Summer’s over – school is back in full swing! I have some friends who love to swing – does that have anything to do with school?
Not only does Taiwan celebrate the Moon Festival at the end of the lunar month (this year it was September 22), but September 28 is also a special day in Taiwan – Teacher’s Day. Every teacher is honored in a variety of ways in each school. The best one is to hear students give their well wishes – trying to speak a new language.
This month has been mostly getting into a pattern of teaching with my co-workers. Each of the English teachers has the students for two days a week, and now I’m one of those days. What we have decided is for me to focus on the listening and phonics part of each unit in the curriculum they are using.
Research has shown that one of the important steps in language acquisition is to be able to hear words that rhyme. So, that has been one of the areas I have focused – to use simple rhymes that somehow correlate with the phonics, or the sentence patterns.
I have used Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater to go along with the seasons, the harvest time in the fall. I printed out a pumpkin, a farmer man, and a lady after resizing them to be relatively the same size. Each piece was laminated, and as I recited the poem, I introduced each picture. As the poem described Peter putting his wife in the pumpkin shell, I would slip the lady through a slit made in the pumpkin so only the top of her was showing. The students enjoyed the discussion about whether the young gentlemen would do that to their wives whenever they married.
Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater
One of the phonics lessons was about ‘ck’, so I used Hickory, Dickory Dock. A site where I found some great visuals was http://teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/reproducibles/profbooks/hickorydickory.pdf. One of the pages showed a grandfather clock with different onset sounds going up the bottom portion of the clock, and the mouse had ‘ock’ on it. As the mouse moved up the clock. the children were able to read the new words with the different sounds. This year, I’m using the projector, and power point, or pdf slideshows much more than before – branching out into using more technology for greater learning.
Another fun thing I have been teaching the students are some special celebrations for work well done. In Arkansas, the
Good job, good buddy!
classroom management taught by Great Expectations of Arkansas uses positive words to encourage the students to try to do their best. So, every week, I have been trying to teach two different celebrations so we can accumulate a variety of them so they can choose their favorite ones. Some of the students look at me as though I’m a little strange, but that’s ok, because not only am I teaching them new words, but also part of our American culture as well.
The teachers I’m working with have been so good to work with. When I am teaching, they will plug in explanations in Mandarin so the students are able to build on what they already know. They are teaching me so much just by their example. We are co-teaching for sure. My training in the States has been helpful for us as we are working out how we are working together.
A really fun ‘field trip’ was to a baseball field! Douliou has a professional field here, and the 5th grade students and
Cheers for the players
5th graders, teachers, principal
teachers were invited to one of the games. How different to see the way they encourage the batters – with drums and noise makers. Some of the cheer leaders lost their voice because of how much they were cheering the crowd and the players! Fun time.
The last week of the month, I was invited to a seminar to hear Raif Esquith. He is a great teacher from California where the majority of his students are second language learners, as well as living in an area with poverty and crime. He had some very encouraging ideas to use with some of our students. The most important thing that I got from his talk was to take my interests and passions and let them influence the way I teach. The next thing was a list of six different behavior motivators, beginning with staying out of trouble, to the highest level being because it’s right and that is who I am. He teaches those to his students, as life lessons - setting the standard high for them. His book is called Teach like your hair’s on fire: the methods and madness inside room 56, if you are interested in checking it out.
I almost forgot to mention that we did have a typhoon this month, too. Fortunately, we did not have much damage in our area. In our county, it rained very hard on Saturday and Sunday, but we were not off on Monday. Some of the students were disappointed!
It has been a good month – really feel like I’m getting accustomed to the school and the teachers. How fun it is to address the students in English and watch their response. The sweetest response is when their face breaks into a smile – even if they can’t speak in English. We all smile in the same language!!