your name in alphabetimals and print it out.

Learningplanet.com Educational online games for kids preschool through sixth grade.

Abclearningtime.com Free interactive learning games for my numbers, my abc's, my alphabet, how to tell time, educational games.

Fisher-price.com Help children learn the ABCs with this free online game! Click on the bright, bold letters to play!

Activityvillage.co.uk  a collection of printables and worksheets to reinforce child's learning of the alphabet and letters, upper and lower case.

Playkidsgames.co.uk  Alphabet games with different levels. Get fun while learning!

Mrsalphabet.com All you ever wanted to know about teaching the alphabet, math, phonics, and reading.

First-school.ws  Alphabet Printable Activities. Worksheets, Coloring Pages and Games

Learnenglish.org.uk  Practise the letters of the alphabet with Alphabet Antics, a fun way to learn the alphabet.

Learningenglishkids.britishcouncil.org A strange animal has entered the zoo. Where should it go? See where the zookeeper puts the new animal in the story.

Kaboose.com This preschool activity center offers free online preschool games, interactive animations and coloring pages for kids.

Primarygames.com Games, colouring pages, printables, and much more

And some songs and videos from You Tube:

But if you want to spend some money in a good alphabet display for the school visit this page: Grégoire Ganter I'm sure you will get some ideas to do it by yourself!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Teaching and learning literacy in the Digital Age

I suggest to read this article about the need teachers have "to meet students half way and embrace the changing literacies of a digital age". It is written by Dr Alison Hramiak and published in the Guardian Professional,

As it currently stands, the school ICT and computing curriculum does little, if anything, to stimulate an interest in these key subject areas. From key stage 3 upwards, the focus tends to be on spreadsheets and databases, and an overuse of Word and PowerPoint,...."

"What will count as literate in these babies' lifetime? Literacies are changing and we need to embrace them". Photograph: www.alamy.com

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Using Google Earth in the classroom

Most teachers hear “Google Earth” and think of Geography, but Google Earth can be used as an instructional tool across the curriculum for many other subjects.

'Students using Google Earth can not only search where their houses are or town is, but also create a narrated tour of the world using the information that they include in their placemarks'.

From Free Technology for Teachers, a blog written by Richard Byrne -that I really recommend it!- I like to share this guide designed to provide teachers with some ideas for using Google Earth in our classrooms of middle and upper primary, and secondary schools.

Google Earth Across the Curriculum

As an example, have a look at this amazing project, coordinated by the English teacher Rosamaria Felip. It was carried out in the school Ruiz Amado (Castelló d'Empúries - Costa Brava, Girona), with a 10 years old group of pupils during the school year 2009-2010.   I am sure you've got any further ideas. Would like to share them?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Overstream: a tool for subtitling You Tube videos

Have you ever wanted to customize an online video by adding your own comments or subtitles in any language?

Overstream is a great new online service that makes online video even more educationally interesting.  All it does is allow teachers to add subtitles to clips on YouTube. Language teachers have the chance to subtitle video clips, songs, dialogues or short movie trailers, adapting the language level and the vocabulary they want.

Overstream has an online editor to easily create and synchronize subtitles to any online video. When you finish editing, you can store them on the Overstream server, download it or send the link to the subtitled video to your friends.

Here it is an example:

Friday, February 03, 2012

What really improves children's learning?

I just read an article in the Teacher Network blog of The Guardian written by Dr. Elliot Major (February, 2) and he really “hits the nail on the head” on some interesting issues, related to children’s learning improvement.
Some points have surprised me:

  • “Forget about smaller class sizes and other education myths. Reducing class sizes has in fact little impact on learning, unless pupils to teacher ratios are dramatically reduced”.
  • “Teaching assistants add zero to the attainment of children: billions of pounds of public money is currently spent on a workforce that has no discernible effect on school results”.
  • “Ability grouping in class has little impact on overall results: the gains of children in high ability groups are outweighed by the losses of those in low ability groups”.
  • “Homework during primary school has little or no impact on attainment”.

He proposes a method for improving based on the Reflective Practice model of peer-to-peer tutoring and “learning to learn” (metacognitive) strategies: “The point is not to tell teachers what to do, but to get them to think about the research evidence, and make informed judgments about what to pilot in their own school”.

If you ask teachers, many of them agree about what are the most likely reforms for to improve results: smaller class sizes; new types of schools; new head teachers; more homework; more teaching assistants; more money for schools for all of the above… But Dr. Elliot argues that “by far the best hope for better results is to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom. What matters most is the interaction between teacher and pupil”. Teachers should get “effective feedback for shifting fundamentally how teachers approach their work in the classroom - understanding where their pupils are in relation to learning goals, adapting their teaching in response, and planning how to plug the learning gaps”.

Prof Higgins (Durham University) coins the "Bananarama principle": "It's not what you do, it's the way that you do it, that's what gets results". This simple point is often lost in education, as it is often the hardest challenge of all.

"The hope is that teachers in future will have their eyes on the evidence. Only then will we have a chance to deliver the rising results we all yearn for".

Read the complete article at the Teacher Network blog. The Guardian.

Read more about Professor Steve Higgins Pupil Premium Toolkit. Published by the Sutton Trust, "this is a Which style guide showing schools which broad approaches work best at improving attainment of pupils. It is aimed at poorer pupils who will attract the Premium funding, but most of the findings apply universally to all children".

• Dr Lee Elliot Major is Director for Research and Policy at the Sutton Trust, and chair of the evaluation advisory panel for the Education Endowment Foundation.