Sunday, 31 July 2011

Debate: must the teacher be the clown of the class?

I wanted to start this series of posts called "Debate", in which I want to leave a question to you, so you can give your opinion and share ideas or experiences.
This time, I want to start with the question: Must the teacher be the clown of the class?
I have always thought about this: am I the only one who must promote the process of learning in my students? What about the responsibility that students must have to study and do their tasks by themselves?
It is true that I am the one in charge of the class, and that in someway, I must inspire my students to learn. But, do I have to come to class, everyday, and act as the clown, to call their attention, to entertain them and make them get interested on the subject, so they can study??
Where is the rol of the student who must understand, that studying is the way, by which they will form their own future?
I would wish that my students understand, that the school is not just a compulsory state, but they way they will improve their own lives. So, they will play their rol of students, and me I will play my rol of a teacher.
Everyone must act a part of this play. Don't you think?

Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Classroom Idea: "Verbs Windmill"

I always have the problem on how teaching English verbs. The common way is showing the verbs in columns (which is really boring).
I wanted to create a different way of working with the verbs and at the same time, that students could create a project with it.
Based on the "wheel verbs" and a video I found on ehow.com, I was inspired to create a project that I call "Verbs Windmill".
The idea is that students in groups can create a windmill in which they will add a list of verbs.


MATERIALS YOU CAN USE
A milk carton, long sticks, corks, glue, ruler, scissor, decorating paper.


Once the model of the windmill is done, you add the list of verbs on the blades. So in one blade you add the infinitives, in another blade you add the past tense, and in another one, you add the past participle form. And as a foreign language, in a fourth blade you can add the translation of the verbs.
I will ask my students to create this project by the end of August. So, once the students finish it, I will show the results to you all.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Teacher, how can you improve your performance?

Sadly, I have found that one of my favourite pages has been closed down. Teachers.tv closed on april 29th.

I think, it was at the beginning of the year that I found this spectacular page related with education. And why it was so amazing? Just because it had a collection of more than 3,500 videos full of resources, ideas, tips and interviews of teachers.

To my happiness, I found out too, that those videos didn't vanish. They are managed already by a couple of pages that are keeping alive the idea of helping teachers in the process of improving their skills.I can recommend the following two pages in which you can find all those videos:



In the latter one, I recommend the section called "The behaviour challenge: can you handle it?" where you have the chance to choose what you would do in a certain disruptive situation on the classroom. But in both pages, you can find videos related with a specific subject, stage or role, among different topics.

I hope you can find the time to check it!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

I don't exist if I don't have facebook?

Ok, you must call me old, not updated, away from the social media, anything you like... shoot me, whatever, but yes.. I don't have facebook.


It is just.. I really don't like it. I don't hate it.. no.. dont take me wrong. I am not against facebook at all. It is just, I don't see the point of being part of a net that I won't use. Probably it is because I don't want other people to see me or find me, especially people you don't like or just you don't know. But I really don't feel being part of facebook.
I know you will defend facebook, you will say it has many application, and you will find many good points on it.


I remember watching a video on tv, about people gathering in a meeting or a conference, and they were saying thanks to facebook because it helped them a lot. And I agree with them.

But look...
I have two accounts on live messenger, emails accounts, I have created blogs, wikispaces, long ago I used to chat, I made many friends, and I say to myself.. do I need facebook? Probably the answer you will give is yes... hehehe. But I still don't want to have facebook.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

why is it important the use of videos at the classroom?

I must admit that I love movies. I can be watching movies on and on, and I can even repeat some movies, because they are really good. It is true though, I have forgotten some already (probably I have watched too many movies that I don't have more space on my memory)

But I just need one image of a single film to remember it completely. And this makes me believe that images are so much powerful than concepts. And if this is really applicable to everyone, it means that I can't leave aside the use of videos at my classroom.

If you don´t believe me, let's take this example. Imagine that I ask you to explain the meaning of the word "honor". Probably, it will be a bit hard to explain it with words. And most of the things that will come to your mind will be images of a person doing certain things, that for you, it will explain the meaning of the word "honor". Probably you will just imagine a "person" and not a "thing" or an "animal". This is because abstract words are difficult to explain without associating them with a concrete word. And in this case, we already know that the word "honor" is a condition of the human being.

Taking into account what I have said before, I consider it is so much important to use videos to support the content of the class. That is why interesting activities are remembered by students after many years. Maybe they won't remember all the content, but they will still have in their memories those moments.

Now the question is... if it is really meaningful the use of videos on the classroom?

By my experience. I have noticed, that videos are the most attractive feature at the moment of teaching. It calls the attention of the students, but we can make the mistake of just using the videos to raise their interest, but with lack of content or real meaningful.
One solution is by really planning well the activity we want to work with, and use the video just to help the increase of knowledge.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

QR codes, are they really useful?

Searching and searching, I have found this interesting technology called QR codes. The Quick Response codes by which you connect your cellphone to a webpage, a text, call to cellphones or just send a sms. Interesting! and its use at school seems to be a good way to call the attention of the students. Specially the treasure hunt activity, in which the students go around the school searching for the QR codes that you have pasted already, and they have to find the information with their cellphones.


Until here, QR are awesome. Then I could find a programme to my cell, and it worked, great! Then I found a generator (qrcode.kaywa.com) and it worked too, so much great!


But now, I understood the cruel reality. Does QR codes really work for a teacher? I mean to say.. are they really useful at the school?

For me.. unfortunately.. no. Why? Because, first of all, this is a new technology to be applied at the classroom, and most of my students don't have a modern cellphone, and in addition, you need a connection to internet and of course, you have to pay, unless you are connecting to wifi. But at least, in my school, wifi is not available for the students. and I think, that even if it is... how can you connect too many cellphones?? And I feel that once they can connect to wifi, they will not be interested on QR codes.. but on facebook, right?

I think that activities generated by the use of QR codes at the school are really interesting, but it takes a lot of effort and time to implement it, and unfortunately, it is not applicable in my school.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Being a teacher, how can I avoid the stress?

How many times you have come home to realize that you have to continue working and then whe you finally go to bed, you realize you forgot to do something else, and what it is worth, you wake up in the morning already thinking you have to do more things. If it is so, then it means you are about to get a stress disease.

There is no magical solution for this, and it depends on every person to avoid this stressing situation.

I can tell, based on my experience, few hints that can help to avoid in falling into a stressing situation.

First of all, I plan. I plan all, and the more I plan, the better. You can say why? Because when you plan in advance, you take into account all the possible problems that you can face, and you already know what to do in those cases. Lesson plans are so important for a teacher, that I wouldn't see a teacher working without one.

Second, even if I have planned all in detail. I must have an open mind to adjust my plans. All teachers know that even if we know what to do, there are some inconvienents, and we must be prepare to overcome them. The point is that, if I already know this, I won't get stressed in the future, because I saw it coming already.


Third. I organize my time, so if friday or saturday is my free time, then IT IS my free time, and I don't give time to do my "homework". I do that at work, or on sunday, the day I have scheduled to do my job for the week.


Fourth. As a teacher, I know I don't have enough time at work to do all, and some of it, I must do it at home. That is why, what I have done is, killing myself at work, using all the time, even the few minutes I could rest, to do all possible work, so I don't need to take things home.

Fifth. I know it is so hard, but while I am at home, I try to forget my job. At home I try to watch tv, movies, reading, playing on my wii, and even I am bad at dancing and singing, I do it, because every time I do it, I laugh, I enjoy that time. I try to spend my time with my family, my girlfriend and forget that I have a job. Some teachers can criticize me when I say that I work to live, and I don't live to work, because even if I love teaching... my job is not all my life. I have more personal areas that I want to develop.

Sixth. I manage my stress by hearing music. It is incredibly how a slow and nice song can change your day. And when I feel down, I hear a happy song.

And last. One thing, that has helped me a lot to relax myself, is by just closing my eyes, and travelling to a pacific and lonely beach, and stay in there for some minutes, watching the sky, hearing the water, and just seeing how the waves are moving. That really helps me a lot.


Friday, 22 July 2011

Winter vacation

Well, winter vacation came for me.

It is a good time to charge batteries, and be full of energy for the next semester.

Time goes so fast, so I have to use the best of the time to rest and do things. Things like reading a book, watching tv, playing wii, etc. I usually don't have enough time to do things I like, specially drawing, but I hope to have a bit this week.



I think the best way to charge energy is by sleeping. There is no other way to really feel resting but taking a good nap, and a long sleep at night.

It is a good time to take a breath, a deep breath and relax, because sometimes... or most of the times, being a teacher is really stressing and tiring. So, a long rest is what we need.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Love in the profession

The last two days, I have seen again two very important aspects when we talk about the relationship between the students and the teachers.

1.- The first point is the importance of being a student, and how much important must be for us as teacher who are our students.
Just a little quiz:
a) Do you know the name of every one of your students?
b) Do you know where they come from?
c) Do you know their interests?
d) Do you know their talents?
e) Do you give time to talk with them out of the classroom?
If your answers are yes, then congratulations, because it means you really mind who your students are. It is now just loving them, but also, loving what they love.

2.- The second point is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. You must know about it. And in some way, our students are the ones needing for help... our help. But sometimes, we take the easy way out and we pass over the needs of our students.
I know... sometimes the needs are so much, that we feel overwhelmed.

My commitment will be get more interested on what my students really want or need, and won't be exhausted or giving up in this beautiful carreer.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Power point classes




Since I left the university, it has been one of my dreams to have a laptop and a projector to use at classes. I thought, it would make me a "technological teacher" and of course, it would help me to teach. Well, I could buy a laptop. Actually, I have bought 3 until now (I know... people think I am rich, ... but I am not). But just until this year I could afford to buy a projector, I must admit... it has helped me a lot. At last, I could teach in the way I wanted.

But with the end of the semester, I must criticize myself for the use.. or maybe the abuse of this device.


I think the use of the projector has become just an extension of the old white board. Even though, I has created activities using the tools that powerpoint can offer, and other softwares like internet, video players or songs; I think, I haven't had the enough time to create activities to promote group works, or debates within the class.


The use of power point with a projector must go beyond the simple presentation of slides, but it must be also used to create activities.


For example, I use the tool of movement in Power Point, to do matching activities. That calls the attention of the students. Another idea is covering a picture or photo with different forms like triangles or squares, and setting movements on them. Then you can request the students to create yes-no questions. If the answer is yes, you click and then one of the forms is vanished, until the students know who is the one on the photo. (I still remember what my teacher Pablo Abarca taught me, jejeje. Thanks teacher... because you were my model to become more technological and creative).

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Do you believe in Fairy Tales?

It is amazing how this genre (thought to be just for children) has become so popular the last years. Titles like The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter have called the attention of people from different ages. And no wonder why. It is a nice feeling the one you feel when you enter in a wonderful world of fairies and dwarves. You become a child again.
I must confess that my favourite book is The Lord of the Rings. Not just because of the books themselves, but also, because of that great philologist called J.R.R. Tolkien.
And since long time ago, I started getting into this kind of books. I bought the book Fablehaven in Spanish, and when I went to Philippines, I bought two more but this time in English.

One teacher told me, that the best way to learn more words in English, specially those words that are not common to find in a daily conversation, is by reading fairy tales.

The other day, I got interested in a new colection of books from the author Terry Pratchett, Discworld, just because I saw a different and interesting movie called Hogfather.

I think, my interest about this kind of books won't disappear as long as I have an inner child on me.
By the way, I recommend the movie Hogfather, it is a different way to see Christmas.




video


source of the video: youtube.com

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A good tool



I'm always trying to find sth new in orde to improve my English, and of course, to help my students to improve their English.

A useful page I have found is one of the British council.


I know, it can sound a bit childish specially for teenagers, but even though, it is fun and really easy to understand. It has many activities and games. Lots of vocabulary and a great chance to learn more about the English language.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The starting point

Today, winter vacation is starting for the students. The first semester ended up already and it is time to measure what we have done until now, and at the same time, it is the moment to start planning the second semester.



I have great expectations for the rest of the year, and I hope to make all possible. But by now, I feel happy that I can have a new classroom, and even though, it is just starting and I am still fixing it to make it look like a real English Classroom, I can say I have all I need to work with the students, specially to improve listening and reading comprehension, and oral and written expression.
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