Compare your ideas with one or two of your classmates’ ideas.

After reading a few posts, I have chosen Mº Àngels experience to compare it with mine, as I found that there are lots of similar aspects that can be compared to our learning and teaching experiences.

First of all, I would like to outline that when I shared my experience as a learner, I focused on my childhood and my teenage years. In comparison, Mº Àngels has mostly focused on her English learning experience as an adult. This is an aspect that got my attention because I realized that I didn’t share my experience as a learner in my adulthood and I believe that it is also relevant to share with all of you.

As I mentioned in my first blog entry, when I was 22 years old, and right after I finished my teaching degree, I moved to Canada. There I went to an English Academy thinking that I had a decent level of English, and when I took the entry exam, my grades were really low. I had to re-learn my English skills and discover how deep and difficult English can sometimes be. After 6 months of doing an intensive course, one teacher assured me that I was prepared enough to take the C1 Advanced exam, skipping the B2 First level. I did take the exam and my score was 5.8 out of 10 and I needed a 6 to get my C1 Advanced certificate. My lowest score was reading. So I thought that I had to do something about it.

I decided then, that I didn’t want to continue focusing on passing the exam and I joined a University Preparation course to improve my written and oral skills (especially my reading!). Similarly to Mº Angels teachers, the excellent teacher that I had in this course prepared a huge variety of engaging activities to foster communicative competence such as debates and motivating oral presentations. He was also forced to follow a textbook that he didn’t really enjoy using. Instead, he supported the textbook with a wide range of articles, reports, reviews focused on the students’ interests to practice and improve our written skills.

One of the aspects that I found really interesting about Mº Àngels experience, is that apart from the grammar textbook, other real books were recommended to extend the reading at home. In my case, our teacher let us chose from two books: One was 1984 by George Orwell, and the other was Brave new world by Aldous Huxley. Our class ended up deciding for 1984 by George Orwell (what a great book!). We had to read a chapter each week and discuss and compare it with the current times. I really enjoyed reading this book and I ended up reading Brave new world on my own after finishing this course. Then, I decided to take my C1 exam again and I finally got my C1 certificate with a high score on the reading section!

1984 - Bookstation        Brave New World - Wikipedia

Focusing now on Mº Àngels and my teaching experience, I would like to share that I liked the sentence that she has used talking about the right book or story that catches the students’ attention. She says that this happens that very moment when a teacher pronounces “Once upon a time…” because students somehow feel engaged with the story. I completely agree with her about the importance of choosing the correct story depending on the students’ needs and interests because, as she has remarked, the chosen texts should always be appropriate to the age, interests, and goals of our pupils.

I particularly haven’t had much experience in pre-primary groups in Catalonia. However, I completely agree with the fact that reading storybooks and well-known tales supported by songs and rhymes are the right way to approach ESL learning with young students. I’ve had two years of experience in a pre-primary school in Ireland and I have used plenty of songs and rhymes for teaching them the Spanish basics. These have engaged the children to learn a new language and discover words by playing miming, acting, or listening to storybooks.

She has also mentioned her experience with the second cycle of Primary Education when students are able to start reading by themselves. Similarly to Mº Àngels, I also use plenty of stories with visual support and attractive and pages as they are more interesting and comprehensible. As I also mentioned in my post entry, I tend to implement lots of reading in pairs with students of this age because it is an engaging way of reading; they can discuss what they see in the pictures and comment them with their partners. This allows students to build shared knowledge and it is easier for them to understand the text that we are working on.

Finally, I would like to mention how interesting I found the last section of Mº Àngels post on which she includes different strategies to support children’s understanding of readings provided in class. Overall, I think that her experience as a learner and a teacher is very relevant and interesting. Furthermore, as she has also mentioned in her post, I am also sure that this module will provide us with different new skills to investigate and learn from other teachers on how they face reading at school.

 

Tell it Again! The Storytelling Handbook for Primary English Language Teachers: Classroom management

In this post, Anna Llongueras and I introduce different strategies for classroom management that allow us to work around storytelling.

Organizing storytelling

Organizing storytelling is important in order to assure that the stories became meaningful for the students. As teachers, it is important that we create a relaxed atmosphere. One dynamic to do this is to get in a semicircle so that everyone can hear and listen correctly to the teacher. The teacher must have rehearsed the story before explaining it so that she can constantly observe the students and their reactions as they explain the story. It is also very important that teachers pause the story to leave space for reflections or questions.

Using audio-visual aids

Listening to a story in a foreign language help students to understand better the content of the story. The use of visual and audio support are good allies to promote a child’s comprehension and enjoyment of stories. Some of the support tools are the next ones:

Visual support

  • Real objects

 Add an air of authenticity to the story and make the details of a story more accessible to all children. One example is wearing real clothes matching with characters of the story.

  • Puppets

 Puppets can be used by the teacher when telling the story to produce short dialogues or retell the story themselves. One example is telling the story ‘Three little pigs’ using three pigs, a wolf, and three houses puppies.

  • Flashcards and games

They are a very useful visual resource. It is important that they are large enough so all the students are able to see them.

  • Moveable pictures/magnet boards

It is very useful with stories with repeating sequences so it can be repositioned quickly showing movement and action. For example, in the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear…, where the scene can be gradually built up in front of the children’s eyes. Example: Brown Bear, Brown Bear…

  • Masks

 The use of masks can encourage children to do their own dialogues, playing to miming activities, or creating new stories. It can be made by the teacher o the children. For example, they can represent one story (Ex. The Lion King) using their own masks: one is the lion king, the other a hyena, an elephant, etc.

  • Written captions/speech bubbles

 It is very useful in order to illustrate the storytelling so it facilitates to relate the pictures of characters with their appropriate speech. It can be used for picture-matching exercises, sequencing, or classifying activities. For example, in storytelling they have some bubbles and some characters and they have to relate them to organize a story.

Audio support

Sounds effects are also very effective to approach storytelling to children. Audio support is effective to understand the readings while they enjoy the storytelling experience. Many stories contain specific sounds or onomatopoeias that children can vocalize or imitate. Some examples of this are the sound of wind whooshing, the sound of water dripping, and some animal sounds.  However, we can also use our voice to illustrate some characters.

Using learning technologies

The use of new technologies in the classroom as a way to accompany the reading experience might seem, at first, somewhat controversial. On many occasions, the centers have spoken about the use and abuse of ICTs and, as such, the line between good use and abuse must be kept in mind. However, we are aware that ICT adds a very important dimension to stories, which allow us to motivate students to learn. The key is to include them correctly in our educational practices. Some concrete approaches are introduced.

Digital video/film

Using digital video / film allow students to go from being passive into active viewers. This is because the lesson was based on a film as a very appropriate way to accompany the tasks that are done around a story. Some good examples of this are:

  • Animated stories. For instance, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 
  • Documentaries. There are some good BBC documentaries. One good example is World of Wildlife.
  • Rhymes and songs. They can be traditional or innovative songs and rhymes. Some examples are Baby shark or One a bicycle built for two.
  • Making video recordings: For the children is very motivating to watch themselves doing something related to a story. For instance: acting out, doing a role, sing a specific song. etc. Apart from that. Recording videos is a very good way to assess some activities (teacher assessment and self-assessment). Also, these records can be integrated into story-based lessons. One example is Where is the spot? at the point where a dog is searching for a spot in some house furniture.

Next, we will present the three stages that should be followed to adequately treat a story in a digital format:

  • Stage 1. Before viewing. It is important to take some considerations before viewing the record: contextualize the film, ask for previous knowledge, encourage children to predict answers, and explain the topic of the film.
  • Stage 2. While viewing. It is important to be able to pause the video to focus students’ attention on specific points to be able to questions their previous answers.
  • Stage 3. After viewing. It is important that after viewing the film that students being able to complete their previous questions and if it is necessary to complete with some extra information.

Computers, tablets, and mobiles

The use of websites is highly recommended as a way to complement the lessons we give in class. To access the websites We can use computers, tablets or mobiles. But it is very important to keep in mind certain recommendations such as that the teacher has to know the web that is accessed well and, also, against technical support, in case there is any problem with the connection. It is also very important that students understand the use of computers, tablets, and mobiles as technical elements that allow us to learn, not as a time to play. The text proposes a three-stage methodology to ensure a productive session:

  • Stage 1. Before the computer/tablets/mobile’s session. It is important to establish group rules such as children working together taking turns. Regarding the teacher, she has to checked rules the computers. But also, she has to plan the session: introduce some vocabulary and structures, contextualize work, encourage students to focus on the topic, explain the purpose, and integrates the digital advice in the overall lesson plan.
  • Stage 2. The computer/tablets/mobiles session: teachers have to check that children know the rules, stay on the desk, and are being helped in case they needed.
  • Stage 3. After the session.  Teachers must assure that students complete the work an evaluation sheet and display their work or publish it in the class blog. It is important that the teacher review what was done.

Audio recordings of stories

There are some stories that also exist in CD-ROM or DVD. These recording stories can be used to extend or complete the story-telling presented in the classroom. It is very useful to add some specific activities related by the story. Some of them could be clicking on to the various objects on the main screen so the story-related language can be extended or consolidated.

Websites for creating story gap-fills

  • Authoring programs

 It is a program that allows us to create exercises around the storytelling and can be used with beginners and high-level students. One example of that is Web Sequitur, a text reconstruction program where a short text is obliterated on screen and each letter is replaced by a blob. So, children can reconstruct the text by inputting the single words. For example, use a text of The odd egg to consolidate language and content introduced in some previous lessons.

  • Word-processing packages

This allows them to practice their writing skills and create materials for their works. A good resource is Story Writer a guided story word-processing package for the little ones.

  • Internet

 The Net is a very useful tool for research topics for story-based lessons. However, as teachers, it is very important that we protect our students. As a matter of fact, it is a must to use a child-safe engine to protect their searches (f.e. Ask for children child-safe). Teachers also have to supervise children, visit sites before using them with students, and have some sites on-screen before the lesson. One example of internet use is to ask some questions and give children 15 minutes in order to search the question on the website. Then, they can discuss the information and put their answers on a sheet.

Creating an inclusive environment

An inclusive learning environment is one where all children are welcome, treated with respect, and provided with equal opportunities. Each learner is supported in the process of reaching their full potential in a stimulating, rewarding, and safe environment. Teachers and children collaborate with each other, and there is a partnership between teachers and parents.

All children will benefit from working together in inclusive classes as they will learn with and from each other. They will also develop empathy and an understanding of differences as well as a positive understanding of themselves and others.

Teaching strategies for inclusion 

Effective teaching strategies include the planning and stating of clear learning aims so children know what is expected from them. Classroom routines are well-established to give children a sense of security, and effective behaviour management ensures a structured and calm learning atmosphere. Regular recycling and reviewing after each activity cycle followed by a general review at the end of each lesson will also help children perceive their progress and maintain their motivation. Other teaching strategies include:

  • Differentiating and adapting tasks

This involves adapting tasks to take account of the diverse learning needs in your class. Tasks can be adapted according to input, output, and the resources that are used within an activity. The tasks can be matched to the needs of the child by varying the kind of input. The cognitive demands of a task also need to be considered carefully. A matching task using words and pictures is usually easier than sequencing or classifying tasks without pictures. To cater to different needs and levels you can also vary the outcome or result of the task by considering factors such as if the task is guided or freer.

  • Multisensory teaching

This involves adapting tasks to accommodate a range of learning styles. The more channels we use in teaching, the more likely we are to help children learn. It is important to be aware of the three sensory modes and to plan to integrate them every day into your teaching to ensure that classroom activities and materials meet a range of styles. For example:

  • visual learner: will prefer to have information presented via pictures or charts.
  • An auditory learner: will benefit from listening to stories or rhythms.
  • kinaesthetic learner will prefer actions such as hands-on learning experiences.

Storybooks provide a multisensory learning experience as children are involved in listening to the story while they look at beautiful illustrations. The teacher can also make use of storytelling techniques and engage children to participate.

  • Using a variety of resources 

The story notes suggest using story props. These can be built up gradually and include realia and aids produced by you and by the children. Keep any story props, audio-visual aids, or examples of children’s in a clearly labeled envelope or container for ready access.

  • Enhancing the classroom environment 

This involves considering how the space in your classroom can be enhanced to accommodate children’s individual needs. A carefully planned classroom environment can enhance feelings of belonging, success, and self-esteem.

  • Managing pair and group work effectively 

Children can work in pairs with the child beside them or the teacher may like the children to choose their own pairs or groups. Alternatively, the teacher can choose the group composition to decide which children will work best together. The teacher may organize children into groups according to their level or with different learning needs and ensure and it is useful to negotiate certain ground rules with children.

  • Preparing for group work

The teacher’s preparation for independent learning in small groups is very important. Most activities such as games and information gaps require some demonstration or modeling by the teacher. Instructions for tasks should be clearly explained and written instructions should consist of short, simple sentences that are clearly numbered.

  • Free-choice activities

If the teacher allows free choice in activities, a careful record needs to be made of the work that has been done. This will help the teacher to keep track of the work covered.

  • The teacher’s role in group work 

Group work should be set up so that you are free to monitor the groups and provide support for individuals. You will also need to provide some form of feedback about the groups’ activities to your class. Correction of any problem-solving activities or written work can either be done by the children, or by the teacher.

Displaying children’s work 

It can be very motivating for children to display their work and it often encourages higher standards of output, develops self-esteem, and builds the class community. Displays also make the classroom more inspiring and can encourage a purposeful working atmosphere. Displays can take many forms and might include models, pictures, or posters, among others.

When setting up a display following points have to be kept in mind: Work at children’s eye-level, titles and lettering should be large and attractive, stick pictures, ensure that all the children have something on display and write children’s names on displayed work. It is a good idea to link artwork with written work in the form of a display. For example, if children do some writing about witches, mount the work on to a cut-out shape of a witch hat.

Organizing a book corner 

The following tips may be useful for anyone wanting to set up a book corner: A bookcase or shelving, plants, a carpet, and cushions will make the book corner cozy, involve your children in the organization and maintenance of the book corner, or decorate the corner with any artwork.

As far as possible, allow children to have open access to the book corner. If your children can borrow books, you will need to devise a lending system. The book corner monitors/librarians can take responsibility for checking that books are returned on time. It is useful for the children to keep a personal record of books they have looked through or borrowed. At the end of a school term or year, they can collate the results.

Effective organization and imaginative display in your book corner both play a vital role in helping your children develop a positive attitude towards books, reading, and the foreign language.

This is the link to our Prezi presentation:

https://prezi.com/view/haFLS3xQoPILVQ3TeEQg/

My learning and teaching experience!

-As a learner, how have you used reading when learning a foreign language? Did it consist of a task given by the teacher or did you voluntarily decide to do it? Did you find it challenging or useful? 

-As a teacher (in any context: formal education, school placements, private classes…), how have you incorporated reading or storytelling in your classes? Was there a variety of methodologies and texts depending on the students’ age? Have you ever thought of using reading as an innovation strategy? How? Do you know of any methodologies different from yours?

Before answering these questions, I would like to start this first post by talking a bit about myself. I have lived in English speaking countries for about 4 years, two years in Canada, and two in Ireland. In my youth, I never had an interest in learning English that I discovered as an adult, that’s the main reason why I decided to emigrate. I am not asserting blame for the system not having awoken in me the desire to learn English when I was a child, but I would have loved that that in which I was a student could have pursued and given the importance to English that it is currently.

When I was a student in the primary stage, I don’t remember getting involved with reading on my own. However, I remember having had lots of storytelling in class with a few traditional stories such as the Three little pigs or even seeing The little red riding hood school play in English done by the 6th-grade class. My teacher at that time (we just had one teacher during the whole primary stage) tended to speak a lot in the F1 and she used lots of translation during the English lessons. What I remember well was that she used to love getting us involved with anything related to dramatization. We had a few well-known stories established at each level and she enjoyed making us perform them in small groups. These engaging stories required plenty of reading because we had to read our lines, understand its meaning, and perform what we read in small groups.

When I started High School, we had a few English teachers. I remember one that was a great teacher and I learned a lot with her. Although most of the readings consisted of a task given by the teacher, we had the option of voluntarily exchanging books from our English library in class. This library had a broad variety of books that students brought to school. We were allowed to choose a book from a partner and borrowed it to read at home. I found it useful to start improving my English skills. Nevertheless, I did find it very challenging to read a whole book with a low level of English. Even though bringing different books from home was a great idea, these were not carefully analyzed and adapted to the English level of the students.

Moving onto the next question, I’ll answer based on my experience as an English teacher that it started when I was still in University. I worked as a private teacher with a 12 years old student for about a year and working with this child made me realize that my English level wasn’t good enough to teach English. I wanted to involve myself and the students in lots of readings but I did actually struggle myself to understand the vocabulary that appeared in the story.

Right after I finished my degree, I decided to move to Canada and I studied English for two years. When I came back, I got a job as an English teacher in a semiprivate school and there was when I started incorporating reading and storytelling in my lessons. Sadly, the school was very focused on the curriculum and this aspect didn’t allow me to get my students into reading as much as I would have loved to. However, I did try to incorporate plenty of storytelling and reading in my lessons to help my students assimilate all the content that was presented.

One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most about working in that school was that it allowed me to work as an English teacher at all levels of Primary Education. I started teaching the first cycle of Primary Education and I included lots of nursery rhymes and in particular, the holly phonics to work on the pre-literacy skills and the phonics method. I also searched for a content-related book in each unit so that I could extend the content by using storytelling in class.

When I taught in the middle cycle, I tried to incorporate the audiobooks in class so that students would get used to the English accents. What’s more, I also encouraged the reading of short stories in class and sometimes, at home with their families. The stories were always adapted to the students’ level and one of the methods that I used a lot in my lessons was reading in pairs. Children were encouraged to discuss what they could see in the pictures and commented with their partners. Then, they were able to build shared knowledge and this made it easier for them to understand the text that we were working on.

Lastly, with the upper cycle groups, I set a library with different books from school and shared by some students’ families and I always made sure that these were adapted to the students’ knowledge. Letting children choose their own books and topics was really motivating for them. Furthermore, reading helped the students to grow their confidence in using the language and they also discovered the enjoyment and pleasure of reading itself. Answering the question about using reading as an innovation strategy, I have never thought of reading as an innovation strategy but I will definitely do some research about this topic and I will come up with some ideas in the near future.

To sum up, I would like to share with all of you that I am glad that nowadays, I’ve become an English teacher in a changing era of education. I truly believe that teachers should transmit their passion for reading and broaden horizons for our students. We need to work hard every day to be accessible, fair, and coherent teachers, but most of all teachers that can show humanity, be an example to others and help to grow the citizens of the future.

 

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Regina Arimon and I am originally from El Masnou, Barcelona. I am a Primary Teacher and a Physical Education specialist. One of my greatest passions in life is traveling and I really enjoy getting to know new people and learning from other perspectives.

I consider myself naturally curious, enthusiastic and thorough, I can easily adapt to change and new situations. I currently live in Dublin and I am working as a Preschool Teacher in a Montessori School. I believe that this opportunity is enlarging my understanding of education. Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy reading my blog!