Monday, November 26, 2012

The importance of promoting diversity in the esl classroom

Primary classrooms are becoming more and more diverse. 

Many teachers lack a cultural awareness that allow them to recognize some cultural subtleties that may affect students’ learning. Some ESL pupils can feel embarrassed speaking in class. Others can make them extremely difficult to keep eye contact. Personal space may be another important issue: how close can you get to children without making them uncomfortable? Do the rest of your pupils demonstrate tolerance of others who are different than they are?

Then, how to manage all these variables?

I like to suggest you to follow this link 
and discover some games and activities that may help you appreciating diversity. Although it is high school oriented some of the activities are easily adaptable into primary.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

100 Formas de Animar Grupos: Juegos para Usar en Talleres, Reuniones y la Comunidad

This is a resource material (published only in Spanish!) that has been developed to encourage participation in practice.

It is a compilation of animation techniques, icebreakers and games that can be used by anyone who is working with a group of people, either in a workshop, in a training group, in a meeting or in the community.

Teachers and facilitators must use games for several different reasons, including to help children to know each other, increasing energy levels and enthusiasm, encouraging the development of co-operation or children think about a particular problem.

The games that help children to know each other and help to relax are called icebreakers.

When they look sleepy or tired, animation techniques can be used to get them moving and to give them more enthusiasm (stirrers).

Other games can be used to help children think about problems and can help solve problems that people may face when they work together.

Games can also help children to think creatively and laterally.

Although this is a material developed for adult groups, most of the games can be easily adapted to primary or secondary levels.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The power of music when Teaching English to Very Young Learners

How can ELT be made enjoyable and effective in Kindergarten?

One feasible pedagogical application is to integrate English songs into ELT.

Song, a combination of music and lyrics, possesses many intrinsic merits, such as a kaleidoscope of culture,
expressiveness, recitability and therapeutic functions, which render it an invaluable source for language teaching.

In this post I would like to offer five readings that may you interest as a Kindergarten English teacher who believes in music and singing songs as a way to develop Very Young Learners literacy.

1. It has been recognized that there are several levels of phonemic awareness in which children may need explicit instruction before they can begin decoding words on a page. In the next paper you will find practical suggestions for using Mother Goose nursery rhymes to develop phonemic awareness in young learners.


2. Singing allows the children to be actively involved in their learning from a very young age. Singing as an activity can also address the whole child and not just the language learner, as songs often draw on their common experiences outside the language classroom. There are songs for almost every theme or occasion. Not only can we practise common language topics such as numbers, colours, animals, food, actions etc; but we can also explore a range of emotions and situations that are part of the child’s everyday life

3. Songs are an example of expression and performance. They are a medium through which children can develop confidence, develop microskills and learn language.

4. Action songs are very popular among children in the school and, it is not necessary to say that they are always ready to sing a new song or to repeat and old one in a new version. As teachers we have to take advantage of this because they can be used in many contexts with different aims...

5. "Learning to be literate is founded in early activities that may not be immediately related to the task in hand, for example, activ ities such as listening to music, singing songs, learning chants, reciting rhymes and playing musical instruments are known to be linked with success n more formal learning activities such as learning to read and to write.  Listening to music helps children to build the skills of  auditory perception and discrimination.  These will help later with the learning of sound-letter relationships and the connection between spoken and written forms of language. This awareness of the sounds and form of language is frequently referred to as metalinguistic awareness".
Educação & Comunicação, 7, 47-61. ELT in Nursery and Kindergarten: an experiential approach Linda Thompson

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oxfam's Cool Planet

Oxfam's Cool Planet is a website that teaches children about some of Oxfam's recipient countries, including food from around the world, children's stories from around the world, and the "Mapping Our World" teaching product.

I have developed some projects using this page as a resource for planning activities in which children are involved, not only in learning English but also in learning values.

It is designed to support educators everywhere in the world along with their students and make it as simple as possible for teachers to bring the global dimension into their classrooms.

Using the concept of "global citizenship", it aims to assist teachers in bringing the global dimension into their classrooms. The resources are designed to inform and empower young people to work for a more just, secure and sustainable world.

Many of the resources are organised by theme:
  • Recipies from around the world. Get cooking with some fabulous Fair Trade recipes.
  • Food. What do you think about when you go shopping? The look? A fair deal on the price? What about the people who produce the things you buy… should they get a fair deal too?
  • Mapping our World. This is Oxfam's free interactive whiteboard resource forteaching about maps, perspectives, and geography.
  • Milking. It is an interactive resource about small farmers and international trade designed to facilitate teaching 13- to 16-year-olds about fair trade.
  • Take action. Here are some ideas about how children can work with Oxfam to change the world. There are some really simple things they can do to help, or they can get together with their friends and plan something BIG! Whatever they want to do – it all helps to make the world a fairer and better place.
  • Around the world. Oxfam works in over 70 countries around the world. A guide about few of the countries it works in.
  • Children’s stories. Explore the lives of children from different countries around the world through our exciting photo stories!
  • What is Oxfam. Oxfam's aim, examples of Oxfam’s work, campaigns, and things we can do.
I think Cool Planet kidsweb is a very valuable resource, and we can get some very interesting ideas to develop projects in which Content, Communication, Cognition and Culture are all of them under the umbrella of Social Values.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Blogging with young children

Site of the week!

Kidblog is designed for elementary and middle-school teachers who want to provide each student with an individual blog.

The use of Kidblog is very simple and uncluttered. The homepage is easy to follow and provides only the essentials. The site’s theme is playful and the students wouldn’t feel intimidated about using it. 

From Day's Class Notes
A very important issue of Kidblog is that it is a safe and simple blogging platform suitable for students. The site allows teachers to monitor all publishing activity within the classroom blogging community. Because student privacy is paramount when it comes to working online, KidBlog provides several tools for protection. Teachers have administrative control over all student blogs and student accounts. Students' blogs are private by default, which means they are only viewable by classmates and the teacher.

And what's more, it is completely free of advertising.

You can use Kidblog to:

  • create classroom discussions 
  • learn digital citizenship 
  • practicing writing skills 
  • create an e-portfolio 
  • reflect on learning 
  • formatively assess writing

But it is better to have a look at an example:

From Blogging in a second grade classroom/

Monday, November 05, 2012

Blogs or wikis to work English language in the school?

This is an old post in need of being updated, but I have been requested to put it back online... And here it is.

If you are interested in blogging with young students, do not miss my next post!

Does it really matter? Well, it depends on what we would like to use them for and what level we will use them. 

Blogs are a great source for concrete information and tend to be chronologically oriented. They provide good tools for public attribution of contribution.

Blogs are used to post interesting finds or questions for students to comment on or to respond to. They probably are more of an opinionated tool, so if you're trying to encourage your students to express their different viewpoints, then a blog would be a good tool.

Blogging is also a good option because students can share their work, ideas and thoughts with different people in the world.  They also learn about different cultures and they communicate to see different opinions from teenagers like them.

In a Blog students can post images or videos that are related and tell their opinion of what they felt was important in the lesson they have just covered. They can also post research they have found useful in their learning such as online articles or websites that support what the students have learned.

Our school (Ruiz Amado) in the neighbourhood.
I think a blog would be the best tool to work with older students to show their learning, opinions and critical points of view. In this way it can be used as a portfolio and as an evaluation tool. 

Wikis tend to be more content oriented and have less capability for public acknowledgment of contribution.

Wikis allow a constant update of information, a continuing work ethic, while giving the teacher and other students the possibility to add anything they think is missing. You can get a lot feedback from the students work.

In a Wiki students can collaborate with the discussion tabs. The best thing for a teacher is the history tab so that you can see who did what and when, who changed what and when.

Wikis allow the students to go in and edit other people's work in the same wiki page, so if you're trying to get the students a truly interaction, that would probably be the best tool to collaborate and share ideas.

Working in the English classroom (School Ruiz Amado)
But if you are considering using a Blog or a Wiki as a final product of a project or a task, I think it is important to think about  the age of the students. You can let older students to choose the medium by which to demonstrate what they've learned. This gives them the freedom to show their creativity. For the youngest, maybe Wikis are easier for them: it can be used for quick edits and for directed exercises or assignments.

Cooperation, collaboration, interaction... these are tags than can be addressed to the use of wikis. 

Points of view, ideas, reflection, giving opinions... then, maybe, blogs are the best choice.

Better to see an example of “Best teaching” English with a Wiki. It has been made by a terrific primary English teacher, Rosamaria Felip Falcó, in the school Ruiz Amado in Castelló d’Empúries (Costa Brava - Girona). It is worth having a look:

You can also have a sight for the Blog made by another great English teacher in the school Splai in Barcelona: Oscar del Estal Martínez. He uses the blog as a bank of resources and, above all for assignments and homework:


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Kindergarten and Mooneyisms

Site of the week!

Kindergarten and Mooneyisms is a blog full of interesting teaching ideas for kindergarten. You will find a lot of music related songs and chants, tips and tricks, arts and crafts, and many other useful activities for very young learners.

You can not miss the long list of favourite kinder blogs (I promise you long hours of interesting research!) and neat teacher stuff links.

Writing sentences with newspapers
Definetely, this is one of my "musts" reference sites when I have to design ESL activities for my youngest pupils.

Eating Healthy (So a Child Can Understand It)