Monday, November 6, 2017

People who make a difference - part 2

Let me share what happened in my classes about famous Canadians.

We started one of the classes talking about who we would like to meet. At least four students mentioned they would like to meet Justin Trudeau because he has been helping many immigrants and refugees.

Then I told them we would learn about famous Canadians. I asked them if they knew any famous Canadians and I told them we would start learning a little bit about some famous people in Canada.

As we were learning about months, dates and birth dates, I used the cards I had prepared with information about famous Canadians and their birth dates. As I believe it is a good idea to raise their curiosity, I didn't explain much about the people and just distributed the cards with photos, names, birth dates and day of death of some. I modeled the conversation using the board and asked students to stand up and ask each other.

When some students read their cards, they came to tell me right away they knew the people and they felt so proud! It was great to listen to their stories with those people. For instance, one of my students talked to Robert-Falcon Oulette and she even showed us a photo with him the following class.

Two other students started googling some people right away. I was very happy when I saw this because this means they are becoming autonomous and doing things because they want to know more, not me!

They asked each other using the information on the cards.

Then my coordinator showed me some books about famous Canadians for ESL students. I saw a great chapter about David Suzuki and decided to use some ideas from the book 10 Canadians I'd like to meet. First, the students saw six pictures about Suzuki's life and discussed a bit about him. The students were curious about why David's family had been sent to a prison camp. I told them they would know why the following day. On a side note: I do this because Rubem Alves, a great Brazilian educator, used to say that educators should get their students to become curious.

Then the students had a listening exercise about David Suzuki the following day. Even though it was not very easy, I decided to give it a try and most students were able to do the activity! They felt so happy!

The following week we learned more about Julie Payette and some students were very curious about her. They googled her name to read more about her and then shared with us the information they had found. We also used some activities about her from book 10 Canadians I'd like to meet.

Finally, we learned about Viola Desmond. First we brainstormed about her using her photo:

Then they tried to put some pictures about her terrible experience in the correct order. I got the text and the pictures from the website: 

I adapted the text and created a cloze exercise. We also discussed about Viola's experience and this helped my students practice their critical thinking skills because they shared their opinions and reflected about the situation she faced.

As my students really enjoyed learning about these famous Canadians, I am going to continue teaching about them so we can spread good things.

Do you teach about people who make a difference too?

Monday, October 9, 2017

People who make a difference as examples in exercises

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving!

I learned many important things from my former director Magda Silva when I taught Portuguese at Duke University in the United States, from 2011 to 2012.

One of the things she taught me, after evaluating one of my tests, was how to better choose the people portrayed in language exercises and tests. I remember I had chosen some Brazilian celebrities' biographies as texts for a test and Magda asked me about  the reasons for those choices. I admitted I had never thought about that before and I did't know what to answer. Then she suggested that I include biographies of Brazilians who had tried and/or continue to try to create a better world for everybody. Since then, I have been including people who make a difference in the world in my exercises, tests and assessments.

As I am working with ESL Literacy + CLB 1 students and I am currently teaching about dates and birth dates, I thought about creating cards with Canadians who have made and/or make a difference in the world and their birth dates so the students can practice speaking using the information.

While I was creating the exercise, I realized I didn't know many Canadians who make a difference in the world. So, I decided to google "important Canadian people" to learn. Unfortunately, the first search mentioned 10 men only! Of course I was not satisfied with this and I tweeted about this. Soon, my coordinator Jennifer Loewen and Stuart Schwartz tweeted me great suggestions of names of Canadians who make a difference.

Now the cards are ready and I am going to use them tomorrow. I hope my students will get curious about these people and will learn more about them. Let's see what is going to happen!

I will keep up posted!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Last week

Day 23

We started the class talking about things we do to practice English. The students mentioned the following: watch TV, talk to people, listen to the radio, and others. I think it is very important for teachers to talk about language learning strategies so that students can become autonomous in language learning.

As a warm up, I gave the students a small sheet of paper and gave them one minute to write words starting with some letters. I wanted to check on their writing and spelling.

We learned the expression "Can you spell ______?" and the sight word "they". We talked about the subject pronouns and they gave me two sentences using the sight word.

Regarding numeracy, we talked about how much pizza we like to eat. We talked about a half, a third and a quarter.

Then, we concluded the topic about health by learning how to fill in a form when going to a walk-in clinic. I was very glad all the students remembered to bring their forms! It means they are getting used to the school system! Yay!We did it together as a group using the Smartboard and then they filled in their own forms. As they did not know all the information, I asked them to finish the activity at home and bring it to me the following day.

We read another page of the book "Going to the doctor" and checked on the understanding of some words using Google images.

In the afternoon group, we had a dictation of a paragraph. The students did very well and I asked them to check on spelling using their smartphones.

My Foundations student reviewed some letters using a puzzle; circled similar letters; and learned three more letters. I am impressed she was able to learn lots of letters with the Youtube videos.

Day 24

We started the class talking about something special. As a warm up, we talked about some adjectives that describe things. I decided to ask them as a group to match a word with each picture using the Smartboard. By the way, the are doing that to get ready for our school Scavenger Hunt. It was a good activity for them to work together as a team.

We learned the expression "How is this word pronounced?" and the sight word "but".

In the morning group, I asked the students to get magazines and look for pictures that describe each word.

In the afternoon group we didn't do that because we had a Fire Drill and we spent some time learning what to do before the drill.

We learned about directions using the website Learning Chocolate.

My Foundations students continued to learn more letters using flashcards, a puzzle, and a book.

Day 25

We started the class talking about things we love besides family. I was very happy when various students mentioned school and English!

Our warm up was to walk in the school using the directions we had learned the day before.

We learned the expression "Sit down" and the sight word "at".

We reviewed some adjectives using the Smartboard. I also wrote on the board some sentences suggested by the students using the adjectives. The students copied the sentences.

We had a very special activity about the solar eclipse that is happening in Winnipeg on August 21st, 2017. My coordinator presented a short talk about solar eclipses and she gave instructions on how to make a pinhole camera. It was a great activity that involved all the students. It was great for them to follow instructions and do things.

After this, we returned to class and I asked some comprehension questions and they were able to answer everything! Yay! I also showed some more pictures of a solar eclipse.

In my morning class, they played an ELLLO game about directions too.

Last day

We started the class talking about some things they have learned. They mentioned parts of the body, booking an appointment, talking to a doctor, alphabet, number, the expressions, sight words. among others. I was very happy they realize they have learned many things.

Our warm up was to write adjectives or draw something on a sheet posted to our back. To prepare for this, I elicited some positive words they use to describe people. It is always amazing to see how much they already know. :-) You can see the activity in the pictures below. We had fun doing that and we kept this as a souvenir of our summer class.

We learned the expression "Stand up" and the sight word "with".

I printed out and gave them the books they had written in the computer lab.

We practiced describing things and directions so we could get ready for the school scavenger hunt my coordinator and a group of teachers had prepared. We used Google maps to see the ways and to know the directions. We walked to a beautiful park and the students were supposed to take pictures of some places. At the park, they were supposed to take pictures of something green, something wet, and others. There were teachers in each place so the students could know if they were able to understand the directions.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we had lots of fun on our last day of classes.

I also made brigadeiros and beijinhos (Brazilian sweet treats) for my students. I think they all liked them. :-)

We returned to class, I thanked them for the wonderful summer and I am very happy some students are going to return in September! :-)

Reflection: I have learned a lot these past seven weeks and I want to learn much more to keep improving my practice and better help my ESL Literacy students. It was also a great experience to have students from various countries with very different schooling backgrounds (or none) working together. I could observe they helped teaching each other and this was great because I truly believe that when you teach, you learn twice. It was also good to use the same class structure every day so the students knew what to expect.

For the next term, I think I am going to use some days to focus on things such as functional English, reading, numeracy, and grammar instead of teaching just a little bit of each every day... I don't know... I am going to talk to my coordinator about that.. (I love to talk to people about my job since I believe different points of view can help me improve).

I was happy the students learned a lot of "expressions" to use in their daily lives here. I also liked that they learned how to book an appointment and how to talk to a doctor. I know they still need to practice more, but it was already a good start. Anyway, it was a wonderful experience and I am glad I am going to attend an online course about how to teach ESL Literacy next month and I can't wait to start!

My future blog posts are not going to be so frequent, but I will share some ideas and projects on a regular basis for sure! Thanks for your time! :-)

Love and peace,
Cintia :-)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sixth week

Day 20

We started the class talking about the long weekend. Some students had gone to the beach, others had gone camping and I told them I had gone to a lake for the first time. I showed a picture on Facebook of me in a lake near Winnipeg. I like to do that in order to connect with my students and yes, all my students are my friends on Facebook. :-)

Warm up: "Walk and do". I asked the students to walk around the class and mime a verb. They had fun with that. :-) I think they like to move.

They learned the expression "I'm sorry." and sight word "that".

We reviewed the Canadian coins using the website Learning Chocolate.

We learned what to say when going to a clinic or to a hospital adapting this lesson .

They read the text below in pairs and underlined the sight words. We corrected it together and read it together as well.

I asked them what a receptionist usually asks. They gave me some ideas and we watched and discussed the first part of the video. I also asked them to listen to the patient's last name and phone number. As they were not sure about some numbers they have heard, we used that opportunity to discuss some strategies to use whenever they are not sure about a number.

My Foundations students did a matching exercise successfully. By the way, I was impressed one of them remembered many letters (I think it was because of the videos she had watched!)

Day 21

We started the class talking about things we like to do on Friday nights. Then we played the game called "Ladder" as a warm up activity. I wrote a word on the board and the students had to tell us words starting with the last letter. It was a good vocabulary exercise.


We studied the expression "I didn't understand." and sight word "for". The students gave me some examples and copied on their notebooks. You can see a picture of the expressions on my wall and the sight words list.

We studied about Canadian money using the website Learning Chocolate. In the afternoon group, the students wanted to know who the man on the 10 dollar bill was. We used Wikipedia and found out the information they wanted and we also learned that there is another person, a woman called Viola Desmond, on the newer bill. We read a bit about her  and it was a great opportunity to learn about Canadian history.

We practiced typing using their paper keyboard. I can see clearly that my students are focused on learning about it. It is wonderful to help them with something they really want to learn.

We reviewed the previous class talking about the conversation they had learned about what to say in a Walk-in clinic. I gave the two groups the conversation on slips of paper so they could put it in order. Even though it was a long one, they were able to do it. I helped some groups a little bit, though. Some students were very active to use their cell phones to check the translation of some words as you can see in the picture below.

As we are in the 21st century, I really don't mind when they use their cell phones to learn. Besides, the Canadian government asks instructors to prepare students to live in Canada and smartphones are a very important part of most people's lives.

After that, we watched the video again to check if the order was correct. We checked understanding and practiced pronunciation.

Then we discussed about a doctor's appointment. We watched the rest of the video and I asked them what they could understand. They mentioned some things and they did an exercise to put the pictures in order.

I thought they got tired today... Maybe it was too much information for just one class...

Day 22

We started the class talking about their favourite food. Then I taught them the question "How often" and elicited some healthy activities on the board.

Our warm up was to interview each other about how often we do healthy activities. It was a great opportunity to practice listening, speaking, and vocabulary. Some students allowed me to post their pictures interviewing each other here.

They learned the expression "Can I borrow?" and sight word "on". The students gave me some examples with the word "on" and copied them.

Then we continued the previous class talking about Eating healthy food. They wrote the five foods the man in our story was eating. As some of them did not know how to write those words, I distributed "Word by Word" picture dictionaries. In the afternoon group, a student did not wait for me and took the initiative to give the picture dictionaries to everyone in class. I really liked that because she saw a problem and solved it autonomously. :-)

Finally, we talked about dreams so they could add the last page to their books. I taught them how to look for a picture using Google Images, copy it and paste it on their document. We went to the computer lab to do that and to practice typing too.

My two Foundation students recognized some letters using the exercises below. They also watched alphabet videos on Youtube in the computer lab.

Reflection: I am happy my students are learning but I am still not very sure if I am fulfilling all their needs now. I know it is not possible to please everyone in class, but I wish I could.... Anyway, my coordinator asked the students to give their feedback about my classes this week and I can't wait to read their thoughts and comments so I can keep learning and improving.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fifth week

Day 16

We started the week talking about our favourite times of the day.

We learned the expression "Here you are" and the sight words "a" and "an". Using the clothesline, we reviewed the sentence "I have a / an _______."

We reviewed some numbers and had a number dictation.

I elicited from students how to ask someone the time and they told me: What time is it? We practiced telling the time. We also had a time dictation.

While my students were having the dictations, my Foundations students did different activities. They worked on some letters. They recognized them using a puzzle and flashcards. They also copied them.

We started talking about how to book a doctor's appointment and we listened to a dialogue from the website ESL Library just to get some ideas. I elicited from students how to book a doctor's appointment and they helped me create a dialogue. We practiced it.

We read a page of the book "Going to the doctor" so they could learn how the health system works here in Canada.

I believe I have to use games more often since I saw some tired faces at the end of this class...

Day 17

We started the day talking about our favourite daily routine activities. Then we used this page of the website Learning Chocolate as our warm up.

We learned the expression "How can I say ____ in English?" We learned the sight words "am", "is", "are". The students gave me ideas about sentences using these words and I wrote them on the board. I believe it is nice to give students this opportunity to generate ideas because we can learn English using their contexts and realities. On a side note, a student said "She is an alcoholic." I have a feeling that this sentence brought some difficult memories to some students... I wonder if I should have asked for another example instead of using this one...

We practiced numeracy by reviewing some similar numbers like: 13, 30 - 14, 40 and we had a listening assessment. We also had a listening assessment about times after we reviewed telling the time.

We practiced daily routines playing this board game that I printed from this link Board Game.

While the students were playing the board game and having lots of fun (Yay!), I worked with my Foundations students. They are learning three letters at a time. I used Flashcards, a puzzle, a workbook and they matched letters that were similar.

Day 18

We started the day talking about daily routine activities we don't like to do. Then we warmed up with a "Find someone who" activity with the question "Do you like ____?" and some verbs like eat, go to the movies, dance, cook, sing, work, read, listen to music, and watch TV. Before starting the activity though, I elicited the verbs by miming them. (I love to do that to activate students' background knowledge and make them more active in the process of learning.)

They had to ask the questions and write their classmates' names if they answered "Yes". I think it was a great speaking, listening and writing practice because they had fun standing up and talking to various classmates.

We learned the expression "Can you repeat, please?" and the sight words "my" and "your". In order to review the previous expressions, I always mime and the students have to guess. They laugh and remember. I believe humour plays an important role in learning. :-) Besides, I love making people laugh.

We used the website Learning Chocolate to learn about other daily routine activities and the times they do them. Then they did the matching activities and I asked them to copy and draw four activities on their notebooks. After that, I asked them to talk about the activities and the time in pairs. I wrote an example on the board: "I ________ at _______." -  "I get up at 6."

Then we practiced typing on the paper keyboard. We are learning a bit every day and I ask them to practice for 2 minutes at home. (I prefer to be realistic about their available time for homework since most female students have to do many chores and take care of their children.)

We role-played the dialogue booking an appointment. I asked them to remember the dialogue we had learned and they were able to tell me the dialogue. I wrote it on the board. I gave some students slips of paper with a health problem so they could book an appointment and other slips with information for the students what would be the receptionists. It was not easy for them to understand how a role play worked. Maybe I should have given more examples and models in advance... Anyway, at least they tried.... This worked better in the afternoon group because I gave more examples.

Then we read a Bow Valley book together: Maria gets sick. We also discussed about it. I really like this website because the students can read and listen to the story. I posted the link to this book in our Facebook group for the students that may want to read it again.

Day 19

As I had decided to talk about a different topic on Thursdays, we started the class talking about free time activities. I told them mine and showed them the picture below to give some examples (By the way, I always choose a different picture to display on my Smartboard every day. Before teaching ESL Literacy, I used to display pictures of nature and things related to quiet places. However, as I am teaching people that may have faced lots of struggles before immigrating to Canada, I am being more careful with my picture choices).

As a warm up, we used the website Learning Chocolate to learn about some free time activities (I did not use that in the afternoon, though. We spent time talking about another thing they had asked me).
We learned the expression "Speak slowly, please." and the sight words "her", "his". They gave me some examples and I wrote them on the board.

Regarding numeracy, we learned the name of the coins using the Learning Chocolate website.

Before going to the computer lab, I explained that they would write another page of their books and then they would use a website to practice typing.

My Foundations students watched Youtube videos about the alphabet. My afternoon Foundations student used a mouse for the first time using the website Learning Chocolate too. She was supposed to click on each letter to listen to its sound. I helped her with that and I believe she felt very happy about it. :-)

Some students are still struggling a bit to type the username and password to log in. I know that learning requires time and practice so we have to be patient and keep trying.

They are also learning how to copy and paste a picture to their books using Google Images. I believe all these digital skills are going to help them do many things in the future.

After that, they practiced typing using this website that my coordinator suggested:

They also played the game below to practice typing. :-)

They really enjoyed spending time in the computer lab. I could see they were working hard and they were surprised and sad when I told them we had to turn off the computers.

Reflection: I think it was a good idea to sometimes work with my two Foundations students separately during my class. I could see that they are learning better like this. Regarding the role-play, I believe I have to model it more before I ask them to perform it. Anyway, I am very happy to see that my students are improving day by day. :-)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fourth week

Day 12

We started the class talking about what we do to stay healthy. As the warm up, I drew parts of the body on the board and the students guessed the name of each part. Then I asked them the spelling of each word.

We read the daily message about what we were going to study and I also wrote the agenda on the board. The students have already perceived that the agenda is a summary of the message. This is great! :-)

We reviewed the parts of the body by filling in the blanks with the names of each body part in an exercise. I asked them to use the previous exercise as a model since it was a similar activity. It was good because they could practice reading and writing the words.

We learned the word "Goodbye" and the sight words "She" and "He". I asked the students to give me some examples of sentences using the sight words. I wrote the sentences on the board and we read them together. I asked the students to copy the sentences on their notebooks.

We practiced the numbers 11 - 20 using the website Learning Chocolate. (Every time we use this website, the students stand up and touch the Smartboard to do the exercises. It is great to see them helping each other and very happy after they finish.

We practiced a short dialogue between a doctor and a patient. I elicited ideas on this topic from the students and I wrote on the board: What is the matter? I have a headache.

I printed the sentences I have a headache/stomachache/backache/cough, and cut into one-word pieces. I mixed all the words and asked the students to create a sentence putting the pieces in a clothesline. It was nice because they could stand up, worked in collaboration and see the sentence structure and the use of the period in the end of the sentences. :-)

Day 13

We started the class talking about common health problems we sometimes have. We reviewed creating sentences using the clothesline. We also reviewed some common health problems using some flashcards.

Now instead of writing the agenda myself, after we read the message of the contents of the day, I elicited the agenda from the students and they told me what to write. I believe it is a nice reading practice.

We learned the expression "Have a great evening!" and the sight word "it". We created some sentences using it. The students copied them on their notebooks.

We learned the numbers from 30 to 100 using the website Learning Chocolate. We also worked with grocery store flyers. The students learned how to see the price of things and understand the meaning of lb, ea, off. Each student read a flyer and shared in pairs what they wanted to buy and its price.

Then we learned about a conversation with a doctor. I elicited from them what they thought a doctor and a patient usually say in a conversation. After that, I told them I would play a video between a doctor and a patient without the audio so they could guess what the problem was. They watched the video and guessed that the patient had an earache. I played the video again so they could confirm their thoughts. They laughed a lot when they realized I was the patient in the video and they asked me if the doctor was my husband. LOL. I told them I had asked my husband to record a video with me because I hadn't found a very short and simple video like that on YouTube and my husband had kindly agreed to help me. :-)

Video - Doctor and Patient :-) - Yeah, it was a very simple video just to help my students learn. :-)

After watching the video, I gave the conversation on slips of paper so each group could put the dialogue in order. I played the video other times and they were all able to organize the dialogue. After that, they checked if they knew all the words and we repeated the dialogue. They also practiced it in pairs.

Finally, I asked them if they would like to record a video like mine to practice and post it in our Facebook group. Most of the students got excited and did it. I recorded the videos using my cell phone and we watched the videos afterwards. We all had a blast!

They told me they really liked the class today. Like Marc Prensky believes, students really enjoy using  and creating videos to learn. :-)

Day 14

I started the class asking the students what they wanted to learn more in our classes. I took notes and I hope I can teach what they want.

As I wanted to practice the alphabet in a different way, we had some listening exercises as the warm up. I thought we would spend 10 minutes with it, but we spent way longer than that. I realized that my instructions have to be VERY clear so ALL my students are able to follow them. I noticed some students checking on other students papers. I believe this happened because they are not yet confident but, anyway, it was a good practice for me and for them. I also think it was way too difficult for my two students that need more support... At least some classmates helped them. I keep wondering what they are thinking of these classes... They seem to be happy, but I wish I could know more about their thoughts and feelings...

We read the message for the day and they helped me write the agenda. I think they learned this very fast! I am proud of them! :-)

We learned the expression "I need ______." and the sight word "of". We wrote a sentence with the sight word and they copied it on their notebooks.

They reviewed some health problems by checking some flashcards and the names I posted on the board. It was nice because they just checked the ones they didn't remember.

We practiced the conversation between the doctor and the patient using other health problems.

We reviewed the meaning of lb, ea and off using some grocery store flyers.

We started reading a book about Going to the doctor in Manitoba. We discussed the importance of going to a doctor. I saw that some students got tired... Maybe it was too much information today...

In the afternoon class, we did a bit more and they started playing a board game about favourite things.

Day 15

We started the class talking about dreams. As the students did not know the meaning of the word "dream", I used Google images to show them its meaning and they got it right away. Images are really worth a thousand words. :-) I wrote their dreams on the board and we practiced saying them. I also wrote the sentence: I hope our dreams come true. It was interesting that some students that speak Arabic told me they say "Inshallah" when they hope the dreams come true. I really love to learn from my students! :-)

Then, we had a word search as the warm up of the day to practice the parts of the body. I used the website Puzzlemaker to create it.

We learned the expression "Can you help me?" and the sight word "in". The students gave me some examples of sentences using the sight word and I wrote them on the board. They wrote the sight word on their list and they also copied the sentences.

We played a board game to practice speaking. They had to share their "favourites". In the afternoon group, I put the students together to play while I helped a Foundations student learn the letters A, B, C. It was a great time because the other students helped each other and I could give more attention to the student that needed more attention. I used flashcards, a puzzle, an exercise to circle the letters A, B, and C and a workbook with this student. I noticed she circled the letters R when she meant B and G for C. I showed her the letters together and she was able to see the differences between them.

For the afternoon group I also taught a bit more of spoken language. I wrote the conversation below:
A: What is your favourite _________?
B: Well, uh, um, my favourite _______ is _______. / I like __________.
A: Really? Mine too. / I don't like _______.

I decided to teach the discourse markers "well", "uh", and "um" to help them sound more natural in their speaking and they had fun saying them. :-)

After the break, we practiced locating the alphabet on a paper computer keyboard. I also elicited from them what they already knew about the keys. I told them we would study it more frequently and I asked them to use it at home as well. We discussed about the importance of knowing how to better type in order to get some jobs in Canada.

Then we went to the computer lab to add another page to their books. They looked for a picture using Google Images and typed I like _________. After that, I asked them if each student wanted to practice math or typing. The students that chose math used this link: Math . The ones that wanted to practice typing used this link: Typing. Two students finished using those websites and asked me to do something else. I asked them if they wanted to read and listen to books and they used the website Bow Valley ESL Literacy readers . They really enjoyed choosing a book to read and listen. It was interesting to see that because one of the students told me she did not like reading books at all. I believe many students have this feeling because of the lack of good experiences with reading books in the past. My Foundations student watched some alphabet videos as she had told me she wanted to learn how to read and write.

On a side note, I always get very happy and excited when I see many parents spending time reading books for the children here in Canada. Unfortunately this is not very common in my country. At least my parents gave me many books and I had to read a book a day when I learned how to read and write. However, reading books is not a very common hobby in Brazil and this affects the lives of millions of people...

Reflection: I really liked to work with my Foundations student the way I did. I believe she felt comfortable and did a lot of progress. I am going to think about more ways to do that. I also decided to keep the sight words in a part of my board all the time. I think it is good for the students to keep looking at them. I noticed one student arrived 20 minutes before the class started and she was reading the sight words and she copied them again. I am also going to prepare special materials for my Foundations students, I think they really need that. I continue to be very happy and excited working with all of them. :-)